Collingwood, May 22nd - Scarcely has navigation opened; scarcely has the awakening of trade caused by the breaking up of the long and dreary winter opened, when the news was received of the loss of one of the finest propellers that ever steamed out of this harbour - the pride alike of her unfortunate owners and crew; and distressing as the loss itself is, it is accompanied by a frightful loss of human life. When the Manitoulin left Collingwood last Wednesday, no thought was bestowed on the possibility of an accident to her, and her substantial build was almost a guarantee against wreckage. But a fiercer element than the treacherous water sealed the fate of the boat, and dealt the first blow to the proverbial good fortune of her gallant commander.
The Chief Engineer's Story
The following is probably as correct a statement of the facts of the case as can be obtained. The brave man who told the story to the reporter had his right hand severely burned, and his hair scorched and ears blistered, and his general appearance told that he had fought a gallant and desperate battle. He said:- "It was between twelve and one o'clock the second engineer had his dinner, and came down to relieve me. I went to my room, washed myself, and was putting on my coat to go to dinner, when the second engineer came running and told me the boat was on fire. I went outside and rushed to the pony engine to start it. At that time the mate and second engineer were endeavouring to get the hose down. I was four feet lower than them, and not so much exposed to the flame, which with the smoke was creeping overhead. I had the overflow of the pony open for some time, and before shutting it off to force the water through the hose I called to the mate and second engineer to hurry as much as they could. I did not receive any answer, and I crawled up and found there was no one there. I supposed the flames drove them off. I took hold of the hose, and felt along it for the nozzle, and found there was none on. I then dropped the hose and went to the side of the gangway, about six feet from the engine. I noticed people in the water already, particularly a man and a woman and child. Saw the captain had the boat pointed for shore at this time, and the question of course arose in my mind whether she would reach shore. Thinking of this I ran back to the engine, felt for the lever of the throttle, and pulled it open. I could not open it all the way, because it was set with a thumbscrew, which tightened up as the lever came out. I ran back to the gangway, pulled off my boots, and crawled along the wale until I came to a fender, when I was assisted to the promenade deck by Messrs. Spencer and Jas. Miller. Then I noticed that the first mate was trying to lower the starboard boat, and being unable to swing her clear I took hold of the after fall and helped the mate to swing the boat clear of the chalks that she sat in. The mate told me not to let the boat strike the water. I followed the boat down to keep her off the promenade rail, and shoved her off until my end of her was about four feet from the water. I was standing on the main wale at the time, having my arm around a fender, and the line in my disengaged hand. The immense crowd which jumped into the boat either carried away the forward tackle, or the davitt, when I immediately let go the after tackle, as the boat turned a complete somersault, and the line nearly swept me off. I clung to the side until the boat grounded, when the jar shook me off. I fell into the water and waded to shore. When I was hanging over the side I saw people continually passing under me in the water. I especially noticed a man swimming outwards after a woman who had drifted behind. The couple were saved. I also saw a man clinging to the side who had his left hand and arm in the fire. On landing, after getting all those who remained off the boat, we worked till the following morning to extinguish the flames. There were probably twenty persons lost.