The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Enterprise (Collingwood, ON), November 28, 1879

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About Thirty-two Lives Lost




One of the most appalling accidents that has ever visited out town occurred on Saturday last, whereby 32 human beings met a watery grave. The Waubuno one of the Georgian bay Transportation Company steamers, left here at 4 a.m. Saturday morning with fourteen of her crew and about eighteen passengers besides a heavy load of freight, principally of flour, pork and apples and three car loads of general Merchandise, for Parry Sound, the wind blowing fresh at the time from the South-west, she was last seen passing the Christian islands by the lighthouse keeper, keeping on her regular course. The gale increased so much during the day that the steamer Magnettawan which left here for the same port at 10 a.m. had to lay to at the Christian Islands until the following Monday morning, when she was enabled to reach her destination. The first intimation of the dreadful occurrence that our citizens had was a telegram from Midland to the effect following:

MIDLAND ONT., Nov.24, (10 a.m.) - Mr. A. Cadotte reports that while coming down the Georgian Bay yesterday, he passed portions of the cabin and deck of a steamer, also barrels of flour coming from the Western Islands near the light house. He says that the north shore is strewn with portions of the wreck and cargo.

On receipt of the telegram the wrecking tug Mary Ann was got ready for sea, and about 4 o'clock left for the scene of the disaster; having on board besides he crew Mr. T. Long, Mr. Geo. Moberly and Mr. John Rowland. The storm was so great, however, that they had to remain at the Christian Islands all night and until noon on Tuesday when the tug proceeded to the scene of the wreck on order to render any assistance and hunt for any survivors that might have reached the shore.; but we regret to state their efforts have been unavailing, as no trace of the missing passengers or crew can be found. Two other tugs were also departed from Parry Sound; but their efforts were alike fruitless. They remained all day on Tuesday coasting along the shore and examining the inlets, but with out effect until Wednesday, when they all abandoned the search and returned home. The Mary Ann brought back the metallic life boat(damaged) some bedding life-preservers and other portions of the wreck picked up during her search.

All hopes of any of the passengers or crew being saved is now abandoned and consequently the real cause of the disaster will be forever shrouded in mystery. The supposition is that with the heavy load and the gale that was blowing at the time, a wave struck her and stove in her hold after filling her hold with water and thus causing her to sink at once, and in going down, the air getting under her lighter upper works forced them, with her floating deck load, off , the hull with the remainder of the cargo, passengers and crew all going to the bottom without a moments warning. Of course it is impossible to fix the exact locality of the terrible disaster; but from the point where the portions of the wreck have been found, and the direction of the prevailing winds, we should say it would be only some six or seven miles south of the Western Islands on her regular course between here and Parry Sound.

All kinds of rumours were in circulation during the past few days, with regards to the wreck and those on board; but we believe the above are the facts and reliable. It is scarcely necessary to add that the terrible calamity has cast a gloom over the whole town, the bereaved friends having the deepest sympathy of every citizen in this their sore distress.

The following is the list of those on board as leaving Collingwood, as near as can be ascertained, there being no means of positively of learning the names or number of passengers. The names of the passengers being principally picked up at the hotels where they were stopping. There may have been others on board whose names have not transpired-

Captain Burkett, mate, A. Forbes: purser, J. Rowland: engineer, J.. Mqeuade; wheels J. McMuichy; wheelsmen, J. H. Harris; fireman, , P. O'Grady, fireman, R. Cook, waiter, Geo Bass; Cook. J. Hale; (col.); porter, Bwillie; ladiesmaid, Mary Hiott; deck hands, Wingrove and Hiott


Dr. W H Donpe and wife Mitchell, B. Noal Fisher, (Editor North Star) Mr. Sylvestor and wife, Mr. Griffin, Gannanoque; Three men supposed to be father and two sons who had been stopping at the Anglo American; Mrs. McDougall and family were also supposed to be on board. In addition to the foregoing too other passengers heretofore not known, appear to have perished on the ill-fated steamer as will be seen by the following letter;

Sir- For the information of friends and relatives, please give publicity to the fact, that Mr. David Collette a member of the Queen's own, and a printer in my employment until last week was a passenger on the steamer Waubuno. Mr. Collette and another young journeyman printer named Colin or Canthn, were engaged by Mr. Fisher to work on the Parry Sound Star, and

left in his company for their destination last Friday. Should his friends or relatives desire any further information I will willingly furnish all I can.

Yours &c


Toronto Nov. 25th 1879


The Waubuno was built in Thorald in 1865 and was 135 feet in length .by 18 feet 5 inches in breadth, and 7 feet in depth. Her gross tonnage was 465 tons; her registered tonnage being 293 tons. She was regarded as a good strong sea boat, and has stood a good deal of heavy weather during the past fourteen years, as she seldom postponed a trip on account of weather, but it is feared that she was too heavily laden, having a large amount of freight on board. If she had prudently sought the shelter of Christian Island until the gale abated she would have escaped destruction; but , no doubt, the captain had full confidence in her ability to weather any storm she encountered when he proceeded on his perilous journey.

The late sad and terrible accident to the Waubuno has left six widows and families most of whom are totally unprovided for when a little forethought on the part of those whose duty it was to provide for them in getting life or accident assurance would have made them comfortable...Five dollars a year will secure an accident policy...


To the Editor of the Enterprize

SIR - There can be little doubt that all who were on board the Waubuno have perished and none left to tell the tale of the awful shipwreck This terrible visitation from the All Wise Ruler of the Universe has been the all absorbing thought and topic of conversation of every one words of sympathy for the dear ones left behind to morn the loss of the loved ones gone before have been uttered by all. The time has now come for action prompt, decided action , the widows and the orphans must have everything done to assist them in their dire necessity that lies in our power. The bread- winners have been taken from them. The God of the fatherless and the widow has entrusted them to the care of the people of this town, let us fully realize our responsibility.

My first thought was to announce through the papers that the offering on Sunday next in All Saint's church should be given for the assistance of the sufferers, and to suggest that it shall be generally done, but on second thoughts I considered it better not to do so, for it is a common thing in every community for people to excuse themselves from giving further and because they say they gave all they could afford on Sunday, when perhaps they were the very ones to give the smallest coins. I cannot think of any better plan than for the Mayor to open a subscription list, at his office, for the cheerful givers to deposit their gifts to have also an Aid Committee appointed to go to every one not thus contributing and have the subscribers names with the amounts given, published in all the local papers. If the amount contributed be in proportion to the words of sympathy uttered Collingwood will do well. What ever is done must be done at once, while hearts are open, moreover, the need of some of the widows is most pressing, no time should be lost in letting them know that active measures are being taken to help them.

It has been my lot in life to see many cases of distress, but never have I found such desolate homes and broken hearts as I have among friends of the ship's comp of the ill-fated Waubuno.

Obediently yours

L. H. Kirby

The Rectory, Nov. 17, 1879

A telegram from the Sault says the Queen arrived there all right Fears were entertained as to the safety of the Winnipeg, but she arrived at 3:30p.m. yesterday, and reports heavy weather during the whole trip; she passed the Ontario and Quebec at the Neebish going up, and the Belle at Killarney had to lay to in several places, during the week, owing to the heavy sea. The Francis Smith, which left the Sault on Saturday morning last encountered very heavy weather, and on leaving Killarney on Sunday, after two hours run she had to return, the return taking her eight hours to make the port again; she left here on Tuesday afternoon for Owen Sound, to go into winter quarters. The Vanderbilt left here on Wednesday, with a cargo of lumber for Goderich, where she is to load salt for Owen Sound. The City of Owen Sound has not yet passed through the canal on her down trip.

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November 28, 1879
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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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Enterprise (Collingwood, ON), November 28, 1879