The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
C. C. Martin (Propeller), C116670, sunk, 21 Aug 1911

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      Byng Inlet, Ont.. Aug. 24. û By the sinking of the barge ALBATROSS of Midland in a storm on Monday night, it is believed the tug C. C. MARTIN was dragged down and Capt. Vent of Midland, his wife and eight men were all drowned.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Thursday, August 24, 1911 11 - 5

      . . . . .
      Went Down With Barge When it Foundered During Fierce Storm, it is Believed.
Byng Inlet, Ont., Aug 25. û The barge ALBATROSS, of Midland, Capt. Dean, foundered in Georgian Bay, off French River, on Monday night, according to word brought by survivors, and it is practically certain that the tug C. C. MARTIN, of Midland, Capt. Vent, which had the barge in tow, was dragged down with her.
      The tug carried, beside the Captain and his wife, a crew of eight. Seven persons from the barge reached Byng Inlet. Nothing has been heard of the tug.
      While in tow of the MARTIN, Monday afternoon, the ALBATROSS struggled valiantly against the storm. But after the wind and waves had battered the plunging tug and barge for several hours, the line strained and all hands took to the yawl. The ALBATROSS immediately sank. All trace of the MARTIN was lost and Capt. Dean of the ALBATROSS rigged a makeshift sail and reached the French River.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Friday, August 25, 1911 7 - 5

      Apalling Disaster on East Shore of Georgian Bay
      Those on Board Barge Escape After Terrific Battle in the Storm,
      But Tug or Crew Have Not Been Heard From Since Monday Night
      One of the worst disasters on the Georgian Bay in recent years has evidently occurred on the East Shore of the Bay, off French River. In the terrific storm that raged on Monday night the barge Albatross, of Midland, foundered, and it is feared the tug C. C. Martin, also of Midland, which had the barge in tow, has gone down to the bottom. Capt Dean and the others on board the Albatross escaped the boat, but it is feared that the crew of eight on the tug Martin have met
death. It is thought that the sinking barge pulled the tug down with her.
The Sun was informed by long distance telephone from Midland just before going "to press that no word had been received of the Martin and it is believed that she is lost with all on board and no hope is held out for her safety.
The crew of the Martin which has gone to the bottom is as foIlows:-
      Capt. Geo. Vent.
      Mrs. Vent.
      Richard Melia
      Robert Hoop.
      Ernest Hughie
      Charles Oliver and two others whose names are not known at present. All the crew are from Midland.
      The Albatross crew reached Byng Inlet on Wednesday and told a harrowing tale. The barge sprang a leak and was fast sinking, when all on board managed to pile into the small yawl before the vessel sank. She was in tow of the tug as she settled, and this circumstance leads Capt. Dean to believe that in foundering she drew the tug down with her.
      "I could not get the tug to notice our signals," the Capt. Says, "otherwise she might have altered her course and pulled us out of the trough, in which our timbers were being pounded in.
      She did not know ,I fear, the sinking state of the barge in time to cut adrift and save herself" The Albatross party includes Capt. Dean, his wife, his niece, Mrs Alex. Buchanan of Moose Jaw, her children, Miss Clementine Labelle, of Ottawa, and one sailor named Joseph St Peter. They were brought to Byng Inlet by Capt. Louis Lamondie, light- house keeper, whose wharf they were able to make in an exhausted condition Tuesday night. They had not a bite to eat for thirty-six hours. The thirteen-foot yawl in which they had been buffeted about in a raging sea were more than half-full of water, and the condition of the party was most pitiable.
      Capt. Dean of the Albatross tells the following story:- "We left Penetang on Sunday morning, bound for French River, to take on lumber for Mr. Polman of Midland," he says. "Reaching Point au Baril we tied up for a time, and then proceeded, but put about almost, for a storm was on and it looked too dangerous to run into it. At midnight, however we again cleared, although we were advised not to go out in the teeth of the fierce gale then blowing.
      For many hours we encountered the worst blow I ever experienced in all my sailing life of forty three years. I gave up hope of ever weathering it. Hearing some noise from a spaniel and her litter that I had aboard I went below, and was horrified to find four feet of water in the hold and the vessel leaking fast. Our pumps were to no avail. I then decided that we must take to the yawl, for I knew the barge was doomed. We men helped the women and children into the yawl, then jumped for it ourselves, to find it half full of water and the seas breaking over it, so that we expected every moment to be swamped. It was pitch black, and the wind howled frightfully.
      Miss Labelle was the only one who could bail. I had to row, and my mate set in the bow and directed me how to steer my course so as to avoid the combers. We tossed about for a long time. Suddenly an empty yawl hove in sight. It was a God-send. We managed to lay hold of it and so ease our boat of some of its occupants. The yawl belonged to the tug Martin and had part of the davits attached. All that night and next day we drifted helplessly. I took an observation when the sun appeared for a while, and found that we were off Byng Inlet lighthouse which finally we made. Four times have I been shipwrecked. This is my worst experience. I don't know how the women and children ever survived the terrible experience.
The tug Martin was owned by Capt. Vent and Mr. Farrer, also of Midland, and was a frequent visitor to Owen Sound harbor, as was also the barge. Mr. Farrer and others are now searching for any trace of the tug. The barge was 160 feet over all and 37 feet beam, carrying a cargo of three hundred and fifty thousand feet. She was insured.
      The Owen Sound Sun
      August 25, 1911
      [Courtesy of Bill Hester]

      Cabin Doors and Sides Found 18 Miles From Point Aux Baril
      Nine or Ten People Parish
      The worst fears as to the fate of the tug C .C. Martin of Midland would seem to be only too well grounded. That the vessel is lost with all on board, is the general belief Although over a week has elapsed since she disappeared with the sinking barge Albatross, near French River, not a word has been heard of the tug or any of those on board. and all hope has been abandoned. Any doubt as to the loss of the tug were set at rest by finding yesterday of wreckage from the vessel, which was picked up about eighteen miles off this port by the fish tug W. M. Oldfield. The wreckage consisted of the doors and sides of the cabin and some pillow cushions, recognized by people here who had been on the Martin as belonging to the tug. There are some who in discussing the probabilities, seem to think that the crew may have got ashore on some island, and having no yawl, they are unable to make their plight known, and must await the succer that will come later on from some quarter or another. This view of the situation is however, hardly borne out by the facts as known. The Martin had in tow, in a tremendous sea a big barge and the barge sprung a leak and foundered, sinking so quick that those aboard the tug had no time to cut the tow line and thus save their craft from being dragged down with her escort.
The tug Davidson, of the same fleet as the Martin has been on the search for the missing boat, in addition to other boats.
      The story of Capt. Dean master of the barge Albatross is to the effect that the tug was labouring fearfully with lights out, and that the distance which separated the craft 250 feet was too great for communication, even with the megaphone, so loud was the roar of the tempest. He tried in vain to signal the tug before he and his fellows on board the sinking barge climbed into the little yawl and cut adrift. Into this thirteen foot boat a mere skiff, seven people piled. Braving a sea running mountains high. With but two oars and they not mates, which only a frail girl using a tin pail to bail, e seven weathered the furious gale and were saved. The staunch little tug built to stand a sea, new and well quipped and manned, was it is believed not equal to the fury of the storm, and sank into the depths, blotting out nine or ten lives.
      No one is prepared to account for the fortunate interposition of the tug's yawl, which floated to the relief of the seven victims of the wrecked Albatross, saved them from a watery grave. At the moment this boat hove in sight the occupants of the barge yawl were exhausted, and had given up all hope. The sight of it inspired them with fresh courage, and when it came into requisition they renewed their fight with the billows and finally won out. This yawl may
have broken from the tug or may have been purposely sent adrift to aid them. However this may be, it was their salvation.
      George Vent and Mrs. Vent. They had four children. Rich and Melia, single; Robert Hook, Ernest Hughie and Charles Oliver~ the latter is married and has four children. Hook is also a married man. Others on the tug were W. Martin, F. McQuinn, F. Busuurne. It is thought there was another man on board.
      The Marine Department will be asked to hold a strict enquiry into the foundering of the barge Albratoss and the tug C. C. Martin. It is claimed that the so- called stonn did not exceed a sixteen-mile an hour wind, and that a boat should not have taken long to reach the islands which are hardly ever out of sight oh the course taken by the vessels particularly with the wind blowing on shore.
      The Owen Sound Sun
      August 29,1911
      [Courtesy of Bill Hester]


      The Raft of the IllI-fated Martin
      By the Rev. J. J. Elliot, in Saturday's "Globe"
      One of the saddest tragedies of the lakes, and one of the most mysterious, was the loss, with all hands, of the tug C. C. Martin of Midland. The first report of the disaster was to the effect that the barge Albatross in tow of the Martin, foundered within sight of the lights of Key Harbour, dragging the tug down with it. Apparently this report was not correct, but just what did happen will probably never be known. It will be remembered that the two boats left Penetanguishene on the twentieth of August, for the French River, where the barge was to be loaded with lumber for a finD at Midland, On Monday the boats lay at Pointe aux Baril, in shelter from a gale which was blowing on the lake. About six that evening Captain Vent pulled out of the harbour, and pointed for his destination at French River, The seas were still running high and the night promised to be dark and windy.
      About 11 o'clock the attention of Captain Dean, on the barge, was attracted by the whining of a spaniel in the hold of the boat. Looking down through the hatchway, he was astounded to find the dog swimming in water and the barge apparently in a sinking condition. He immediately secured a torch and tried to signal the tug, which was labouring heavily in the trough of the sea. Captain Vent noticed the signal and waved his hand from the pilothouse. Immediately thereafter shouts and screams came across the water, the lights on the tug went out, and nothing further heard but the roaring wind and waves. To all appearance the tug had capsized and sunk in the deep water.
      The imagination can hardly picture a more hopeless situation than that which now faced the crew and passengers on the barge. The boat was going down at midnight in a stormy sea, and all that lay between seven souls and death was a little yawl with two mismatched oars. This frail bark must save two men, three women and two little children, one of them an infant two months old. Yet Captain Dean and his mate, St Peter, succeeded in transferring all the passengers and getting them safely ashore. Nine hours of rowing and bailing the boat had brought the party to the verge of despair, when the yawl of the tug hove in sight and drifted near them. This gave the men new courage. Both boats were pressed into service and the light house at Byng Inlet was reached at 3 o'clock on Tuesday night, twenty-one hours after the party had left the sinking barge.
      Now comes the sequel Two weeks afterwards the body of Engineer Robt.. Hook was found on a rock near Point au Baril, twenty-five miles southeast of where the tug was lost. A raft was picked up a mile or more away, among a group of rough pointed rocks, in the Black Bills. A few days later the bodies of McQuain, the cook, and Hughie the fireman, were found in the same locality. These with the raft, were brought to Midland on Saturday, Sept 16th by Captain Oldfield on the tug Frank L.
      The raft as it lay on the wharf in the bright sunshine was an object of fascinating interest to the people of the town. It was in truth a message from the dead. Sorrowing friends with saddened eyes spelled the name of the dead engineer scratched on the panel of the cabin door, laying their hands on the wood as if to wring from it the message it could not speak. Men who had been accustomed to water all their lives scrutinised the workmanship and gave their strongly
expressed opinion that the tug did not founder suddenly. It may have struck a hidden rock, or it may have shipped enough water to put out the fire and disable the engine, at any rate, time was given the crew sufficient to construct a life- raft in a workmanlike manner. There was no panic. When the yawl had in some unaccountable way broken the "painter" and slipped away into the darkness the men quietly gave their thoughts to the last forlorn hopemaking, of a raft. Cabin and engine room doors are wrenched from their hinges and securely fastened together. The nails are clinched into wood. There is no nervous hurry, no bent nails or wrong strokes of the hammer, as if the men had worked by uncertain light. Every nail serves its right purpose. The flagstaff is laid across the centre and secured with ropes. Nails again are driven through the ropes to prevent their slipping. A life line is stretched from comer to comer.
Someone even thinks of a trolling line and hook as a possible necessity. Nothing is forgotten no precaution was neglected. It was at the best a frail structure to launch on the stormy water, and yet with the aid of life preservers and a favouring wind the chances were that some if not all would escape a watery grave.
      As it was, the raft. With its precious freight, was probably carried far out from land and so eluded the notice of the steam tugs, gasoline and fishing boats that ply along the north shore. The pitiable part of the tragedy is that at least some of the crew did not drown, but perished from exhaustion or starvation.
      The raft is a mute testimony to the fact that the men who do business on our lakes know how to meet dangerous emergency with cool resourcefulness and determined courage and if needs be to die the death that brave men should.
      The Owen Sound Sun
      October, 10,1911
      [Courtesy of Bill Hester]

Steam screw C.C. MARTIN. Official Canada No. 116670. Of 70 tons gross. Built Twelve Mile Bay, Ont., 1906. Home port, Midland, Ont. 71.0 x 16.0 x 8.0
      Herman Runge List

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Reason: sunk
Lives: 11
Remarks: Total loss
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 45.515555 Longitude: -81.070277
William R. McNeil
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C. C. Martin (Propeller), C116670, sunk, 21 Aug 1911