women in the fishery

Jane Bartlett (1900-1997) Ship Owner & Businesswoman, Rattling Brook, Green Bay

Jane Bartlett

Jane (Ryan) Bartlett was in her early twenties when she took up a teaching post in a one room school house in Rattling Brook, Green Bay in 1922. Originally from Adam's Cove, Conception Bay, this was her second position since earning her teacher's certificate. Jane's studies had proved her to be a great scholar and with her love of English, grammar, and composition it seemed clear that a career as a school teacher would be the perfect fit. And it was, for a short time. However, Jane would go on to perform a different sort of community leadership role in the years to come.

Following her first year of teaching, Jane moved to Toronto, and shortly afterwards she married Frank Bartlett from Rattling Brook. The couple returned home in 1925 and founded a mercantile practice under the trade name F.W. Bartlett. The company initially sold general merchandise and food products but the Bartletts expanded their enterprise to include rabbit canning, salt fish and herring processing, as well as logging and lumber manufacturing enterprises.

The couple employed local labourers, both men and women, practically keeping the town afloat during the Depression years. It was during this time that the government of Newfoundland introduced a coastal schooner building program—an initiative to create employment and revenue and to keep able-bodied labourers from relying on social welfare. The Bartletts were chosen to sponsor the program through which they built ten schooners over a seven year period, four of which were registered exclusively to Jane. She signed off on each schooner as owner and seller, the last being The Tempest, which was launched in 1940 and sold two years later.

The couple continued their mercantile operation, selling the business in 1949 and taking on new ventures - like a series of contracts with the British government to manufacture wooden pit props used in the UK coal mining industry.

Jane's role was imperative to the operation of each business venture she entered with her husband. She was the bookkeeper and tackled all administrative task as well as arrangements with government personnel, and fellow business and ship owners. Throughout her career, Jane remained the principal caregiver to the couple's four children and oversaw their education (being a former school teacher this was of particular importance.) She also managed the operation of her stately home which often doubled as a temporary residence for visiting officials from the government and clergy.

Jane lived to be 97 years old, an independent spirit to the end, leaving behind a legacy of hard work and dedication and a list of ships once registered in her name: Radio City; The Tempest; Arizona and Audrey Bartlett.

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