The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Western Herald (Sandwich, ON), Wednesday, September 18, 1839

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(From the Detroit Free Press, Sept. 3.)


About half past seven o'clock on Sunday evening, after our Monday's paper was put to press, our city was thrown into great excitement by a cry of fire from the "GREAT WESTERN," lying at the wharf of Gillet & Desnoyers. In a few moments after the alarm was given, the decks and sides of the noble vessel were in flames. The fire companies and our citizens generally, rushed with alacrity to the spot, and made every possible effort to stay the conflagration. They succeeded in keeping the fire from communicating with the adjoining boats and buildings and in preserving a considerable portion of the great steamer herself. The hull and engines, worth some $50,000, were saved. There was an insurance of $5,000 only upon the boat.

The fire was providential and no one knows to a certainty how it originated — it is supposed, however, that it was communicated from the chimneys. She had been in about an hour from Chicago whence she had brought a full load of passengers. Her cabin passengers alone amounted to 70. She was preparing to leave for Buffalo in about three quarters of an hour from the time the alarm was given. A large number of passengers were aboard and much of their baggage consumed. We have not learned the extent of the losses of passengers. One Gentleman from New Orleans who was severely burned in endeavoring to rescue his baggage, lost some $1,200 in cash.

Too much credit cannot be awarded to the different companies for their unwearied labors to preserve the boat and the property adjacent to her. Captain Walker requests us to express to them his sincere thanks and heart-felt gratitude, for the great interest they felt in his behalf, and for the indefatigable exertions which saved to him so much of the noble wreck. To our citizens generally, he also feels under deep obligation for their co-operation with the fire companies upon the occasion.

The association of ideas, to every reflecting spectator of the conflagration, was awful. How fortunate that the fire broke out while the boat was in port, was the general exclamation among the crowd. Had it occurred when the boat was under way, even in the river, it would have been impossible to have saved a soul — so rapid was the progress of the flames. We ought to be thankful to providence that it happened as it did.

We cannot but deeply sympathize with Capt. Walker for his misfortune. This is the second loss which he has sustained by the destruction of a favorite boat. He had invested in the GREAT WESTERN what property he had acquired since the loss of the GEORGE WASHINGTON, by which he was a great sufferer several years ago. The design and model of the G. W. Were his. She was a magnificent boat — his whole soul was wrapt in her, and she was as much a favorite of the travelling public upon the Lakes, as she was the pride of his own heart. Her finish furniture, and everything about her, was of a superior character, and her patronage and success thus far during the season, has exceeded his expectations.

Captain Walker bears his misfortune like a philosopher who is resolved to do his duty, and trust to providence for his reward. He is now clearing the rubbish from the wreck, which he intends to tow down to Huron, preparatory to a reconstruction of the great steamer at some future day.

Advert 1839 Summer Arrangement.
The New and Splendid Steam Boat "BROTHERS."

Will for the present season, run as follows:

Leaves Chatham every Tuesday, -- Thursday, and Saturday, for Amherstburgh, at 8 o'clock precisely, touching at Windsor and Detroit, on her downward trips.

Leaves Amherstburgh, on Mondays, -- Fridays, and Sundays, at 6 o'clock precisely, touching at Detroit and Windsor, or at the latter place first if required, at all times leaving Windsor for Chatham at 10 o'clock, on her upward trip.

Every attention will be paid to Ladies and Gentlemen; they will find the cabins large and comfortable; all eatables in their first order. Gents. Saloon well filled with choicest wine and other luxuries too numerous to mention. Walter Eberts, Master.

Notwithstanding all the disadvantages under which the Province has laboured generally in consequence of the late disturbances — and notwithstanding the clamours raised against the enterprise in this Province, compared with that on the opposite side of the water, without intending any disparagement to our neighbours across the line. — I am proud to state that the new and commodious steamer "BROTHERS," built at Chatham during the present season, forms an honorable and praiseworthy exception, and that she is sailed and managed by one of the Brothers, which name she so appropriately bears, who, to say the least of him, is reputed and believed to be a good fresh-water sailor. But further, the unremitting attention of the Capt. Who, as before remarked is one of the owners, to contribute to the comfort and accommodation of the passengers, is a circumstance which I am sure will not soon be overlooked or forgotten by any person who has travelled on board of her. A. Passenger.

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Wednesday, September 18, 1839
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William R. McNeil
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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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Western Herald (Sandwich, ON), Wednesday, September 18, 1839