The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), 2 May 1853

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p.2 Closing of the Rideau Canal

-Phoenix has started between Bytown and Lachine.

-The Assizes - Capt. Bonter received a verdict of £900 against the Kingston Foundry for defective boiler supplied to Novelty.

Fearful Destruction by Fire of the Ocean Wave

Picton, April 30th - The Ocean Wave was destroyed last night by Fire, six miles west of the Ducks, off Long Point. She had on board sixty passengers, all of whom perished, except the Captain, one man, and one passenger.

John T. Parmentier

To the Editor of the British Whig.

Further Particulars

About 5 o'clock in the afternoon of Saturday, the schooner Emblem came into Kingston Harbor with nineteen souls on board, rescued from the Dreadful Fire, including Mr. Oliver, the Purser, Mrs. Stevenson, of Hamilton, and two other lady passengers, and several deck hands and passengers, whose names he could not collect. From one of the hands the following facts were obtained: - The Fire was first discovered about two o'clock in the morning, and burnt out in the upper deck, where the two boats of the vessel were stowed, and it gained head so rapidly, that the boats could not be dropped into the water. There were about twenty-five passengers on board, half of whom were saved; and the boat's crew amounted to about thirty persons, half of whom are lost. The schooner Emblem saw the light at a distance, proceeded immediately to the scene of conflagration, and was the means of saving the lives of those she brought into port. It was early daylight ere she got to the burning vessel. - A great many rumors were current on Saturday afternoon, but the above facts may be relied on.

The following additional particulars we have picked up from one of the passengers saved:

The fire is supposed to have broken out between the connecting rod and the engine. It was first discovered by the Purser, Mr. Oliver, about two o'clock in the morning. The passengers had all retired, and he, in company with an old Scotch gentleman, who is amongst those lost, but whose name he does not know, had retired to the Saloon to chat over a cigar, when they observed the smoke. Mr. Oliver immediately ran to the door of the Ladies' Cabin, upon opening which the flames rushed out and drove him back. He then immediately ascended to the roof, and passed hurriedly over to the other end, where he met the ladies escaping in their night clothes in the utmost alarm. He tried to calm them, and told all to come to the forward part of the cabin, and they might be saved. The rapidity with which the flames advanced, fanned as they were by a strong north-west wind, which was blowing at the time, gave hardly an instant for the adoption of any measures for general safety, and all were driven to the dreadful alternative of either jumping into the lake or perishing by the devouring fire, which, with its forked tongues, was already licking round the spot where the unfortunate females stood. Amidst shrieks and prayers all plunged into the water; amongst the last was Mrs. Stevenson (the lady of Mr. Stevenson, agent for the Montreal Bank in Hamilton). This lady had three children and a maid servant on board; two of the children and the girl were asleep in the Cabin, and it was found impossible, from the rapid progress of the flames in that direction, to rouse them; the youngest, a child of a few months old, she held in her arms. Previous to her leaping overboard, while Mr. Oliver was standing beside her, encouraging her with promises of assisting her in the water, the smoke-pipes fell between them and separated them. When Mr. Oliver recovered himself from his plunge he could not see anything of her, and immediately swam to the wheel, to which he clung; he afterwards saw a sailor swim after a female, whom he conveyed and fastened to the wheel, who proved to be Mrs. Stevenson. The unfortunate lady had lost her infant, the last of her darling little ones, in the fearful struggle with the waves. In the meantime a merciful Providence sent succor to the unfortunate sufferers when all hope was nearly lost: the schooner Emblem, on seeing the flames, bore down to their rescue. As it was blowing half a gale, however, and the schooner had to lay to at some distance under a double reef, it was a work of no inconsiderable peril, and it took some time to rescue those clinging to the wreck. Captain Bolger, of the Emblem, by all accounts, acted in a manner which entitles him to have his name written in gold; the Mate of the Ocean Wave also acted nobly, so also did Mr. Oliver and the Crew of the Emblem, many of whom bear marks of their exertions in the cause of humanity - setting danger at defiance, they drove in the windows of the burning steamer, even with their naked hands, and pulled the unfortunate passengers out of the Cabin.

In a hurried notice like this it is impossible to get at the minute facts, and of course what we have depicted is only one phase of the dreadful scene. The Captain floated ashore with the assistance of a wood-horse, which he threw overboard. It was from his information the news was first telegraphed from Picton, on Saturday morning, that all were lost but three. He left the vessel unaware of the approach of the Emblem.

A most disgraceful story, if true, is told of the Captain of the steamer Scotland, but it is so heartless that we would willingly believe that it must have its origin in some mistake, as one would hardly believe that human nature would create any one so dastardly inhuman as to perpetrate such a piece of cold-blooded cruelty. It is said that the Scotland bore down to the burning vessel, and hailed the Captain of the Emblem to know what vessel it was, and on being informed did not wait to assist (and the assistance of a steamboat would have been most effective, for it could have taken whatever position it chose to the wreck, which a schooner could not do in a gale), but passed on his way without further parley. We are bound to suspend our opinions upon this story, however, till we hear the Captain's explanation, whom we would not lightly believe guilty of such cruelty. We have omitted to mention that another schooner, named the Georgiana, Capt. Henderson, also came to the assistance of the Emblem, and did effective service in saving the lives of many of the survivors of the passengers and crew of the unfortunate Ocean Wave.

Mr. Oliver states that a number of passengers came on board at Coburg and other ports, whose names he could not ascertain at the hurry of the moment, so that it will be some time before an authentic list of those lost can be obtained, if ever.

Monday Morning, 2nd May

The Capt. of the unfortunate boat Ocean Wave, arrived in Town this morning. He states that he was the last man who left the vessel. He saw Mr. Oliver and Mrs. Stevenson jump from the vessel together just as he himself leaped into the water. He drifted ashore on a couple of barrels of flour and a plank. He is very much bruised about the body, his hands, face and legs, and is severely scorched. In most particulars he gives the same account as above.

Since receiving the above, we have obtained from the News, the following information:

Passengers Saved

Mrs. Stevenson, of Hamilton

Mrs. French, Cornwall

Capt. and Mrs. Kiah, Ogdensburgh

Of the lost, or those supposed to be lost, the Purser could only recollect the following names:

Mrs. McDonald, Ogdensburgh

Miss McLennan, Cornwall

Mrs. Stewart, Toronto

Mrs. Stevenson's three children and nurse

Miss Girouard, (lady's maid)

Lyman Fish, Ogdensburgh

Mr. Mitchell, Whitby

--- Richardson (colored man, on his way to this city with apples)

--- O'Doyle, from rear of Brockville

The engineer, bar-tender, steward and cook

Crew Saved

George Potter, mate

Francis Laforte, Fireman

John Ewart, Deck Hand

Thomas Fuller, Waiter

Peter Provost, Fireman

Stephen Blackman, Runner

Patrick Moran, Deck Hand

James Graham, Wheelsman

John Belton, Deck Hand

Baptiste Mier ?, 2nd engineer

Joseph Rousseau, Fireman

James Steed, Wheelsman

One other in Hospital - cannot learn his name

From another source we have received the following:

The steamer Ocean Wave was burned this (Saturday) morning at 1 o'clock, six miles above the Ducks, 14 Cabin and 9 Deck passengers on board, of whom 5 are known to be saved, viz: Mrs. Stevenson, of Hamilton; G. French, of Cornwall; Capt. Kiah, and his wife, and Thos. Perry. The crew consisted of 26 persons besides the officers, of whom the Captain, Purser and 14 men are known to be saved.

The Captain and Thomas Perry reached the Marysburgh shore.

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2 May 1853
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
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Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), 2 May 1853