The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 6 Apr 1909

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p.1 Latest News - The G.T.R. big ferry Ontario No. 1 beat her own best record by eight minutes and crossed from Cobourg to Charlotte in three hours and twenty minutes.


Before Judge Hodgins of Admiralty Court.

The Fulfords Sued

Judge Hodgins, of the admiralty court, presided at a special sitting at the court house, Monday afternoon, when the action brought by the Lake Ontario and Bay of Quinte Navigation company, against Mary Wilder Fulford was heard. This action arose out of a collision between the steamer Caspian and Mrs. Fulford's private yacht, Magedoma, in Kingston harbor last summer. The navigation company asked for damages. Francis King represented the company and H.A. Stewart, Brockville, and McGregor Young, K.C., Toronto, represented Mrs. Fulford. C.W. and Mrs. McLean (formerly Fulford) were in attendance.

Mr. King, in opening, outlined the main points of the case, saying that the navigation company was asking damages on account of injuries received in a collision between the Caspian and the private yacht Magedoma, owned by the Fulford estate. Mr. King outlined the position of the boats, and the time they left the wharf. He said his clients alleged negligence on behalf of the yacht. Mr. Young said his clients held that the Caspian was in the wrong, and that she went ahead at full speed, and just as she passed the yacht bad seamanship swayed her stern around so that she hit the Magedoma.

The first witness called by Mr. King was Capt. Mills, who was in charge of the Caspian on the day in question. Witness said he was first mate on the Caspian, and was in charge this day, as it was his watch on. He said he gave the usual whistles and then backed out from Swift's wharf, towards the red buoy. He backed out about two or three hundred yards, then gave bells to stop and then to go ahead. He put his helm to starboard, thus directing his course to port. He said the steamer Kingston had no effect on his course. Witness could not say which vessel, the Kingston or Caspian, left the wharf first, but they were close together. He could see the Kingston on his port quarter, and saw her come around, so that they must have come around practically abreast. The Caspian would come around first, as she was a lighter boat. Witness said he had just started ahead when he first saw the yacht Magdeoma coming from the south-west side of Swift's wharf. Witness said he blew for right of way, received no answer, and the yacht blew no danger signal. "I did not think there was going to be a collision," said Capt. Mills. Witness said the yacht was headed to cross the Caspian's bow.

"If you were coming this way," said his Lordship, indicating a point on the bay, "and they were coming this way," indicating another point, "what would be the effect?"

"We would meet," replied Capt. Mills with a smile.

Witness said, when he saw that an accident was inevitable, he could not stop, without doing more damage, so he put his helm amidships, to steady his vessel, so that the stern would not swing in hard on the yacht. After he steadied her, he put the helm to port to ease the Caspian's stern more away from the yact. Witness said he did not see the yacht do anything. He only knew the accident had taken place when he was told about it a few moments after.

"The wheel and paddle box and stanchions were broken on the Caspian," said the witness, "as well as the bulwarks from the wheel to the cabin." Witness said the yacht went on off down the river, and did not make enquiry to see how badly the big boat was damaged. Witness said the Caspian was forced to put back to the wharf, and lay all night and all the next day before she could go on, and even then was not fully repaired.

Under cross-examination, witness said that day was the first time he was in charge coming out of Kingston. He did not know whether there was any lookout on board or not, and whether he was the only man looking after the Kingston and the yacht. Witness said that the captain of the yacht could have gone back in, or could have gone around without causing any trouble.

In reply to Mr. Young, witness said the captain of the yacht was to blame in three things - in not answering the whistles, in not backing up, and in turning around.

"Was it not a fact that you thought you were going to pass the Magedoma?" asked Mr. Young.

"Yes, I thought I would, and I was going ahead at full speed," answered the witness.

Witness said it was not his duty to keep out of the way, as his signals were not answered. He said after he had gone full speed ahead he could not have done anything even if he had received an answer. To Mr. King, witness said if he had received a danger signal from the yacht in answer to his signal, he would have stopped still and waited until the way was clear. Witness said he sailed with the R. & O. for thirty-five years.

The next witness called was Mrs. Martha McLean, daughter of the late Senator Fulford. This witness was put in by consent of the prosecution, as she is leaving for England. Witness, in reply to Mr. Young, said she was on board the day the yacht touched here, and was on board at the time of the collision. The steamer Kingston, she said, went out first, and she did not see the Caspian until the Kingston had turned and gone up and that the Caspian was behind. Witness disagreed with the former witness in the distance the Caspian was from the wharf when she was fully turned, saying she was over sixty feet out. Witness said that her yacht backed out and when they saw the Caspian the yacht was stopped and floated a little. She would not have gone ahead, as the wharf was in the way. Witness was positive that the yacht stopped the moment the Caspian came in sight. Witness said that the other ladies with her at the stern of the yacht became frightened and ran but she stayed with the ship. Mrs. McLean said that there was a sailor on lookout duty about the yacht, and he called all clear, and immediately after the Caspian took a sudden turn striking the yacht. Witness was positive that the yacht was not in motion at the time of the collision, as she could not go ahead without hitting the wharf, and could not go back without going into the Caspian. Witness said she heard two whistles, but they did not seem like steam whistles but engine whistles.

Under cross-examination by Mr. King, no new facts were brought out concerning the collision. The witness held to her story all through. Mrs. McLean proved herself well acquainted with boat life, and gave her evidence in a way that showed she was familiar with all the boat terms. Just before her evidence was concluded Mr. King touched on the ownership of the yacht as provided by the will, and caused quite an argument.

In reply to Mr. King, Mrs. McLean said that her mother owned the yacht. To Mr. Young she said that her mother owned it under the terms of her late father's will, only for her life time. His lordship then said that if Mrs. Fulford owned the yacht she should be before him now, as she was the defendant in the case. Both lawyers cited clauses from the will telling about the ownership of the yacht, and how much money was allowed each year to maintain it. The question was dropped, to come up later.

Charles Wesley McLean, husband of the previous witness, was next called. Witness was also on board the yacht the day of the accident. He was not married at that time, and was naturally with Miss Fulford near the stern of the boat. Witness said he was quite sure that the Caspian would have passed the yacht all right had she stayed on her first course, but when she swerved it caused the trouble. Witness said the yacht waited alongside the Caspian for five or ten minutes and saw what damage had been done, before proceeding on down the river.

His lordship adjourned the court until 9:30 o'clock Tuesday morning.

Tuesday Morning Evidence.

Three witnesses for the prosecution were examined this morning, and every point was carefully gone into. His lordship first recalled Capt. Mills and had him explain more fully some of the questions asked him at yesterday's hearing.

After this witness had been again dismissed, the counsel took up the questions of the ownership of the yacht. Mr. King read the following extract from paragraph 7 of the will of the late Senator Fulford: "I give the use of my house in Brockville, with grounds, furniture, plate and furnishings, and all the animals, vehicles, and my yacht and fittings to my wife, Mary Wilder Fulford, for her natural life, subject that my daughters have a home there as long as they live." Another extract was read as follows: "Besides the amount already bequeathed to my wife, I leave an annuity of $10,000 to keep said yacht in commission." Mr. King also read part of the evidence of Capt. Johnson, of the yacht Magedoma, as to who was his boss and who he took orders from. The captain said Mrs. Fulford was the only one he took orders from.

William Blondell, wheelsman on the Caspian, was next called by Mr. King. Mr. Blondell's evidence was anything but satisfactory, as he could not tell the court when he put his helm to starboard and which way the rudder would go.

The witness was questioned as to the movements of the boat, after he left the wharf and when he left the buoy to make the turn. Witness told of the orders received from Capt. Mills and how he obeyed them. Witness was closely questioned on the position of the boats, the speed they were going, how they started and turned.

The next witness was Capt. Bloomfield, who was on the Caspian on the day of the accident, but was downstairs. Witness said he heard the two whistles, which he thought were signals to some boat ahead. When he heard the signal he walked over to the starboard gangway, where he first saw the yacht backing out, only a few seconds before the collision. The yacht's stern was only twenty-five or thirty feet away from the Caspian, and her stern was abreast the wheel. Witness said the moment he saw the yacht, he knew something was going to happen, and he went to the stern of the boat. Witness was closely questioned by the judge on the boats' positions, how each was moving just before they came together, and his examination became quite long. It took fully twenty minutes for his lordship to get one answer, and the witness was retired from the room until the counsel and judge argued the point. His lordship said that this was the main point - whether the Magedoma was moving when she hit, or whether the Caspian was moving, or whether both boats were moving. The captain was recalled and said he was only at the gangway about five seconds, and saw the stern of the Magedoma coming towards him, but could not say whether both boats were moving, or whether only the Caspian was moving.

Witness said it was a straight blow the Caspain received from the stern of the yacht, and then the scraping back to the stern also did much damage. The captain said that after the collision he ordered the mate to put back to the wharf, and had to lay here until five o'clock the next evening, to make repairs. In reply to his lordship, witness said that the damage was caused by the Magedoma coming into the Caspian, not the Caspian coming into the Magedoma.

Capt. Bloomfield was the best witness that the prosecution presented. He saw the accident, knew just what happened, and stuck to his account. Mr. Young tried to shake him numerous times, but could not do so.

The last witness examined was James Hickey, who was in a small boat and saw the accident. The main point brought out in his evidence was that the captain of the yacht had plenty of space to give his boat a few kicks ahead and this would have cleared the Caspian, as the yacht had fully fifty feet before she would have hit the wharf.

Court adjourned for lunch at one o'clock. At two o'clock the defence commenced its case.


Buffalo, April 6th - The first clash between the union and non-union forces on the waterfront occurred, yesterday, when an attempt was made to move a big freighter from her winter berth in the Blackwell canal with non-union engineers. When it became known that the boat was to be moved and that non-union engineers were at work, a score of men rushed on board. A hurry call was sent to the police and a squad of reserves was rushed to the scene. When the police arrived the crowd had disappeared and with it the non-union engineers.



A Bush Scene At Coward's Boat Factory.

A very busy place these days is Coward's Boat Factory, near the old McLeod tannery on River street. When Mr. Coward first came to Kingston, he started building motor boats, skiffs, etc. in the old block house on Sydenham street. Now he is entrenched on the banks of the Great Cataraqui, where his products can be easily launched when completed. At present he has no less than eleven motor boats under construction, some of these for use in home waters and others going as far as the Atlantic seaboard, on the east, and the plains of Alberta on the west. Mr. Coward's business is steadily developing, and he now gives employment to eight or nine carpenters. Boats are finished in all stages of construction, as the buyer may wish. Some purchasers want only the knockdown frames, while others want a semi-finished hull.

Among the boats on order, or being built, are the following: two for Perth, seven for Montreal, four for Ottawa, two for Winnipeg, eight for Grayson, Sask., two for Toronto, two for Picton, one for Woodlands, Que., cruiser for Pictou, N.S., one for Westville, N.S., one for Campbellton, four for St. Johns, N.B., eight skiffs and four canoes for Lethbridge, Alta., one for Nelson, B.C., and one for Victoria, B.C.

Marine Paragraphs - Capt. Patrick Sullivan arrived from St. Catharines, today, to take charge of the steamer Simla.

Capt. Charles Coons, of the steamer India, arrived in the city, today, from Port Dalhousie.

J.M. Phillips, engineer, Belleville, is in Kingston to fit out the Vernon Jr., Mr. Comstock's private yacht.

p.3 County Court - Selby & Youlden vs. Donnelly Wrecking Co. - Action for $123.50 for work done and material supplied, was held over until the next assizes.



The marine men are a happy lot today and the reason for their joy is that navigation is open. Looking spick and span, with a new coat of paint, and Capt. Crawford in charge, the steamer Wolfe Islander drifted in to the wharf at the foot of Clarence street shortly after one o'clock this afternoon, and this marked the opening of navigation. "Con" Millan, the well-known hotelman, was on hand to take the ropes and there was quite a deputation of citizens congregated on the wharf to give the "old reliable" and its crew a warm welcome.

The steamer made the trip from Wolfe Island in fine shape, no difficulty experienced with the ice, the mild weather of the past few days shaking it up considerably.

It is of interest to note that navigation opened this year on the same date as a year ago, April 6th. The running of the steamer will be gladly welcomed, both by the citizens and islanders, as the crossing has been very poor for some time. This will result in a much larger island market on Saturday. The Wolfe Islander will at once go on its schedule time.

The route to Cape Vincent will be opened at once. It was stated this afternoon that the steamer Pierrepont, which holds the record as an ice breaker, would start out for the Cape at seven o'clock in the morning. A good stiff wind is all that is necessary for a general breaking up. After the Wolfe Islander had broken the way from the island a couple of punts were able to make their way across to the island.

During the past thirteen years, the dates for the opening of navigation in the Kingston harbor has been as follows:

1909 April 6th

1908 April 6th

1907 March 28th

1906 April 4th

1905 April 10th

1904 April 11th

1903 March 14th

1902 March 24th

1901 April 8th

1900 April 9th

1899 April 10th

1898 March 13th

1897 April 1st

1896 April 14th


Detroit, April 5th - A Cleveland despatch says President Stack, of the Firemen's, Oilers' and Water Tenders' Association, has sent delegates to all ports where the work of fitting out has been started, and all members of that organization will be instructed to leave boats on which contract engineers are working. Members of the union will be permitted to work on boats not manned by contract engineers. Managers of the different lines assert they will have no trouble in filling the places of firemen or other members of the association who quit work. About twenty five thousand men are involved in the order.

President Livingstone, of the Lake Carriers' Association, claims that a fake form of the agreement, between the association and the engineers under contract to the association, is being circulated to prejudice other marine union men, and offers to donate $10,000 to any charity if it can be proven the lake carriers have presented such an agreement to any man to sign.



A Belleville despatch says: The unrivalled advantages of the Bay of Quinte as a cruising ground for small yachts and motor boats are at length coming into widespread recognition, thanks to the efforts of five yachting organizations in Picton. With a practically unlimited area of land-sheltered waters extending eastward from the head of the bay to the Thousand Islands, with the Murray canal at its western end, according easy access to Lake Ontario, with excellent fishing for black bass and maskinonge in season; with many coves with secure shelter and the best of anchorage are to be had, and with jutting points, where excellent camping grounds are available, the Bay of Quinte is an ideal sheet of water for small craft of all kinds.

While Belleville, which was thirty years ago famous as the locale of the Bay of Quinte Yacht Club in which were enrolled the fastest racing craft on fresh water, has not for several years possessed a yachting organization, yet the old spirit has been gradually reviving, and there is a numerous fleet of dinghies and other sailing craft, including a few yachts and a considerable number of motor boats. A club is now being erected in Victoria Island Park, and the prospects are that a strong yacht club will be organized at an early date. Meantime considerable additions are being made to the fleet.

Henry Corby has purchased the motor boat Yaqul, a craft upwards of ? feet in length, and which has a speed of 22 miles an hour. He will enroll her in the Royal Canadian Yacht Club.

J.W. Murray has bought the sailing yacht Vera, a very smart 18-footer, which he will probably use as a cruiser, and sail her in local races.

Messrs. S.E. Carman and P.F. Wills are fitting out their 20-footer Cynthia, which has been thoroughly overhauled at Deseronto during the winter. It is their intention to take part in the L.Y.R.A. meeting at Cobourg.

Picton yachtsmen are leading all others on the bay in activity with regard to motor boats, as the following list will show:

J.C. Carter has purchased a 28-foot cruiser, which will have an 11-horsepower Ferro engine and a speed of ten miles an hour.

Mayor J.H. Porte will have a 40-foot cruiser, fitted with four-cylinder 18.25 ? horsepower Sterling engine, and will be elegantly fitted in all respects.

Hepburn Bros. will have a high speed boat to replace their well known Yellow Kid. She is 34 feet long and will have a 40 horse-power Syracuse engine. Her speed is expected to be 24 miles per hour.

Messrs. H.W. and E.W. Sherriff have a speedy 30-foot cruiser, which will have a speed of about 18 miles per hour.

Capt. Wessels has built a 32-footer which, if he does not sell, he will equip with an 8-cylinder 100 horsepower engine, which he calculates will drive her close to 30 miles an hour.

S.D. Gilbert has added six feet to the length of his cruiser, which is now a 42-footer. She carries a removable spar and canvas in case of emergencies.

F.F. Boulter has had a new speed boat built at Wellington. She is 33 feet over all, and will have a 30 horsepower engine.

George Strawbridge, of Picton, will have a new boat by the same builder.

There is also a good deal of activity in yachting matters at Napanee, Trenton and Brighton.



Bartlett Dalton Elected Commodore.

The annual meeting of the Kingston Yacht Club was held at the club house, Monday evening, when the officers and committeemen for the year were elected. The secretary-treasurer's statement was read, showing the club to be in a sound financial condition and with a good surplus for this year. The election of officers resulted as follows:

Commodore - Bartlett Dalton

Vice-commodore - Prof. Iva Martin

Rear-commodore - W.C. Kent

Secretary-treasurer - C.S. Kirkpatrick

Measurers - H. Cunningham, E.C. Gildersleeve

Executive committee - John McKay, C.E. Willis, H. Hora, F. Strachan, and L. Shorey

Regatta commitee - H.P. Smith, F.W. Albree, J.H. Macnee, L.C. Lockett, R.E. Burns, J. Davy, J.B. Conway and Norman Crothers.

Entertainment committee - Irving Martin, F. McParland, K. Tandy, J.C. Newlands, F. Strachan, Dr. J.J. Harty and Mr. Carman.

The regatta committee's report was read reviewing the past season's events and showing a successful season's racing among the sailing yachts, both in Kingston and at the Eastern Circuit regattas. Owing to the motor boat owners not bringing their boats out, no motor races were held, but an effort will be made the coming season to put on some good races and a number of the motor men were placed on the new regatta committee.

Prize flags for last season's races were presented to the owners of the Temeraire, Kathleen, Chiriya, Isis, Freda, Oweenee and Baby Grand for races won. A motion was passed that the grant from the club for racing prizes be handed over to the regatta committee at the beginning of the season for distribution to the winners so that prizes may be awarded promptly after each event.

A communication was read by Lieut.-Col. Strange from Judge Reeves of the Crescent Yacht Club, of Watertown, N.Y., relative to amending the deed of gift of the George challenge cup, now held by the Kingston yacht club, so that the Kathleen and Crescent may remain eligible for the twenty-foot class. He also requested the club to support a motion at the L.Y.R.A. meeting that the new rules be kept in force on the lake for at least five years, irrespective of what the Atlantic clubs may do in the matter of again changing the rules. It was felt that the frequent changing of rules and classes was an injustice to those who build new boats and in a few years find them placed in an absolute class. The communication was referred to the regatta committee for action.

Bartlett Dalton, the new commodore, has been one of the club's best workers and will make an energetic head of the club.

The season's events will probably open with a regatta on Victoria Day for sailing and motor boats. The races for the George challenge cup have been set for July 1st and succeeding days, and the club will hold a regatta in connection with them.

Day's Episodes - Capt. Charles Crowley died a few days ago in Chicago, after a short illness. He was well and favorably known in Kingston, where he had resided for many years previous to his removal to Chicago. He was known as a careful and skilful mariner.

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6 Apr 1909
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 6 Apr 1909