The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 17 Oct 1891

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He Died At His Residence Last Evening.

Capt. John Trowell died last night at his residence, Wellington street. He had been in declining health for several years. He suffered from Bright's disease and had been confined to bed for eleven weeks. He was a bluff, but kind-hearted sailor, identified with the marine interests for over half a century, and a man who had no enemies. He was born in 1813 in Milford, Pembrokeshire, South Wales, and in 1827, when only a boy, he went on board the coasting brig Colstock, which sailed about the coast of England carrying ore, copper and other material between Swansea and Cornwall. He remained two years on this boat and then went aboard the schooner Maria and Eliza, of Cardiff. He was apprenticed on the vessel. The boat traded with different points in the Mediterranean. She called at Cork and at many points on the English and Irish coasts, and at ports in France, Germany and Spain. Mr. Trowell remained on the schooner four years as an apprenctice. He left her in Cardiff and went home. After an illness of several weeks he aboard the Erin-go-Bragh. She was a troller. He remained on her two months. He then went aboard a schooner called the Ebenezer and made a voyage around the English coast. He took small-pox and left the boat at Shields. He was then engaged on the brig Columbus, and on her sailed to Quebec. She had a general cargo, and on her way out experienced rough weather. He ran away from the boat at Quebec and came to Kingston.

His first vessel here was the schr. Kingston in the timber trade between here and Niagara. He was on her for several months without salary. He afterwards sailed on the schooners Farmers' Delight, Red Rover, John Watkins, Peacock and Matilda. This was between 1833 and 1838. He afterwards was sailing master or mate of the schooners Fanny, Toronto, Henrietta and Peacock.

In 1847 he was master of the schr. Clyde for one season. The year 1848 found him on a vessel called the schr. Thames, of Hamilton. He was master. The latter part of the season was spent by the captain in the sailmaking business. In 1849 Capt. Trowell shipped on the schooner Ottawa. He was captain. During a snow storm the boat sunk while going into Port Stanley. She struck the west pier and went ashore. In 1850 Capt. Trowell boarded the schooner General Wolfe, as captain. He stopped on her a season and a half. In the fall of 1851 he was master of the prop. Vandalia, of Hamilton, which, in a collision with a schooner, was sunk. The accident occurred near the head of Lake Erie. The Vandalia was the first propeller afloat on the lakes and was built in Oswego. Capt. Trowell spent part of two years in Hamilton in the sailmaking business, and in 1852 took charge of the schooner Laura Elgin. The year following the captain was on the prop. St. Lawrence. In 1854 he was master of the schooner Emblem, for part of a season, and then he was transferred to the prop. Banshee.

In 1855 he joined the steamer Passport, then owned by Hon. John Hamilton, and remained on her seven years. In 1862 Capt. Trowell was on the Shanley one season, when she was owned by O. Gildersleeve. This boat plied between Kingston and Cape Vincent and Kingston and Montreal. In 1863 Capt. Trowell was mate of the steamer Banshee, owned by Capt. Bowen & Co. She ran between Hamilton and Montreal. For eight years he sailed as chief mate on the steamer Magnet when she was owned by the Inland river navigation company. He was captain for short periods on the propellers City of Montreal, Chatham, Bristol, Hamilton, and R.W. Stanley, Hamilton. In 1874 he assumed command of the steamer Algerian, belonging to the Richelieu and Ontario navigation company. He held that position until the close of navigation in 1889, when he resigned and retired, after sixty-three years of life on the water. Capt. Trowell was attached to the Anglican church and a prominent member of St. John's Lodge, A.F. & A.M. He was twice married, to Miss Mary Jane Holmes, of Toronto, in 1836, and to Mrs. Jane Wilson, of Port Robinson, in 1855. Five daughters and one son survive, Capt. J.V. Trowell, Toronto; Mrs. W.A Geddes, Toronto; Mrs. James Minnes, Hamilton; Mrs. John Parrott, Watertown, N.D.; Mrs. T. Richardson, Winnipeg, and Miss Belle Trowell, at home. Three children preceded the captain to the grave.



The Marine Record published the following interesting paragraph respecting Capt. Luke Doney, of this city:

Some years ago, when Capt. Wm. E. Comer (now sailing the steamer Darius Cole) sailed the steamer Flora, of Grummond's line, and carried as mate Luke Doney, known to almost every one on the Mackinac route, the steamer was bound up, when just off Forestvide a thick fog shut her in, rendering it necessary to have recourse to the use of the lead. Capt. Billy was on the pilot house and Luke threw the lead, time and time again singing out in his peculiar nasal twang, "no bottom, sir." Finally getting tired of the excercise, and it being a very chilly job, as ice was making at the time, Luke bethought himself of another method, so signalling a deckhand he instructed him to go to the cook's galley and get an armful of stove wood. Then the fun began. Luke would let go a chunk of short stove wood, and kerplunk it would strike the water. Comer would experience a few short moments of suspence, listnening to the shuffle of Doney's feet on the deck, then the familiar words, "No bottom, sir," would come to him. Over and over again the wood was thrown, until Doney began to believe it as good as the lead. Just as he was about to order another armful, the steamer struck, and quick as a flash, and through a stillness that could be felt, rang out from old Luke "There is bottom, sir."



The str. Traveller cleared for Ogdensburg with a tow of barges.

The steambarge R. Anglin cleared for Cape Vincent, this morning, light.

Steambarge Resolute, Kincardine, salt, and prop. Shickluna, wheat, passed Port Colborne for Kingston.

The barge Valencia, one of the str. Armenia's tow, loaded wheat at Chicago ten days ago and ever since has been waiting for the rest of her tow to be chartered.

The steamer Rideau Belle arrived here yesterday afternoon loaded heavily with grain and passengers. The little steamer never fails to have a load every trip.

Clearances: prop. Saginaw Valley, Buffalo, to load coal; schrs. Burton, Tradewind and Nellie Hunter, Bay of Quinte, for barley; schrs. Emerald and Grantham, Oswego, light; tug Thompson, four barges, wheat, Montreal; tug Hall and six barges, wheat, for Montreal.

Arrivals: prop. Superior with consort Sandusky, Duluth, 73,000 bushels wheat; schr. Burton, Port Hope, 10,000 bushels barley; tug Thompson, Montreal, with four light barges; tug Hall, Montreal, with four light barges; sloop Lorraine, Deseronto, lumber; schr. Speedwell, Gananoque, barley for Oswego.

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17 Oct 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.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 17 Oct 1891