Mary A. Daryaw, Lake Schooner, Gutted By Fire
Leaving Only Two of Old Time "Canal" Craft In Commission
After almost half a century of faithful service on the Great Lakes, the last ten in the coal carrying trade on lake Ontario, the two-masted schooner Mary A. Daryaw was badly damaged by fire in Kingston harbor on Saturday morning, leaving behind only two more of a fleet of sailing schooners on Lake Ontario, which once numbered several hundred. One by one they have been wrecked on the rocky shores of Lake Ontario, burned to the water's edge or gone down with all hands while fighting the elements.
Local mariners pointed out today the only survivors of the famous old fleet of canal "hookers" are the Julia B. Merrill, hailing from Cobourg, over on the north shore, and owned by Captain "Bill" Peacock, and the Lyman M. Davis, owned and sailed by Captain John C. McCollough, of Napanee.
The Daryaw, which did her bit for years in and out of Chicago harbor, made her farewell trip across Lake Ontario last week when she carried 300 tons of coal from the Lackawanna trestle at this port to Kingston. It was the last trip of the season, and as Captain Harry Daryaw cleared the trestle and started across the lake, he promised to be back with his little schooner again next season.
Charles H. Eddy, in charge of the Lackawanna trestle, when asked today for an estimate of the number of sailing vessels that traded between Oswego and other Great Lakes ports in the palmy days, declared it would be impossible for him to venture a guess for the reason that in the old days boats not only plied this lake, but there was a large fleet trading between Oswego and the upper Great Lakes, particularly Chicago. He remembered one Sunday morning standing at the foot of West Fifth Street and counting 47 schooners with a fair wind and head for Canadian points across the lake for barley.
At the same time more than 40 sailing schooners remained behind in the harbor to be unloaded. That was a couple of years before the McKinley bill dealt a death blow to the importation of Canadian grain and marked the beginning of the end of the grain business which had made the port of Oswego one of the busiest along the Great Lakes.
But to return to almost the last one - the Mary A. Daryaw. Fire was discovered in her hold about 3 o'clock in the morning. For over six hours Kingston firemen worked hard to save her, but at the finish her sails were gone, her cabin was destroyed and great damage was done to her hold. She may be rebuilt, but it looks as though she had made her last journey. How the fire originated is unknown.
A 30-gallon drum of gasoline was on the boat, but this was thrown overboard to avoid an explosion. A five-gallon drum of oil was also on deck and when it broke and the oil spread over the deck the flames rose high and spread wide on the old schooner, and it was a hopeless task to save her.