“No event recorded in the history of Prince Edward Island equals the destructive effects of the great Yankee Gale of October 3-5, 1851. That terrible tragedy, which gets its name from the number of American seamen lost on our north shore, practically destroyed the entire fishing fleet of this Province, together with a number of vessels from Gloucester, Mass.; New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Maine. But the heavy toll in lives taken by the sea was worst of all, an estimated eighty-three vessels and one hundred and fifty souls perished.” “The Guardian,” 12 September 1955 by F. H. MacArthur.
“Friday, 3 October 1851, saw the sun rise in a cloudless sky; all weather signs pointed to a fair day, but towards noon the sky took on a strange appearance as clouds, accompanied by a stiff gale and fine mist, swept across the heavens as though pursued by some angry god. Towards the late afternoon, the wind had increased until it became a raging gale, sweeping the water into great billows.”
“Then the night dropped her mantle over the gallant little fishing fleet, a shroud so black and enfolding that not even the oldest salt afloat could recall anything to equal it. From East Point to North Cape ships of all sizes, drifting for mackerel, were caught in the mow of the gale and tossed about like chips in a whirlpool; all the while the wind increase and the waves grew higher.”
“All day Saturday, October 4, the fury of the wind and waves beat hard upon the boats, and the captains of some headed for the open sea, as there was no safe anchorage to be found anywhere to escape being pounded to pieces on the capes.”
“The Sabbath morning of October 5 saw no change in the weather. Indeed, if there was any change at all, it was a change for the worse; and watchers on shore, powerless to render any assistance, wept openly as they saw the brave little sailing boats- one by one-dash themselves to pieces against the rocky shore.”
“One eye witness of the terrible tragedy describes the disaster in the following words: ‘What uproar, what disaster! The wind was truly terrific…vessels by the score being pounded to pieces on the shore, their crews clinging to bits of floating wreckage…mountainous waves, rioting in their made career, dashed their feet against the land with a crash that sounded like a thousand voices of thunder all rolled into one mighty voice.”
“The last paragraph tells the grim tale. No further words are necessary to give the reader a vivid picture of the Yankee Gale of 1851.” A dozen or so bodies of fishermen that came ashore at Kildare Capes were rescued by the local people, wrapped in sail cloth and buried in what is today the Christ Anglican Church cemetery. A fine tombstone, donated by Rooney’s Funeral Home, marks their resting place.