the coastal boats was no picnic - their crews worked on them at
the risk of their lives. Weather was the most obvious threat to
a coastal boat's safety. In times of war there were other risks
as well. The dedication and hard work of the coastal boat employees
is a lasting testament to the importance of the coastal boats in
the lives of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.
pieces like the one from February 8, 1922, were fairly common. People
needed (or just wanted) to know when the coastal boats were going
to arrive at the various ports of call. The newspaper notices section
usually included several coastal boat announcements - and they all
had that "business as usual" tone about them - even when announcing
the death of one crew member and the serious injury of another!
Transpose this story into today's airline industry, and imagine
the public response...
a crew member while chopping ice was not the only noteworthy
event in the Kyle's colourful past. In another February
(this time in 1942), the Pollux and the Truxton,
two American Navy ships, had grounded at Chambers Cove. The
Kyle was waiting out the storm in St. Lawrence, but
upon hearing of the accident set out into the bad weather
to help. When nothing could be done, the Kyle headed
back to St. Lawrence, picked up ropes and other equipment,
and returned to the site of the accident. Later that month,
the U.S. Navy responded by letter saying, among other things,
"This spirit of cooperation and self-sacrifice in the face
of danger is in keeping with the highest traditions of seafaring
men. Please transmit to the master of the KYLE ... the sincere
appreciation of the survivors of the grounded ships for his
prompt and willing offers of aid." More than two hundred Americans
lost their lives in that disaster.
Port Signal Light
S.S. Kyle even played a role in aviation history. On September
6, 1927, shortly after the second successful transatlantic flight,
James Hill, Lloyd Bertaud, and Philip Payne climbed into their plane,
Old Glory. They were to fly from Maine to Rome, but trouble hit
off the coast of Newfoundland and the plane went down. Ships in
the area were unable to find it, so the flight's sponsor hired the
S.S. Kyle to continue the search. On September 12, the
Kyle had found the remains of the plane, but no evidence of the
plane's crew. The remains were returned to New York, and pieces
were sold as souvenirs.
weather plagued the Kyle to the very end. In 1967, while
moored in Harbour Grace after a tousle with an iceberg, a storm
rose up. In the high winds the ship broke its moorings, drifted,
and ran aground at Riverhead. It remains to this day in its final
resting-place, a life-sized reminder of Newfoundland's coastal boat
glory days, when people risked their lives - and sometimes lost
them - providing a most important service in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Kyle today aground in Riverhead, Harbour Grace, Image
courtesy of Grace Thompson
The S.S. Kyle was part of the Reid Newfoundland's "Alphabet
Fleet," so named because each ship in the fleet was named alphabetically
after places in Scotland (Robert Reid's homeland).
1913 for Reid Newfoundland Co.
Swan, Hunter and Co., Newcastle-on-Tyne, England
1959 to Shaw Steamships of Halifax (renamed the ship Arctic
1961 to Earle Brothers of Carbonear (given back its original
1967 at Harbour Grace
contained in this backgrounder was taken from exhibits at the museum,
as well as the following resources:
William. 2002. By the Next Boat. St. John's: Johnson Family Foundation.
of Newfoundland and Labrador, Volume Three. 1991. St. John's: Harry
Cuff Publications Ltd.
Mary Ann. "James DeWitt Hill: Scottdale's Aviation Pioneer."
Accessed February 4, 2005 from http://www.airmailpioneers.org/Pilots/JamesHill.htm