Downhome Magazine

A Voyage on the Kyle

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It was the second week of December some years ago when the coastal boat, the SS Kyle, stopped in Mary's Harbour to deliver goods and pick up passengers. The boats like these were the link to small communities around Newfoundland and Labrador. The ships were too big to get to the little community wharves so everything being delivered and picked up had to board a small open boat to transfer to and from the Kyle while she lay obediently at anchor.

On this cold evening there were a few men, a few older women, and an attractive young woman holding a small baby bundled in a load of warm blankets. The small boat approached the SS Kyle, and the ladder on which to climb up and board the bigger boat came into view and the passengers prepared to climb up. The men stood to assist the 'women first' rule, leaving the younger woman and baby until last when they could all help them. The wind rocked the small boat gently but harshened the cold on their faces. The young woman was afraid, so the men held the baby and assisted her up the ladder. Then the tallest of them all carried the baby up the ladder with ease. Soon all were in the warm common room of the big boat.

The ship's whistle blew and the engines roared into action as the SS Kyle prepared to depart Mary's Harbour and head to Port Hope Simpson. The crew helped serve hot tea, the baby was quiet, and the sailing was smooth. The young woman was my mother. The baby was me.

Father was stationed in Port Hope Simpson with the Newfoundland Ranger Force and in a couple of hours I would meet him for the first time and our lives as a family began.

I'm a grandmother now, Mother and Father are gone, and the SS Kyle, after years of coastal service, ran aground in Harbour Grace and is still sitting there. When I see that ship my mind goes immediately back to that sea cruise I took on her at only three weeks of age.

Bonnie Lowe
Shoal Harbour, NL

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