The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 8 Apr 1909

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Caspian-Fulford Case Completed

The hearing of the action of the Lake Ontario & Bay of Quinte Navigation company vs. Mrs. Fulford, of Brockville, was concluded on Wednesday afternoon and judgement was reserved.

Capt. Johnson was recalled for cross-examination when the court opened at 1:30 o'clock in the afternoon. He produced his master's certificate issued by the United States, and it was read to the court. It did not embrace Lake Ontario and the River St. Lawrence until February 3rd, 1909, when it was extended to embrace these waters. To Mr. King, witness said that when the collision occurred the nearest part of his boat was a hundred feet from the wharf. When the big boats had turned, the Kingston came right in at him, and he stopped the engine. He had not seen the Caspian and if the Kingston had not run so close he would have kept going astern. Witness does not speak the English language very well and became a little tangled on some of the words but came out all right. He changed some of his answers given in his examination for discovery, such as the position of the boats at different periods of time. His evidence became quite tangled in parts.

Witness said when he heard the two whistles he thought they were for the Kingston, but when the Kingston did not answer, he knew the whistles were for the yacht. When asked if it was not his duty to blow the danger signal, he said it might have been, and it might not have been, he was not positive. Capt. Johnson said that he might have blown the danger signal, but did not do so as he thought the boats would go clear. "It is all right to talk about this thing now," said the captain, "but it happened very quickly, and I did not want to do anything to confuse the captain of the Caspian." Witness said he did not think there would be any collision up till the last moment and then it was too late to do anything.

"Just as the boat was passing and was very close," said the captain, "the look out called all clear, and then we struck." Witness said he intended to go ahead, but when the lookout called "all clear," he did not think it was necessary. Witness said that Mr. King's language was "perfection," but he was far too particular in his questions and the answers he required.

"Why did you not go ahead and get out of the way of the Caspian?" asked Mr. King.

"In the first place it was not my duty. A steamer that has another on her own starboard bow must make way for her and the other will keep her speed and course. We were on the Caspian's starboard bow, and for another reason I was afrraid of the wharf." Mr. King spent much time questioning the witness on the rules.

The question of damages was again gone over by Mr. King, but no additions or deductions were made. Mr. Stewart asked a few more questions before Capt. Johnston (sic) was let out. He had been on the stand for four hours and a half.

The next witness called was Frederick Soderstrom, a sailor on the yacht. Witness said he had sailed for ten years on ocean and inland steamers. He was on the stern of the boat the day of the accident. His story of the collision was practically the same as that of previous witnesses. He told a clear story all through. He said when he called out "All clear" to his captain, the Caspian was fully fifteen feet away and he never thought there was any danger of a collision or he would not have yelled "All clear." Witness was positive that the stern of the Caspian swung over on the yacht, and that if the large steamer had kept on her course, there would have been no collision, as she had plenty of room to pass before she swerved off her course onto the yacht. Witness said when the boats came together the yacht listed heavily to port.

Under cross-examination, witness said he was wrong in calling all clear, but was not wrong at the instant he called, as all was clear then.

This rested the case for the defense. Mr. King agreed to rest his case without calling Capt. Esford, and this closed the case for both sides.

In his address, Mr. King said that the facts were so clearly set forth that all that was needed now was the merest summary of the evidence of the witnesses. He presented the facts that the Caspian was quite right in backing out, quite right in coming ahead, quite right in blowing her two whistles and quite right in coming on when she received no answering whistle, other than the waving of the arm of the captain of the yacht.

In his address, Mr. Young said as yet there was no proper proof that Mrs. Fulford was the owner of the yacht and, therefore, liable for damages.

Mr. King took five minutes in reply, going over some facts raised by the opposition counsel. He dwelt on the matter of ownership, producing evidence from numerous witnesses heard through the trial.

It was 6:30 o'clock when Mr. King finished, and his lordship reserved judgement. The case took three complete days to try, and the damages were only $600. The costs will likely amount to more than the amount at stake.



The wind of last night cleared the harbor of all the ice.

The schooner Cornelia will clear tonight to Sodus Point to load coal.

Last night's wind storm gave all the vessels in port a great shaking up.

The government tug Reserve is expected to arrive here from Prescott in a few days.

William Hackett will leave for Ogdensburg in a few days to sail on one of the boats.

The tug Scout is at present in Crawford's slip, but will commence work in this district as soon as the weather is favorable.

The steamer Pierrepont made the trip to Cape Vincent yesterday, arriving there at noon. She cleared again at 2:30 o'clock but did not reach Kingston until this forenoon, being held up by an ice jam at the foot of Wolfe Island.

Last night at seven o'clock there was quite an ice jam in the bay at Portsmouth. The high wind carried it all away during the night.

The steamer Edmonton loaded oats at Toronto and will be the first vessel to arrive at Richardson's elevator with a cargo.

Met With Accident - crewman named Rand fell in hold of steamer Sharples, requiring medical attention.

p.6 The Wind At Belleville - April 8th - ....The schooner George Suffel, which wintered near the Grand Junction docks, broke loose from her moorings and drifted down the bay. The schooner Freeman broke loose and fetched up on a bar. She is in no danger....

The Report Is False - report from Chicago claiming 10,000 seamen are on strike is false, according to William F. Yates, president of the Marine Engineers' Beneficiary Association.

April 9, 1909

not published (Easter)

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8 Apr 1909
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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), 8 Apr 1909