The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Toronto Telegram (Toronto, ON), Sept. 10, 1919

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Lake Ontario Has Record For Lost Vessels

Mysterious disappearances of ships that were lost on Inland Lake

By C.H.J. Snider

Did the "Homer Warren," wallowing in the welter of sulky slumbering seas as she pushed her way homeward just a week ago tonight hear the throb of the "Ontario's" long lost drum?"

King George III, had a sloop of war on this lake while the Thirteen Colonies were fighting the War of Independence. She was the flagship of the fleet, and mounted 22 guns. Commodore Andrews commanded her. In the year 1780 she took on board a detachment of the Eighth King's Regiment under Colonel Burton, at Niagara and sailed for Oswego- at that time a British port. A tremendous storm arose at night and the "Ontario and the 172 seamen and soldiers who embarked on her, were never seen again. The only trace of her was the drum of the Eight Kings's regimen, tossing among the breakers under the hill that overlooks Oswego harbor.

The king's schooner, "Speedy" sailed from here on the 7th of October, 1804, with the most notable company on board that had yet voyaged out of the undeveloped harbor of York. It included Mr. Justice Cochrane, Chief justice of the province of Upper Canada; Mr. Robert J. D. Gray, solicitor general; Mr. Angus McDonnell, advocate, and member of the House of Assembly; Mr. John Fisk, high constable of York and Mr. George Cowan, Indian agent. There was also on board an Indian named Ogetocnicut, held for the murder of John Sharpe, of the Queen's Rangers. The Indian was being taken to Presque'isle for trial. The voyage was to effect the inauguration of Presqu'isle as the capital of the new district of New Castle.

Had the trail proceeded Presqu; isle- now a summer cottage resort, near the Bay of Quinte- would possibly have become the capital of the province. But a northeast gale arose the beacon fire blazed on Presqu'isle Point in vain, and the Speedy and al hr company 20 souls- disappeared in the darkness, toil the sea gives up its dead.

Still on stormy nights old sailors listen for the throb of the "Ontario's drum and the booming of the "Speedy's " minute-gun; but many a good ship has gone down since then in the same lake leaving even less trace.

A Lake of Riddles.

The strange, even the landsman dwelling on its placid shores cannot realize the irresistible fury of Lake Ontario aroused.

It is just a little lake, smallest of the five sisters- Ontario, Erie, Huron, Superior, Michigan. Two hundred miles long from end to end. Fifty miles wide at the widest. Girdled by the tons and cities within an hour's run of each other, all the way round, bu train or trolley. It has been crossed by a tiny sailboat with bows rising only six inches above the water level. Only three months ago canoeists paddled across without mishap. And yet the "Homer Warren: is only one of hundreds of ships that have been engulfed in Ontario's tagging waters mysteriously since they closed on the "Ontario" and the "Speedy" more than a century ago.

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Sept. 10, 1919
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Richard Palmer
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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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Toronto Telegram (Toronto, ON), Sept. 10, 1919