The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 14 Nov 1910

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p.3 Notice To Creditors - In the matter of the estate of Capt. J.A. McDonald, late of the city of Kingston, in the county of Frontenac, master mariner, deceased.......



The steamer Belleville, which ran aground, near Grafton, in the snow storm on Friday night, has not yet been released, and the circumstances make it rather a difficult task for the wrecking team. The steamer Chieftain and the schooner Maize are at the scene, the schooner being used as a lighter. The Belleville is on a shoal, high and dry, and it is very hard to get a boat close to her, as there has been a very heavy gale and as a result very little headway has been made. However, today, a flat-bottomed scow was secured and it was thought that after the vessel was lightered of her cargo it could be released with very little difficulty.

M.T. Co.'s elevator: Tug Bronson from Montreal, three light barges, cleared for Montreal with two grain barges; steamer Westmount, from Fort William, transhipped 81,000 bushels of wheat into barges and cleared for Oswego; tug Thomson from Montreal, three light barges, cleared for Montreal, two grain-laden barges; steamer Seguin from Fort William, transhipped 65,000 bushels of oats into barges; steamer Keyport from Fort William, lightered 10,000 bushels of wheat and cleared for Montreal; steamer Rosemount, grain-laden, from Fort William, due to arrive tonight, and the steamer Glenmount on Tuesday morning.

The tug Edmond and barge Columbia loaded with wood, arrived from Bedford Mills this morning for R. Crawford.

The steamers Dunelm and Wahcondah passed down on Sunday.

The government steamer Scout was in port over Sunday.

The barge Hiawatha, of the M.T. Co., is in port.

The schooner Mary Ann Lydon has gone into winter quarters at Portsmouth.

The barge Hiawatha, of the M.T. Co.'s fleet, is in the Kingston drydock for repairs.

Construction work has been definitely commenced on the government quarantine boat which is being built by the Kingston Shipbuilding company. Men have been working for some time on the steel work of the boat and on Saturday the keel was laid. Work will be rushed as fast as possible. A large number of men are employed on the construction and the boat will assume shape very rapidly. She is being built right beside the slip, and when completed will be turned into the drydock.

Last week John Donnelly, of this city, made a survey of the gasoline yacht Le Cygne, that was partially wrecked by an explosion. The amount of damage was placed at $4,000. The boat may be taken to Brockville this week to be repaired. Le Cygne is finished in mahogany and her motor is six-cylinder Standard, and was built in New York at a cost of $25,000. She was insured for $15,000.

Had His Leg Broken - Capt. Lepine, jr., of the tug Emerson, of the Montreal Transportation company, when near Dickenson's Landing, got caught in the anchor chain.



A Mistake Is A Serious Matter To A Lake Captain.

[Weekly Star ? - not credited]

Captains on the big passenger boats are expected to "know navigation," but a sea captain depending on navigation alone would make a sorry (fist ?) of it on the Lakes. "Navigation" is no good in a snow-storm. In fact in that contingency, most lake captains prefer to tie up, or, if caught in midlake, to proceed with extreme caution, laying to, if at all practicable, under the lee of Whitefish Point, an island, or some such shelter.

In a snowstorm every landmark or light on shore is shut off as by a wall. The stars are naught. The sun is blotted out from the sky. There is no sky. A Lake Superior snow-storm isolates a ship in space. She is nowhere only a little patch of black water and a great opaque, smothering cloud of driving snow, close over-arched and all-enveloping. It is at times like these that most of the lake disasters occur. "Went ashore in a snowstorm," is the commonest explanation of loss by shipwreck on the Upper Lakes.

When it is considered that a very small divergence from the angle of the prescribed course might, in the reach of a night's run, make a difference of fifty miles, and when it is further considered that some of the "passages" are narrower by far than that at Thunder Cape, opening up into the famous Thunder Bay, a doorway of four and a half miles, it will be admitted that loose course, however they may be considered by the sea captain of Jim's acquaintance, won't do on Lake Superior. Two degrees may make but little difference to a liner on the Atlantic. The divergence can be made up next day or any time, like a man walking across a prairie - he doesn't keep to a line like a garden path. But on the Lakes, especially on Superior and Georgian Bay, two degrees divergence from the course would in some cases bring on a bad case of shipwreck in half an hour. The Athabasca went on the Flower Pots, due to a wheelman's mistake, in less time than that.

Captain Brown of the Athabasca had been a C.P.R. captain for fifteen years. No more careful or experienced man was there on the Lakes.

He started out with the Athabasca from Owen Sound, one day last fall, and it came on to snow. Out off the Bruce, the sea was rolling and the night came down thick as a blanket. Georgian Bay was getting the full sweep of a nor'wester. Wisely Captain Brown decided to put about and run back to Owen Sound.

On nearing Flower Pot Island the captain sent a man back to read the log. By his watch he knew it must be nearly time to wear around the end of the island. He told the man to wait by the log until the figures read right and to come forward then on the run.

"Fly," said he, and the expression was quoted afterwards at the investigation. The island itself was invisible in the storm. To be sure of leaving plenty of room between it and the ship until they were past far enough to turn, Captain Brown ordered the wheel to starboard. The wheelsman, as he afterward testified, reversed his order by mistake, and put his wheel to port. For a moment the steamer ran on the false course. Then the captain noticed the compass and signalled the engine room to reverse. At the same moment the man came running up from the stern with the log reading. The point of the island was therefore dead ahead. Another moment on the proper course and the Athabasca would have cleared the Flower Pot, and Captain Brown would be a C.P.R. captain today.

The vessel's way gradually slackened, and she was sheering off to starboard when, with scarcely noticeable shock, she slid up the flat rock of a ledge and rested there as quietly as in a dock. For the island broke the seas and the vessel lay in a lee calm. And there she had to stay until the tugs took her off and she steamed into Owen Sound a day later.

Captain Brown's papers were withdrawn on the head of this accident, and though the vessel went into drydock and only one and a half plates had to be replaced, he remained under suspension for nine months. Nor when, in response to a petition signed by the captains and mates of the Great Lakes and presented by the local members of Parliament, the Government restored his papers, did the captain regain his old berth with the C.P.R., which goes to show how completely the companies impress the cruel weight of responsibility upon their captains.

p.8 Belleville Was Floated - This afternoon, word was received by the Calvin company, that the steamer Belleville, aground near Grafton, had been floated, and was taken to Cobourg, leaking. The vessel will be brought to the Kingston drydock for repairs.

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14 Nov 1910
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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), 14 Nov 1910