The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), 29 Sep 1860

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Disaster on Lake Erie - Several Vessels Wrecked

Miraculous Escape of a Crew

During the latter portion of last week, and up to yesterday (Tuesday), Lake Erie was visited by several storms, so much so that all the vessels which were out were compelled to run for shelter to the nearest port. Some were fortunate enough to reach places of safety, and for the last few days quite a little fleet of vessels have found refuge in Port Stanley, where they remained weather bound. Others were not so fortunate. Among these, the brig Ocean, of Chatham, unable to reach port, became water- logged at about fifteen miles from Port Stanley. The consequence was, that her deck blew up and floated, while the remainder of the vessel went to pieces. To that portion of the wreck the crew betook themselves, where they remained until Sunday, without any food. A determined effort was then made by two of them to reach the shore, there being no vessels to be seen. To effect this they set themselves astride of two planks and after passing through a very severe trial a storm raging the whole time, they reached Port Burwell on Monday. Others of the crew, still clinging to the deck, were able to get to shore about the same time at some distance above Port Burwell.

Another vessel, name not known, bound from Cleveland, struck on Monday morning one mile off Port Bruce piers. Her crew, consisting of three men and the Captain, took to the mast head, to which they clung during five hours, when the Captain and the cook were washed off by the heavy seas, and perished. The remaining two were saved through the exertions of Mr. C.G. Forkner, of Port Bruce, who, aided by two men, ventured out in a leaky boat to their assistance. This was by no means an easy task, and several attempts were made before success crowned their noble exertions, which were continued from time to time at the eminent risk of their lives. Upon reaching the crew they were found to be in the last stage of exhaustion, as they had been compelled to sustain the constant surging of a heavy sea during nearly six hours. Too much praise cannot be awarded to Mr. Forkner and his two comrades, whose names we are sorry to say, have not reached us and it is to be hoped that their signal services in the cause of humanity may not be allowed to pass by without a suitable recognition.

Among other losses we hear of the J.G. Scott, which went ashore at Port Burwell during the storm, but fortunately no lives were lost. The Champion of Oakville, having on board a cargo of peas, and bound from Port Stanley to Kingston, was out on Friday night, and became nearly swamped off Long Point. The seas broke heavily and continuously over her, clearing her decks of everything but the masts, and tearing up the bulwarks. After encountering the gale for nine hours, she was enabled to reach Grand River in safety. We are afraid, from particulars that have reached us thus far, that the damage done to the lake shipping has been of no ordinary kind, as the storm was both heavy and continuous.

p.S. - Since writing the above, we learn that the schooner Antelope, from Morpeth, laden with Oats and peas sank about half a mile from Port Stanley harbor, having sprung a leak, when the captain and one of the hands were unfortunately drowned.

[London Free Press]

-barge loaded with wheat sank in Cornwall canal on Friday.

Shipwreck - Mary Stewart reports a mast sticking out of water 40 miles above Point au Pelee. [Detroit Tribune 24th]

Collision - schooner Gerritt Smith and steamer Columbia. [ibid]

schooner Fiske damaged above Erie. [Buffalo Express 25th]

brig capsized off Point Burwell. [ibid]

The Wabush Valley Raised - on Lake Huron by tug Oswego, towed to Detroit. [ibid]

schooner Caledonia sank near Thunder Bay, Lake Huron, after collision with unknown vessel. [ibid]

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29 Sep 1860
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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.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), 29 Sep 1860