associated with Capt. Edward White Sr.
Capt. Edward White Sr. originally from Tickle
Cove, Newfoundland moved to St. John's and owned schooners, brigs
and brigantines from 1843 to 1872. All his early ships were built
Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island. While many traders operated
foot schooners with their
characteristic fore and aft
sails, White used larger ships in the 70-85 foot range with the
largest being a 115 foot brig named Bertha. With a mercantile
firm based in St. John's called E. White & Sons on Water St., his
ships traded from Brazil to Labrador. All his early ships
were brigantines with the characteristic square sails on the forward mast
and angular aft sails. The rigging could best be called half
schooner half brig -
it was a successful combination for many ships in that period. Brig
had square sails on both masts and was huge in comparison - twice as
long as the Jasper I, her gross tonnage would be four times that of
White's first ship. She would
be his last and only brig, built in Tatamagouche N.S. she was lost at
near Ingonish off Cape Breton in 1872 after eight years service.
At the age of
fifty-five White had embarked
on a two new careers one as a Captain, pioneering wooden ships
both steam and sail for the
seal fishery, which were
corporately owned by large international firms, the second career was in
politics entering the Liberal cabinets of Sir.
In partnership with Job Brothers & Co. he would supervise the
construction of the ships in Dundee, Scotland, put them through their
sea trials and bring them home to St. John's Newfoundland typically he would
remain as Captain until it was time to build a new one. From 1866
to 1882 he was involved with four of these Scottish-built ships from
the nimble 136 foot Nimrod, which later played its part in gaining
Ernest Shackleton a Knighthood, to the 191 foot Neptune which was commemorated
for its service in the Canadian North on a postage stamp.
Although an active mariner from a young age,
his early activity is not as well documented. Although images of the
ships have not been located substitute NFLD period ship portraits, illustrate the style of riggings. Photographs included are of
actual ships. Records exist on ten of the ships that Capt. Edward
either owned or captained from the ages of 31 to 71, they are:
60 foot brigantine, constructed in 1842 at Green Bay, NFLD, sailed
White's colours for ten years and was sold.
79 foot brigantine was his first Prince Edward Island built
ship. Built for him in 1851 she was lost at sea in 1862.
85 foot brigantine built in Wheatley River, Prince Edward Island in
1852 appears to have been sold quickly as registration data indicated
it was transferred to a new port in 1853.
built in Wallace, Nova Scotia in 1854. A brigantine she had a
length of 86 feet. Records indicate that the Mary was sold in
II, was a much larger ship than the lucky Jasper I which
launched White's career as a ship owner. At 83 feet she was a
brigantine that would only
see service for three years when she was lost at sea in 1863.
Nova Scotia boat built for White in Tatamagouche, and this time much
larger with square sails on both masts, Brig
Bertha, had a length of 115 feet. She was lost at sea in 1872 off
be the first of the big boats that would place Capt. White among the
group of senior captains who would be trusted to take these corporate
ships to the
ice. Built in 1865 White took her to the ice once in 1866. She
later commanded by W. Jackman and A. Jackman and was lost at sea in
a 151 foot steam and sail wooden ship
become a family institution after Capt. Edward White Sr. supervised her
construction in 1870 at the shipyards
of Alexander Stephen & Sons
in Dundee, Scotland. White brought her
to the ice in 1871-72 for
Job Brothers & Co.
Before turning the wheel over to the capable Capt. William
Little did he know that their grandchildren would one day marry.
would soon return to White's command, in 1877. Edward White Sr.
took one trip before turning it over to his son Capt. Edward White Jr.
for the next ten years would navigate her through the icefields.
Refitted and renamed the Diana in 1891, she operated as a whaler, and a
mail boat in Newfoundland and
before she became jammed
in ice in 1922 and lost her tail shaft. She was abandoned on
March 27 that year, and sank
while burning, after 52 years service.
Nimrod, was built for the Newfoundland
seal fishery. The 136 foot ship was constructed at Dundee, Scotland for
the firm of Job Brothers under the supervision of Capt. Edward White
Sr. White brought Nimrod to St. John's in February of 1867
and to the ice for the next four years. Nimrod continued as a
trading vessel and went to
the ice under a number of skippers, including Henry, Moses and Robert
"Capt. Bob" Bartlett. In 1907 the vessel was sold to be used in
an Antarctic voyage by British explorer Ernest H. Shackleton.
Shackleton's voyage of 1907-1910,
with the Nimrod, would establish a new British record in the quest for
the South Pole.
Shackleton's choice of the
a nimble ship built for ice navigation, is credited
partly with the success of the expedition. Shackleton was the first to
find the south magnetic pole, and to reach within 1:77 degrees of the
90th parallel breaking all records set by forty-three expeditions in
the previous 160 years. After planting the Union Jack, Shackleton
returned to the Nimrod which would get him safely home to receive a
knighthood. His record would not stand long. Both
Ronald Amundsen and Robert
F. Scott would reach the South Pole within 34 days of each other with
Amundsen planting the Norwegian flag first and returning to
safety. Scott, with whom Shackleton apprenticed a decade before,
died with his comrades in his Antarctic camp.
Shackleton returned in the Endurance
in 1914-16. When she became locked in the ice for eight months she was
eventually squeezed to the breaking point and sank leaving the crew on
the open ice with
only a three small boat life boats from which they eventually reached
to tell their epic tale of survival.
Neptune, a wooden sealing
ship, Neptune was built in 1872-73
by Alexander Stephen & Sons of Dundee, Scotland. Construction of
191 foot ship was overseen by Edward White on behalf of Job & Sons
owners. He was the Master for the next 10 years. Over the years
other captains took Neptune to the ice, including Samuel Blandford,
Samuel Bartlett and George Barbour.
The Canadian government
ship in 1884 as part of a proposal for a railway from the
prairies to Hudson's Bay to open a new route for grain exports. The
expedition set up ice observation posts and sought a potential railway
terminus. In 1887, the government chartered Neptune again for the
winter mail run to Prince Edward Island. The scheme failed because
although the vessel could withstand ice pressure she simply wasn't built as an
Neptune, like the rest of her breed, the ‘wooden walls’ of
Newfoundland, which were built in Dundee, was a stout old ship, but she
was built for survival in
the ice rather than for punching through it, and she, in turn, was
from a service for which she had never been designed,
as a government survey ship by the
Canadian government in 1903-04, the DGS Neptune conducted the first Canadian
survey of the Arctic. Under Capt. Samuel W. Bartlett, scientific
documented their voyage in The Cruise of the Neptune, by A.P.
illustrations and 350 pages. The crew
overwintering in the ice at Fullerton
Harbour with the ship
frozen in place along with several Inuit families who built large snow
beside the ship. The crew completed two years of research in fields as
as anthropology and botany. Going north to Ellesmere Island, the
formally claimed it and Southampton Island as part of Canada,
along with several other islands
ensure sovereignty in the far north.
In 1915 she became a troop
carrier taking of
the Newfoundland Regiment across the Atlantic to serve during WW I.
Images showing the S.S.
Neptune leaving Furness Withy wharf, St. John's on
February 5, 1915.
Neptune eventually returned
and in 1921 carried the spotter plane Baby Avro. Wind and weather
prevented the plane from being used, but over 10,000 pelts were taken
Four years later, Neptune's second trip to the ice that season brought
total take to over one million. In recognition of this achievement,
man received, in addition to his regular pay, a cash bonus and a framed
of the ship.
Ownership passed to the Ungava
Company in 1934. Neptune went to the ice for the last time in 1941.
Job Brothers bought back the ship at a public auction in February 1943
for use hauling coal. In March, SS Neptune sank near St. John's, with
all hands surviving.
Neptune, a wooden ship,
went to the ice as a sealer for 67 years with twelve different
captains. Post cards
of the day called her the "King
of Sealers" and writer Andrew
called her the "Queen of the
sealing fleet." A legend
gender, Neptune had a regal career and earned a place in Canadian and
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