The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), 16 Aug 1875

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p.2 str. Algerian now at Cantin's drydock.

Ashore - Newcastle on False Ducks.

Marine - arrivals and departures at Collinsby.


Some Wild Scenes - Cowardly Men.

Capt. Trowell states that the vessel was coming down as usual about 4:30 p.m. in charge of pilot Napolean Fordefour, who is well known on the route. The steam was shut off just before entering the rapids. A strong wind was blowing from the southward, and the vessel entered the passage between the two rocks, which is not more than 50 feet wide, she was blown over a trifle, her stern struck the edge of the northern half of the "split," causing her to swing round and stick fast upon the rock from the paddles to the stern. Steam pumps were set to work and the vessel kept clear of the water till the fuel gave out, about 2 a.m. The water then rose to its present height, about level with the bottom of the furnace. Boats were lowered as soon as the excitement had subsided and all the ladies landed. The habitants engaged were enjoined not to take money from the passengers, as the company would pay all expenses. The passengers behaved very well, the ladies especially. Soundings were taken, the accurate position of the vessel ascertained, and the passengers informed that they would be in perfect safety on board until released in the morning. No boats were permitted to leave after dark, owing to the risk incurred in rowing against a very swift current, dark at night, with a succession of boulders and seething waters a few hundred yards below; and those who did leave in scows, did so at their own risk. Captain Trowell has had twenty years experience on the St. Lawrence and lakes and previous to that time served in the English marine from boyhood. The quiet and cool manner in which he went to work being being the result of this experience is thus censured by some and applauded by others, who have been often placed in positions of danger. The split rocks and the shoal surrounding them are annually the cause of many disasters, though happily not frequently to passenger vessels. Twelve years ago the Jenny Lind ran into the boulders and gradually broke up. Four years ago the Grecian struck on the split rock at the south side of the channel and drifting down to the centre island became fast among the boulders where she gradually broke up. All her passengers were saved but one - a drunken soldier who jumped overboard. Last year the Corinthian struck on the (Belise ?), 400 yards west of the scene of the present disaster, and was floated two days later. All the passengers were safely landed. The north split rock on which the Algerian lies is table like in form, with deep water on either side and a clear channel ahead. All the luggage is free from damage and has been forwarded to the passengers.

A Passenger's Account.

The passengers had just concluded dinner, and were entering the split rock rapids. Each deck forward was crowded with passengers. All at once the vessel bounded heavily and rebounded again and again. The timbers strained as though they were going to part; the saloon lamps were thrown from their places and crushed heavily against the walls and ceiling, and the passengers hitched from their seats and mixed in the greatest confusion. There was great excitement for a few moments. A rush was made for life preservers, woman fainted, children cried bitterly and as naturally may be expected a great many men turned very pale. It was probably fifteen minutes before the Captain could get a boat lowered. A crew were despatched with the purser to obtain assistance and returned after a long time followed by several habitants in their scows. Two other life-boats were lowered and manned with a crew of six men in each. The Captain acknowledged that the remaining boats were unseaworthy. The lady passengers were despatched first, six in each boat and four in each scow. Night closing in the Captain refused to allow the ship's boats to take any more passengers, on the ground that it was unsafe, as the boats might meet with an accident, and be carried over the boulders. He stated that they were perfectly safe where they were till morning, and that any person who left the vessel in the inhabitants scows did so at his or her own risk. However, as all the ladies of Mr. Dalton's party were sitting disconsolately on shore while their fathers and brothers were on board, liable at any moment to meet with a watery grave should the vessel slide off the rock, he engaged with the habitants to take as many passengers as could be prevailed upon to leave the vessel at $2 per head; he also caused a bonfire to be lit at the landing place to direct them in the darkness. By this means between 40 and 60 persons were landed; but Mr. Dalton lost somewhat by the transaction, as some would pay and some would not. By this time Mr. Milloy, the Company's agent, had arrived and had the party conveyed to the railway station, and thence to Montreal by special train. Mr. Dalton and his friends expressed their dissatisfaction at the apparent lack of discipline among the crew of the vessel, but spoke highly of the ability of the habitants in the emergency.

An Awful Scene.

Mr. P.B. Hayward, of Cincinnati, an old lake navigator, said he had sailed in vessels that were blown up, burnt out, sunk or wrecked, but Wednesday ws the first time in his life that his face turned pale. Mr. H. Martin, a retired merchant, had seen many disasters at sea, but no sight that could equal the brief panic on board the Algerian. Several passengers for Liverpool acknowledged that the first three minutes was not pleasant, and added that the captain was a "jolly old cricket" and acted as a "sea dog" should act.

A Cool Baron.

Among the passengers were two Austrian noblemen - Prince de Strathenburg and his Secretary, Baron de Waldemar - who did good service in bringing several cowardly men to reason. The latter saw a lady tenderly implore a strong, hearty man to hand her a lifebelt. The fellow, too much occupied with fitting one round his own muscular frame, attempted to walk away when he was seized by the Baron and compelled to hand his life preserver to the lady. He was then left to procure another for himself, which he lost no time in doing. The Prince, a short time after the accident, procured his sketch-book, and while quietly smoking his cigar, took a sketch of the whole scene.

Some Nobleness.

A gentleman from Louisiana, who has seen many a hard day's fighting during the rebellion, spoke in very favorable terms of the conduct of the captain. He was standing in the cabin with his little son, aged 12, when the shock took place; procuring a life-belt, he told the little one to enclose himself in it, and do the best to save himself, should the vessel careen. The noble little fellow, with tears in his eyes refused to do so, and begged of his father, who was crippled in the war, to take it back for his own preservation. The parent tenderly declined and with great difficulty succeeded in persuading the child to comply with his wishes. The father is a proud man, today, the more especially, as in the very moment of danger, he saw another strongly-built man, who had all through the passage taken occasion to laud his own virtues, leave a defenceless female with whom he was travelling and make his own safety as sure as possible without apparently thinking what should become of her. Another strange contrast to this was the conduct of a tall and pretty lady dressed in black and wearing a white lace shawl. Being unable to convince her friends that there was no danger, she descended amid all the noise and examined the state of the hold. Returning, she assured them that the pumps were keeping it free of water. The Southerner was of opinion that the ladies as a rule were more courageous than the men, many of whom were arrant cowards.

W.C. - 14.

p.3 Touched at Swift's - vessels which touched on way up and down.

The Grain Fleet - sch. W.B. Phelps only grain carrier still in port.

Royal Mail Line - Magnet is replacing Algerian.

-tug Joe Mac moved closer to shore, now 50' of water.

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16 Aug 1875
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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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Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), 16 Aug 1875