Linda Abbott, a writer out of St. John’s, has written a book about the St. Jacques banking schooner that was immortalized in a Bud Divide song of the same title as her book, ‘The Loss of the Marion’.
Abbot said, “I’ve heard the Simani song many times and have always been fascinated by it. I really like mysteries and the story about the ‘Marion’ certainly falls into the mystery genre.”
While visiting her sister one day the song by Simani just happened to play on the radio and, as the two sisters sat and listened attentively, Linda’s sibling suggested that she write a book about the schooner now that she had just retired and had some time on her hands.
‘ My sister knows about my love of mysteries, that’s why she suggested I write a book on the incident. I thought about her suggestion after and decided that I would at least try and write a book about it. It was while working at my research in The Rooms that I became hooked on the project which has led to this book,” Abbott said.
“One of the things that attracted me to the project was the timeless question of what actually happened to the ‘Marion’ and her 17 crew members.
“The Davidge song hints that the vessel must have been rammed by the French Captain Pierre Maurice who had threatened to end the life Captain Jones following a disagreement between the captains.
“Ike Jones was a hard man and was know to get rowdy after having a few drinks. However, several schooners were sunk by German war ships on the Grand Banks at that time.
“Whatever, happened on that fateful day, Captain Maurice did leave port shortly after the ‘Marion’ left and quickly returned with a dent in his trawler’s bow. The French police investigated but the captain said he had struck a marker at sea and it was determined that he was telling the truth.
“Some people say that he deliberately struck the marker after scuttling the ‘Marion’ and her crew. In the end, we may never know the truth of this tragic incident that happened in 1915.”
While the book is a slice of Newfoundland lore and history, Abbott said that she wants people to understand how life was tough for many people in Newfoundland back in the early part of the 20th century.
She said, “Society helps people who face terrible tragedies today in several ways but back then it was very tough life for many.
“The life of a fisherman was horrific, they worked for nothing and when they died in tragedies like the loss of the ‘Marion’, people accepted it as it was the way of life back then. I was shocked to learn that Newfoundland women in that time in our history would marry almost anyway when faced with a situation like losing a husband at sea and in being left with a number of children to feed.
“Many people then were uneducated but they were strong, resourceful, and knowledgeable people who suffered but still stood tall, got through it all and continued on with their lives.
“Losing 17 men at one time from the same area must have terrible for many women in that part of the province in 1915.
So, the book is about a terrible tragedy and how people coped from the fall-out of the incident. I think it’s a good piece of Newfoundlandia and I hope people will enjoy the story.”
Copies of he book are available in bookstores across the province and an official book launch will be held at Chapters in St. John’s on Wednesday, August 29 from 7 to 9 pm.