"I am 3/4ths Canadian, and one 4th New Englander - I had ancestors on both sides in the Revolutionary war." - Elizabeth Bishop

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Gathering Place for Expression: The Elizabeth Bishop Festival Market

One of the main features of the EB Festival taking place in GV on 8 August 2015 is the “Festival Market” where over a dozen artists and artisans will gather to share their creations. This post is a profile of author Janet Maybee.
Janet Maybee got her BA (English) at the University of  New Brunswick, where one of her classmates and great friends was Robert Cockburn, who later as professor there introduced Sandra Barry to Elizabeth Bishop, a rather pivotal happening! Janet proceeded to Dalhousie for MA (Honours) English, writing a thesis on the history of theatre in Halifax. She spent twenty-five years of teaching, mostly in special education and drama, plus local community development projects, writing hundreds of press releases for worthy (often lost) causes. She is currently Research Associate at Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and working on history of pilot service in Halifax Harbour, but mostly indulging in serious granny addiction.
In the fall, Janet’s book about Francis Mackey will be published by Nimbus Publishing of Halifax, N.S. Mackay was a respected harbour pilot with a spotless record of twenty-four years’ service when he boarded Mont Blanc on the evening of 5 December 1917 and spent the night anchored outside the closed submarine nets. The aging French ship had been loaded in New York with a deadly cocktail of highly volatile explosives. A series of mischances the next morning led the outward bound Norwegian vessel Imo into collision with Mont Blanc, gashing her forward hold deeply. Fire broke out instantly and as there was no possible way to save the munitions-laden ship the captain ordered the crew to the lifeboats; at 9:04:35 a disastrous explosion devastated Richmond and caused terrible damage across the rest of Halifax. Mackey was vilified in the press, in part because he survived while so many thousands were killed or maimed.
After the Wreck Commissioner’s Inquiry he was arrested along with Captain Aime Le Medec of Mont Blanc and the port’s chief examining officer, Commander F. Evan Wyatt. All three were charged with manslaughter and criminal negligence in the death of Mackey’s longtime friend, Imo’s pilot, William Hayes. A Nova Scotia Supreme Court justice, Judge Benjamin Russell, determined the charges were unfounded and released Mackey from prison on a writ of habeas corpus. However, C.C. Ballantyne, the minister of marine and fisheries, refused to restore Mackey’s license. With a wife and six young children to support, the pilot found himself unable to work at his profession. He spent the next four years and his life’s savings in frustrating attempts to gain reinstatement. Reasons for denying the return of his license were never given.
Check out this amazing link for a multi-media account of the explosion: 
Janet will be manning the Bookmark table at the Festival Market – come and talk with her about her exciting new book. Janet gave a talk about this fascinating subject at the Elizabeth Bishop House a couple of years ago.
Janet with Sandra at the Elizabeth Bishop House
for an afternoon talk about Francis Mackey

No comments:

Post a Comment