Did you ever read that book “Death on the ice”?
We had a teacher in High School named Mr. Chipp. Mr. Chipp was our English teacher. I liked English - partly because Mr. Chipp was (and still is) a down to earth, friendly, witty and charming fellow. (I say that because he’s probably reading this) The other part because I was terrible at Math, and English was all I had left. That and History - but I told you about that before.
But English was my subject. I liked the literature, the reading, the writing, the thinking ... I liked it all. For Mr. Chipp, he liked the literature, and that’s what he tried to impart into all of us.
So in Grade 10, Mr. Chipp walked into the classroom with a book in his hand. It was one of his favourites - you could tell. It was a book written by Cassie Brown called Death on the Ice. Again - did you read it? If not, you should. Mr. Chipp read it - probably many times. Then he tried to force all of us to read it - for a reason I didn’t completely understand at the time. But now I do.
Death on the Ice tells the story of the S.S. Newfoundland sealing disaster back in 1914. It’s a tragic tale - as you could probably determine from the title. Mr. Chipp had been teaching it for years, and went through it with every Grade 10 English class he taught - and there were a few. Every year, he’d help us read, study, examine, and deduce the book inside and out. I won’t recant it all for you here, because, of course you’re going to read it.
I remember, though, sitting in class for days on end, talking about this book, discussing the tragedy, and how it happened, and every time the topic came up, Mr. Chipp always brought us back to one phrase. One word. One theme.
Recently I was talking to a current student - not of Mr. Chipp’s, but someone who is still required to read the book as part of their curriculum this year. I imparted on them the wisdom Mr. Chipp taught me.
“It’s all about greed,” I said.
They looked at me really funny. I said it again. They looked at me even funnier. Then I explained myself.
Mr. Chipp stressed above everything else, that the main theme in the book Death on the Ice – the main thing that lead to the disaster that claimed so many lives, and echoed down through history, was greed.
Fast forward now, to today. When we look at the state of the fishery, where we are with everything around us related to it, the closures and possible closures of plants, I can’t help but remember Mr. Chipp’s world.
“It’s all about greed.”
Now I know why we read the book.
– Rudy Norman