The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 14 Jun 1892

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The Crew Said To Have Obeyed All the Orders.

A very strong letter protesting against the unmanly and cowardly conduct of the Algerian's crew during the confusion following the collision of Friday morning last has been sent to the head office. The letter says: "The self-possession displayed by the lady passengers, some of whom were accompanied by children, and in the face apparently of the immediate sinking of the vessel, was in marked contrast with the cowardly and panic-stricken conduct of your crew."

A reporter visited the dry dock, where the Algerian is being repaired, to learn the true state of affairs. The officers were very indignant over the matter.

Capt. John McGrath said that immediately upon the collision occurring he ran hurriedly down to the deck and gave orders for one of the boats to be lowered and then went down below to examine the break, instructing the mate that if the boat was lowered before he returned to have it removed to the aft gangway for the convenience of the passengers in disembarking. Upon inspecting the bow of the boat the captain at once concluded that there was no danger of the vessel sinking as the bulkhead behind the bow prevented the water from getting in. Hurrying above the captain found the passengers in a state of intense excitement. The men were working at the boats at the time and fearing that his following him might excite the people he deemed it advisable, first to try and convince the passengers of the true condition of things. This was a task hard to accomplish. The crowd seemed to place little confidence in his remarks and finally he said to them, "Do you know who is speaking to you." It being a bad night Capt. McGrath had donned his overcoat and was so muffled up as to possibly be beyond recognition. He was answered in the affirmative but still they lacked the confidence which should have been placed in him. The report that the crew had attempted to desert the vessel and that he had to threaten them with a revolver in order to compel them to remain was ridiculous. The men obeyed orders to the letter.

The captain further stated that in the morning a Scotman had come to him and even tried to make him say that the crew attempted mutiny. Being questioned the man said that he had not seen him use a revolver or knew of no person that had but it looked as if he actually had.

Capt. McGrath has been mate on the mail steamers since 1875 and is engaged as captain this year with the greatest confidence of the company who are assured that nothing out of the way occurred.

Daniel Mills, first mate, said that he was the first man to enter the hold and examine the break. He was told by the captain to look after the boats and knowing there was no danger ordered a boat which was being lowered from the hurricane deck to be replaced again. In the boat was a couple of the crew and a few passengers. The boat was extended from the promenade deck at the time. The crew answered his orders obediantly in every case. There were three boats lowered to the water.

Capt. T. Donnelly, down to inquire into the affair, stated to the reporter that the whole matter was merely a misrepresentation of customs on board ship in time of disaster. Upon observing the crew at the boats the passengers at once inferred that they were deserting. The fact of the matter was that in every case a couple of men are required to descend with the boat in order to keep her off the side, the guard of the vessel being an impassable obstacle without this assistance. He said that very few people were accustomed to the proceedings on board a vessel and often thought when discovering men rush to the boats that they were trying to save themselves.

Mr. Connolly, a director of the Richelieu & Ontario navigation company, was also approached. He could only contradict everything that had been said against the Algerian and her crew. With reference to the letter that appeared in yesterday's Gazette Mr. Connolly showed the scribe a letter he had received from Mr. Chabot, general manager of the line, Montreal, this morning. It reads in part: "An article appeared in the Gazette, this morning, censuring the crew of the Algerian. This correspondence should not have been published by the proprietors, and I went personally to see the editor and he will insert a letter tomorrow, signed by some passengers, in which the crew are praised for their conduct." Mr. Connolly also showed the reporter a card, the face of which bore the address of W. Hoyt, M.D., Hillsborough, Ohio, and on the back was inscribed these lines, written at the solicitation of Mr. Connolly, when the passenger came ashore. "This gentleman reports that the crew and officers of the str. Algerian acted admirably during the time of the collision with the str. Tecumseh and did everything in their power for the safety of the passengers and that all possible precaution was taken to prevent a collision."


Arrivals: schr. Mary, Hamilton, 7,000 bush. wheat; sloop Murray, Trenton, bunchwood; str. Rideau Belle, Ottawa; str. Passport, Toronto.

Schrs. Norway and Dunn, Toledo to Garden Island, timber; prop. Niagara, Kingston to Manistee, light, passed Port Colborne last night.

Clearances: prop. Tilley and consorts Merritt and Benson, upper lakes; tug Glide, with seven barges, Montreal, grain; schr. Vienna, Oswego, light; schr. Oliver Mowat, Oswego, light; schr. Laura D., Cape Vincent, timber.

p.4 The new steambarge being built at Trenton for Phippen & Graham, Belleville, will shortly be launched. The hull is 127 feet on the water line, twenty-five feet beam, and ten feet depth of hold. She is expected to have a speed of eleven miles per hour.

June 15, 1892

p.1 Incidents of the Day - Vessel Arrivals: str. Bon Voyage, Charlotte, passengers and freight; schr. Hanlan, Oswego, 187 tons anthracite coal; schr. H. Dudley, Sodus Point, 380 tons of coal.

The results of the survey to the str. Glengarry was made known last night and Capt. Gaskin at once left for Montreal to consult with headquarters of the M.T. Co. with reference to the same.

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14 Jun 1892
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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), 14 Jun 1892