Arrival of the "Grand Lake" and "Virginia Lake" With Bumper Trips
DESCRIPTION: "The Grand Lake, boys, is coming in, With bunting grand, Manned by a crew of hardy lads Who belong to Newfoundland." The Grand Lake and the Virginia both return to port with large hauls of seal pelts and fat
EARLIEST DATE: 1904 (Old Home Week Songster)
KEYWORDS: hunting ship
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Ryan/Small, p. 71, "Arrival of the 'Grand Lake' and 'Virginia Lake' With Bumper Trips" (1 text)
cf. "First Arrival -- 'Aurora' and 'Walrus' Full" (ships, theme)
cf. "Arrival of 'Aurora,' Diana,' 'Virginia Lake' and 'Vanguard,' Loaded" (theme, ships)
cf. "The Sealer's Song (II)" (ships)
NOTES [587 words]: The Virginia Lake and Grand Lake were sisters (O'Neill, p 972). Virginia Lake was originally built as the Conscript in 1882, and was a coastal steamer (Hanrahan, p. 200).
The Grand Lake too was a coastal steamer which had a short career as a sealer; she went to the ice under Henry Dawe 1903-1905, then under Job Knee 1906-1908. In 1903, she took 25,688 seals, and 30,171 in 1904, but only 11,164 in 1905 (Chafe, pp. 90, 100). Since the song refers to her service under Dawe, and to taking twenty thousand seals, it must refer to 1903 or 1904. She sank suddenly in 1908, but her crew of 203 were rescued by the Vanguard (O'Neill, p. 972). It wasn't due to accident or weather; she was one of the few ships that had not been damaged in a year noted for bad weather. Apparently it was the result of an engineering problem that caused an injection pipe to burst, opening up the ship to flooding (FelthamNortheast, pp. 74-75; Ryan, p. 309; although Ryan, p. 191 says that she was merely crushed).
The Virginia Lake also had a bad 1908 (the conditions were said to be incredibly bad, with many ships damaged; FelthamNortheast, p. 74), having her bow stove in, but survived (O'Neill, p. 972) -- only to be lost in 1909. The Vanguard, which a year earlier had rescued the Grand Lake's crew, followed the Virginia Lake to the bottom week later (Feltham, p. 151).
The Virginia Lake first went to the ice under Job Knee in 1901, and sailed under him in 1902 as well. William Winsor (Jr.) commanded her in 1903 and 1904, and she took 22,677 and 26,379 seals in those years. She served under Samuel Blandford 1905-1906 and Jacob Kean 1907-1909, when she was lost to (Hanrahan, p. 200, says that she burned for four hours; Ryan, p. 309, says she broke her main shaft, then had her rudder wrenched off and her stern wrecked, so that she took on water too fast to stay afloat; they agree that 110 of her men were rescued by the Bellaventure and 50 walked across the ice to land); in none of those years did she match her totals under Winsor (Chafe, p. 104).
Since Henry Dawe commanded the Grand Lake only in 1903-1905 (Chafe, p. 90) and William Winsor commanded the Virginia Lake only in 1903 and 1904 (Chafe, p. 96), this song must from one of those years. 1904 is the better bet, since the Grand Lake took more than 30,000 seals in that year, its highest total under Dawe, plus the Virginia Lake is said to have taken more than 25,000 seals, which was true only in 1904.
Interestingly, in neither year did the two ships arrive on the same day. But in 1904 Grand Lake was the fourth ship to reach St. John's, on April 1, and Virginia Lake the fifth on April 2 (Chafe, p. 71). In 1903, Virginia Lake was the first to make it home, on March 28, and the Grand Lake only the fifth, on April 1 (Chafe, p. 70). So it would make a lot more sense to refer to them arriving together in 1904.
The Virginia Lake is also mentioned in "Arrival of the 'Grand Lake' and 'Virginia Lake' With Bumper Trips," "Arrival of 'Aurora,' 'Diana,' 'Virginia Lake,' and 'Vanguard,' Loaded" and "The Sealer's Song (II)." The Grand Lake is also mentioned in "The Sealer's Song (II)." William Winsor Jr. is also mentioned "First Arrival from the Sea Fishery S. S. Fogota, 1912." Henry Dawe is mentioned in "The Sealing Trip of the S. S. Greenland 1891" and "I Am a Newfoundlander," as well as in "The Sealer's Song (II), which see.
There is a small photo of the Grand Lake as she was sinking on p. 81 of Ryan/Drake. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.3
- Chafe: Levi George Chafe, Chafe's Sealing Book: A History of the Newfoundland Sealfishery from the Earliest Available Records Down To and Including the Voyage of 1923, third edition, Trade Printers and Publishers, Ltd., 1923 (PDF scan available from Memorial University of Newfoundland)
- Felthamnortheast: John Feltham, Northeast from Baccalieu, Harry Cuff Publications, 1990
- FelthamSteamers: John Feltham, Sealing Steamers, Harry Cuff Publications, 1995
- O'Neill: Paul O'Neill, A Seaport Legacy: The Story of St. John's, Newfoundland, Press Procepic, 1976
- Ryan: Shannon Ryan, The Ice Hunters: A History of Newfoundland Sealing to 1914, Breakwater Books, 1994
- Ryan/Drake: Shannon Ryan, assisted by Martha Drake, Seals and Sealers: A Pictorial History of the Newfoundland Seal Fishery, Breakwater Books, 1987
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