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The Historic Newfoundland

The Wreck of the Ethie and the Hero Dog - Legend or Fact?

The SS Ethie, which later became a well-known wreck on the west coast of Newfoundland. Courtesy of the Maritime History Archive (Capt. Harry Stone Collection, Photo PF-001.u034a), Memorial University, St. John's, NL

The Tale:

"Every Christmas season brings to memory the heroic rescue of the 90 passengers and crew of the S.S. Ethie by a stalwart Newfoundland...It was more than 50 years ago, during a blizzard, that the Ethie was wrecked off the coast of Bonne Bay, Newfoundland. No boat could be launched on that stony shore during such a raging storm. There were more than 100 souls utterly helpless within sight of land.

All of them would have been lost and many would have been mourning families that Christmas, had not a Newfoundland and its owner appeared on the nearby shore. The dog went to the rescue upon an order from its master. The Newfoundland swam out through a sea in which no man could possibly have survived. The poowerful dog made it to the ship and carried a lifeline back to shore. With this a buoy was rigged and all hands saved. Among the rescued passengers from the Ethie was an infant in a mail bag."

From The New Complete Newfoundland, Margaret Booth Chern, 1975

The Ethie and the dog in Verse:

The legendary heroics of the Newfoundland dog at the scene of the Ethie wreck were immortalized in verse by the poet E. J. Pratt. There is no record of the S.S. Ethie's dog being named Carlo - we"ll have to chalk this one up to poetic license. A reading of the poem leaves little doubt in one's mind that Pratt was thinking of the Ethie when he wrote this. Another clue is the quote with which he prefaces the poem (taken from an unnamed Newfoundland newspaper): "The dog that saved the lives of over ninety persons in that recent wreck, by swimming with a line from the sinking vessel to the shore, well understood the importance as well as the risk of his mission." Read the Poem




Learn More About the Wreck of the Ethie:


NY Times Article 12/17/1919

Memorial Article of last shipwreck survivor

Railway Coastal Museum Archive

Visit the remainders of the Ethie at Gros Morne National Park of Canada

Dog Collar returned to Newfoundland Museum

The SS Ethie and the Hero Dog by Bruce Ricketts

History, Myth and Journalism
By Mary Bridson

Schedule School Visits with the author of "The Wreck of the Ethie"

Books about the Ethie







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