Wreck of the SS Florizel

    February 24th, 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the wreck of the S.S. Florizel near Cappahayden on the Southern Shore. This famous ship was known for going to the annual seal hunt and carrying the first 500 (Blue Puttees) of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment to Europe in 1914. Its voyage from St. John’s to Halifax and then New York should have been a regular voyage for this luxurious passenger liner which was one of Bowring’s Red Cross Line of vessels. However, in the early hours of February 24th, the ship’s course was altered, crashing full speed upon rocks during a terrible storm. The horrific tragedy is reported in the St. John’s Daily Star on Feb. 25th and the next day, an account of the rescue efforts is given. Ninety-four crew and passengers perished, while forty-four were rescued. Addison Bown, a survivor of the wreck, gives a riveting account in the Newfoundland Quarterly (June 1973) of the agonizing hours spent huddled on the upper deck before being rescued. Sir Wilfred Grenfell provides his perspective in an article in the April 1918 issue of Among the Deep Sea Fishers. Among those who perished were John Munn, a Director with Bowring Brothers Ltd. and his daughter Betty Munn. Betty’s name lives on as the Peter Pan statue in Bowring Park was erected in her memory. To remember the many others lost during this disaster, the Admiralty House Museum has created an exhibit called “Faces of the Florizel” which will run from February 24th to June 29th. Cassie Brown’s book A Winter’s Tale is a powerful retelling of the wreck of the Florizel, the incredible rescue efforts and the enquiry that followed. There are many other books and articles here in the Centre for Newfoundland Studies that concern the Florizel. For anyone interested in researching more about this tragedy, come visit the Centre but also check out the Cassie Brown collection held in the Archives and Special Collections Division and the Florizel collections at The Rooms Provincial Archives.