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Molly Kool

Of

Albert County

 

CALL ME ‘CAPTAIN’.

Myrtle "Molly" Kool
mollykoolcarney.jpg
1916 - 2009

During 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.

                                                                                        

Myrtle 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.

 

Paul 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 a ship.

 

When 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. 

 

After 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,

“Call 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 his retirement.

 

Her life at sea was not without mishaps. She was involved in three; the first being at the wharf in Moncton.

A 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.

In 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.

 

After 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.

 

She 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.

 

The 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
mollykoolprovincialarchivesnewbrurnswickmollykoolcollection.jpg

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 or she.

Molly Kool
mollykoolvisitedherhometown20072.jpg
Visited her home town in 2007

If you can share a photo, or story, about your ancestors - and pertaining to Albert County - please contact me:
 
For more information contact: Sheila (Geldart) Hannah mailto:sheilahannah@msn.com Genealogy with: Sheila (Geldart) Hannah Thank you for viewing my website "Our Ancestors of Albert County Photo Albums and Stories"