Ann Harvey Inspired an Opera

Ann Harvey, not only recieved around a medal and around 100 pounds for her heroic efforts to rescue the survivors of the Despatch and Rankin, she also inspired an opera.

Shallaway Celebrates the Legacy of Ann Harvey

The talented young artists of Shallaway are hard at work these days, rehearsing for their upcoming folk opera Ann and Séamus, to be premiered in St. John’s June 1st – 4th. For months, enthusiasm has been building around the opportunity to present the story of Ann Harvey of Isle aux Morts; a 17 year old who was instrumental in saving 168 lives from the wreck of the brig Despatch in 1828.

Ann’s accomplishment and that of her family was recognized by Governor Cochrane in 1830 with a gold medal from the Royal Humane Society and she became known in some circles as the “Grace Darling of Newfoundland”, after the British heroine who performed a similar rescue off the northeast coast of England in 1838 and became an acclaimed celebrity throughout Victorian England. In 1987, the Canadian Coast Guard named its new ice breaker the Ann Harvey. But, except for local recognition, her heroism was otherwise unheralded for 175 years until, in 2002, Kevin Major was inspired to write the award-winning narrative poem Ann and Seamus.

In turn, in 2003, Shallaway‘s Artistic Director Susan Knight commissioned Stephen Hatfield to compose a folk opera to further celebrate Ann’s legacy.

Excerpts from the Shalloway Site.

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