Blessing of the Boats Marine Service replicates 1950s Order of Service

The annual Blessing of the Boats service in Kagawong repliacted a service from a 1950s trip aboard the SS Norgoma. photo by Sharon Jackson

by Sharon Jackson

KAGAWONG—It is a joy to have everyone here today as we celebrate Summer Fest in the ‘50s,” shared Mary Buie as she welcomed members of the congregation to the annual Blessing of the Boats Marine Service at St. John’s the Evangelist Anglican Church this past Sunday.

In keeping with the ‘50s theme of Kagawong’s Summer Fest held on Saturday, Ms. Buie, who donned a pill box hat for the occasion, along with Dianne Fraser and Rick Nelson, led a replication of the Order of Service held on the SS Norgoma back in the 1950s.

Ms. Fraser spoke briefly about growing up in Kagawong in the ‘50s. Things like one-room school houses, sledding down Graham Hill, skating at the outdoor rink and just having fun being a kid.

Mr. Nelson, not from Kagawong and not born yet, learned a lot of what he knows of the ‘50s era from long time Billings Mayor Aus Hunt, who was in attendance at the service. Some of these tidbits including information about commercial fisherman Roy Newburn, dances at Wally’s dock, the Havelock Hotel and day trips to the Benjamin Islands.

He learned about the Griffin, the Norgoma, Norisle, the end of the shipping trade and the exclusive parties and celebrity sightings on Harbour Island. Actor Marlon Brando spent time there learning lines for his part in ‘On the Water Front.’

“In the 1950s,” shared Mr. Nelson, “there were four gas stations in Kagawong, the Old Mill was supplying hydro electric power to the Island, and there were three one-room school houses: Billings, Kagawong and Pleasant Valley. Everyone was on a party phone line system, so everyone knew everyone’s business with no less than two dozen households on the same line.”

Because there was no cell service or GPS back in the day, boaters turned to Kagawong for safe harbour when things got rough out there, stated Mr. Nelson. They were welcomed by the lighthouse, church and Old Mill which were each so vital to the community in the day.

The ministers who led the congregation in the 1950s included Gilbert Thompson, Samuel Eric Richards and Michael Thomas.

Songs, prayers and readings from the Order of Service from the Norgoma included The Lord’s Prayer, ‘Holy Holy Holy,’ ‘O God Our Help in Ages Past,’ and ‘All People That on Earth do Dwell.’

The congregation gathered on the marina as in years’ past and remembered those lost on the waters during the tolling of the bell rung by Mayor Hunt. Some of these names included William Baker, Mabel Bell. William and Robert Henry and Ted Purvis.

A light lunch and time of fellowship followed the service.