Domino: The Eskimo Coast Disaster


222 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 1-894463-80-3
DDC 971.8'2





Reviewed by Melvin Baker

Melvin Baker is an archivist and historian at Memorial University of
Newfoundland, and the co-editor of Dictionary of Newfoundland and
Labrador Biography.


Domino is a re-creation of the major disaster that occurred when a
hurricane struck the coast of Labrador in October 1885. An estimated 72
individuals were lost and hundreds more were left stranded on the coast
when 66 schooners were destroyed. Maura Hanrahan’s account blends
fictional characters and real-life figures (including a youthful Bob
Bartlett of later Arctic sailing fame) who paint a vivid picture of
their involvement in a fishery beset with many dangers at the best of

The story unfolds through the eyes of two 13-year-old girls who are
working as domestics during the summer months. The Metis Hannah Dyson
works for a schooner captain from the island of Newfoundland, while
islander Georgia O’Neill works for a fisher family from Conception Bay
who hired her to help with household chores and the preparation of
codfish for sun drying. Through these two girls, Hanrahan explores
social and economic relations between Labradorians and fishers from
Newfoundland, together with the more general class relations among
fishers, schooner captains, and merchants. We also learn about the
deplorable living conditions aboard the ships that carried the many
women and children who went to coastal Labrador for the summer to work
at preparing fish for drying before it was collected and shipped to
southern European markets.

The author has raised many interesting questions about relations
between Labrador and Newfoundland and the fishery that could be explored
in greater detail in another examination of the subject.


Hanrahan, Maura., “Domino: The Eskimo Coast Disaster,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,