Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oxford (Steamboat), aground, 1 Nov 1855
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In these columns on Mon. 1O inst. we stated the arrival of the steamer OXFORD which had been plying, during the past season between Collingwood and Owen Sound, was daily looked for, as she had left the latter place for this place several days that time, as to her whereabouts we have received the following information...
She is a present ashore on a small island N. W. Birks Island, about 12 miles N of Saugeen. When the OXFORD first left the 'Sound' for Chatham which is about 5 weeks since, she proceeded as far as Colpoys Bay and there was obliged to stay four days owing to the severity of the wind, as she was making ready to proceed on her voyage, from the above bay, in consequence of the carelessness of the Engineer, in allowing the force pump to freeze, she broke the pump arm and was obliged to put back to Owen Sound for repairs. As soon as the necessary repairs were made, she left that port again but shortly after she went out a heavy gale came on from the S. W. which she weathered bravely until she made Cabot's Head where the Captain found the wind from the N. W. and a very heavy sea, which she was unable to stem, obliging him to make a lee under Hang Cliff Point, keeping up steam and cruising about (there being no ancorage) which nearly exhausted her supply of fuel, after a hard-set struggle to hold her position, she succeeded in reaching Tobermurry Harber (sic.) where 5 days were spent in getting a sufficient supply of wood cut.
When she again started out, with the intention of making Charity Island off Saugeen steering S. S. E., when off Cape Hurd a heavy gale came on from the N. W., the sea rolling with terrific fury, this she weathered in fine style until 7 o'clock P.11. when to the surprise and horror of all on board, she struck what is called Big Reef, which she completely jumped at the second bound, landing inside in 18 feet of water, here she hung on for nearly four days at anchor, when that fearful gale, which visited all the north western lakes on the lst. inst. came on. The OXFORD dragged her anchor and was driven on the flat rock ,where she now lies in four feet of water.
The Captain thinks, had he had on board sufficient fuel he might possibly, by taking advantage of the swells, have jumped this ledge and put to sea, but as it was he had no alternative for the safety of the crew and boat than to pursue the course which he did. It is thought possibly that in the Spring the OXFORD may be got out of this basin without much trouble, we are happy to say that all the officers and crew escaped without accident, save exposure. This chain of islands called the Fishing Islands is barren and desolate, totally uninhabited by white men and is only frequented by fishermen and indians occasionally.
While Captain Smith and the crew of the OXFORD were still on the spot, nearly all the small coasting vessels 7 in number were driven ashore, together with the stern and spars &c. of a fine American schconer the name of which was, as nearly as could be ascertained, CANOPAS, she evidently went to pieces outside and probably the crew were all lost between 2 and 3 hundred barrels of apples marked J. G. G. Chicago, came ashore, frorn this vessel, near where the OXFORD is now lying, nany of which were picked up by the fishermen and indians who afterwards visited the spot, but who left the shore covered with that fruit, all of which was of a choice variety.
Captain Smith and crew reached this town on Wed. last all tolerable well and hearty, the Captain however has not yet wholly recovered from the effects of the exposure endured in reaching comfortable quarters after the abandoning of the OXFORD, he being obliged to travel nearly 80 miles over the most dreary section of this Province along roads of the worst possible discription
      Chatham Planet
      Thursday, December 2Oth. 1855

NOTE: The OXFORD was originally the American steamerJOHN HOLLISTER.

Media Type
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Reason: aground
Lives: nil
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original
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Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.771666 Longitude: -81.313611
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Oxford (Steamboat), aground, 1 Nov 1855