Norman Kenny Luxton

by John M. MacFarlane 2002

Norman Kenny Luxton was born at Upper Fort Garry (later Winnipeg MB) on November 2, 1876. A newspaper journalist he worked with the Calgary Herald and the Vancouver Sun.Later in life he founded the Luxton Museum in Banff Alberta and was also a trader, a naturalist, a taxidermist, property owner and collector of indian curios. From 1902 to 1951 he owned and operated the Banff Crag & Canyon newspaper. He died at Calgary Alberta on October 26, 1962.

"I went on that trip looking for what I did not know, but it was a great something that I knew I was without." (Luxton, E.G. (Ed.) (1971) Page 13)

The relationship between Luxton and Voss was an odd one, and the two crew members seemed mismatched for such an arduous and uncertain undertaking:

"Voss was a hardened seaman, mature, egotistical, with black moods; Luxton, the youthful journalist and adventurer, resourceful and vital. The wonder is not that they parted company, but that they remained together as long as they did, nursing their fears and resentments. Luxton had the newspaperman's eye for a good story and what could be more thrilling than to sail around the world in an Indian canoe?" (Luxton, E.G. (Ed.) (1971) Page 15)

Like Joshua Slocum and other small boat sailors Luxton experienced vivid and almost hallucinogenic visions while at sea. The stress of the voyage, lack of sleep and proper diet, coupled with the uncertainty of the deteriorating relationship with Voss may have contributed to this state. Luxton recalled that:

"It seemed that about August 18th we were in for a real sailing breeze. We had been hove to for some eighteen hours. I was on watch and I think I must have been dozing. I woke up and the waves had died down considerably with the storm, but there was still white water. Sitting on the cabin roof, I suddenly saw my old friend George Grieve, of Winnipeg, a dear and lovely old friend... Quite plainly to my sleepy eyes I could see him, and while I cannot say that he told me in actual words to get busy and make sail, he told me to do just that, and to do it at once. I did not hesitate a moment to go forward, pull in the sea anchor and hoist everything the Tilikum had, and hit a course southwest. There was a sequel to the appearance of my friend, George Grieve, in my dreams. I read in my Canadian papers when I got to Australia that he was dead, and had died shortly before he came and told me to make sail." (Luxton, E.G. (Ed.) (1971) Page 82 - 83)

Luxton left the voyage in Samoa after suffering the sometimes violent moods of Captain Voss. Suggestions of Voss' binge drinking occur in his account and in the observations of others. He apparently felt forced to lock Voss below while standing a 24 hour watch in the cockpit with a weapon in his lap. Falling asleep from fatigue and unsure what actions to take when making a landfall they were swept over the reef. Luxton suffered from coral poisoning during the episode. Leaving the Tilikum at Apia Samoa he considered rejoining the voyage at Sydney Australia later on. After the disappearance of his successor he decided to work his way back to Canada as an Able-Seaman on a CPR steamer in 1902.

In retrospect Luxton commented:

""Would you repeat the trip again?" I am often asked. Quite candidly and truly NO, but not for anything would I have missed it. Under different circumstances, with a larger boat, the voyage would have been divine, and in such a boat if Voss were master, I would not have hesitated to go anywhere the winds and storms would drive." (Luxton, E.G. (Ed.) (1971) Page 159)

To quote from this article please cite:

MacFarlane, John M. (2002) Norman Kenny Luxton. 2002.

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