The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 8 May 1891

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p.1 A Shocking Incident - man killed by bursting of fly-wheel, in shipyard of M.T. Company; he was looking after the engine on the capstan house while a steam hoister was being launched from the ways.


A Marine Disaster Near The Main Ducks.

Early this morning the schr. Eliza Fisher sailed into the harbor towing the barges City of Kingston and Quebec, from Oswego, laden with 135 and 175 tons of coal, respectively, for Smith's Falls. They were the consorts of the tug Eleanor, which sprung a leak a short distance from Pigeon Island, and sank in 300 feet of water.

Capt. Anderson, of the barge City of Kingston, a sailor for 49 years, said: "If the schr. Fisher had not come to our rescue the barges and crews would have been lost. We sailed over to Oswego all right, and left there yesterday at 8:30 o'clock. About one o'clock the tug began to take water, and pumps and siphons were brought into play. The tug was lashed to the side of the barge City of Kingston, and the barge Quebec remained ahead. When the Fisher came she took the Quebec in tow and kept her steady. In the mean time the crews on the barges got on board the tug and did all that lay in their power to keep her afloat. When we left the tug between ten and eleven o'clock, she was going down fast, and we hardly had time to get on the barge when the tug's upper decks disappeared. She went down without agitating the water. The schooner came to our assistance about two hours before the tug sank. There is no water in the hold of the City of Kingston."

Capt. Archie Keith, of the schr. Eliza Fisher, detailed his experience: "We were running from Oswego to Kingston with a fair wind, and at six o'clock last night we sighted the tug Eleanor with two barges in tow a few miles west of the Main Ducks. She appeared to be in trouble, and on enquiry we were told that she had sprung a leak and was making water fast. The fires were out at that time and all three boats were drifting about. I was told that the two barges with coal were also leaking. We took the Eleanor's crew aboard and I took the three boats in tow. We proceeded slowly inward past Pigeon Island where the Eleanor went down in probably 300 feet of water. The tow line connecting the Eleanor and the barges was hurriedly cut. I brought the two barges on to the city."

The barge Quebec, in charge of Capt. Lafrey, shipped about three feet of water while drifting before the tug was sunk.

The tug was in charge of Capt. McWilliams. The crew were in the fire hole when water was first seen to come through the bottom. The water poured in directly under the engine and very soon rose high enough to put the fires out. By the time the siphon and pumps were ready there were three feet of water in the hold. The work of the men was in vain. It was impossible to keep the boat afloat until land was reached. The crews consisted of Capt. McMaster, pilot; Z. Vanness, first engineer; A. Valliere, second engineer; G. Clark, cook.

The barges were towed by the str. Pierrepont today to Cataraqui bay.

The tug Eleanor was built in 1866, by Chaffey Bros., Bedford Mills, on the Rideau canal, and a few years afterwards passed into other hands. She was thoroughly rebuilt here in 1887, from stem to stern. Her dimensions were 47 feet long, 10 feet beam, and she carried a forty horse power boiler, considered to be very large for the size of the boat. She received a thorough overhauling last winter, and it was expected that this season would be a most successful one. She was worth $2,500.


The schr. Stone is loading lumber for Sackett's harbor.

The schr. Freeman is expected from Belleville today with peas.

The scow Mabel is discharging slabs from Deseronto at Crawford's dock.

It is said that the Hero runs half a mile an hour faster this year than last.

Suits of sails for yachts in Hamilton, Toronto and Montreal are being made here.

The water in the St. Lawrence river is higher than it has been before this season.

Many new buoys will be placed on the Rideau canal at an early date to mark the channel.

The str. Spartan makes her trial trip this afternoon for the purpose of testing her new boilers and machinery.

The schr. Acacia left Fairhaven yesterday for Hamilton with coal. This is the second trip on this route.

The sloop yacht Laura has been purchased by S.C. Calvin from the former owner, T. McK. Robertson, for $500.

A night gang will go to work on the str. Corsican tonight to ensure the completion of the repairs early in June.

Capt. Estes is superintending the fitting out of the str. St. Lawrence. He has a large gang of men employed in the work.

The wreck of the schr. Charger, sunk in Pelee passage, has been removed by Canadian authorities, with commendable promptness.

The str. Rideau Belle arrived this morning from Ottawa and left again this afternoon. She carried a large cargo of freight. Capt. Noonan received the best of encouragement from shippers and merchants along the route.

The interior of Ira Folger's new steamer is being tastefully upholstered in red plush, and the main door of the cabin is lighted with stained glass. All the interior fittings are very complete. She will be entirely completed in a week or so.

The schr. St. Louis arrived from Ashtabula with soft coal for the Hamilton gas company. It was very dark when she came up the bay, and Capt. John Gribbin got misled in some way by the electric lights, missed the corner of Murton's dock, and landed high and dry at the foot of Catharine street.

At Racine the schr. John T. Mott, while attempting to sail into the harbor, struck a bar. The heavy seas swung the boat around, her headgear striking the pier. Some of the planking was torn up and the dock damaged, and the dolphin striker of the vessel broken. After swaying about at the mercy of the gale the vessel was finally towed out of danger.

During the winter Nicholas Henderson, marine artist, has been engaged in building a yacht on Stuart Street. It is nearly ready for service and will be a valuable addition to Kingston's yachting fleet. It's dimensions are: 33' over all; 26' water line; 9 1/2 ' beam and 6' moulded depth. She will enter the 30' class and was built and designed by the owner.

The tug Traveller succeeded in floating the dram aground in the Lachine rapids and brought it down to the main portion of the raft, near St. Helen's Island. It will be made secure, and she will proceed to Quebec with the raft in tow. The logs that got adrift have nearly all stranded on the banks of the river on the way down. They are being secured and will be towed down to Quebec.

p.3 Westport - The str. Olive, the first boat of the season, arrived on May 1st. The steamer John Haggart called on the 2nd; she will run tri-weekly trips from Perth to Kingston this season.

p.4 Wolfe Island, May 6th - Philip's scow, lying at T. Hogan's dock for some time, undergoing repairs, left Sunday for Deseronto to load.

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8 May 1891
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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.
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 8 May 1891