The steamer MANASOO owned by the Owen Sound Transportation Co., had formerly been named the MACASSA and as such had plied between Toronto and Hamilton, up until 1927 when she went to Owen Sound. She came into being at Glasgow, Scotland, where she was built in 1888. A later rebuilding in 1905 at Collingwood added 25 feet to her length, bringing it to 178 feet, and increasing her gross tonnage to 529 tons. She was licensed to carry 70 passengers on runs within 100 miles between ports, she carried no radio, and at that time was not compelled to do so. (act. of 1914)
The ship had been laid up for the winter, but it was decided to send her out again, and on this, her last trip which was to the Manitoulin Islands and then back to her home port of Owen Sound, turned out to be her last trip ever. The voyage up to Little Current went well and on Friday, September 14, 1928, at approximately noon, she sailed out of West Bay and headed homewards. On board as cargo were 100 head of cattle, and two passengers, who were cattle drovers, travelling with their herds. The crew who numbered 21 made up the full complement. No trouble was expected as the route was well known, and had been traveled by the MANISOO many times before. Captain McKay wasn't at all concerned when late Friday night a strong west wind whipped the waters of Georgian Bay into a fury. The ship rode the storm well and was abreast of Griffiths Island Light when she no longer answered her wheel properly, became sluggish and hard to control.
The events that followed happened within approximately three minutes; firstly the captain realizing that something was very wrong, sent the first mate below to find out what was happening, but before the mate got back on the bridge, the captain had swung the wheel towards land, hoping to beach the ship on the island. Before any headway was made, however, the engines stopped, water pouring into the engine room had put out the fires. The mate, on getting back on deck after seeing that the ship was doomed, ordered the lifeboats lowered. This was started and when only one boat was in the water, the old MANASOO rolled on her side, slowly reared her bow into the air and slid, stern first, to the bottom.
Art Middlebro, who was working on the ship as the purser, had gone to his cabin for the night. He hung his keys on a bent nail in the wall and was preparing for bed, when he was flung off his feet by a lurch of the ship. He noticed that the keys were hanging parallel to the ceiling instead of to the wall, and were staying that way, so he grabbed a life preserver, and clad only in his underwear, clambered out of the cabin and dived into the dark water just before the ship started to go down.
Roy Fox was an oiler on the ship. He was still aboard when the MANASOO stared her downward plunge and he was sucked part way down, but somehow found himself back on the surface. Being close to a raft which had broken loose or had been cut adrift at the last moment, this raft was the means of saving five persons, the only survivors, these were; the Captain; first Mate; Chief Engineer; the Purser; the oiler and a passenger.
Somehow or other, these six men got aboard the raft when they saw the life-boat upside-down with only two men clinging to it. Later they watched as the two men were washed off and swallowed by the waves. For sixty hours they clung to the raft, always wet, with the waves constantly washing over them, numbed by the cold as the night's temperature dropped to near freezing. The Chief Engineer only a few hours away from rescue, died of exposure and his coveralls were stripped from him and given to the purser who was, as mentioned earlier, clad only in summer underwear. The Chief's body had to be pushed into the water as the raft was leaking and couldn't hold them all.
The raft had started out near Griffith's Island and it drifted almost to Christian Island, and then the wind changed and blew it all the way back to about the very spot where the ship had sunk, and it was there that the steamer MANITOBA spotted them and rescued all five.
One body was later washed in, but he had dies from being choked by his life-preserver, not by drowning. His preserver had worked itself around his neck in such a manner as to chock him. Lots of wreckage was strewn on the coastline for miles around, indicating that the upper decks had been smashed to pieces, even pieces of decking were picked up, but there was no definite reason given for the sinking. Even the Captain, after a week in hospital, said he had no idea what had been wrong with his ship -- various thoughts were put forward and these were: - First the ship must have sprung a leak near the stern because she was filling with water when the mate went below; the second was the cattle had been penned by a wooden partition which had been built down the center of the ship, it was thought that the cattle had broken that partition, and during a shift were all thrown to one side, causing the ship to settle on her side, considerably contributed to her sinking.
The MANISOO went down approximately 2 1/2 miles East, and abreast of the Griffiths Island Light, the owners claim it was in 51 fathoms app.
taken from the Toronto Telegram
various pieces dated Sept. 1928
. . . . .
Propeller MACASSA. Official Canadian No. 93932. Of 529 tons gross; 234 tons reg. Built at Port Glasgow, G.B., in 1898 and rebuilt at Collingwood, Ont. in 1905. 178.4 x 24.1 x 16.3 and 95 horse power. Owned by the Canada Steamship Lines, Montreal, Que.
List of Vessels on Registry Books of the Dominion
of Canada on the 31st. Day of December, 1920
MACASSA, Built Glasgow 1888, rebuilt Collingwood in 1905, renamed MANASOO in 1928, Canadian Official No. 93932. Of 529 tons gross. 178 x 24 x 16. DISPOSITION:-- Rebuilt barge 1936
Preliminary List of Canadian Steamships
Inland & Coastal, 1809 - 1930
Canada Steamship Lines Record. MACASSA.
Ship Particulars, History, Notes, etc.
Category Fleet Lists
This record was created from a CSL fleet list
SECTION A: BASIC SHIP PARTICULARS
OFFICAL NO.: 93932
TYPE: R2 (Pass. & Ft.)
YEAR BUILT: 1888
BUILDER: William Hamilton & Co.
COUNTRY WHERE BUILT: Scotland
LBP: 154.33 (lengthened to 178.33 1905 @ Collingwood Shipyards)
MOULDED DEPTH: 16.25
GROSS TONNAGE: 529 (after lengthening)
NET TONNAGE: 234 (after lengthening)
SECTION B: OWNERSHIP/NAME CHANGES/DISPOSAL
CSL OWNERSHIP DATES:
VESSEL'S OTHER NAME: Manasoo
YEAR VESSEL NAME OWNERSHIP/COMMENTS
1888-1912 Macassa Hamilton Steamboat Co. Hamilton Ont. Ca.
1912-12 Macassa Niagara Navigation Co., Ltd.
Toronto Ont. Ca.
1914-28 Macassa C.S.L.
September 15, 1928 Foundered near Owen Sound, Georgian Bay, o/p West Bay
Owen Sound, cattle.
This ship was the 2nd of the 3 stars of the Hamilton Steamboat Co.
Their names all began with "M" and ended with "A", Mazeppa, Macassa and
SECTION C: CONSTRUCTION
SHIPYARD: Hamilton & Co.
SHIPYARD LOCATION: Port Glasgow
HULL NUMBER: 64
DATE OF DELIVERY: 1888 (07/06)
HULL: Steel 2 decks.
HULL CONSTRUCTION: Rivetted, Trans. Frames.
SUPERSTRUCTURE: Wood & light steel 1 funnel, 1 mast ford of pilot
house. After lengthening fore mast moved behind
wheelhouse and main mast added
SECTION D: REBUILDS AND ALTERATIONS
This ship was lengthened in Collingwood Shipyards Dry Dock in 1905 and
because her proportion of length to beam was now so out of line, she
became a dreadful roller. In 1928 the accommodations on the upper deck
were extended out to the full beam to make her a night boat. These
changes all contributed to her loss by capsize the first year after the
SECTION E: ENGINE AND MECHANICAL
ENGINE TYPE: SR (Twin screw TE)
CYLINDERS: 6 (2@11, 2@18, 2@29)
TURBINES: Not Applicable
AT (RPM): 135
YEAR BUILT: 1888
YEAR INSTALLED: 1888
ENGINE BUILDER: Kemp, William
PLACE BUILT: Port Glasgow, Scotland
NUMBER OF BOILERS: 1
TYPE: Cyl. SE 3 furn. WP 150
YEAR BUILT: 1888
YEAR INSTALLED: 1888
BOW THRUSTER: NIL
STERN THRUSTER: NIL
Marine Museum of the Great Lakes
NOTE: -- The Preliminary list gives the MANISOO as having been rebuilt as a barge in 1936, this seems very unlikely ??