The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), June 10, 1834

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p.2 The Steam-Boat Oswego - We are happy to state that this vessel, which was stranded in the gale of the 12th inst., has been got off with very little injury. The owners, we are informed, are indebted to the skill and judgement of our young fellow citizen, Mr. John McNair, for the effectual and safe delivery of the boat from her unfortunate situation. She was brought back to harbor without other assistance than of her own engines, and is found not to leak a drop. She must be a boat of extraordinary strength, for though she encountered on the beach a worse gale than that in which she was stranded, yet not even her paint is started at the joints of her timbers.

Were not a shipwreck always too serious a matter to be treated lightly, and were it not that the hand of a merciful Providence is plainly visible in having protected this vessel and her company during some forty or fifty miles that she was encountering the perils of a lee shore, we should be disposed to make merry with some of the extravagant accounts of the Oswego's wreck. Some of these accounts, too, we are sorry to find, are prejudicial to the reputation of the Lake Ontario navigation - than which, we feel no difficulty in affirming, there is not a safer navigation (of its class) upon the surface of the globe. The wreck of the Oswego furnishes strong proof of it - for she passed over one of the most dangerous places - (Ford's shoals) there is upon the coast, and yet landed her passengers upon the beach without wetting their feet.

The boat, we learn, will in a few days proceed to Niagara to be put on the railway, and be subjected to a thorough inspection and repair, if any is found necessary, and in the course of ten or twelve days will resume her place in the line, under the command of Capt. Sherman, from Lake Champlain, a gentleman whom, we are informed, will command the confidence of the public. [Oswego Palladium May 28th]

Hurricane & Loss of a Schooner - A rumour of a Schooner having foundered on Saturday week last, near Port Hope, (and all hands perished) reached us a few days since; but, in the absence of any particulars, and no notice being taken of the accident by either of our contemporaries, we hoped it would prove without foundation. Later intelligence, however, we are sorry to say, destroys this hope, and the following facts are but too surely confirmed: - On the day in question, two men in the employ of J.T. Williams, Esq. of Port Hope, who were at work in a field commanding a view of the Lake shore, observed a topsail schooner, seemingly heavily laden, coming down under easy sail and a light breeze. She lay near in shore and the men watched her for some time, admiring her appearance. Suddenly they saw her forced through the water with extraordinary velocity for a short distance and then give two or three most violent pitches, the last of which fairly capsized her, and she almost instantly afterwards went down, keel uppermost. The men hastened immediately to the Town for assistance, when it appeared that Capt. Kingsmill and his servant, who had a short time before, been looking at the same vessel through a telescope, had also noticed her sudden disappearance, but thought she had gone off on another tack merely. No vestige of either boat or men, we believe, has since been discovered, and, consequently, her name remains unknown; but it is thought, from her sinking so readily, she was probably loaded with wheat, and being so near in shore, she would perhaps be from Whitby, or some place this side Toronto. About the time of the accident, and which will probably account for it, a hurricane is said to have passed over that part of Darlington towards the lake, in the direction of the unfortunate vessel, and sweeping every thing before it. [Cobourg Star]

p.3 An illnatured communication tending to prejudice the mind of the public against the steam packet United States, appeared in last Saturday's Chronicle. It is dated at Oswego, and is evidently the production of some individual, who jealous of the universal patronage that boat receives, is willing like Momus when Jupiter shew him his daughter Venus, to find fault with trifles.

The writer complains of an "impudent puff" in the Albany Journal, stating that on the night when the Oswego was stranded, the United States rode out the gale in safety; and more than insinuates, that the proprietors of the latter vessel forwarded this account to Albany for the purpose of enhancing her claims to exclusive public favor. The facts of the case are these: the United States arrived at Sacket's Harbor during the prevalence of the gale, and remained her customary time until next morning, when she proceeded on her route; so that in point of truth, she was not at sea at the time the accident happened to the Oswego, but it does not follow that she remained in harbor on account of the turbulence of the weather; for she arrived during the gale and left long before it had subsided. Moreover she has rode out in safety harder blows than that of the 12th ult.

Some notice was taken of the United States in the Ogdensburgh Republican, which account was abbreviated in the Albany paper, and thence the error arose. We have the authority of a highly respectable individual, that the managing owners of this vessel have never been guilty of puffing her at all, much less at the expense of truth, and we have no doubt that her superior excellencies have alone been the occasion of all the tributes to her praise, which have emanated from the public press. Even while we now write a letter has been placed into our hands lauding the boat for her accommodations and her commander for some polite attentions, but which letter on account of its trivial importance we have not published.

We are happy to learn by the communication thus criticized, that the Oswego is likely to resume her trips. She is said to be but triflingly injured, and will, after undergoing an examination in the Dry Dock at Niagara, immediately proceed to business. She is a superb and strongly built boat, and there is no doubt, but in the course of a short time all recollections of her melancholy misfortune will be obliterated, since it was one which no human foresight could have prevented.

While upon the subject of steam boats, we cannot avoid alluding to the multitude of reports constantly circulating to the prejudice of some one of them or other. Last week, half the town of Kingston was alarmed by an apparently well authenticated account of the St. George having burst her boilers and killed four men, and just as the inhabitants had made up their minds that the lamentable accident was true, in came the gallant vessel as sound as a roach, without having had any occurrence on board by which such a report might have originated. Independent of the distress occasioned to the families of the persons on board by the invention of these tales, mischief is sure to recoil upon the heads of the inventors themselves; for so soon as the falsity of the report is ascertained, a re-action in favor of the slandered vessel is sure to take place, and the propogator and calumniated becomes detected and exposed.

By the Thomas McKay and Rideau during the past week, more than 300 emigrants have arrived from Montreal via the canal; all highly pleased with the speed and convenience of the route. The Enterprize is hourly expected with a full loading. The Margaret will be ready to join the line in the course of a day or two. The Montreal Forwarders, aided by the venal efforts of a portion of the public press, may for a time gull the poor imigrants and induce them to go by the way of the tedious and dangerous St. Lawrence, but "magna est veritas et prevalebit."

- a letter about alleged violence on steamer William IV; two witnesses agree with Whig's version.

For the British Whig.

Mr. Editor, - No notice has been taken of my Query in your paper of the 27th ult. As the inhabitants of Kingston have got all they could from the Noble Commodore, it is presumed from their ungrateful apathy, that he may go to the d__l for what they care. Colonel By, when he gained a fortune near Kingston, had a grand dinner given to him by the town; Commodore Barrie having spent one among the same people, is permitted to go away unnoticed.


Kingston, June 9th, 1834.

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June 10, 1834
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Rick Neilson
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), June 10, 1834