1970 Patrick Morris

From GEST Songs of Newfoundland and Labrador:

The S.S. Patrick Morris was named in honour of an Irishman who had campaigned for responsible government in the 1820s. Before being obtained, the 10,000 ton Morris carried railway cars, passengers, cattle and fruit between Florida and Cuba. She was built as a sternloader, but was converted into a side loading container ship after purchase. Three years later, she was converted back to a sternloader so that she could accommodate standard gauge mainland trains. The Toronto Marine Historical Society’s Monthly News Bulletin, The Scanner reported most of the following in May, 1970: Late on Sunday, April 19th, a vicious spring storm was lashing the eastern coast of Canada, and caught in the teeth of the gale was the 27-year old, herring-seiner Enterprise. The 100-foot wooden fishing boat sent out distress calls from a point about ten miles off the northern tip of Cape Breton, in the Cabot Strait. In port at North Sydney at the time was the Canadian National Railway’s car ferry Patrick Morris, and her master took her to sea before her regular departure time in response to the distress calls of the Enterprise. On reaching the location of the seiner the crew of the ferry spotted wreckage. The Morris’ sea gate aft was battered open by the pounding of the seas and apparently the ferry began taking water through the opened stern. Approximately 30 minutes after sending calls for assistance at 6:55 a.m. on the 20th, the Patrick Morris sank below the stormy waters of the Strait. Lost were Third Engineer Ron Anderson, Second Engineer Joe Slayman, Chief Engineer David Reekie (Master of Lewisporte), and Captain Roland Penny, as well as the entire crew of eight carried by the seiner. Of interest to our readers will be the fact that the Morris was built in Montreal in 1951 as Canadian Vickers’ Hull 251. With a length of 449 ft., she entered the Florida to Cuba service of the West Indies Fruit and Steamship Co., Inc., under the name New Grand Haven, For a number of years, she was the running mate of the former lake car ferry Grand Haven, recently broken up at Hamilton, Ontario. The C.N.R. purchased the ferry after political problems spelled the end of the Cuban service. The ferry was twin screw and was powered by Unaflow engines. Fortunately, she did not carry passengers or the loss of life might have been much greater.


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