The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 17 Nov 1909

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Grand Trunk Boat With Cargo Of Grain.


Houghton, Mich., Nov. 17th - The Canadian steamer Ottawa foundered off Passage Island, Lake Superior, a shifting of the cargo of wheat causing the boat to list and roll under the heavy seas.

Capt. Birnie and the crew saved themselves with the boats, and arrived at Copper Harbor, Keweenaw, on Tuesday.

Birnie was badly frozen and may die. The Ottawa was bound to Fort William (sic).

The Ottawa usually runs from Depot Harbor, near Parry Sound, to Fort William. She is of canal size and was built in Toronto.

Capt. Birnie, generally known as "Sandy," is a well-known mariner, who, when asked what kind of passage his ship had, would very often say, "Lord, man! we had a fearfully rough time when off Passage Island." In his estimation that was the worst point in the lake, and so it proved. He is a resident of Mooretown, Ont., and has been married three times.

The Ottawa had a capacity of about 120,000 bushels of wheat, and was considered, when loaded, to be about the saftest on the upper lakes.

The vessel was often called the Mud Hen, or the Ground Hog, because she was so often aground. The captain, however, was fearless, and would put to sea when all the big fellows were kept tied to their moorings.

The Ottawa was really a Grand Trunk boat, though it was operated under the name "The Canada Atlantic Transit company." The G.T.R., of course, acquired the C.A.R., whose terminal is Depot Harbor.

The Ottawa was built by the Canadian Shipbuilding company, in 1901, and turned over to the Ottawa Improvement company in 1902. She was full Welland canal size, which means about 259 feet long and 42 broad.

Passage Island is off Keweenaw Point, a peninsula which puts far out into the lake from the Michigan shore, some distance east of Port Arthur.

Another Vessel Lost.

Detroit, Mich., Nov. 17th - Two boats are known to have been lost during the present prevailing storm. One of them is the steel barge Ottawa, the other the Francis Hinton, wrecked on Lake Michigan near Manitowoc. The Hinton was from Manistique to Chicago with lumber. She went ashore two miles north of Manitowoc, broke in two, and is a total loss. The crew of eleven men escaped in a yawl.



The Storm Was Too Fierce For Boats.

Last night's severe gale, on the lake, was the means of tieing up navigation somewhat. It was too rough for small vessels to venture out and the vessels in port had a great shaking up.

The steam barge Jeska is ready to make another trip to Oswego, but is held back by the storm.

The schooner Lizzie Metzner was slightly damaged on Tuesday night, while lying at Swift's wharf. The wind blew a gale from the south-west and hammered the small vessel on the wharf, tearing away the guard on the starboard side, and doing a little damage on the starboard quarter. A few hours' work and a few new planks will remedy the damage. The Metzner is bound for Picton with 400 barrels of salt.

The steamer Aberdeen was at Swift's, Tuesday night, the wind being too heavy for her to continue up the lake.

The steamer Aletha made the regular trip from bay points today.

The steamer Sowards is wind-bound at Oswego, loaded with coal for Kingston.

The steambarge Westport cleared for Rideau canal ports, with a cargo of general freight.

The steambarge John Randall loaded grain at Richardsons' and cleared for Washburn.

The steamer Key West is at the government drydock, undergoing repairs. Afterwards she will be laid up for the winter at Crawford's wharf.

The schooner Ford River is loaded with feldspar ready to clear for Charlotte, but is detained by the weather. She may be able to clear tonight.

The steamer Advance cleared for Fort William with a cargo of freight.

To Run G.T.P. Fleet.

C.H. Nicholson, traffic manager of the Northern Navigation company, has been appointed manager of the G.T.P. fleet. He has resigned from his former position. Capt. Nicholson is a former Kingstonian and a brother of H.E. W. Nicholson, G.T.R. agent at Kingston Junction. He was for years in command here of the old steamer Hero.

p.4 Incidents of the Day - The schooner Kitchen will clear, tonight, if the weather is favorable, for Oswego, to load coal for Cobourg, on her last trip of the season. She will be laid up in Cobourg.

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17 Nov 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.
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 17 Nov 1909