A Mind at Sea: Henry Fry and the Glorious Era of Quebec's Sailing Ships

By John Fry

The trials and tribulations of a Canadian company titan in the course of a desirable interval in 19th-century Quebec.

A brain at Sea is an intimate window right into a vanished time whilst Canada was once one of the world’s nice maritime international locations. among 1856 and 1877, Henry Fry used to be the Lloyd’s agent for the St. Lawrence River, east of Montreal. The harbour coves less than his domestic in Quebec have been full of gigantic rafts of reduce wooden, the river’s coastline sprawled with yards the place immense square-rigged ships – many owned via Fry – have been outfitted.

As the president of Canada’s Dominion Board of exchange, Fry was once on the epicentre of wealth and impact. His domestic urban of Quebec served because the capital of the province of Canada, whereas its port was once frequently the scene of uncooked criminal activity. He fought vigorously opposed to the abduction of sailors and the damaging perform of deck loading. He additionally battled opposed to and overcame his own demon – psychological melancholy – occurring to jot down many send histories and essays on U.S.-Canada kinfolk.

Fry used to be a colorful determine and a reformer who interacted with the well-known figures of the day, together with Lord and girl Dufferin, Sir John A. Macdonald, Wilfrid Laurier, and Sir Narcisse-Fortunat Belleau, Quebec’s lieutenant-governor.

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In 1857 got here the Indian Mutiny [leading to the cave in of the East India corporation] and poor panic,” he wrote. [8] “Five English and Scottish banks failed. The panic within the U. S. was once additionally critical. ” Henry were part proprietor of the crusing send Hinda because the overdue iciness of 1854. Already stressed via paying curiosity at the unique buy rate, he now confronted the truth that the ship’s price had plummeted, an early sufferer of steam’s superiority over sail. “The Crimean warfare was once winding down,” he wrote, “and the British govt used to be chartering steamships, instead of crusing ships, to deliver the troops domestic. ” He made up our minds to promote his half Hinda to the Bristol pawnbroker Cole who owned the opposite part and was once dealing with her. “Owing to a petty act of tried fraud on his half, I bought the opposite part to him at a sacrifice, wasting mostly, a few �600. ” whereas the global melancholy deprived Henry as a vendor, he may possibly now purchase affordably. within the spring of 1857, the crusing send Lotus was once on the market in Bristol. He observed her as a wide send admirably fitted to the Quebec exchange, even supposing 16 years previous. “As I had no longer the capacity to pay for greater than one-quarter of her, I prompted Mr. Yeo to take 1/4, and very pricey pals, Captain Joseph Samson and Mr. R. S. could, consented to take 1/4 every one. So we got her for �3,900. ”[9] As for his personal percentage, he seems to be to have got it often with different people’s cash, significantly $25,000 from the munificent William Yeo in Devon. The three-masted, 841-ton Lotus were in-built 1841 at Saint John, New Brunswick, essentially of spruce and birch. quickly after the acquisition, Henry wrote, “Captain Samson and Mr. may perhaps either died, and that i acquired their stocks from their Executors, and eventually Mr. Yeo additionally. ” Henry obtained her ecocnomic paintings sporting rails and coal, and over the subsequent 9 years Lotus cleared him a revenue of approximately $35,000. [10] In December 1856, he had travelled from Boston to Liverpool at the steamer Canadian along with his twenty-year-old sister Lucy, who was once traveling Canada. It used to be a violent voyage. In a hurricane off the northwest coast of eire, Henry acknowledged that he “saw the first officer washed off the bridge, 5 lifeboats smashed, [and] the ship’s gun hurled into the engine room. ” It was once rarely a unique coincidence. throughout the seven years, 1854–1860, while Henry crossed the Atlantic a dozen instances, as many as thousand unlucky males, ladies, and youngsters tragically misplaced their lives in Atlantic steamship catastrophes. The 12 months 1854 by myself observed the lack of as many as 8 hundred lives, greater than part the quantity who might pass down at the significant. for instance, the town of Glasgow left Liverpool in March for brand new York, with 480 folks aboard, and used to be by no means heard from back. a similar yr greater than 300 passengers and team perished after the yankee Collins Line’s steamer Arctic collided with one other send within the fog off Cape Race, Newfoundland, and sank. On board the German steamer Austria in 1858, an officer attempting to fumigate the guidance quarters brought on a hearth and the lack of all yet sixty seven of the 538 people on board.

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