The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Napoleon (Schooner), collision, 29 May 1852

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To The Editor Of The Colonist
      Port Dalhousie, May 31, 1852
      SIR.--Allow me, through the medium of your weekly circulated paper, to insert the following case, which took place here on Saturday the 29th. of May. I am a sailor by profession, and am at present master of the schooner SCOTLAND of Whitby. I came to here from Kingston, on the above named day; it was blowing a gale of wind from the south-west. I got hold of the pier, the vessel being light. I had to lay there, being about 300 feet from the end of the east pier, until it would moderate down, so as I could get the vessel further up. During the afternoon, the schooner NAPOLEON of Oswego came in, and ran into the SCOTLAND, which I supposed the master considered better than the pier, and
carried away her mizzen mast, with other damage. When the Captain came on the wharf, I said he had made a pretty mess of it. He said, "what right had you to lay there!" He finally said, "get the damage repaired, and I will make it all right." In the hurry of getting the wreck cleared away, and being Saturday night and late before we got through, I thought no more about the matter. On Monday morning I went to get an acknowledgment from the Captain to that effect, but on going to the vessel the Captain was not to be found. I saw at once that his object was to get through the canal, and keep out of the way. I thought I
had no more to do, but go to the Canal Office, and get the vessel stopped, until I got a hearing on the case at all events. I at once proceeded to St. Catharines and got a gentleman of the place to go with me to the office, not being acquainted myself. On being directed to the proper person at the office, I made a request to him that the vessel would be stopped. Judge of my surprise, when the gentleman (I forget his name) asked me what business I had laying at the east pier, and it blowing a gale of wind from the south-west. He might just as
well have told me that I had no business in the harbor at all, and as I could not get a light vessel to the west pier, blowing the way it was, I should have stayed in the Lake, and that he had no power to stop the vessel. Now, I would ask anyone, who is in the custon of going through the Welland Canal, if he should happen to let his vessel do any damage to the locks or bridges, how far he would go before he is stopped, until the damage is paid. But an American vessel can run into a British vessel and go "Scot Free." You have nothing for
it but an action at law against the owners of the American vessel where she belongs. A pretty business this--you have to go into their Courts, with a case that occurred in British waters. Now, suppose I had gone into an American port and ran into an American vessel, the case would have been somewhat different-- instead of the owners of the American vessel having to go into our Courts with an action for damages, the vessel would have been seized until security was given, or the damages paid. Now, Mr. Editor, what I argue is this, that we
should be placed on an equal footing with our neighbours; and now when shipping is becoming of so much importance in the country, the Legislature should pass a act empowering Harbor Masters, or proper officers of the Provincial Canals, to have such cases tried on the spot where they occur, and then we may look for some sort of justice, but not before.
      I am Mr. Editor
      Your Most Obedient Servant,
      Master, SCOTLAND of Whitby
      Toronto British Colonist
      Tuesday, June 8, 1852

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Reason: collision
Lives: nil
Remarks: Damage slight ?
Date of Original:
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.20011 Longitude: -79.26629
William R. McNeil
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Napoleon (Schooner), collision, 29 May 1852