The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 3 Dec 1892

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Telling of the Great Trials On the Upper Lake.

Capt. Fleming Was Modest In His Account of the Thrilling Experience of Himself and Crew

A Sail of Sixty Miles Full of Discomforts - Glad to Be In Kingston Again.

The famous schooner Glenora is at last in port and the greeting tendered the crew upon her arrival was indeed cordial. The manager of the M.T. Co. had said that he expected the Glenora in between nine and ten o'clock and consequently at that time there were many men, women and children around the dock. The vessel did not get in quite as early, however. At ten o'clock the Walker's well-known whistle could be heard this side of Five Mile Point, signalling her barge while in the act of coming alongside. It was 11:30 o'clock before the schooner got opposite the M.T. Co's dock, and close in the vicinity of midnight when the Glenora was at last shoved through the ice into the slip alongside the Minnedosa. As the vessel neared the dock the familiar figure of Capt. Fleming was discernible in the bow of the boat giving orders to his men. It was quite apparent that he had not suffered so severely as to interfere with his speech for his voice rang out with clear effect. The tow made a pretty sight as it swung in. J.T. Catlin, F. Fitzgibbon and D. Staley, members of St. Mary's court, C.O.F., of which court Capt. Fleming is a member, were among the first to spring aboard and extend welcome greetings.

A Whig reporter monopolized Capt. Fleming's attention for the first half-hour, and this was the result:

"The Glenora left Kingston in company of the schr. Minnedosa and in tow of the tug Walker on Oct. 24th. We had a nice sail up, got loaded, and left Fort William on Nov. 14th. The weather was fair and continued so until about four o'clock, Nov. 15th, when we encountered heavy weather when off Passage Island, Lake Superior. We ran into the harbor of Nipigon Bay, and remainded there until about twelve o'clock noon of Nov. 17th, and left with favourable weather. When about twenty miles south-east of Michipicoten Island we encountered heavy weather again, the wind blowing from about north-east, causing a heavy sea. My schooner laboured heavily, the sea breaking over. This created a heavy strain on the tow-line. We were steering about south-east on the 17th of Nov., when about five or six o'clock our steering gear became wholly disabled and my schooner came to the wind and parted the tow-line between her and the Minnedosa. I had a double reefed main sail and a single reefed fore sail and stay sail and jib, and we went into the trough of the sea. I took in foresail and jib and stay and set the mizzen sail and hove the schooner to; she was making water at this time. We drifted in this condition, through heavy weather, until the 19th of Nov., and in the meantime speaking only one vessel, the str. Alberta, which attempted to render assistance, but could not on account of heavy weather and danger to herself. On Nov. 19th, at about five a.m., we let go both anchors and brought up about four miles, about north from Point Mamainse, having considerable water in the hold. I got the crew ashore on Nov. 21st, and securing a sail boat, left for the Soo and procuring the tugs Merrick, Cheney and Walker, the Glenora was soon safely at the Soo again."

Being further questioned Capt. Fleming explained that a blinding snow storm had been raging continuously during his misfortune. By the compass he was unable to tell in what direction the vessel was going. When about half a mile from shore the storm abated for about five minutes and Capt. Fleming's hair must have stood on end at the sight before him. Some sailors would have been glad to strike any kind of land, but experience taught otherwise. Capt. Fleming well knew there were no soundings ahead according to the chart and if such was the case the inevitable result would be the Glenora smashing on the breakers, tearing apart and then rolling out in the sea again to sink. At this time the men were all in the cabin warming themselves at the fire. The captain had on a pair of overshoes at the time. He had two pairs of long rubber boots, but to alleviate the suffering of his crew Capt. Fleming sacrificed these comforts for himself and was satisfied with the over-shoes as long as the boots encouraged the men. Seeing the imminent danger the captain walked back to the kitchen and called to his men to come and see. The men came out and seeing the land, fairly went wild with joy.

The whole secret of Capt. Fleming's success as a sailor seems to be in the fact that whatever the trouble he never lets known his fears to the crew. If he had done so during the storm he says the vessel certainly would have gone to pieces. Whatever he suspected he kept to himself. Deciding not to tell the men of the expected fate, he bade the crew get the forward anchor ready. Then with the lead Capt. Fleming took soundings, and finally, to his joy and surprise, he sounded twenty-five feet of water. Quick as a shot both anchors went down and held fast. This was about five o'clock, Saturday morning. The storm did not abate one iota, and Capt. Fleming was unable to make shore until Monday morning. In the meantime the yawl boat belonging to the vessel had become delapidated. The rough usage was too much for it. The bottom was caved in and several slats gone off her sides. Capt. Fleming surmized the only way to get ashore would be by patching up the old boat. It was impossible to bend a plank on account of the frost, and finally the captain was obliged to fasten a piece of canvas around the yawl to cover the holes. Chains were then fastened around the boat to keep her together, and Capt. Fleming tried to launch her on Sunday. Himself and two men got in the boat, but it was no use. The waves washed one man clean out of the boat, but luckily another breaker actually sent the man back to his seat. This was Charlie Webb's experience. Capt. Fleming said it was no use and upon the easing off of the storm on Monday morning he landed all his crew with the exception of Joseph Dumont who he took down the shore with him to hunt for habitation. The crew were camped in the rear of the vessel. After covering four or five miles along the shore the sailors finally came upon habitation, at least they thought so, but an inspection proved that the houses had been deserted. Continuing down the stream another half mile had been covered when Capt. Fleming sighted four men on the beach. Running into shore the Glenora's men were soon landed. The men proved to be miners and were engaged with Capt. Tretheway in the Memainse copper mines. There were no other inhabitants of the place than the miners.

When told the story Capt. Tretheway offered every assistance in his power. He had a small sail boat which Capt. Fleming asked the loan of, together with a couple of men. These Capt. Tretheway was willing to give if they would certainly be returned as the sail boat was the only means of communication he had with the Soo. The storm grew fierce again and Capt. Fleming could not induce the miners to go with him until it abated somewhat. Finally they got away. Capt. Fleming says that in all his life he never experienced such hardships as during that sail to the Soo. The distance to be covered was about sixty-five miles. A terrible snow storm was raging and the thermometer stood four degrees below zero. The dashing waves saturated the men in the boat and their clothes froze to their bodies. Capt. Fleming expected to be stiff in the morning. They left in the morning about nine o'clock and pulled up at Point Au Pins at eight o'clock that night. This was Tuesday. They arrived in the Soo the next day and Capt. Fleming did the telegraphing which relieved the minds of so many anxious Kingstonians.

The Walker was not at the Soo during the time. Capt. Fleming left word for her when she arrived and started off on one of the other tugs. When a short distance out the Walker hove in sight. Capt. Fleming told the captain of the tug to hail the Walker, which he did. When the tugs drew alongside one another there was a welcome surprise in store for Capt. Mandalay. Capt. Fleming waited until they were together when he emerged on deck. Capt. Mandalay's surprise was so effectual, that he was unable to speak for some minutes after the meeting. The trip back was made. Men were put on the Glenora and the pumps started. She was soon able to start, and a fortunate crew of men stepped aboard the Glenora on Thursday. During the storm McLeod had several ribs fractured by being thrown against the railing of the vessel, and Webb got one of his hands badly smashed.

Capt. Fleming says the Glenora presented the prettiest sight he ever saw as she was towed into the Soo. The vessel was a complete mass of ice and sparkled brilliantly as the sun's rays fell upon her.

The Glenora's crew was made up of: Capt. Fleming, Stephen Tyo, mate; Charles Webb, Joseph Sullivan, Frank McLeod, Joseph Dumont, Thomas O'Niel, sailors; and Annie Bradshaw, cook.

Stephen Tyo was in great glee when the boat struck the M.T. Co's dock. He felt like dancing a "Highland fling" over reaching home safely. He had been sailing thirty-five years and never even heard of such continuously stormy weather. This was his first trip on the Glenora.

Thomas O'Neil was what is known as "boy" on board the vessel. He was obliged to stay before the mast during the last trip, however.

James McRoney, a former Kingston carter, who sold his horse and cart last spring and went for a trip up the lakes, shipped on the Glenora at Windsor. From James' good humor one would think he had never experienced hardships.

The survey of the str. (sic) Glenora's cargo will be postponed until Capt. Parsons, Buffalo, representing the insurance companies, arrives. Capt. Donnelly represents the owners both in the insurance question on the grain and also the hull.

Capt. Fleming says the Glenora's cargo, consisting of 42,000 bushels of wheat must be greatly damaged. The authorities will hold a survey at once.

James Mahoney has a bad bruise over the right eye. He says while coming down Lake Huron on the schr. Sovereign he was struck by the jib boom. James says he will go carting at once.

Capt. Fleming says that during the storm it was necessary to chip the ice from around the lines, etc. when it was necessary to use them. He says there were 18" of ice on the decks at one time.


The barge Isis is laid up at Deseronto.

The Kingston foundry company has received the contract of putting a new iron stern on the str. Algonquin.

The tug Petrel, Tonawanda to Kingston, passed Port Colborne last night. The Petrel is on her way down to lay up.

The prop. Omaha, Chicago, corn, and str. Arctic and barge Manitowac, to Ogdensburg, passed Port Colborne last night.

The schr. White Oak, Capt. Joseph Dix, is at Gunn's dock waiting a chance to discharge her cargo of coal at Breck & Booth's dock.

Last night about 11 o'clock the str. City of Owen Sound arrived and towed the str. Orion to Collinsby where she will receive a new steel arch.

W.W. Ogilvie, Montreal, has received 1,354,000 bushels from the present Manitoba crop, the largest portion of any crop ever received by a single firm.

After a successful season the str. Hero arrived from Picton, last night, to lay up for the winter. Navigation on the Bay of Quinte is made impossible now by ice, about two inches thick in Picton bay.

The steambarge Niile arrived in port, yesterday, from Cape Vincent, where she discharged a cargo of lumber from Deseronto. On her way to the Cape her woodwork was cut badly by ice. She left for Deseronto last night.

Last night Capt. T. Taylor said that marine business at this port, as far as small boats were concerned, was unprecedently dull during the past summer. The larger boats did better and the grain trade was fairly good.

Capt. Bates, of the schr. B.W. Folger, says the reason he was delayed so long on the last trip was due in a great degree to not getting unloaded quick enough at Oswego. He had to lay there until the fair winds were all gone and stormy weather sprung up delaying him over a week. The gales also kept him at Charlotte several days. He had a load of lumber to take from Kingston to Sackett's Harbor, but lost it through delay.

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3 Dec 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), 3 Dec 1892