The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Rothesay Castle (Steamboat), strunk wreck, sunk, 15 Aug 1875

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Steamer ROTHSAY CASTLE, full of passengers, struck on a sunken wreck in Toronto Harbor Monday and went down in eight feet of water. Passengers all landed in safety. She was raised on Thursday and taken to Port Dalhousie dry-dock. Meantime the PICTON has taken her place in connection with the Canada Southern.
      Amherstburg Echo
      August 20, 1875
      . . . . .
This steamer left Tinning's wharf yesterday afternoon with a gay party of excursionists - some 300 - for a short sail on the lake, as the vessel had to start on her usual trip to Niagara at 4 o'clock to bring back a large party who had gone in the morning to visit Queenston Heights. The party on the afternoon excursion went out marely for a sail on the lake, and, the preperations aboard were ample for their enjoyment. On their return, the course of the
vessel was laid, to enter the Eastern Gap, and with this purpose the steamer was steered from the west in order to reach the channel.
When approaching the Gap and at some distance from the shore, and while all the company, passengers and crew were in the height of enjoyment, the vessel suddenly struck with a force that nearly threw the promenaders off their feet. For a moment the stoutest heart of the three hundred felt that sudden nervousness that succeedes the conviction of immediate disaster. Capt. Wyatt was on board, and happily, having taken in the whole situation, he, with Capt. Donaldson, passed among the passengers, assuring them that no danger existed. Capt. Wyatt had, however, with true nautical skill, ordered the lowering of the boats, six in number, which was instantly done, each boat being fully and completely equipped with it's officer commanding and crew. The boats were in the water almost before the company was aware of the peril in which they were placed. It was entirely owing to the coolness and admiral display of judgment on the part of Capt. Wyatt and Capt. Donaldson that a panic did not seize the passengers. There was not really any reason for alarm, as the water-tight compartments of the steamer aft, were a complete safeguard against foundering. The passengers were so well assured of this, that although the steamers six boats were out, and five hundred life preservers were lying on board within reach of all, no one got into the boats, and only two person resorted to the preservers were two gentlemen, who it was thought, even by the ladies on board, shewed am "uncommon" concern for their own safety. The vessel had, by it's onward impetus passed over the obstruction on which it struck, and was headed for the Island. They ran about 500 yards when the leak in the forward part of the vessel, gained such ground, putting out the fires, that the steamer settled in about 15 feet of water. This submerged the forward part of the vessel up to the main deck, the vessel aft, where the passengers were, being still floating, in consequence of the mode of constructien, with it's bulk heads, rendering the sinking of the boat, unless by complete wreck, impossible. Being satisfied of this, which was an instance of the faith placed in the assertions and skill of the officers on board, it was only a question of time as to when the passengers would be placed in safety.
Signals of distress soon took out to the stranded vessel all the available carrying force in the harbour, consisting of the steamers TRANSIT, PRINCESS, and the tugs CLARKE and JONES, and the passengers were taken on shore without the loss of a single tress of hair or neck ribbon. It is due to the officers named that a panic had not seized the company; had it done so, probably a most melancholy loss of life would have been the result. The vessel will be on her accustomed route in a few days, Capt. Wyatt having in the meanwhile chartered the steamer ARMENIAN to fill her place. It may be stated the obstruction on which the ROTHESAY CASTLE struck was the boiler of the steamer MONARCH, which sank there some 12 or 14 years ago. To make the spot more fatal, it is not more than three years ago since a schooner loaded with stone, struck on the same spot, broke to pieces, and sank with its cargo, making the locality almost a reef. It has been long known that this was a dangerous spot, and it was greatly desired that it should be marked out. But it was outside the limits of the Harbour, and our Commissioners never did anything about it. It is likely a buoy will be placed there immediately.
      Toronto Daily Globe
      Tuesday, August 17, 1875
      . . . . .
      THE ROTIIESAY CASTLE. -- This vessel lies about 250 yards from the east point of the Island, bows pointing north-east. The water is about eight feet deep at the bows, and nine feet at the stern of the boat, and flows over the main deck to the depth of two or three
inches. Divers were at work yesterday to find the extent of the damage done, and steps were taken last night to stop the leak. Scows and steam pumps will arrive today, and by tommorow night the boat may be on the way to the dry-dock. She was insured for $20,000
in three companies. The steamer PICTON will take the place of the ROTHESAY CASTLE, making, however, only one trip a day to Niagara and Youngstown, coming in here at 9.50 in the morning from the ports named.
      Toronto Daily Globe
      Wednesday, August 18, 1875
      . . . . .
      THE ROTHESAY CASTLE, -- The work of raising this vessel is proceeding. A steam pump is getting the water out of the after part of the boat and she was considerably lighter yesterday evening. The PICTON is filling the place of the "CASTLE".
      Toronto Daily Globe
      Friday, August 20, 1875
      . . . . .
The steamer ROTHESAY CASTLE was taken over to the Island and put in seven feet of water for the purpose of putting the pontoons under her bottom before going into the dry-dock, for which place she will leave this morning. The operation of docking her is being done by Captain Fortier, Marine Inspector, Royal Canadian Insurance Co., and Mr. Donelly the diver.
      Toronto Daily Globe
      Friday, September 2, 1875
      . . . . .
The ROTHESAY CASTLE was towed over yesterday morning to Port Dalhousie, where she will be placed in dry-dock, and the necessary repairs to her hull attended to.
      Toronto Daily Globe
      Tuesday, September 7, 1875

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: strunk wreck, sunk
Lives: nil
Remarks: Repaired
Date of Original:
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.634444 Longitude: -79.370833
William R. McNeil
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Rothesay Castle (Steamboat), strunk wreck, sunk, 15 Aug 1875