On Boxing Day in 1935, the schooner Ada & Maud left Best's Harbour on King's Island in Placentia Bay and sailed into the history books as a mystery that's haunted folks hailing from the area ever since. Crewed by four men - brothers Clarence, Kenneth and George Best, together with their brother-in-law, John Pevie - the vessel was bound for St. John’s with a load of dry cod and cod liver oil in casks.
The schooner was sighted that night by another vessel rounding Cape St. Mary’s amid a brewing gale. The next evidence of the Ada & Maud was when she was reported to have been found, high and dry, at the high water mark in Lears Cove, not far from the Cape - though the crew were nowhere to be found. It is from this point that things become mysterious.
There have been countless shipwrecks around this province’s shores over the years. In most cases, the circumstances have told tragic tales with cold, hard facts: the schooner ran into foul weather, was wrecked upon the rocks and all hands were lost, sometimes washed in upon a section of shore or, in many cases, never to be found.
Who, then, could have steered the schooner to a safe beaching amid what were likely heavy seas?
“They are questions to which no satisfactory answers have ever been given,” says Bud. “But being the inquisitive beings we humans are, and prone to speculation and rumour as we are, there are bound to be theories of what actually occurred. Someone knew the truth, and perhaps someone living today knows the truth as we speak. The rumours were that some persons unnamed from the local area engaged the crewmembers in a fight for some reason and the result was the crewmembers were shot and their bodies disposed of in some manner, somewhere. Was there an attempt to take the cargo of fish in a kind of salvage operation that went wrong when they were opposed by the crew? No one knows for sure.”
Bud says writing the song about the mysterious tragedy was one of the most emotional experiences he has ever had as a writer. “I started out sharing an event with people who were complete strangers,” says Bud. “And I ended up being caught up in the emotions that the Best family still feel so deeply, after 80 years.” - By Janine Davidge (written with the deepest respect to the Best family and their memories of loved ones lost.)