The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 10 Nov 1873

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p.2 Milford - prop. California is ashore on Pt. Traverse.

-Collingwood - steamer Cumberland arrived from Thunder Bay.

-V.P.T.W.C. - 8.

The Home Disaster

While so much attention is being paid to the fearful disaster to the Bavarian on the lake, the sad disaster near port, by which six lives were lost, has been allowed to pass by with hardly an expression of sympathy. The accident having occurred in very deep water off Nine Mile Point, the bodies of the six drowned men will never, at least not this season of navigation, be recovered. Mr. Eccles, who was keeper of the Pigeon Island light, had charge of the party, three of its members having been assistants of Mr. Seth Green, and engaged by him in the collection of spawn for the propagation of fish in N.Y. State inland waters. Their names were Messrs. Wallace Deer, Bolton and Wm. Closs. The first named was a resident of Irondequoit, and leaves a large family. The last named is a Canadian. Holton belonged to Rochester, and lost a brother by drowning in the Genesee River. The can, overcoat and pieces of the boat found on Simcoe Island have been preserved.

The Late Mr. Eccles - The deceased was Deputy Reeve of Wolfe Island and a prominent man in the vessel and fishing line on the Island. His loss is most deeply deplored, and has been a crushing blow to his family. It is a singular thing that men so much at home on the waters, so often die in them. It has so happened with Jas. Eccles and Jas. Medley, both champion rowers of Kingston, and without their equal for strength and endurance on the lakes. They were not once, if ever, beaten, yet poor Medley was drowned during a gale in sailing from the city towards Wolfe Island, and the body never found. Now Jas. Eccles, years afterwards, is also drowned here under similar circumstances. There is a fate for all men.


The Cause of the Disaster.

Statement of the Lady's Maid.

The following is an authentic statement made by Capt. Thomas Howard, General Superintendent of the Canadian Navigation steamers. Capt. Howard states that the cause of the accident was through the walking-beam breaking at the centre, the forward part of the beam being in connection with the connecting rod of the engine, was thrown forward, breaking thro' the front of the saloon on to the main deck, where were stored 25 barrels containing spirits, the beam being of great weight smashed in the barrels, causing the fire to run down into the firehole, where it ignited. The flames spread so rapidly that nothing could be done with water to try to extinguish the fire.

Punishing the Crew.

Capt. Howard further states the Company are determined to punish, if in their power to do so, the pilot, a Frenchman, and the men who went away from the burning vessel in the first boat contrary to the instructions of the first mate, Mr. Henderson. Capt. Howard speaks in the highest terms of Mr. Henderson's conduct and adds that had the men in the first boat done their duty as they were ordered by the first mate, and remained alongside of the steamer, it is probable that not a life need have been lost; the boat left the burning vessel with only nine persons in her, while she was capable of holding twenty-five persons. It is believed there are twelve persons, including the four passengers, who have lost their lives, but until a return is made of the crew saved the exact number lost cannot be stated. Capt. Howard expects that the Bavarian will be in a condition to be towed down to Montreal next week for repairs. The value of the steamer was $100,000 but she was only insured for $60,000.

The following is the substance of what Ann Gerity, the ladies' maid on board of the ill-fated steamer, saw and experienced in escaping from the burning boat. She was in the ladies' cabin at half past eight on Wednesday night, and was about to go to bed, when she suddenly heard a report, followed by several loud cracks. Being scared, she ran up stairs into the saloon, and met the purser, also a little boy, a passenger, who was from Manitoba, likewise the second waiter, and a gentleman passenger. They all got to the gangway. The first boat that was lowered had got adrift; and the second was being lowered, and the crew were jumping into it, when the purser called out to them to take her on board, and she at once got on to the fender, and thence swung herself into the boat, just as it was being shoved off by the crew, one of whom caught her. When they had pushed off a little she saw eight or nine persons in the water, and making a

Low Moaning Sound

as they strove to keep themselves on the surface of the flood. The third boat was then being lowered. It was on fire, but the burning part was quenched when it reached the water. She next saw

A Door Thrown Overboard

by some one from the end of the ladies' cabin and thought the steward got on to it. There was eight of a crew in the boat in which she escaped, and there was a foot of water in it, but they put a plug in the boat, and baled the water out. There was plenty of room in the boat, but they made no attempt to pick up any of the drowning people, but seemed anxious only to get away. After rowing for some three hours and a quarter they succeeded in landing at about a mile and a half from Port Oshawa, where she had to be lifted out of the boat, so stiff and benumbed was she with wet and cold. In two or three minutes after she heard the report like an explosion on board the Bavarian, the vessel was in

A Blaze From Stem to Stern,

and when she got a little way from it she did not see a soul on board its deck. There were forty-two altogether when the Bavarian left Toronto, and eight of those were passengers, two only of whom were saved, namely, the gentleman passenger, and the little boy from Manitoba.

Imports - 7,8.

p.3 New Yacht - is building at Cobourg by Capt. Cuthbert, 55' keel.

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10 Nov 1873
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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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), 10 Nov 1873