The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Advertiser (Owen Sound, ON), December 2, 1880

Full Text
Appalling Marine Disaster

Twelve of the Crew Drowned

On Friday last a telegram was received here stating that the Prop. Canada of the Collingwood and Chicago line, had found the pilot- house and Captain's desk of the Prop. Simcoe off the south side of the Manitoulin Island and it was supposed that she was lost. On Saturday the Prop. Columbia of the same line arrived in Collingwood and reported passing through a large amount of wreckage and cargo belonging to the Simcoe about 17 miles North-west of Cove Island. The Propeller Emerald arrived here on Tuesday afternoon bringing some of the survivors of the Simcoe, and we have learned the following particulars of this fearful calamity. The Simcoe left the Straits of Macinaw on Tuesday, November 23rd, and was caught in a fearful gale while crossing Lake Huron on Wednesday. The wind was terrific, and was accompanied by a blinding snow storm .The heavy seas soon put out the fires, and for nine hours the ill-fated vessel was in the trough of the sea and completely unmanageable. The crew were without hope, and at last the Simcoe made the fatal plunge, going down bow first. Capt. Parsons, the engineer, Mr. J. Nesbit, and two others were on the hurricane deck, and jumped into one of the boats which they cut loose just as the vessel made the final plunge. The Capt. and the rest of the crew were forward and tried to save themselves in the lifeboat, but it was fastened and went down with the Simcoe. The wheelsman tried to save one of the women but a table came to the top striking and killing her instantly. A line was then thrown to him and he was drawn in and saved. The survivors succeeded in reaching Providence Bay on the Manitoulin Island, some 30 miles from where the vessel went down. Then here procured a conveyance and drove to Manitowaning, where they got on the Prop. Manitoulin and were transferred to the Emerald at Gore Bay. The Company owing the Emerald sent the Northern Belle to look for her on Tuesday, but she met the Emerald , and on learning the above particulars took Capt. Parsons on board and returned to Collingwood. Mr. Nesbit reached here by the Emerald on Tuesday afternoon, and was warmly greeted by his friends who had given him up as lost. The crew of the Simcoe was ...teen in all, of whom the lost... Capt. R. Hill; R. McNab, ... Ben. Mitward, Wheelsnman; John Henry, Fireman; Tom O'Hare, Deck-Hand; Tom Levi, Deck hand; McDougal, Deck hand; DonaldCarr, Deck hand; Miss Julia Gibson, Ladies' Maid; Miss Lydia Williams, Cook; Geo. Patton, Porter; and one man shipped at Chicago, name unknown. Those who survive are as follows:- John Nesbit, 1st Engineer; Capt. Parsons, 1st Mate; R. McNemeny, Wheelsman; Mathew Noble, Fireman; P. Croft, Deck-hand. Capt. Hill was the eldest son of Mr. Vasy Hill, Lighthouse keeper at Griffith's Island. He was well known here, and leaves a wife and small family, who reside in Collingwood. Mr. Robert McNab resided here, and also leaves a wife and one or two children to mourn his loss. He was a brother of Capt. McNab, of the City of Owen Sound, and was a universal favorite with all who knew him. The Simcoe sailed only this season under the above name, and she was what might well be called an unlucky vessel When first built she came out as the steam barge Mary Robertson and was burned to the water's edge in the Straits of Mackinaw on her first trip from Chicago; she was then towed to Detroit and rebuilt, but her ill-fortune seemed to stick to her, as she was afterwards sunk at Little Current and was continually in trouble. In the Fall of 1878 she was again burned to the water's edge at Byng Inlet, and after lying at the bottom of the river till Fall of 1879 was purchased by Georgian Bay Transportation Company of Collingwood who rebuilt her and changed her name to that of the Simcoe. The Simcoe was on her last trip from Chicago, and was loaded with 19, 000 bushels of corn, consigned to Gooderham & Worts, Toronto; and also a deck load of pork. The cargo was fully insured and the vessel was insured for twelve thousand dollars.

Collingwood is getting an unenviable notoriety for sending to sea marine hearses. Last year's season of navigation closed with the loss of the entire crew and passengers of the Waubuno, and this has terminated with the loss of twelve of the crew of the Simcoe. The owners in both cases are the same, and in both cases they are in a great measure responsible for the lives of those who have been lost. The Waubuno was not seaworthy, and there is reason to believe that the owners were aware of the fact; yet, for greed of gain, she was sent to sea and her living freight to sudden death and a watery grave. Competent judges assert that the Simcoe was equally unsafe, and that having been twice burnt to the water's edge and once sunk she never should have been patched up. Nothing but disaster could follow. There should be some legislative measure devised which would prevent owners of vessels from jeopardising the lives of their servants and passengers.

THE schooner Fellowcraft arrived on Friday last and is now lying at the mouth of the river.

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December 2, 1880
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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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Advertiser (Owen Sound, ON), December 2, 1880