Downhome Magazine

The Journey of Joseph Dunne

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At the young age of 17 in the year 1889, Joseph Dunne secretly boarded a ship in Saint-Malo, France as a stowaway. The ship set sail for Saint Pierre. After arriving in Saint Pierre he came to realize that he was not allowed to stay there and the Gendarmes (police) would deport him back to France where he would be severely dealt with by the law. He then made a decision that would change the direction of his life forever.

With the help of some people in Saint Pierre he secured food water and a row boat and rowed off in the North Atlantic, all alone in the dark in unknown waters, never to return to his homeland again. As daylight broke and the sea became rough, Green Island Rocks came into his view and he managed to land his boat upon the shore. While awaiting for the waters to calm he found shelter underneath his overturned boat. Three days later when the storm abated he headed out into the North Atlantic again hoping to find a place to call home.

He eventually landed in Point Crewe, 12 Miles from Saint Pierre. My grandfather, John Crews was surprised to see this little dory off in the distance. He boarded his motor boat , went to meet this unknown man and towed him into land. (Ironically my grandfather's son Kenneth Crews (my father) in later years married this man's daughter, Charlotte Dunne.) This was a new beginning for Joseph Dunne, a 17 year boy in a foreign country unable to speak the English language. A whole new life thousands of miles from his family whom he never made contact with again.

Good fortune came his way when he was connected with a man from Saint Pierre who was living in Point Crewe at the time and helped him learn the English language. In time Joseph met and married Mary Belinda Thornhill and they settled in Dantzic Cove where he built a house and lived there for approximately 50 years. They raised 3 sons and 8 daughters.
Joseph became a British subject in 1904 at which time Newfoundland was a British colony.
He made a living by fishing, farming and caulking the decks of banking schooners in Grand Bank and Fortune. While his sons enjoyed the luxury of using gasoline engines, he chose to continue rowing to the fishing grounds. He was never one to use a motor boat.

In 1952 Joseph and his son Benjamin Dunne moved to Point Crewe and built a house. Joseph lived in Point Crewe until the year of his death. Having lived a long, healthy life he died suddenly in 1960 at age 88.

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