HomePort S.S. Neptune which was
              first Captained by Hon. Edward White
Ships associated with Capt. Edward White Sr. 
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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 in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island.  While many traders operated 50 foot schooners  with their characteristic fore and aft sails, Schooner Pyocyo 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 Brigantine Shamrock 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 Bertha had square sails on both Brig Clutha 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 sea 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 with both steam and sail for the Newfoundland seal fishery, which were corporately owned by large international firms, the second career was in politics entering the Liberal cabinets of Sir. William Whiteway.

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 early ships have not been located substitute NFLD
period ship portraits, illustrate the style of riggings.  Photographs included are of the actual ships.  Records exist on ten of the ships that Capt. Edward White either owned or captained  from the ages of 31 to 71, they are:

Jasper, a 60 foot brigantine, constructed in 1842 at Green Bay, NFLD, sailed under Capt. White's colours for ten years and was sold.

Sarah a 79 foot brigantine was his first  Prince Edward Island built ship.  Built for him in 1851 she was lost at sea in 1862.

Diana in 1905 Diana an 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.

Mary, was built in Wallace, Nova Scotia in 1854.  A brigantine she had a length of 86 feet.  Records indicate that the Mary was sold in 1857.

Jasper II, was a much larger ship than the lucky Jasper I which had 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.

Bertha, another Nova Scotia boat built for White in Tatamagouche, and this time much larger with square sails on both masts, Brig Clutha Brig Bertha, had a length of 115 feet.  She was lost at sea in 1872 off Ingonish.

Hawk, would 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 was later commanded by W. Jackman and A. Jackman and was lost at sea in 1876.

Hector, a 151 foot steam and sail wooden ship would 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 Knight.  Little did he know that their grandchildren would one day marry.  Hector 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. who 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 Labrador, 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 Nimrod, a  nimble ship built for ice navigation, is credited partly with the success of the expedition. Shackleton was the first to find the south magnetiNimrodc 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 safety to tell their epic tale of survival.

SS Neptune, a wooden sealing ship,  Neptune was built in 1872-73 by Alexander Stephen & Sons of Dundee, Scotland. Construction of the 191 foot ship was overseen by Edward White on behalf of Job & Sons the owners.  He was the Master for the next 10 years. Over the years eleven other captains took Neptune to the ice, including Samuel Blandford, Samuel Bartlett and George Barbour.

The Canadian government chartered the 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 icebreaker.

The 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 withdrawn from a service for which she had never been designed,
Charted as a government survey ship by the Canadian government in 1903-04, the DGS Neptune conducted the first Canadian scientific survey of the Arctic. Under Capt. Samuel W. Bartlett, scientific explorers documented their voyage in The Cruise of the Neptune, by A.P. Low with over 150 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 huts beside the ship. The crew completed two years of research in fields as broad as anthropology and botany. Going north to Ellesmere Island, the expedition formally claimed it and Southampton Island as part of Canada, along with several other islands to 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 to sealing and in 1921 carried the spotter plane Baby Avro. Wind and weather conditions prevented the plane from being used, but over 10,000 pelts were taken anyway. Four years later, Neptune's second trip to the ice that season brought its total take to over one million. In recognition of this achievement, each man received, in addition to his regular pay, a cash bonus and a framed picture of the ship.

Ownership passed to the Ungava Steamship 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 Horwood called her the "Queen of the sealing fleet." A legend beyond gender, Neptune had a regal career and earned a place in Canadian and Newfoundland history.

 SS Neptune
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