The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Northern Advance (Barrie, ON), September 28, 1882

Full Text

of the survivors

(The Mail)

COLLINGWOOD, Sept. 19. - The Town of Collingwood to-day presented a mournful appearance, for the dread news of the previous day were confirmed, and a general feeling of sadness seemed to prevail. Flags were flying at half-mast and business was almost suspended, the chief topic of conversation being the loss of the Asia. All were anxious to receive some news from the scene of the disaster, and when it was learned some time during the forenoon that the Northern Belle would arrive , many an anxious eye was turned towards the direction in which lay Parry Sound. At about 10 o'clock a.m. when distant smoke indicated the arrival of the long-looked for steamer, the citizens could be seen hurrying from every direction to a common centre, the landing stage. At 10:30 the Belle could be distinctly made out with


and by the time she reached the dock nearly half the population had turned out, some in the hope of seeing some friends among the dead, others out of sheer curiosity. Among the former were a number of persons from a distance who had friends on board, and who were now glad to embrace the opportunity of receiving the bodies. At length the Northern Belle came along-side the wharf, and although the crowd was great the newspaper representatives and officers of the Transit Company were admitted. The chief object of search, Mr. Tinkiss, one of the survivors , was found lying in the captain's state-room. On the entrance of the visitors he arose, and at once entered into conversation respecting the loss of the Asia. Mr. Tinkiss is a magnificently built young fellow of scarcely eighteen years of age, but is much larger than his years would indicate. He is of rather fair complexion, but the cool look of determination on his face and his well-knit-frame were sufficient to show that he might be selected out of hundreds to stand extraordinary hardships. He related a tale of terror, suffering and death, but he appeared to be entirely unable to picture to the fullest extent the never-to-be-forgotten scenes which he went through.


is better told in his own words. He says: "My uncle J. H. Tinkiss, and I were at Toronto attending the Industrial Exhibition, and at the same time buying some goods for our store at Manitowing. We arrived at Owen Sound at 11 0'clock on Wednesday night, and getting on board the Asia sailed away at about 12 o'clock. A number of other parties got on at Owen Sound, but I thought the number very small. I remember the boat calling at Presqu'Isle for wood, but after that I went to sleep. The state-room in which I was placed was occupied by my uncle and myself. All went well during the night, and everybody appeared to be slumbering quietly and contentedly, with probably no foreboding of the fate which awaited them. At about 7:30 a.m. we all rose and had breakfast after which we walked about .The wind at this time was blowing a stiff gale, but no one apprehended any danger whatever. As a large number felt rather sea-sick, the majority returned to their berths, my uncle and myself amongst the rest. When I arose in the morning I was under the impression that the state-rooms were all full, as a large number of persons were on sofas and on the cabin floor. At eleven o'clock my uncle was awakened by the rolling of the ship, and springing out shouted to me, "Dunk, jump up,


The expression on his face was alone sufficient to convince me that it was only too true, and throwing on my coat we both rushed on deck. The sight that met my eyes was a fearful one, and one that I shall never forget. The storm was raging, the wind blowing a perfect hurricane, and the waves appeared to be rolling mountains high. This was not all, for nearly all the passengers by this time had come on deck, and the scene which followed was a most heart-rendering one and entirely beyond description. Until my dying day I shall never forget the cries and shrieks, a majority being on their knees, crying for mercy and deliverance, and all realizing that they were face to face with death. I at once went to a state-room and put on a life-preserver, and again returned to the deck. Those who were on their knees rushed frantically about, thus adding to the general confusion. I did not see the captain or crew, and in fact "I do not think they could have been of any service whatever, but I heard a single order to throw the cargo overboard. Being on the upper deck, I could not see what was going on below, but from the noise which I heard I an under the impression that the order was obeyed. No attempt was made to lower the ship's boats, as they would at once have been dashed to pieces, so far a long half-hour we stood there.


and not knowing at what instant we would be hurled into eternity. The steamer had got into the trough of the sea, and though her engines worked hard the vessel refused to obey her helm. Wave after wave swept over us, each of which threatened to engulf us, until one larger than the rest struck us and the boat careened over. As soon as we felt her going we all sprang on the hurricane deck in order to have another half minute's existence in this world. I cannot attempt to describe the feeling of those people when they felt the boat


without the slightest hope of safety. You must be in the same position to realize it. It was but the work of a moment, for as she went over the water rushed over amid the heart-rendering cries of those poor helpless creatures. Her stern went foremost, and she was swallowed up by the angry waves. For a brief period the upper deck, and the steamer's boats floated, and noticing one I called to my uncle to follow me, and made a rush for it. He did not come and that was the last I saw of him. I got into this one, but it was overloaded, and immediately turned over, and as a number of persons were clinging to my life-preserver, threatening to draw me under, I disengaged it and struck out for another boat which I saw. In it there were only 18 persons, including the captain, the mate, the purser, and 15 others, Thinking it my last Hope I called to Mr. McDougall, the purser, to give me his hand. He did so, but exclaimed, Oh, I don't think it of any use." As soon as I got in I looked towards the wreck, where nothing was to be seen but


who were cling to piece of timber and other wreckage to prolong their lives even for a few seconds. I saw a third boat, but it filled with water and sank. I hope I shall never see such a sight again, and as our boat drifted out of sight I felt some relief at having such misery shut out from view. We were now drifting we knew not where, with no appearance of land in view, and our boat continually turning over with every heavy wave which struck us. Fortunately it contained water-tight compartments, and as long as we could cling to it we knew that we would not sink. This state of things continued for some time when our numbers were reduced to about twelve, the remainder being swept away. There then remained he captain, mate, Mr. Little. Miss Morrison (the only female), five unknown, and myself. It was evident to me, however, that a number of those also would perish as, in turning over the boat, it continually struck them, inflicting severe injuries. Miss Morrison and I were both in the water, she at one end clinging to the ropes, and I at the other end keeping the boat within reach. In this way although the boat frequently upset, we escaped the blows which were given by it. We were at this time about twenty miles from shore, with no mans of propelling the craft with the exception of a single paddle, which was of no earthy use. We drifted on this way for some hours, our boat being full of water, when it became somewhat calm, and


The first to succumb of the now remaining seven was one of the strangers. The poor fellow made an effort to retain his hold on life, but he had to go. About two hours afterwards the other stranger followed him, and was laid in the bottom of the boat by the side of his dead comrade. About five o'clock in the evening land was sighted, and the cry of "Saved!"was raised, but they little thought that before that shelter was reached they would be beyond all earthy aid. The mate now struck up the old familiar tune :Pull for Shore, Sailors, Pull for Shore, " in which we all heartily joined. Our voices were next heard reverently singing "The Sweet Bye-and-Bye" when we fondly thought we could meet on the shore to which we were now drifting. Shortly after the last notes had died away Mr. Little, of Sault Ste. Marie. Lay down and breathed his life away. Shortly after the lighthouse off Byng Inlet was sighted, and it was a grand sight to our weary eyes. About an hour and a half afterwards the mate, who was supported by


who can truly be called the Grace Darling of modern times, laid down his weary head and went to his eternal rest. The captain, turning to me, said, "The poor mate is gone." Towards morning the captain appeared to drop asleep, and going towards him, I shook him, asking him to wake up, He merely answered "Yes and on my repeating it, said he would be up in a minute .A huge wave then struck me from him, and when I returned he was dead. During all those


when our companions were dying one by one, it never occurred to me that I should be compelled to succumb, but felt perfectly sure that I would reach land safely. Miss Morrison appeared to be of the same mind, and kept up with courage and determination almost entirely unheard of. We struck the beach at daybreak next morning, when we saw a derrick, which we mistook for a lighthouse, and we started to reach it. The girl, however, was unable to accomplish the task, and so sat down in the sand. I then removed all the bodies from the boat, and getting in we attempted in this way to reach the derrick, but between the delay on shore and the trouble of propelling our craft, we only succeeded in making a half mile before dark. That night (Friday) we


and next morning reached the derrick, when Miss Morrison's strength again gave out. That evening I hailed an Indian who was passing with a boat, and bargained with him to take us to Parry Sound. On Saturday morning the Indian furnished us with some breakfast, the first we had eaten since the previous Wednesday evening. We had drifted foe eighteen hours from the time we left the sinking vessel until we struck the beach. On our arrival at Parry Sound every kindness was shown to us, and although Miss Morrison, who is only 19 years of age, is confined ton her bed, the doctor has every hope of a speedy recovery."

Such is the story of the disaster, and while a large number are of the opinion that the company are not to blame, there are not a few who think that the Transit Company should place more reliable vessels on this tempestuous route, and be more careful in the matter of overcrowding. In proof of this necessary caution, they point to the long list of disasters which have occurred on this lake.


Mr. Joseph Shipp, butcher, Alice street, who has had a providential escape from a watery grave, on being interviewed last night gave the following graphic description of the causes which led him and his companion, A. Bowes to abandon the ill fated Asia at Owen Sound:-

"I took a ticket said Mr. Shipp "at Collingwood for Manitoulin Island by the Asia, which was advertised to leave at four o'clock on Wednesday afternoon, but owing to the train from Toronto being an hour and a quarter late, she did not start till half-past five. The boat had on board besides her passengers fourteen horses, a large cargo of flour and potatoes, pressed hay, large cooking stove, and a number of cooking utensils and furniture, all for the shanty at French River. The horses were tied in the bow of the boat standing crosswise. It was raining heavily when we started, and shortly afterwards it got pitch dark, but the water was as smooth as glass. Everything went well till we got to Meaford where the boat stopped for a short time It was so fearfully dark that I couldn't help remarking to some of the other passengers that we would have a storm. We left Meaford about half-past ten, and after being about a mile out an far as I am able to judge the full force of the gale struck the boat, and she immediately began to roll and pitch about in a fearful manner, and every now and then cracking sounds could be heard as if she were torn asunder. Most of the passengers got seasick, and several of them began to get frightened. I lay down on a barrel, as I began to feel a little squeamish myself and almost immediately afterwards.


as if she burst in two. I jumped up and as the passengers got frightened I and an old farmer from Osprey township began to laugh and joke and tell them it was nothing unusual. The old farmer whispered to me that it would not do to give way before them, and so we continued to keep up the joking as to prevent the others from getting down spirited. I told then this rolling about and cracking noises were nothing as I had gone through the same experience before when I went up with Gen. Wolseley in the Chicora. Bowes came to me , and said he had never been on the water before, and he would never go again if it was like this. I told him to wait till she got to the Throttle, where the two lakes meet, and he would understand what pitching about was. Well, she continued to lurch and roll in a tremendous way, the horses began to kick and plunge, and the cargo to roll about. The deck-hands were kept busy as they could be, and I noticed them trying to brace up the boat by screwing the iron rods placed across her, and I heard one of the deck hands say they were of no use, as they wouldn't hold firm. They afterwards broke altogether. It was an awful time, and I thought we would never get to Owen Sound. I was thankful when we got along side the pier there. I was anxious to keep awake as long as I could so that I could get to sleep immediately before coming to the Throttle, and I went off the boat and walked up and down the pier. I then went back to the boat, as the night was bitterly cold and stood near the smoke stack so as to get some heat. Bowes then went on to the pier for a walk. I may say, however, that before I got to the boat the inspector at Owen Sound and the captain came along, and I noticed that the inspector examined the boat in different places, while the captain stood at the gangway. Bowes on approaching the boat saw the inspector come up to the captain and in a gruff angry voice say, "What about this boat" The captain answered, "I don't know, " Well replied the inspector in a loud voice, "I know this boat her, she won't go out of here to-night; if she does


The captain then said, "you toll her, and I'll risk her, "to which the inspector replied, "Well, I'll toll her, and you risk her, but she'll never get to French River, as she is strained." After they parted Bowes came on board and took up his carpet-bag, telling me the conversation he had overheard, and remarked that he was not going any further in her, but he did not want to prevent me from going. I thought it would be the safer plan to quit with him, and we both went to an hotel near the market which was open. We told the people there where we came from and what we had heard. Next morning we went back to Collingwood and went to the office where I bought my ticket and told the gentleman in the office the reason why I did not continue my journey in the Asia, He laughed, and asked me did the captain not throw the inspector overboard, and added that people often went on board their boats and made such like complaints as to frighten passengers and get them to go by the opposition boats. I asked him a few questions about my ticket and then left, and Bowes and I came to Toronto. You may be sure, remarked Mr. Shipp, "that I am overjoyed at the narrow escape I have had. But feel very, very sorry for my unfortunate fellow-passengers who are lost.


"I went on board the Asia at Owen Sound; I had a ticket for Sault Ste. Marie. The Asia reached Owen Sound at 11 p.m. Wednesday night, and remained about an hour, taking in passengers and freight. I saw seven persons buy tickets at Owen Sound, five men and two women. One of the women had a child about a year old with her. Two of the gentlemen looked like commercial travellers, the other like labouring men. I knew none of their names. There may have been more got on board there, but these are all I observed. I got a state-room along with two other young ladies-one a Miss McNab, who got on board at Collingwood. I do not remember the name of the other. They were not companions but the rooms were so full that the cabin-maid put them in the double berth, and gave me the other. I went to bed before the boat touched Presque'Isle, but was awake. The mate, Macdonald, told me in the morning that they took in hay, but no passengers at Presque'Ile. The mate was my cousin. It did not get very rough till about eight in the morning. I was up then, but was sea-sick, and took no breakfast. I saw four women with children in the cabin; one had four, one had two, and two had one child each. There were two families who took deck passage. I noticed the four women and their children particularly, as the women were all sick, and the cabin-maid was feeding the children. There may have been other ladies in the state-rooms. I kept out in the open air, and did not go to my state-room until a few moments before the boat went down. I know there was danger before that. I saw people putting on life preservers. Laid down, and could not move if the boat were sinking. The boat rolled on her side and I thought it was sinking. I jumped up and went into the adjoining state-room where the women with two children was found her asleep, woke her, but think she never left the cabin. Her children were small, one about two years and the other a child in arms. I then put on a life preserver and sat by the cabin door.


Before I went to my stateroom I asked the mate if there was great danger. He said there was a very heavy sea, but they had already thrown some of the horses overboard, and would throw off all the freight they could, and that they were very heavy loaded. I could hear a great noise made by the horses. I had hopes the boat would be saved till I saw the water coming into the cabins; I was on the upper side of the boat. She was now on her side, and I took hold of the rail, and slid down into the water and sank, and came up by the side of the captain's boat.


He took me by he wist and the mate helped to pull me in. My state-room companions were both in the same boat, but no other women or children. I saw the other two life-boats, both full. The captain and mate had oars, and tried to take care of our boat. The steamer was now down and wreckage was floating all around. I saw the other two boats upset twice. Each time the number was largely reduced. The three boats drifted together for a short piece. Heard the other boats call to the captain for an oar. One of the two boats had no oar one had one oar, and our boat two. The captain could spare none. Our boat went along quite nicely for some minutes. The others capsized almost immediately. They had nothing to help themselves with.


I was sitting in the bow of our boat looking back towards the wreck and saw the other two boats tip over three times. When I saw them last they were empty no one even clinging to the sides. I feel sure that none were saved except Tinkiss and I, finally our boat upset, and we lost both oars. We were then at the mercy of the waves, and upset four times in all. There were eighteen in before we upset. The two women were lost the first time. It got calmer near dark, and the boat did not upset again. About this time we picked up a floating oar; but all were to exhausted to use it.


When the mate helped Mr in he told me to hold on to the life line whatever happened, and I never let go. When the boat upset I hung on and came up with it. None of the five men died until after dark. The mate got up on his knees and said he could see land, and this cheered us all. The captain seemed very sad, and seldom spoke .None had hats on and none coats on but Tinkiss. I had neither hat nor shawl; we were all water up to our knees, but the water was not up to the seats. If we had had a bailing dish we could have bailed out the boat after the sea went down, but had nothing o do it with,


The men all died quietly. They seemed to go to sleep. The mate put his head up to my face in the dark, and asked if it was me. I said "yes" My hair was flying around and he seized it in his death grasp and pulled down my head. I asked the captain, who was near, to release my hair. He did so, and the mate soon breathed his last. We saw a light, Byng Inlet, about dark, and could see it all night, but were drifting south. Shortly after the mate died the captain laid his head down. I tried to arouse him, but he was dead. I think this was about midnight.


Mr. Tinkiss and I kept up a conversation. I was nervous, and feared that Mr. Tinkiss would lay his head down like the rest. I asked him to come to the bow, but he said he would balance the boat better by remaining as we were, and that he would not go to sleep.


Daylight finally dawned and revealed the shore near by. Tinkiss worked the boat towards the shore with the oar we had picked up. It was a beautiful warm morning, and the sun warmed us and dried our clothes. We got on the rocks shortly after sunrise and attempted to walk across the island, as we thought we might find some houses. I could not walk, and we returned to the boat. Tinkiss took the bodies out, I could not help him. He then took out some of the water, and pried the boat off with the oar. He then worked the boat down the beach, but made poor headway. Dark coming on, I was afraid it would get rough, and we then landed, broke boughs for our beds, put some under us, some over us, and I slept some, but was nervous. We went up before sunrise, got into the boat, it was calm then, rowed a short piece and gave up, went ashore, laid down on the rocks and went to sleep, An Indian came along and woke us up, and asked if we were lost. We said we were. His squaw was in the boat. We asked how far it was to a house. He said twenty-two miles. He asked us if we were hungry and got some bread and pork from his boat. I could not eat, but drank some cold tea. Tinkiss gave him his watch to bring us to Parry Sound. We had but little to eat on the way. The squaw made me a bed in the boat, and I slept there Saturday night. I was quite comfortable. Tinkiss never gave up except on Saturday morning, when we laid down on the rocks to die. I thought of the "Babes in the Wood, " but saw no hope of rescue.

There were on the Asia, beside supplies, horses, etc, thirty men employed by Mr .McDougall, lumberman, Orillia, viz:-A. D. McDonald, Orillia, foreman; Mr. Marshall, Port Hope, cook who leaves a wife and eleven children; John Duffy, Rama; Wm. Heavener, Rama; two young McDonalds, Rama; John Boynton, North Orillia; J .Jordon, Roseau, and twenty-one others from the east.


The following is the list of lost as far as known


William, Clinton; Wm. Christie and wife, of Collingwood; B .Moorey; Mr. And Mrs W .H. Woods, of Cincinnati, Ohio; Mr. Duncan and son, of Duncan & Co. Hamilton; J. W.. Kerr, wife and seven children, of Limehouse; W. B. Gallagher; J .H Tinkiss, of Manitowaning; Mr. McNabb; Miss Harbury; Wm. Henry, of Toronto; John Little, of Sault Ste. Marie; Rev. R. J .James and wife; Emma Dyke; Miss McNabb; Thos. Poole, of Osprey; Thos. Wesley Lane, of Limehouse; Mrs. Anderson and child, of Thessalon River; Margaret Kirk, of Clover Hill; John Anderson, of Roseau, and 25 or 30 lumbermen.


Capt. J. W. Savage, John McDonald, Arch'd McNabb, M. Davis. G. McKay, James Smith, John Mellroy, James Nolan, William Hinson, C. Innis, T. K. Bruce, M. Windover, H. Degroat, James Lamb, Stephen Carter, Iassc Bennett, A. Watt, T. Lawrence, R. Walker, T. Hill, Mrs. Walters, William Jackson, C. Osgood, J. Jackson, John McDougall.

Dr. Crookshanks is holding an inquest, the result of which will not be known for some time owing to a number of the witnesses living at great distance from Collingwood.

We join with almost the entire press of Canada in urging upon the Government the necessity of a strict investigation into the cause of the Asia disaster. If "coffin ships" are used upon our lakes the public should know it and the owners should be punished. If the vessel used are seaworthy it is due to the owners that that fact should be given all possible publicity. The investigation should and must be held without fear favour in affection. These repeated disasters are becoming intolerable.

The Bulletin says of the great storm. - The blow of last week was very severely felt here. The water rose three feet above the usual level and nearly to the top of the Esplanade crib work. At one time the waves threatened to overflow into the Dry Dock excavation but the mischief was stopped in time. Many shade trees were blown down, and having rooted well in our dry soil. Yachts were blown from their moorings on the esplanade and beached against the dry dock. The big mill at the foot of Hurontario street had to stop work on account of the water thrown up by the fly-wheel against the building, the ground floor of the mill being nearly submerged. The St. Paul left early on the morning but put back again in the afternoon, the captain thinking it unsafe to proceed further. The Emerald escaped the storm by remaining at Killarney till it had blown over.


NAVIGATION - Steam barge Nevada is loading up for Towanda U. S. with clear picks, dressing and butter, her cargo will be six hundred thousand ft. of the above lumber. Schooner Lady Dufferin is loading for Windsor. Erie Stewart is loaded for Sarnia. Schooner Ceillia cleared for Sarnia with lumber. Mr. R. Power's tug Superior cleared for Byng Inlet on Thursday last with A. Miscampbell Esq. On board. Steam barge Georgian is loading for lake Superior ports.

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September 28, 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), September 28, 1882