Samuel Blandford: Biography Stories and Poem
By the time he was 16, Samuel had completed what schooling was available to him there, and was working with his father. He developed the urge for a seafaring life and by age 23 was in command of the Hebe at the annual seal hunt. For the next 30 years, Samuel Blandford was mainly a sea captain, in command of such well-known ships as the Iceland, the Eagle and the Plover. He prosecuted the seal hunt almost every year, but also skippered other vessels, including the mail and circuit court boats. In charge of the Neptune in 1883, he brought in the largest load of seals ever recorded to that time, both in number of carcasses and in weight. In 1893, he became manager of the Job Brothers and Company fish operation at Blanc Sablon, one of the largest of its kind on the Labrador coast. It was from there that he piloted the wooden steamer Nimrod north to Cape Chidley, inaugurating the northern Labrador cod fishery. In 1889, Blandford turned to politics and was elected as Liberal MHA for Bonavista, but served only one term. He was appointed to the legislative council in 1893, remaining a member until his death on March 8, 1909.
(The Telegram Aug 10, 1999, Bert Riggs, archivist)
Mariner. Born Greenspond 10 Aug. 1840; son of Darius, brother of Darius, father of Sidney D. Blandford; MNA Bonavista 1889 - 93; MLC 1893 -1909; died St. John’s 8 Mar. 1909.Educated Greenspond. At sixteen Samuel took charge of his fathers’ blacksmith, fishery supply business at Greenspond. In 1864 he first went to the seal hunt. There he commanded the Renfew and the Isabella Ridley. In 1873 he was on the S.S. Tigress with Captain Isaac Bartlett and rescued part of the crew of the ill-fated Polaris expedition, which had been stranded on the Arctic ice for five months. In 1874 Samuel took charge of the S.S. Osprey, which had previously been engaged on the Halifax-St. John’s mail run, and on different occasions from 1876 to 1883 he commanded the steamers Iceland, Eagle, Esquimaux and Neptune. In 1894 he was again in charge of the Neptune at the Labrador seal hunt, at which time he brought in the largest load of seals by a steamer (42,000, a value of a 103,750) up to that date. For many years Samuel was manager for Job Brothers and Company at Blanc Sablon, one of the largest fishing establishments of its day. In August 1893 he went to Cape Chidley on the S.S. Nimrod, the first steamer to prosecute the Labrador cod fishery. Samuel served a single term in the House of Assembly as a supporter of the Liberal party of William V. Whiteway. He did not contest the election of 1893, but was appointed to the Legislative Council shortly afterward, a position he retained until his death.
H. Y. Mott (1894). J. R. Smallwood (1974).
"The Honorable Samuel Blandford was an unusual man. Born in the isolated village of Greenspond, Bonavista Bay, he had little formal education, although he was very well read. He had a remarkable memory and good judgment tempered by the flame of experience. He profited by mistakes; other men's mistakes as well as his own. He was a sincere man, a sealing skipper who went out of his way to teach any eager young fellow how to hunt seals and how to handle a ship in the icepack. Blandford's father had been the local blacksmith and the young man learned to assist in the shop. For this reason, he stayed home during the summer instead of sailing north to Labrador in a cod-fishing schooner, as was the local custom. Blandford's powerful physique probably came from his early years at the anvil.
In the 1840's every large northern Newfoundland town sent a fleet of sail to the seal fishery. Blandford began his sealing experience in the days of the large fleets of sailing vessels. To work a wind-driven craft through the icepack requires judgment, leadership, steady nerves, and some intuition. Blandford learned fast. Soon he was master of Hebe, a new brig of 120 tons, and was marked as one of the young skippers who had the qualifications to be a successful sealing master. After ten years in sail, he won command of Tigress, a steamdriven Scottish whaler built in Peterhead, especially strengthened for sealing in Baffin Bay. Some years later, when the 465-ton Neptune came out from Scotland, built for Job Brothers, a St. John's firm, under the watchful eye of Captain William White (a notable sealing skipper who owned a quarter interest in her) she was the most powerful ship in the Newfoundland sealing fleet. On the death of Captain White, Blandford was promoted to Neptune. He was enormously proud of his command."
Northern Seas, Hardy Sailors by George Whiteley, W. W. Norton & Company 1982, page 47.
And so they're going to change her name,
'Tis right what they shall do;
The Newfoundland of sealing fame.
A ship our fathers knew.
"Sam Blandford" is the name she'll bear
From henceforth, so we're told;
Called after him who once did wear
That name as good as gold.
And when she sails near Wadham's Isle,
And round the Funks also,
Her crew will think upon the toil
Performed here long ago.
When Captain Sam, that viking brave,
Whose heart was kind and true,
Had faced the cold and boisterous wave
With his brave, hardy crew.
And there in fancy they may scan
The Neptune, once so famed,
And on her bridge that sturdy man
After which their ship is named.
Then all their hearts in love will warm
For those brave days of yore,
For the man who faced the treacherous storm,
And loved their native shore.
We hope "Sam Blandford" may this year
Have the very best of luck,
In charge of this ship will appear
A man of worth and pluck.
He hails from Bonavista Bay,
His home is Wesleyville,
No finer man you'll meet to-day,
Than gallant "Winsor Bill."
We hope our hero will arrive
Safe from the northern floe,
For a bumper trip we know he'll strive,
For the firm of Job Bros. & Co.
JAMES MURPHY January 27th 1916.
The Ships That Sailed To-Day (James Murphy)
I watched when they departed, 'twas eight o'clock the hour,
I saw them steaming down the shore with Tom Rose at Cabot Tower;
The echoes of their cheering in fancy o'er me steals,
As our Northern men, so daring, went forth in quest of seals.
The Terra Nova, Captain Kean, with two hundred and three men,
Went through the gap this morning to try her luck again;
While the screaming of the Eagle was heard both high and low,
In charge of a son of Abraham, the sturdy Captain Joe.
There sailed the stout Aurora, commanded by Dan Green,
With Captain Sam Bob Winsor in Browring's Algerine;
Chased by the bold ice Ranger bound on her sealing quest,
No novice to that danger, with a Bishop she is blest.
Darius leads the Vanguard of Baine Johnston's ships,
Long live bold Captain Blandford to bring in bumper trips;
As soon as one can find them - I know where one is found -
Tis bully young Bill Winsor who sails the old Bloodhound.
There's Barbour in the Iceland, a bold seal killer, too,
While Bragg commands the Greenland to show what Bragg can do;
Good luck to Peter Carter, and may he meet no loss,
There's not a man much smarter to sail the Southern Cross.
The Adventure and the Grand Lake have also gone to sea,
The first in charge of Harry Dawe, and the last by Jobey Knee;
The Newfoundland with Parsons sent forth her whistle shrill!
Jesse Winsor sailed the Panther he's proud of Wesleyville.
George Barbour in the Neptune, he's good as water wet,
Job Kean commands the Eric, he's a solid man, you bet;
While the lucky ship Diana, she bears a man of fame,
From Newtown, Bonavista, Alf Barbour is his name.
Jacob Winsor sailed the Walrus, supplied by Browning's store,
And my friends, both Baird and Gordon, sent George Hann in Labrador;
While Jacob Kean in Virginia Lake completes the twenty ships,
And the wish of all - may they return filled up with bumper trips.