The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), Nov. 7, 1873

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Twenty-one Persons Said To Be Missing,

Two of Whom Belong To Kingston

This latest steamboat disaster on the lake is one of the saddest we have had to record for many a day, and particularly sad from the fact of two Kingstonians being among the missing. We refer to Miss Ireland, daughter of Mr. William Ireland, our respected City Chamberlain, and Mr. Spencer, Steward of the vessel, a man very much esteemed by those who knew him. Miss Ireland had been on a visit to her friends in Chatham, and was returning home when, we fear, she met with an untimely end in this steamboat disaster. We say we fear, as there is a slight hope of the schooner which was close by the burning vessel to windward have taken off some of the passengers and crew who had been left behind, and which has not since been heard from. Regarding the cause of the disaster there are conflicting opinions. Some say the walking beam broke, and falling among some highwines burst the vessels, causing their contents to ignite. It is also said that some of the crew had threatened to set fire to the vessel upon a previous occasion, and fears are entertained that they may have done so upon this. There should be a searching investigation into the origin of the fire, the conduct of the officers and crew, and the construction of the vessel. Captain Carmichael was a man of great experience, and very much esteemed. His loss is greatly regretted. We learn that the Pilot took off one of the boats containing only 15 passengers, when it was capable of holding 40. This should be inquired into. Among the missing, in addition to the Captain and steward, are the engineer, the bar-keeper, two head waiters, the forecastle boy, five deck hands, two firemen, and two men who were working their passage down.

The following are the names of the persons saved who arrived in Kingston per the steamer Corsican:- Henderson, mate; Bradley, second-mate; Finncan, watchman; Annie Garrity, lady's-maid; Yavier Pounier, Joe Mayzore, Cousineau Laconte, Medos Langton, John McGowan, Patrick Finlan, Owen Cowley, William Barry, Geniac Rivier, Murkison, Dixon, Wm. Freshet, 2nd engineer; and Napolean du Fort, the pilot.

The following telegrams have been received relating to the disaster.

Oshawa, Nov. 6th - The steamer Bavarian took fire last night about 8 o'clock when opposite Oshawa. She was a mass of flames in an instant, and only two boats were lowered. Both of these reached land, containing twenty-two persons altogether. There were fourteen remaining, who are almost without a doubt lost. Amongst the fourteen are Captain Carmichael of Toronto; Chief Engineer, William Finnean, of Prescott; the steward, William Spence, of Lachine; also three lady passengers, Mrs. Sibbald and daughter, of Brockville, and Miss Ireland, of Kingston, and Mr. Hillyard, Sen., of Chatham.

Toronto, Nov. 6th - The steamer Bavarian, of the Royal Mail Line, bound from Hamilton to Montreal with six cabin passengers, took fire about 8 p.m. about fourteen miles from the shore, opposite Oshawa. The fire broke out in the centre of the boat, near the engine, and the flames spread with great rapidity. Three boats were at once lowered, and one of them went adrift and was lost. The passengers and crew got into the other two boats. One of them contained nine persons, including the pilot, lady's maid and seven others of the crew. The other boat contained thirteen persons, including the first and second mates, purser and two of the passengers, a boy names James Clare and Mr. J.J. Parmenter, of Toronto, and five of the crew. Both boats got safely to shore. There are fourteen persons to be accounted for, including Captain Carmichael, Fennean,chief engineer; William Spence, steward; and three lady passengers, Mrs. Sibball and daughter, of Brockville, Miss Ireland, of Kingston, and Mr. Weir of St. Chatham. These were not able to get into the boats. The last that was seen of Captain Carmichael he was on a plank in the water. The night was calm.

Whitby, Nov. 6th - About 8 o'clock last night a steamer, supposed to be the Bavarian, was observed to be on fire about ten or fifteen miles off Whitby harbor. Two small boats put off to her assistance, but returned, the distance being too great. At ten o'clock this morning she appears about five or six miles off in tow of a tug, heading for this port. She is still smoking a good deal. We will send further particulars soon.

Hopes Are Entertained That All the Passengers and Crew Are Saved

The Montreal Witness says:- From enquiries made by our reporter at the office of the Canadian Navigation Company, by whom the unfortunate steamer Bavarian is owned, we learn that the propeller Stanley passed within sight of the conflagration, and that a schooner was seen standing down to windward of the doomed steamer, and it was very probable her crew succeeded in rescuing Captain Carmichael and the remainder of the Bavarian's crew and passengers. The following is a telegram to Mr. Milloy:-

"Toronto, 10 a.m., Nov. 6th - Propeller Stanley reports the steamer Bavarian burned to the water's edge off Whitby, about eight o'clock last night. No one seen about the wreck. Crew supposed to have been saved by schooner seen to windward near by." It is to be hoped this will prove to be the case. She was on her trip down from Hamilton to Montreal.

History of the Boat

The Bavarian was rebuilt last winter from the iron hull of the old Kingston at the shipyard of Mr. Cantin, in this city, and was fitted up with unusually large and elegant saloons and cabins. She presented a fine appearance when launched, and on account of her good qualities for battling with the gales on Lake Ontario and her superior speed, she was a great favorite with the travelling public.

She was commanded by Captain Carmichael, an old and experienced lake commander, who it will be seen never deserted his ship to the last. At the point where the Bavarian burned, the steamers of the C.N. Co. run close to the shore, in order to effect a landing at Port Darlington, a few miles further on. Another telegram states that the iron hull of the Bavarian, which did not sink, was being towed into Port Whitby by a tug. This is twice that iron hull has been swept of its upper works; the first time when, under the name of the Kingston, she was burned among the Thousand Isles. It was in her that the Prince of Wales, when on his visit to Canada, passed up Lake Ontario.

The Bavarian was valued at about $90,000, including her cargo, which was of Western produce. She was insured for $55,000 in American insurance companies, and for $5,000 in the Citizens' of this city.

The Purser's Statement

The Globe has the following:-

The purser, Mr. L.A. McPherson, arrived here by yesterday morning's express from the east, and was waited upon by one of our reporters, to whom he gave the following statement with respect to the catastrophe:-

"We left Toronto yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon at five o'clock. When off Oshawa, and about fifteen miles from shore, a fire broke out amidships, and the boat was almost immediately in a mass of flames. Three boats were lowered, one of which drifted away before any one got into it. It was not blowing hard at the time. The other two boats reached land in safety about one o'clock this morning. One of them was commanded by the first mate, John Henderson, of Charlotte, N.Y., and containing thirteen persons, two of whom were passengers, and the rest members of the crew. The passengers were J.J. Parmenter, Toronto, and Master James Clare, of Manitoba; the others were Charles Bradley, second mate; Jas. Finncane, the watchman; two firemen; L. Lecont, wheelsman; Wm. Merchtaton and John Revere, waiters, a messroom boy; a deck hand, whose name I do not know, and Henderson and myself. The other boat was commanded by the pilot, a Frenchman, whose first name is Napolean, and contained nine persons, all belonging to the crew. Among them were the ladies' maid, Ann Gerraghty, and John McGowan, fireman. The names of the others I do not know.

There were fourteen persons left aboard the steamer who could not be got off. The flames spread so quickly that it was almost impossible to do anything. One of the small boats was scorched, and one of the mates got his face burnt. Amongst those lost are the captain, Charles Carmichael, of Toronto; the chief engineer, William Finncane, Prescott; the steward, William Spence, of Lachine, formerly of Kingston; Miss Sibbald and daughter of Brockville; Miss Ireland, of Kingston, who was returning home from Chatham, where she had been seeing her brother, and Mr. Hillyard Wear, of Chatham, who had been travelling with her. There was very little screaming or anything of that sort, but when we were leaving the steamer I heard something like moaning. Some one said that they saw two women standing on her stern. The last I saw of Capt. Carmichael he was in the water holding on to a plank. He called out "Charley, Charley, Charley," to the second mate, and we went over to him; a boy who was near him then got hold of the boat, and while we were pulling him in the captain seemed to paddle away from us, and we lost him. Some one said that he had a life-preserver, but it is not likely he lived long, the water was so cold. A tug was towing the hull of the steamer into Whitby this morning when I left. She had on board about 1,300 barrels of apples, about 50 tons of bacon, and a small quantity of other freight when she was burned.


(Per Montreal Line)

Oshawa, Nov. 7th - The steamer Bavarian was burned off this port on Wednesday night. She left Toronto on her regular trip with six passengers and a crew of thirty persons. The fire was discovered about 8 o'clock, and seemed to envelop the centre of the steamer instantly in flames. Two boats only could be reached, and these were nearly filled with water. Into one the pilot and eight others of the crew got, and made for the shore. Into the other the mate, purser and eleven others sprung. Three of the six passengers were ladies, whom it was found could not be got off. Their names are, Miss Ireland, of Kingston, and Mrs. and Miss Sibbard, of Brockville. The other passengers were Mr. Hillyard Weir, of Chatham, Mr. J.J. Parmenter of Toronto, and James Clare, a young boy from Toronto. The latter is the only one saved. Capt. Carmichael was seen floating on a plank, but he could not have lived long exposed to the extreme cold. The boats landed near this port, and those in them were received into the house of Mr. J.O. Guy, and everything possible done for their comfort. Some of them were almost naked, and suffering severely from exposure. The hull of the vessel, which is of iron, was towed into Whitby. The fire has been got under, but the smoke and heat prevent a search. No bodies have yet been recovered. The cause of the fire is not known, and various stories are propounded, but it seems to have taken from the furnaces, and before it was discovered had enveloped the whole centre of the vessel. A thorough investigation is necessary, both into the origin of the fire and the conduct of the crew who escaped. The pilot's boat could have held three times the number it had in it, and why the occupants of the other boat made no attempt to save the captain, although it grazed the plank he was standing on. It is one opinion there seems to have been a terrible lack of energy and no attempt to stay by the steamer and pick up any who might have jumped overboard. These are complicated accounts respecting the lady passengers. It is said they were seen in the bow shrieking for help; but the purser, who was in the mate's boat, says he heard no screams, but it is evident they were seen in the boat. The stewardess, who was the only other woman on board, was below, and was received in her night dress in the pilot's boat. All those saved were taken east by the Corsican yesterday.

The Collectorship - W.R. Mingaye appointed Collector in place of W.B. Simpson.

Sad Drowning - On Tuesday last, between 12 and 1 o'clock, a boat, with 6 men in it, left Pigeon Island, where they had been fishing, to come to Kingston. While about half way between Pigeon Island and Nine Mile Point the boat suddenly disappeared, and the occupants were seen no more. The names of the persons, so far as we could learn, were James Eccles, William Davis, and Louis Cadotti, with three Americans, whose names are not known. The boat was found bottom up at Nine Mile, and was a total wreck. It is supposed that she foundered during the severe gale of Tuesday, and the men were thrown overboard by the pitching. The heavy sea running prevented her righting again, and in consequence the men were drowned. Mr. Eccles was well known in Kingston and was much respected.

p.3 Arrived - The schooner Delos de Wolfe, which was ashore on Timber Island, was towed into dock today. She is leaking pretty much, and the steam pumps are on board working. She was loaded with coal for Swift & Co.

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Nov. 7, 1873
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Rick Neilson
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Daily News (Kingston, ON), Nov. 7, 1873