Working Men Who Got Wet: Proceedings of the Fourth Conference of the Atlantic Canada Shipping Project

Ommer, Rosemary and Panting, Gerald (1980) Working Men Who Got Wet: Proceedings of the Fourth Conference of the Atlantic Canada Shipping Project. In: Working Men Who Got Wet, July 24-26, 1980, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. (Submitted)

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This is the fourth volume of papers from the annual workshops of the Atlantic Canada Shipping Project. Having focussed in past conferences on the nineteenth century merchant fleets of the North Atlantic, entrepreneurs and economic development in nineteenth century eastern Canada and, last year, on the great bulk trades of that era, this volume is concerned with understanding the labour force on Canadian vessels of that time within the wider international context. Alexander's paper on literacy among crew members of the Yarmouth fleet opens the volume and sets the theme of sailors as a labour force like others of the century in many respects, other than the marine nature of their workplace. McMurray's paper continues the discussion with an examination of the status of the ship's engineer within this sea -going labour force but derived in part from the landward technological revolution which made the marine engine possible. Fischer's paper looks at crew members who deserted their seaward employment, while Matthews, by contrast. examines crew retention and persistence among the employees of the merchant fleet of one British firm . Williams and Sager both examine man-ton ratios in the nineteenth century, with Williams studying the wider context of the sailing ships of the day whose commerce took them through Liverpool, while Sager focusses on the Halifax fleet and savings in labour as part of a measure of productivity in the Canadian merchant marine. Om mer looks at nationality and regional bias in the crew composition of the Windsor fleet, while Battick draws a profile of the seamen from one small corner of New England. Dixon provides an examination of lascars, a section of the labour force at sea with some of the characteristics of a class and a distinct ethnic group. McKay, Fingard and Panting all focus on features of the landward side of this marine labour force, McKay looking at waterfront craft organization, Fingard at supply and demand factors affecting this pool of labour and its organization through crimping. Panting provides a regional picture of the ownership and investment patterns behind the Canadian merchant marine. From this collection of essays and the discussions surrounding them, a preliminary picture begins to emerge of the nineteenth century sailor and the economic context within which he operated. It appears as though many of the problems with which the industry wrestled were those which concerned most nineteenth century enterprises: productivity, technological change and labour supply, for example. It was the marine environment in which they were employed, rather than something in the nature of seamen themselves, which distinguished this labour force from others of the nineteenth century, and which gives this collection of papers its title of 'working men who got wet'.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Other)
Item ID: 13381
Additional Information: This volume is dedicated to David Alexander, a founding member of the Maritime History Group and a Principal Investigator in the Atlantic Canada Shipping Project.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Maritime Studies Research Unit
Date: 24 July 1980
Date Type: Date Range
Supplemental Date: 26 July 1980
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