The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 8 Nov 1873

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p.2 V.P.T.W.C. - 7.


It has often occurred to us, as it must have to most travellers, that the life saving apparatus with which the boats that ply our waters are furnished would prove quite insufficient in case of disaster. At time of the burning of the Kingston we called attention to the matter, and pointed out the probable large destruction of life had the fire broken out when the steamer was at considerable distance from shore. We are not aware that the lesson of the Kingston was heeded, or that the old happy-go-lucky system was reformed. It will require the mangling of a bishop, Sydney Smith once said, to secure railway reform in England, and nothing short of the roasting or drowning of a Governor-General, or the criminal prosecution of a President of a Steamboat Company is likely to bring about a practical awakening to the necessity of precaution against the loss of life on our inland waters. There were but a handful of passengers on board the Bavarian at the time she took fire. The boats would have given ample accommodation to all on board, but, as usual on such occasions, only one was properly lowered from the davits, the other two being pitched over board, one filling and swamping and the other being only saved by vigorous baling. The system in vogue for lowering small boats seems to be the clumsiest that can be devised. Again and again do we read of loss of life from this cause. In his last novel Mr. Charles Reade points out, as only a novelist can do, the urgent necessity that exists for a reform in this matter, it appearing next to impossible to get sailors to properly lower a boat in a time of panic. But the two boats we have mentioned were amply large to hold every soul aboard, and yet fourteen were either drowned or burnt, the chicken hearted crew paddling off from the burning steamer and leaving women on board to the prey of the flames or the icy flood. It is a sickening disaster, which we dwell on only to enforce the necessity of taking precautions against its recurrence. It teaches the necessity of providing more efficient life-saving apparatus on our boats, of having their crews thoroughly drilled in its use, so that when disaster arrives no panic may set in. There is this mitigating circumstance of the terrible affair: the fire broke out so suddenly that it appears the boat was at once enveloped in flames, and coolness and calmness were out of the question. But that does excuse the terrible loss of life. We trust that the matter will be thoroughly investigated, and if it be found that owners, officers or crew were derelict of duty, let sharp punishment be meted out to them, or the survivors of them. Life is too valuable to be thus trifled with; and a stern lesson should be inculcated that the man who, directly by carelessness or neglect, or indirectly by want of precaution, sacrifices human life, must expect a felon's punishment. Only in this way can the repetition of similar disasters be prevented.

The Disaster Near Fort - more on loss of fishermen coming from Pigeon Island. [Cape Vincent Eagle]

p.3 The Wrecked Vessels - The schooner Delos de Wolf is being discharged of her coal cargo; the Laura is on the ways at Portsmouth, and the Theodore Perry is on the Marine Railway, for repairs.

Arrived - Delos de Wolf was removed from Timber Island and towed to port.

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8 Nov 1873
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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pd [more details]
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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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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 8 Nov 1873