The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 7 Jun 1894

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Collided And Sunk Last Night Near Rockport.

On Sunday morning the propellor Ocean left here for Montreal, and reached that port without an accident. She was not so fortunate on the return trip. When a short distance from Crossover light, near Rockport, last night, she had a collision with the result that a large hole was knocked in her bow. She sank quickly, but the crew and passengers escaped. Her main deck forward and hurricane deck are level with the water.

The Ocean is owned by Mackay & Co., Hamilton. She is an old boat, having been rebuilt last winter at Port Dalhousie and fitted out with new machinery.

The Ocean is probably on a very bad shoal, known as the Bay State shoal, called after the first boat that went on there. The shoal is full of sharp, jagged rocks, and the boat coming in contact with them must get badly injured. It is about a mile and a half from Crossover Island, on which is a light house. This was erected because the shoal was dangerous, and on a line with the proper course for vessels to take. It is about eleven miles west of Brockville, at the head of the Narrows, and eight miles from Rockport.

The Ocean has been unfortunate this summer, having a short time ago carried away a lock in the Beauharnois canal. She is in command of Capt. W.H. Malcolmson, and it is said she is insured.

This morning J. Donnelly, sr., and son went to look over the boat with a view of wrecking her. It is the intention to send the str. Pierrepont and two pumps to the assistance of the boat.

The Latest Details.

Rockport, June 7th - The tug Seymour with a tow of four barges met the prop. Ocean at Sister light, bound up, at two o'clock. The tug blew two whistles which were answered by the Ocean in the same manner. She passed the tug and three barges successfully, but the fourth was heading directly across the river. Seeing this the pilot of the Ocean put his helm hard a-starboard preferring to beach her than to have a collision, but the Ocean was already too close to the shoal, and the barge's port bow and stem cut into the Ocean's starboard bow, imprisoning the men in the forecastle, two of whom were drowned. The Ocean sank in four minutes in ten feet of water forward and thirty aft, but is resting easy. The barge also sank.

Eight passengers and twenty of the crew were landed directly the collision occurred and were most hospitably entertained by the light house keeper at Sister Island. The Ocean was loaded with a general cargo for Toronto and Hamilton. The barge Kent is loaded with coal for Montreal. The names of the two men drowned are not known.

From Another Source.

Alexandria Bay, N.Y., June 7th - The str. Ocean, of the Merchants' line, on her trip west collided with the barge Kent, of the Ogdensburg Towing and Coal Co., in tow of the tug Seymour, near Sister Island light, five miles below Alexandria Bay, at about two o'clock this morning. The barge struck the Ocean on her starboard bow. She was immediately beached on the light house shore and is now sunk to the promenade deck. The barge also went down. Two of her crew are missing and are supposed to have been killed by the collision. The Ocean's passengers were all saved, but many of their effects were lost.

A Chat With Passengers.

This morning at five o'clock the str. Ocean would have arrived here had it not been for the collision.

The passengers had a lively experience on the prop. Ocean. There were about eight passengers on board: Alfred Walford and bride, Mr. Winter and bride, C.J. Harrower, Montreal; Mr. Lahorie, Quebec; Mrs. Cummings, Chicago, and A.A. Stewart, Toronto.

The newly married couples will remember the accident. They were forced to escape partly clothed and had to borrow garments from more fortunate passengers to make up deficiencies.

In an interview with Mr. Walford, this afternoon, he said: "The accident happened about two o'clock in the morning. We were awakened by the shock, which threw some of us out of our beds. Glass was smashed in the windows and the doors were jammed so tight we had great difficulty in opening them, and for a time we felt as if we could not escape death. By great efforts we opened the door and got free. When we got on deck we saw nothing alarming, but an officer met us and told us to dress quickly as there was danger of being lost.

"We were hurried to the hurricane deck, lowered into a life boat, and removed to the Sister Islands, where we were kindly entertained by W.O. Dodge, keeper of the light house. All this time we did not know what had happened exactly. We thought there was an accident, but what the nature of it was a mystery. When we arrived on the island we learned that the last of four barges of a tow, owned by the Ogdensburg coal towing company, had run into the starboard bow of the Ocean and stove a hole in her so large that a car could pass through."

"Two deck hands, asleep in the forecastle, were either killed by the shock or drowned by the water which rushed in the hole. A companion, sleeping above them, escaped, and saw the bodies of his chums floating into the stream. Their bodies have not yet been recovered.

"We came up on the str. Corsican. I lost some baggage and valise. Mr. Winter and his bride lost everything they owned. A valuable trunk filled with clothing floated away.

The steward, F. Mckenzie, had to escape almost naked in order to save his life. He lost all his clothes and had to borrow some."

The bridal parties proceeded on their way to Toronto and other western towns.

The three ladies' maids of the Ocean also took the Corsican for their homes in Toronto.

There was no panic among the ladies as is generally the case.

One old man, Isaac Lee, who is engaged in a malt house in Quebec, and is taking a pleasure trip to Hamilton, was sleeping in room No. 9 and was tossed from his bunk when the collision occurred. His presence of mind did not fail him, and snatching up his clothes he hurried out on deck where the hands were busy lowering the boats. He had time to grab his portmanteau, but thinks that less than a minute elapsed after the collision till the steamer was beached. He and another young man were the only ones lucky enough to get all their baggage.

The passengers stopped with the light house keeper till morning, and breakfasted there. A collection was then taken up, and a nice little sum given the man for his kindness.

There was no doubt whatever in the minds of the passengers, but that the barge swerved, and caught the steamer. The hole in the Ocean's bow was fully twelve feet square.


Capt. McGrath has been appointed mate of the str. Spartan which goes into active service on June 15th.

The str. Glengarry was loaded with cement for the Canadian Soo when she left yesterday. It is to be used on the new lock.

Clearances: tug Thompson, Montreal, six barges; str. Glengarry and consort Minnedosa, Duluth; tug Bronson, Montreal, six barges.

Passed Port Colborne downwards: W.B. Hall, Fort William to Kingston, wheat; Craggs, Chicago to Christiana, Norway, general cargo.

At Portsmouth the str. Hiram H. Sibley with 55,000 bushels of corn and the schr. Twin Sisters with 52,000 bushels have arrived from Chicago.

Arrivals: str. Josephine, Chicago, 32,000 bushels wheat; str. Duncan, Chicago, 56,000 bushels corn; str. Glengarry and consort Minnedosa, Fort William, 90,000 bushels wheat; tug Bronson, Montreal, four barges; str. Cuba, Hamilton; schr. Folger, Oswego, coal; str. Green, Chicago, 40,000 bushels corn.

An Old Pilot In Port.

John Louis, born in St. Regis, the famous Indian pilot of the St. Lawrence river, was at the Anglo-American hotel last evening. In a brief conversation, he said he had acted as pilot on the river for twenty-two years, steering the steamers of the Richelieu & Ontario Navigation company over the rapids and rocky shoals. He is a safe pilot and only once did an accident happen while he was at the helm and it was not due to any inefficiency on his part. While he was in charge of the steamer Columbian last year, going down the rapids, her steering gear became disabled and she drifted on the rocks. He is well acquainted with the rapids, and knows every rock and dangerous place in them. His work has been principally in taking steamers over the Lachine rapids, the most dangerous in the river. When he was a boy he used to shoot the rapids in a canoe and it was there he gained an experience which makes him proficient now as a navigator. He is about sixty years of age, and well preserved. He delights to tell of his experience on the river, and is very communicative to strangers. He will commence his duties as soon as the mail boats commence running regular trips between Kingston and Montreal.

Sold A Couple of Yachts - R. Davis & Son sold two steam yachts today. A yacht already on hand thirty-five feet long was sold to F.W. Fearman, port dealer of Hamilton. The other was sold to James H. Worthington, Chicago. It will be thirty-three feet long, curtained, brass rails, highly finished with plate glass. Both yachts are for Muskoka Lake.

p.2 Wolfe Island, June 6th - ....The cape boat intends to go through the canal next week as repairs are being done to the bridge.

A Famous Steamer - str. New York burned on May 21st, built at Clayton in 1852, during the civil war used as a despatch boat on James River, then went on route from St. John, N.B. to Maine; has been retired from that route for several years.

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7 Jun 1894
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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), 7 Jun 1894