Ships and Memories: Merchant Seafarers in Canada's Age of Steam

By Eric W. Sager | Go to book overview

6
FAMILY

We all admit the importance of family in our lives, and historians spend a great deal of time and effort studying families. But fitting family into the historical process is very difficult, and it is no easier for seafarers than for any other group.

But seafarers know the subject is important. So they will raise it themselves, as one did with me: 'You must interview my wife some time. Interview her! She'll tell you where the bear shit in the buckwheat.' 1

When the seafarer him or herself makes a remark such as this, the historian had better listen. So let's pursue this further, beginning with the relations between a male seafarer and his family ashore.

First ten years of my married life, I was away 325 days a year. Second ten years, 278 days. The last ten years I was in management, and I was away about 150 days a year. Who in hell's going to run this household? Oh yeah, she ran this family. I have never seen a pay cheque! But don't forget, she's not a dictator -- it's a constitutional monarchy she runs.

I came home, rolls of money. I was not allowed to give money to the children. Oh no! You were disturbing the minister of supply and services if you did that. You don't disrupt.

-97-

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Ships and Memories: Merchant Seafarers in Canada's Age of Steam
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - Yarns 15
  • 2 - Going to Sea 29
  • 3 - Work 41
  • 4 - Officers and Masters 71
  • 5 - Class 85
  • 6 - Family 97
  • 7 - Masculinity 106
  • 8 - Hazards 118
  • 9 - War 126
  • 10 - Union 139
  • 11 - Canada 150
  • Notes 157
  • GLOSSARY 167
  • SOURCES AND COLLABORATORS 171
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 173
  • Index 177
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