The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 25 Oct 1898

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Col. W.P. Anderson, chief engineer of the marine department, Ottawa, in the city yesterday, met members of the board of trade and several masters of vessels in the city engineer's office. They talked over the matter of improving the entrance from the lake to the harbor. The members of the board of trade present were: President A. Chadwick, mayor Livingston, H.W. Richardson and F. King. Captains present were: E.A. Booth, sr., A. Horn, Capt. Taylor, inspector, J. Craig, Capt. Bongard, C. Daryou, R. Larush, Capt. Power and J. Gunn.

The engineer looked for expressions of opinion from the several captains as to which channel was preferable in approaching the city, the south channel now used by small boats, or the north or ship channel frequently followed by the larger vessels. The unanimous feeling was in favor of the north channel if it were better marked and one obstruction removed. This channel is nearly a mile wide, with water about forty feet in depth, and affords a ship a more direct course from the lake into the harbor.

One existing trouble is the shoal known as the middle ground, which Capt. Taylor urged to have removed. The shoal is one quarter of a mile long, forming a bed of shell rock and boulders. To remove it means considerable expense. That work, Col. Cameron said, was outside of his department. He was not impressed with the necessity of removing the shoal, but thought a large buoy would be sufficient to mark it out to approaching boats. He agreed to shift the Four Mile light to the western end of Snake Island, to place a buoy on the north side of the island, one buoy on the middle ground, and three buoys on the larger shoal to the south-west of the latter. He thought that was sufficient, for boats coming directly down the lake in bringing Four Mile light in a line with a proposed light on the penitentiary wharf would clear the smaller shoal, and vessels reaching the harbor from the eastern quarter can clear the shoal by keeping Pigeon Island light open with Nine Mile point light.

It was pointed out, and agreed to, that these markings would suit steamers running in a straight course, but vessels working against the wind would not find the same convenience, but the proposal was acknowledged to be a vast improvement on the condition of the channels. Capt. Craig suggested that a dummy be placed on the eastern end of the Four Mile reef when the light is shifted. The suggestion was noted. The chief engineer has agreed to mark the north channel as proposed for the opening of next season, and will make a special trip here to try the new markings. If he finds them unsatisfactory he will recommend the removal of the middle ground. With that out of the way the channel would be perfect. Gas buoys were suggested, but Col. Anderson claimed they were too expensive for use at that point.


As soon as the wind abates the schooner Emerald will clear for up the lake to load grain for this port.

The steamer Glengarry, with consort Minnedosa, cleared this morning for Fort William to load grain for this port.

The tug Thompson, with three light barges, arrived this morning from Montreal, cleared again for the same port with six barges, grain laden.

The barge Chicago, of the M.T. company's fleet, is in Davis' dry dock for repairs. The barge Kingston is in the government dry dock for the same purpose.

The steamer Rosemount, with consorts Selkirk and Melrose, left Alpena, Mich., for this port. They have heavy weather behind them, but it is expected they will reach here in safety.

At one o'clock today the tug Active, with the schooner Grantham in tow, with pumps, divers and wrecking apparatus aboard, left for Brighton, where they will remain until such time as the weather abates, when they will attempt to release the barges Hector and Kildonan and bring them to this port.

Welland Canal Report - Port Colborne, Oct. 24th - Down - steamer Viking, Chicago to Kingston, corn; steamer Ralph and barge, Chicago to Kingston, corn; schooner Penokee, Toledo to Montreal, oil; steamer Spencer and barge, Duluth to Prescott, wheat.



Capt. Boyd's Story of the Foundering of the Walker.

Last night Capt. Boyd and crew of the tug Walker arrived in the city from Brighton. They came back minus their clothing and other valuables which they had aboard. They are none the worse for their rough experience.

Capt. Boyd was asked for an account of the storm and incidents relating thereto and gave the following story:

"We left Charlotte at 9 p.m. Thursday. The wind was light, but after being out a few hours it began to blow hard. About seven o'clock Friday morning, when about eight miles below Long Point, the boys signalled to me to turn around. I afterwards found out that this was done because the barge Hector was leaking. The sea at this time was very heavy, the wind being from the east, south-east. The barges were rolling somewhat, but the tug was making good weather of it. We ran back under the shelter of Nicholson's Island and anchored on the north-west side. We lay there until Saturday morning, when I went over with the Walker to Brighton to see if the sea was rolling too heavy to take the barges over for shelter. When I got back to the barges, about three o'clock Saturday afternoon, I found them dragging anchor, as the wind had suddenly shifted to the westward. I tried to put a line on them to hold them up to windward, but the sea was too heavy and I was unable to do this. I then took the tug closer to the island and cast anchor near the north point but the tug would not stay head to wind, and about four o'clock she rolled so heavily and shipped so much water that I saw she was likely to founder in the trough of the sea. I ordered all hands into the lifeboat and just as we were leaving the Walker mate Lafrance jumped from the lifeboat back to the Walker, fearing that the small boat would swamp in the sea. We rowed to Nicholson's island and procuring a fish boat from a fisherman on the island, second engineer Evans, a wheelsman and myself put out after mate Lafrance. The Walker went down a few minutes after we left her and mate Lafrance floated off on the upper works, when we found him and picked him up.

The barges continued to drag anchor and went ashore at about seven o'clock in the evening, near Huyck's point, eight miles above Wellington, where they lie, the Kildonan in the sand, with decks to, and the Hector about one mile west of her on a flat rock."

The Donnelly wrecking company can release both barges if the weather is favorable. They are lying in a very exposed place. The wind must be from the north and east to accomplish the feat. There is no spot on the lake so exposed as this one point. The coal in the barges was consigned to George Hall & Co., Ogdensburg, to Wilson & Co., Montreal, and is insured by Smith, Davis & Co., Buffalo, N.Y., to its full value, $8,000. The boats are not insured. The tug Walker is in forty-two feet of water. Her pilot house and smoke stack left her before she went down.

Mrs. McGowan, cook on the tug Walker, said that although she had had a rough time of it, she had no alternative but to try it again, and went up on the tug Active with the crew. By the foundering of the Walker Mrs. McGowan lost a quantity of clothing and other effects which she could ill afford to do.

Capt. Boyd and his crew left Nicholson's island on Monday in a yawl and a farmer's boat. When they reached the main shore they had six miles to drive to Wellington, whence they left for Kingston in the afternoon.

Capt. Boyd this morning paid his men for past services. Beyond getting off the barges, he says that nothing further will be attempted. The weather is too rough and uncertain to justify anything as yet being done with the Walker.

Capt. Boyd was given charge of the Active and he took with him the crew he had with him on the Walker. The crews of the barges Kildonan and Hector also went up with him and will wait at Brighton to be in readiness to man their boats when they have been got off the shoal.

Mr. Knapp, Prescott, the inventor of the roller boat, has returned from Chicago, where he says he has succeeded in forming a strong company to carry out his roller boat patents. It will be called the Lakes Roller Boat Transportation company, and will this winter construct a large roller boat 120 feet long. Mr. Knapp is sanguine that, with the financially strong company formed, the roller boat will be an accomplished fact before spring.

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25 Oct 1898
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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), 25 Oct 1898