The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), Nov. 17, 1880

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p.2 Belle Sheridan - James McSherry, the sole survivor of the crew of the ill-fated Belle Sheridan is ill, his lungs being badly affected. He is scarcely able to speak, but the following facts have been elicited from him regarding the wreck of his father's boat:

The sch. Belle Sheridan left Charlotte on Saturday, 6th, loaded with coal for Toronto. When opposite 30 Mile Pt. she was struck by a squall from the south-west. The crew at once lowered the fore-sail and mainsail, and headed the vessel on an east by north coarse. About an hour afterwards the main-boom went over the vessels side, carrying away the yawl boat. At 3 o'clock in the morning the sea was running level with the vessels rail and the main topmast gave way. At daybreak the crew sighted Presque Isle Bluff, but their vessel was unmanageable and they failed in an attempt to reach Presque Isle harbour. The anchor was dropped, but after holding a short time it began to drag, and the schooner went broadside upon the beach about 2 miles from Presque Isle harbour. The crew was dashed over her, and until 1 o'clock the crew held on behind the yawl-bits and windlass. They were every few minutes deluged with the waves which swept over them. The captain, James McSherry, sr., was held by his 3 sons, John, Thomas, and James, who themselves were so benumbed as to have scarcely any use of their limbs. Edward McSherry and Samuel Boyd, who were holding on to each other lost the use of their arms, and James McSherry went to the assistance of his brothers. Shortly afterwards, the old man died and his body was washed off the shore side of the vessel. Edward cried out several times that he could stand it no longer and died in his brother's arms. After a boat from the shore had failed in 3 times to reach the ill-fated schr., James McSherry determined to venture on the waves. Crawling aft to the main rigging he jumped into the water, and after being swept around the vessels bow was carried half-way to shore by a single wave. On another wave he was born close to shore and was picked up by the boat which had come out to the rescue. Shortly after James reached the shore the mainmast gave way and fell directly across where the remainder of the crew were holding on. After this event the survivor knows little, beyond the fact that they perished one after the other. [Globe]

That Terrible Gale - It is now possible to give a fuller and nearly complete list of the vessels that came by serious loss in the gale of Nov. 7th, comprising the cases that were reported as probably recquiring calls on insurance companies.

-the sch. Belle Sheridan, beached in Wellers Bay, 6 of the crew lost, vessel total loss.

-the sch. Norway, wrecked on the lake; 8 of the crew lost, vessel towed to Kingston.

-propellor Zealand, lost on the lake with all hands, 16 in number.

-sch. Blanche, ashore near Cobourg, got off.

-sch. Hannah Butler, ashore near Cobourg, got off.

-sch. Dundee, ashore in the river near Brockville, got off.

-sch. Baltic, loss of main boom.

-sch. Twilight, loss of sails.

-sch. Wavecrest, loss of anchor and other outfit.

-sch. A.G. Ryan, ashore on Wolfe Island, got off.

-sch. Maumee Valley, ashore in the river near Brockville, got off.

-sch. Lily Hamilton, ashore at Kingston, got off.

-sch. T.C. Street, ashore on beach near Wellington, on Prince Edward, abandoned for the present.

The foregoing is the list of disasters that took place on Lake Ontario and the river. The losses on Lakes Erie and Huron were not to be compared with them; nor is there any record anything like the loss ever happening on Lake Ontario.

p.3 Life-Saving Service - Mr. W.D. Andrews, son of Mr. G.W. Andrews, of Kingston, who has been presented with metals by the city of Toronto and Royal Humane Society, declares that the recent disasters which have occurred upon our lakes and the serious loss of life attending them, fully demonstrate the necessity of organizing an independent Canadian Life Saving Service. Canada, which now ranks fifth among the maritime powers, has not a recognized institution for the preservation of life along her shores. There are life-boats in charge of some harbour trusts, but no permanent crew to man them. Had a life-boat been at hand the crew of the Belle Sheridan would undoubtedly have been rescued. The crews of the other vessels lost during the same gale might also have been saved. The Royal National Life-Boat Institution of Great Britain, instituted 1809, supported by voluntary subscriptions, comprises a fleet of 209 life-boats. During the past year 637 persons were rescued by the boats of the society, and 21 vessels saved from destruction. In the same period the institution granted rewards for saving 218 persons by fishing and other boats, making a total of 1855 lives saved mainly through the instrumentality of this institution. Altogether, since its formation, the society has contributed to the saving of 26,906 shipwrecked persons. The United States Life-Saving Service, established 1871, is the best system in existence, being under the direct control of the United States Government. Each station contains a self-righting and self-bailing life-boat, and a surfboat which is used on flat beaches and in shoal waters. It is mounted on a light carriage which may be drawn by the crew when horses are not available. Within the same room stands the mortar cart loaded with the wreck ordnance, lines and various other implements used in rescuing shipwrecked persons when it is impossible to reach them with a boat. Since the establishment of the service in 1871 there have been 797 disasters within its cognizance, and of the 8392 persons imperiled 8030 have been rescued, while 1753 people have been fed and sheltered at the stations. The want of such a system is severely felt in Canada.

The Lost Norway - Today Capt. John Donnelly, for the 1st time within a week, was in the city. A Whig reporter interviewed him, regarding the lost Norway. His statement in substance was that he found the schooner anchored about 10 miles from the False Ducks in a waterlogged condition. The Captain of the tug Robb stated that he had towed the vessel 10 miles, but such a thing was simply impossible as both tugs could not move her beyond the length of the anchor chains. Capt. Donnelly cut the chains and the two tugs together drew her along at the rate of 2 1/2 miles per hour. Donnelly does not think the tug Robb is entitled to the salvage asked. The theory advanced by the captain is that the vessel carried away her bowsprit yards, and in consequence the bowsprit and jibboom and gearing. This caused the vessel to broach to and roll in the trough of the sea. The sailors went to work and chopped down the mizzen and main-masts, and both these with the rigging were carried overboard. The anchors were then dropped, but it was impossible to outlive the terrible gale. The vessel was drawn down to her anchors and all hands perished. The rail on the port fore-rigging bears the mark of an axe. That the men perished heroically there can be no doubt.

This morning the vessel was pumped out. It was then found that her hull was apparently undamaged. Three sticks of timber are out, one through her starboard side, one through the bulkhead of her forecastle, and one on the portside. There was nothing whatever in the forecastle with the exception of a bag containing two shirts and a coat and vest. These belonged to one of the sailors.

Wanted - A Rowing Club - a short article, mentions 2 boats built by Mr. Joseph Manville, 30' x 14" x 7" - details.

Marine Notes.

The sch. B.W. Folger will strip and lay up at the foot of Clarence St.

The str. Algerian arrived this morning and will go into winter quarters here.

Capt. John Donnelly left this afternoon to inspect the beached sch. T.C. Street.

Sailors wages on Lake Ontario have been advanced to $3 per day, the rate for canal service.

Swifts - Arrivals: steamers Algerian from Hamilton; Empress of India from Prescott; Persia from St. Catharines.

This morning the steamship Lombard, on Lake St. Peter, was overtaken by a schooner and ran into, causing her to go ashore. Cargo damaged.

The tug Elfin has been sold to John Kinghorn, who represents the Montreal and Ottawa Forwarding Company. She will ply between Ottawa and Whitehall.

The K. & M. Forwarding Company have carried 3,000,000 bush of grain this year without damaging or losing a bushel. The river freights are 2 1/2 cents on wheat and 2 1/4 cents on corn.

The sch. Richardson arrived safely at Fort William on the 10th inst. Having discharged her cargo she will winter there, as the Sault Ste. Marie canal has been closed. The captain and crew will return to Kingston at once.

It is believed that the spars seen by the tug Chieftain near Salmon Point were the main and mizzen masts of the waterlogged Norway. The timbers would be kept in an upright position by the weight of the rigging attached to them.

Run Back Again - The sch. M.C. Upper left this morning in tow of the prop. Persia for the Welland Canal. When 4-Mile Point was reached the vessel was let go and ran back to this harbour. The prop. also returned. The owners of the Upper are at considerable expense as the men aboard are receiving $2.50 a day. The vessel has been very unfortunate recently.

Vessel Surveys - Yesterday Captains Taylor and Lewis made a survey of the damages which the Lily Hamilton (lying at Portsmouth) sustained by running aground in the harbour. They found that the bottom of the vessel had been badly injured, more so than was anticipated. Several planks have been broken and she will recquire a new pocket piece - an expensive piece of work. The Captains estimate the cost of repairs at $1800 or $2000. Capt. Taylor also made an inspection of the sch. Dundee, which is now at the Marine Railway. He found several of her planks broken. She will recquire repairs costing $685.62. Both vessels were insured, so that a considerable portion of the expense of putting them in good condition will be borne by the companies issuing the policies.

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Nov. 17, 1880
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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), Nov. 17, 1880