The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 20 May 1912

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Captain and Crew Escaped in the Boats.


The Loss Is Estimated at $20,000.

The steambarge Iona well known at this port, having wintered here a couple of seasons, caught fire some time during Saturday night, while on her way from Sodus Point to Montreal laden with coal, was almost totally destroyed and sunk. Capt. Paul Hammond and the twelve members of the crew escaped. The mishap occurred off Stoney Island, about twelve miles out of Sacket's Harbor. News of the affair reached Kingston on Sunday. For the most part the members of the crew belong to Montreal.

The Iona was loaded with soft coal and made a good run out of Sodus Point on Saturday. The cause of the fire could not be ascertained.

When the fire got beyond control, the members of the crew took to the lifeboats, and at daybreak on Sunday, they landed at Henderson Harbor, N.Y., and from there they went to their respective homes.

The steambarge was of 500 tons displacement, and was owned by the F.E. Hall company, of Montreal, and was insured. There was no insurance on the cargo of coal. The loss was given as $20,000.

The Iona was laid up near Anglin's Bay all last winter, and was also laid up here two years ago. Although an old vessel, she was in good condition, marine men say, having been fitted over from time to time. Some years ago there was a bad fire on the Iona near Oswego, and on that occasion she was rebuilt at Trenton.

The Iona left Oswego on Saturday evening. It had taken a cargo of lumber from Three Rivers, near Montreal, to Oswego for the Diamond Match company.

The burning of the vessel was witnessed from points along the shore of Lake Ontario.

Later Particulars.

Further particulars of the burning of the Iona have been received. It was a very dirty night and the crew had a bad time of it after they put off in a lifeboat and drifted before the gale all night, finally landing at Henderson Harbor N.Y. early on Sunday morning. While all got safely away the twelve men were thoroughly exhausted after their long battle with heavy seas during a cold lake storm. That they all got away so well was due to the lake regulations, which demand that every vessel shall carry twice sufficient life-boat accommodation to carry its crew. The whole crew got into one lifeboat and left the other with the burning vessel.

At the time the fire broke out the Iona was steaming about fifteen miles north of Oswego N.Y., with a cargo of 1,000 tons of coal, bound from Sodus Point N.Y., to Quebec. There were on board at the time Captain Paul Hymond, of Beauharnois, and a crew of twelve men, mostly Canadians, the chief engineer Frank Patterson and several others being from Picton.

It was blowing pretty hard from the northeast, and the boat was having a fairly hard time of it when shortly before midnight fire was discovered to have broken out near the boiler room. When it was found, the flames had gained considerable headway abaft the smokestack, and soon broke through to the deck. The boat was a ten-year-old wooden vessel, and the fire spread so rapidly that it soon became apparent there was no hope of saving her.

Signals for help were sent up but there was no other vessels within sight of the rockets and after a short time Capt. Hymond gave the order all hands to the boats. One lifeboat was sufficient to accommodate the crew, but they had to get away so speedily that Captain Hymond left his clothes and money behind him on the burning vessel with the result that when he landed at Henderson Harbor he was literally stranded.

As the crew pulled away from the ship they watched it burn, and long before they had got out of sight it had burned to the water line and they saw it plunge forward and sink. With the gale blowing, about all the men could do in the open lifeboat was to drift and keep head before the wind. In this way they drifted all night, suffering greatly from cold and exposure. Early on Sunday morning they sighted land, and pulled into Henderson Harbor, where they were looked after.

The Iona was owned by Messrs. F.E. Hall & Co. of Montreal. She was a wooden screw propeller, 150 feet long by 25 feet beam and 12 feet deep. She was built in 1902 at Trenton, Ont., and had been engaged in the lake and canal coal carrying trade.

Serious Canal Break Narrowly Averted - str Beaverton struck gate at Thorold.

p.6 Gananoque - sch. Briton arrived with first cargo of coal for season.

p.7 I.M.C. -

p.8 Turret Cape Again Afloat - near Cove Island.

May 21, 1912



Who Escaped From Burning Vessel Reach Kingston

Some of the members of the crew of the steambarge Iona, which burned and sank in Lake Ontario, opposite Henderson's Harbor, N.Y. Saturday night, arrived in Kingston, on Tuesday. Ross Bovay, of Picton, was one of the survivors, and he with others had some thrilling tales to tell of their miraculous escape.

The engineer states that it was 10:30 o'clock, on Saturday night, when the crew had to pull away from the burning vessel. It was a very rough night, and they had a very difficult time making their way. They simply just had to go wherever the boat took them. It was very cold, and they suffered a great deal. It was 6:30 in the morning when the members of the crew arrived at Henderson's Harbor. At three o'clock they could still see the vessel on fire.

"There was no boat in sight," said the engineer, "and I can tell you that we would have been very glad to have run across one. However, we were lucky to get into the harbor."

The crew has no cause to give for the fire, but it is believed by some to have started from the smoke stack.

Capt. Max Shaw, of the steamer Sowards, was making across the lake that night, and he reports the weather as being very rough. In making Oswego, he was compelled to turn back three times, so rough was the weather. He and the members of his crew noticed the light, which was evidently the burning vessel.


Undergoing Repairs.

The steamer A.E. McKinstry is at the Kingston drydock wharf, for repairs to some of the stays and a plate on her bow. She collided with the steamer Corona, in the lower canal. The Corona passed up Monday, in charge of Capt. G. McDonald, acting as pilot to Kingston.

The first raft of the season left Garden Island for Quebec, Monday evening, in tow of the steamer Parthia.

The steamer Alexandria passed up Monday night on her way from Montreal.

May 22, 1912

p.1 photo of launch of Bellechasse -Ship No. 3 May 15/12; photo taken by Collamer Calvin

p.2 Late Marine Notes -

p.5 Toiler Went Aground - Donnellys to help.

- Kate Eccles, Julia B. Merrill, R. & O. Navigation Co. - changing from coal to oil.

May 23, 1912

p.2 A Difficult Task - Toiler.

May 24, 1912

not published

May 25, 1912

p.2 I.M.C. - sch. St. Louis, Ford River, Julia B. Merrill, Katie Eccles, Abbie L. Andrews.

-new boiler for steam barge Navajo.

-steamer Glen Allan launched at Davis shipyard.

p.3 Burning of the Iona - it burnt at the Lackawanna coal trestle in Oswego on May 18th, 1902.

p.8 Struck By Lightning - in wheelhouse of tug Inder ? near Whitby.

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20 May 1912
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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), 20 May 1912