The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Inkerman (Propeller), exploded, 29 May 1857

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Propeller INKERMAN (C), exploded at Toronto. Three lives lost. Property loss $21,000
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      January 28, 1858 (1857 Casualty list)
      . . . . .

      EXPLOSION OF THE STEAMER INKERMAN. - Toronto May 29. - About four o'clock this afternoon, the boiler of the steamer INKERMAN, of Kingston, blew up with a fearful explosion as she was backing out from the wharf. Her entire crew, consisting of twenty-two persons, are either killed or dangerously wounded - three only, Capt. Broome, Peter McLaughlan and name unknown, escaping uninjured. The bodies are supposed to be still in the wreck. She had no passengers on board.
      It is impossible to learn the names of the lost at present, on account of the great excitement. The INKERMAN was owned by Hugh McIntosh, of Kingston.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Saturday, May 30, 1857

      . . . . .

Propeller INKERMAN exploder her boiler at Toronto, May 30 as she was backing away from Upton & Brown's wharf, she was about 100 yards from the wharf when the explosion blew her stern out and she sank with water up to her guards. Six dead and three missing. The vessel had no insurance, was owned by Donald McIntosh and Mr. Morton of Kingston, valued at $15,000.
      The INKERMAN was converted into a propeller from the hull of a river barge, high pressure engines and boiler from propeller IRELAND.
      She had on board a crew of 21 and one passenger. (heavily condensed)
      Toronto Globe
      June 1,2,3,4 & 9th. 1857
      . . . . .

Hull of the INKERMAN was raised June 14th. by the tug BOB MOODIE, tug EXPERIMENT and schr. BEAVER, the hull seems sound and may be towed to Kingston for repairs. (heavily condensed)
      Toronto Globe
      June 15, & 19th.,1857
      . . . . .

      The stm. INKERMAN, recently sunk at Toronto, has been pumped out and raised by the Buffalo Mutual Worthington pumps on Wednesday last. She will be repaired.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      June 22, 1857 2-6

      . . . . .

INKERMAN's hull being towed to Kingston by stmr. HURON
      Toronto Globe
      June 23, 1857
      . . . . .

The stmr. INKERMAN that was sunk by explosion in Toronto recently, was pumped out and raised by the Buffalo Mutual's Worthington pumps on Wednesday last. She will be repaired.
      Detroit Free Press
      June 24, 1857
      . . . . .

On a towing line behind the steam tug QUEN VICTORIA, were the INKERMAN and barque NINA, along came the tug St. PATRICK who steamed into the tow line, inflicting great damage to itself, but none to the tows, which were cut adrift, they were later picked up and continued their trip down the St. Lawrence River to possibly Montreal or Quebec,
      Toronto Globe
      September 5, 1857
      . . . . .

INKERMAN, 1855 - 1857, a propeller of 600 tons burden, built at Kingston, Upper Canada in 1855, and plied between Montreal and Toronto, with passengers and freight. She had a Crimean musket with fixed bayonet for a bowsprit. Her boiler blew up at Upton and Brown's Wharf, Toronto, May 29, 1857, completely destroying the vessel and killing the entire crew and one passenger who was aboard.
      J. Ross Robinson's
      Landmarks of Canada

      . . . . .
      The propeller INKERMAN Captain Brown, two years old, five hundred tons burden, put into Toronto on Wednesday, May 27, to discharge a cargo of oats at Brown's wharf. On Friday afternoon she prepared to start for St. Catharines, with everything apparently safe on board. She had backed a short distance into the bay, and had just commenced her direct course onwards when a dreadful explosion took place. Men and portions of the vessel were sent high into the air. The vessel herself was literally torn to pieces. The noise of the explosion was heard on the wharves all round, and told that a dreadful accident had occurred. For some moments the ill-fated vessel was completely enveloped by dense clouds of steam and smoke; when they were cleared away the appalling nature of the catastrophe was at once apparent from the shore, and numbers of small boats hurried to the fatal spot to give all the assistance in their power to the survivors. The HIGHLANDER, Capt. Schofield, also promply proceeded to the spot, and having fastened a rope to the wreck, commenced hauling it towards shore. But when it had been brought to within twenty yards of the wharf it sunk. Efforts were immediately made to clear away the rubbish and get out the survivors and the bodies of the dead.
      Captain M. Brown had a most providential escape. The purser was taken out alive, but died on his way to the hospital. Two women, Catharine A. McRae and Elizllbeth McGill, were, also taken from the wreck, and were so much injured that for a time they were supposed to be dead. After a little while, however, they both showed signs of life, and were taken to Browns's wharf, where they were placed on temporary beds, it being deemed inexpedient to remove them further in their dangerous state. At six o'clock the woman McGill appeared to be in a dying state. Drs. Dovel, Hodder, Cotter, &c., were speedily in attendance on them, but they entertained no hopes of their recovery.
It was not expected that she could survive during the night. She was sister to McGill, the fireman, and was only taking a pleasure trip with her brother when the accident befoe her. The appearance of both of them lying side by sido was melancholy in the extreme.
The labor of removing the rubbish of the wreck was continued in order, to find the bodies still missing, and to save as much property as possible. Peoplo present appeared, however, to be paralyzed by the nature of the shock. Six of the crew, much injured, some of them it is feared fatalJy, were taken from the wreck and immediately sent to hospital. Three men were taken out dead; which, with the Purser already noticed as dead , makes the number of dead bodies four, as found up to a late hour. Thus the six men in hospital, the four dead, the three men uninjured, the captain and the two women, makes sixteen, which leaves at least seven more to be accounted for, and who we greatly fear may be classed as dead - nay, we regret to say it is almost certain such is the fact. One of the men taken from the wreck had his head completely taken off. None of the dead, with the exception of the purser, have been yet recognized. The accident was caused by the lowness of water in the boiler, and then suddenly letting on cold water while the boiler was too much heated - hence the explosion. The force of the explosion must have been dreadful, as the ship was shattered from stem to stern, and the massive chain cable was snapped asunder in different pieces, a portion of it having been thrown to and around the top-mast, which still stands. The calamity caused a painful sensation of sorrow throughout the city, and for hours, until night set in, the adjacent wharves were crowded by thousands of anxious spectators.
The spirited sketch which we give of the wreck was taken by our artist correspondent, Mr. Armstrong, instantly after the explosion, he happened at the time to be on Brown's Wharf.
      Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
      June 13, 1857

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: exploded
Lives: 9
Hull damage: $21,000
Cargo: included
Remarks: Rebuilt as Bark TORNADO
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.634444 Longitude: -79.370833
William R. McNeil
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Inkerman (Propeller), exploded, 29 May 1857