The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 17 Aug 1892

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Ill-luch befell the str. Columbian Monday night. She left Kingston with a party of 170 excursionists on board, and proceeded pleasantly until the Cedar rapids were reached, when the rudder chain broke. The steamer became unmanageable and was twirled around by the swift current. The tourists were given a more exciting descent than they desired and for a few minutes confusion and alarm prevailed. Fortunately the channel is deep in the rapids and the vessel descended safely but grounded on Crane Island, about one mile below the foot of the Cedars. She ran into the island with considerable force, but with apparently little injury to the boat owing to the easy slant of the shore. The passengers were sent ashore by means of a bridge made of two long pine trees, cut down by the crew and placed in position.

About one half the passengers went ashore by the bridge. There were three islands to be crossed before they could reach the mainland. Some of the crew of the Columbian cut a way through the brushwood of the island on which the streamer struck. One boat was lowered by the Columbian to assist the passengers. Some picnicers on the south shore who saw the accident also rowed over and rendered all the help they could. It was very difficult making their way through the thick brushwood of the islands. In some places the nettles were over a man's head, but through all this the belated passengers cheerfully plodded. It was hard work for some of the ladies of the company, but nobody complained. Indeed, they cheered each other by singing songs as they fought their way through the thick and tangled weeds and bushes. Between two of the islands parties of boatmen belonging to the place transferred them, and some of the passengers complain, that these boatmen were extortionate, charging them one dollar a head to land them, although they were assured that the Richelieu company would pay everything. The trip between the islands was an experience that few of those passengers will forget.

The Kingston Contingent.

The Kingston passengers on board the steamer Columbian when the accident occurred were: Hon. Dr. Sullivan and two daughters; Capt. Clark Hamilton, James Swift and wife; James A. Hendry and wife, M. Connolly and son, J. Hume, Mrs. W. Carson and Mrs. Watson, Toronto and J.F. Sherman. This morning Mr. Sherman related to a reporter the particulars of the accident. About four o'clock on Monday afternoon the steamer reached the Cedar rapids. Up to this time the trip was very pleasant, and everybody seemed happy. Suddenly there was a jar, then a crash, and the boat was discovered standing still. She had grounded on Crane Island. She ran on with full head of steam, and is now lying one and a half feet out of water. There was not as much excitement among the passengers as would have been expected under the circumstances. Immediately after the boat struck a number of Italians and Frenchman floated down the current from Cedars village and rendered the passengers valuable assistance. When the rescuers came to the boat the crew tossed ropes overboard, and with them the Indians built a bridge between the boat and shore. Following this a more substantial bridge of timber was constructed, and the passengers were enabled to walk to the island in safety. About six o'clock in the evening the Indians began the work of ferrying the passengers to Cedars village, about two miles distant. They had to portage part of the way. About forty passengers reached the village before darkness fell. Fifteen had to remain on an island all night, because the men could not ferry in the dark.

The passengers who reached Cedars village were carried to St. Dominique in vehicles, remaining there until eight o'clock, Tuesday morning, before being transported to Montreal. At six o'clock the anxiety of the passengers were relieved by seeing the steamer Bohemian in the canal on her way to render assistance to the wrecked passengers. At 7:30 the steamer arrived at Cedars village, and the remainder of the passengers on the steamer were ferried across from the boat to Cedars village, and were given their chance of taking the Bohemian to Montreal or carriages to St. Dominique. They accepted the steamer accommodation.

Great credit is due to Capt. Batten and his crew for bravery and good discipline on the occasion. There was no excitement among the crew, and were handled by the captain so readily as if they were members of the regular army. M. Connolly was very active in the work.

There is no damage to the hull or engine. Orders have been given to put her afloat with all possible despatch. She will, in all probability, have to be raised. There is likely to be some trouble in getting the tugs to work there on account of the current.

A number of claims have already been filed with the company and the officials state that all will be fairly dealt with as far as damages go.

Passengers complained of the way the boatmen acted who ferried them to the shore. They refused to let the passengers land until they paid a dollar each. At first three dollars a head was demanded, but they finally consented to take the lesser sum.

Sunk Down the Canal.

A telephone message from Kingston Mills says that the steamyacht Volunteer arrived there this morning with about twenty passengers on board, comprising a party of the steamyacht Ella, which ran on a stump, about two miles east of the Mills, about seven o'clock this morning. A large hole was stove in the bottom of the yacht and she sank in short order in twelve feet of water. The passengers on board were all saved by means of life preservers and anything else they could lay their hands on. There was a general panic among the ladies on board and if it had not been that shore was near at hand serious results might have followed. The steam yacht Volunteer, happening along just at that time, took the party aboard and landed them safely at Kingston Mills, where they boarded the steamer John Haggart for Smith's Falls. The yacht Ella was owned by Mr. Garrett, of Ottawa, and was a valuable little craft. Further particulars were expected from the yacht Volunteer, which left Kingston Mills at eight o'clock this morning for Kingston, but she has not yet arrived. It is supposed that she is lying somewhere between here and the Mills.

Bath, Aug. 17th - ...The str. Cariboo, of Prescott, is running the str. Hero's trips this week....

General Paragraphs - The steamer Columbian is lying in an awkward place in the Cedar rapids. The water is runnng twenty miles an hour, and it would be impossible to get tug boats near to pull her off. A pier will be built near her and then she will be lifted off the rocks by pulleys.

The Stmr. Princess Louise Afloat Again - The str. Johnston, with Calvin's pumping apparatus on board, was sent up to the scene of the Princess Louise, ashore near Picton, yesterday morning, and by noon the vessel was afloat. Steam was raised on the Princess and she at once proceeded down the bay to Collins Bay where she now lies to be repaired. The damage to the boat was considerable.


Capt. James McMaugh, late of the unfortunate str. Glengarry, left on the tug Thomson (sic) today, to take in the trip to Chicago.

Clearances: tug Hall, Oswego, with barge Bella, to load coal; tug Thompson, Chicago, with schrs. Gaskin, Kildonan and Regina.

Capt. Dix, of the schr. White Oak, says he encountered several squalls from Oswego to Toronto on the last trip. At times it was very rough.

Arrivals: prop. Rhoda Emily, Chicago, 37,000 bushels corn; schr. Freeman, Belleville, 10,000 bushels peas and wheat; tug Hall, Montreal, two light barges; schr. White Oak, Charlotte, coal; schr. Hanlan, Oswego, coal.

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17 Aug 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.
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 17 Aug 1892