The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Nellie Sherwood (Schooner), sunk, 14 Sep 1882

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Another terrible calamity occured on Thursday last during the terrible gale which raged on that day. The schooner NELLIE SHERWOOD left here on Thursday laden with stones and flat cars for the C. P. R.R. Co. at Algome Mills. A schooner arrived at Midland reporting having seen a schooner go down off Cabots Head with all on board, and from the description little doubt remains that it was the NELLIE SHERWOOD.
Among the crew who were from here, were Thomas Gaskell, and Alexander McPhee, besides several others whose names we have not learned.
      Owen Sound Advertiser
      September 21, 1882

      . . . . .

      [Special Telegram to the Inter Ocean]
Cheboygan, Mich., Sept. 21. -- Yoyr correspondent today investigated Captain Griffin, of the schooner A.G. MOREY, now in port here, in regard to the vessel he saw founder on Georgian Bay. Captain Griffin says the vessel he saw was a Canadian canal schooner, and she must have been the same schooner that kept company with him during a part of the night before. She was loaded with stone from Midland, and was leaking badly, and foundered the next morning. He was too far away to render any assistance. he could not describe the color of the vessel. The MOREY lost two jibs, and ran back eighty miles in just six hours, almost under bare poles.
      The above account tallies with the facts contained in the Inter Ocean's Owen Sound special of yesterday morning, and the lost craft is at last surely identified. It was the schooner NELLIE SHERWOOD that foundered and took down her crew. Sad as the disaster is, the established fact that a Chicago craft and a Chicago crew are not the victims will bring great relief and joy to the families here of the men on vessels known to have been on Georgian Bay about the time the heretofore unknown vessel foundered.
      The SHERWOOD was of small dimensions, and was owned by John Pearson, of Owen Sound. She was built in 1867, and rated B 1. Her cargo was destined to Algoma Mills. She was commanded by Captain Blanchard, of Toronto, who had his son with him. Thomas Gaskin of Owen Sound, was mate. The name of one of the seamen was Alexander McPhee, of Owen Sound, Annie Mills, of Toronto, was stewardess. All are of course lost, and all except young Blanchard leave families. There was not a single survivor.
      The J.W. Hall Great lakes Marine Scrapbook, September, 1882
      . . . . .

A dispatch from Owen Sound says that it is believed that there is another ship lost in the storm. The schooner NELLIE SHERWOOD has foundered in Georgian Bay last Thursday. She sailed from Owen Sound on the 12th inst. bound to Algona Mills. The SHERWOOD was loaded with flat cars for the C. P. R. She was a small vessel, being only 108 tons burden, was built at Algonac in June 1867, hailed from Trenton, Ont., was owned by a Mr. Nickle and valued at $2,500, and rated B 1. She was a Canadian bottom and was formerly named MARKET DRAYTON. She carried a crew of 7 all told, all of whom are believed to have gone down with the schooner.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Friday, September 22, 1882
      . . . . .
"Vessels carrying freight for the Syndicate have been singularly unfortunate on the Georgian Bay this season. First the NELLIE SHERWOOD, loaded with flat cars, &c., went down with all hands off Cabot's Head; then the GEORGIAN was piled up on Club Island and had her cargo damaged; and lastly the KINCARDINE had to be run on an island near Little Current to keep her from sinking and her cargo was also damaged.
      Manitoulin Expositor
      Sat. Dec. 9, 1882

      . . . . .
      Russel Island, around whose shores are scattered the remains of at least eight vessels, lies only a mile from the mainland thwart the MacGregor, Devil Island, and Cape Hurd channels. Deep water rolls close inshore to the east and north, giving little warning of the rocky beach. To the south and west the autumn surf has roared over the broad shallows and pounded to pieces any craft stranded here. Although it lies green and appealing in the warm summer sun Russel Island has become in the cold of approaching winter a place of wreck and death, a graveyard of ships.
      On Sept. 12 1882 Captain Thomas Blanchard took the schooner NELLIE SHERWOOD out of Owen Sound and headed for Algoma Mills on the north shore of Lake Huron. Aboard was a cargo of flat cars and stone consigned to the Canadian Pacific Railway. "There was block stone for bridges and culverts, and this, of course, went into the hold. Then there were some flat cars. Their trucks went into the hold too, and their wheels were chocked off against the bulkhead of the cabin. Then the decks of the cars were wedged or chained in place on the schooner's deck. So wrote George Blanchard, the master's son, who recalled the loading over half a century later. Also on board were the captain's oldest son William, mate Thomas Gaskell, deck hand Alex McPhee, and cook Mrs. Annie Miles.
      A week later the NELLIE SHERWOOD was still unreported at Algoma Mills and when Captain Griffin of the schooner A. G. MOREY reported having seen her in distress near Cabot Head she was given up as lost. On Sept. 23 a body thought to be from the missing schooner was discovered on the beach at Griffith Island, east of Wiarton, by lightkeeper G.W. Patterson. It was not identified and was interred at the hamlet of North Keppel. Three days later a schooner's rail was found in the same area and declared to be from the SHERWOOD. Apparently the mystery was solved late in October when it was briefly announced, without details, that, "The sunken hull of the foundered NELLIE SHERWOOD has been discovered in the Georgian Bay." Local lore had long identified the wreck on the north shore of Russel Island as that of the SHERWOOD and the sighting of railway wheels has confirmed the speculation. The last hours of the NELLIE SHERWOOD are unrecorded; none of her crew survived to tell of how she came to rest at Russel Island.
      The SHERWOOD was originally the MARKET DRAYTON launched at Algonac, Michigan, in 1868 and sold Canadian in 1873. She was bought by Capt. George Sherwood of Brighton and renamed after his daughter. She later passed into the hands of John Pearson of Owen Sound and came to grief while sailing for him.
      Shipwrecks of the Saugeen
      by Patrick Folkes
      . . . . .
      Old Salt Reaches 100.
      By LARRY COLLINS, Telegram Staff Reporter
      When Captain George Blanchard reached 95 he went on his own five-year plan.
      He'll have completed it tomorrow when he celebrates his 100th birthday.
A Great Lakes skipper during his working days, Capt. Blanchard is probably one of the few people who ever took to sailing to make money. He was 23 then. "I was making $7 a week
in a glove factory. My young brother came home with $20 from a four-day run on the Lakes. That looked like a fortune to me." Lake ships were in his blood anyway.
His father, Capt. Thomas Blanchard, and a 16-year-old brother, William, were lost Sept. 14, 1882, when the schooner NELLIE SHERWOOD went down in a storm on Georgian Bay.
George was 13 then and had, been on the NELLIE SHERWOOD a month before until he came back to Toronto to return to school.
      Capt. Blanchard's first ship was the schooner J. G. Woods.(sic) Ten years later he made the transition to steam on the Kingston, travelling between Montreal and Quebec. "There are a lot of nice people down there, those Frenchmen, but I didn't like river work. I wanted to be back on the lakes," the old skipper recalled.
      One of Capt. Blanchard's worst trips was on the Government tug PEEL, of which he was skipper. "1 was going up Lake Huron with a dredge and two mud scows to Kincardine. We started out from Sarnia in good weather. It was a beautiful night. But then the wind started to come down to beat the band. "The sea started to make up bad and the old dredge was in bad shape. I got up to eight miles from Goderich and I couldn't make any headway. I couldn't turn around because the dredge was loaded with the weight at the front.
      "It blew all that day and night and the next day. Finally I had to pick the crew off the dredge. They put on life preservers - one man put on two of them - and we pulled them off through the water. One fellow broke his ribs. "The dredge went down in 90 feet of water."
Among the ships Capt. Blanchard commanded were the ARGYLE, the GARDEN CITY and the DALHOUSIE CITY.
When the depression retired the PEEL in 1934, he retired with it except for occasional jobs.
Now he lives on Bellefair Ave. with a nephew and niece, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Scott.
"I spend one day a week at the senior citizens' club and I listen to all the sports on the radio.
What is his secret for a long life? "I just kept on breathing." A pipe smoker all his life, he gave it up 15 years ago when he began to go blind because "I kept setting fire to myself."
He eats well and takes a hot toddy - water, sugar and rye whisky - "whenever I feel I need it, but I haven't had one for months"
      Toronto Telegram
      Saturday, January 13, 1968

      TOTAL LOSSES, 1882
      [Inter Ocean Casualty List]
Sept. 14. -- Schooner NELLIE SHERWOOD, in Georgian Bay. All on board lost.
      J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, December, 1882

NOTE:-- The wreck, long known as the NELLIE SHERWOOD at Russell Island, was measured about 1990, and it was found that it was highly unlikely to be the SHERWOOD, also the story of railway car wheels being seen on the wreck. No evidence was located to back up that story.


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Reason: sunk
Lives: all
Freight: stone
Remarks: Total loss
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 45.240555 Longitude: -81.3
William R. McNeil
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Nellie Sherwood (Schooner), sunk, 14 Sep 1882