The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
City of Owen Sound (Propeller), C71181, sunk, 24 Oct 1887

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The steamer CITY OF OWEN SOUND,of the Collingwood Transit Co. was wrecked half a mile East of Clapperton Island Lighthouse during the gale of Monday. The crew is safe.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Wednesday, October 26, 1887
      . . . . .

      Loss of the CITY OF OWEN SOUND
      A telegram was received here early Tuesday morning from Collingwood, stating that the CITY OF OWEN SOUND was a total wreck on Clapperton Island, and that the crew were all safe in Collingwood, being brought down by the CAMPANA. The CITY OF OWEN SOUND left Duluth on the 19th inst., and had a rough passage all the way down the lake. She left Sault Ste., Marie on the morning of the 23rd, and encountered a heavy snow storm with a terrific gale of wind. through which she struggled all day and night. On Monday morning about four o'clock she struck on
Robertson's rock, a sunken reef east of Clapperton light and went down in about half an hour. There were no passengers on board, and all the crew were saved and safely landed on Clapperton Island, though they lost everything except the clothes they had on their backs. Purser Maitland saved the ship's books. The crew remained on Clapperton Island until about nine or ten o'clock in the morning, when the CAMPANA of the same line, came along and being hailed took on the crew aboard and took them to Collingwood, arriving late Monday night. The following are the names of the crew: Captain Lafrance; first mate, A. Mcleod; second mate, J. Black; purser, A. C.Maitland; first engineer, James Chstnut; second engineer, C. Robertson; wheelsmen, M. McGregor and Frank Howey; firemen, Frank Bishop; Adam Minard and H. Myler; steward, John McFarlane; waiter. A. Cameron; porter, A. Macdonald, first cook, John Mason; second cook, Thos. Nurphy; mess-room boy, H. Mylear,jr.; deck hands, Walter Beasley, H. Handy, and McKay and D. Mullen; ladies maid, Miss Lizzie Golden. The CITY OF OWEN SOUND was loaded with 24,500 bushels of corn for Dunn & Thompson of Montreal and 411 packages of fish for Smith & Keighley, and Leekie of Toronto. The CITY was built in Owen Sound in the year 1875 by John Simpson and had a registered tonnage at $30,000 and owned by
Smith & Keighley of Toronto. The Captain, Mates Purser and a number of the crew belong to Owen Sound.
      Capt. Lafrance makes the following statement:
      The ship lies in eight fathoms of water at the stern and eight fathoms at the bow. The upper works are all gone, also everything on deck. Nothing of her can be seen except what wreckage there is on shore. She went down at four o'clock Monday morning. She struck a rock half a mile east of Clapperton light, and half an hour from that she went down. The crew launched two boats and got ashore. When the last boat left her she was under water and her cabin was breaking up. As far as I can judge she was broken in two. The place where she went down is about 800 or 1,000 feet from shore. We could not get out to her after she sank on account of the wind and sea, I left three men at the island to pick up personal effects. I think her bottom was tern up when she struck. It was blowing a gale from the northwest and very dark; : with drifting flurries of snow once in awhile. We had no deck load but 411 packages of fish for Smith & Keighley and R. Leckie. The wreck lies in a small bay on the north side of the island close to the rocks, and to a certain extent unexposed to the sea, as there is too much water over her to do any harm to her hull. I am led to think the bottom was torn out of her by the way she struck and the rapidity with which she filled and sank. The CAMPANA came past about four hours afterwards, and we hailed her from Clapperton light. She stood in towards the beach, and then saw the wreckage floating ashore. They think her arches were broken, I did not want to make any further examination, as there was no diver to go under water and make an examination of her hull. She is a total loss.
      Owen Sound Advertiser
      October 27, 1887
      [courtesy Bill Hester]

      . . . . .

      GONE DOWN.
      During the past week there has been fearful gales blowing on the upper lakes and it was a gale of Sunday night that the CITY OF OWEN SOUND succumbed to the terrible sea. The steamer arrived at the Sault Ste. Marie on Sunday last and left for here the same evening. When out from the Sault a while a gale commenced to blow accompanied by flurries of snow. The captain did his best to save the steamer but his efforts were all in vain and about 4 O'clock on Monday morning she struck a rock known as Robinson Rock on Clapperton Island. She released herself from this place, and the captain immediately learned that she was taking water he tried to beach his steamer. Before he could do so however she sank. As there were no passengers on board, the crew had no persons to care for except themselves, which they did and escaped a watery grave. The only lady on board was the lady's maid. As the boat sank quite a distance from the shore and as a heavy sea was running the crew had some heavy rowing to do. At last the Island was reached in safety and the crew were taken care of by the lighthouse keeper until the CAMPANA came along shortly after and picked them up and brought them here. The boat was valued at $27,000 and had an insurance of $... Her cargo consisted of 26,00O bushels of corn besides fish and deck load. There was $... insurance on the cargo.
      The (Collingwood) Bulletin
      Oct 27, 1887
      [courtesy Bill Hester]

      . . . . .
The Marine Record's Kingston correspondent says "Mr. Lesslie of the Colinsby R & T. Co., is loading an outfit of chains and wrecking tools on the schooner NEELON, and will start immediately with his pontoons to raise the propellor CITY OF OWEN SOUND, sunk near Clapperton Island in Georgian Bay. This steamer sunk in 1888 with a full cargo of coal and lies in one hundred and ten feet of water, but it is expected that Mr. Lesslie will successful be in his undertaking. "
      Owen Sound Times
      Sunday July 9, 1891

Captain Robertson reports the warmest trip of the season last trip of the BALTIC. The rainfall up the lake on Sunday was very heavy, two houses in Thessalon and one in Mackinaw were struck by lightning during the storm but no serious damage incurred. Work has been commenced on the raising of the CITY OF OWEN SOUND. She lies in a bed of mud in 103 feet of water. The divers report that she is apparently uninjured, both hull and upper works being in
good condition. Two pontoons have been sunk and it is expected that she will be at the surface in three weeks.
      Owen Sound Times
      Thursday August 13, 1891

      Capt Leslie, who has undertaken to raise the sunken steamer CITY OF OWEN SOUND has reports Capt. W. Tate Robertson of the BALTIC almost accomplished his undertaking and the vessel is now above water. Divers report the hull very little damaged and she will be brought to this port probably and turned into a lumber or coal barge. Strange as it may seem, the captain says that he finds that the greater part of the cargo of 27,000 bushels of corn is not in the least damaged, a crust having formed of the wet grain, for a thickness of about two feet, which proved
water tight, and the interior portion of the corn is probably in good condition.
      Owen Sound Times
      Thursday September 3, 1891

The officers of H.M.S. CRUISER report having visited the wreck of the CITY OF OWEN SOUND on their last cruise. The work of raising her is progressing very favorably. Five pontoons had been sunk and her stern raised fifty feet, but it was found impossible to raise her entire hull to the surface without additional pontoons. Four more have been sent for and she will likely be up in a few days. It is expected that the hull will be brought to this port as soon as raised.
      Owen Sound Times
      Thursday September 3, 1891

At 11 0 clock the BALTIC arrived down from the Soo with a few passengers and fair cargo. The BALTIC people report the work of raising the CITY OF OWEN SOUND to be progressing favorably. She is now entirely above water and the pumps are at work.
      Owen Sound Times
      Thursday, October 1, 1891

The sunken steamer CITY OF OWEN SOUND which was raised at Clapperton Island and afterwards went ashore with the tug towing her near Little Current has been abandoned till next spring when she will be rebuilt. She is in plenty of water and will be quite safe from injury during the winter.
      Owen Sound Times
      Thursday November 26, 1891

      The wreck of the Str. CITY OF OWEN SOUND was towed into the harbor on Saturday morning by the tug EMMA MUNSON. On Monday it was dry-docked. An examination of the hull showed that it was sound in every respect, with the exception of a large hole on the port side and the absence of the forefoot. This damage is supposed to have been done when she struck on the rock at the time she sank, about five years ago. The owner, Mr Leslie was in town on Tuesday.
      The (Collingood) Bulletin
      August 18, 1892

      The schooner SYLVESTER NEELON Neelon which had been engaged at the raising of the Str. CITY OF OWEN SOUND arrived this week to go on the dry dock. The tug EMMA MUNSON brought her to port.
      Many of our readers are anxious to know what work will be done to the wreck of the steamer CITY OF OWEN SOUND before it leaves here. To have the correct information a representative of the BULLETIN had an interview with Mr. Leslie, manager of the Collinsby Forwarding Co., the owners of the vessel and manager Andrews of the dry-dock who will do the work. The latter gentleman informed the reporter that the wreck would be turned into a first class steam barge before it left port. This work, said he, will take nearly two months yet. The engines are already being cleaned up and repaired by Mr. McEwen, Rodney street. A cabin will be built aft containing the quarters for the officers and men, and the pilot house will be on the forward deck.
      The (Collingood) Bulletin.
      August 25, 1892
      [courtesy Bill Hester]

Collingwood.---The steamer CITY OF OWEN SOUND, of the Collingwood Transit Co's line, was wrecked half a mile east of Clapperton Island Lighthouse during a heavy gale Monday morning. The crew left the steamer in lifeboats, and had a narrow escape from being drowned. The steamer CAMPANA arrived here Tuesday morning having on board all the crew of the wrecked steamer. The CITY OF OWEN SOUND was owned by Smith & Keighley of Toronto, and was valued at $29,000. She was classed A 1 and a half.
      The Marine Record
      Thurs. Oct. 27, 1887 p.4

CITY OF OWEN SOUND Propeller of 743 Tons Reg., and 12 years old. On October 24, 1887 vessel, while bound from Sault Ste Marie to Collingwood, stranded on a rock at Clapperton Island, and became a total loss. Property loss $29,000
      Statement of Wreck & Casualty, 1887
      Dept. of Marine and Fisheries

The steamer CITY OF OWEN SOUND, which Leslie of Kingston proposes to raise from 110 feet of water near Clapperton island Georgian Bay, has been sunk for nearly three years. She was loaded at Huron by the Drake Coal Company in the fall of 1888 with about 700 tons of coal for Owen Sound and went down when nearing her destination. The crew was saved but nothing was heard of the boat in Cleveland for several days after she was lost. The Canadian wreckers are now engaged in an effort to raise her.
      Marine Review
      JUly 16, 1891

      A Kingston dispatch says: The wreckers have succeeded in floating the schooner ANNIE MINNES, which was ashore at the Narrows near Brockville. She will be taken to Prescott, where her cargo of coal will be Discharged. She was bound for that place and not Kingston. The manager of the Collins Bay Wrecking Company stated that the steamer CITY OF OWEN SOUND, sunk in Georgian Bay for some time, has reached the shore, and will be lightered of her cargo.
      Buffalo Enquirer
      Thursday, October 8, 1891

Detroit, July 28. -- The Canadian steamer CITY OF OWEN SOUND, which foundered in a heavy gale Oct. 24, 1887, on Georgian Bay, has been at last raised and taken to Little Current, Ont. Her cargo of grain is reported in good condition, and as if it had only been recently submerged. The steamer was raised by means of iron pontoons, and the Collins Bay Wrecking Company will make a small fortune out of the venture. The steamer laid in deep water just inside the Cove Island passage. She had long been given up as a total loss.
      Buffalo Enquirer
      Thursday, July 28, 1892
      . . . . .
      Detroit, Aug.2, -- The successful raising of the Canadian steamer "CITY OF OWEN SOUND" from the bottom of Georgian Bay, where the water is 110 feet deep, has caused great interest among marine men.
      The CITY OF OWEN SOUND was lost in October 1887, with a cargo of grain. When it was found that the wreck was in over 100 feet of water it was given up as a total loss.
      Such it was with all the ordinary appliances of wrecking, but since that time iron pontoons have been invented by William Lest, of Kingston. These pontoons are 46 feet in length and about 10 feet in diameter, being round with cigar shaped ends. They are divided into three compartments by water-tight bulkheads and are built of heavy steel plates strengthened with longitudinal and cross braces. To prevent undue rolling the pontoons are built with bilge keels and have a well at each end through which chains are brought up and effectively held by coggles. The lifting capacity of each pontoon is 100 tons.
      Dozens of good lake boats lie within 100 feet of the surface of the lakes, and if the new invention is a success, as claimed for all these craft will be afloat again. Among these wrecks is the large steel steamer BRUNSWICK which lies in about 90 feet of water near Dunkirk, N. Y. The wooden steamer SMITH MOORE is in less than 100 feet of water near Marquette.These are but a few of the va]uable boats which can now be raised.
      Meaford `Monitor'
      Friday, August 19,1892
      . . . . .
      Two steamers well known here have lately been raised from the depths of the lake, and are likely to ply again on their familiar routes. The CHEROKEE which went down in Midland harbor two years ago, has been floated, and the CITY OF OWEN SOUND, which has lain for nearly three years on a submerged rock near Clapperton Island is now on the docks at Collingwood for repairs.
      Meaford `Monitors
      Friday, August 26,1892

      . . . . .
      Gives First-hand Information on Events in the Year 1883
Editor Sun Times - About a week ago there appeared an article in this journal dealing with the conditions of the spring of 1883. This article was not secured directly from me by the publisher, therefore some errors have inadvertently crept into it but in the main it is correct.
      These errors I will now proceed to correct. On May 23rd 1883 the staunch steamer CITY OF OWEN SOUNDl (built by the late Capt. J. Simpson at Owen Sound and launched June 8th 1875) entered an ice field about six miles outside Prince Arthur Landing and being of a small engine power (27 h. p.) nominal, she was unable to extricate herself until the morning of the 25th. On the 24th two or three teams with sleighs came out to us and took off some goods such as flour, etc, to tide them over until such times as it was possible for us to make a landing and discharge cargo. I was one of the crew and assisted in loading these sleighs. Capt. Telfer states that there were excellent docks at Prince Arthur Landing in 1873. That was 10 years prior to the date of which I am speaking. In the spring of 83 we used Mark's Dock which was in a very dilapidated state, Little more than a crib or short pier, with but little accommodation for vessels - but there were several docks built during that summer. Smith and Mitchell's being one of the best...
      The Daily Sun Times
      Tuesday May 18, 1926
      [courtesy Bill Hester]

NOTE :-- CITY OF OWEN SOUND built with engine and boilers of CITY OF LONDON, after the above she was rebuilt as SATURN.

      CITY OF OWNED SOUND. official Canadian Number, 71181. Built at Owen Sound in 1875, rebuilt 1888 and again rebuilt in 1896 and renamed at Kingston as SATURN. Of 72 x 31 x 13, of 883 tons in 1896. DISPOSITION. -- Sank near Southampton, Ont., on Sept. 17, 1901.
      Preliminary List of Canadian Merchant Seamships
      Inland & Coastal. 1809 to 1930
Stean screw SATURN. * Official Canadian No. 71181. Of 731.77 tons gross; 497.61 tons reg. Built at Owen Sound, Ont., in 1875 by John Simpson. Owned by Collins Bay Rafting Co. 172.0 x 31.0 x 13.0 Engine by Oill & Co. of St. Catharines, Ont. dia 30", stroke 36" and 30 horse power.
      * Former name CITY OF OWEN SOUND. [Name changed Feb. 14, 1896]
      Port of Toronto Shipping Register
      National Archives, Ottawa. R G. 12 A 1, Vol. 453

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk
Hull damage: $29,000
Cargo: $20,00
Freight: sundries
Remarks: Raised
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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City of Owen Sound (Propeller), C71181, sunk, 24 Oct 1887