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Margaret Jane Briscoe

Margaret Jane Briscoe

Female 1913 - 1947  (33 years)

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  • Name Margaret Jane Briscoe 
    Born 17 Jun 1913  Admaston Township, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    Died 3 Mar 1947  22 miles off Portland, Maine, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I11983  Family Tree
    Last Modified 23 May 2016 

    Family Harold Edward Eady,   b. 14 Aug 1918, Renfrew, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Dec 1944, Italy Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 26 years) 
    Married 14 Mar 1943 
    Last Modified 23 May 2016 
    Family ID F4094  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 17 Jun 1913 - Admaston Township, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 3 Mar 1947 - 22 miles off Portland, Maine, USA Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Photos
    Margaret Eady
    Margaret Eady

    Documents
    Record: Obituary
    Record: Obituary
    No Trace of Missing Freighter
    No Trace of Missing Freighter
    Halifax Herald
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Page 1

    The front page of the Halifax Herald from March 6, 1947, contained several stories about the sinking of the Novadoc.

    Headstones
    Margaret Eady
    Margaret Eady
    Memorial at Digby, Nova Scotia of the 24 crew lost at sea on the Novadoc. Margaret is the 17th name on the memorial, listed as:

    Margaret Eady 33 Cook Admaston, Ont

  • Notes 
    • Margaret went to work at the Great Lakes, but the ship she was on got in a storm in March 1947.
    • "We are running before the storm trying to keep the deck free of water. We request that a Coast Guard ship be asked to stand by until we reach port."

      THESE WERE the last words from the master of the gypsum freighter Novadoc as she foundered in a raging nor?easter in the Gulf of Maine 66 years ago this month.

      The distress call went out in the early morning of Monday, March 3, 1947, from Captain Allen J. Vallis.

      Owned by Paterson Steamship Company of Montreal and under charter to the Canadian Gypsum Company, the Novadoc was built and launched in England in 1924 as the Northton.

      Prior to coming into service in Nova Scotia, she had been a Great Lakes freighter. Her name, Novadoc, was derived from combining Nova Scotia and the Dominion of Canada.

      On March 1 of that year, late on a Saturday afternoon, the 2,300-ton ship had sailed from the gypsum company?s storage plant at Deep Brook on the shores of the Annapolis Basin with a cargo of 4,000 tons of gypsum.

      An unidentified woman at Victoria Beach, on the east side of Digby Gap, took a photo of the Novadoc as the ship passed through the gap and out into the Bay of Fundy. The Novadoc and her crew were never seen again.

      Among the 24 crew were 13 Nova Scotians. They included three sets of brothers. Jimmie Vroom, 16, and his 23-year-old brother Rob, were from Deep Brook. Jimmie had just signed on as a deckhand. It was his first trip.

      A relative, Donald Vroom, now in his 70s, knew both brothers. ?Jimmy was a few grades ahead of me in school,? he recalls. ?Bobbie had already made one or two trips on her.?

      The other brothers were John Francis, 22, and William Francis, 18, of Smith?s Cove, Digby County and Chipman and Lloyd Rice, 23 and 20 respectively, of nearby Bear River.

      A married couple from Windsor, N.S., Magnus Larsen 45, and his 25-year-old wife, Dorothy, were also aboard. Magnus was a wheelman on the Novadoc and Dorothy was second cook, working the galley with first cook Margaret Eddy, 33, of Admaston, Ont.

      A father and son were also crewmembers. Capt. Vallis, 49, of Ville St. Pierre, Que., sailed with his 23-year-old son, Allen S. Vallis, as second mate.

      Before loading at Deep Brook on March 1, the Novadoc had spent a short time in Digby where there were early signs of trouble. There, eight crew members quit the ship and were paid off. They had lost faith in the vessel and feared for their lives.

      A teenager at the time, Donald Vroom remembers that his grandfather, Harry Burrell, had told him there was also a problem with one of the hatches that sealed the ship?s holds.

      ?Grampie worked for the gypsum company,? Vroom said. ?He told me one of the holds was staved in and they brought some stuff up from Digby to fix it, but they never had time to fix it completely before sailing on the next tide.

      ?They only had a short window to load and the captain didn?t want to be delayed 12 hours waiting for the next tide.?

      Writer Barry Peters, whose uncle Ralph Peters was one of seven crew who signed aboard to replace the eight who had quit, relates in his book His Spirit Is Still Among Us that a young would-be deckhand saw the ship?s cat jump off and scramble up the wharf while the Novadoc loaded.

      And so it was that late on thad day, on a full tide and with a northeast storm brewing, the Novadoc and left Deep Brook bound for Staten Island, N.Y.

      ?Grampie said that when she left the wharf at Deep Brook, there was only about three feet of freeboard,? Donald Vroom remembers.

      As the Novadoc headed out through Digby Gap and into the Bay of Fundy, northeast winds pushed on her stern while 800 miles away, near Cape Hatteras, a hurricane had developed and was moving up the coast.

      Winds of 40 to 70 miles an hour, blowing snow, and 20-foot seas were reported from Portland, Maine as the storm worsened.

      On Sunday afternoon, the Novadoc was headed into the worst of it.

      ?It was a violent, violent storm and of course gypsum is heavy and they were warned not to go out, but the captain said take her out anyhow,? said Conrad Franklin of Hill Grove, Digby County, in an October 2000 interview for The Elder Transcripts, a government project to collect historically significant knowledge from elders in a community.

      Captain Vallis sent his last message at 2:17 a.m. on March 3, reporting that the ship was foundering in heavy seas, its bulkhead and hatches badly damaged. The vessel was about 25 miles off Portland, Maine.

      American Coast Guard rescue forces were sent to assist, but found no trace of the Novadoc or her crew. Over the next two days, three aircraft and two U.S. Coast Guard cutters searched a 10,000-square-mile area between Cape Cod, Mass. and Rockland, Maine but found nothing.

      ?I think she foundered and all hands are lost,? said Lt.-Cmdr. G.V. Stephanhoff, commander of the cutter Algonquin, which took part in the search.

      In July 2005, nearly 60 years after the tragedy, a monument was erected on the Digby waterfront to honour the men and women who perished on the Novadoc.

      No trace of the Novadoc has ever been found.

      Her sinking and the loss of 24 lives is a nearly forgotten tragedy, but one that parallels the 1970s wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, immortalized in song by Gordon Lightfoot.


      Blain Henshaw is a former broadcast journalist who grew up in Deep Brook .
    • A song has been written about the wreck of the Novadoc, "All Hands Lost" by Blaine Henshaw. Although he pronounces the name as Eddy rather than Eady, she is mentioned by name in the song. "Two women manned the galley, on the Novadoc that day, the first cook from Ontario, Margaret Eddy was her name."