The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 16 Apr 1903

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The schooner Annie Minnes cleared for Oswego.

The schooner Dunn, from Toronto, will enter the Davis' dry-dock for repairs.

Capt. Thomas Donnelly, of this city, is regarded as the best posted marine man in Canada.

The early opening of navigation has actually made things dull in marine circles. A good season on the lake is not anticipated.

A steel propellor, 255 feet long, forty-one feet beam, and eighteen feet depth, has just been launched at the Buffalo branch of the American Shipbuilding company. The new vessel was christened Robert Wallace. The Robert Wallace is one of ten vessels being built for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Transportation company, to be used on the lake and river route to the Atlantic. The Robert Wallace will go into commission on May 15th.

A legal point will have to be decided before it is definitely known whether the underwriters of the Lloyds company or the Bertram Shipbuilding company, will have to stand a financial loss of the steamer Montreal. It is stated that in conferring with John Bertram, the representatives of the Lloyds company will point to the fact that the insurances were put forward on the condition that the building contract for the steamer had to be completed in 1902. This the Bertram company did not do, and therefore the insurance companies could not be held for any damage done in 1903. It will be further claimed that a policy of marine insurance cannot legally be issued to cover a longer period than twelve months and the last policy was to run till the contract expired at the end of 1902. The insurance in the Lloyds companies was $85,000 at the rate of 6s. 8d. per cent.



Sending Out Of A Boat For Witnesses.

The sending of the government boat to Manitoulin for witnesses and others engaged in the bribery investigation recalls the tragedy that destroyed the last vessel sent out on such a mission by the Dominion government. That was the schooner Speedy, whose hull lies at the bottom of Lake Ontario, somewhere off Presque Ile. Not only the witnesses but the court officials perished. That was in 1804, when Toronto was known as York. Henry Scadding, in his "Toronto of Old," tells the graphic story of the event.

"The principal incident connected with the Harbor of York in 1804, was the loss of the Speedy. We give the contemporary account of the disaster from the Gazette of Saturday, November 3rd, 1804"

"The following," the Gazette says, "is as accurate an account of the loss of the schooner Speedy in his majesty's service on Lake Ontario, as we have been able to collect. The Speedy, Captain Paxton, left this port (York) on Sunday evening the 7th of October last, with a moderate breeze from the north-west, for Presque Isle, and was descried off that island on the Monday following before dark, where preparations were made for the reception of the passengers, but the wind coming around from the northeast, blew with such violence as to render it impossible for her to enter the harbor, and very shortly after she disappeared.

A large fire was then kindled on shore as a guide to the vessel during the night, but she has not since been seen or heard of, and it is with the most painful sensations we have to say, we fear it is totally lost. Enquiry, we understand, has been made at almost every port on the lake, but without effect, and no intelligence respecting the fate of this unfortunate vessel could be obtained. It is therefore generally concluded that she has upset and foundered.

It is also asserted by respectable authority that several articles, such as the compass box, hen-coop and mast, known to have belonged to this vessel, have been picked up on the opposite side of the lake. The passengers on board the ill fated Speedy, as near as we can recollect, the narrative goes on to say, were Justice Cochrane; Robert J.D. Gray, Esq., solicitor general and member of the House of Assembly; Angus Macdonell, Esq., advocate, member of the House of Assembly; Jacob Herchmer, merchant; John Stegman, surveyor; George Cowan, Indian interpreter; James Ruggles, Esq.; John Fisk, high constable, all of this place.

The above named gentlemen were proceeding to the district of Newcastle, in order to hold the circuit, and for the trial of an Indian (also on board the Speedy) indicted for the murder of John Sharp, late of the Queen's Rangers. It is also reported, but we cannot vouch for its authenticity, that exclusive of the above passengers, there were on board two other persons, one in the service of Justice Cochrane, and the other in that of the solicitor-general; as also two children of parents whose indigent circumstances necessitated them to travel by water. The crew of the Speedy, it is said, consisted of five seamen (three of whom have left large families), exclusive of Capt. Paxton, who also had a very large family. The total number of souls on board the Speedy is computed to be about twenty.

A more distressing and melancholy event has not occurred to this place for many years, nor does it often happen that such a number of persons of respectibility are collected in the same vessel. Not less than nine widows, and we know not how many children have to lament the loss of their husbands and fathers, who, alas, have perhaps in the course of a few minutes, met with a watery grave. It is somewhat remarkable, the Gazette then observes, that this is the third or fourth accident of a similar nature within these few years, the cause of which appears worthy the attention and investigation of persons conversant in the art of shipbuilding."

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16 Apr 1903
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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), 16 Apr 1903