Virtue & Captain Job Kean moved to Norton’s Cove around 1879. They had eleven children, and ran a business together for many years. Virtue had been raised at Middle Bill Cove, a part of Cape Freels, in Bonavista Bay, just a 15-20 minute drive from Norton’s Cove on modern(ish) roads, and met Job on Flower’s Island where she’d held the position of Schoolmarm.
As far as I can tell, Virtue was in charge of the shop where I sit typing this right now. It’s known as Kean’s General Store by the Heritage Foundation, or Job Kean Shop, and it has J. KEAN in wooden lettering over the door outside. I’m thinking of changing the J. to a V. Maybe even V. HANN.
But keeping the J. Kean outside the door reminds me how far women have come in the world, since Virtue’s beginnings. What a strong woman she must have been, to run a very successful business and raise a family (with plenty of tragedy- only 45% of her children reached adulthood) with her partner gone to sea for months at a time. She was a host to doctors who stayed at her home while working at the clinic that had been set up very nearby. She kept horses, helped to run the telegraph office (where my woodshed is now), taught Sunday school, and played piano. And she still made time to write silly folk song lyrics to be sung at community concerts and raise money for charity.
Lukey’s boat is painted green, aha me b’ys
Lukey’s boat is painted green, the prettiest John Dominey ever did see
Aha, aha me riddle I day.