The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), Oct. 25, 1889

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The Maud will make one trip a day to the Cape after Monday.

The str. Princess Louise runs to Gananoque for another week.

The str. McArthur will leave Collinsby as soon as the wind is favorable for Brockville with a raft and the schooner S. Neelon.

Another blockade in the St. Lawrence route has occurred. This time it is the Cornwall canal that is blocked by the barge Huron which was concerned also in the Galop rapids accident. This block will interfere with the removing of the Condor and the raising of the block in the Galop rapids channel, as the "lighters" sent to the aid of the Condor are on this side of the Cornwall canal, and cannot get up until the lower block is removed.

He Cannot Recover - Shortly before noon yesterday P. Esmond, a diver from Quebec, went down to the wrecks of the steamer Armstrong and Gaskin in the river at Brockville. He wished to complete some work, which required very heavy lifting and stayed down about an hour and a half. When brought to the surface he was completely exhausted and pulseless. This was about one o'clock. Doctors were immediately sent for, and remained with him constantly but it has so far been impossible to restore him. A telegram at noon intimated that a doctor and priest were at his side and that all hope of his recovery had been given up.

Incidents Of The Day - The steamer Kathleen leaves for Montreal and way ports every Monday morning at 3 o'clock.

The practice of removing the gangways on steamers before they reach the docks is generally condemned. Had the gang planks on the steamer Hero been left alone until the dock was reached Mr. Robb would not have been drowned.


The Adventures and Escapes Of The Passengers.

The work of recovering the bodies of the victims of the str. Quinte disaster was kept up all day yesterday, and the bay in the neighborhood of the accident was dragged. Only one body was recovered, that of Willie Steacey. It is expected that the others will be found today, as they are known to have jumped overboard. The injured are getting along as well as could be expected.

The steamer is a total loss, and the machinery is so twisted that very little will be of use excepting for old iron. The boat was valued at $18,000, and was insured for $12,000.

The disaster continues to be a topic of great interest. We give below interviews from our exchanges touching the direful calamity.

Capt. Skillen, steamer Deseronto, says: "It was the most terrible sight I ever witnessed in my life. We were the second boat to arrive at the scene of the wreck. The passengers were in boats and skiffs which had put out from the shore. The excitement and confusion was intense. The flames seemed to leap into the air and no living power could have checked the fire fiend in its mad course. I succeeded in picking up a dozen of the crew and passengers and put about for Deseronto. I am told that the fire was caused by a spark from the furnace igniting some light wood. The life preservers and lifeboats could be utilized by the victims who were crowded into the water. We had great difficulty in keeping our boat off the shore on account of the strong wind and heavy sea. The darkness made the situation all the more difficult and hazardous."

Charles A. Harte, with his brother, E.E. Harte, Fulton, N.Y., were on their way to Picton to visit friends. He says: "We were in the dining room when the alarm was given. I was not much alarmed and thought to get at the boats which I knew to be at the stern of the steamer. I encountered dense smoke in the corridor and began to realize that the situation was serious. I found a deck hand at the boat, but he left soon after I arrived and I could not release the boat. I could find no benches as they had been removed for painting. By this time I could distinguish nothing about me, and I concluded it was about time to get to the water's edge. I climbed down on the stern of the boat. In getting over the side I saw land and knew I was good for the swim. I got rid of my overcoat and dropped into the water. I saw Mr. St. Charles in the water behind me. He was swimming and calling for help. I encouraged him and went back and coached him to land."

E.E. Harte tried to help get a boat off, but the heat drove them away. They got over the rail, a woman clinging to him. He hung on until the boat stopped running and then rested on the buckets of the wheel until rescued. "I could have swam to the shore," said he, "but Col. Strong was calling for help when we got into the water and I took him by the collar and got him to the paddle box. The woman and her child were also clinging to me, and I knew it would be useless to attempt to swim ashore with them as it would mean death to the whole party. All I lost was a gold ring."

H.G. Levetus, traveller for a Montreal jewellery house, was on board the Quinte and saved three lives. Mr. Levetus said: "I was sitting in the cabin at supper when the cabin maid rushed in yelling fire. I rushed on deck and was almost suffocated with the smoke, which came up one of the hatchways. I saw Col. Strong, of Belleville, lying in a half-suffocated condition, and carried him on to the bulwarks. Immediately afterward I saw a woman and child on the upper deck and carried them to the interior of the paddlebox, out of reach of the fire. I had no sooner secured their safety than I observed Col. Strong sinking. I swam out and caught him and then hung on to one of the fenders of the steamer until I observed a small boat approaching. I directed its occupants to take the woman and child on board, and a Salvation Army young lady who had jumped into the water. I then helped them to put Col. Strong on board, and scrambled after him in an utterly exhausted condition."

Replying to an inquiry from the reporter as to his personal loss, Mr. Levetus said that everything he possessed in the world has gone down with the vessel, all his baggage, his entire clothing outfit, except that which he wore at the time, and every cent of five years' savings. Mr. Rathbun provided the gallant gentleman with his ticket to Montreal, and took down his deposition for further use. The hope is expressed in Deseronto and vicinity that this loss will be made good to one who acted so bravely in a moment of extreme peril and succeeded in saving three lives.

A schooner at a distance sent out a yawl and offered to take off the people, but they declared themselves able to hold out where they were, and sent the yawl for others that were struggling in the water, and at that instant a Salvation army girl threw herself from the deck into the water being at the time badly burned. The yawl rescued her and others, returning for those in the paddle wheel box. Reaching shore, a yacht took off the women and worse injured, whilst the rest had to endure a half hour of agony in their dripping clothes, exposed to a piercing wind until rescued by the steamer Deseronto.

Mrs. Christie boarded the boat at Northport where she had been visiting a sick daughter. She was about fifty years of age, leaves a husband, two sons and three daughters to mourn her loss. She and her young son were in the ladies' cabin at the time. Their home was at Picton. Mrs. Steacy's home was in Trenton. Connel, one of the hands, says that the last he saw of her she was in the after cabin with her little boy in her arms.

Miss Azuba Keller, captain of the Salvation army at Picton, suffered considerable pain. She was burned badly about the face and hands to such an extent that the flesh peeled off her arms. Thomas Kingsley, fireman, burned badly about the face, also suffered a compound fracture of the right leg. His heroic work at the pumps whilst the flames were surrounding him, is the cause of favorable comment. Herbert St. Peter had his left ankle sprained. Capt. Collier, mate, at the wheel, remained there until the boat was firmly aground. The flames, when the mate left his position, had surrounded the wheel house, and he broke a window and managed to escape, with his face scorched, his whiskers being completely burned off. Mrs. Robertson, a ladies' maid, was slightly burned about the hands. Her son, a boy about five years of age, escaped injury. W. Power, a former purser on the Quinte, would have been a passenger from Deseronto to Picton, but was late in reaching the wharf. The flames could be seen for miles around. The spectators on the wharf at Deseronto could see plainly the passengers through the flames on the ill-fated vessel.

Miss Kellar says that Mrs. Christie and her son were in the ladies' cabin when she crawled through the window, and when she dropped into the water the cries and moans of Mrs. Christie and her son were most heartrending. The flames had then entirely enveloped the ladies' cabin.

There is no little doubt that a man named George Ward, of Picton, perished. He leaves a wife and three children. It was thought all along that a male passenger remained unaccounted for. No more bodies have been picked up. Men were searching today for bodies about the scene of the disaster.

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Date of Original:
Oct. 25, 1889
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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), Oct. 25, 1889