research for a genealogy background on persons from the small area of Alma, New Brunswick, an article on a sea captain, in
fact the first female sea-captain, and the first New Brunswick feminist, came to notice in an article written by Allison Brewer
in November 2000. From her article came this information.
Kool, known as ‘Molly’ was born February 23, 1916 in the village of Alma, the second daughter of five children
to Dutch sailor Paul Kool and wife.
built and operated a 70 foot, engine and sail-driven scow, the ‘Jean K.’ named for his eldest daughter but it
was Molly who spent summer and any free time on board helping her father. The scow and crew transferred cargo to and from
ships anchored off shore in the area of Bay of Fundy but the scow was also recognized in harbours of Point Wolfe, Moncton
and Boston. These journeys gave the girl basic training in learning about the sea as well as valuable experience in piloting
Molly graduated from High School in the 1930’s, jobs were scarce due to the Depression.
After spending time on the Jean K., Molly decided her heart was with the sea and as she had some experience and strong
will, she enrolled in the St. John Merchant Marine School at the age of 21. She had to convince the male authorities she was
capable. Although she was first refused, she persevered and was accepted; the first woman ever to attend such an institution.
receiving her Mate’s Certificate in 1937, her first official job was with her father on the Jean K. As expected, her position as Mate was not an easy life. The men who at first ridiculed her eventually respected
and admired her strengths. Two years later, Molly graduated from the Merchant
Marine Institute in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia with a ‘Coastal Master’s Certificate’. It was not an easy
achievement as she had to qualify in various levels of situations that could transpire on the sea. She passed each test with flying colors, thanks to her experience sailing the difficult, sometimes violent
waters and weather of the Bay of Fundy. She was the first woman in North America to become a deep-sea Captain. Her telegram home read,
me ‘Captain’ from now on.” In fact, due to radio recognitions and interviews, she was fondly called ‘Captain
Molly’. With this accomplishment, Paul Kool turned over the command of the Jean K. to Molly and remained as mate until
life at sea was not without mishaps. She was involved in three; the first being at the wharf in Moncton.
Norwegian captain wanted her position at dock but Molly refused to move her scow. The ship jammed into the Jean K. causing
lines to sever, thus she drifted from the dock into the current that would carry her into the Petitcodiac Bridge. It would
be a disaster. As the scow could not be maneuvered, Molly ordered her crew overboard. Realizing he was responsible, the Norwegian
captain attempted to rectify his actions but to no effect. However, the scow came to rest on a sand bank and with payback
from the Norwegians, the scow was successfully repaired.
a second mishap in the fog, Molly was cast over and under the scow. She was able to swim up the opposite side and was later
rescued. After the third episode in 1944, Molly had second thoughts. A gas explosion fire aboard the scow devastated the engine room, the cabin, and the wheel house. She lost
all but the clothes she was wearing. Not to relent, Molly planned to return to the sea on the Jean K. after repairs. Then
- at 38 years, she found love, married and moved to Maine with her husband, Ray Blaisdell to spend her remaining years on
land. Her brother took over the Jean K.
the death of Ray, Molly remarried John Carney. She was known as Molly Kool Carney
who sold Singer Sewing Machines. In early 1960’s Molly was again widowed. She lived in her home in Maine until February,
2009 when she died at 93 years of age.
was a heroine to many women for her determination and achievements and in 2006; she was officially recognized by the Canadian
Government as the first woman in North America to hold a Captain’s Certificate.
Fundy Beautification and Historical Society are in midst of preserving the childhood home of Myrtle ‘Molly’ Kool
Carney and hope to move it to a location within the Fundy National Park.
|Molly Kool & Aubrey Keirste in Alma
Provincial Archives New Brunswick, Molly Kool Collection
Molly Kool, right, with her friend Aubrey Keirstead
in Alma. When Kool earned her master mariner’s papers in 1939, the Canadian Shipping Act had to be amended to read “he
|Visited her home town in 2007
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