The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 9 Jun 1894

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It has been the design of local steamboat men to make Kingston the hub point of excursions in the Upper St. Lawrence. The advantages of bringing excursions here must be apparent to every citizen. For instance, the brewers remained one hour yesterday, and at the lowest calculation spent $300, a large part in cab fare. It is to be regretted that the government, and even some of our own people, are indirectly discouraging these visits. A protest has been lodged at headquarters against an American registered steamer, owned by a Kingston firm, carrying passengers out of the city, and the result will be that one source of local income, as well as local attraction, will be cut off without benefitting anyone but steamboat owners of some other place and of some other points of attraction. Again, an excursion boat licensed to carry 1,000 people on the United States side would only be permitted to take 800 on the Canadian side. Therefore, if the Empire State or St. Lawrence should bring an excursion of 1,000 people here and land them 200 must remain behind; the customs officers must prevent that many getting on board from this port. This is fatal to a number of excursion projects having Kingston for their objective point. There, unfortunately, is a tendency in Kingston that when a head appears above the surface, willing to do something for himself and the town at the same time a club is ready in some local hand to hit him.

Incidents of the Day - The general report of those on board the prop. Ocean is that the boat was not at all blameable for the collision with the barge Kent and that blame must rest upon those in charge of the barges. This is true to a very great extent, but the question further arises, was ordinary care exercised in attempting to meet the tow of barges in such a narrow passage. Would not many captains have stopped their boat until the tow had passed, especially at night time? This question is one, in view of the loss of life, that should be asked at the inquest, which in the public interest should follow the drowning.


The Prop. Ocean's Crew And Effects Brought Here.

For the present work in connection with the raising of the prop. Ocean, sunk near Sister Island, in the River St. Lawrence, by collision with the barge Kent, has been suspended.

Yesterday the crew, wreckers and plant of the Donnelly wrecking and salvage company came back from the Ocean on the str. Pierrepont. Capt. Malcolmson remained in charge of the boat.

The members of the crew who arrived here, and after supper at the Anglo-American hotel, left for their homes are: first mate, J. Tupont, Montreal; second mate, J. Grant, Hamilton; wheelmen, Signold DeBellefeuille, Joseph Cushion; engineers, J. Harrington and G. Belanger; steward, F. McKenzie; purser, W.G. Malone, Kingston; watchman, J. Collins, Kingston; fireman, C. Pulkingham, Hamilton; F. Goodwin, Collingwood.

The wreckers removed all the movable material from the Ocean, including furniture and other articles, to the steamer, and these goods will be stored here, in the meantime. A diver examined the situation of the Ocean, and could not tell whether rocks were sticking through her bottom. She is in bad shape; all the timbers are strained and out of place and there is a very large hole in the bow, made by the collision with the barge Kent.

The names of the men who were killed by the collision while asleep in the forecastle are: W. Thorn, Montreal and M. Champagne, whose residence is not known. The body of Champagne was found under water in the forecastle. It was taken to Sister Island to await instructions from the coroner. The body of Thorn was not recovered. It is supposed to have been carried down the river.

The sailors and passengers got all clothes belonging to them that were not in trunks. They are in the cabins and will be recovered when the boat is released.

F. McKenzie, the steward, escaped without clothes, but got them afterwards. Just as the boat was sinking he started back in search of the girls on the boat. He was seen by Capt. Malcolmson and called in time to escape from going down with the boat. The girls were rescued.

The crew and passengers were landed on Sister Island and the keeper of the lighthouse there treated them very kindly, providing clothes and food for them.

The passengers were taken on board the steamer Corsican and sent to Toronto. On Thursday night a portion of the crew were housed by the lighthouse keeper, and the remainder were ferried across to a farmhouse on the main shore where they were made welcome.

The Ocean had an extensive cargo. There were 400 barrels of cement, 100 gross tons of wire, 100 barrels of sugar and a quantity of rice. In all there are 290 tons of goods in her hold.

A Couple of Interviews.

In an interview Capt. Geddes, Toronto, part owner, stated that the cost of raising the boat would amount to anywhere between $6,000 and $10,000. He explained that the steamer was in very bad shape, and in his opinion could only be raised by pontoons. The steamer was abandoned by the owners and left in the hands of the insurance companies, which have her insured for three-quarters of her value and also the cargo. The British American company is interested in the hull and the Western in the cargo. Capt. S. Crangle represents both companies. From investigations made at the wreck, Mr. Geddes was assured that the accident was due entirely to the shear of the barge Kent. Capt. Malcolmson thinks there was no man at the wheel of the barge, and if there was he must have been asleep and did not know of the Ocean's approach. According to marine law the barge was responsible, but as there is nothing of it left worth claiming damages against the steamer will not be able to get anything from this source. The barge is a total wreck. It is a question if the owners will trouble to raise her, as it would cost more to put her in shape than she would be worth. Mr. Geddes looks upon the accident as pretty tough luck. Over $8,000 was laid out on the steamer in rebuilding her last winter, and now if $10,000 more is required to put her on her route again the owners will have to stand $2,500 of it. Besides this he considers it will take at least a month before the boat can take her route. This will be a heavy loss in itself. It was fortunate for the passengers and crew that the accident occurred where it did. A little further down and all hands might have been lost.

The Ocean is owned by four gentlemen: Capt. Malcolmson, Mr. Jaques, Montreal; Mr. McKay, Hamilton; Mr. Geddes, Toronto.

In an interview with the first engineer in charge of the machinery at the time of the collision the reporter learned that no blame could be attached to the captain of the Ocean. She was going at full speed passing the tug Seymour and four barges. The fourth barge, the Kent, swung across the Ocean's bow, and notwithstanding the attempt of the captain to ground the Ocean and escape the collision, it occurred because the barge Kent swung across the course and struck the Ocean in the bow making a hole twelve feet wide. The engineer enquired from the wheelsman on the barge Kent and learned that at the time of the accident there was no one steering the barge and her tow line was too long considering the place she was sailing. Had the barge struck the Ocean further forward other members of the crew would have been killed. Thorne, who lost his life, was to have relieved one of the crew in passing coal to the fireman five minutes before the accident. When called he said he was going to sleep ten minutes longer, and in this time the collision occurred and he was killed.

J. Donnelly says it will take a week to get the Ocean ready for raising. Tenders will be asked for the work.

The barge Kent was formerly a Canadian propeller known as the East. In 1874 she ran into and sank the Ogdensburg tug Joe Mack. She was seized by the United States marshall as the result of this collision and sold at sheriff's sale. She was purchased by an Ogdensburg firm and turned into a freight barge.

Mr. Collins, sleeping in the forecastle at the time of the collision, said he escaped death by being in an out-of-the-way bunk. He had not time to get his clothes and escaped without them. The first engineer says he had only time to stop the engine and get his coat before the boat went down.

One of the lady members of the Ocean's crew said last evening that there was a great deal of excitement on board the propellor after the collision. On being told of the accident one of the brides became so appalled that she went out of her mind for a time. She would not dress herself and she would not leave the cabin. The women on the boat had to force the excited girl into submission and put her clothes on. Then she had to be pulled away from the cabin. After she got ashore she wanted her husband to go back to the sinking boat and rescue a piece of music.

Both the Donnelly wrecking and salvage company and the Collins Bay company have put in tenders for the raising of the steamer Ocean. Mr. Calvin intends putting in one.



The str. Magnet went on her route again last night.

At Chicago one cargo of wheat for Kingston was offered at 2 3/4 cents.

The schr. Bullock, cast ashore near Oswego last fall, and recently floated, will undergo repairs at Port Hope.

The str. Reginald cleared with five barges of wheat, 52,500 bushels from Portsmouth for Monteal this morning.

The S.S. Craggs' cargo of flour was lightened into one of the M.T. Co.'s barges so that the vessel could get through the canals.

The schr. Hartford, owned by Clayton parties, is engaged in the coal trade from Oswego to Hamilton and Toronto at 30 cents per ton.

The schr. Leighton, Clayton, took a load of granite paving to Detroit some time ago, where she has since remained without anything to do.

Arrivals: strs. Corsican, Toronto; str. Passport, Montreal; str. James Swift, Ottawa; schr. Fabiola, Oswego, coal; S.S. Craggs, Chicago, flour.

The old Island Wanderer is steadily progressing at Johnston's shipyard, Clayton. She will be practically a new boat. She will not be ready for business for a considerable time yet.

This morning Capt. Dunlop received instructions from Manager Gildersleeve, of the Richelieu & Ontario Navigation company, to be in readiness to take charge of the str. Algerian on June 16th.

On Thursday work was stopped at the K. & M. F. company, Portsmouth, in consequence of the machinery of the elevators becoming disabled. The elevators have had much to do since the opening of navigation.

On and after June 18th the mail steamers will leave Montreal for Kingston every day, Sundays excepted. On and after July 9th a special steamer will leave Kingston every Monday for Montreal and return.

Capt. Geddes, owner of the str. Ocean, has not heard anything lately about the damage done to a lock in Beauharnois canal by the str. Ocean. He thinks the government will drop the matter as it has been proven that the log which got in the steamer's wheel was picked up in the canal and had no business to be there.

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Date of Publication:
9 Jun 1894
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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pd [more details]
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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), 9 Jun 1894