Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Exciting finds

Our Goulbourn Museum director gave the key to a treasure chest when Donna Keays-Hockey e-mailed the reference http://www2.swgc.mun.ca/nfld_history/CO194/CO194-45.htm for my research on the 1805 maiden voyage of the 100th County of Dublin Regiment of Foot. Microfilm B-681, stored at the Library and Archives Canada, is a collection of six letters from British military officers reporting on the maritime disasters that befell our Goulbourn regiment. In this August 30, 1806, letter (above), Lieut.-Col. J.W. Gordon seeks financial compensation for "these [two] poor fishermen for the humanity and generosity" in rescuing and sheltering five soldiers and two seamen from the Nais troopship which sank off Newfoundland. The death toll was 340 of the 347 on board.
A. Barry Roberts wrote an excellent account of the "terrible catastrophe" in his well-researched book, For King and Canada. And what a tragic story it is: death and destruction on stormy seas; the absolute horror of men, women and children swept into the icy waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and heroes saving many victims of the shipwrecks.
In doing research for our new museum exhibit on this voyage http://www.emcstittsvillerichmond.ca/20110630/lifestyle/New+museum+exhibit+captures+settlers%27+maiden+voyage+to+Canada, it was exciting to find new information in modern books like Shipwrecks of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Eras, in old publications like Cape Breton's Magazine, or an 1812 edition of Shipwrecks and Disasters at Sea. These narratives help us present our history with the personal words of flesh-and-blood people, the pathos of tragedy, and the cold facts of knowledge.
Kurt Johnson, Munster

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