The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), 13 Apr, 1873

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BARKANTINE VESSELS. - This class of vessels, which until quite recently (were common) on the lakes, are fast becoming extinct, that mode of rig being done away with for the reason that fore and aft sails are deemed much better for lake service. Thus being divested they are classed or generally known, as three-and-afters. A few of them retain the top-sail, which in scudding during heavy weather is as important a sail as any on board the ship. Some five years since there were upwards of 100 barkantines on the lakes. At the present time, however, this number does not exceed one-fourth of that, probably. Many thus classed more properly belong to those known as three masted topsail schooners. Not more than eight or ten full-rigged barks have ever been introduced upon the lakes.

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Simply put, a barkantine - usually termed a "bark" or "barque" in Great Lakes parlance - is defined as a three-masted vessel with the fore mast being square-rigged, and the other masts being schooner (i.e. fore and aft) rigged. They have at least two courses (usually three or more) of sails on the foremast. A "full-rigged bark" is three masted, with the fore and main masts being square rigged. It is not always a far distance from a Great Lakes bark to a three-mast topsail schooner. The conversion could be accomplished by replacing just the main foresail and yard with a fore-and-aft sail and boom. Photos of converted barks often show them retaining one or two courses of square topsails on the foremast. In the confined waterways and temperamental winds of the lakes, schooner rigs were much more "handy" for the rapid and continuous sail-handling required, and they needed smaller crews. The 1869 Merchant Vessels of the United States shows 130 American Great Lakes vessels rated as barkentines.
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13 Apr, 1873
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Dave Swayze
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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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Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), 13 Apr, 1873