Mystery of the SS Southern Cross, The

Author: Tim B. Rogers
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 300
Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 × .5 in
Weight: .5 kg
Published: April 30, 2014
ISBN: 9781771030311

The date is March 31, 1914. Flushed with the success of a great hunt, the SS Southern Cross is heading back to St. John’s, loaded to the gunwales with seal pelts. Somewhere off Newfoundland’s southeast coast, the ship founders, leaving no clue as to her fate or that of her 173 crew members. The ship simply vanishes, as if whisked off the face of the Earth, the worst disaster ever to befall the sealing industry.

The Mystery of the SS Southern Cross is a novel that engages the human story behind this long-standing mystery. It interweaves the crankiness of an old ship, vicious weather, and the passions of men caught up in the frenzies of the time.

  • John Lundrigan, a young sealer with special gifts, struggles against the weight of his oppressive father. He escapes to join the crew of the Southern Cross, where, despite his small stature, he establishes himself as a top hand.
  • George Clarke is the burly captain of the Southern Cross. Returning from the hunt he decides to push forward into the teeth of a growing storm.
  • Walter Baine Grieve, merchant and member of the St. John’s elite, manages a fleet of decrepit, old wooden sealing ships. He delegates responsibility for outfitting the ‘Cross to a junior assistant. This young man betrays Grieve’s trust, helping to set the stage for the disaster.

These stories intertwine to paint a portrait of the immensely rich and complex events that led to the tragedy of the Southern Cross. This fictionalized account offers insight into the mysterious loss that has lingered unresolved for a century. So too do the vibrant times of pre-war Newfoundland come to life—humour, passion, and songs breathe vitality into this relatively untold tale. In addition to being a rousing sea story, this novel honours the memory of the gallant crew and the lives they were forced to live.

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