In October 2007 when the SS Kyle.com website was first started with only a few photos, it was only a little more than 2 short months later when Dick Meiijer saw the website and had contacted Elizabeth “Libby” Earle, daughter of Guy Earle. He had said in his email that he worked for her father at Earle Fisheries Carbonear from 1963-1966 and had photos of the 1965 Hunt and Rescue on the SS Kyle. In February of 2008 Libby had received the photos half in small black and white photos and slides. Libby and her husband Brian DePiero creator of the website had then converted into JPEG form for easy use on the website. We later in time come to find out that Heber McGurk of Carbonear published a book called “Memories of a Former Era” also worked for Earle’s as 1st mate and watchmen on the SS Kyle had taken all the photos and had given out copies to many on the trip that year.
Dick Meijer, born 09-12-1942 in The Netherlands. In 1960-1965 working in our family company, Van Daal & Meijer. In those years the largest seal-business in the world. In 1960 our company cooperated with Earle Fisheries in Carbonear in purchasing the SS. KYLE to operate it for sealing offshore Newfoundland.
He mentioned he had the privilege to handle in Carbonear from 1963 – 1966 for our company the seal catch with the SS.KYLE in cooperation with Earle fisheries. I have seen the old coal burning lady SS.KYLE cripple coming in after being crushed in the ice in 1965.
He have been there for three years in Carbonear and felt and experienced the emotions and feelings the Newfoundland
people showed for the sealcatch and its maritime monument the SS.KYLE, bulldog of the North.
It has convinced me that there is no better way to tell the young and future generations the history/story of sealing than by
restoring the SS.KYLY in a historic site. The old coal burner can show better than any museum the true story/history of sealing and the hardship the sealers had to endure on/in the ice.
I sincerely hope and trust that this unique opportunity to give Newfoundland with the SS.KYLE a fantastic maritime
historic site , will be realized.
A Kerkhof 36
9711 JC Groningen
Most of the photos will be displayed on the www.sskyle.org website and facebook . They will be located on the Captain and crew page or the 1965 rescue .
STUCK IN THE ICE
On March 28th the SS Kyle, Captain Guy Earle set off to the Straits for the Hunt. Heber McGurk was the master watch of the Kyle when Guy brought the Kyle to Labrador. He now was off duty and sleeping with 2nd watchman on duty and “rumor has it the on duty watchmen was listening to the hockey game.” They were doing 4 knots an hour stuck in ice flow when they drifted onto a huge iceberg and gets hung up on it. It was upwards of 100 feet tall. After days until the icebreaker came to her rescue when she slid off the iceberg much damage was done to her forward port side. She had popped 21 rivets and torn out a panel from its steel plating just above the water line. Guy and his crew now knowing there was damage done with the Kyle now stopped, approx 26 men of the crew were afraid and left the ship and waited on the ice for the Icebreaker D’Bererville while the other half of the crew were still sleeping. During the time waiting Heber and other crew found repair Bolts to replace the broken rivets. As Herber Hung over the outside by lines while another crew member went down below on the interior and put on the nuts and tightened them. During this time Heber had to change his clothes 3 times because of the freezing waters he had to withstand. Once the rivets were replaced the men on the ice would now return to the ship. There was one rivet popped on the starboard side into the Coal room where repairs could still be seen from down below about 6 feet from the bottom if it was not filled with water.
“At the Seal Hunt the Kyle drifted fast in heavy ice flow until the 50-year-old vessel came to rest against a towering ice berg about 100-150 feet high on March 28th. Said the 47-years old captain, Guy Earle, “You could hardly see the top of it for snow drifts.” He thought winds at the time to be gale force T 85 MILES AN HOUR. He said he feared the giant berg would turn over and crush t he ship.” … Captain Earle said most of the deck was filled with heavy ice. Outside the boat was bulged in right from the midship to its bow on one side. As above, p 91 from the Evening Telegram. The top of vessel was torn asunder. Guy was able to get the Kyle, his men and the seals safely back to Carbonear, where he tied the Kyle to his wharf at Earle’s Fisheries.
After unloading all the seal pelts the following day Guy Earle, Charlie Dowden his Dad Stephen Dowden, and the Engineers took the SS Kyle to St. John’s to be inspected on dry dock by Jim Anderson (CSI) Canadian Steamship Inspector only to find out there was closer to $150,000 worth of damage and was only insured for $100,000.00. They launched her back into the water and brought her back late that night to Carbonear Harbour.
For the Next 2 days they unloaded all the food and salvageable goods ashore. Guy had asked Charlie Dowden & His Dad Stephen, both Captains along with the ships engineer Gerald M Bernard to moore the SS Kyle in Harbour grace where Charlie dropped the steam anchors with a good spread he said her boilers would cool for her final and last time.
BY KEITH HARDY
Captain Dowden was onboard that day on the Thomas S. Gorton when Guy Earle and company made port at Battle Hr. back in 1953 as they were working their way home to Carbonear . Along the way from Salmon Bight near Black Tickle while buying dried salt cod from the various harbours, islands and tickles on the way. Earle was known as nomadic showing up wherever he thought to gather some fish from other fishermen. The Earle’s were like their father after all fishermen themselves from childhood.
The firm, Baine Johnston and Company, were very much established in Nfld. and certainly at Battle Hr. the jewel in the crown of their fish operations in Labrador. Managers hired were well versed in the mechanics of accounting, retail and in this case the fishery. At that time Battle Hr. operation was the biggest on the coast and stood ground with some of the largest on the island of Nfld. .
The fishery was competitive! Here you had the company with salt, fuel, groceries and fishing supplies out on credit all season awaiting the local fishing crews to clue up and clear their accounts. On the other hand here was Earle going harbour to harbour buying from these same fishermen with cash .
Mr. Guy might have been a bit wound up when they tied on that evening after 6 pm. at the firm’s salmon wharf at Battle Hr. On the other hand it was Bert Hardy’s job as manager to uphold the companies interest . To have the competition to use the companies services and certainly without permission was against policy. Bert ( my father) went out and hailed to Guy that they could not tie on and had to leave the wharf ! ( according to Charl Dowden)
Guy on the other hand wound up by those watching from shore and on the wharf made mention he might come ashore and toss my father over the wharf!
My Dad according to onlookers that included Charl replied that if he thought to try it was up to him! ( Normally a gentle quiet man.)
Guy moved the vessel out in the middle of the harbour where they anchored for the night.
My father never once brought up the story again however Battle Hr. residents along with Charl had mentioned over the years.
During the winter Earle found people not banks willing to invest in their taking over Battle Hr. The owners wanted out of that type of business so to spend more time at other interest and investments.
Earle’s people tackled the operation for one year on their own. Great navigators, good fishermen and so on but were not trained in the day to day business end of such a large operation. I heard stories of them giving out endless fishing gear on memory and not entered in the ledger. The end of that first year with IOU’s written on cigarette packs and brown wrapping paper.
During this time Bert Hardy was still a full time employee of Baine Johnston working with that company at St. John’s .
Guy, in a proper way, inquired with that firm if he could approach Hardy to run Battle Harbour? Hardy had the accounting skills.
Hardy and Earle met for the second time where a friendship and keen interest in Battle Harbour and Labrador in general was formed. Our Dad really enjoyed his many years at Battle Hr. while working with the Earles .
The first year or so father boarded here while mom and my two older brothers remained in the new Mont Pearl. He then moved them to rent on the crossroads in Carbonear . They searched for the new type bungalow coming out in the mid-1950’s however neither close to work to be found. Guy suggested the high roofed home that was recently closed and up for sale at 148 Water Street. Right in front of Arthur Earle’s or Fred’s house .
Well in conclusion father had 35 years at Battle Hr. Guy, Fred and a few years later our dad also passed away. I am sending you this little note on the story you mentioned …. you guessed it …. from 148 Water St., Carbonear.
Charl Dowden can still remember and detail the chain of events that led to this neighbourhood we all still call home. He can detail far better than I would put to paper!
BY KEITH HARDY
Lives in Carbonear but his heart is in Battle Harbour
Shared stories and letters written by Keith Hardy
The Earle Freighting Service Limited and nothing less. Incoming mail with any other variation was unopened and turned back to the sender at the post office.It was this company who owned the other companies set up over the years. Earle Brothers Limited , Earle Wholesale , Earle Protein Ltd., Kyle Shipping Ltd. and Coastal Labrador Fisheries Ltd. Other variations and you would quickly find out you had to wait for your payment
I worked alongside my Dad , Jim’s Jones father , Joseph Hoyles , Willis Spurell , Allan Pligrim , Roy Saunders , Jim Saunders , and perhaps hundreds of others that made up the company staff . Everyone knew Earle and Earle knew everyone ! If the old office opened up again today I would be there looking for my job . It is a way of life gone past and along with it most of the good and at times perhaps bad memories . Like it or lump it that was the Earle’s take it or leave it as they were not about to change.
Again it is all about the history ! A handful now in their 80’s who shipped out on the boats , fished the Labrador or cut fillets in the plant . A thousand stories lost perhaps a hundred left untold. Maybe a few new ones in the bargain left to be written. Keep the faith !
Talking With the Captain!
Captain Guy Earle likely would be busy trying to get as much as they could from the salmon season in Labrador . Hoping that now that the caplin have landed that the cod would soon be in the traps around this province, delegating his fleet of schooners and traders to get salt and fuel out to the coves, islands and inlets of Nfld. and Labrador. He had his key people positioned to deal with the fishermen with supplies. One of the boys just saw the Thunderbird go flying by. Apparently he is driving to Clarenville with a cylinder head for the Round Hill. Known for his fast driving you better give him room.
In regards to Captain Charl Dowden we must understand he earned his title as well. Came from the dory in Rock Harbour to be ship’s master on the great ferries on the Port aux Basques run. He is a wealth of knowledge on the marine side of Earle. He can fully detail what is required in crew to operate a ship. In my case I sailed from Carbonear for over 40 years while hardly knowing the north direction from the south. I was only a passenger on the ship of life!( Lots more like me . )
Charl has the stories!!!
I might note that to my limited knowledge the SS Kyle had a great and extended career. Mr. Guy Earle had a vision that she could still have some life in her at the seal fishery. Kyle Shipping Ltd. a division of The Earle Freighting Service Ltd. used her to seal, fish, freight and contract out. However, due to her age and expensive requirement for coal as fuel she had a hard time making a profit. Certainly only my limited understanding.
She likely was about to end her days in a few more years before the iceberg damage off Labrador. She could have just as easily have been left on the bottom there however they survived, made a trip of seals and got back to homeport.
I know you live for the SS Kyle so to speak . One might consider that it was luck for the Bull Dog of the North that she did hit bottom in Hr. Grace. One that allows all of us more than memories of earlier transportation in this province.