ss Nascopie: The Early Years

Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson delivery photograph. Note the description as a sealing steamer

The Nascopie played a vital role in the re-supply of the Canadian Eastern Arctic for close to 35 years; from her first voyage in 1912 to her sinking off Cape Dorset in the summer of 1947. Yet very little has been written about her, and not one of the sources referenced correctly attributed the genesis of the boat to Job Brothers of St. John’s and Liverpool. All, either directly, or indirectly, claim that she was built by the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), and Job Brothers (Job) (if mentioned at all) were retained to manage the vessel.

Following are the six published sources referenced, detailing how each treated ownership of the vessel:

1    RMS Nascopie: Ship of the North, Doug Grey, 1997 112pp

On page 24, Grey refers to Lord Strathcona’s announcement at the 1911 Annual Court of Proprietors: To put the Company’s transport on a proper footing, and to avoid the necessity of chartering extra tonnage. A new type of vessel is being built. “This will assure suitable tonnage to the company for some years to come”. There is no mention of Job, who only appear on page 34 in the section on Ownership and Chartering, where the author states: “To build the ship, HBC entered into an agreement with Job Brothers of St. John’s and Liverpool, England”.

The implication is that the HBC built the ship, and perhaps saw Job as a partner who could provide alternate season employment. This supposition is strengthened by Grey noting that the HBC held 117 shares to Job’s 107 shares[1] in the Nascopie Steamship Company, which was established as the ownership vehicle, and incorporated in St. John’s Newfoundland.

2    The Nascopie Chronicles, Chapter 11 Merchant Princes, Vol III Company of Adventurers, Peter C Newman, 1991.

Newman states unequivocally that on 10 July 1911, Lord Strathcona commissioned construction of a 2,500ton supply vessel from Swan Hunter of Newcastle on Tyne. Newman’s history of the ship does not even mention Job.

3    Nascopie: The Story of a Ship, CP Wilson, The Beaver[2], 1947, 11pp

This was, essentially, an obituary for the ship, but Wilson, like other authors, adhered to the notion that she was built by the HBC, and begins by quoting at length from the 10 July 1911 minutes. In the article’s second paragraph he states that Job Brothers of Newfoundland were to own a minority interest, the capital of the company was to be $220,000[3], and that the name of the steamer was to be Nascopie.

4    ss Nascopie: Newfoundland Sealing Steamer, William Barr, The Newfoundland Quarterly 1978 7pp, 2pp photographs

Barr commences his article by quoting the full paragraph from the 10 July 1911 Annual General Court of Proprietors. However, the following statement offers the strong implication that the HBC were responsible for the construction of the ship:- “Owner of the minority interest in the new ship was the St. John’s sealing and trading company, Job Brothers. They were particularly interested in having a strongly built steamer, which could participate in the annual seal hunt off the Newfoundland coast…”

This short paper is primarily concerned with the Nascopie’s performance in the seal hunts for 1912, 13, 14 and 1915. It finishes with extensive quotations from Hon. R.B.Job’s diary for 1915 covering the sale of the company interests in the Nascopie Steamship Company to the HBC, as well as sale of the St. John’s steel sealing fleet to Russian interests.

5    ss/RMS Nascopie 1912-1947 Biography of a ship, Henry Nixon, Argonauta 1987 2pp

This was a short report of work in progress, with a request for assistance from members of the CNRS. It does not appear that the proposed paper, or book, was completed.  Nixon states that the Nascopie Steamship Company was formed by Job Brothers of St. John’s (49%), and the Hudson’s Bay Company (51%). This is the closest any of the sources comes to suggesting the ship was built by Job, but is still not a definitive statement. He does point out that the ship only became entitled to the prefix RMS in 1933, when the complement began to include a postmaster.

6    Wikipedia

The Wikipedia entry for the ship states that the Hudson’s Bay Company owned RMS Nascopie, which is technically correct from 1916 onwards. Although the article does not indicate for whom the ship was built, it does note that the ship was involved in sealing for Job Brothers. A footnote incorrectly states that the ship was designed and built by Swan Hunter.

7        Arctic Cargo: A History of Marine Transportation in Canada’s North, Christopher Wright 2016

Drawing on four of the resources noted above, but particularly the unequivocal statement in Merchant Princes by the – usually- well researched, Peter Newman, together with the HBC Archival record for the ship[4], the author states on p260, that the HBC built the ship. As this brief paper demonstrates, further research has demonstrated the inaccuracy of this statement.

8    Primary Resources

  • HBC Correspondence files for 1911-1915 in Microfilm reels 846 and 847. Although these are comprehensive, there are some gaps in the files that have been noted.
  • R.B. Job diary for 1915, referenced in Newfoundland and Labrador Archives at The Rooms, St. John’s NL.
  • Files as noted relating to Job Brothers and the Nascopie Steamship Company from the Maritime History Archive of Memorial University St. John’s NL
  • Chafe Sealing Statistics 1923

Construction of the Ship

The first indication regarding construction of the Nascopie was a letter dated 21 March 1911 from the Liverpool branch of the Job family to “The Manager Hudson Bay Company London”, in which Job note the success of steel boats in the seal fishery, and that they are supplanting the wooden ones. They state that their Beothic and others have been so successful, they are contemplating building another of larger dimensions[5], and “it has occurred to us that possibly it might suit your company to take a half interest in her with us, as apart from sealing she would be suitable for your Hudson Bay work, and when the Port Nelson Railway opens she should be especially adapted for this business…”

Job also pointed out that the Beothic had paid a 25% dividend each for the past two years, and that they expected at least as good a result from the 2011 season. On these results they expected no difficulty in getting shares taken.

The final paragraph of the letter was as follows: “If this matter is worth the consideration of your board, one of our partners will be happy to call and discuss matters personally at any appointed time, but the sooner the better”.

Background regarding the new Steel Sealers.

A.J. Harvey delivered the first ice-strengthened steel sealer in 1906, and the Adventure [6] brought in valuable seal cargoes over the next few years, in addition to being taken on summer charters by Revillon Frères from 1907, who were busy building a competitive presence to the HBC in the Eastern Canadian Arctic fur business. The HBC would have been aware of the capabilities of the ship, because Edmund Mack, who was captain of the HBC’s re-supply ship Pelican, notes in a Beaver article in 1938 that the Adventure frequently passed his ship en route to Hudson Bay for Revillon.

Job’s Beothic was delivered in 1909 and had her initial sealing season that year. She was joined by Harvey’s Bellaventure and Bonaventure as well as Bowring’s big passenger/cargo steamer Florizel. See below:-

Characteristics of Steel Sealers[7]

Name Net.


Del. Sealing



LxBxDxd, ft



Adventure 1,504 1906 270 265x38x?x22 -na-
Bellaventure 997 1908 270 241x36x?x17 350
Bonaventure 980 1909 270 239x36x?x17 325
Beothic 1,028 1909 203 241x35x?x17 328
Florizel 1,980 1909 270 306x43x30x? 437
Nascopie 1,521 1912 272 285×43.75x?x22.5 339
Stephano 2,144 1911 270 326×46.3x?x19.9 577

Relative Performance of Job Bros. Sealers in Dollars[9]

Sealer/Year 1909 1910
3 Wooden Walls $34,218 $50,304
Beothic $53,660 $62,314

Job’s three wooden walls were Diana, Neptune, and Erik

To get a sense of equivalent values today, multiply the sealing revenue by 25, thus Job earned, in today’s terms, nearly $3million, of which more than half came from their new steel sealer. Other steel ships also did well, with Florizel bringing in $90,800 value in 1910. Harvey’s three steel sealers brought in over $120,000 value in catch in each of the two years, and one can understand Job’s enthusiasm for the new type of ship.

Agreement to Build the Ship

The HBC, replying to Job’s letter of 21 March 1911, sent Job (Liverpool) a telegram on 29 March, presumably suggesting a meeting as Job replied the same day by mail that their Newfoundland partner was away that day, but they would wire them on 30 March to determine a day “we may have the pleasure of calling upon you….”. William G. Job then sent a hand written letter dated 30 March to The Secretary, Hudson Bay Company, from the Waldorf Hotel in London to say he would reply to telephone messages and telegrams on Monday, be back in London on Tuesday morning, and available for an interview any day during the balance of the week.

Although the actual date of the meeting isn’t recorded in the correspondence file, a letter from Job (Liverpool) on 03 April confirms it took place, and that an important party to the meeting was a Mr. Cunliffe[10]. Job replied at length to a telegram sent to the Waldorf  Hotel by the HBC, seeking particulars of a proposed agreement.

In the meantime there had been a flurry of telegrams and letters between the HBC, Captain John Ford and Captain Cleveland Smith regarding a suitable length and draft for the proposed new vessel, with particular reference to Charlton Island[11]. Job’s letter alludes to the development of the proposed ship’s dimensions, by stating that the HBC did not want a ship over 280’ in length, but 18’ draft would limit capacity to about 1,880tons, which they felt was “inexpedient”. Their suggestion was 280’ length on a beam of 41’, but 22’ draft, which would give 2,500-2,700tons capacity. Such a boat could be built for the same price as the smaller one viz £38,000, perhaps a little less. They also pointed out that such a ship would be at 19-20’ draft on arrival at “your Bay”, and suggested a very moderate coal consumption of 10tons per day at 9/10kts. “If after considering these details you would like to have another interview, our Newfoundland partner Mr. William G. Job will be happy to call and discuss the matter further”.

They also enclosed two years of audited statements regarding the Beothic, and referred the HBC to the Bank of Liverpool and the Bank of Montreal, London for financial references. We do not know to whom an HBC cable to St. John’s NL on 04 April was sent, asking about Job’s suitability as a business partner, but they received an affirmative answer the same day.

On 07 April, Job (Liverpool) sent the HBC two cables and an extensive letter, which more or less determined the characteristics of the new ship. She was to be 285’ LOA, 43’ beam and 2,500tons capacity on 21’ draft. A table was provided showing that dwt capacity was reduced by 100tons for each 4” of draft reduction. At 18’ draft, capacity would be 1,740tons. Job pointed out that the ship had an excellent cubic capacity[12] relative to the Beothic: 155,000ft3 vs 92,000ft3.

Apparently Job had been able to arrange a three-month charter of the Beothic with the HBC for 1911 at £1,200/month, and were proposing the same charter rate for the new vessel, although only for two months. Job pointed out to the HBC that this was highly favourable, given its cubic capacity and that they would have to carry insurance for around £40,000 vs £30,000 for the Beothic.

Leonard Cunliffe appeared to be in favour of coming to an agreement with Job. On the following day (Saturday 08 April), he sent a handwritten letter to Thomas Skinner (appointed Deputy Governor in 1910), recommending the agreement with Job. He noted that: “My impression is that we can come to quite a fair arrangement with Messrs. Job, both as to the annual charter at a price very favourable to the HBC, and also with regard to the management commission based on net profits”. He suggested coming to a final decision by Tuesday (11 April).

There is a gap in the correspondence at this point, but Job must have received an affirmative response as Liverpool sent the ship’s hull specifications to the HBC on 18 April, and noted in the cover letter that the engine specifications would be sent the following day. These documents were copies of those sent to selected ship builders. Three days later they advised on progress with negotiations over the Nascopie. This is the first time the name was mentioned, but there is no indication as to who chose it, and when.

Shipbuilders contacted regarding the proposed new ship

Napier Miller & Co.                £45,800           Clyde, with Rankin and Blackmore Engines

                                                £46,700                       with Dunsmuir Engines

Palmer Shipbuilding Co          £47,250           East Coast

Antwerp Engineering              £43,850           Antwerp

Swan Hunter & Co                 £44,000           East Coast

D & W Henderson                  £45,000           Clyde

Railton Dixon & Co                Unable to guarantee delivery in time

Sir W.G. Armstrong & Co      Unable to guarantee delivery in time

Job was concerned that the bids had come in considerably over their estimates, but after discussion with the builders found that the specification was much more expensive than necessary, and far in excess of the Beothic. They enclosed changes to the specification, which they expected to bring prices down to £42,000, but did not feel they could get it reduced much further. Job sought authority from HBC to negotiate at £42,000, as they intended to narrow the field down to two builders by Monday or Tuesday. Job stressed the need for a prompt decision to ensure that the boat was ready for the seal fishery in 1912.

A short letter from Job (Liverpool) on 26 April noted that there was keen competition for the contract, and on 27 April, Job sent the HBC a telegram advising that they had contracted for the ship at Swan Hunter at £38,600, which they considered an excellent price.

The contract with Swan Hunter was signed by Job on 28 April, and called for equal payments of £7,720 at keel laying, framing, plating, launch and delivery, with machinery at equivalent levels of completion. It would appear that the HBC did not want its association with the ship advertised, and Job only advised the yard of the HBC involvement on 08 May, after receiving HBC approval.

Hull and Engine Specifications

According to a letter of 24 April, Job had extensive discussions with the consulting engineer for Reid Newfoundland, as well as D&W Henderson who had built the Beothic and other steel sealers …and thrashed out thoroughly the details of thickness of plating and spacing of framing… The result was a page of minor changes to the hull specification, and some amendments to the engine specification, mainly reducing the guaranteed speed from 14kts to 133/4kts, and a change in ash handling equipment.

The main change in the hull was a reduction of bow steel thickness from 2” to 1.76”, shell plating reduced to .88” from .96”, together with other minor reductions in the ice belt. However, one change that would come back to haunt them, and delay delivery, related to deck sheathing

Leonard Cunliffe wrote later (probably to the HBC Secretary) in returning copies of the specification and plans, that he did not see anything that materially affected the performance of the ship, and that Captain Smith could comment very well on the subject.

Naming the Ship

There is a gap of about two weeks in the correspondence files after 08 April, and the only reference to selection of the name comes in a much later letter from Job (Liverpool) – 31 May – which refers to the name we have jointly agreed upon, but questioning the spelling. However, they leave the final decision on this topic to your chairman, presumably Governor, Lord Strathcona.

Ownership and Management of the Nascopie Steamship Company.

Although Job initially approached the ownership on a 50/50 basis, and payments to the yard were split equally (£3,860 each) it would appear that the HBC wanted to ensure they had ultimate control over the ship. Company capital was to be $220,000 made up of 220 shares valued at £1,000 each; that HBC would own 107 shares with Job owning 103 shares. They settled on a subscribed capital of $210,000, which was seen as adequate for construction of the ship, and working capital. Each party had the right to subscribe up to $5,000 each to the balance of paid-up capital. In recognition of its management role, Job had the right to not less than 75 shares.

Each company was to appoint two directors to the board, and Job, as managers, would earn commissions on net profits as follows:

< £6,000                      5%

£6-7,000                      51/2%

£7-8,000                      6%

£8-9,000                      61/2%

£9-10,000                    7%

£10,000>                     71/2%

For 1912,1913 and 1914 the HBC would take the Nascopie on charter at £1,200/month, and would pay all coals, port charges, pilotage for a period commencing in July each year, and for a duration sufficient to deliver all goods.

The final agreement regarding shareholding and management was dated 02 January 1912.

The Job directors were: William G. Job, and Robert B. Job. The HBC directors were not given in the agreement, but elsewhere are identified as Thomas Skinner and Leonard Cunliffe[13].


Construction, Launch and Delivery

A four-page worksheet for construction of the ship, dated 29 February 1912 indicates as follows for key events:

Keel Laid                               12 June

Framing Commenced           11 July

Framing Complete                28 August

Plated                                   13 November

Launch                                  07 December

Trials run                               24 January

Sailed                                    30 January

The General Arrangement that accompanied the work sheets shows that the Nascopie was 285’ between perpendiculars, 43’9” extreme beam, 22’6”, 2,600 tons dwt on a Summer Draft of 21’43/4”. Cubic capacity was better than originally expected at 177,000ft3 Grain and 158,800ft3 Bale. Interestingly the work sheets give a total cost of £31,239/6/3, which appeared to include the 5”x3” Oregon pine deck sheathing. Thus the yard made quite a decent profit on the contract, despite the apparent steep discount from the original price to the accepted bid. Job took a £2,500 cheque for extras with them to North Shields. It is not clear exactly what this covered, but it appeared to be the deck sheathing, Marconi wireless and other work connected with sealing that could be done at less cost than in St. John’s.

The final price for the ship was thus £47,500, made up as follows:

            Contract Price                                                              £38,600

            Premium for exceeding contract speed                      £250

            Other Extras, including partial sealing outfit               £2,450

            Naval Architects Fee                                                  £500

            12 Months Insurance, steamer and freight                £3,200

            Seal Fishery outfit St. John’s                                     £2,500

            Total                                                                          £47,500

An undated, and un-attributed, press clipping in the HBC correspondence file announced the launch of the Nascopie on Thursday 07 December 1911. She was named by Miss Mildred A. Job of Liverpool, and Mr. T.B. Job (“one of our juniors”) was also in attendance for the owners[14]. The HBC was only mentioned as ordering the ship in conjunction with Messrs. Job Brothers of Liverpool. It was also noted that the ship had been built under the supervision of Messrs. G. S. Goodwin, Consulting Engineers, of Liverpool, was especially heavily built, and had quarters for nearly 300 sealers. The work sheets included the cost of 250 iron beds[15].

The work sheets also showed that accommodation was provided for 16 1st Class passengers[16], and 16 officers in the deckhouse, while sealers would be in the shelter deck. The working crew were to be housed, as per tradition, in cramped quarters in the forecastle.

The launch was delayed because of the early decision by Job regarding the extent of deck sheathing, in order to reduce the bid price. Deck sheathing is essential for ships working in arctic waters, although it would seem it was not considered necessary for sealing ships. The question first came up on 30 November, and wood sheathing was quoted by the yard at £650, which Job considered excessive. The HBC countered with a suggestion of a product called Courtecene[17], which was roundly condemned by the yard and by the consulting engineers, who thought it good for the tween decks of a man-o-war, but not in any exposed location. The Yard also advised that it would cost more than wood sheathing. After several exchanges, £650 for wood sheathing was approved on 04 December.

As noted above, the ship was launched on 07 December, and ran her trials on 24 January 1912. The weather was stormy, but she achieved 14.1kts at a mean draft of 15’111/2”, equivalent to 1,270dwt – or slightly in excess of half load condition. This earned the yard a £250 premium as per contract.


ss Nascopie construction cost work sheets from Tyne and Wear Archives





Sealing and Trading

Trading started as soon as the ship was delivered, and in a letter dated 25 January 1912, Job (Liverpool) advise that they had secured freight of £-/9/3/ton for a cargo of coal from Cardiff to St. John’s, and hoped to fit in a Sydney to St. John’s coal voyage[18] as well before sealing. They opined that the revenue from these voyages should pay for the outbound voyage. There was apparently one storm after another during the delivery voyage and the boat rolled abominably, with the chief engineer commenting that the ship would have to be fitted with bilge keels[19]. The last 200 miles into St. John’s were through ice, and the ship performed very well.

Problems over employment of the Nascopie commenced as soon as the Fur Trade Commissioner came into the picture. A Job letter of 12 May 1912 diplomatically points out that the request for the ship to be in Montreal by 15 June was far earlier than originally expected. Also, that the ship broke its propeller blades during the seal fishery, and the new blades would not leave England until the end of May.

Following the first season, Captain Cleveland Smith stated in a report[20] on her performance “She is not a good sea boat, and a big deck cargo would be unsafe. At present she is the Queen of the Rollers, but I understand she is to have bilge keels put on – this may make her all right; without them she is hardly safe”.

The ship apparently went to Newcastle for repairs at some point during the winter of 1912/13, and a letter from Job dated 13 February 1913 notes that the bilge keels had been added, and that the ship was, again, loading coal for St. John’s. In a letter of 27 February, they confirm a cable noting that the bilge keels have been effective, and the ship made a 7day transit from The Lizard, despite having to steam through quite a bit of ice.

On 12 March 1913, Job advised the HBC that the seal fishery would commence the following day and they had insured the ship as follows for 1913:

            Hull and Machinery, all risks                        £39,500

            Disbursements, profits and sealing             £2,500

            Freight                                                         £1,200

            Premium Reducing[21]                                £3,500

            Total                                                            £46,500

In 1915, Harvey withdrew the Adventure from its charter with Revillon in favour of a contract with the Dominion Government to serve the proposed new port at Nelson River. The HBC had hoped to carry their 600-700 tons of cargo at $60 per ton[22], but the offer was declined (see pp 92 Arctic Cargo: A History of MarineTransportation in Canada’s North for details on how Revillon solved their “supply chain” conundrum). This apparently placed the HBC in a difficulty as they had counted on using Revillon’s warehouse in Montreal to store English goods from the Pelican prior to the arrival of the Nascopie – alternatives were apparently expensive.

Representative Freight rates for Goods Loaded at Montreal 1912 Season

Destination Cdn.Goods Hardware Coal & Salt
Labrador 50/- 25/-  
Hudson Bay 60/- 30/- 20/-
Ungava 60/- 30/- 20/-
Charlton 60/-   20/-

The above rates can be found on p263 of Arctic Cargo. They are also given in a letter 08 May 1912 from HBC to the Fur Trade Commissioner.

Note the considerable jump in rates from 1912 to 1915. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be advice from the HBC regarding any changes in 1913 or 1914.



Representative Freight rates for Goods Loaded at Montreal 1915 Season

Destination English Goods Cdn.Goods & Flour Firewood Canoes Tug Boats Empty Barrels
Charlton 105/- 105/-          
York  Factory 87/- 87/-     £30 £10 8/-
Chesterfield 165/- 165/-   48/-     8/-
Hudson Strait 80/- 80/- 60/-        
Ungava 140/- 140/-       £10  

Other items: Coal for the Inenew at Charlton 32/6. Toboggans 14/-. Codfish, per quintal 8/-

Comparative Performance as a Sealer

Performance in sealing was as much to do with the capability of the sealing master, as it was the ship. Pure luck and ice conditions also figured in the results as well, and the Nascopie did not have good luck with her for her sealing career. In 1912, she sheared off two blades from her propeller shortly after leaving St. John’s, then took the third blade and part of the fourth shortly afterwards. Captain Barbour, working with John Ledingham, the Chief Engineer, undertook a risky repair in the ice. This took three days of round the clock work. The delay materially affected their returns as Captain Barbour was unable to find many harp seals, which were much more valuable than other types of seal. Then in 1913 bad ice conditions also affected returns. Her sealing career was capped by the disastrous 1915 season, where overall fleet returns were pitiful. The only ship to find a patch of seals was Bowring’s Stephano, which returned about two thirds of the total catch.


Value of Seals Landed in St John’s, Dollars

Year Total Number of Boats Job Share:


Beothic Nascopie

Best in Year

1910 674,296 20 (1) 17 62,314 -na- 90,800
1911 477,781 17 (1) 26 50,543 -na- 50,543
1912 392,204 23 (9) 28 (39) 60,016 35,540 60,016
1913 493,846 19 (3) 14 (26) 0 54,907 69,562
1914 497,980 20 (4) 28 (35) 61,630 38,248 61,630
1915 93,659 13 (11) 8 (10) 4,964 2,151 52,586
  • Under number of boats, the number returning less than $10,000 in value that season is given in brackets. Note particularly 1915
  • Job share excludes contribution by Nascopie, figure in brackets if the Nascopie catch is included.

 In 1913, the Beothic was involved in a collision exiting The Narrows en route to the sealing grounds, and did not work that season, because of extensive damage. It would appear she sailed for the Clyde for repairs, as well as work that extended her capacity from 1,400 to 1,620tons, with corresponding increases in grain and bale capacity. It is not known if other work was undertaken.

Operation on behalf of the Hudson’s Bay Company

Trading appeared to be the responsibility of Job (Liverpool), and only anecdotal information is available from the HBC correspondence files as to cargoes carried. Typically there would be anxious exchanges between the Secretary, and possibly the Fur Trade Commissioner, with Job towards the agreed date for delivery in Montreal. For the first three years, the ship arrived on time in Montreal, it was only 1915 (see following table) when there were real redelivery problems, and the ship was late.

It isn’t known whether the ship spent some time each winter in the UK for repairs during this period, but she always seemed to arrive in St. John’s in time for the sealing season, usually with a delivery cargo of coal. Following sealing, Job traded the ship on the spot market.

The table showing ss Nascopie’s performance on behalf of HBC in the Eastern Arctic has been derived from logs provided in the correspondence files, but information about cargo and freight rates is very spotty, and while some years have extensive material, others are relatively sparse. No data on cargo quantities could be found for 1914, which had only 20 letters in the correspondence file. Master’s orders, for most seasons, are also missing, although there is such a letter to Captain Cleveland Smith for 1912. This includes a comment regarding the reason for the call at Chesterfield Inlet, as well as instructions regarding a new boat for Georges River, as well as collecting the returns. There is no evidence, however, that the ship called there on its return voyage.

There were fourteen “saloon” passengers who joined the ship in Montreal, some of whom undertook a round trip, and disembarked in St. John’s at the end of the voyage.


. ss Nascopie Arctic Voyages 1912-1915

Place 1912   1913   1914   1915  
  Arr Dep Arr Dep Arr Dep Arr Dep
St John’s   JN30   JN29        
Montreal[23] JL03 JL24 JL03 JL17 JN25 JL06   AU02
Cartwright Au01 AU06 JL23 Au04 JL13 JL30    
Port Burwell AU09 AU10 AU09 AU10     AU09 AU09
Lake Hbr. AU11 AU17         AU11 AU14
Wakeham Bay             AU15 AU16
Cape Dorset             AU19 AU21
Wolstenholme AU19 AU22     Au13 AU16 AU21 AU23
Churchill AU25 AU31 AU16 AU19 AU20 AU25 AU25 AU30
Chesterfield SE03 SE05         AU31 SE02
Nelson Roads[24] SE09 SE09            
York Factory SE11 SE15     AU26 SE11 SE05 SE19
Charlton SE23 OC02 SE03 SE19 SE17 SE26 SE25 SE30
Wolstenholme OC06 OC06         OC04 OC04
Lake Harbour             OC06 OC07
Fort Chimo OC10 OC16     OC07 OC11 OC10 OC13
Davis Inlet OC19 OC20            
Rigolet OC20 OC22            
Cartwright OC25 OC29            
St. John’s OC31   OC08       OC18  
English Qtts. 903   949       230  
Canadian Qtts. 1,249.5   1,438       1,738  
Total 2,152.5   2,387       1,968  


  • The log for the 1912 voyage does not include the places that the ship called. Calls have been re-constructed from a map by Captain Edmund Mack carried in the September 1938 issue of Beaver. However, the map, and his account do not agree with the log. It would appear that calls at Davis Inlet and Rigolet were only on the homeward leg, not the outward leg. Quantities from pp263 Arctic Cargo. Note that these are indents and not actual quantities carried. Indents for 1913 were 2,508tons.
  • The 1913 outward voyage rendezvoused with the Pelican at Cartwright. English cargo, included gunpowder and oil, Canadian cargo for Ungava and the Straits delivered to the Pelican by the Nascopie.
  • 1914 post calls and times from a handwritten note in the correspondence file. Transshipment of cargo to/from Pelican noted in master’s orders letter.
  • 1915 post calls and quantities as given in a tabulation by destination. Excludes extensive deck cargo, viz: 1 tug, 1 Dinghy, 44 Canoes, 12 Toboggans, 291 Empty Barrels, 16 quintals of codfish.


Sale of Job Brothers share in the Nascopie Steamship Company.

The first intimation of an interest by the Tsarist Government in the Nascopie, is not from R.B. Job’s 1915 diary, but from a brief sentence in a private letter on 27 April 1915 from J.W.R. Job of the Liverpool office to L.F. Cunliffe. In this he notes: I was under the impression that the suggested visit by a member of our Firm to you was solely to discuss matters in event of an acceptable offer being made by the Russian Government for Nascopie, which from silence of our friends on the other side we now assume is off.

The first diary entry regarding sale of ships to the Russians is on 27 July, and not about the Nascopie, but that Alick (Harvey) was not in favour of a charter, but favours selling the three Ventures for $225,000 each. Eventually, on 15 November, there is a diary entry that the Ventures are practically sold at a net price of $210,000 each. Five days later, the writer is reliably informed, that the Adventure and Bellaventure closed at $220,000 each less 5%. Harvey tried to get $230,000 for the Bonaventure, but was declined (the ship eventually sold around the end of the year). Harvey’s shareholders were “much dissatisfied” with the price relative to the Beothic, which sold for $290,000 net.

            On 04 September there is a copy of a cable from Job Liverpool to Beaver that reads as follows:

            St. John’s cables have enquiry purchase Nascopie £90,000 indicated as possible kindly let us have your views by Monday

In the meantime, trading went on as usual, with no mention of a possible sale in R.B.Job’s diary. There is an entry for 29 September noting that Job (St. John’s) had negotiated a charter with Newfoundland Shipping at $13,000/month for a round trip to the Mediterranean[25] for delivery in St. John’s in the second half of October (expected discharge ports were Naples and Alicante).

R.B.Job’s subsequent diary entries note the following:

08 October: Tasker Cook offered £85,000 for the Nascopie and $290,000 for the Beothic.

09 October: Called a meeting of the directors of the Thetis Steamship Company (holding company for the Beothic) and agreed to accept the price offered.

12 October: Liverpool advised that Beaver (HBC) unlikely to sell Nascopie.

13 October Beaver wires that they had requested a Liverpool partner to proceed to London to consult with them regarding the Nascopie sale. R.B. Job wrily comments I thought someone would have gone there before

18 October After encountering heavy ice in the straits, Nascopie arrived it St. John’s, Captain Mack thinks he may have started a few rivets.

19 October Chartered the Nascopie to Harvey for coal at $1.60/ton.

25 October Nascopie arrived from Sydney, master reported a leak in No. 3 hold. R.B.Job opines that this may need dry docking[26].

            Eventually, on 05 November, a letter from the HBC to Job Liverpool, commences with the statement:

            We confirm the verbal arrangement made by you this morning on behalf of yourselves and your friends in Newfoundland, as follows:

            We agree to purchase, and you agree to sell at par the 108 shares held by yourselves and/or your friends, having a total value of $108,000.

            We agree to pay to you in addition such a sum by way of a bonus as will make a total of  £42,218,3,7d, that is to say the equivalent of 108/220ths[27] of the total sum of £86,000, which was the price at which you desired us to sell the steamer to the Agents of the Russian Government.

            The balance of the letter relates to the appropriate share in profits from the Naples voyage, as well as deductions for advances made on the shares. The balance was to be paid, at current exchange rates to your friends in Newfoundland.

 06 November Notes acceptance of Beothic (by Russian representatives) and news from Liverpool as to arrangements for sale of shares in Nascopie Steamship Company. R.B.Job notes:  All together a red letter day in the history of the firm.

24 November Notes that settlement of shares for Nascopie not very satisfactory, and R.B.Job fears that Liverpool’s letter of 10 November to Beaver is rather committal.

27 December Received notice today from bank of receipt of $118,187.00 as payment on account Nascopie. Out of this sum Job paid Royal Stores (a Job subsidiary company), and the Hon.M.G. Winter, for their shareholding in the ship.

With the completion of this transaction, ownership of ss Nascopie finally transferred to the Hudson’s Bay Company.




[1] This was not the original shareholding by the two companies, and does not seem to be supported by other references.

[2] The Beaver was the HBC house magazine, and started publication in 1920. There were 23 articles of 4pp or greater length published between 1920 and 1989 about the Nascopie, mainly about the ship in wartime.

[3] Initial capital was $210,000. It was raised later to $220,000.

[4] 1911 The Hudson’s Bay Company and Job Brothers of St John’s form the Nascopie Steamship Company Ltd.

[5] Prior to the construction of the Beothic, Job had canvassed yards in Norway and elsewhere regarding a new steel sealer.

[6] See pp 259 Arctic Cargo: A History of Marine Transportation in Canada’s North for details.

[7] From different sources, but mainly “Ships and Seafarers of Atlantic Canada”. Some errors have been corrected. Some of the figures given for depth, are more than likely the ship’s draft, and have been shown as such.

[8] These are the sealing crews given by Chafe for 1913 however, it is unlikely they were all the same.

[9] From Chafe

[10] This would have been Leonard Cunliffe, who was a director of the HBC, and a crucial business advisor to the company. He was an influential financier in London, and a major investor in Harrods department store.

[11] Charlton Island was the HBC primary distribution point for James Bay trading posts

[12] The 155,000ft3 was for bale and case goods. Grain cubic was 166,000ft3

[13] Leonard Cunliffe essentially saved the HBC from a slow death under Lord Strathcona’s autocratic rule as Governor. His name appears frequently in correspondence regarding the ship. He had been elected to the board in 1907, and was obviously a respected advisor to Ingram as Board Secretary. He and Skinner visited Canada in October 1912, but did not call on Job in St. John’s.

[14] Job had tried to get the HBC to attend, but no one seemed to be available.

[15] Hoskins or equivalent portable iron berths in 2 tiers, steel laths, bottom frames fitted up complete in shelter tween deck, sufficient to berth 250 men.

[16] The General Arrangement is not clear exactly where these staterooms were located, although the work sheets state they are in the deckhouse.

[17] Probably a type of linoleum.

[18] Coal from Sydney to St. John’s remained a constant trading option as long as Job had the management of the ship.

[19] An undated copy of the Hull Specification has a hand written note that Bilge keels are to be fitted.

[20] There were three reports on the ship, Capt. Smith, Capt Freakley (supercargo), and Mr. A N. Hall Fur Trade Commissioner, who traveled from Montreal to York Factory. The latter report was apparently full of petty quibbles, and there is a highly aggrieved note from Capt. Smith in the Nascopie file.

[21] Unsure what this term means.

[22] As the HBC rate of 105/- was equivalent to about $25, of which Revillon would have been well aware, $60/ton represented a considerable premium.

[23] Vessel bunkering  July 04-JL08. Commenced Loading July 11, on July 22 ss Saguenay collided heavily with the ship.

[24] Call at Nelson Roads was to take advantage of the doctor on ss Minto for a sick 4th Engineer, and a Mr. Broughton from Lake Harbour who had been badly frostbitten.

[25] With the sale of Nascopie Steamship Company, Job negotiated a payment of $6,000 from Newfoundland Shipping for redelivery at Naples.

[26] This does not seem to have been needed as the ship finished discharge on 27 October and went on hire to Newfoundland Shipping the following day. She loaded 36.000 quintals of dried codfish valued at $300,000. At that time, the largest codfish cargo loaded at St. John’s

[27] It is not clear when the shareholding changed from 103/107 to 108/112.