Loss of the S. S. Algerine
DESCRIPTION: "Attention all ye sailor boys And hark to what I say And hear about the Algerine Was lost in Hudson Bay." The old sealing boat, loaded with Americans but with a Newfoundland crew, is destroyed by ice. The Neptune rescues the remaining crew
AUTHOR: presumably Johnny Burke (1851-1930)
EARLIEST DATE: 1912 (Burke's Ballads)
KEYWORDS: ship wreck rescue
1912 - the Algerine wreck
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Ryan/Small, p. 92, "Loss of the S.S. Algerine" (1 text)
NOTES [323 words]: The Algerine first went to the ice under H. Bartlett in 1893, and made her last voyage in 1912. Although she had been a sealer for every one of those twenty years, she was on an arctic exploration voyage in Hudson Bay, not a sealing trip, when she was lost (Ryan, pp. 195, 197).
Although she had the biggest engine of any wooden-walled sealer (Candow, p. 55), she wasn't a spectacular success as a sealer; only once did she take more than 20,000 seals in a season (in 1898 under Job Knee, when she took 23,698); her average haul per season was a little over 10,000. Perhaps that helps explain why she had eight different captains in her twenty years.... (Chafe, p. 98).
In addition to its mention in this song, the Algerine is mentioned in mentioned in "Captains and Ships," "The Sealer's Song (II)," "Success to the Hardy Sealers," and "Ballad of Captain Bob Bartlett, Arctic Explorer," An Algerine is also mentioned in "A Noble Fleet of Sealers," although this appears to be a reference to the MV Algerine, not the SS Algerine. Apart from the special case of the Greenland, which was mentioned a lot because of the infamous "Greenland Disaster," no other ship is mentioned more often in the material in Ryan/Small.
Perhaps ironically, the only other ship mentioned as often is the Neptune, which rescued the Algerine's crew. For her, see "Neptune, Ruler of the Sea."
Ryan, p. 308, has another poem mentioning the Algerine and the Neptune, in the context of a bad voyage which left her sealers stuck without transportation home.
Although most sources attribute this to Burke, it is not in his most extensive collection, Johnny Burke (William J. Kirwin, editor), John White's Collection of Johnny Burke Songs, Harry Cuff Publications, St. John's, 1981. But Burke wrote a lot of songs starting "Attention..."; it seems to have been his personal alternative to "Come all ye..." (which he also used several times). - RBW
Last updated in version 4.3
- Candow: James E. Candow, Of Men and Seals: A History of the Newfoundland Seal Hunt, Canadian Parks Service, Environment Canada, 1989
- 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)
- Ryan: Shannon Ryan, The Ice Hunters: A History of Newfoundland Sealing to 1914, Breakwater Books, 1994
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