The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), May 21, 1869

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p.1 Early Marine History of the Lakes -

p.2 Shipping News - The schooners Garibaldi and Ontario, the first from Port Stanley with 12,754 bush of peas, and the last from Kincardine with 10,041 bush wheat, arrived at J.H. Henderson & Co's wharf last night. The same firm will despatch the barge Hector this evening for Montreal with 20,000 bush wheat and peas. The steam-barge Dromedary touched at Swift's wharf on her way down this morning, and the propeller St. Lawrence touched at the same wharf passing up. The schooner Richardson commenced loading lumber at Swift & Co's wharf this morning for Oswego. There was no steamer of the Royal Mail Line to Toronto yesterday evening. The schooner China and the bark Nanny (sic - Fanny ?) Campbell with timber from Lake Erie yesterday, and the bark Malta with timber, and schooners Annie Craig and Victor with staves from up lake today, arrived at Garden Island, and the bark Prince of Wales, the schrs. Kate Bulley, New Dominion, Marco Polo last evening, and the schooners Florence, Alexandra and Arctic today sailed from that port for up lake. The steamer Osprey touched at Swift's wharf on her passage down. The steamer City of Ottawa, from Ottawa, arrived this afternoon at Swift's wharf, and discharged and took on cargo, and left again at her usual time.

The following vessels passed through the Welland Canal, May 21st:

Up - Schrs. Hercules, Cobourg, Erie, iron ore; St. James, Cape Vincent, Buffalo, iron; prop Lawrence, Oswego, Chicago, gen cargo; bark St. Lawrence, Kingston, Wallaceburg, light; schr. Corsair, Oswego, Milwaukie, salt.

Down - Schrs. M.L. Breck, Chatham, Kingston, timber; Saxon, Bay City, Ogdensburgh, lumber; Jane McLeod, Milwaukie, Kingston, wheat; bark Cavalier, Saginaw, Kingston, timber; Smith & Post, Racine, Oswego, wheat; Phoebe Catherine, Meaford, Oswego, wheat; C.C. Griswolds, Milwaukie, Oswego, wheat; G. Smith, Milwaukie, Oswego, wheat; Bell E. Wallbridge, Bay City, Ogdensburgh, lumber; bark D.M. Foster, Cleveland, Toronto, coal and potatoes; Valetta, Spanish River, Clayton, timber; schrs L.E. Calvin, Huron, Kingston, timber; Yankee, Chicago, Kingston, wheat; New Dominion, Toronto, Kincardine, Morrisburg, wheat; brig L. Cook, Bay City, Kingston, timber; J.A. Macdonald of Toronto, Cleveland, Toronto, coal; H. Rutherford, Wallaceburg, Kingston, staves; Antelope, Meaford, Kingston, wheat. At elevator schr. Taylor.


On Tuesday, about half-past twelve p.m., as the steamer Grecian was entering the rapid known as the Split Rock, above the Cascades, she struck on the reef to the south side. Finding that she was making water, the captain told the pilot to run her ashore, but she sunk so rapidly that this was impossible. She now lies nearly in mid-channel, abreast of Round Island, in 13 feet of water.There was considerable confusion on board for a time, but this soon moderated, and quiet was restored. The women and children belonging to the Royal Artillery, numbering about 120, were first landed, afterwards some eighty men, all of whom arrived safely in Montreal the same evening. Last night, about 6 o'clock, the remainder of the battery under the command of Col. Radcliffe, arrived in port by the steamer Aurora. Capt. Howard, who fortunately was on board at the time of the accident, speaks in the highest terms of the self-possession and coolness of, and the great assistance rendered by, Col. Radcliffe and the officers and men under his command, at this critical juncture. The Canadian Navigation Company have sent a powerful steamer to go alongside the Grecian and take on board the baggage, which is expected to be in town in a few days. No expense will be spared by the Company to save the baggage. Unfortunately at the wreck one man was drowned some few hours after the accident occurred, he having been placed under arrest for bad conduct. When the sentry was removed he jumped overboard and attempted to swim ashore. It is likely that the steamer will prove a total wreck. She was insured in eight offices for $40,000. [Montreal Herald]

The Montreal News says:- We have received some additional particulars relative to the accident to the steamer Grecian. It appears that as soon as the vessel struck, an effort was made to beach her. So rapidly did the water pour in, that three minutes had hardly elapsed from the time of her striking before she was hard and fast among the rocks. The troops, and indeed all the passengers, behaved with great coolness, with one fatal exception, a soldier of the Royal Artillery, who, as it is reported, was not quite sober, jumped overboard and was drowned. The women and children were landed first, and found shelter on the north bank of the river near the Cascades. The Grecian now lies in 14 feet of water, her main deck being three feet below the level of the water. A correspondent telegraphs us that it is feared that she will prove a total loss, the whole of her bottom being torn out. From other sources, however, we receive more hopeful accounts. The detachment of artillery has arrived in town. Doubtless it will be some time before the officers and men composing it forget their adventurous descent of the St. Lawrence Rapids. We understand that three horses still remain on board the Grecian. No steamers are able to approach her, on account of the shallowness of the water, but several bateaux are alongside.

Later - Such an accident as that which occurred to the Grecian on Tuesday last, in the Cascade Rapids, finds no precedent in the history of steamboating on the St. Lawrence. Years of experience give the pilots a thorough knowledge of every current and eddy, boulder and shallow, in or near to the channels, while their control of the vessels in their charge is so exact that only extremely low water provokes fear of mishap.

In the present instance, this latter difficulty does not exist, since the St. Lawrence is unusually high, and no other explanation of the disaster offers save that it was the result of one of those "dangers of navigation" against which human skill is unable at all times to guard against.

The Grecian left Hamilton on Monday, with a battery of the Royal Artillery, and reached the head of the Cascades at 12:30 on Tuesday. As most of our readers are aware, these rapids are entered by a gateway known as the Split Rock. Here the Grecian refused to answer her helm, and instead of gliding through the narrow channel, dashed bodily on to the solid rock, which fringes it on either side. The shock was tremendous, and so loud as to be heard by people standing on the shore, half a mile away. With the first blow, all control of the vessel was lost, and she swept down broadside, battering against the rock, at each instant, for a distance of perhaps six acres, when she again struck bow on, swung rapidly round, and being, by this time, filled with water, reached bottom, fore and aft, at a depth of about 14 feet. The excitement during this interval, which did not extend over three minutes, was of course intense, but after the first momentary panic, all on board behaved with great steadiness. The women and children were landed by means of bateaux on Tuesday evening, while the men only reached town last afternoon at 6 o'clock. No loss of life or personal injury happily resulted, save in the case of a soldier, who, four or five hours after the occurrence of the accident, jumped overboard and was drowned. A full battery of guns and about 100 tons of regimental baggage are on board, and will be recovered in the course of a few days.

It is feared that the Grecian will be a total loss, as approach to her with vessels of sufficient size to give the necessary aid is impossible. She lies in the channel, and will probably prevent the descent of other steamers. At present, the ice seems to be the only possible means of moving her from her position.

The Grecian is valued at $50,000, and is insured for $40,000.

It is fair to add that Capt. Kelly and Capt. Howard (who fortunately happened to be on board) behaved throughout with the greatest coolness and presence of mind.

The Montreal News also says:- The wreck of the Grecian has been a heavy blow to the troops on board. Officers and privates lost all their personal effects, and the inconvenience and suffering are serious. The artillery are the chief victims. One officer's family, we heard, would lose six hundred pounds' worth of effects. To those who are wealthy it is not always a discomfort to get rid of their wardrobe, as they can reinvest in the latest fashions, but as Artillery officers are better supplied with brains than cash - those who were on board the Grecian will have cause to regret that they embarked in that vessel. The privates are really to be commiserated. There are now in barracks here forty women and 20 children, the wives and children of artillerymen, who are literally without a change of clothing - they lost their property, and would be destitute but for the care and liberality of the officers of the Regiment. We believe there is a sensitiveness about accepting assistance for these women and children outside the regiment, which, we think, is straining a point of honour. We have not the slightest doubt that if Colonel Boulton, R.A., and his brother officers would accept aid from the citizens to relieve the women and children wrecked in the Grecian - five hundred dollars would be subscribed in a forenoon. The battery in question will be stationed here for the present.

-The committee on Fisheries and Navigation has adopted the report recommending that steps be taken to establish Boards of Examiners to examine Masters and Mates of ships in connection with boards of examiners established by Boards of Trade in Great Britain; also to encourage nautical education by establishing schools of Navigation in different parts of the Dominion.

p.3 Queen's Birthday - Pleasure Excursion - on steamer Watertown to Cape Vincent.

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May 21, 1869
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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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Daily News (Kingston, ON), May 21, 1869