Mariners' Service, Prince Edward County

Philip Dodds

Philip F. Dodds

Captain Nelson Palmatier, of Cherry Valley, who sailed the Lakes for more than fifty years (1874-1924) on thirty-eight different vessels, was

". . . a God-fearing man, [who] attended services in missions and such at ports where his ships docked. A service for mariners and fishermen was suggested by him to the Minister, the Reverend Walter Smart, and the first was held in 1923."[1].

The Mariners' Service is held annually, originally in early April, then from the 1970s onwards on the second Sunday of August, and more recently in the autumn, as a tribute and memorial to sailors and fishermen, past and present, of Prince Edward County.

The Mariners' Service of 1933 was announced for 23 April. At this service, Captain Byron Bongard related the loss of the schooner Picton on Dominion Day 1900; Captain Sidley had gone down with all hands, his young son, Sylvester, his mate, Frank Smith, two sailors, Walter Dunn and William Bly, and the cook, Barney Ayres.

The following year, on Sunday 22 April, 1934, C.H.J "Jerry" Snider, editor of the Toronto Telegram and author of some 1,300 issues of "Schooner Days" was the guest speaker at the Mariners' Service. He started by regretting the absence of Captain Nelson Palmatier, before addressing his subject "The silent St. Lawence" (the largest warship of the War of 1812) which he had recorded just the previous day in Schooner Days CXXXV (135).

In 1936 Philip F. Dodds reported in the Picton Gazette on the 9th Mariners' Service showing that the service, held in early April, had become nearly an annual event designed as a "God-speed to sailors and fishermen about to leave for their work upon the Great Lakes" (see the Picton Gazette article.) Again, we can thank Mr Jerry Snider for a detailed account, to be found in his article Last Fore 'N' After At Cherry Valley. It is interesting to note that M. Haylock Capon has reported, for this same year of 1936 another church service held on 2 January at Waupoos United Church, rather than Cherry Valley, that strongly ressembles the Mariners' service.

In 1937, at the Mariners' Sercice held on Sunday 4 April, there was discussion of the Goldhunter built by David Tait near the mouth of Black Creek at the head of South Bay. Also in 1937, Dodds donated memorial flags to the Cherry Valley church in memory of his brother, John, and other Athol dead of the Great War. Cherry Valley became famous as the Mariners' services were fully reported in the Toronto Telegram, particularly by C.H.J. Snider; many sailors recounted tales of wrecks and much maritime history was recorded.

Mariners' Service 1940 Click for enlargement.

It continued for more than twenty years through World War II, during which proceeds were donated to the British War Victims' Fund[2], via an auxiliary fund set up by the Picton Gazette and its News Editor, Phil Dodds, which collected more than $25,000 from the Mariners' Service and other individuals, including school children, and other groups. Dodds was also at this time instrumental in helping raise funds for the "comfort packages" destined for HMCS Hallowell.

It was traditional to decorate the church and the altar with flags, models, ships bells, binnacles and other maritime objects, as well as flowers. Typical, is the photo of the interior of Cherry Valley church for the service held on 21 April 1940 (scroll to the end of the article.)

In 1941, at the Mariners' Sercice held on Sunday 6 April at the Cherry Valley church (the program can be found here), with the Rev. F.E Rice officiating, and guest speakers C.H.J Snider who spoke of "The Red Ensign", Ernest Bartlett whose address covered "So Your Boy Is In The Navy", and W.T. Brown who spoke of "The Sailors' Institutes". The offering was dedicated to the British War Victims Fund.

For the 11 April 1943 service, see Schooner Days DLXXXVI, which mentions Calvin Grimmon, the first Royal Canadian Navy sailor from the County to be lost in service during the Second World War, and Moses Dulmage.

In 1944, Harry McConnell presented a model of the Geroge Thurston.

For the 15 April 1945 service, see the illustrated Schooner Days DCLXXXVIII, which commemorates CPO A.E. Lighthall and again Calvin Grimmon.

Mariners service programme 1945

The programme for the 1945 Mariners' Service, held in Cherry Valley.
click for enlargement.

C.H.J. Snider reports in 1947, Schooner Days DCCCXXI (821), that one of the well known sailors of the County, Captain Duncan B. Christie had not been present for the second year in a row. Snider writes "He, too, had passed below the horizon in the calm sunset spread in benediction over his flame scarred memories." The flame scars came to Captain Christie in 1889, when he was instrumental in saving many souls from the fire which sank the paddle wheel steamer Quinte in Long Reach.

Although Dodds reports that the service only missed one year from 1927 to 1948, and that thereafter the service did not seem to have the same purpose, it was apparently "revived" in 1947 and continued to be held for about fifteen years.[3] Eventually the Mariners' service was moved to the South Bay United Church, with the first being held, in its still current location, on 19th July 1970; this occasion included the visit of the Hudson Bay Comapny's ketch Nonsuch and the brigantine St. Lawrence II.[4] Phil Dodds must be credited with the revival and much of the continuation of the service. The Picton Gazette wrote at length on the 1974 service.

On Sunday, 10 August 1975, the service was organized by the Prince Edward Marine Society and was conducted by the Rev. John Fletcher of St Philip's Church, Milford. Philip F. Dodds read the memorial roll call, and guest speaker was the Rev. E. Schamerhorn of Bowmanville.

On Sunday, 22 July 1984, the service was organized by the Prince Edward Marine Society and was conducted by the Rev. Peter Walford-Davis. Philip F. Dodds read the memorial roll call, and guest speaker was Wm. S. Cahill, Jr., Mayor of Oswego, New York State.

On Sunday, 14 August 1994, the service was organized by Dave Cole, Chairman of the Prince Edward Marine Society and was conducted by the Rev. William Raham, with the dedication and benediction given by Canon Thora W. Rowe. The guest speaker was Dr Jack Christie, marine biologist and head of the Fisheries station at Glenora, and Roxy Lancaster read the Roll of Honour.

On Sunday, 11 August 1996, the service was organized by the the Mariner's Park Museum, Judy Zeleny, Chair of the advisory board, and was conducted by the Rev. Phil Hobbs. The guest speaker was Ben Ackerman, retired Naval Diving Trainer, and Roxy Lancaster read the Roll of Honour.

On Sunday, 9 August 1998, the service was organized by the the Mariner's Park Museum, Bob Townsend, Chair of the advisory board, and was conducted by the Rev. Philip L. Hobbs. The guest speaker was Paul Adamthwaite, retired Naval Officer, (his notes from the presentation "A wave is born" can be found here), and Roxy Lancaster read the Roll of Honour.

Mariners Service 1999

The Reverend Ted Goodier looks on, while Bob Townsend
addresses the attendees, 8 August 1999.

On Sunday, 8 August 1999, the service was organized by the the Mariner's Park Museum, Bob Townsend, Chair of the advisory board, and was conducted by the Rev. Ted Goodier. The guest speaker was Norman Ruttan, superintendent of St. Lawrence Islands National Park, and Roxy Lancaster read the Roll of Honour. A full desciption and photagraph can be found here. In preparation for the Mariners' Service, by assisting the fund raising for the Mariner's Park Museum, local artist Betty Ann Anderson donated a painting of the False Duck Lighthouse as it was known to her ancestors.

On Sunday, 13 August 2000, the service was organized by the the Mariner's Park Museum, Stan Russell, Chair of the advisory board, and was conducted by the Rev. E. Schamerhorn. The guest speaker was the Reverend J. David Mulholland, of the Mission to Seamen, Toronto Harbour, and Larry Jenson read the Roll of Honour.

On Sunday, 12 August 2001, the service was organized by the the Mariner's Park Museum, Stan Russell, Chair of the advisory board, and was conducted by the Rev. E. Schamerhorn. The guest speaker was Ian Balsillie, Royal Navy veteran of the Second World War, and Larry Jenson read the Roll of Honour.

On Sunday, 11 August 2002, the service was organized by the the Mariner's Park Museum, Stan Russell, Chair of the advisory board, and was conducted by the Rev. Joseph Sahadet. The guest speaker was Robert B. Townsend, author and past chair of the advisory board, and Larry Jenson read the Roll of Honour.

On Sunday, 10 August 2003, the service was organized by the the Mariner's Park Museum, Stan Russell, Chair of the advisory board, and was conducted by the Rev. Jean Wilson. The guest speaker was C.W. "Bill" Hunt, well known author for his books on prohibition days in Prince Edward County, and Larry Jenson read the Roll of Honour.

On Sunday, 8 August 2004, the service was organized by the the Mariner's Park Museum, Stan Russell, Chair of the advisory board, and was conducted by the Rev. E. Schamerhorn. The guest speaker was Suzanne Pasternak, well known musician and creator of the opera "Minerva", and Larry Jenson read the Roll of Honour.

On Sunday, 14 August 2005, the service was organized by the the Mariner's Park Museum, Stan Russell, Chair of the advisory board, and was conducted by the Rev. Jean Wilson. The guest speaker was Mr Philip Etter, a merchant mariner, and Terry Clifton read the Roll of Honour.

On Sunday, 13 August 2006, the service was organized by the the Mariner's Park Museum, Stan Russell, Chair of the advisory board, and was conducted by Captain Sam Roberts of the Salvation Army. The guest speaker was Mr Maurice Smith, a mariner and curator of the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes in Kingston, and Terry Clifton read the Roll of Honour.

The year 2010 was the centenary of the Royal Canadian Navy. On Sunday, 8 August 2010, the Mariners' Memorial Service was organized by the the Mariner's Park Museum, and Gary Wilson of the advisory board, welcomed all attendees. The service was conducted by The Reverend Jean Wilson. The guest speaker was [not recorded in programme], and Derek Wolfe read the Roll of Honour including four Royal Canadian Navy and one Netherlands Navy Services veterans from the Second World War.

On Sunday, 7 August 2011, the service was organized by the the Mariner's Park Museum, under the leadership of Derek Wolfe of the advisory board, and was conducted by the Reverend P. Hobbs. The gust speaker was Mr James Thompson; and John Storring and Bill Creasy read the Roll of Honour.

On Sunday, 12 August 2012, the service was organized by the the Mariner's Park Museum, under the leadership of Derek Wolfe of the advisory board, and was conducted by the Reverend David Colwell. The speaker was Derek Wolfe who addressed "Tradition and Service"; and John Storring and Joe Keogh read the Roll of Honour.

On Sunday, 6 October 2013, the service was organized by the the Mariner's Park Museum, under the leadership of Derek Wolfe of the advisory board, and was conducted by the Reverend David Colwell. The guest speaker was David Yates; and John Storring and Joe Keogh read the Roll of Honour.

On Sunday, 21 September 2014, the service was organized by the the Mariner's Park Museum, with special thanks to Mary Creasy, Olwen Cox and Pattie Wolfe, and was conducted by preacher Charlie Vincent. No guest speaker was recorded; and Jim Plomer read the Roll of Honour.

On Sunday, 24 September 2017, the service was organized by the the Mariner's Park Museum, with special thanks to Mary Creasy, Olwen Cox and Pattie Wolfe, and was conducted by preacher Steve Spicer. Jim Plomer, son of late Commodore James Plomer, RN, RCN, read the Roll of Honour. The guest speaker was Terry Spague, who addressed "The Life of Main Duck Island" after the formal ceremony.

In 2020, due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Mariners' Service was held outdoors on the lawn between the South Bay church and the Mariners' Park Museum buildings; the Reverend Phil Hobbs conducted the service, and there was no guest speaker.

The Rev Phil Hobbs at the 2022 Mariners' Service

Again outdoors, on Sunday, 26 September 2021, the service was organized by the the Mariner's Park Museum, with volunteers from the South Bay United Church, and was conducted by by the Reverend Pieter le Roux. Mayor Steve Ferguson addressed the attendance and the minister read the Roll of Honour. Kevin Gannon was invited to play Last Post and Reveille

On Sunday, 28 August 2022, the service was held inside the South Bay United Church for the first time since the outbreak of Covid. The Reverend Phil Hobbs officiated, and also gave an outline of Prince Edward County's maritime heritage. Monica Alyea accompanied the hymns at the piano, and Robin Everhardus performed Last Post on the trumpet for the Honor Roll and Act of Remembrance. Dignitaries present include Mayor Ferguson, representatives of the Canadian Legion Branch 78, the County Fire Services and the OPP. Vounteers from the church organized refreshments, and staff and volunteers from the Mariners' Park Museum arranged for some relevant decoration of the church, including HMCS Hallowell's ship's bell.

 
 

[ Back ] Footnote 1: Dodds, Philip F., Athol: Stories of a township and its people, Eastern Ontario Graphics, 1979, at page 90; more details at pages 213-215.

[ Back ] Footnote 2: The British War Victims' Fund had been initiated and widely promoted by the Toronto Evening Telegram.

[ Back ] Footnote 3: Calnan, Patricia, History of the Churches of Prince Edward County, Picton Gazette Publishing Co, 1971. At page 132, referring to the South Bay United Church: ". . . special mention should be made of the mariners' service which was held here on July 19, 1970. Beginning in 1947 [sic. An oversight leading to the term 'revival'. ed.] mariners' services were held in the Cherry Valley United Church for about 15 years, and it is hoped that these services will again become annual events."

[ Back ] Footnote 4: See Willis Metcalfe, Memories of Yesteryear, p. 59.

Ministers at Cherry Valley and South Bay churches, in the 1920s a part of the Milford charge: Rev. Harold Stainton (1919-22); Rev. Joseph Barnes (1922-26); Rev. Fred Horton (1926-30); Rev. Soford Dixon (1930-36); Rev. Dr. Edwin Smith (1936-37); Rev. Thomas McCord (1937-40); Rev. M.S. Lehigh (1940-46); Rev. S.T Tucker (short time 1946); Rev. Theo Smith (1946-51); Rev. Carmel Beckel (1951-53); Rev. George Wright (1953-57); Rev. Ernest Cook (1957-65); Rev. Thomas Tyson (1965-66); Rev. Ben Garratt (1966-67); became the Prince Edward South Bay Pastoral charge (with Cherry Valley) in 1967; Rev. Sidney Bates (1967-69); Rev. Wesley Neelands (1969-72); Rev. James McKay inducted at Cherry Valley Church in 1972; Rev. Peter Walford-Davis (1985;-?). Source: Howard Dulmage, Memories of South Bay, 1980; Pat Calnan, History of the Chuches (fn 3); and Al Capon, Prince Edward County Information Book.

Other Mariners services; Mariners’ Church of Detroit, 1975-present (2020 virtual) in memoriam the Edmund Fitgerald and others; St. Paul's Anglican Church, Point Edward (Lake Huron), early season blessing.

 

 

 



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Revised: 28 August 2022