Canada is a great maritime nation. Although ships and the sea have been part of its history for centuries, very little is known about the men and women who have worked in its coastal and lake fleets. Ships and Memories is a fascinating account of life at sea during the age of steam. In it, seafarers tell ther own stories and remember the good times as well as the bad, in peace and war and during the depression.
Eric Sager draws on interviews with master mariners, engineers, able seamen, cooks, stewards, and many others who worked aboard steamships from 1920 to 1950.
Sager argues that sailors were not misfits or outcasts but were divorced from society only by virtue of their occupation. The wooden ships were small communities at sea, fragments of normal society where workers lived, struggled, and often died. With the coming of the age of steam, the sailor became part of a new division of labour and a new social hierarchy at sea. Sager shows that the sailor was as integral to the transition to industrial capitalism as any land worker.