The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), Dec. 6, 1882

Full Text

p.3 The Dry Dock - Capt. S. Fraser's dry dock was placed in positon a few days ago. It was sunk to a depth of 13 feet and then pumped out. The operation was successful. The dock was then taken out and sunk in another place to allow pile driving to be done. No vessels will be placed in the dock until next Spring.

Here & There - A Canadian gentleman has 80 horses pasturing on the Duck Islands. He has contracted with the Belle Wilson, of Oswego, to take them off, but he is afraid the weather will not permit it this fall.

The steamer Flower City, which burnt to the water's edge near Clayton about a year ago, is being rebuilt. An effort will be made to get her into the water this fall. It has recently been discovered that she was set on fire by a hot poker, thrown outside the boiler on the starboard side and against the ceiling by a careless fireman.


The U.S. revenue cutters Bibb and Manhattan are laid up at Ogdensburg.

The schooner Oliver Mowat has laid up. She is being stripped of her canvas.

The steamer Conqueror was the last boat to pass through the Welland Canal, which closed yesterday.

The schr. Florence Howard, respecting which much anxious enquiry was made, has arrived at Deseronto.

Three lake propellers, the California, Cuba and Armenia, will each be lengthened 40 feet this winter at Port Dalhousie.

The steamer Conqueror will probably go to the rescue of the schooner Midland Rover. The Dominion Wrecking Company have had much work this fall on the upper lakes.

Captain Ryan, of the schr. Anna M. Foster, reports a vessel ashore at the Main Ducks. She is lying broadside on the beach, heavily laden. She has a green bottom and white topsides. He could not get near enough to ascertain her name.

The schooner Anna M. Foster arrived here last night, thus relieving many persons regarding her safety. She left this morning for South Bay Point in tow of the tug McArthur, and will act as a lighter to the schooner Eliza Quinlan, which ran ashore there with a cargo of coal while bound for Napanee.

The steamer Quinte has been the last arrival of the season at Deseronto. The tug Sherwood broke a channel through the ice for ten miles to get her into port. The ice is now so strong in the Bay of Quinte that the mail teams crossed it yesterday.

On the way to Kingston from the Georgian Bay the steamer Conqueror went to the rescue of the schr. Maple Leaf, ashore in the bay off Port Dover. She was found high, broadsided, upon the sand, and almost entirely out of water. An attempt was made to pull her off, but when a ten inch line, doubled, was broken, it was decided to wait until a channel was dredged out before continuing operations.

The Disposition Of Money.

Another of the lost crew of the schr. Henry Folger was John F. Backus, of Iroquois. He sent $100 by post office order to Brockville, payable to himself, and then notified his wife of his action. Upon his death being made public his wife made application for the money, but was informed that it could not be paid to her, as no order had been received from Backus himself. The matter will be laid before the Post Office Department.

Last fall we interviewed Mr. J. Macdougall, whose workmen en route to the shanties were drowned by the foundering of the steamer Asia on the Georgian Bay. In the course of his remarks Mr. Macdougall said that one shantyman, Depotie, just previous to going aboard the ill-fated craft, deposited in his hands $160 for safe keeping. Mr. Macdougall has just found deceased's father through the Chief of Police of Montreal, and the money has been sent to him.

The Conqueror's Danger.

The steamer Conqueror had an unpleasant experience on the lake last night. She left Port Dalhousie about ten o'clock last night for Kingston, running through a dead sea which would have made any other craft roll considerably. When about fifteen miles off Cobourg a snow storm set in, and the steamer was headed for the harbour. The lamp at the end of the pier could not be seen, and no wonder when it was afterwards learned to have been left unlit, the keeper of it stating that he did not think there were any boats on the lake. A light in a house about a quarter of a mile below the harbour was taken for that on the pier and the error was only discovered when the lead was dropped and some one shouted from the shore. The steamer returned where the pier was supposed to be, and the whistle was blown until a hotel keeper appeared and piloted the way into a position of shelter. One of the Conqueror's crew informs us that the wind blew a gale on the shore, but had the craft been a sailing vessel she would have assuredly gone ashore, perhaps been wrecked.

A Very Fast Trip.

The run made by the schr. Oliver Mowat from Charlotte to Kingston was accomplished in 6 hours 35 minutes, the fastest time on record. Captain Saunders is very proud of the fact. The distance is 90 miles, so that the vessel made about 14 miles an hour. Captains in the city were loath to believe the statement and one, after reading the item in last night's Whig, asked Capt. Saunders:

"What time did you leave Charlotte?"

"At 6:20 o'clock."

"I don't believe you."

"Here gentlemen," said one of the owners "is the proof," and he held to view a telegram, just received, and which read: "Schr. Oliver Mowat left between six and seven o'clock this morning." It was from Charlotte and had been sent in reply to a message from the owners, who had felt anxious about the craft and telegraphed asking about her whereabouts. The telegram settled the discussion.

Wreck Of The Folger.

The steam yacht Shoecraft, frozen in the ice since Sunday night with the bodies of the Captain and mate of the Folger on board, got clear of the ice yesterday morning and proceeded on her way to Clayton. Another body came ashore yesterday evening and is that of a short, heavy set man, clean shaven, except a heavy sandy mustache, high forehead, had on a rubber coat and black coat underneath, strap around the top of his bootlegs. In the pocket was a post office money order for fifty dollars, payable at Brockville, eighty-three cents in change, a knife, a razor, and some jewellery. Mr. W.J. McCaffrey, of Ogdensburg, is looking after the body of his brother, who was second mate on the Folger. An agent of the British American Insurance Co. went to the wreck to look after the coal.

The body must be that of Backus, an account of whom is given elsewhere.


Recommendations Made To The Minister of Marine & Fisheries.

Suggestions of Capt. John Donnelly.

Repeatedly the necessity of life saving stations has been pointed out, up to this time without result. We are encouraged to make one more effort to secure protection for our vesselmen and their property, remembering that we have succeeded in other agitations and that there may be virtue in an oft told tale. About two years ago, during the session of Parliament, Captain John Donnelly, then in the service of Messrs. Calvin & Breck, chanced to be in Ottawa, and he had occasion to discuss with the Hon. J.H. Pope, Minister of Marine & Fisheries, the loss of the prop. Zealand and schr. Simcoe. The veteran wrecker then took the opportunity to state the great need there was of life saving stations along the Prince Edward County coast, the most dangerous perhaps upon the chain of lakes. Captain J. Donnelly's opinions were considered of some value, and his recommendations were endorsed by Mr. J. McCuaig. It was represented that three stations, fully equipped, were absolutely required - one at South Bay, one at Salmon Point, and one at Presque Isle. Had these been erected, as it was expected they would be, a score of lives would have been saved; indeed at this moment the drowning of the Folger's crew would not be sadly lamented.

The American Stations.

The American Government has been accused of parsimony in connection with a service in which men exhibit heroism that is not surpassed upon the battlefield, and yet they granted last year $500,000 for the maintenance of life stations, and have added to their number and efficiency to such an extent that the expenditure next year must be $750,000. On Lake Michigan alone some ten new stations are to be established and those on this lake and the river greatly improved. There are three not far from Kingston, to the usefulness of which several vesselmen last evening bore testimony. These are at Oswego, Port Ontario and Sandy Creek, the whole within a distance of 30 miles. This season they have saved more Canadians than Americans, a circumstance which our Yankee cousins will not appreciate so highly when it has been so lately made apparent that there is not a reciprocity of favours on the part of this country. On the opening of navigation the Sandy Creek party took the crew off the schr. Nellie Theresa, abandoning the vessel, but after a channel had been dredged outside of her she was pulled off the beach by the Dominion Wrecking Company. On Thursday last the Oswego men came to the timely relief of the schr. Annie M. Foster, but on the same day the schr. Folger went to pieces in sight of land, the fishermen of Prince Edward viewing the catastrophe and proving unable to render the perishing crew assistance in the absence of

Proper Boats and Equippage.

The American crews as a rule number five; they live in comfortable houses, are always watchful, and are very prompt in coming to the aid of vessels in distress. When not otherwise engaged they are drilling and have become so expert in the use of the mortar that they can throw a line a great distance and with remarkable precision. Their boats are flat bottomed, and so constructed that they can be hauled safely and with great facility upon the shore, and ride the surf as the metallic boats will not. We may repeat that which was stated in the telegrams a day or two ago - that during the last year 287 vessels came to grief along the American coast, that they and their cargoes were valued at $4,758,000, and that they carried 2,278 human beings. Of those on the wrecked vessels 2,256 were rescued, and property to the value of $3,000,000 saved from the waste of waters. During the ten years the life saving service has been in operation the number of persons saved is 14,298, the property saved $18,064,902.

Losses On Our Shores.

"During the past 20 years," observed the Superintendent of the Dominion Wrecking and Salvage Company, "I know of 50 accidents having occurred on the Prince Edward shore. At no time is it safe to sail within two miles of Salmon Point, and in a blow it is unsafe to get within three miles of it. A large bay runs from South Bay to Presque Isle, and a vessel drive into it by a South wind invariably meets disaster. The fishermen on the shores of Prince Edward are deserving of recognition for the noble part they have played when wrecks occurred. The schrs. St. George, Tornado, Cook, Heather Bell, Garibaldi, Zealand, Simcoe, Coleman, Acorn, Lord Elgin, George Thurston, Wheeler, White Eagle, Enterprise, Albatross, T.C. Street, Jessie, Belle Sheridan, Norway, and a score of other craft were wrecked, and the bones of many of them line what may be termed the "Anticosti of Lake Ontario." The crews of many of them were engulfed in the angry sea." A Captain, who stood by, said he was one of the crew of the St. George (which belonged to M.C. Cameron, which went ashore off Point Traverse and was afterwards sold to Captain Gaskin), and he said he was rescued in a fish boat by John Y. Palmatier and kept by him for over three weeks. He as well as Capt. Donnelly remember many rescues, particularly that of a crew who, in despair, lay down upon the deck to die. The icy water washed over them, and when the rescuing party reached them their hair had to be chopped away as it lay frozen and bound the exhausted creatures to the deck.

The Past Vividly Recalled.

"Strange lights are still seen," observes the Hamilton Spectator, "recently, along the shore at Weller's Beach, where the schooner Belle Sheridan was wrecked, and all hands lost save a boy. Not far from there died Louis Stonehouse, mate of the schooner Garibaldi. When the Garibaldi was wrecked some of the crew of the schooner were taken off, and others remained on board till night came. The rickety old substitute for a life boat could not make another trip. All but the mate climbed into the rigging and lashed themselves to the frozen shrouds. The mate went below. The terrors of that night can never be expressed in words. The decks were deep with ice, and the rigging was like iron bars. Every sea that dashed over the schooner piled the ice higher, and the vessel was slowly breaking up. When the rescuing party came with the daylight Louis Stonehouse was dead. He stood in the cabin frozen in the midst of a block of ice. With his hands above his head, as if to ward off this terrible and certain death, he was a monument to the niggardliness that allowed him to freeze and die for want of a life-boat. Willing hearts and strong arms were on the beach, but boat there was none. So died Louis Stonehouse, the mate of the Garibaldi, and his ghost still walks the beach."

Not Properly Lighted.

Mariners have another complaint to make - that there is insufficient light on Salmon Point. The little red light is visible 7 miles distant on a bright night, but totally invisible during a storm. There is neither signal gun nor bell, and the vessels in the blackness rush upon the shoals and are lost. A signal gun should be placed on Salmon Point and fired every hour during the stormy weather. A better light should be provided. Even the wreckers dread doing any work along the Prince Edward coast, as there are no harbours where safety can be had in the event of a blow.

One Boat Of No Use.

One life boat has been ordered by the Government, but it has not been located. One is of no use; it cannot do service within a stretch of 300 miles. Captain Donnelly thinks three stations should be erected, each to be manned by a Captain and two men. When a large force is required it can be got among the fishermen.

Another Captain's Opinion.

Capt. Eccles, in an interview with the representative of the Intelligencer, also recalls some of the accidents on the Bay of Quinte coast. The schooner Bay of Quinte, laden with wheat, was wrecked and proved a total loss in 1861. The schr. International, an American vessel bound from Port Dalhousie to Ogdensburg with walnut timber, went to pieces in 1862; the Thistle, with barley from Wellington to Oswego, went on the lighthouse reef, capsized and was washed ashore. Following in their order were the schrs. J.C. Wheeler, Woodman, Flying Mist, Montana, Armenia, and a score of others. Capt. Eccles suggests a powerful steam fog whistle and also a bell buoy at the lake extremity of the shoal at Salmon Point. With the erection of these the probability of wrecks occurring would be greatly lessened. A whistle with a calibre such as that used at Point Waugashance, in the Straits of Mackinaw, can be fully heard six miles, and the bell buoy would have the tendency of warning mariners off the shoal.

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Date of Original:
Dec. 6, 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), Dec. 6, 1882