The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), Dec. 21, 1887

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The Investigation Into Her Loss At St. Catharines.

St. Catharines, Dec. 21st - On Monday S.R. Risley opened an inquiry into the circumstances connected with the loss of the barge Oriental, with all hands on Oct. 24th.

J.T. Carey was secretary of the Welland Canal branch of the seamen's union. Was on board the Oriental in August last. The crew were awkward and the vessel was rotten and unseaworthy. He stuck his knife between planks and they were very bad. The covering board was a patched up affair. He told the captain the vessel was unseaworthy. The captain said he knew it. The crew were as good as could be got for $1 per day. The barge was deficient in sails. He remembered her passing through the canal fourteen or fifteen years ago. She was a sailing vessel then. She was waterlogged in Port Dalhousie several years ago.

J.F. Taylor, second engineer of the Scotia, said they left Charlotte, N.Y., on Oct. 23rd, with the Oriental in tow. About four a.m. they were three miles off Port Dalhousie, but gave up hopes of making it and turned for Niagara. He heard the captain say the Oriental broke away - at least the strain on the tow line pulled down the stern of the Scotia so the water came in through the tow line chocks and then the line parted. The captain said the Oriental was sunk, and they had better haul in or cut the tow line so it would not get into the wheel. Witness cut it with an axe. When they got to Niagara the captain said he prayed to God that nothing had happened to the poor fellows. The engineer asked if he thought they went down.

Capt. McIlwain said the mainmast of the Oriental was used as a derrick, and they had a sail on the foremast.

A Ship Carpenter's Testimony.

L. Reno, ship carpenter, said last spring the Oriental attracted his attention by her unseaworthy condition. He tested the seams in several places and they were bad, as also were the covering-board seams, and the ends of her planking and aft were decayed. He shoved the long blade of his knife to its full length between the oakum and the wood in her quarters, and in other places the oakum was rotten and hanging out of the seams. He also put his knife in between the spikes and timbers, at the wake of the forechains. He could also move the spike, which showed the timber inside was gone and the spike had no hold of the plank. He walked about the deck and noticed that some rails and stanchions were decayed. He saw some apparently new stanchions on her starboard quarter. The butts on her deck plank were also decayed. The waterway seam was bad and also the combing of her hatches. He noticed that she had a foremast only, and carried a foresail and forestaysail. He did not notice if she had a jib. He saw her again last August. He did not see any change in her appearance from that in the spring, only the actions of those on board working her past led him to think they had never sailed much. That was the last he saw of her. It was his opinion she was lost by overloading and not having competent men or canvas.

p.8 Transhipment of Grain - numbers of bushels shipped from various American and Canadian ports. "Engaged in the trade there were 129 propellers, 258 sailing vessels and 459 barges."


The schr. Annandale netted over $300 by her last trip from Port Hope to Charlotte, barley laden.

The ship building business at Ogdensburg is brisk. Two barges and several schooners are being rebuiilt.

Last evening the str. Henry Plumb arrived from Ogdensburg. She called at Garden Island and left with two sticks of timber, which will be used in repairing the schr. Merritt on the ways at Ogdensburg.

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Dec. 21, 1887
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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. 21, 1887