FLORA BARNES, steamer of 17 Tons Reg. Home port, Hamilton, three years of age. On February 2, 1883, vessel was burnt by an incendiary and became a total loss at Bracebridge. Amount of loss $4,000.
Statement of Wreck and Casualty for 1883
Department of Marine and Fisheries
" A few more Tugs can be chronicled from this period, though little is known about them, One was the HOTROCK, a small 30 foot screw steamer of 2.83 tons, built in 1880. Another was the FLORA BARNES, a 64 foot tug, of 11.83 tons which was built at Port Carling in 1881. Captain Levi Fraser, himself a tug captain, has preserved a tradition that the FLORA BARNES once grounded on a shoal near Mortimer's Point, on the west arm of Lake Muskoka. Her crew tried rocking her loose by tying a line to a tree and heaving back and forth, but just when she seemed all set to roll off the rocks, the line snapped and all hands spilled into the drink. There were no casualties. Later, during the winter of 1882-83, the FLORA BARNES was seized by the Village of Bracebridge for unpaid taxes. While still under seizure she was destroyed by fire on February 2, 1883. If the towns-people thought that was an end to the affair they were soon undeceived, because the owner Captain Thomas Barnes of Wentworth County, launched a suit the following March, for what he claimed was unlawful seizure. This led to a colossal court case, held at Barrie in 1884, in which the verdict went in favour of the plaintiff, and the Village of Bracebridge was ordered to pay a total of $3,671.00. plus costs. As a result Bracebridge was saddled with what were called the Flora Barnes debentures for the next twenty years."
from The Steamboat Era in the Muskokas
by Richard Tatley Vol.1 pp. 91