The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 7 Nov 1873

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p.2 V.P.T.W.C. - 5,6.


Burning of the Bavarian

A Fearful Night.

Oshawa, Nov. 6th - The steamer Bavarian took fire last night about 8 o'clock when opposite Oshawa. She was a mass of flames in an instant, and only two boats were lowered. Both of these reached land, containing twenty-two persons altogether. There were fourteen remaining, who are almost without a doubt lost. Amongst the fourteen are Captain Carmichael of Toronto; Chief Engineer, William Finnean, of Prescott; the steward, William Spence, of Lachine; also three lady passengers, Mrs. Sibbald and daughter, of Brockville, and Miss Ireland, of Kingston, and Mr. Hillyard, Sen., of Chatham.

Whitby, Nov. 6th - About 8 o'clock last night a steamer, supposed to be the Bavarian, was observed to be on fire about ten or fifteen miles off Whitby harbor. Two small boats put off to her assistance, but returned, the distance being too great. At ten o'clock this morning she appears about five or six miles off in tow of a tug, heading for this port. She is still smoking a good deal.

Toronto, Nov. 6th - The steamer Bavarian, of the Royal Mail Line, bound from Hamilton to Montreal with six cabin passengers, took fire about 8 p.m. about fourteen miles from the shore, opposite Oshawa. The fire broke out in the centre of the boat, near the engine, and the flames spread with great rapidity. Three boats were at once lowered, and one of them went adrift and was lost. The passengers and crew got into the other two boats. One of them contained nine persons, including the pilot, lady's maid and seven others of the crew. The other boat contained thirteen persons, including the first and second mates, purser and two of the passengers, a boy names James Clare and Mr. J.J. Parmenter, of Toronto, and five of the crew. Both boats got safely to shore. There are fourteen persons to be accounted for, including Captain Carmichael, Fennean,chief engineer; William Spence, steward; and three lady passengers, Mrs. Sibball and daughter, of Brockville, Miss Ireland, of Kingston, and Mr. Weir of St. Chatham. These were not able to get into the boats. The last that was seen of Captain Carmichael he was on a plank in the water. The night was calm.

Oshawa, Nov. 7th - The steamer Bavarian was burned off this port on Wednesday night. She left Toronto on her regular trip with six passengers and a crew of thirty persons. The fire was discovered about 8 o'clock, and seemed to envelop the centre of the steamer instantly in flames. Two boats only could be reached, and these were nearly filled with water. Into one the pilot and eight others of the crew got, and made for the shore. Into the other the mate, purser and eleven others sprung. Three of the six passengers were ladies, whom it was found could not be got off. Their names are, Miss Ireland, of Kingston, and Mrs. and Miss Sibbard, of Brockville. The other passengers were Mr. Hillyard Weir, of Chatham, Mr. J.J. Parmenter of Toronto, and James Clare, a young boy from Toronto. The latter is the only one saved. Capt. Carmichael was seen floating on a plank, but he could not have lived long exposed to the extreme cold. The boats landed near this port, and those in them were received into the house of Mr. J.O. Guy, and everything possible done for their comfort. Some of them were almost naked, and suffering severely from exposure. The hull of the vessel, which is of iron, was towed into Whitby. The fire has been got under, but the smoke and heat prevent a search. No bodies have yet been recovered. The cause of the fire is not known, and various stories are propounded, but it seems to have taken from the furnaces, and before it was discovered had enveloped the whole centre of the vessel. A thorough investigation is necessary, both into the origin of the fire and the conduct of the crew who escaped. The pilot's boat could have held three times the number it had in it, and why the occupants of the other boat made no attempt to save the captain, although it grazed the plank he was standing on. It is one opinion there seems to have been a terrible lack of energy and no attempt to stay by the steamer and pick up any who might have jumped overboard. These are complicated accounts respecting the lady passengers. It is said they were seen in the bow shrieking for help; but the purser, who was in the mate's boat, says he heard no screams, but it is evident they were seen in the boat. The stewardess, who was the only other woman on board, was below, and was received in her night dress in the pilot's boat. All those saved were taken east by the Corsican yesterday.

A Sad Disaster - We are today able to give only brief particulars of another of the saddest accidents ever recorded on the lake. It is the drowning on Tuesday in the gale, between Pigeon Island lighthouse and this harbor, of Mr. James Eccles, keeper of Pigeon Island light, Deputy Reeve of Wolfe Island, and one of the men of the county, together with Messrs. Cordell and Davis, of Wolfe Island, and 3 fishermen from Cape Vincent. They were coming home in a yacht heavily laden, which upset. The first intimation of the disaster was the finding of the boat on the shore, stove-in. The bodies have not been found.

The Bavarian Passengers - passed down yesterday.

p.3 The Lost Bavarian - The Bavarian was rebuilt last winter from the iron hull of the old Kingston at the shipyard of Mr. Cantin, Montreal, and was fitted up with large and elegant saloons and cabins. She presented a fine appearance, and on account of her good qualities for sailing was a great favorite with the travelling public. She was commanded by Captain Carmichael, who it will be seen never deserted his ship to the last. At the point where the Bavarian burned, the steamers of the C.N. Co. run close to the shore, in order to effect a landing at Port Darlington, a few miles further on. The iron hull did not sink. This is twice that iron hull has been swept of its upper works; the first time when, under the name of the Kingston, she was burned at Grenadier Island. It was in her that the Prince of Wales, when on his visit to Canada, passed up Lake Ontario.

The Bavarian was valued at about $90,000, including her cargo, which was of Western produce. She was insured for $55,000 in American insurance companies, and for $3,000 in the Citizens' of Montreal.

schooner Cambria beached at Long Point, Lake Erie.

Imports - 5,7.

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7 Nov 1873
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 7 Nov 1873