The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), Sept. 22, 1882

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p.2 A Dreadful Accident - explosion on ferry steamer Richelieu kills three.



"Nice steamboat laws those in Canada" says the Inter-Ocean. "The prop. Asia had no license, but was running all the same, and carrying big loads of passengers." It is just about 'go as you please'.

Capt. Saxie Brooks, of the schr. Benson, has had some difficulty with his crew. He declined to pay them wages, had a judgement issued by the Marine Court, his vessel seized and a large amount of costs incurred. He gave bonds, and announced his intention of having the case appealed.

The schr. Peerless should have arrived in Midland before the storm of last Thursday, Sept. 14th. She may have arrived safely and the usual reports have not been made. The Peerless measures 280 tons, and was built in 1855. She is owned at Hamilton, Ont., and is sailed by Capt. Robert Mowat, who formerly resided at Port Dover. Her cargo is 14,000 bushels of corn. Vessel and cargo are insured. They are supposed to have gone down in Thursday's storm.

A private telegram states that the side wheel steamer Picton is a total wreck on Lake Erie, off Rond Eau. The steamer left Toronto last Saturday to run between Owen Sound and the Sault. She is owned by the Bay of Quinte & Kingston Navigation Company, and formerly plied between Toronto and Niagara. She went ashore on Rondeau Point. It was so dark that Capt. could not see. Formerly the Picton ran between Toronto and Montreal, but latterly between Niagara and Toronto. She was a staunch boat, worth probably $30,000. She was insured for $10,000 in the Aetna and Royal Canadian Companies.



Statement of Young Tinkiss - One of the Asia's Passengers.

A Touching Tearful Story.

In the Globe of yesterday we find the following statement of young Tinkiss, one of those who survived the Asia disaster: After leaving Owen Sound the Asia called at Presqu'Ile for wood. The next morning it was blowing a stiff gale, and he and his uncle feeling sick, retired to their berths. At 11 o'clock his uncle was awakened by the rolling of the steamer, and springing up, shouted: "Dunk, jump up, the boat is doomed." They rushed on deck, and the scene was a fearful one. The waves were rolling mountains high. Continuing, he spoke as follows: "I went to a stateroom, put on a life preserver and again returned to the deck. Those who were not on their knees rushed frantically about. I did not see the Captain or crew, but I heard a single order to throw the cargo overboard. No attempt was made to lower the ship's boats, as they would at once have been dashed to pieces, so for a long half hour we stood there face to face with death. The steamer had got into the trough of the sea, and though her engines worked hard the vessel refused to obey her helm. Wave after wave threatened to engulf us, until one larger than the rest struck us, and the boat careened over. We all sprang on the hurricane deck. It was but the work of a moment, for as she sunk the water rushed over her amid the heart rending cries of the passengers. Her stern went foremost, and she was swallowed up by the angry waves. For a brief period the upper deck and the steamer's boats floated, and noticing one I called to my uncle to follow me, and

Made A Rush For It..

He did not come, and that was the last I saw of him. I got into one. It was overloaded, immediately turned over, and as a number of persons were clinging to my life preserver, I disengaged it and struck for another boat. In it were only 18 persons, including the Captain, the mate, the purser, and fifteen others. I called to Mr. McDougall, the purser, to give me his hand. He did so, but exclaimed, "Oh, I don't think it of any use." As soon as I got in I looked towards the wreck, where nothing was to be seen but a struggling mass of humanity, clinging to timber and other wreckage to prolong their lives for a few seconds. A third filled with water and sank. I felt some relief at having such misery shut out from view. We were now drifting with no appearance of land in view, and our boat continually turning over with every heavy wave which struck us. Fortunately it contained water tight compartments, and as long as we could cling to it we knew that we would not sink. This state of things continued for some time, when our number was reduced to about 12. There then remained the Captain, mate, Mr. Little, Miss Morrison, five unknown and myself. It was evident that a number of these would perish, as the boat continually struck them, inflicting severe injuries. Miss Morrison and I were both in the water, she at one end

Clinging To The Ropes,

and I at the other end keeping the boat within reach. In this way, although the boat frequently upset, we escaped the blows which were given by it. We were at this time twenty miles from shore, with no means of propelling the craft with the exception of a single paddle, which was of no earthly use. We drifted for some hours, our boat being full of water, and then the struggle with death began. The first to succumb of the remaining seven was a stranger. The poor fellow made an effort to retain his hold on life, but had to go. About two hours afterwards the other stranger followed and was laid in the bottom of the boat by the side of his dead comrade. About five o'clock in the evening land was sighted and the cry of "Saved!" was raised. The Mate now struck up the old familiar tune "Pull for the shore, sailors, pull for the shore," in which we heartily joined "The sweet, by-and-bye," when we fondly thought we would meet on the shore to which we were drifting. Shortly after the last notes had died away Mr. Little, of Sault Ste. Marie, laid down and breathed his life away. Shortly after this the lighthouse off Byng Inlet was sighted, and it was a grand sight to our weary eyes. About an hour and a half afterwards the Mate, who was supported by

The Brave Girl,

laid down his weary head and died. The Captain, turning to me, said, "The poor mate is gone."

Towards morning the Captain appeared to drop asleep. I shook him, asking him to wake up. He merely answered "Yes," and on my repeating it said he would be up in a minute. A huge wave struck me, and when I returned he was dead. We struck the beach at daybreak next morning, when we saw a derrick, which we mistook for a lighthouse, and we started to reach it. The girl, however, was unable to accomplish the task, and so sat down in the sand. I removed all the bodies from the boat, and getting in attempted to reach the derrick, but between the delay on shore and the trouble of propelling our craft, only succeeded in making a half mile before dark. That night (Friday) we slept on the beach, and next morning reached the derrick, when Miss Morrisons's strength gave out. That evening I hailed an Indian who was passing with a boat, and bargained with him to take us to Parry Sound. On Saturday morning the Indian furnished us with some breakfast, the first we had eaten since the previous Wednesday evening. We had drifted for eighteen hours from the time we left the sinking vessel until we struck the beach.

Hanging To Life.

Miss Morrison said: "When the mate helped me in he told me to hang to the life line whatever happened, and I never let go. When the boat upset I hung on and came up with it. None had hats on and none coats on but Tinkiss. I had neither hat nor shawl; we were all water up to our knees. If we had had a baling dish we could have bailed out the boat after the sea went down, but had nothing to do it with. The men all died quietly. They seemed to go to sleep. The mate put his head up to my face in the dark, and asked if it was me. I said "Yes." My hair was flying around, and he seized it in his death grasp and pulled down my head. I asked the Captain, who was near, to release my hair. He did so, and the mate soon breathed his last."

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Sept. 22, 1882
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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), Sept. 22, 1882