The photos displayed in this section were provided by
the Downhome Magazine.
Argyle - Built in 1900 in Glasgow, Scotland, the SS Argyle was 155 feet long
and 439 (gross) tonnes. The Argyle, synonymous with beautiful Placentia
Bay routes, was sold in 1941 and lost near Cuba on July 14, 1946.
Bruce - Built in 1897 in Glasgow, Scotland, the SS Bruce was 237 feet long
and 1,154 (gross) tonnes. The Bruce, built to serve as a connector
vessel between the Reid Newfoundland Railway and Canadian lines, was
lost on March 24, 1911, near Louisbourg, Nova Scotia. Modern ferries
such as the MV Caribou that depart from Port Aux Basques to cross the
Gulf of St. Lawrence as sailing the route made famous by the Bruce.
Clyde - Built in 1900 in Glasgow, Scotland, the SS Clyde was 155 feet long
and 439 (gross) tonnes. She operated in the scenic Notre Dame Bay. The
Clyde was sold to Crosbie and Company in 1948. She was lost on December
17, 1951, near the isolated whaling factory as Williamsport in the
Dundee - The SS Dundee was built in 1900 in Glasgow, Scotland. She was 155
feet long and 439 (gross) tonnes, and operated in Bonavista Bay. The
Dundee was lost on December 25, 1919, on Grassy Island near Carmanville,
in Hamilton Sound.
Ethie - Built in 1900 in Glasgow, Scotland, the SS Ethie was 155 feet long
and 439 (gross) tonnes. She was lost on December 11, 1919, at Martin’s
Point near Bonne Bay. In one of the most dramatic rescues in the
Fife - Also built in 1900 in Glasgow, Scotland, the SS Fife was 167 feet
long and 441 (gross) tonnes. She was lost on November 14, 1900, in the
rugged Strait of Belle Isle. Some of the Fife’s furnishings, including
the sink and toilet, are on display at the Railway Coastal Museum in St.
Glencoe - The SS Glencoe was built in 1900 in Glasgow, Scotland. She was 208
feet long and 769 (gross) tonnes. The Glencoe operated on the
spectacular south coast for many years and was eventually sold for scrap
in June 1959 at Sorel, Quebec. An excellent replica of the Glencoe is
displayed at the Railway Coastal Museum in St. John’s. Communities on
the south coast, like Francois, Grey River and Rencontre East, are a
photographer’s paradise, and still depend on the coastal boat services
Home - Built in 1900 in Glasgow, Scotland, the SS Home was 155 feet long and
439 (gross) tonnes. The Home was sold in 1948 and lost in 1952 at Jersey
Harbour, Fortune Bay.
Invermore - In 1881 the SS Invermore was built in Glasgow, Scotland – 250 feet
long and 922 (gross) tonnes. She was lost on July 10, 1914, at remote
Brig Harbour Point (near Smokey) on the coast of Labrador.
Kyle - Built in 1913 in Newcastle, England, the SS Kyle was 220 feet long
and 1,055 (gross) tonnes. She was sold in 1959 and grounded during a
storm at Harbour Grace in 1967, where her hull remains. The Kyle was
touted as the fastest and strongest of the Alphabet Fleet, having been
“strengthened” for the ice. Long associated with the Labrador runs and
the seal hunt, the Kyle was famous for the search and recovery of
portions of a downed American plane, Old Glory, that had competed to be
one of the first to fly across the Atlantic in 1927.
The Kyle was also officially recognized by the U.S. Navy for her role
in the rescue of sailors during the Pollux-Truxton disaster at Chambers
Cove near St. Lawrence on February 18, 1942. Today a scenic hiking trail
leads to the site of the dramatic rescue, immortalized in Cassie Brown’s
book Standing into Danger. Because of her significance as the last of
the Alphabet Fleet, the Kyle received a $136,000 face lift in 1997. the
Kyle is one of the key tourist attractions in Harbour Grace.
Lintrose - In 1913 the SS Lintrose was built in Newcastle, England. She was 255
feet long and 1,616 (gross) tonnes. Her history is unknown after 1915,
when she was sold to the Russian government. Lintrose Place in Donovan’s
Industrial Park, Mount Pearl, is one of several streets in that city
named for the Alphabet Fleet ships. Others include Clyde Avenue, Bruce
Street, Glencoe Drive, Kyle Avenue, Home Street and Dundee Avenue.
Meigle - Built in Glasgow, Scotland, the SS Meigle was 220 feet long and 839
(gross) tonnes. She was lost in July 1947 at St. Shotts, on the southern
tip of the Avalon Peninsula. A hiking trail connects the town to nearby
Cape Pine Lighthouse, a Provincial Historic Site. This section of the
coast is prone to heavy fog and was called the “Graveyard of the
Atlantic” due to all the shipwrecks that have occurred here. This area
has also become the subject of fascinating ghost stories and treasure
The Meigle was the last vessel to join the Alphabet Fleet and was the
primary ship assisting the victim relief effort after the 1929 tsunami
on the Bruin Peninsula. (Captain Cook’s Lookout in Bruin gives an
overview of the area devastated by the wave.)
The Meigle also served as a prison ship (1932 – 1933) in St. John’s
Harbour, to hold the overflow of convicts following riots at the
Colonial Building and the Dole Marches around the island. Her role as a
prison ship is commemorated in the song, “Twenty-One Years,” by Joseph
Summers (1904 – 1937).
In Conception Bay South at the Meigle Lounge, the bar is shaped like
a ship and all the portholes adoring it contain pictures of the Fleet.
The Meigle’s deck plans and forward hold intake vent are also on display
Source: Downhome Magazine