Our Collection

"I Just Didn't Want to Die": The 1914 Newfoundland Sealing Disaster

Top of page

Every spring for over 100 years, Newfoundland men had gone sealing, aware of the dangers from ice floes and storms. The S.S. Newfoundland, continuing in this tradition, set sail in March 1914. The ship became stuck in ice 20 miles from shore, so the men crossed the ice to the Stephano, a vessel working a seal patch a few miles away. Later that day, the Stephano's captain ordered all 132 men back to their own ship and continued his journey. Each captain thought the men were safely on board the other's ship. But the sealers were stranded on the ice, and that evening a storm struck, with howling winds and freezing snow. When rescue arrived three days later, 78 men were dead and nine missing.

1991, 19 min 23 s

Top of page