Ships used to transport British Home Children to Canada

New May 14, 2011:

Dear Al
A researcher has very kindly provided a picture of the SS Sicilian that the Grays travelled on in 1905. Could you please 
exchange pictures with the one below and thank this reader for pointing out the differences and taking the 
time to inform us. I have learned something about ships today and that's a good thing.

Take care
Taylor Kennedy
S.S. Sicilian, Scotland to Canada in 1948  S.S. Sicilian, Scotland to Canada in 1905


The ship above, left, was built about 1948. 
For the 1905 trip the ship you want is at, above, left. 

It was an Allan Line ship – Allan Line and all its ships merged into Canadian Pacific about 1909 but the merger 
wasn’t made public until about 1917. 

Most obvious differences are Allan’s Sicilian had a quite low bridgework and a  near vertical bow. 

The name “Sicilian” implies nothing, Allan had several ships of the same style and just liked naming them after places: 
Parisian, Austrian, Manitoban, Brazilian, Polynesian, etc. .

I think you would do better to leave my email off your website because with a picture of the correct ship there people 
could easily get confused if they see my email apparently saying it’s wrong. Perhaps do it a more positive logic way. 
If you gave a picture of the correct ship a title like “The Allan Line S.S. Sicilian showing its low profile bridge and 
vertical bow style.” Then anyone seeing a picture anywhere of the other later Sicilian should notice straight away 
those features of it are quite different to the Sicilian of interest. 

As to the photos. None of them are mine, I just copied them from websites all over, most of them are so old their copyright 
is likely long expired. So, as far as I am concerned I merely brought them to your attention and what you do with them 
is entirely up to you. Only thing I would also say is since the voyage you are interested in was in 1905 then you want 
the Sicilian before it was rebuilt in 1908, see attached picture. Unfortunately the only picture of her before that 
rebuild that I know of is the not so good one that’s at the top of the Norwegian website. 

In the attached picture you will see I’ve superimposed a small pink box on top of the tail of the original Sicilian, it’s 
to highlight the reason why the post 1908 refit picture shows the stern as quite blunt instead of sharply pointed. I’ve no idea 
what it was they actually added there, could have been pretty much anything; screened section of deckrail, lifebelt and 
rope position, rope locker, flag locker, cable clamp for being towed backwards by a tug, if you know anyone who goes 
to sea they might be able to say.  

Personally I think she probably looked a much nicer ship before the rebuild, in 1908 they turned her into something that 
looks like one of the new stealth type warships that have lots of very flat. 

I read somewhere she had a collision sometime with a ferry in the St Lawrence River. But it was only a one line note with 
no details. Forgot to mention it in my earlier notes. 

There are three more photographs of the Allen Line’s Sicilian at these links:,3194464,3399248,3623075,3615181,1282918,1224959,1224799,3399247,3399249,3194464,3399248,3623075,3615181,1282918,1224959,1224799,3399247,3399249,160893,121660,4015703,2963282,375339,135396,106670,105432,103821 

By sheer luck two of them make a fairly good stereo pair after a little bit of tweaking - the two bottom ones on the attached.
Magnify them until they almost fill your screen across and use the crossed eyes method. Unfortunately it’s the rebuild 
version and not the original else we could really see it as they saw it. Rigging and derricks stand out very well, what 
looks like a rope from near the top of the funnel to the foremast is the radio aerial wire, between the two insulator blobs 
on it there would have been a thinner wire hanging down into the radio cabin back of the bridge but it was probably too thin 
for the camera to catch. All the ropes you can see must have been at least half inch or inch I would imagine. 

The fleet picture has a few foreground ships that look like the Sicilian in it, I think she was this one, but I wouldn’t 
bet on it, she could easily have been one of the ships in the distance. By 1914 she had become a bit of a midget really. 
In the 25 years after she was built the four funnel liners appeared and they were twice as wide, twice as high and twice as long. 

The Parisian. Details at Built 1880, predated the Sicilian built 1899. 
What you can see with the Parisian and the Sicilian is that c1880 the iron ship builders were still hanging on to the old 
sailing ship masts in case the engine packed up, but in only ten years they had improved the engines enough to start 
forgetting the masts a bit, but they were still quite worried about having a high centre of gravity. Next ten years saw 
much bigger engines, bulkhead anti-flood walls, proper steel walled passenger cabins in third class below the water line, 
all helped get weight down below so 2nd and 1st class could go up higher and higher. And these days they build them like tower 
blocks! The modern cruise liner must have a tremendous amount of weight down in its lower reaches somewhere else the first 
side wind would flip it over. 

NB: Really should call it the 1889 Sicilian, only called it the 1905 Sicilian in the sense of it being the one that Taylor’s 
people were on for their migration that year. There was no 1905 built Sicilian: Unless of course one day someone going 
through archives somewhere in the world discovers there was. But we can only work with what we know can’t we. 

There’s a picture of the Parisian sinking on page 22 of my notes, I assume you’ve seen it. 

No Lewis in our family trees here anywhere. Only Lewis that comes to mind at all is the detective sergeant in a UK detective 
series called Inspector Morse made donkeys years ago and now on about its 99th repeat on cable.

Thanks for our writer from the UK for the above very interesting and informative material!

Actually, I'm a big fan of the late Inspector Morse and his sidekick, Lewis. There was a new series made in the past few years
which featured Kevin Whalley (I think that's his name) in a series of his own, called "Inspector Lewis".

... Al

E-mail Taylor Kennedy and Al Lewis

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