Marco Polo Project Saint John New Brunswick

The tall ship Jeanie Johnson, shown above, will visit Saint John, St. Andrews and Miramichi next month.

More details released about tall ship's visit to N.B.

July 22/03

   Saint Johners can get a vivid look next month at what the ancestors of many of us endured when they came here more than a century and a half ago.
   More details have been released about the visit to the province of the tall ship Jeanie Johnson, a replica of an immigration ship that brought more than 2,500 Irish to North America. The vessel will arrive in Saint John Aug. 20 for a five-day visit.
   The ship's visit was announced in June.
   The ship will tie up at Pugsley Terminal, where it will be open to visits from 1 p. m. to 6:30 p. m. on Aug. 20, and from 10:30 a. m. to 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 21 through Aug. 24.
   The vessel will also visit St. Andrews on Aug. 15 and Miramichi Sept. 6-9.
   Beneath decks, this three-masted barque is a floating museum depicting the Great Famine of Ireland, which killed a million people and sent another 1.8 million them fleeing to England, Canada or the United States. It also depicts what life was like in one of these voyages to Quebec and the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, which took an average of 47 days.
   "Basically, when you enter the ship, it's going to be like you were an immigrant coming from Ireland," Saint John Port Authority spokeswoman Julie Breau said.
   "Certainly in Canada's biggest Irish city, there's a lot of heritage here," said Capt. Alwyn Soppitt, president of the Saint John Port Authority. "I think it's really exciting."
   Admission is $9 for adults, children $6 and families $20.
   The vessel has a special significance for Capt. Soppitt, a native of Antrim, on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland. Although the replica ship was built near Tralee, in the Republic of Ireland, it was a joint project of both Irish countries, he said.
   "They've had young people working on it and sailing on it from the north of Ireland and south of Ireland, so it's a very good unity project."
   The original Jeanie Johnston, built in Quebec in 1847, distinguished herself by making 16 voyages to North America on which she never lost a single passenger or crew member.
   It is estimated that at least 30 per cent of the 100,000 Irish people who left for Canadian ports in 1847 contracted typhus, and two-thirds of them died at sea or following arrival in Canada. During the Famine years, almost 3,000 voyages were made across the Atlantic to America, carrying more than 650,000 Irish people.
   The transatlantic fare on the Jeanie Johnston was equivalent to $4.50 US, which represented close to a half year's wages for the average labourer. Often, the cost of the fare was subsidized by a family member who had already immigrated.
   The Jeanie Johnston was blown out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence twice in October 1853 and eventually had to put into St. Andrews. Fifty-seven passengers remained in the New Brunswick village, induced by promises of work on a local railway line.
   The work turned out to be less than they had hoped and most of them eventually walked to Portland, Me., in the middle of winter in search of work.
   The Great Famine raged for more than a decade and peaked in 1848 with a blight that destroyed 80 per cent of Ireland's potato crop, the staple diet of the Irish people.