The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Mary Ward (Propeller), aground, 24 Nov 1872

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Collingwood, Nov. 25 - The propeller MARY WARD, from Sarnia to this port, loaded with salt and 120 bbls. of refined coal oil and 20 carboys of acid consigned to E.R. Carpenter of this town, went ashore last night about 9 o'clock, between here and Thornbury, on the Nottawasaga Reef. She now lies in a dangerous position, as the wind is blowing a gale from the southwest. The weather is rough.
      The Toronto Mail
      Tuesday, November 26, 1872

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      COLLINGWOOD, Nov. 26. -- WRECK OF THE PROPELLER MARY WARD. A very sad accident happened yesterday early in the afternoon, by which 8 men were drowned while endeavoring to land in a small boat from the propeller MARY WARD, which went ashore on a reef between here and Thornbury, on Sunday night last. It appears that the unfortunate men had scarcely got two hundred yards from the propeller when the boat capsized in the breakers, the wind blowing a gale at the time. Three of the men were seen hanging on to the boat for nearly an hour, by those on board the propeller, who were unable to render any assistance.
The names of the drowned are:- John C. Stephens and Robert Blyth both of Owen Sound, Chadwick Taylor and Caldwell, of the surveying party of Mr. Murdock; Alexander Campbell and two others of the crew, names not known. Up to a late hour tonight none of the bodies have been recovered, although a vigorous search had been made. Great praise is due to those who went, at the peril of their lives, to rescue the remaining parties on board, whom they landed safely at this place about midnight. The wrecking tug MARY ANN proceeded to the assistance of the propeller yesterday, but did not succeed in reaching her, the waves being too high at the time.
      The Toronto Mail
      Wednesday, November 27, 1872

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      Terrific Storm on the Lake
A month has not lapsed since it became our painful duty to record a fearful accident where by three men lost their lives; and not again it falls to our lot to have to record the sad intelligence of still more painful and serious disaster, which occurred on the evening of Monday last. It is more serious because more lives were lost, and far more painful to us because some of the parties, whose lives have been so ruthlessly swept away by the hand of death, have grown up from infancy with ourselves, sprang into life in our midst prospered in business by our sides, and aided in advancement the home of their childhood.
      Last Sunday morning the propeller MARY WARD, owned by a company in this town, and commanded by Captain William Johns called at the Superior wharf here, on her way from Sarnia to Collingwood. She was freighted with salt and 120 barrels of coal oil, and had a number of passengers on board, among whom were several surveyors, en route to Thunder Bay, that she had taken off the CUMBERLAND at lnbomura Harbour, as that boat did not intend going farther than Sault St. Marie.
The surveyors returned by the MARY WARD with the intention of proceeding to their destination by the overland route. But little they suspect the awful fate which awaited a portion of their number. Sunday was a beautiful day; scarcely a ripple on the water caused by the light southern breeze that was blowing, and the most timid would not be hesitated risking their lives, on the WARD, and the trip to Collingwood. Citizens were assembled at the wharf to see the boat; and about 2 o'clock p.m. she cast her lines, and steamed away on her trip to the last named port, taking with her several of our citizens in addition to her other passengers. All went well with her until evening, and from some unaccountable cause the commander varied and led them off their course, and night being thick they were unable to see the Nottawassaga Light-house, until about a minute before she struck the course was changed, but it was too late and about nine o'clock she ran on a flat rock off Craigleigth, about three miles from shore. Shortly after the vessel grounded Mr. George Corbet, purser, and Moberly, one of the passengers, went ashore in a small boat, and proceeded to Collingwood, where they arrived early on Monday morning, for the purpose of procuring a boat to go to the assistance of the WARD. About 11 a.m. Captain Johnson and several others launched a boat, and started for the Light House, about three miles distance to procure assistance, which place they had succeeded in reaching, as the boat was nearly full of water when they landed. The tug MARY ANN was got in readiness and started for the vreck about 2 o'clock p.m. Monday. In the meantime the wind veered round to the north -west and by the time the tug reached the wreck it was blowing a perfect gale. The MARY ANN hovered round for about two hours, but found it impossible to approach even within hailing distance of the propellor, and about half-past four o'clock p.m. she started back for Collingwood. Soon after she left, a boat was lowered, and eight men got into it for the purpose of going ashore, all of them were drowned. When they got into the boat they made a good start but when about a hundred yards from the propellor, the man holding the tiller appeared to lose heart, and let go of it, another of the crew immediately sprang to the helm, but it was too late, the boat had got into the trough of the sea, and the first wave that swept over her carried two of the occupants with it. The boat swamped, and four more were drowned the remaining two clung to it for nearly three-quarters of an hour, but the water was so cold, and seas broke over so furiously they too were compelled to go, and shared the same terrible fate as the rest.
      The names of the drowned are J. Stephens and Robert Blyth of Owen Sound, Caldwell of Toronto, Taylor, of Simcoe, Chadwick, o Elora, Charles Canpbell, lived directly opposite where the accident occurred in Collingwood Township, Richard Rearden, wheelman, and William Row deck hand late of Devonshire, England.
      John Stephens was one of the owners of the boat. He was a young man, and leaves a almost distracted widowed mother and a circle of relatives to mourn his sad death. Robert Blyth was a married man with a family of three children, whom he leaves beside a large family of relatives to mourn his untimely end. No doubt others all have other relatives to mourn their awful fate. The seas calming down towards evening, three fish boats went from Thornbury about 7 o'clock and took off those on the wreck. They reached Collingwood about 11 a.m. on Tuesday. The sea was running so high on Monday, when the tug went out to the wreck, that they could see waves breaking over the propellor at a distance of nearly a mile. Up to this time none of the bodies have been recovered.
      The vessel will no doubt be a total wreck. She was owned by Messrs Forhan, Cor... Johnson, Stephens and Miller, of this town and was insured for $12,000.
      About 11 o'clock, noon on Monday, Capt. Johnson came ashore to get relief; intending to land at Collingwood, but the sea was running so high they had to land at Nottawasaga Island, being compelled to jump out of the boat and wade ashore. The tug took a pump up on Tuesday, and it was put in her ready to light her as soon as the weather calms down sufficiently to enable a tug to take her off the rock.
The vessel is supposed to be nearly all right, but as yet the prospects of recovering the bodies is very poor indeed. A.M. Stephens has issued bills offering a reward of $200 for the recovery of the body of the late J.S. Stephens.
      Owen Sound Advertiser
      November 28, 1872

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Kingston, May 9 - Mr. Donnelly, and Calvin & Breck wreckers have gone to Lake Huron to recover the propeller MARY WARD.
      The Toronto Mail
      Saturday, May 10, 1873

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Collingwood, May 15 - The steam tug MARY ANN with two steam pumps has been at work all day upon the wreck of the MARY WARD, but did not succeed in getting over 6 inches of water pumped out. As her bottom is considered useless, the owners have abandoned the idea of getting her off the rocks. Her machinery will probably be taken out at once.
      The Toronto Mail
      Friday, May 16, 1873

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Collingwood, July 21 - The tug MARY ANN went to the wreck of the MARY WARD.
      The Toronto Mail
      Tuesday, July 22, 1873

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Stayner, July 22 - WASHED ASHORE - The body of another victim of the MARY WARD disaster was found washed ashore two miles from the mouth of the Nottawasaga River. The body was brought to this place today and was identified as the body of Mr. Charles Campbell, of Craigleight. The friends of the unfortunate man have arrived and have taken possession of the body. This is the fifth body that has been found out of the eight that were drowned.
      The Toronto Mail
      Wednesday, July 23, 1873

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Another body the fifth of those drowned at the MARY WARD disaster, last fall was washed ashore about two miles from the mouth of the Nottawa River, on Tuesday.
      [Manitoulin ?] Expositor
      July 23, 1873
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      Bodies Found
On Sunday afternoon last a fanner of the vicinity discovered a couple of bodies drifting ashore in Nottawasaga Bay, about six miles from Stayner, and Mr. Laidlaw of that place coming up at the time identified one of the bodies by a gold watch and papers as that of Mr. J .S. Stephens, lost off the MARY WARD last fall. The other body could not be identified, but is supposed to be that of one of the sailors. Mr. Stephen's remains were brought to Owen Sound on Monday last, and that evening were deposited in their last resting place in the cemetery here, whither they were followed by a large number of sympathising citizens. The finding of the body, though it has opened afresh a wound which Time's soothing influence was tending to heal, will yet be a melancholy satisfaction to the sorrowing relatives, who now no longer mourn a loved one in an unknown grave, and in their affliction they have the sympathy of the entire community. As will be seen by the following telegram from Stayner, another body has since come ashore in the same place, making the fifth hat has been found in that vicinity;-
STAYNER, July 22 -The body of another victim of the MARY WARD disaster was found washed ashore two miles from the mouth of the Nottawasaga River. The body was brought to this place to-day, and was identified as the body of Mr. Charles Canpbell of Craigleith. The friends of the unfortunate man have arrived, and have taken possession of the body. This is the fifth body that has been found out of the eight that were drowned.
      Owen Sound Times
      August 1,1873

      The British Assurance Company will receive tenders up to
      Wednesday the 20th. day of August instant, for the purchase
      of their interest in the above named steamer, as she now lies
      at Nottawasaga Reef, Georgian Bay. The interest to be sold
      amount to $5,800 on a valuation of $16,000
      F.A. Ball, Manager
      The Toronto Mail
      Thursday, August 7, 1873

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Collingwood, Aug. 9 - The Collingwood Tug Wrecking Company have contracted with the insurance companies and the owners to take the wreck of the MARY WARD off the reef where she has been since last November, and to deliver her in dock She will be repaired and placed on the line of the Georgian Bay Transportation Company, between here and Chicago.
      The Toronto Mail
      Monday, August 11, 1873

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The Collingwood Tug Wrecking Co. have contracted with the insurance company and owners to take the wreck of the prop. MARY WARD off the reef, where she has lain since last November and to deliver her in dock.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      August 12, 1873 3-6
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The Collingwood Tug Co. are still at work at the wreck of the MARY WARD, with good hopes of having her raised this week.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      August 25, 1873 3-5
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Collingwood, Aug. 27 - The tug MARY ANN departed to the wreck of the MARY WARD.
      The Toronto Mail
      Thursday, August 28, 1873
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Collingwood, Aug. 28 - Tug MARY ANN and barge went to the wreck of the propeller MARY WARD.
      The Toronto Mail
      Friday, August 29, 1873
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Collingwood, Sept. 3 - Tug MAY ANN arrived from the wreck of propeller MARY WARD, and departed later in the day back to the wreck.
      The Toronto Mail
      Thursday, September 4, 1873
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Collingwood, Sept. 8 - The tug MARY ANN arrived from the wreck of the propeller MARY WARD and departed again for the wreck the same day.
      The Toronto Mail
      Tuesday, September 9, 1873
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Media Type:
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Reason: aground
Lives: 8
Freight: salt, acid, &c.
Remarks: Total loss
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Geographic Coverage:
William R. McNeil
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Mary Ward (Propeller), aground, 24 Nov 1872