The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 28 Jan 1902

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The Evidence Submitted Yesterday

When the Marine City investigation was resumed yesterday afternoon, the first witness called was Louis Lavoie, wheelman of the steamer India for two years. He could not speak English, so Joseph Nadon was called in to act as interpreter.

Witness said they saw the barge about eight o'clock in the morning, and picked her up about ten o'clock. This was on Wednesday morning, November 13th. The tow rope had been in service two and one half years, and the first mate had told him once to change end for end as he was doubtful of the rope. It was not very good in a storm, but might do in calm weather. Witness wouldn't depend on it.

To Mr. Adams witness said this was the best line the India carried. It was dark when they reached Goderich; they could not see the range lights, so did not enter the harbor. Witness saw the red light on the end of the pier, but could not see the range lights. About one or half-past one that night could see the light of the Marine City only once in a while; then she broke loose. It would not have been safe to go on the rescue of the men in a yawl boat. The steamboat might have gone, however. The captain told him the men were in no danger. The second mate, however, told him that they were in great danger. Witness could see the men on the Marine City pumping water and throwing over pulpwood. After the India had entered Goderich the captain told witness that there were men stationed every twelve miles between there and Port Huron looking for the four sailors. The distress flag on the Marine City could have been seen from the shore. A whistle could hardly have been heard on the shore. Witness got scared the second night, and when he asked the captain if there was any danger, the latter replied: "Yes, if the boiler heads blow out, we'll all go down."

When asked if it would be dangerous to go across from the India to the Marine City, the Frenchman stated that it would be very "inconvenient."

Witness Cross-Examined.

Cross-examined by G.M. Macdonnell, witness said he thought the India could have run alongside the Marine City on Thursday morning. The India could have got within twenty feet, so that a line could have been thrown and the men taken off.

"Was it your duty to see the range lights?" asked the counsel.

"When the captain can't see them, he sometimes asks us," was the reply.

Witness saw two davits on the Marine City, one was crooked and the other was leaning in.

John Muchmore's Evidence.

John Muchmore, fireman on board the India for two months and a half, was the fourth witness called. He told the story of the picking up and subsequent loss of the Marine City. He heard no orders given to lower the boat. Did not know who bent the line on the yawl. Heard the captain call out, "Bring the boat back." The second mate pulled on the line and brought the boat alongside the India. Thought the tow-rope not good enough to tow a vessel in rough weather. Did not know how long this line had been on board ship. Never heard the captain tell the men to be careful of this line when using it for snubbing in the canal. Did not see the range lights when near Goderich. Did not think the Marine City was strong enough to stand a big sea, and considered that the men were in danger. Saw distress flag on the derelict and would have gone in a boat to their rescue, if there had been another man to accompany him. It was the general opinion of the crew, after they reached Goderich, that the four men were lost. Didn't hear the captain say he wished the men would get a good scorching.

This ended the evidence for the day, and the court adjourned. During today's proceedings Francis King was present as one of the solicitors for the relatives of the deceased seamen.

At The Investigation.

Large crowds visit the city hall each morning and afternoon to witness the proceedings of the investigation into the loss of the four men on the steamer Marine City. Most of those in attendnce are sailors or friends and relatives of the deceased seamen. Conspicuous on the front seats at each sitting are Capt. Gaskin, Capt. Dix, and other well known mariners. H.A. Calvin, owner of the vessel on which the unfortunate sailors had shipped, is to be seen in the hall each forenoon and afternoon. He takes a seat near the counsel for the defendants, pulls a paper out of his pocket, and begins to read. Then, after a few whispered words with his legal advisors, he retires.

And as for the commissioners, it would be difficult to pick another three men so different in all respects. Commander Spain, the chairman, is a most genial man, and the first glimpse of him convinces you that he is a "good fellow." He is sharp, clear headed and has a remarkable good grasp of marine matters. At the same time he is always fair and impartial, and when he says a thing he gives the impression that he means it. He is tall, athletic, and of a noble bearing. His fresh, smoothly shaven face gives him the appearance of being much younger than he is, although he is still quite a young man.

Patrick Harty, a well known former Kingstonian, has not a hair on his head or in his whiskers that is not white. It is very seldom that he ever asks a question, and when he does his thorough Irish accents are very noticeable. When off the board he has a smile and a pleasant word for everybody.

The third commissioner, E. Adams, is an altogether different man. He asks questions all the while, and has already filled dozens of pages of manuscript with the answers he has received from the witnesses. On the other hand, it is very doubtful if Mr. Harty has three lines in his notebook. He, like commander Spain, relies more upon the capacity of his memory. Mr. Adams makes it a point of requiring every witness, from the captain down, to tell the whole story as it happened on each particular hour of every day and night. He generally manages to get a pretty good narrative every time. Mr. Adams is an old Kingstonian.

Tuesday Morning's Session.

Mr. Muchmore, the fireman of the India, who gave his evidence yesterday, was again under examination this morning.

To Mr. Macdonnell he said he noticed, on the morning of the 14th, that the Marine City had gone down about two feet. In the afternoon witness stated that he could see that she was constantly going down. Saw Connolly making motions that the boat was going down. The sea was not in any way ugly on Thursday morning, November 14th, and witness would have willingly gone to the men's rescue. Thought they could have been rescued in a yawl. Had crossed the Saginaw bay in as heavy a sea. Didn't see that the captain made much effort to get the men off. Heard men on the India say that "the Marine City couldn't stand it." Saw only one davit on the derelict. Heard the captain shout to "hawl the yawl back."

Cross-examined by R.T. Walkem, witness related no new points.

James Ewart Testifies.

James Ewart, master mariner, was the next witness summoned. Was captain of the Rosedale that entered Goderich harbor while the India was outside. Saw the lights of the India, and thought he saw another light astern of her. Did not believe that a yawl boat could have lived in the sea at that time, 3 o'clock in the morning of the 14th. At midnight on the 14th, the water came over the stern, something witness had not seen before for fourteen years. Knew Capt. Malone for about twenty years, and considered him an experienced seaman. Witness could not see the range lights till morning. The sea was too heavy to go into the harbor even if they had seen the lights.

Commissioner Adams then took the witness in hand, and gleaned the following additional information. If witness could not see the range lights, and his crew could, he would not have gone in. Might have heard the India's whistle at Goderich if she had blown it. Witness said he had on the Rosedale a towline that had been in use for fourteen years. One taken care of would easily last two years.

Cross-examined by G.M. Macdonnell, witness said he didn't believe a yawl boat could have lived after 10 a.m. on Thursday. There would have been little use in attempting to go to the rescue of the men.

"This is a land-lubber at the helm," remarked J.L. Whiting, as G.M. Macdonnell became hopelessly enmeshed in a multiplicity of marine matters, and got his terms mixed up.

Continuing, witness stated that the India might have worked over to the Marine City, though it would have been dangerous to get too near. A snub line would last witness about two years in the canal. If witness had been in command of the India, he would have tried to turn her around in the trough of the sea, though he wouldn't have considered it very practicable.

Dr. Walkem conducted a brief examination of the witness for the defence.

To J.L. Whiting witness said it was the heaviest sea he had seen on Lake Huron in his fourteen years' experience. Capt. Malone ought to be the most capable man to judge what should be done on such a day.

Sandford Ashie, fireman on the steamer Johnston for two weeks, and for two months on the India, was the sixth witness summoned. He was on the latter vessel at the time of the Marine City disaster. Helped to lower the boat in which the men went to the derelict. Heard no remarks made. When the men reached the Marine City, witness and second mate pulled the yawl boat back. Heard no orders given. Thought the tow rope too old to be used. Ashie did not see the men on the Marine City making any signs, or pumping water. Saw the ensign upside down on the Marine City, and wheelsman, after reaching Goderich, told him it was a distress signal. Last saw the Marine City about 3 p.m. on Thursday. Witness was sick until the next morning. Was told the derelict had disappeared. Heard talk on board to the effect that it was probable that the men were lost.

Though cross-examined no new points were brought out.

Capt. John Craigie

This gentleman swore that he was a master mariner and was coxswain of the life boat at Goderich. The boat was in good condition last fall, and had all the fittings of a life boat. Had air tight compartments fore and aft, and had one long sail. Boat would not have lived in such a sea as existed on November 14th and 15th. Saw the India and the Marine City, but did not see any distress signals. Witness thought the vessels were lying at anchor until such time as they could enter the harbor. Had a whistle or other signal been given, the life boat could not have gone. Capt. Malone did not go to see witness about looking for the men, but witness went to the India to see him, when he landed. Malone said nothing to witness about looking for the men. The latter, without any suggestion from the captain, sent a man and rig down the shore, and also telephoned to see if any wreckage could be seen. No word came till Friday night that wreckage was coming ashore. Went down next morning to see about it. Then told Mr. Malone that the wreckage was coming ashore at Bayfield, about twelve miles down the coast, and that the Marine City had evidently been lost. Did not think a ship's yawl could have lived.

Cross-examined by G.M. Macdonnell, Capt. Craigie stated he knew no man in Goderich who had seen a flag on board the Marine City. Could have seen a flag on the India easier. Could not say whether he would have heard a whistle or not. Two tugs were in the harbor, but witness did not believe they could have gone out after 9 a.m. on Thursday. Had helped to build a fire in a tug about 8 a.m., but as he saw no signals of distress decided no help was needed. Witness always kept the tug ready for such emergencies.

To T.J. Rigney witness stated that under ordinary conditions the range lights could be seen three or four miles. The night in question was dark and stormy.

An affidavit was here presented from the lighthouse keeper at Goderich, saying that the lights were in good condition that night.

"Could Capt. Malone have done any morre than he did?" enquired R.T. Walkem.

"I do not know as he could," was Capt. Craigie's reply.

Another Goderich Man.

Dennis P. McCarthy, who also hails from Goderich, appeared to give evidence. He has a certificate as first mate. Saw one of the two vessels anchored off Goderich on Wednesday evening; next morning, saw both the ships. Saw no signals made from the vessels. Had there been a flag on the India, witness swore he could have seen it with the naked eye. Could not have heard a whistle. On Friday morning saw India out in the lake alone. Thought a well fitted life boat could have gone out. Did not think a yawl boat could have lived in that sea. Wouldn't have cared to go out in a tug after 9 a.m. on Thursday.

Witness was cross-examined by T.J. Rigney, and stated that in his opinion, from 7 to 9 a.m. on Thursday the India could have turned around, but that she could not have done so after that hour.

Over For Today.

The court of enquiry was resumed at the city hall at 2 p.m. on Tuesday. On this occasion a number of ladies, relatives of the deceased seamen, were present.

Capt. Craigie was again called in. He stated, under cross-examination, that he knew no reason why the India could not have gone into the harbor up to 9 a.m. Thursday morning. Had she whistled for a tug, one would have gone out then. to her assistance. Witness stated that the beams in the Marine City wreckage were rotten, and would not hold the spikes. A dozen of these beams came ashore. The decks and cabin were new lumber.

Dr. Walkem presented an innocent looking little red and blue chart, of his own construction, by which he endeavored to show that it was almost impossible for a vessel to enter narrow channel in the harbor when such a strong north-west wind was blowing. Mr. Craigie thought the passage would be difficult to make.

The Defendants' Case.

Capt. John Black was the first witness for the defence. He sailed last season on the steamer Myles. Had been nine years with Capt. Malone, and thought him quite capable of anything he undertook in a sea-faring way. Knew of no one who was more competent.

Capt. Dix Called.

The third witness for the defence was Capt. James Dix, a master mariner for twenty-seven years. Knew Capt. Malone as long as he could remember, and considered him a competent master. Witness stated that he was going to enter the Calvin company's employment as master of the steamer India. Never refused to be towed behind a vessel under Capt. Malone in charge.

There being no further witnesses available at present, the court adjourned to meet at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

p.6 Death of Daniel Cunningham - lived on Rideau street, from Ireland, 67, "for many years in the employment of the Calvin company, Garden Island, as ship carpenter and diver. In his younger days he was counted as one of the most expert divers in fresh water."

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28 Jan 1902
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 28 Jan 1902