The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
St. Catharines Constitutional (St. Catharines, ON), August 20, 1856

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The Steamer Welland Burnt - Loss Estimated at £10,000 It is our painful duty to record the total destruction by fire of the magnificent steamer Welland running in connection with the Port Dalhousie & Thorold Railway, between this place and Toronto. She was owned by the town and ably commanded by Captain William Donaldson.

On Friday last, about 7:30 o'clock while lying at her dock at Port Dalhousie, she was discovered to be on fire in the forecastle, by some of the hands who were engaged in preforming their respective duties prior to leaving for Toronto on her regular trip, and every exertion was made by the hands of the boat, and the people of Port Dalhousie, to stay the progress of the devouring element. The Alma Engine Company were promptly on the stop, and as soon as intelligence was received in town, the Union Company, Capt. Lepper, with officers and members of the other fire companies of this place, started over the Port Dalhousie Railway for the scene. All attempts to secure the ill-fated vessel from destruction were fruitless, as a fresh breeze sprung up with great rapidity from bow to stern, and in an incredibly short period the whole vessel was enveloped in a fearful sheet of flame.

The Welland was insured for the sum of $20,000 in the following offices, viz:

Aetna Insurance Office$6,000
British American &d8,000
Star do6,000

Being one third of her net cost, and is now a complete wreck, the town thus losing by the calamity some £10,000 or £12,000. The ill-fated vessel was every way seas-worthy and acknowledged by competent judges of naval architecture, to be perfect in her symmetrical proportions. Her engine and machinery, manufactured by Thos. Towers, Esq., of this town, was of the first order and of superior finish. Calculated for passenger traffic, she was elegantly fitted up, either paint nor expense being spared to render her in every way worthy of popular encouragement, and the merchant and voyageur, to whom she afforded ease and comfort during her trips, and wafted on their way with unerring certainty, will regret her loss as one not be overcome in haste. Bad is the disaster, however, it might have been fearfully worse, as on the previous evening the vessel had been crowded by a pleasure party, bound on a moonlight excursion, the last of which left her about half-past two in the morning, had the catastrophe happened while thus engaged or indeed half-an-hour later than it occurred, with the Toronto passengers on board, the consequences would have been horrible.

Immediately after the melancholy occurrence above related Captain Donaldson and the engineer received instructions to proceed to Montreal to examine and report upon a vessel styled the Blue Bonnet, advertised for sale or charter, and if found suitable for the route, purchase is to be affected forthwith, when she will take the place of the unfortunate Welland. A telegraph dispatched since received from the Captain states that the Blue Bonnet is admirably adapted for the purpose, and if terms can be agreed upon, the delay in resuming the connection with Toronto will be of short duration. Probably by Monday next all arrangements will be perfected, so that no time will be lost in securing to our townsmen and the public at large, that communication which has thus far proved beneficial to our trade, and bids fair to yield ample pecuniary returns.

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August 20, 1856
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Peter Warwick
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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St. Catharines Constitutional (St. Catharines, ON), August 20, 1856