The William D. Lawrence
Registering at 2458 tons, William Dawson Lawrence’s great ship the “Wm. D. Lawrence was the largest ship ever built in the Maritimes. Launched on 27 October 1874, at Maitland, Nova Scotia, this three-masted square-rigger had two complete decks, with beams for a third. The vessel was made of the strongest material available and carried 8000 square yards of sail. Her figurehead, carved by J. S. Shaw, resembled a bearded man draped in a flowing cloak, bearing a scroll with the motto, “God Defend The Right”. In harbour, this massive ship “handled like a yacht” according to Lawrence. During her distinguished career, carrying everything from deals to guano, nothing was ever damaged. Larger than two clippers, and used primarily as a cargo carrier, she even attained a distance of 304 miles in 20 hours off the Cape of Good Hope, (one of the four most treacherous headlands in the world), and could achieve a speed of 14 knots. Not only was the “Wm. D. Lawrence” one of the most impressive vessels ever constructed in Canada, she was also financially successful throughout her long and illustrious career. The painting shows the “Wm. D. Lawrence” in heavy weather under reduced sail. The treatment of the sky and sea shows remarkable depth of feeling for the power and structure of the vast forces of nature. These are the conditions that will deep a captain standing by the weather rail throughout the night.