The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Enterprise (Collingwood, ON), May 23, 1882

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Scarcely has investigation opened, scarcely has the awakening of the trade caused by the breaking up of a long dreary winter opened, when we are called upon to chronicle the loss of one of the finest propellers that ever steamed out of our harbour, the pride alike of her unfortunate owners and crew; and distressing as the loss itself is, it is accompanied by a frightful loss of human life. When the Manitoulin left Collingwood last Wednesday no thought was bestowed on the possibility of an accident to her substantial build was almost a guarantee against wreckage But a


...started out of the calm enjoyment attendant on the opening of a glorious spring morning, when on the arrival of the City of Owen Sound it was learned that the Manitoulin had been


the story was naturally received with a slight incredulity at first and the story told by officers of the Owen Sound left no room to doubt the accuracy of the terrible news. It was to the effect that when the Owen Sound was between Killarney and Manitowaning Bay a small boat was seen coming out of the fog which had settled over the water. It was manned by ...who turned out to be Andrew Johnston Mate of the Manitoulin. He reported that when his boat was about 4 miles from Manitowaning Bay it was discovered to be on fire. Err suggested to have been caused by the explosion of a lamp in the after engine... The Owen Sound took him to Killarney and brought the news to Collingwood.


The receipt of these meagre details aroused a most painful curiosity in the minds of all, particularly of those who had friends on board and feared that the worst was not known filled the hearts of the people of Collingwood. The


arrived soon after the report reached town, and was as speedily as possible despatched to the scene of the disaster, having on board the President of the company Mr. Charles Cameron, Harbour Master Lockerbie, and the ENTERPRIZE MESSENGER reporter The weather was all that could be desired and the lake was very calm, being scarcely disturbed by a ripple. Fast time was made by the staunch craft and Killarney was reached at 11 p.m.

Here of course the inhabitants were congregated on the dock ... A lamp in the lower engine room burst and the fire spread rapidly. The Chief Engineer, Wm. Lockerbie, let her have full head for the shore and then jumped onto the wale. He hung to a it until he neared the shore when he waded in. He was badly burned about the ears and hands as was the captain Mr Henry had been drowned. He was last seen by the assistant cook manfully swimming towards the shore. As the cook passed him he exclaimed


About 15 or 20 hands , including children were lost. The Francis Smith came into Killarney. While the Belle .. . and carried the news to Collingwood. Those on the Belle had to content with the information such as ut was until they arrived at the scene of the disaster at about half past four a.m. when a


... told its own terrible tale. The boat had been beached about three miles from Manitowaning on the ...shore her bow being in about 12 inches of water and her stern in 16 feet. From the course the boat had been taking it was evident that Captain Campbell had piloted the boat to the nearest practical part of land.



Mrs. D. McDonald traveller for the world Publishing Co. Guelph, told thus his story;

"After I got to Killarney I did my business in an hour and took a ticket for Manitowaning in preference to waiting over. I went to dinner and the first intimation of the fire I received was from one of the deck hands who opened the door and let smoke in. I could hear them shouting fire! On the lower deck The captain got up went towards head of engine room and came back in less than two minutes telling us to get our life preservers ready Then we all got at the captain to run her on shore as soon as possible, ... the starboard side and the people all thrown into the water. A regular panic took the place among the passengers and they jumped overboard in all directions. The water was black with them at some distance from the shore. I stopped and helped some ladies on with their preservers, and didn't attempt to leave the boat until she struck the shore. The boat was half consumed when I got off. The Captain Engineer and officers deserve great credit ... sticking to the boat... After we got ashore the excitement was intense on account of fears of a powder explosion. The captain came to the passengers on shore and told us to get out of the way as the boiler might burst, but the chief engineer said their was no danger as the safety valves were working properly. The people of Manitowaning came with astonishing rapidity to the scene of the wreck and helped stragglers into the boats. Indeed it is a mystery to me how they arrived so quickly.

W J TUKKER the druggist of the town said that shortly after 12 o'clock he saw men ascending from the vessel He was among the first to notice the flames . He had a powerful glass and saw many jump over the starboard side He saw the captain on the bridge at the last, and saw and heard explosions of powder and dynamite . After the sufferers landed he dressed about twenty hand including both engineers and a man named McMillan who had a third degree burn.


Mr. Tinkiss a brother of Mr. Tinkiss of Manitowaning was on board and had his hand burned, saw children thrown over...The wife had fainted in her husbands arms...

The number of those who perished is variously estimated some placing the number as high as 50 and the lowest estimate giving 15 as the number. The purser didn't have time to register all on board, consequently the names of many who were lost are not recorded, and probably the names of all the victims will never be known.

The purser Mr. McDougall, who most courageously attended to his duties , succeeded in saving all the money he had on board, together with a gold watch for a gentleman up the lake but lost his books. It is conjectured that those in the boat from which Mr Robt. Henry was lost out .. The terrible speed of the Manitoulin of course upset the boat and Mr. Henry's body was recovered soon after the boat landed and didn't sink it is reasonably supposed hr was killed by some blow. The corpse was brought to Collingwood on Monday by the tug Ann Long chartered expressly for the purpose by Mr. Parkill. M.P.P The purser could not leave Manitowaning until the return of the Northern Belle, so placed the body and effects in charge of the Harbour Master. Mr A Lockeebie $145.15 were found on the body by the purser, together with a handsome double cased gold watch and chain some memorandum books, papers and pencils. $59 were spent for the funeral expenses at Manitowaning and the balance brought to Collingwood by Mr Locherbie The money was counted by ... after and the purser.

The boat's history is a brief one. She was built some three years ago for an Owen Sound company at that place by Mr. John Simpson Before her completion however the Georgian Bay Transportation Company entered into negotiations with the Owen Sound builders and were successful in forming a joint stock company, the stock consisting of the Manitoulin the Emerald and the Northern Belle. The Manitoulin was an ...boat with registered tonnage at about 450, gross 700 tons. The company have carried on a very successful coasting trade for some time and the boat just lost , up to the time of the accident, was like her brave commander, singularly fortunate. The wheelsman Playter remained at his post till the last and his conduct will not soon be forgotten by the grateful passengers.

Mr. E.R. Carpenter of Collingwood was on board but escaped without injury A strange scene ensued when the boat grounded. Children and grown up people were thrown or dropped into the arms of those below. Firemen Wm Brownlee stood in the water at the bow and used his great strength for the benefit of the victims. He caught one young lady who jumped overboard before she touched the water and carried her to shore.

The names of those known to be lost are;

Fanny Prond, a little girl of Owen Sound, Robt.. Henry of Toronto; Thos Hanbury and wife of Owen Sound; Jas Little, employed by Sullivan, Marpole & Co. John Hogan, of Toronto; Patrick Fitzpatrick , Ottawa; and an unknown deck passenger. Three deck hands also perished-Geo. White. Of Muskoka; Jas Lewis, supposed to be of Chatham, and one whose name was not known. ...


The Belle returned this morning bringing with her the officers and crew of the Manitoulin except a few who were left to guard the hull....

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Date of Original:
May 23, 1882
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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), May 23, 1882