The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Northern Advance (Barrie, ON), June 8, 1882

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The following memorial signed by fifty-two of the passengers of the ill-fated steamer Manitoulin is addressed to his Excellency the Governor General in-Council . Several valuable suggestions contained in the document are worthy of serious consideration The memorial of the undersigned late passengers of the ill-fated steamer Manitoulin humbly showeth. That the said steamer caught fire on Thursday the 18th day of May, 1882, at one o'clock p.m. in Manitowaning Bay, Lake Huron, within about one mile and a half of the shore. That the vessel was run ashore, the majority of the passengers landed in safety, and the whole vessel in flames within fifteen minutes minutes from the first alarm of fire. That an attempt was to lower the boats immediately when the alarm was sounded but owing to the rapid spread of the flames... the failure in properly launching the boats , at least eight lives were lost. That in addition on account of the rapid spread of the flames, at least three more lives were lost, together with the whole cargo, consisting of goods, horses, cattle &c. That in the opinion of your memorialists no blame can be attached to the officers and crew of the vessel, who acted with the greatest promptitude and in a manner calculated to save the greatest number of lives. That in view of the above facts it is the opinion of your memorialists that the loss of life and property was attributable solely to two causes, namely;-

1. The use of a petroleum oil for illuminating purposes. The highly inflammable character of this oil renders it almost impossible to avoid a catastrophe in case of any accident happening to the glass lamps containing it, within the limited space of the hull and cabins of our lake steamers, which are necessarily built of light and inflammable timber. This method of illumination is in common use on passenger vessels within the Dominion of Canada.

2. The defective character of the ordinary arrangements for preventing loss of life by drowning. Your memorialists would therefore respectfully suggest the following means of leastening in the future the risk accidents of this character- 1- That the use of passenger vessels of petroleum oil or any other oil freely giving off in farmable gases on the application of a moderate degree of heat , or which is liable to explosion under any circumstances be hereafter prohibited .2- That in addition to the usual equipment of boats and life preservers all such vessels be required to carry sufficient number of life-rafts similar to those carried by American passenger vessels in these waters, such life rafts being easily launched by untrained men and being available under circumstances which would render the ordinary boats and lowering apparatus useless.And your memorialists will ever pray.

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June 8, 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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Northern Advance (Barrie, ON), June 8, 1882