A Common Headline from the Past: Lost at Sea

Genealogy research had uncovered my grandmother’s grandparents: Martha and William McDonald. They had at least one child: my great-grandfather William Aaron McDonald.

Little is known about this family, just a few names and dates. The further in time one travels, the less information surfaces about individuals and the more questions arise, such as what was Martha’s maiden name and what happened to William Sr.?

A few years ago, a genealogist from a far-flung branch of the McDonald family tree, who researched William Sr., wrote to say William had been ‘lost at sea’. To be exact, William had drowned 160 years ago today on October 7, 1860, when the fishing schooner he’d been aboard floundered.

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Anniversary of the Saxby Gale

Maritimers are always talking about the weather. I think it’s because if we wait five minutes, it’ll change. We have the winds from the west bringing heat waves, winds from the north delivering cold fronts, the Gulf Steam transporting warm, humid air and the Atlantic Ocean that tries to maintain a constant weather day except for when it’s stirring up a storm.

All this activity makes for a lot of material to discuss. It also makes for a lot of data to analyse to predict the weather for the day. Forecasting the weather for an entire week is difficult at best. Predicting the weather for more than ten months into the future is impossible (though I realise almanacs can be somewhat correct at times). However that’s just what Lieutenant Stephen Martin Saxby (1804-1883) of the British Royal Navy did when he warned the public of a devastating storm that would strike the Maritimes in 1869.

Saxby was an amateur astronomer. He used his knowledge of the moon and Earth to predict the weather according to celestial events. It was known as meteorological astrology. In 1864, he published The Saxby Weather System in which he outlined his theories, explaining his method of predicting the weather.

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