The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 10 Jun 1901

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Partly Destroyed By Fire At Ottawa Sunday Morning.

The startling news was received from Ottawa early yesterday morning that shortly after midnight Saturday, the steamer James Swift was discovered to be on fire and before the flames were subdued Robert Ireland, fireman, asleep in the forecastle, was suffocated by smoke. Richard Dunn, a deckhand, in attempting to escape, jumped from the boat to the wharf and struck a spile, fracturing his skull; his home is on the Rideau, near Newboro. John Miller and Thomas Sykes were also injured and the three last named were taken to St. Lukes hospital for treatment. A despatch from Ottawa gave the following account of the disaster:

"The steamer James Swift was badly scorched by fire while lying in the canal basin here Sunday morning. Robert Ireland, fireman, was suffocated, and John Milller, Richard Dunn and Thomas Sykes, deckhands, are in St. Lukes hospital, seriously injured. Dunn may not recover. There had been no fire of any kind on board the vessel and how the blaze started the captain cannot explain. It was first discovered by Capt. Fleming, who was sleeping on the upper deck. The others were asleep below. Two of the men fell into the canal and had to be fished out. The fire brigade was speedily on hand and promptly extinguished the fire. It was then that Ireland was discovered suffocated. The probable loss will be about $3,000."

Capt. Fleming communicated with Capt. Noonan by telephone, Sunday morning, and told him the particulars of the fire. Capt. Noonan left at noon Sunday for Ottawa. Capt. Fleming stated that the steamer was not badly damaged, that she could be ready for the route again within a few weeks.

Robert Ireland, the unfortunate fireman belonged to Kingston. He was a native of England, but for some years worked for farmers in and around Barriefield. This spring, owing to the failing health of his wife, he gave up farm work and moved into the city, taking up residence on Nelson street. He secured work on the James Swift as fireman and had made only a couple of trips. He leaves a wife and two small children. Their circumstances are none too well to do, and the sympathy of the charitable would not be misplaced. Mrs. Ireland is in delicate health. The dead man was a hard working industrious person, who tried to earn an honest living for those depending upon him.

The Rideau Lakes navigation company will suffer a serious loss by the damage to the steamer James Swift, through the delay consequent upon repairs being made. Just at present freight and passenger traffic is heavy and the company may have to engage another steamer to take the place of the one damaged.



The schooner S.H. Dunn enters Davis' dry dock tomorrow for repairs.

The M.T. company barge Kildonan is in the government dry-dock for repairs.

Craig's wharf: steamer Ocean from Hamilton; steamer Persia from Montreal; tug Shanly from Ottawa.

Crawford's wharf: schooner Acacia, from Sodus, with coal; tug Maggie May and coal laden barge cleared for Smith's Falls.

Richardsons' elevator: schooners Oliver Mowat, Dunn and steamer Arctic, from Toronto; schooner Two Brothers, from Belleville; tug Nellie and one grain laden barge cleared for Montreal.

Swift's wharf: steamer Toronto from Toronto; steamer Corsican from Hamilton, and steamer North King from Charlotte, arrived on Sunday; steamer Rideau King left this morning for Ottawa.

M.T. company elevator: steamer Glengarry and consort Minnedosa, from Chicago, discharged 90,000 bushels of grain, and cleared for Fort William this evening; tug Hall, from Montreal, with three light barges; tug Thomson cleared for Oswego with three light barges.

p.6 Marine Notes - The schooner Eliza White cleared for Oswego.

At Garden Island: steamer Calvin and consort, from Toledo, and steamer India and consort, from Lake Michigan ports, all timber laden.

The sloop Volunteer, lumber laden, cleared for Cape Vincent.

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10 Jun 1901
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  • 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), 10 Jun 1901