The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), July 13, 1853

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Burning of the Steamer Queen of the West

We deeply regret to have to add to the alarming list of steamboat losses which have taken place on our waters this year, the total destruction, by fire, of the new and beautiful steamer Queen of the West.

A few minutes after the vessel had discharged her passengers and freight, on Saturday evening, a dense volume of smoke was seen to issue from the air shafts leading to the fire hold, and almost instantaneously the flames burst out. Capt. Harrison, having discharged his duty for the day, had left the steamer, and at the time there were very few people on board. The city fire bell was rung, and the engines and Companies reached the scene as speedily as possible, but in the interim, the doomed vessel had been cast loose from her moorings, and drifted over to Mr. M.W. Browne's wharf, which was almost certain to meet with a similar fate, when the Rochester, then coming in, proceeded to render assistance.

Capt. Masson, imagining the state of affairs as he approached, immediately made arrangements for rendering assistance, by getting a small boat clear for lowering, rigging fire-engine, etc. With a coolness and promptitude beyond all praise, he proceeded, so soon as he neared the Queen sufficiently, to send his small boat to attach a line to her, and this accomplished, he towed her clear of the smoking wharf and storehouse, and eventually left her in shallow water, on the other side of the bay. Here, in the presence of thousands of spectators, who had no means of rendering assistance, the steamer which, an hour before, was the boast of the city, and an object of admiration to all who had seen her, burned fiercely so long as a particle of her wood work remained above water. By ten or eleven o'clock all was over, - a fragment of the hull, and displaced machinery, alone stood as a monument of the catastrophe.

The fire doubtless began in the stokers' room, which, from the excessive heat, and the combustible nature of the dry wood, was inflammable as tinder, and so rapidly did the flames spread that no hope was entertained of saving the vessel from the first.

We understand that the Queen of the West was insured for 7,000 pounds, but her actual cost was upwards of 14,000 pounds, and as our readers are aware, she was a perfectly new vessel. The remains of the machinery can all be recovered easily.

The loss of the Queen will be looked upon alike in this vicinity and Toronto, as a public calamity, and we are sure the hearfelt sympathies of the inhabitants of both places will be expressed for Captain Harrison, who has not only lost, by an occurrence over which he had no control the savings of years, but has been doomed to witness the destruction before his eyes of a steamer which he had watched and superintended, from purchase to completion, and on to business and popularity, with all the care and pride that man could feel for anything inanimate. Captain Harrison had more stock than any other individual in the Company, and lost beside everything in the shape of apparel and personal property which he had on board.

We cannot conclude these remarks without again alluding to the noble conduct of Captain Masson in the emergency. But for his exertions the wharf and store-houses of Mr. Browne would have been entirely destroyed, and when we mention that the stores were completely crammed with valuable goods, our readers can in some measure understand the importance of the service so opportunely rendered, before he landed a passenger - a service which we trust to see marked by some testimonial from the public more enduring than a mere newspaper paragraph can bestow. Had our friend of the News been present, the boast which he indulged in a few days ago over Kingston boys abroad, would have been reiterated with tenfold power and earnestness. [Hamilton Spectator]


The following notice of the Cherokee, Capt. Gaskin, is from the Liverpool Albion: -

A Lake Built Vessel - Among the arrivals at our port on Thursday is one deserving of especial mention, from the fact of the vessel being the first that has ever reached this port direct from the interior of Canada. The stranger is named the Cherokee, and is rather novel in her rig and appearance, combining the bark and the schooner, having three masts, the foremast square-rigged, and the main and mizzen schooner-rigged. The Cherokee was built at Kingston on Lake Ontario, during the past winter; and on the opening of the Canadian navigation, proceeded to Toronto, at the head of the lake, and about 600 miles above Quebec, where she took in her cargo, and sailed direct thence to Liverpool, descending the rapids of the St. Lawrence by means of the canals. She has thus opened up a trade which will doubtless be speedily followed by others, now that the feasibility is ascertained. Many prejudices existed among persons who feared that the fresh-water vessels of Canada would be unable to stand an encounter with the waves of old ocean with such a light draught of water as the one now mentioned, nine and a half feet; but these have been rendered futile by her safe arrival here, after a short passage of 25 days from her last place of departure, Quebec, during which she has proved herself an admirable seaboat, and by no means deficient in one great essential of all vessels - speed. During the voyage, with but one exception, she has outstripped every competitor, not excepting even the regular traders, although she has not yet been sheathed with copper. The Cherokee is owned by her commander, Captain Gaskin, through whose energy and perseverence the idea was projected and successfully carried out. Her dimensions are 125 feet 6 inches keel, 132 feet over all, 26 feet beam, and 11 feet depth of hold. She is now discharging in the Victoria Dock. [Liverpool Albion]

To the Editor of the News.

Mill Creek, July 6th, 1853.

Dear Sir, - I take the liberty of writing you a few lines concerning the celebration of American Independence at Mill Creek the other day, hoping that you will give them a place in your truly loyal and conservative paper, with your opinion as to the lawfulness of such proceedings.

Having some business to transact at that place I arrived there about 8 o'clock a.m. of the 4th, when I was surprised to see the steam scow Pioneer, or Mud Turtle (I am not sure which) owned by Mr. John K. Booth, or at least chartered by him to a party who will never be hung for their loyalty to Queen Victoria, with the stars and stripes flying at the mast-head. I enquired into the affair and was informed that the magistrates had been applied to, and they said there was no law on the subject. There was some very angry feeling manifested, but no violence was used. A number of those invited to attend the so-called Pic-Nic, when they saw the colors of their country insulted, retired expressing their disgust at such outrageous conduct. Some of the ladies objected to going unless the Union Jack was placed on the upper corner of the Stars & Stripes, which was at last complied with, but the American whip was still left flying uppermost. I should not have troubled you with a notice of this, but on their return home, a young buck, who is quite a favorite among the ladies, tore the Union Jack in pieces and trampled it under foot. Yesterday a respectable man was beaten violently for assisting the captain of the boat in displacing the American whip and hoisting the Union Jack in its place.


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July 13, 1853
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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.
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Daily News (Kingston, ON), July 13, 1853