A memorial service was held in St. John's on Monday to mark the 99th anniversary of the 1914 Great Sealing Disaster.

On March 30, 1914, sealers aboard the SS Newfoundland became stranded for 53 hours on North Atlantic ice floes in blizzard conditions.

In the same storm, the ship Southern Cross sank while returning from the Gulf of St. Lawrence, taking her crew and sealers down with her.

A total of 251 people died in both tragedies.

Statue design revealed

Four parish ministers spoke at Monday's service.

As well, organizers of a project to erect a memorial to the sealers unveiled the model of a life-sized bronze statue that will be displayed in Elliston, Bonavista Bay, home to many of the sealers, by next year.


Sheilagh Guy Murphy says the image depicted in the statue is seared in her mind. (CBC )

The statue will depict Albert and Reuben Crewe, a father and son aboard the SS Newfoundland, who were found frozen to death, holding onto each other. 

"We often see pictures of war and death, and brave Newfoundlanders ... how they fought and the regiment," said Sheilagh Guy Murphy, who attended Monday's ceremony. "But that image, I think that's an image that will forever be burned in my memory."

The Sealers' Memorial in Elliston will also feature an interpretation centre, converted from a former schoolhouse, which will tell stories of the lives of early sealers and of the economic and cultural history of sealing in Newfoundland and Labrador.