The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Gananoque Reporter (Gananonque, ON), Nov. 8, 1873

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A year ago last June the str. Kingston, of the Mail Line, was burned between this place and Brockville. Her hull being of iron, she was re-built, and during the latter part of this season she has been running under the name of Bavarian. On Thursday last the startling report reached here that she had again been burned, on the Lake, with a loss of many lives. This report has proved to be only too true. The following

Statement Of A Passenger

we have received from Mr. Jonas J. Parmenter, of this place, who was on board at the time of the disaster. He says: "We left Toronto on Wednesday at five o'clock, and proceeded without anything unusual occurring, till eight o'clock, when opposite Whitby, and about twelve miles from land. At this time I was standing with the Purser in the saloon, near the stairway. The first intimation I had of anything wrong was a sudden jarring, crunching, smashing noise; this was followed by an interval of a second or more, when the same noise, but much louder, was heard. This occurred three or four times. I said to the Purser 'My God! what is the matter?' He replied 'The boat is blowing up, we are lost.' I then ran to my state room, which was near by, and secured a life preserver. When I came out of the stateroom the saloon, near the engine, was a mass of flame, and steam was also escaping. I made my way aft, and passed out of the door to the outside deck. Here I found some men lowering a life boat. The Boat had been got into the water before I reached it. It was a boat capable of carrying twenty persons, and had in it then eight; it was in charge of the River Pilot, who had been ordered to hold on to pick up all he could. I let myself down by the fender line, and called to the Pilot to take me in. He was not two yards from me, but did not come back. On the contrary, he pulled for the shore, leaving us to save ourselves as best we might. This boat afterwards picked up another man out of the water - making nine in all, and having room for twenty. While I was hanging by the rope, the second boat, in charge of the mate, came near me, and I sprang in. There were in this boat eleven persons, I made the twelfth, and we afterwards picked up another . We then pulled for shore, and after five hours of labor and anxiety, we reached Oshawa, where we learned the next morning the first boat had also landed about a mile above. The Captain, Engineer, Steward, Mrs. Sibbald and daughter, of Brockville, Miss Ireland, of Kingston, and thirteen others were lost, twenty-two were saved. I was the last person who escaped from the burning boat. The boat in which I was saved was made of zinc; and so intense was the heat, that parts of the zinc were melted before the boat could be launched. It was thrown into the water, and partly filled; the plugs had also been removed, so that it was with the greatest difficulty we kept her afloat. When I got in, the gunwale was not more than two inches out of water. We had to bail with our hats. The mate made a plug with the skirt of his coat, and by this means stopped the water from coming in. While we were thus engaged, I saw Captain Carmichael in the water, with a life-preserver on, and he also had hold of a bucket rack. He begged to be taken up, but it was impossible to aid him, as the slightest motion was liable to swamp our boat. The lady passengers evidently perished by fire. I have no idea how the fire originated, but some of the officers think the rod broke loose from the crank and smashed in the deck. Fifty barrels of spirits were stowed near the engine, and it is thought the rod knocked some of them through the deck to the fire below. But it is difficult to form an opinion, as in less than two minutes from the time of the first alarm, the whole boat was in flames. A small boat, that was lying inside the life-boat, was thrown overboard but it floated off. We reached Port Oshawa about 1 o'clock, and we were kindly cared for by the people there. Mr. and Mrs. J. O Guy and Mr. and Mrs. Smith were particularly attentive, furnishing articles of clothing, getting refreshments, and doing everything they could to make us comfortable. On Thursday morning we rowed out to intercept the Corsican, by which boat we were picked up, and brought down the lake."

The hull was towed into Whitby by a tug the next day.

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Nov. 8, 1873
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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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Gananoque Reporter (Gananonque, ON), Nov. 8, 1873