The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 2 Dec 1902

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p.2 May Build It Themselves - The people of Wolfe Island, who, through their reeve, are advertising for a ferry to the city desire a boat that will cost somewhere about $15,000 or $16,000. "It might closely resemble the Pierrepont in construction, for we want a steamer that can carry plenty of freight," said a prominent island resident. "The island will have such a boat, even if the township has to build it. We firmly believe that it would be money well invested. Two trips a week would be made to Simcoe Island on Thursday and Saturday. There are 2,000 people on Wolfe Island, and the service ought to pay any company well."


Craig's wharf: steamer Niagara up.

Crawford's wharf: schooner Queen of the Lakes cleared for Oswego; schooner Tradewind arrived from Oswego with coal.

Richardsons' elevator: schooners Pilot and Ariadne, from bay ports, with grain; steamer Arabian cleared light for Oswego to load coal for Hamilton.


No Tidings of the Steamer Bannockburn.


A message from Fort William, Ont., says: "No further news of the whereabouts of the Bannockburn has been received. None of the boats arriving daily report any tidings whatsover of the missing vessel and it is generally thought she has foundered."

Sad indeed was the despairing news which reached the city Monday night, announcing that the tug Boynton had returned to Sault Ste. Marie, after searching the north and south shore of Lake Superior, without obtaining any trace of the missing steamer Bannockburn. That news was a sad blow to the hopes of officials of the M.T. company and to relatives of the unfortunate sailors aboard the missing steamer. It swept away the last reserve to which they clung, and left them in a condition of sorrow and despair. Up to last night hope was maintained that the return of the searching tug would bring news of the missing steamer, announcing the safety of the crew, but the fates decreed otherwise, so hope had to be abandoned.

It is generally conceded that the missing steamer is not within earthly hailing distance, that she has found an everlasting berth in the unexplored depths of Lake Superior, and that the facts of her foundering will never be known. It is asserted by mariners that the Bannockburn's boilers must have exploded, causing her to sink immediately, without giving those aboard a moment in which to seek to escape. If this theory is correct, then the big steamer quickly sank beneath the waves of that great lake, carrying down her crew to a quick and sure death. It is sad to know that so many lives were lost, but the sorrow strikes home the deeper when it is known that the greater part of the crew were well known in this city.

At least ten of the crew hailed from Kingston, and the sorrow of their relatives is shared in by the whole community. Capt. George Woods, the steamer's able commander, while not a Kingstonian, plied the harbor for so many years that he came to be looked upon almost like a native. His home is in Port Dalhousie.

This was the first season aboard the Bannockburn of George Booth, chief engineer. He was an engineer of wide experience, having followed the life of a mariner, as did his father before him, almost all his years. He was the second son of Capt. E. Booth, of Booth & Co.'s coal yard, and was aged about thirty-three years. He was married, his family residing on Division street. When he left home he left behind three bright little children, but one has since been summoned to the other shore by Him Who said, "Suffer little children to come unto me."

George Gillespie, watchman, was a son of James Gillespie, Albert street, an attendant at Rockwood Hospital for the insane. He was unmarried and about twenty years old. He was a twin brother, the surviving brother residing at home.

Edward O'Reilly, a deck hand, was also a native of Kingston, a youth aged about twenty-one. He is a son of John O'Reilly, Raglan road. The young man was well known in the city.

The loss of Arthur Callaghan, the sixteen-year-old wheelsman, will be a sore trial to his four young orphaned brothers whom he supported. The five live with their grandparents on Johnston street. The young wheelsman was the eldest son of the late Thomas Callaghan, formerly second engineer on the steamer North King.

James Garvin, one of the deckhands, was a son of Michael Garvin, shoveller at the M.T. company elevator. The father boards at the Ontario house. The son was unmarried and kept himself. His mother is dead.

William G. Chalkley, second mate, lived on Chatham street with his mother, who is a member of the Salvation Army. He was an employee in Dr. Chown's drug store several years ago. His age would be about twenty two years.

Ernest Rodway boarded on Stuart street, in company with his brother, a moulder. He would be about twenty-one years old. Before going on the Bannockburn he sailed with Capt. Woods on the steamer Glengarry.

Joseph McDonald was another of the deckhands, whose name was not heretofore given. He was a son of Martin McDonald, corporation laborer, and formerly drove the delivery waggon of E. McFadden.

Cecil Linton, oiler, was a son of James Linton, Wellington street, opposite the Hay market, and was a young man who had followed sailing being desirous of qualifying for a marine engineer. He was unmarried.

Charles Selby, Jr., second engineer on the ill-fated steamship, was a son of Charles Selby, of the Kingston foundry. He was unmarried, and a member of the local machinists' union. The young man served his apprenticeship at the foundry, and was reckoned a clever machinist. He was a sergeant in the 14th Regiment, taking a keen interest in the regiment and in all military matters. He was well known in the city.

Capt. Gaskin points out that one of four different accidents could befall the Bannockburn. First, she may have blown up; second, she may have run on a rock and sank; third, she may have had a collision, and fourth, her machinery might have gone through her bottom. He claims that it was impossible for the Bannockburn to founder.

The Bannockburn, on the 1st inst., was ten days overdue. She was bound from Fort William to Midland with a cargo of 85,000 bushels of wheat. She usually had a barge or two in tow, but on this trip was alone, hence the big cargo, her full complement. It has been stated that she was loaded with 95,000 bushels, but Capt. Gaskin says it would be impossible to get that quantity into her hold. With her hold full, 85,000 bushels, she would not be loaded down to within a foot of the Plimsall safety mark.

The Bannockburn was built twelve years ago on the Clyde, and was a fine steel steamer. On her coming to Canada she was rated A1 at Lloyds. She was valued at about $140,000, and was insured for $100,000. Her large cargo was insured, of course, by the parties consigning it, but the amount of insurance is not known by local officials of the M.T. company.

The general theory accepted is that the steamer's boilers burst, which would account for her sudden disappearance. She was a sturdy, seaworthy steamer, one of the best sailing the great lakes. Only an irreparable accident could have rendered her unseaworthy and resulted in her going to the bottom.



Capt. Stringer Tells of Wreck in Toronto Bay.

Some interesting reminiscences of the old sailing days on Lake Ontario are recalled to Capt. George Stringer of Chatham by an item republished from the Globe of fifty years ago in issue of November 15th last, in which it told how the schooner Albion and the brig Eberts had gone ashore in the bay. Captain Stringer was on the Eberts at the time, and remembers the incident perfectly. Although he is now eighty-eight years of age, the captain's memory goes back very vividly to the times around 1832 when he was sailing on Lake Ontario. Regarding the item published in the Globe, Captain Stringer says:

"Fifty years ago I had taken refuge under Toronto point. There was a strong east wind, and I took the precaution to anchor far enough out to swing in safe water if the wind shifted west, as I had often seen it do. Soon after anchoring a vessel ran into us and carried away our jibboom, thinking our light was that at the entrance to the harbor. She swung round and ran inside of us and anchored too close to the bar, and, the wind shifting west, a strong gale came up and she foundered. I knew of the fate of the schooner Prescott. A few years before my time, in 1829, she met with the same fate as the above schooner. Part of the crew took refuge in the rigging, but Captain Ross and the cook found refuge on the companion with a blanket about them during the night, till Captain Richardson of the steamer Canada rescued them with his boat in the morning."

Captain Stringer's maritime experience dates as far back as 1831, when he shipped on the schooner Duke of York. Later in 1832 he shipped on the William IV, and afterwards on the schooner Prescott. When the side-wheel steamer John Boy (sic - John By ?) ran a packet service from Little York to Hamilton in 1833 Captain Stringer ran her. Here is another incident of her career: "I was on her on the way to York, in a strong east gale, and the steamer lost headway near the Humber and fell round in the trough of the sea. She wallowed back to the west of the River Credit, and thumped up close to shore and shipped a sea inside. The passengers all got ashore safely.

"In 1835," Captain Stringer continues, "I was a passenger on the Queen Charlotte to Chicago. She was loaded with flour at one dollar a barrel freight. The Queen Charlotte was the flagship at the battle of Lake Erie. She had been sunk in Erie harbor for many years, but was then fitted out by a Buffalo merchant. I was in Kingston harbor with the brig Eberts when a steamer was sunk that was said to have government stores. I was engaged to help to raise her."

Captain Stringer asks when the seat of government of old Canada was removed from Kingston to Montreal. It was in 1844. [Toronto Globe]

p.5 The steamer America was on the ferry today, the steamer Pierrepont having broken her rudder.

Incidents of the Day - The Calvin company has sold the schooner Augustus to the M.T. company, it is said, for $13,500.

A number of sailors on the lost steamer Sylvanus Macy, sunk off Port Burwell, hailed from Clayton, N.Y. They shipped out of Buffalo.


Steamer Hebard Sinks With All On Board.

Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Dec. 2nd - The steamer Charles Hebard was wrecked at Point Mainse early yesterday. She broke up and disappeared completely, and it is believed that her crew of fourteen men and one woman were all lost. The schooner Aloha, which the Hebard had in tow, is still missing on Lake Superior. The Warmington and Francomb, which formed the other boats of the steamer's tow, are anchored at Point Mainse.

The news of the disaster was brought by the steamer Ossifrage. On approaching Point Mainse the Hebard was sighted ashore there. Not long afterwards, in plain sight of the Ossifrage, the wrecked steamer broke up and disappeared from view.

Where Sailors Belonged.

North Tonawanda, N.Y., Dec. 2nd - George Turpin and Matthew Hudson, deckhands on the steamer Hebard, are from the Tonawandas.

Peter Johnson, master of the schooner Aloha, of the Hebard's tow, also lived here. He was sixty years old and the father of twelve children who live here. His wife is dead. All of the other members of the Aloha's crew, with the exception of Bell, who is from Canada, are members of the Seamen's Union and shipped from here this spring. The Hebard and barges were laden with about 3,000,000 feet of lumber for White, Gratwick & Mitchell, of this city.

The barge Celtic, believed to have gone down in Lake Huron with all on board, shipped its entire crew here last spring, aside from Capt. Jeffries, Detroit, Mate John A. Johnson, Toronto, and cook Margaret Quirk, Marine City. The remainder of the Celtic's crew are reported as being from the Tonawandas.

Eleven For Kingston.

It is stated that there were twenty-one of a crew aboard the Bannockburn, Kingston contributing eleven. It was learned this afternoon that the assistant cook, Sidney Smith, was a Kingston boy. He was at one time employed in the hosiery mill, but his health failing, he went sailing and found improvement. His mother recently moved to Canfield, near Toronto, where she married a man named Walker. Young Smith wanted to leave the boat on the last trip and wrote his mother that he would be home, but he was persuaded to remain and accept the position of watchman for the winter months, with a view to being a member of the crew next year.

It seems that the lighthouse on Cariboo Island was closed on November 15th. Protest was made at the time by United States papers. It is suggested that Capt. Woods may have been trying to pick up the Cariboo light, and ran onto the rocks.

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2 Dec 1902
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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.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 2 Dec 1902