The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Alexandria (Steamboat), C85768, aground, 3 Aug 1915


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ALEXANDRIA Side wheel steamer, ran ashore in a storm on Lake Ontario August 3, 1915 at Scarborough Bluffs, Lake Ontario, and became a total loss.
      The Marine Review, February 1916

      . . . . .

      HEROIC WORK SAVED CREW OF " ALEX"
      At 2 o'clock Wednesday morning, August 4, 1915, Captain William Bloomfield was the last man to leave the meagre wreckage of the well known Picton steamer ALEXANDRIA.
      The "ALEX" as she was familiarly called in Picton, came to grief late Tuesday afternoon, August 3, off Scarborough Heights about 12 miles east of Toronto.
      The Toronto Globe of August 4, 1915, gives the following story: "Battling hopelessly with the terrific storm that swept Lake Ontario, the stout steamer ALEXANDRIA of the Canada Steamship Lines was driven ashore at Scarboro' Heights late yesterday afternoon. She was bound from Montreal to Toronto.
      "Twenty-two of her crew were saved in a thrilling and dramatic manner during the darkness of last night. Wheelsman Frank Twaddle, Sam Schriver and Alex Boy of Picton were among those rescued.
      "The wreckage is lying in the breakers 200 yards out from the Scarboro' Cliffs, almost opposite the terminus of the Markham Road.
      "Early distress signals brought scores of farmers, and radial railway employees to the top of the 50 foot cliff, but they had no means of reaching the pounding vessel. The surf was running too high to permit the launching of any small craft. Messages were rushed to Toronto and other points, and the local staff of the company, crews from the life-saving station and other agencies for aid were hurried to the scene.
      "When they arrived, however, the position of the striken vessel grew more perilous. Putting on life-belts the sailors jumped from wet decks, and set out through the breakers for shore. Their battle for life was a terrible one, even the strongest swimmers being tossed about helplessly at the time. But headway was made.
      "Meantime the men on the shore were preparing to do their share. They scrambled down the high and treacerous embankment and waded out into the surf. Desperately fighting the wild waves to retain their footing and the forming of chain by the holding of hands, they seized the sailors one by one as they were flung almost helplessly towards the shore.
      :There is but a narrow strip of land at the bottom of the cliff and great difficulty was encountered in getting the men up. Mrs. Crew of the Half Way House was informed of the wreck and had 22 beds prepared and fires lighted in the hotel, that the men might be comfortable. Later, however, a number of the rescued were taken to Toronto."
      The ALEXANDRIA was formerly a passenger steamer, but had carried no passengers in recent years. She came to the Canada Steamship Lines at the time of the steamship merger. Hepburn Brothers of Picton formerly owned her.
      At one o'clock this morning the vessel was a complete wreck, fifty feet having broken away from the bow and about forty feet from the stern. Waves dashing completely over the wreck, tumbled out her 300 ton cargo of sugar, vinegar and tomatoes in to the surf.
      A persistent stream of the curious and thrifty went back and forth from the Bluffs bearing trophies of every conceivable nature. Nearly everything of value above the water line was taken. Many a cellar was stocked with vinegar and canned goods.
      The engines were working until the boat struck. All machinery was in good order, "but the weather was too much for her" said Capt. Bloomfield. The crew did everything in their power to save her, but headway could not be made. The stricken vessel encountered the storm after leaving Port Hope. All the way it was a strong fight with the elements.
      Captain Bloomfield expressed appreciation and thankfulness for the heroic work of Mr. Middleton, who swam to an overturned lifeboat with a line. Middleton was the means of saving six or seven men when swam out with the line.
      In her disappearance Picton lost an old favorite passenger steamer in the wreck of the ALEXANDRIA. For years the steamer was a regular arrival at Picton She was built at Hull in 1866 and at that time was called the ALEXANDRA. For a number of years she was used as a freight carrier and in 1883 she was taken to Montreal where she was built up and a cabin put on her. The boat passed through a number of hands and finally was taken charge of by the vetran lake captain, Capt. Smith of Picton. The steamer was cut in half on "the Ways" on Picton Bay and lengthened thirty feet. The ALEXANDRIA was also placed on the Rochester- Quebec run during the summer months and during the rest of the season was in service from Brighton to Montreal.
      On the Canadian register the ALEXANDRIA was No. 85,768, being 173.7 feet in length, 30.6 feet in breadth, and 8.4 feet in depth. Her gross tonnage was 863 and her registered tonnage 508. She was propelled by paddle wheels and her engines were 50 horsepower. Her maximum speed was 13 miles per hour. The vessel was insured for $75,000 in thirty different companies in America and England.
      from
      Marine Memories
      by Willis Metcalf
      (Published by the Picton Gazette, 1975)
     
     
     
      SOUVENIR HUNTERS STRIP WRECKED BOAT
      =======
      Anything From a Cork to a Bag of Sugar is Taken - Very Little Left
      Capt. Foote Warns Looters That Action Will be Taken
      =======
The wrecked steamer Alexandria, reposing helplessly a short distance from the debris-strewn shore of Scarboro Bluffs, presented a scene of animation all day yesterday and today swarming with curious, half-baked souvenir hunters. During the course of the last two days thousands have visited the scene of the wreck both by radial car and boat, and very few have failed to take away some relic of the wreck, whether it was merely a piece of cork or reached the proportions of a sugar barrel. A persistent stream of the curious and thrifty went back and forth from the Bluffs bearing trophies of every conceivable nature.
The Star reporter arrived at the scene at a time this morning when the whole city slept. Already the industrious residents of the community were providing against the coming winter by taking away barrels of vinegar and sugar. One man was, he said "doing his duty by his family" by appropriating several bags of sugar and innumerable baskets of crockery. Altogether it is estimated that twenty-six barrels of sugar and almost as many barrels of vinegar, furniture, cutlery, lifebelts, brass work and provisions of all sorts were among the prizes.
The Alexandria, with her bow and stern gone, broken in the centre, and open fore and aft on both sides, looks more like a mass of painted debris than a lake steamer. Only the row of cabin window holes, the projecting rock-arm, the barely discernable funnel, and the bold letter Alexandria squarely facing the cliffs, remind you that she once sailed the lakes.
The naked throng, which included the inquisitive newspaper men, were startled in their search about 9 o'clock by the appearance of the tug Earl King, with a wrecking crew under Captain Foote, towing a scow.
The party with Captain Foote, which had left the Canada Steamships Lines' dock, consisted of Mr. H. W. Cowan, of the steamship line, and Messrs. Weisbeck, and Stith, representing the underwriters.
The value of the cargo and vessel, in their hopelessly damaged condition hardly seems to warrant the work of salvage.
      Collingwood Bulletin
      August 12, 1915
     
NOTE: tHE ALEXANDRIA was orignally called ALEXANDRA
     
     
     
Paddle wheel steamer ALEXANDRA. Built Hull 1866. Of 264 tons gross; 94 tons Register. 161.7 x 25.2 x 8.8 Home port, Montreal, Que. Owned by the Ontario & Quebec Navigation Company.
      List of Vessels on the Registry Books of the
      Dominion of Canada on December 31, 1874
     
     
Paddle wheel steamer ALEXANDRIA. Official Canada No. 85768. Built at Montreal, Que., in 1883. Of 863 tons gross; 507tons Register. 173.7 x 30.6 x 8.4 Home Port, Montreal, Que. Owned by Arthur W. Hepburn, Pictou, N. S. [sic].
      List of Vessels on the Registry Books of the
      Dominion of Canada on December 31, 1886
     
     
      Paddle wheel steamer ALEXANDRIA. Official Canada No. 85768. Built at Montreal, Que., in 1883. Of 863 tons gross; 507tons Register. 173.7 x 30.6 x 8.4 Home Port, Montreal, Que. Owned by Arthur W. Hepburn, Picton, Ont..
      List of Vessels on the Registry Books of the
      Dominion of Canada on December 31, 1898
     
     
Paddle wheel steamer ALEXANDRIA. Official Canada No. 85768. Built at Montreal, Que., in 1883. Of 863 tons gross; 508 tons Register. 173.7 x 30.6 x 8.4 Home Port, Picton. Ont. Owned by Arthur W. Hepburn, Picton, Ont..
      List of Vessels on the Registry Books of the
      Dominion of Canada on December 31, 1902
     
     
Paddle wheel steamer ALEXANDRIA. Official Canada No. 85768. Built at Montreal, Que., in 1883. Of 863 tons gross; 508 tons Register. 173.7 x 30.6 x 8.4 Of 50 Of 50 horsepower. Home Port, Picton. Ont. Owned by Arthur W. Hepburn, Picton, Ont..
      List of Vessels on the Registry Books of the
      Dominion of Canada on December 31, 1905
     
     
     


Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Notes:
Reason: aground
Lives: nil
Hull damage: $75,000
Cargo: included
Freight: sugar,vinegar,&c.
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
1915
Subject(s):
Local identifier:
McN.W.9838
Language of Item:
English
Geographic Coverage:
Donor:
William R. McNeil
Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
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Alexandria (Steamboat), C85768, aground, 3 Aug 1915