1926 Ella M. Rudolph

Newfoundland’s rocky shores and winter storms claimed a schooner hauling fish from St John’s to Port Nelson on December 6, 1926. Only one of the nine crew members survived the disaster.

Built in Allendale, Nova Scotia, in 1912, the Ella M. Rudolph was purchased by the Blackwood family in 1925. It was commonplace at that time to purchase older schooners because the low piece of cod in Newfoundland wouldn’t cover the cost of new construction. She was captained by Eleazar Blackwood and crewed primarily by his family. 

After departing St. John’s on Dec 6, the winds increased to gale force. The Ella M. Rudolph’s crew couldn’t keep control and were driven into the rocks near Little Catalina. Duke Blackwood was the only survivor although accounts differ as to whether he escaped the doomed ship of his own power, or if he was flung to the shore by the storm. Wandering in the cold, he eventually found a village. Local men left to find the wreckage. Six of the bodies were recovered, but two were never found.

Below are the eight souls lost in the wreck:

  • Eleazer Blackwood
  • Bertram Blackwood
  • Harry Blackwood
  • Walter Attwood
  • Joseph Vivian
  • Samuel Carter
  • Noah Vivian
  • Mary Jane Abbott

Note: The largest repository of information on the Ella M. Rudolph is Bruce Stagg’s The Blackwood Schooner: The Story of the Ella M. Rudolph. However, despite claiming to be non-fiction, there are details included in the book which would simply be unknowable to the author, as this review points out. 


Kean, Abram. 2000. Old and Young Ahead. St. John’s, Nfld, Flanker Press. (Chapter XI, p. 108)

Owens, Pete. Jan Owens. n.d. “Mercantile Navy List, 1915,” Crew List Index Project. Accessed December 19, 2020.

Ricketts, Bruce. 2014. “Ella M Rudolph Schooner Shipwreck,” Mysteries of Canada. Accessed December 19, 2020.

Stagg, Bruce. 2009. The Blackwood Schooner. St. John’s, Nfld, Franker Press.

Waltz, Robert B. and David G. Engle. n.d. “Ella M Rudolph, The,” Fresno State University Website.  Accessed December 19, 2020.

Waltz, Robert B. and David G. Engle. 2008. “The Ella M Rudolph,” The Folklorist. Accessed December 19, 2020.


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