The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Empress of Midland (Propeller), C125428, aground, 1 May 1912

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May Release Stranded Steamer To-Day
      The Str. Empress of Midland one of the fleet of the inland Lines, has been in a serious position at Cabot Head, since last Thursday at 11a.m. when she ran hard aground in a dense fog. The steamer is one of the largest carriers of the fleet and is in charge of Capt. Baxter of this town. So far all efforts to release the steamer have been unsuccessful, but it is expected that she may be taken off today or tomorrow.
      The Str. Empress of Midland was on her way from Midland to Cleveland and was rwming light. She was going at full speed through a dense fog when she went ashore at a point two miles west of Cabots Head Lighthouse. She is six feet out of the water at the bow and about 11/2 feet out at the stern. Her position leaves her exposed to a northeast gale, but so far the weather has been extremely favourable. The bow is resting on a large flat rock, but the aft part of the vessel is on rough boulders and it is thought that the damage to the stern is serious.
      How the vessel got on the shore is somewhat of a puzzle to marine men, as she was at least a mile and a half out of her course, but it is understood that the fog horn at Cabots Head -:failed to give warning to the approaching steamer.
The Tug Traveller of Midland and the wrecking outfit of the Reid Wrecking Co, of Sarnia have been at work on the steamer almost continually since the accident. At present they are using hydraulic packs to release the ship from the rocks, when she will be pulled off by the tugs.
The extent of the damage is not yet known but it is feared will be serious. She will be taken to Collingwood drydock.
      The Owen Sound Sun
      May 7,1912

      Amateur Lighthouse Man Blamed For Grounding of Boat and Dismissal of Captain
      Since its advent to office last October the new government at Ottawa has been making a record for itself in Dismissing refonn office holders and employees, but in no department has the axe been brought down with such frequency as in the Marine and Fisheries dept. Lighthouse keepers long and faithful in the service have been dismissed without justification, the only thing held against them being the unpardonable sin of having been appointed by the Liberal Government. On the Georgian Bay many faithful and efficient lighthouse men were dropped at the end of the last season and in almost every case replaced by inexperienced and in some places by incompetent men. The efficiency of the lighthouse service has been seriously impaired and vessels of all kinds endangered. So far the grounding of the Str. Empress of Midland at Cabot's Head has been the most serious result. The new keeper of the Cabots Head light was unfamiliar with the large fog horn with which this important station is equipped and during the
dense fog on that date was unable to operate the plant. The officers of Str. Empress of Midland running from Midland to Lake Huron were unable to pick up their position because the fog horn was out of business and ran aground sustaining serious damage. Capt. J. L. Baxter; of this town, who was in charge of the steamer, has lost his position over the affair, on the demand of the Canadien Lakes Protection Association.
      There is no doubt about the inability of the man in charge of the Cabots Head light and the fact that the Government steamer Simcoe almost met the same fate as the Empress of Midland a few minutes later proves that the fog horn was not working. The Simcoe was stopped in the nick of time and actually struck a shoal only a short distance from the Cabots Head light. The assistant lighthouse inspector who was aboard the Simcoe investigated the matter and sent for the old lighthouse man to stay with the new keeper and show him how to run the horn.
      Capt. Baxter is the innocent victim of the Government's wholesale dismissal of faithful lighthouse keepers. While the technical point on which he was laid off is that he was running more than slow speed in the fog, the fact remains that if a competent man had been in charge of the light the accident would not have occurred. Capt. Baxter's log registered only 52 miles from Giant's Tomb Island, whereas the actual distance from the point to Cabot's Head was 58 miles,
and he had every reason to believe he was out in the open lake at least six miles from shore and was running the boat at her usual speed-which any captain would do in the open lake. It is evident too that the log was not registering correctly.
The Government should be approached on Capt. Baxter's behalf as he is a direct sufferer from their action in replacing competent lighthouse keepers by inexperienced men, evidently for purely party purposes. Capt. Baxter has a splendid record as a mariner and the people of Owen Sound who are in touch with the facts are indignant about his dismissal.
      The Owen Sound Sun
      May 28,1912

Steam screw EMPRESS OF MIDLAND. Official Canada Number, 125428. Of 2,224 Tons Gross. Built Newcastle, England in 1907. Of 252.0 x 42.5 x 23.2. She struck an enemy mine in the English Channel and sunk March 27, 1916, a total loss
      Herman Runge Notes

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Reason: aground
Lives: nil
Remarks: Got off
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 45.240555 Longitude: -81.3
William R. McNeil
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Empress of Midland (Propeller), C125428, aground, 1 May 1912