The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Northern Advance (Barrie, ON), August 1863

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Accident to the Ploughboy

From the Owen Sound Times Aug. 15

The Steamer Ploughboy having an excursion party of 30 or 40 from Toronto on board, and having left Sault Ste. Marie and made her usual call at Bruce Mine, was proceeding quietly on her return trip, when within about 30 miles of little Current the strap at the crank, connecting it with the walking beam, suddenly broke; and in an instant the piston was forced through the ends of the cylinder, and the engine was for the time a complete wreck. No time was lost in letting go anchors, and fortunately it was found that the water was not too deep for anchorage. Beyond the damage to the engine, the boat was found to be uninjured. This occurred at half past twelve on Tuesday morning. At half-past three, a boat in command of the Mate, with four men, was sent off towards Sault Ste. Marie, for assistance from some of the steamboats passing that point. Tuesday, it will be remembered, was a very squally day, rain and wind coming in great gusts all day. At 9 o'clock, when bearing bravely up towards the west the boat capsized. It was a long struggle and we have not heard all the particulars of it but after a weary day's hanging on between death and life the Mate found himself at sundown crawling ashore on Manitoulin Island, whether the capsized boat had drifted, with all his companions gone1. The name of the mate is Duncan McLean; and the names of the men with him who are lost, are Herbert Park, Purser, Louis Bouche, Alex McLean, and Daniel McCue. How Mr. McLean, after getting ashore at sunset on Tuesday, managed to push 40 miles through the woods alone, and get to the Indian settlement 10:30 and to Little Current at 12:30 on Wednesday, is one of those things that men can do in cases of desperation but cannot well explain.

At 1 o'clock on Wednesday, Mr. F. Robart Engineer with two Indians and a white man picked up at Little Current, started for Owen Sound to get the Clifton to assist. With strong head winds, so that it was hard pulling nearly all the way they made good time, and got here at 3:30 on Friday; only to find the Clifton missing.

We must now return to the latter boat. She left here on Wednesday evening, immediately after discharging freight and passengers to go to Penetanguishene to bring an excursion party here on Thursday. About 25 residents of Owen Sound availed themselves of the opportunity of having a nice sail to the other shore, and took passage. All went well till 5 o'clock in the morning, when the Clifton was passing the Reformatory near Penetanguishene, and all danger from rock and narrow channels seemed past, when in a slight haze she ran square upon a rocky shoal. She leaked considerably though never dangerously. Mr. H. Moe, Purser, immediately posted to Barrie, and telegraphed to Collingwood for the Ploughboy probably about the same hour that a similar message arrived from that boat for the Clifton.

This morning our citizens were surprised when sitting at their breakfast tables to hear the well known whistle of the Clifton ringing up the valley, and soon after she was at her dock. We found that the leak was such that the engine was kept at slow motion to keep it down. Still it was quite manageable. One pump only out of three was used, and the Donkey engine had not been brought into requestion nor had the hand pumps. A fortunate rise of at least two feet in the water yesterday caused by the strong westerly winds enabled Capt. Smith to get her off much more easily than anticipated. The anchors were carried out: the chain of one affixed to the capstan and the other round the shaft, and at a given signal the engine was started, and the men sprang to the levers, and amid breaking of chains and tying it again the boat at last backed unto deep water.

At the present moment (12 o'clock) she is taking on wood, and getting ready to go after the Ploughboy.

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August 1863
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Bill Hester
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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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Northern Advance (Barrie, ON), August 1863