Rev. Joseph C. Burke, B. A., B. D.
The story of Burgeo is a story of ships and men. It is also the story of valiant hearts left behind when the sailors went to sea, of women looking anxiously out into the inky blackness of a stormy night hoping to see the glimmering lights of a home coming schooner; it is the story of doors left ajar in the storms, and of the sea in an hour of storm leaving the sculpture of granite seams upon a woman's face. Such a story can only be told by recalling and relating the adventures of the sailing vessels, schooners and motor vessels that plied the waters of the stormy Atlantic and the oceans of the world. The story of Burgeo is indeed the story of men made strong and courageous by the often cruel vicissitudes of the Atlantic where they sailed and fished to provide for their families that nestled on the windswept and barren islands that stand like sentinels against the cruel seas on Newfoundland's South Coast.
No one could be more on course in preserving the history of such a colourful past than Walter Simms who has chosen to record the adventures of the ships and men that plied the waters of the Atlantic and the Seven Seas. These ships and men have each left their mark on the life and character of the Burgeo we know to-day. The memory of such ships as the “BECK”, the “RICHMOND”, the “DUTCHESS OF CORNWALL”, and the “ANNIE MAY” and the stout heartedness and valiant spirits of the men who sailed the stormy Atlantic without the aid of such modern equipment as radar, radio communications, and sophisticated charts, have left an indelible mark and a feeling of pride on every true citizen of Burgeo. To be able to find the adventures, disasters, tragedies and triumphs of our gallant little ships of yesteryear contained in a remarkable little volume written by a true lover of ships and sea is something that many of us have been waiting for. The contribution Mr. Simms has made in preserving for us and future generations this vital link with the past is to be highly commended. Mr. Simms has written his book in such a way that the reader becomes a crew member of every little ship that sails from port, and experiences the adventures, dangers and excitements of every voyage. The book portrays well the sting of wind and waves, the feelings and emotions of a people who were always under the aspect of tragedy from the sea, yet developed a love and respect for that which gave them life and often mysteriously took it away.
Mr. Simms is a native of Pass Island, another island stronghold on the South Coast of Newfoundland. Born on July 26th, 1912, he grew up with the sound of ocean waves in his ears, and the taste of salt spray on his lips. Like all who were born along the isolated South Coast, the boats and the sea were a natural part of life. And for Walter Simms it was a part of life that he loved and cherished, he loved the little ships that sailed the coast, crossed the oceans and fished on the Grand Banks. Educated at Pass Island and Memorial University, Mr. Simms took up a teaching career that lasted twenty-one years, most of them spent on the South Coast that he loved. He taught in such places as Grand Bruit, Ramea, West Cul de Sac, Richard's Harbour and Burgeo. It was Burgeo that stole his heart and laid claim on the roving spirit of this young man from Pass Island. Although not a native of Burgeo he is indeed a son by adoption, and a son that Burgeo is more than happy to claim, one whom we welcome as dearly as a native born. Mr. Simms’ home is in Corner Brook but his heart is always in Burgeo, where he comes every fall to enjoy the rich banquet of life that this island sentinel of the sea offers.
We are indebted to Mr. Simms for his timely contribution to the history of our people, and especially the history of Burgeo. Very often our history has suffered and been lost to posterity because we lacked men like Walter Simms who were moved by the actions, deeds and ideals of our forefathers. The hard work and many months of research that have gone into the preparation of this book is certainly appreciated. Many thanks go to Mr. Simms for preserving the history of Burgeo for ourselves, whose memory fades with the passing of time, and for future generations that they may be able to read of the kind of ships and men that laid the foundation for their world.
United Church Manse,