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The Story of Captain J.H. Blackmore
Born November 27, 1881, on Patrick's Island, Bonavista Bay, to Jacob
and Dorcas Hann (Blackmore), he made his first fishing trip when he was
only five years old and at the age of nine, he went to the Labrador with
his father and grandfather.
Born with the sea in his blood and with a natural instinct very few possessed, he became one of the greatest fishing captains of the century and very often, made two trips during one fishing season, and every spring he would turn to the seal fishery, the trip of adventure he loved most of all.
He built his home and settled at Port Union in 1925. When the fisheries waned he moved to the coastal trade, and not satisfied with sailing ships, he built the M.V. Nanatuck in 1940-41. When he sold her in 1942, he built the M.V. J.H. Blackmore," his best loved boat, and for three years, he went with his ship in the service of the American Army up north in Greenland where they built the farthest north weather station, going farther north than any other ship ever went up till that time. She was lost off Spillar's Point near Elliston on a trip to the icefields in 1947. The following year he built the M.V. Newfoundlander and in the spring of 1954 she was caught in rafting ice and sank in the Straits of Belle Isle.
Capt. John Hann Blackmore was one of nature's gentlemen; one who "could walk with kings and not lose the common touch," gentle and kind with a sense of humor all his own, having a smile for everyone. He never lost his temper; he was a great humanitarian, he loved his fellow man with a special interest and love for children. His country meant a lot to him and his anxiousness never faltered - right to the end.
Awarded the grant of the dignity of an ordinary member of the Civil Division of the Order of the British Empire by King George VI, June 10, 1948. He died at Port Union on April 9, 1970.
Captain John Blackmore of Port Union recently celebrated his 71st birthday. It is with pleasure that we offer our congratulations to Capt. Blackmore on this occasion.Veteran Sealing Skipper Still Going Strong on 71st Birthday
(originally published in the Fishermen's Advocate, December 12, 1952)
Sails Far North
After 1940 Capt. Blackmore engaged in the coasting trade. Between 1943
and 1945 he was employed with the American War Shipping Department, and
carried supplies for the building of a weather and rescue base on the coast
of Greenland. During these three years he navigated his ship as far north
as 80 degrees latitude, which was the most northerly point reached by any
ship up to that date. He navigated 300 miles of northern coastline
with only the aid of a rough map.
Another northern experience include three years with the Hudson Bay Co. carrying supplies to their various stations in Baffin Island and Greeland.
A veteran seal-hunter, Capt. Blackmore spent 38 springs at the ice-fields, making his first trip at the age of 14 years. The boundless horizon of ice, the boisterous might and wrath of the ocean gale, and the tranquility of the peaceful night, was climaxed for him in 1948 when his ship the J.H. Blackmore was lost on Spiller's Point off Cape Bonavista on the way to the ice-fields.
Among the many vessels which the Captain commanded two were built at Port Union. The first was the Nanutuck, a vessel of 180 tons which was sold in Sydney, Nova Scotia, after five months service. The ill-fated J.H. Blackmore was the second. At present, the Capt. has in service the M.S. Newfoundlander, a vessel of 448 tons which he had built at Clarenville. This ship is now commanded by his son Fred.
This evening at a few minutes before eight o'clock a brand new vessel of 225 tons slid down the ways at Capt. John Blackmore's premises and took to the water amid the cheers of hundreds of spectators who came from this and nearby towns to see the splendid new boat gracefully become water borne. This is Capt. Blackmore's second boat, and like the first, is a craft of beautiful proportions and graceful lines, and is a credit to this country and to the men this country produces. Built at a time when shipping is a vital necessity the building of such a ship represents not only a contribution to the Island's commerce, but also an act of patriotism.
HIS SECOND SHIP
The new vessel is 225 tons burthen, and including deck house will be
around 275 tons gross. She is 138 ft. long, and has a beam of 28 ft. and
a depth of about 12 ft. She is full timbered with birch and is planked
with B.C. fir. She will be fitted with a 240 h.p. Fairbanks Morse engine,
a gypsy windlass and latest type anchors. She is of modern design with
raking stem and flaring bows, cruiser stern and long graceful lines throughout.
She was designed by Captain John Blackmore, himself, and has a slightly
concave bottom which he maintains is the best. She has the appearance of
a boat that will steam well and also be an excellent carrier.
Just around two years ago Capt. Blackmore launched the Nanuktut, a vessel similar in design of 178 tons, and also fitted with a 240 h.p. Fairbanks Morse engine which gave her a cruising speed of 10 knots. He sold this boat (which afterwards struck a reef somewhere in the West Indies and sank while carrying a load of pig iron) and very soon began making plans to build another.
WOODEN SHIPS AND IRON MEN
Last May Capt. Blackmore began cutting timber and on the first of July last year, just over ten months ago, work started on the new craft. Ably assisting Capt. Blackmore were two of his sons, George and Fred. They had with them an average of 8 men, mostly from Little Catalina, and considering the number at work, the shortage of supplies and the delay in shipments, they made excellent time. Not only is the boat strongly built, she is well built, and there have been many favorable comments on the smoothness of the carpentry.
HE BUILDS THEM AND SAILS THEM
Capt. John Blackmore himself is a veteran mariner. He is sixty years
old, was born in Newtown, Bonavista Bay, went fishing at the age of five
and to the Labrador at nine. He has been a sea captain for 35 years, as
a successful Labrador skipper and in the coasting trade. He has owned a
number of vessels and sailed at least one of them to the seal fishery.
He built the Nanuktut at 58 and at 60 has launched an even bigger
and better ship.
His sons George and Fred have been of invaluable help in these undertakings. They are all seadogs. Of the two youngest sons, Jacob is a Chief Skipper in the Royal Canadian Navy and Roland is studying Diesel Engineering.
THE WELL WISHES OF THE PUBLIC
Great interest was shown by the public in the construction of this boat, and when she was launched there were hundreds of people lining the banks and out in boats, etc. By car, truck, motor boat, rodney and on foot people from Catalina, Bonavista, Elliston, Little Catalina and Melrose mingled with the people from this town to see what proved to be a splendid launch of a splendid ship. The congratulations of the public are extended to Captain Blackmore, his sons and the craftsmen who together built a noble ship.
Source Dr. Melvin Baker http://www.ucs.mun.ca/~melbaker/jhblackmore.htm