The Captain's Table Restaurant received its name in honor of one of Newfoundland's greatest heroes, Captain William Jackman. Famous for its fish and chips since 1988!
It was October 9, 1867 - A day long remembered for the vicious storm that lashed the rocky Labrador coast. William Jackman, a strong but soft-spoken sealing captain from Renews, had taken his ship and crew to his property at Spotted Island. At the peak of the storm, Jackman bundled himself in his warmest clothes and headed outside. The third crewman, named Crosbie, pulled on his clothes and followed him. Their heads bowed, Jackman and Crosbie pressed on through the blowing snow towards the coast until they saw a fishing schooner being pounded to pieces on a reef several hundred meters from shore. “She’ll not last a few hours in a gale like this, "shouted the Captain. Instructing Crosbie to fetch as many ropes and men as possible, he tore off his coat and boots and dived into the violent surf. Thoughts of the schooner’s doomed crew and cries of those on board spurred Jackman on through the icy water. Looking up, he saw a crowd of faces, most weeping with joy. Jackman soon learned there were 27 on board, more than her usual number since she had collided with another schooner earlier that day and had taken all of its passengers and crew on board as well. After Jackman had caught his breath, he took one of the crew on his back and swam through the raging sea back to shore, stopping only long enough to catch his breath. This he did ten more times. When he returned to shore with the eleventh man, Crosbie and the Howell brothers had arrived with coils of rope. Jackman, blue with cold, tied the rope around his waist and again plunged into the sea. After four attempts to reach the vessel, he soon returned with another crew member on his back. The men on shore pulled with all their might until Jackman delivered the survivor to shore. Then he was gone again. Jackman managed to rescue 15 more this way. “Is that all of you?” he asked the group huddled on the rocks. A voice cried out, “There’s a woman on board, but she’s close to death and she’ll not survive bein’ hauled through that water. And it may be the death of you too, captain!” Jackman had stopped listening. He pulled himself to his feet, saying “Living or dead, I’ll not leave her there!” He threw himself into the sea once again. Reaching the schooner, he found the woman lying in her berth in the cabin below. Once onshore, he covered her with his heavy coat and she lived long enough to thank him for his kindness. Throughout Newfoundland, the 30-year old captain became know as “Jackman the Hero”. In 1868, he was awarded a medal by England’s Royal Humane Society for his great courage. Jackman himself was quite modest about his bravery. After he had received his medal, he asked his wife, Bridgett, to put it away and he never spoke of it again. Captain William Jackman’s life was tragically cut short when he died in 1877, aged 39 years. His funeral was the largest ever seen in the history of St. John’s.
The Captain's Table
By Melissa Barrington, Owner/Operator
In April 2017 my journey towards becoming a business owner officially began. My husband and I purchased The Captain's Table Restaurant. The Captain's Table was opened by my grandparents just before I was born, and it's been a part of my life from day one. It's more than just a restaurant to me, it is home. And it's not just home to my family and me, it is home to customers that have become like family through the years. We get to be a part of many special life events for our customers. We've hosted birthday parties, we've witnessed marriage proposals, we've thrown wedding receptions, anniversary parties, and endless other celebrations. We also love making the little events, like a small family lunch or an evening date night, feel just as special to our customers as the big events. Over time our customers have become our friends, and that's what I love so much about the business my family has built.
I started working in the restaurant as a dishwasher and eventually worked my way into the kitchen. From there I became a server, and later a manager. This year marks my 21st season, and I'm so happy to say that I love going to work each morning now as much as I did when I started years ago.
When my grandmother decided to retire, my husband and I decided to buy the restaurant and keep family tradition going. But deciding to buy a restaurant and actually doing it are two different things.
Our first year of operating the restaurant as owners was a huge success. We were able to build the outdoor seating area we had dreamed of having, and we added a weekend breakfast menu which is a big hit! Of course there were challenges along the way.
After a successful summer as owners we decided to turn the summer business into a year round operation. We were nervous at first, as Newfoundland winters can be hard, but the unwavering support from our local customers was amazing and we were grateful for the familiar faces that kept us going all winter long. We have decided to officially stay open year round going forward, and have to send a thank you to our customer, staff, friends and family for making this possible!
Although we have made many changes in the past year, we still remain true to my grandfathers original recipes and always operate the business in a way that we know would make him proud.