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* "Built at Sunderland, England, in 1892, the Leafield was registered at Newcastle, length 248 feet, beam 35 feet, gross tonnage 1454. Purchased by the Algoma Central Steamship Line a year or so afterward, she was brought across the North Atlantic to the Great Lakes to carry iron ore, coal and grain. Her 248-foot length permitted easy passage through the St. Lawrence canals.
The night of August 17, 1912 was cloudy and moonless. The ore-laden Leafield, bound for the Midland smelter, had rounded the south end of Giant's Tomb and lined up with the front and rear lights of the Brebeuf Range six miles away. 'Sandy' McIntyre was captain and Jack Pearson was first mate. Off Sawlog Point lay a dangerous shoal, now marked with a red flash gas buoy. Approaching this point Captain McIntyre saw from the front window of his cabin that his vessel had veered from alignment with the range lights. He at once went up the steps to the pilot house over his cabin, pushed the wheelsman aside and re-aligned the vessel. He then impressed upon his wheelsman the extreme importance of keeping her on the lights, left the wheelhouse and went down the steps to his cabin.
All his crew were Canadians. Nevertheless his wheelsman was in perplexity, when after about ten minutes Brebeuf Island barred further progress. His action was astonishing. Throwing his wheel over he swung the Leafield to skirt Brebeuf Island, and then steered straight for the back range light on Beausoleil Island, 2400 feet distant. More than half this distance was covered before the Leafield grounded beside one of the many rocky islets that dot Parnassus Cove.... A gash 140 feet long and 15 feet wide was ripped in her bottom. She was out of service for two months. Salvage and repairs cost $15,000.
On Sunday, November 9, 1913, the reconditioned Leafield with a new commander in the person of Captain Charles Baker, of Collingwood, was down to full draught as she carried a cargo of steel rails from Sault Ste. Marie to Port Arthur. Seventeen other Collingwood men completed the crew, including Arthur Northcott, first mate, with Mr. and Mrs. Willomett as first and second cooks.
That Sunday of 1913 is still the blackest day in the history of navigation on the Great Lakes The 248-foot well-deck freighter received such a terrific pounding from the fierce northerly gale that she foundered in deep water with her entire crew, possibly in the vicinity of Angus Island, fourteen miles southest of Port Arthur, although no trace rewarded the search for her."
(W.R. Williams, "The Leafield was Unlucky," Inland Seas III (1947))
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- Reason: aground
Remarks: Got off
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Latitude: 44.87 Longitude: -79.868333
- William R. McNeil
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- Maritime History of the Great LakesEmail