The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), June 6, 1837

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[Dunkirk Beacon]

On the publication of our last, our sympathies were powerfully awakened, by the situation of the unfortunates on board the schooner which has been drifting about the Lake during the whole of last winter, imbedded in the ice; and subject to all the discomforts attended on short supplies of food and fuel. Our anxiety was however, agreeably relieved by her arrival in this port on Friday last.

The schooner proved to be the Western Trader, of Willoughby, Charin River, Ohio; having on board John McHarry, Master; Hugh Short, Mate; and assistant hands, John Ramsdell and Richard Sonddick. She cleared from Cleaveland for Detroit on the 13th of last Dec. and became fixed on the 17th, about 15 miles from Detroit River.

Since that period, they have been exposed to the blanchings and beatings of the pitiless storm and in our opinion have exhibited a degree of courage, in the most trying circumstances, equal to any thing we have ever heard of.

The Master, being part owner, exhibited from the first, a determination to save the vessel, and has been ably seconded by his crew. She is complete and uninjured, with the exception of the fore gaff, bulkheads, berths etc., which had to be cut away for fuel.

We have been presented with the Log kept on board, but which we find is without regularity, and extends but to a part of the time; so that it is scarcely worthy of publication. We may however state, that this adventure has been distinguished by several thrilling incidents and startling situations. We may instance, that being confident of ultimate success, the crew left the vessel near Conneaut, in order to procure provisions; which place they left with a back load each, having taken the precaution to procure a whip saw, which proved of great advantage, as on nearing the vessel, they found from the change in the wind, a chasm of 5 rods in width; this obstacle was surmounted, by cutting off a large cake of ice, upon which the whole party floated over in safety.

Subsequently, the mate alone, was placed in a similar predicament, and had recourse to the same experiment, but without the like success. A squall arising, created an open space of two miles over which he had to pass on his slippery raft; the cutting wind blowing at the time obliging him to bind his ankles with shreds of his clothes; but notwithstanding which he was severely frost bitten, yet reached the schooner in safety.

The crew seemed to have been indefatigable in their exertions, as about the middle of March, the pressure of the ice became so great as to lift the schooner two feet out of the water; they fixed a purchase at the mast head, and succeeded in cutting and raising blocks of ice sufficient to let her freely into the water. A change in the wind afterwards increased the pressure, so that she laid nearly on her beam ends, with her bow clear out of the water; however, the hardy bark, withstood every shock, and we believe is now, without a timber having been strained.

Few persons can form a conception of the desolate condition of these adventurers, at this period. bereft of human aid, their provisions totally exhausted, and their frames attenuated by previous exertion, would it have been a matter of surprise, had they given way to despair? But no! it was otherwise ordered; a part of their cargo consisted of corn, which being ground in a coffee mill, and though destitute of salt or any thing to render it savory, they made it into cakes, using oats as fuel, and by this alone, sustained existence for five long weeks.

For amusement during this dreary captivity, they had a few books, but with the true spirit of sailors, their chief consolation seemed to be derived from contrasting their situation with that of the crew of the Commerce castaway on the coast of Africa, Robin's description of which, they had on board. - The crew unanimously agree, that loss of food was not more severely felt than the want of tobacco.

The crew with the exception of the mate, were in good health on reaching our harbor, and even he is now quite restored.

To the honor of our citizens be it spoken, that they received these wayfarers with the utmost hospitality; the medical gentlemen and some of our most influential men putting off immediately to their assistance.

We have been requested, in the name of the crew, to tender their sincere acknowledgements for numerous kindnesses; with the assurance that with Dunkirk in their minds, will ever be associated, the most grateful recollections.

p.3 The schooner Montreal arrived here on Thursday last in tow of the Steamer Cobourg; she has since been hove down and her bottom examined and repaired. It affords us pleasure to say that both vessel and cargo have received far less damage than was anticipated. [Prescott Herald]



June 2nd - The steamer Rideau, Drummond

June 4th - The steamer Bytown, Bowen, with barge Trader in tow, 67 passengers (consignees listed.)

The steamer Cataraqui, with barges Mary and Clara Fisher are hourly expected (consignees listed.)

Departures for Montreal.

June 5th - The barge Frances, flour, ashes, (consignees listed.) To complete her lading at Prescott.

Departures for Bytown.

June 3rd - The steamer Rideau, Drummond, sundries.

June 6th - The steamer Bytown, Bowen (consignees listed.)


J.B. Marks, Esq., M.P.P., Umpire.


T. Gurley, Esq., and Mr. John Strachan.

The Inhabitants of Barriefield, Point Henry and Point Frederick, offer for pubic competition, a

New Wherry,

(now building by Mr. James Knapp,) to be rowed for on Monday, July 3rd, next, by Skiffs, to be pulled by one man with a pair of oars.

The best man out of two or more heats, to be declared the winner of the Prize Wherry, and the second best man to be rewarded with a new Birch Canoe, to be purchased out of the Entrance Fees, and overplus Subscriptions.

Conditions of the Race

Each Candidate to enter his name in the Race Book, kept by Mr. John Strachan, on or before Saturday, the 1st of July next, pay 2s. 6d. as an Entrance Fee, and mention the color of the cap he intends to wear on the day of the race.

Every kind of skiff permitted to run, excepting those who have outriggers, that is, the thole pin must be fixed into the gunnel of the Skiff. No fouling permitted, and all offenders in this respect debarred from the privilege of winning.

The Boats to start at 4 o'clock in the Evening, from Green Bay, to row round a skiff moored at Ludlow's Point, and back again round a skiff moored on the east side of the Cataraqui Bridge, and thence to the place of starting, passing the Prize Wherry.

All the Candidates to start for the first heat, and all those who are not distanced, to start again for the second heat, and in case the first and second heats should be won by different candidates, the two winners to row a third heat for the Prize, one hundred yards from the Prize Wherry to be the distance.

In case of disputes, the Umpire's decision to be final.

Barriefield, June 5th, 1837.

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June 6, 1837
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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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British Whig (Kingston, ON), June 6, 1837