The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 11 Oct 1905

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p.2 Incidents of the Day - The first shipment of grain for this season left Belleville on Monday, per steamer (sic) Echo, Capt. Fagan. It consisted of 1,500 bushels of wheat and barley and was consigned to Richardson & Son.



The Close Of The Wolfe Islander Case.

The celebrated Crawford case was resumed at 2:15 o'clock on Tuesday afternoon, the defence taking the stand. Thomas Briceland, reeve of Wolfe Island, went into the box. On the 25th day of May, last, he went to the foot of the island to see after the freight. They started to load cheese at Wolfe Island. The captain saw after storing away of the cargo. "I said, captain, why not have three trucks instead of two." He said he was tired. I didn't ask him to handle truck, I said I am here to see that you see that this work is done, if you don't I will have to get someone else. He said he didn't want thirty minutes notice. I didn't discharge him. He said, "If you say so I'll go." I made no reply. As manager my duty was to order special trips, get tickets, see that the work was done, but not to hire or dismiss men. As soon as the boat got in Kingston I stepped off gang plank. He met me and said, "I'm ready for my money now." I said I'd give him a cheque when I went to the island. We walked up town and when parting, I said, "captain as you are leaving I'm going to get another captain." His reply was, "Go to ___ get whom you like." I got Winborne, who was collecting tolls on market. I had not previously spoken to him. I knew not whom I'd get. After a walk up town I came down to see steamer Wolfe Islander go over to G.T.R. wharf. I had nothing to say between the 25th May and council meeting on June 5th to Crawford.

To Rigney - At Council I started to give my report of the fracas, but Crawford interrupted me "to have his say." This was the only report I made. Crawford said he wouldn't stay if I remained as manager. He wasn't discharged by the minutes of council. "I deny I asked him to run a truck. I said captain you could have three trucks as well as two. I didn't tell anyone on the trip over that the captain was discharged. I, as reeve, have full power over the entire crew of steamer.

I never told the captain I was appointed manager. How it happened I went to Breakey's Bay that Thursday, the previous week we had the third deckhand which some said was not necessary. It was suggested by Crawford I go down. It was an average load. They didn't need an extra deckhand. There is one now and we let him stay, though it's hardly necessary. I received a letter from you and no minute was made in council of its receipt.

Stuart Armstrong, councillor - He seconded the engagement of Crawford as Captain. First heard of the now celebrated incident next day. Crawford came with Flynn shortly after I heard news. I asked captain, "Did the reeve dismiss you.? and the answer came "No Sir, he ordered me to run a truck and I would not take his lip." He said, "I intend to collect my season's pay, but if you put out Briceland I'll go back on steamer." I said I'd try and fix up the matter. He said the boat was not safe. Flynn and I talked it over, and we decided to advise him to go on with his work but he said, "I don't wish to go on her now."

Crawford said he'd go back if Winborne was put off. I said I didn't think I could do that for I didn't know what agreement had been made with Winborne. Crawford spoke at council June 5th and offered to go back, if management was changed. I said he'd have to agree with reeve if he wanted to go back.

To Rigney - I was in favor of Crawford returning to boat. I say the reeve had no right to dismiss him. There was no resolution of the board of dismissal. No agreement was made with Winborne, as with Crawford.

D.J. Leslie, engineer of ferry - I did not hear dispute. Crawford said, "I've quit." I said "you're fooling."

To Rigney - I swear he said "I've quit."

Crawford, recalled - I deny saying the words, "I've quit." I swear Armstrong invited me to council meeting.

F.L. Whiting in addressing the jury said the case might be called a "Tempest in a teapot." In this case his damages are limited by one month's wages. The only question to be dealt with is, "Was he discharged by the municipality or did he chuck up his job." The difficulty arose over running the third truck. The ferry has to be run as economically as possible. It was one of those times when employees are supposed to exert a little effort to "make hay while the sun shines." Briceland did not ask the captain to put his hand to the truck; the mate was there and could have done it. The captain said, "If you say so, I'll go now." It was plainly a waiving of all his rights, he apparently did not want a thirty day's notice. Even after a chance to cool off, coming over from Wolfe Island, he left of his own free will. He simply got mad and chucked his job. But this is an action against the township not Briceland. The reeve had no right to discharge him. Crawford says himself that Briceland had no right to discharge him. Crawford should have gone to council and said "Briceland and I have had a difference, and want you to re-adjust it; instead he goes and says, he won't work unless Briceland is dismissed. He wasn't discharged by council. I submit Briceland didn't discharge him, he simply walked off, of his own account. On the evidence you will have to find he was not unlawfully dismissed.

T.J. Rigney said: We started out to prove Capt. Crawford was wrongfully dismissed and fix the damages. The facts dwindle down to whether or not he was discharged. There is a conflict of evidence. Briceland says he merely suggested a third truck might be put on, whereas Crawford says Briceland asked "Aren't you going to run a truck." You have evidence of an old mariner, Coleman Hinckley, who says it is out of a captain's station to run a truck. If we say he quit - why did he not leave at Wolfe Island, instead of bringing his steamer to Kingston. The captain says he was discharged, he was told he would get his pay on arrival in the city. The only thing to consider is the extent of damages. You all know how impossible it is for a mariner to get employment so late in the season as May 25th. The evidence of the councillors says there was no motion of his dismissal. If he was dismissed he should be paid his wages and if you see fit he is entitled to damages.

Justice Clute in his summing up, said the first question is: Was there a contract? The second question, Was plaintiff discharged or did he leave? There is no doubt the captain took the initiative in thinking he was to leave. Did the reeve's words mean a dismissal? Was the captain correct in taking the reeve's statements as a discharge. He is not entitled to recover damages if he left of his own free will, but if it is found he was dismissed he is entitled to one month's salary.

The jury returned a verdict of $50, one month's salary, holding that the captain had been discharged.



The schooner D. Freeman is unloading coal at Anglin's wharf.

The tug Reserve, of the Fisheries department, is lying at the ferry dock, waiting an abatement of the storm.

Craig's wharf: steamer Niagara up last night; steamer Persia down tonight; steamer Waterlily up tonight.

The steamer Valeria is here from Gananoque to have a broken wheel replaced. She will enter Davis' dry-dock.

Quite a number of big vessels are being chartered at Fort William to carry grain to Kingston. The transportation companies will be very busy this fall.

Swift's wharf: steamer Hamilton up last night; steamer Rideau King up tonight from Ottawa; steamer Belleville due down this afternoon; steamer Aletha, bay ports.

Marine Tidings.

The schooner Metzner is at Crawford's wharf with coal from Oswego.

The schooner Acacia, from Sodus, with coal, is at Booth's wharf.

Work of unloading the schooner Annandale's cargo of coal had to cease during this strong spell of weather.

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11 Oct 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), 11 Oct 1905