The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Georgian (Propeller), C80596, sunk by ice, 9 May 1888

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The steambarge GEORGIAN was lost off Cape Rich near Owen Sound Wednesday night. She got fast in the ice, which stove her in and sunk her almost immediately in 50 fathoms of water, about 20 miles from Owen Sound. The crew got ashore aboard her consort, the GOLDEN HUNTE. The GEORGIAN was owned by Capt. A. Thompson, who sailed her. She was valued at $8,000 and was sailed May 4, from Huron on lake Erie.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Monday, May 14, 1888

      Went Down Near Meaford -- The Engineer Tells The Story Of The Wreck.
Owen Sound, May 12. ---Work came into town on Thursday night that the steamer GEORGIAN had been sunk while coming into harbor here by colliding with the ice in the Sound. This, however, proved untrue, as it appears that the vessel struck and went down while coming from Christian Island towards Meaford, and when about eight or nine miles from that port. Mr. James Baird, the chief engineer of the ill-fated vessel, very kindly gave particulars of the mishap. The GEORGIAN is from St. Catharines, and is described in the Lloyd's as a propeller of 318 tons, built at Matchadash, by Potter in 1864. She had been lately converted into a steambarge, and was bought last year by Capt. A. Thompson and thoroughly overhauled in Toronto last winter. She had at the time of the accident the schooner GOLDHUNTER in tow, and was bringing a load of coal up from Huron, Ohio, for the boat line run by Messrs. Smith & Keighley, of Toronto, from Owen Sound Mr. Baird made the following statement: ----
      We left Toronto, on Saturday 28th of April bound for Huron, Ohio, to load coal. We called at the dry-dock in St. Catharines and had the vessel examined. She appeared to be all right. And after taking on our load we proceeded on our way to Owen Sound. When about half way up Lake Huron we encountered ice.
      Very heavy fields of ice, 40 feet thick and clear solid blocks that had piled up and became solid. We at once slacked up and did not get any hard bumps, and a thorough lookout was kept up to prevent striking. When we came around Cove Island into Georgian Bay we found new ice half an inch thick on the morning of the eighth, and breaking our way through it we found on reaching Cabot's Head that an northeast wind had driven the ice into Owen Sound, and we had to shape our course towards the north shore. We sighted Byng Inlet and from there saw open water south and shaping about made clear water as far as the Christian Islands, where we laid up for the night of the 8th, as the weather was foggy. We had a good breeze aft from Byng Inlet down to the Christian Islands and made a good run. On the morning of the 9th, the fog lifted about 7 a. m. and we started for Owen Sound. The ice was thick, but by taking the weaker spots we crept along at about two miles an hour till about 7 p. m., when we struck rather hard for the first time on a lump that showed very little above water, and looked thin from the bridge. The striking caused no alarm, as the vessel did not shake but from what afterwards occurred a sharp point probably
of the vessel. The first intimation we had of any danger was my seeing water coming in at the fire hole. I at once looked under the boilers, saw a large stream coming through the bulkheads. I at once told the captain and in ten minutes time we had the double action pump and the siphons working, but in the interval the water had risen fully three feet in the fire hole. The captain asked how long before the fires would be out, and I told him ten minutes. He at once ordered the barge back to the tow and we set to work to save what we could. We threw our boxes and all we could lay our hands on into the tow, and as by this time the barge's decks were under water we got the GOLDHUNTER free by setting sail enough to drift her, and had only got about 70 yards from the GEORGIAN when she listed nearly starboard and went down head foremost. Her decks had all burst up and the last we heard of her was the exhaust of the donkey engine still working as she went down. We did not have 45 minutes from the time we saw the water till the GEORGIAN went down.
      We drifted slowly on the schooner and Captain Thompson went with a crew and saved the GEORGIAN's lifeboats. The metallic boat had shot off the deck as she listed over and was riding all right, the other was floating bottom upwards. We drifted all night, keeping close watch and working the pumps as the fog cleared. We made sail and beat up against a head wind till nearly opposite Presque isle, where the captain went ashore and got the tug ANNIE WATT, and we were towed into Owen Sound, getting in at 9 p. m. The GEORGIAN had on about 450 tons of coal for Smith & Keighley and about 40 tons of fuel. The crew lost nearly everything except what they had in their boxes. The ships papers were saved. The GEORGIAN lies in about 300 feet of water, eight miles northeast of Meaford and about eight miles from the nearest land. Everything had been done to manage the vessel properly, and the pumps were tested every two hours. They had been tried shortly before striking.
      Mr. J.S. Russell, second engineer made a statement similar to the above.
      Meaford Monitor
      Friday, May 18, 1888

Steam screw GEORGIAN. Official Canada No. 80596. Of 377 tons gross; 227 tons reg. Built Georgian Bay, 1864. Home port, Toronto, Ont. 130.0 x 21.8 x 11.5. Owned by Canadian Pacific railway, Montreal, Que.
      List of Vessels on the Registry Books of the
      Dominion of Canada on December 31, 1886

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk by ice
Lives: nil
Freight: coal
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.610833 Longitude: -80.587777
William R. McNeil
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Georgian (Propeller), C80596, sunk by ice, 9 May 1888