The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 8 Jan 1898

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p.2 Sporting Paragraphs - There are 15 ice-yachts lying in Coffey's boat yard awaiting favorable ice. Frank Somerville's yacht Facet is the beauty of the fleet.

p.8 The Steamer Out - ....This morning the steamer Pierrepont started out in an attempt to reach Wolfe Island and got over the greater part of the distance.


Exciting Escapades Of His Sailing Career.

[Toronto Globe]

Capt. Henry Esford, master and pilot of the steamer Corsican, one of the Richelieu and Ontario navigation company's fleet plying between Montreal and Toronto, is a young man whose ability and carefulness have raised him to a responsible position. Capt. Esford was born on November 17th, 1855 ?, in Barriefield, near Kingston, Ont., his father being Thomas Esford, blacksmith, of Barriefield.

Capt. Esford received his education in the public schools of Barriefield, and when he was sixteen years of age he began his apprenticeship to a (cordwainer ?) in Kingston. Not caring for that business, however, he abandoned it after serving nine months and went sailing in 1872, when he was seventeen years of age. The first boat in which he sailed was the steamer Spartan, belonging to the Richelieu & Ontario navigation company, and on her he shipped before the mast. For thirteen years Capt. Esford remained in the Spartan and had advanced to the position of mate, or first officer, before that time had expired. He left her, and in 1885 became mate on the R. & O. steamer Magnet, running between Charlotte, N.Y., to Prescott on the St. Lawrence river for two years. During those years he had become particularly familiar with the channels in the St. Lawrence rapids and qualified as one of the best pilots on the river. In 1888 he took the position as pilot on the steamer Passport and remained with her about five years, when he was changed on the steamer Spartan as mate and pilot. He sailed the Spartan for one season and then took charge of the steamer Corsican, in which vessel he has been ever since. During the two first years in the Corsican he was master, and after that he became both captain and master. Capt. Esford is also his own pilot in the rapids of the St. Lawrence river. That he is a valuable navigator is evidenced by the fact that he has been in the employ of the Richelieu & Ontario navigation company for twenty-four years.

Not only is Capt. Esford a lake captain, he is also a militia captain, having passed his examination with honors in the Royal military school at Kingston when he was eighteen years of age.

On the 4th of May, 1874, Capt. Esford was married to Miss Sarah Batten, daughter of George Batten, and youngest sister of Capt. George Batten, Kingston. Half a dozen children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Esford, five of whom are living - four daughters and one son.

Conservative in politics, Capt. Esford has taken at times considerable interest in the election of members to the dominion house of commons. During several contests he was political agent for Sir George Kirkpatrick and was principal scrutineer in the general election in 1897 at the polls in Barriefield. In religion Capt. Esford bears allegiance to the Church of England. He is also a prominent member of the Independent Order of Oddfellows.

One of the most exciting episodes in the career of Capt. Esford was the burning of the R. & O. steamer Corinthian, which happened down the St. Lawrence river, in the Coteau rapids, in 1893. There were ninety passengers on board and an immense quantity of baggage when the fire broke out. Whilst a vessel is running the rapids every man of the crew on board is required to handle the boat, and that moment there were four men at the tiller, four men at the wheel and the others were trimming the baggage, so that no person was left aft, when the fire broke out in the dining room; it is supposed to have originated through a lamp exploding on the carving stand. Seeing that the fire could not be got under control Capt. Esford ordered the vessel to be beached, and by the time that was done he had four lifeboats strung, ready to lower in the water. Gang planks were run from the ship to the boats and from the boats to the land, and all the passengers and baggage were safely landed. Rapid work was done, for in fifteen minutes after the fire was discovered the vessel was completely devoured by the flames. Capt. Esford received great praise from the company as well as from the passengers for his energy and presence of mind.

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Date of Publication:
8 Jan 1898
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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), 8 Jan 1898