The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Times (Orillia, ON), October 5, 1882

Full Text
The Asia Disaster

Collingwood, Oct. 2. - Captain Scott was under the impression on Saturday that he would close the investigation with Mr. Tinkiss' evidence, but having to wait foe some time for that gentleman's arrival, he took further evidence today. - That of Mr. Evans and Capt. MacNabb was of special importance, owing to the long and varied experience of both witnesses.


The excitement in town was intense this morning when the news spread that additional bodies were found, and groups of men continually gathered at the telegraph offices and eagerly read the bulletins which had been posted. Though deeply grieved at the assurance of the loss of poor John McDougall, the purser, people were in a measure consoled to reflect that his remains had been found, and much satisfaction was evinced when it became known that the Great Northern Transit company had telegraphed their Vice-President at Owen Sound, Mr. Keough to send out a tug to pick up the bodies reported to have been seen by the Ann Long. Mr. Keough has telegraphed back that he has sent out Ward's tug to do the work, and further news may soon be looked for.


will probably be here by Thursday of this week the repairs on her having been effected in Port Huron dry-dock. She will be able to resume her usual trips as soon as she arrives.


the inquest opens to-morrow night in the Town Hall. The question is raised : Can the inquest continue on the body of an unknown man when the man has been identified.


It seems the Georgian Bay does not enjoy the possession of unseaworthy vessels as a perusal of the following curious document sent to Dr. Scott, and signed by a citizen of Hamilton, will show;

Hamilton, Sept. 23, 1882

Capt. Scott, R. N.:

DEAR SIR, - Such a gentleman as you was much needed up here in your professional capacity. We have soap boxes and tin tanks doing duty here as steamers, and dry-goods clerks as captains. You will find at least one vessel principally rust in Toronto. Get a toothpick and try her. I write in the interest of safety, as I do not know any of those interested in the boat, but I do know she is not safe. Some of the wood boats are no better. (Signed) SALT SAILORMAN.

Owen Sound, Oct. 2, - The tug Ann Long arrived here at midnight last evening having on board the following bodies lost of the ill-fated steamer Asia; - John McDougall, of Owen Sound, who was purser; F. Sparks, of Ottawa; Jackson, supposed to be a farmer near Listowell; Mrs. Kirk, from Clover Hill; Sheppard; and one unknown man supposed to be Silas Benard. Two unknown bodies were buried at Killarney. Five of the recovered bodies were picked up by the steamer Africa and three by the steam-barge Enterprise, near Lonely Island, and sent here by the tug Capt. Noble, of the tug Ann Long, reports that a large number are floating around where these were picked up, and could be easily recovered if a tug with appliances for the purpose was dispatched at once.


LATER - The remains of Mr. John McDougall, the purser were interred this afternoon at 4 o'clock. As soon as the remains reached here they were taken in charge by the brethren of the Masonic lodges, and the United Order of Workmen, the deceased having been a member of both associations. The great kindness shown by the brethren of these institutions in taking charge of the remains and making every preparation for the funeral will no doubt be long and gratefully remembered by the sorrowing family, who were so stricken with grief as to be almost unable to undertake the painful task of attending the corpse. The funeral cortege was a long one, as it wended its way through the streets to ward the cemetery all the places of business were closed, and universal sadness prevailed throughout the town. Mr. McDougall was an old mariner, having been sailing in the capacity as purser for upwards of twenty years. He was purser of the steamer Waubuno for about eleven years, since which he has filled the same official position on the steamers Manitoulin, Emerald, Northern Queen, and Northern Belle, all of them belong to the Great Northern Transit Company. During these long years of hazardous occupation he bore a high reputation for kindly disposition and efficient discharge of duty. He leaves a wife and large family of children who are to-day bowed down with great bereavement.


The remains of Frederick Sparks will be sent on the five o'clock train to-morrow to his friends at Ottawa. Jos. Jackson's remains were taken in charge by his friends, and will be taken to Listowel for interment. The body of Mrs. King was also taken in charge by friends this evening, and will be taken to Clover Hill for burial. The remains of the unknown man, supposed to be Silas Bernard, will be buried here by the town if not claimed. There were no papers or anything on his person whereby he could be identified. - The body of Jonathan Sheppard, supposed to be cook on the Asia, is still unclaimed.


Mr. Keough of the G. N. T. Co. on learning that bodies were seen floating around the vicinity of Lonely Island, promptly engaged the steamer Kendrrick to go out and make a thorough search. She leaves to-night.


This mornings report that Captain Noble saw a large number of bodies floating around might be misconstrued and cast a reflection upon the captain for not picking them up. The bodies recovered were picked up by the steamers Africa and Enterprise, and given to Capt. Noble at Killarney to bring here. He consequently saw no bodies afloat on his way here but says the other named steamers saw them in quite a large number, but could not pick them up, it being much easier done with a tug.

From the evidence given at the investigation now going on at Collingwood it is shown that the vessel was sailing with out the required authorisation, had she had a license it would not have covered the number of parsons whom it was conveying, there is no evidence so far that the additional life-preserving appliances called for had been provided. There is clear evidence of bad seamanship in a vessel of her capacity, with powerful engines working well being unable to get out of the trouble which overtook the Asia. We are told that the captain was what may be fairly termed not quite up to the requirements of his position.

The St. Catharines Journal which is perhaps as good an authority on lake navigation as need be cited says:

This is also another evidence that the Government ought to insist upon it that masters of vessels should be thoroughly qualified for their duties, and receive certain certificates just as an engineer do. Under such circumstances backed by the law a qualified master of a ship would not go out if his vessel were overcrowded or unless she was in a fit and seaworthy condition neither top heavy, overcrowded or sufficiently manned.

Journalists has no nerves. Were this fact realized it would imply the journalists work greatly. But no man is worthy to use a pen at all who cannot use it both willingly and well in denunciation of our interior navigation arrangements. All the extracts made above - cullings from journals supporting and supported by or opposing the Government of the day - display a complete unanimity on the question that this disaster involves . The conclusions roughly stated are simply that; -

1. The inspection is a sham

2. That nothing in the way of inspection under the law as it stands can be anything else than a sham.

3. That it is the imperative duty of the Government to advise Parliament on the subject.

Even from a mercenary point of view it is no trifle for a hundred lives to be swept out of earthy existence in twenty minutes; a young country which pays dearly to draw immigrants to its shores cannot afford it. It is useless for an ocean steamer to yield us say two hundred emigrants, and the day after for an inland steamer to go down to the depths with half that number.

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October 5, 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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Times (Orillia, ON), October 5, 1882