“Welcome to the Newfoundland Museum. We hope you enjoy your visit. If you have any questions while on this tour, please do not hesitate to ask.”
“We are now in our Shipwreck section.” the guide announced to her charges. “Over 10,000 ships have been lost on the Newfoundland shores over the last 500 years. While all wrecks are important to us, none has captured our hearts and minds more than that of the SS Ethie.”
“The Ethie was beached on a storming night in 1919 on the shores of the Western Peninsula. The people of the area say that the night of December 10th was one of the worst storms they had ever seen in Newfoundland. The wind howled, the sea swirled and ice built up on every surface. It was not a night for man or beast.
"We are proud to have two special artifacts from the wreck of the SS Ethie. The first is this mail sack. Why you might ask, is an ordinary-looking mail sack something special?
"There were ninety-two people on board the Ethie that fateful night. The youngest was an 18-month baby girl named Hilda. Baby Hilda was sent ashore in this very mail sack.”
“Did the baby live?” came a question from one of the visitors.
“Indeed she did, young man.”, replied the guide. “In fact, Baby Hilda still lives today here in St John’s.”
“This next artifact is one of my favorites”, stated the guide. "All ninety-two people onboard the Ethie were saved by the heroism of a local fisherman, Reuben Decker, and his dog, Wisher. The story of the rescue was published as far away as Philadelphia. The local newspaper in Philadelphia, The Ledger spearheaded a fundraising program that resulted in this collar and metal being awarded to Decker and Wisher in appreciation for saving those people. The collar and metal were presented to Decker in 1920.
“An interesting piece of information concerning this collar is that it was found in 1999 in Alaska. But to learn that story you will need to buy, The S.S. Ethie and the Hero Dog."
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