All Aboard! Exploring the Newfoundland Railway

Railway Workers

A Day in the Life of a Steward

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Meal service

Shifts usually were 9 to 12 hours long, starting early in the morning. Much time was spent on preparing the various meals served during the voyage. Once dressed in the required uniform, the steward had to begin preparing the dining saloon for the first meal of the day - breakfast. Tables needed to be covered with white linen and set with the appropriate china and silverware. Depending on the number of passengers on the S.S. Baccalieu there were four sittings of about thirty people each. The first sitting was at 8:00 am. Passengers received a wake-up call at 7:30 am provided by a steward who walked through the ship's corridors with a loud gong. When the guests would start pouring into the saloon they were greeted cordially by the steward who showed them to their table and took their orders.

Meals on the coastal boats, like on the trains, were made with fresh ingredients and of high quality and were served in generous portions. Local dishes were favoured. Breakfast saw eggs, bacon, bologna, baked beans and toast. Friday's breakfast also offered "fish and brewis." There was rarely a written menu. The steward ensured that the guests knew the meal choices what the choices of meals were. The meals often depended on ingredients that were locally available. Local fishermen often gathered by the wharf with their fresh catch of the day waiting for the boats to land. Homemade bread and locally raised vegetables and berries also were often provided at the various ports of call. Larry recalls that as Chief Steward he knew every piece of cutlery and crockery on board and it all felt like it was his own personal responsibility to see that things were done right. Pride was taken in a job well done.

Chief Steward Ron James in his uniform, 1970.
Chief Steward Ron James is sporting the uniform for his station, 1970. Larry Hickey Collection.
Piano from the 'smoke room' of the S.S Bar Haven.
This piano was located in the "Smoker" on the S.S. Bar Haven . The "Smoker" was the centre of activity, particularly when passengers were travelling home for the holidays. If the piano could talk it would no doubt have many stories to tell. It would relate the many tall tales and yarns told between the singing of songs, the dancing of jogs, and the consuming of beverages. CN Pensioners' Collection.
The S.S. Baccalieu in Bay d'Espoir in winter.  1959.
The S.S. Baccalieu unloading at Bay d'Espoir, 1959. CN Pensioners Collection.