A Canadian who had worked in the maritime industries and wrote about it, Brock Davis summered here from the 1950’s through the ‘80’s, and she studied with Philip Burnham Hicken in his studio at 23 Pine Street. Her first show at The Little Gallery was of “abstracted” work. During the 1940s she studied in Montreal with Arthur Lismer (1885-19690), one of Canada’s famed Group of Seven.
Brock wrote the now classic “My year Before the Mast” which is described with:
“In 1933, a young Canadian woman rejected the expectations of society and her upper-class family and became a crew member aboard one of the last great four-masted sailing vessels that still plied the ocean.
It was not an easy task. Young Annette had to fight pressures from her family, rejection from schools of navigation, and doubts from ship owners. When she finally found a berth as an apprentice seaman, she faced hostility from officers and crew, who grumbled that she should be home “raising babies.” In the end, however, Annette won their respect, taking in sails, standing night watches, hauling and coiling ropes all the tasks the men were doing, with no concession to a girl’s lesser strength.
“My Year Before the Mast” tells the story of Annette Brock Davis’s life on the sea as the first female crew member of a commercial sailing line. Her courage and determination to break into a closed male world are central to this book, but we cannot ignore the fact that, while this is a book about a woman’s struggle, it is also a book about the sea. Davis brings to life an era long gone, and introduces an incredible cast of characters the crew, officers, and passengers, each with his own foibles, humour, generosity, and flashes of meanness. But through it all, Annette emerges as the most remarkable character of them all.”
The book jacket from 1999 said: “In her ninetieth year she maintains a serious writing and painting schedule. She still sleeps in a bunk bed and navigates her bicycle on errands around Bridgenorth, the southern Ontario village where she lives.”
An artist, writer, merchant seaman and renaissance woman, Mrs. Davis was born in Montreal in 1909. After attending navigation school, at age 24 she became the first woman in the British Empire to circumnavigate the globe as a crew member aboard a four-masted sailing vessel. She was a full-fledged member of the Association Internationale Cap Horniers de St. Malo. Later in life, Mrs. Davis became an accomplished painter and author, and was an active prize-winning member of the Artists’ Association of Nantucket. In her 90th year, on the publication of her memoir “My Year Before the Mast,” she received worldwide celebrity.