The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Kingston Spectator (Kingston, ON), Nov. 28, 1839

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p.3 Melancholy Accident - On Monday morning last, as the ferry boat from Long Island was coming across to this port, having eleven persons on board, the wind blowing a gale from the South-west, the boat upset and two of the passengers, Nathaniel Shannon, of Long Island, and his wife, were unfortunately drowned. (part) [Chronicle]

To the Editor of the Kingston Spectator.

Sir, - I am an emigrant lately from England, and ignorant of what the law recognizes to be the usages and custom of the country, and as I expect Canada to be my adopted home, I am desirous of being informed what rights a British subject is entitled to in Canada, as to the fare of Steamboats. My reason for this enquiry is, I had occasion to go to Kingston from Fredericksburg about two weeks since, and the treatment I received from the Captain of the Sir James Kempt, Mr. Sheriff, I cannot be persuaded is either law, custom, or usage, recognised by any colony appended to Great Britain. The circumstances are as follows:- On my way home from Kingston I was asked to pay my passage to Fredericksburg before we reached the port, which I complied with, and afterwards observing the boat was not making for that port, I asked the Captain if he did not intend to land me, when he replied very importantly, the wind blew too strong to land there, although I have seen the boat frequently come into the same port with a much stronger wind but I was the only passenger destined for that port. I expostulated with him, saying I was a mechanic and my time was precious to me, and more, I had expended all my money for stock, except what paid my passage back home; but all my entreaties proved abortive, for he turned and left me without giving me any satisfaction as to the manner which he intended to dispose of me. When we reached Marysburgh, opposite Adolphustown, I requested that I might get landed at Adolphustown, that I might get home, but he told me that I might go off where we were, or he would take me on further. When I found he was determined to take me on further, I went on shore and made enquiries if I could be set across. But to no purpose; I was there amongst strangers and money-less; so I thought I might as well go on board the boat again and await my disposal by the Captain. The boat pushed off and we proceeded on our way for Hallowell, where we arrived some time in the night, and I was obliged to make my bed of the wood that lay upon deck, which was not very soft or comfortable, as it was cold weather. The next morning we again started for Belleville, and from thence to Kingston, when about three o'clock in the day nature became rather uneasy for want of support, as I had eaten nothing since ten o'clock the day previous, and I again made my complaints to the Captain, and told him I could not think of starving in a land of plenty, when he told me if I would give my goods in security I should have something to eat, which was good news to me at that time. I complied and got something. When coming near the port at Fredericksburg, I discovered no person on the wharf of whom to borrow money to pay for my meal and release my goods; and I made search through my pockets and found nine pence half penny, which left a balance of six pence half penny, for which I offered him part of my goods, but he refused to take part, and said he was determined to keep the whole until I paid it, when the passengers seeing some difficulty between us, gathered around us and enquired what the difficulty was, and when the thing was explained, a young man by the name of Lewis, an American citizen, handed the Captain the money and told them no person's goods should be detained for ten times that amount, and I got my goods and felt much obliged by the foreigner. Now, Mr. Editor, by giving the above an insertion in your paper that some leading officer of the government may inform me through the medium of the press or otherwise, if I have received such treatment as the subjects of this colony are entitled to, according to the laws of the country; and if not, what way I shall proceed to get redress? I am not able to expend what I have not got, that is a fortune. But rights are as dear to me as they possibly can be to the rich; and I hope, although poor, I shall not be neglected. I live in Fredericksburg, on the Rev'd. George Sill's premises, and can give Mr. Sills, Mr. Ingersoll, Colonel Dorland and others of the community, as references to my character, since I have been amongst them.

I remain, Dear Sir,

Your obedient servant,

John Curl.

November 23rd, 1839.

For the Kingston Spectator.

I was at the wharf when the ferry boat upset coming from Long Island last Monday morning about 1 1/2 miles distant. The Sir James Kempt had her steam up, and the Captain, Mr. Shiriff, was repeatedly urged to the rescue of the persons supposed to be holding on the boat. The infamous excuse he made was, that he had no orders from Capt. Gildersleeve, and he might be displeased. (one line unreadable) and if there was he was not worth minding; but the unfeeling man still made excuses.

The people on the Brockville were also urged to go to the relief of the sufferers; they made excuses also. It was said the steam was only up in one boiler, which was thought rather singular and considered by those who heard it quite unlikely, and therefore a mere unfeeling excuse. After the people were rescued she proceeded to the scene of disaster.

Very different was the conduct of the masters and crews of the schooners in port, who hastened through the heavy swells in their small boats to the rescue of their sufferering fellow creatures. The master and crew of an American schooner particularly exerted themselves. Had a steamer been near the sufferers, they might have been directly saved from the cold; as it was, they suffered severely after they were taken from the water before they reached the shore, the air being much colder than the water. I was greatly surprised no notice was taken of the conduct of the masters of the two steamers, in two papers published since the accident. I should very much like to hear their reason for silence.

Another excuse was, the steamers could not go near the ferry boat, by reason of the motion of the paddles.

An Indignant Looker-On.

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Nov. 28, 1839
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Rick Neilson
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Kingston Spectator (Kingston, ON), Nov. 28, 1839