The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 9 Aug 1905

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p.1 Two Were Drowned - Prescott, Aug. 9th - Monday night four of the crew of the tug Nellie Reid rowed over to Ogdensburg. When returning, about one hundred yards from the American lighthouse they attempted to change seats and the skiff capsized. Two were rescued by Fred Knapp but the fireman and a deckhand were drowned.



Into the Steamer Argyle Casualty.

The government investigation into the casualty to the steamer Argyle near Whitby on the morning of July 29th, took place this morning in the cabin of the steamer at the dry dock, before Commander Spain, R.N., wreck commissioner of Canada, and Capt. Thomas Donnelly, of this city, who acted as assessor.

The first witness was Capt. William Manson, who was examined by Commander Spain. Witness stated that the Argyle left Toronto at 8:20 a.m., on July 29th bound for Oshawa with 150 excursionists. The weather was foggy. From the eastern gap, he steered by the compass in the wheelhouse which was east one-eighth north. The correct course by the compass forward was north-east by east, seven-eighths. Witness came on the Argyle only in May. He holds a certificate of competency in the inland waters as master, issued at Toronto in March 1885. Has been sailing for twenty-five years and never had an accident before. The fog continued all the time. Witness was on the bridge all the time; couldn't see further than two or three lengths of the boat ahead. When he left Toronto couldn't see half a mile ahead. The vessel was going full speed all the time and up till the time of the casualty. There is no special lookout man on the vessel during fogs. There is one wheelsman who takes a run of six hours. There is one mate on the boat. It was 10:40 o'clock when the boat went ashore. Witness was coming out of his room when the accident occurred. When she struck the boat was still being steered east one-eighth north, according to wheelhouse compass. That was the course always steered and was found to be all right. By the correct compass the course steered was north-east by east, one-eighth north. Witness didn't know the exact deviation of either compass, but kept the steamer about one-eighth point to the east of the course to allow for deviation. It was not customary to reduce speed in fog unless it was known that other boats were around. The whistle was kept blowing. He knew it was against marine rules to go full speed during a fog. The steamer struck on the shoal just under her boilers. The boat steered well.

To Capt. Donnelly, the witness said that he had steered that course all along in daylight and had found it correct. This season he had run at least twenty times to Oshawa. No soundings were taken with the lead on that morning. He had taken soundings on other occassions. Commander Spain asked the witness if he did not consider that he ought to be on the bridge of the vessel when it was going out of or entering a harbor. The witness said he did in foggy weather.

M.R. Davis, government hull inspector, testified that he inspected the Argyle at Kingston about the latter part of May, and found her satisfactory. The lifeboats and equipment were all right. He had advised the captain to replace some life preservers which had been done. The Argyle is allowed 800 passengers. The only fault he found with the boat when he inspected her was with these few life preservers. Commander Spain asked about the rule as to putting life boats in the water at certain periods. Mr. Davis replied that the marine rules and regulations provided for the crews of vessels being drilled in such matters as that, which was outside of the inspection. Regarding the compasses there was one standard compass aboard, and it was likely correct. There was also another aboard. He never required the compass to be adjusted, because he didn't inspect her when she first came out. The rules state that the compasses are to be adjusted on the first inspection when the boat comes out. The adjustment of the compasses was generally left to the judgement of the owners. To Capt. Donnelly, Mr. Davis said that he was perfectly satisfied the Argyle was in first class condition when he issued a certificate. He knew the vessel thoroughly.

John Hazlett, manager of the company, stated that it was customary to run the boat full speed in all kinds of weather in order to properly reach her destination. He thought the wind which was off the lake, had sent the boat slightly off her course. There was no panic when she struck. Many of the passengers hardly knew of the accident. The engines were reversed. There was no water found in the hold just after the boat struck, but three or four minutes later, it was found to be coming in. Mr. Hazlett said he didn't interfere with the captain in the running of the steamer.

Capt. Manson was recalled, and asked by Commander Spain if the crew had any life boat drill. He replied that the mate had told him he had once practiced the crew in lowering the boats. The mate had also put the crew through fire drill. Witness was not present at either.

To Capt. Donnelly, the witness said he was not aware that the marine rules and regulations called for drilling the crew once a month in lowering the lifeboats and in practising for fire. The Argyle is the first passenger boat he commanded.

Andrew Hicks, mate of the Argyle, produced a master's certificate of competency in inland waters. He was steering east one-eighth north, which was the usual course to Oshawa from Toronto. There was no instrument in the wheelhouse to show what was going on in the engine room. The captain was just coming on the bridge when the boat struck. The four life boats were lowered. He had drilled the crew in lowering the life boats perhaps three or four times a month, and also put them through fire drill. The captain had advised him to do so. Witness looked upon himself as responsible for carrying out this drill.

Commander Spain asked the mate if it was not the usual thing to reduce the speed of the vessel during a fog. The witness said it was not. The boat steered well, and ran the same course as usual.

To Capt. Donnelly, the witness stated that the time for running from Toronto to Oshawa was two hours and twenty minutes. With a head wind he had run down before, and it had taken five minutes more. With the wind in the direction it was blowing on the morning of July 29th, he didn't allow specially for any leeway. He allowed one-eighth to the right, as usual, for deviation. One hundred yards would have cleared the boat of Oshawa Point. Witness could not tell what was the reason of the boat going ashore.

William H. Mouck, wheelsman of the Argyle, gave the same evidence as to the course steered, as the captain and mate. He was acting under the mate's orders at the time. His opinion as to the cause of the boat going ashore was that it was due probably to a current in that vicinity, which he had seen before.

Alexander Barton, engineer, next gave evidence. He holds a second-class certificate. The usual speed was about twelve miles an hour, at which the Argyle was running before the accident. When the boat struck he got the bells to reverse. To Capt. Donnelly, witness said the engines were in first class order.

The court concluded its investigation at eleven o'clock after an hour and a half session.


M.T. company's wharf: Tug Glide, up, with two light barges; S.S. Fairmount up this afternoon with the barge Melrose.

Craig's wharf: Propeller Persia, down; yachts Virginia, Thira, Castenet, Wherenow and houseboat Dora, from river points.

Swift's wharf: Steamer Kingston, down; steamer North King, from Charlotte; steamer Rideau King, for Ottawa; steamer Rideau Queen from Ottawa, tonight; schooner Clara Youell cleared for Charlotte; yacht Idler, from Alexandria Bay.

p.5 A Steamer Ran Aground - The Richelieu & Ontario steamer Prescott ran aground in the Cedar Rapids, a short distance below Coteau. She was on her regular trip down the river when the accident occurred on Monday morning, and it is supposed that something went wrong with the steering gear. The passengers were all landed safely and taken to Montreal.

p.6 Stella, Aug. 7th - The steambarge Navajo has supplied J.S. Nelson with three hundred tons of coal, the largest load ever brought here.

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9 Aug 1905
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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), 9 Aug 1905