Stories of the Sea

Sinking of the Herring Seiner, 'Silver King'

2,000 Attend Disaster Victims' Mass Funeral

SHOCKS COMMUNITY
Captain Roderick Boudreau, Stanis Bourque, Vernon Boudreau, Ray LeBlanc, Camille LeBlanc and Edgar Boudreau all lost their lives when their herring seiner was run down at Midnight (August 22) near the South West bouy. This was the worst disaster to hit Wedgeport since the early 1900's when a longliner sank, taking 25 men from the area down with her.

Robert MacDowell, a New Jersey native vacationing in Wedgegport, was the seventh man aboard the Silver King and the lone survivor. He went out on the boat because "it would have been his last chance to do so before he would leave."

MacDowell was half asleep when the Silver King was struck by a St. John, N.B. tugboat (not owned by the Irving Oil Company as previously reported). In an instant he was in total darkness with water up to his neck. The vessel was on its side with only part of her bow above water.

RESCUED
The Blue Waters was one of the first vessels on the scene. Scuba divers, Andy Wallace and Jack Hatfield, entered the stricken seiner through a small hole axed through the bow and recovered the six bodies. *(According to Robert MacDowell's testimony during the enquiry that followed, this hole was cut by the crew of the Blue Waters in order to rescue him from within an air pocket inside the bow of the boat).

This tragedy dampened the atmosphere of the International Tuna Cup match which was in progress at both Wedgeport and Cape St. Mary. When the teams were informed of the disaster Thursday morning, all boats lowered their flags to half mast. Warren Reynolds, captain of this year's Canadian team, spoke of the tragedy which fell on "those Acadian people we have known and loved so long."

OVER 2,000
At the funeral on Saturday afternoon, over 2,000 people from all walks of life attended the celebration mass at St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church. Conducting the service were Father Edward Theriault, Pastor of St. Michael's, Rev. Gerald LeBlanc, Rev. Gerald Boudreau and Father Pothier.

Also present were the Hon. W. S. K. Jones, Minister of Trade and Industry; Mr. Gerald Regan, Provincial Liberal Chief; M.L.A.'s Benoit Robicheau, George Snow and Ben Comeau.

Interment was in the St. Michael's Cemetery, Wedgeport.

From the Yarmouth Vanguard, Wednesday, August 30, 1967 Edition - Used by permission.
*Note added by the Lost to the Sea Research Team.

Click on one of the below thumbnails to see an expanded image of the graveside funeral service and/or the lone survivor, Robert MacDowell.

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A photo and caption of the Funeral Service of the victims of the Silver King disaster.
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A photo and caption of the lone survivor, Robert MacDowell.

Read about the 40th Anniversary Memorial Service held in Wedgeport, August 23, 2007.

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