The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Magdala (Schooner), C55948, aground, 13 Oct 1885

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      Oshawa, Oct. 13. -- The schooner MAGDALA, Capt. Farewell, coal laden for J. O. Guy & Son of this place, dragged her anchors and went ashore west of the pier during the gale today.
      The schooner is laying easy, full of water, and the seas making a clean sweep over her. The crew are still on board, being unable to come ashore until the storm moderates.
      Toronto Globe
      Wednesday, October 14, 1885
      . . . . .
      Special to The Evening Telegram.
      Oshawa, July 12 -- Very low water in Lake Ontario has almost brought to the surface wreckage of an old
wooden boat or barge that lies aproximately 150 yards from shore and west of Oshawa harbor.
      Since the wreckage is considered a menace to bathers, Fire Chief W. R. Elliott is superintending removal of
the old hulk, and yesterday afternoon several charges of dynamite were set off to remove the timbers from the sand.
      When informed of the position of the wreckage last night, George Farewell, of Harmony, son of the late
Captain George Farewell, expressed opinion the wreckage would be that of the schooner MAGDALA, which was lost about.1885.
      "That.would be the old MAGDALA all right," Mr. Farewell said. My father owned her and she went to pieces on the rocks there about 1885."
The Magdala, Mr. Farewell recalled, was bringing in a cargo of coal for J. 0. Guy, harbor master at Oshawa harbor at that time. She was caught in a strong south-east storm and was swept towards Oshawa beach. So strong was the storm that the boat dragged her anchor until the ship grounded.
      Next day Captain Farewell and his crew came ashore in the ship's boat and with favorable weather for several days the cargo of coal was removed. But before the MAGDALA could be floated again another storm came up from the southeast and the ship pounded to pieces on the rocks.
Lieutenant William Culing of the Oshawa Fire Department, who is assisting Fire Chief W. H. Elliott in removing the old wreck, and who has been acquainted with Oshawa harbor and the lakeshore in that vicinity for 31 years, expressed opinion that the schooner MAGDALA was wrecked further west.
      "I think myself it must be the hulk of an old stone hooker," Culling informed the Telegram. "But it is fairly well buried, in the sand and it is hard to tell yet."
      Culling related that years ago stonehookers and larger schooners used to anchor on the west side of the dock about the position of the wreck they are working on. At that time there was fairly deep water there. Is is his belief that a stonehooker may have capsized there at one tim,e and was never refloated.
      From observations made yesterday Lt. Culling claimed there was about thirty feet of flat bottomed hull. The
wood seems to be quite smooth but there are long iron bars extending upwards about two or three feet in length. These bars are five eighths of an inch square heavy spikes three-eighths of an inch square and six to
seven inches in length are imbedded in the wood.
      Several firemen who assisted vith the work yesterday claimed the wood broken away by the blasting was
white oak. The wood is long grained, very heavy and seems in excellent condition despite many years under
      P. C. Claude Harvey, who did deep diving for salvage companies on the Great Lakes before entering police work, examined the wreckage and expressed the opinon that it was an old schooner. He contended, that much more of the hull might extend under the sand and that a keel might be found underneath.
      Salvage operations, will have to be continued until all the wreckage is removed, for it is a menace to bathers, due to the iron spikes and iron rods sticking up. The top of the hull is less than four feet under water.
      Reginald Smith, who lives at Oshawa-on-the-Lake, and whose father sailed the Great Lakes for many years, expressed the opinion that the wreckage might be that of the Shooner HELEN, vhich was lost just west of Oshawa harbor about fifteen years ago. He recalled that the schooner was grounded during a southeast gale and that it pounded to pieces with 150 tons of coal on board. He believed the schooner HELEN was owned by John Gouldring of Newcastle.
      "Of course there have been so many schooners wrecked along this shore that it is hard to tell, what it is," Mr. Smith said. "It might even be the wreck of Captain Farewell's boat.
      There was some talk around the harbor Iast night that the wreckage was that of the schooner FLORA EMMA. George Farewell, however, contended the FLORA EMMA was wrecked while trying to make the entrance to Oswego harbor in a storm.
      Toronto Telegram
      July 12, 1935
      . . . . .
      Sure Oshawa Harbor Wreck Is That Of Schooner MAGDALA, Pounded To Pieces By Gale.
      (special to the Evening telegram)
      Oshawa, July 13. -- The wreckage found only a short distance off the beach, west of Oshawa harbor, is that of Captain Farewell's schooner, the MAGDALA, James Smith of Detroit, who is now visiting at Oshawa-on-the-Lake for many years and sailed the Great Lakes in the old lake schooners for twelve years. He remembers well the night the MAGDALA was wrecked and recalls other shipwercks near Oshawa harbor.
      "That's part of the hull of the old MAGDALA all right," Smith informed the Telegram last night, referring to the wreckage which Oshawa firemen are attempting to take from the lake. "It's several hundred yards east of where the MAGDALA piled up, but the bottom could easily shift that much during the years. There would be nothing to stop it from shifting.
      "I remember well the night the old MAGDALA piled up," James Smith recalled. " I was quite yound then, but I remember the schooner was waiting outside of Oshawa harbor to move in and unload a cargo of coal. A gale from the southeast blew up and Captain Farewell tried to anchor, but the anchors dragged and before morning the schooner was grounded. It was blown right in alongside Guy's Point.
      "After the gale blew out most of the cargo of coal was removed from Her," James Smith said. :Captain Farewell was going to try and float her again by filling the hold with empty coal oil barrels, and he planned to sail her to the Welland Canal and put her in drydock for repairs.
      But before she was floated a nasty gale from the west blew up one night and next morning the wreckage of the schooner was strewn all along the beach, all the way from the dock to Guy's Point.
      "I remember helping to salvage the anchors and other things of value." Mr. Smith recalled.
      From the description of the wood, the square spikes and long square iron rods found in the wreckage off Oshawa beach, Smith pointed out that it must be an old schooner, for the construction was of that nature in those days. The planks were fastened to the ribs with long spikes and then the planks were held together by means of the long iron rods which passed through the center of the planks and were riveted there.
      The loss of the schooner CALEDONIA over fifty years ago, of the Bluff Point, east of Oshawa harbor, was also recalled by Smith. He believes that on a clear day, when the water is smooth and still, the wreckage could be seen on the bottom there. The anchors and iron fittings of the boat were never sdalvaged.
      "It was in the late fall when the CALEDONIA went aground in a southeast gale," Smith claimed. "I was just a kid then, but the next day my mother and I were sailing to Oswego on the schooner BERMUDA, with Captain Allen. When we passed the point bound for Whitby, we could see the CALEDONIA out there on the rocks. It was loaded with coal too."
      Mr. Smith was of the opinion the CALEDONIA was a two-masted schooner, about 120 feet in length and about 300 tons.
      He also remembers the wreck of the schooner HELEN about fifteen years ago off Bluff Point. It was sailed by Captain Gouldring of Newcastle, who was able to come ashore in a punt. Most of the fittings of value were saved from this boat, which was a small stonehooker, but the wreckage, Mr. Smith believes, may still be seen under the water a short distance out from Bluff Point.
      "I gave up sailing 27 years ago, when the business became unprofitable and the owners could not pay their crews enough to make it worth while." Mr. Smith said. He recalled sailing on the schooners OCEAN WAVE, TRADE WIND, COLLIER, the WILLIAM KEMMERSON and the KEEWATIN.
      Toronto Telegram
      July 13, 1935

Schooner MAGDALA. Official Canada No. 55948. Of 165 tons reg. Built Quebec, 1868. Home port, Quebec. 105.0 x 25.3 x 9.4. Owned by George Farewell, of Oshawa, Ont.
      List of Vessels on the Registry Books of the
      Dominion of Canada on Dec. 31, 1886

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Item Type:
Reason: aground
Lives: nil
Freight: coal
Remarks: Total loss
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.8675 Longitude: -78.825555
William R. McNeil
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Magdala (Schooner), C55948, aground, 13 Oct 1885