The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily Standard (Kingston, ON), 21 Aug 1911

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The Dead.

George Menard, 48 years old, raft foreman, Garden Island.

Mrs. Haggerty, widow, cook on Chieftain, Wolfe Island.

Miss Haggerty, 16 years old, daughter of above, assistant cook.

Hjalmar Olafsan, Stockholm, Sweden, fireman.

Quebec, Aug. 21st - The above list tells the gruesome story, in brief, of the result of the terrible accident to the Calvin Company's tug Chieftain which was rammed by the Nova Scotia coal barge Hero early Sunday morning about twenty miles above this city, between St. Antoine and St. Croix, Lotbiniere County. The steamer Chieftain was nearly cut in two, and sank almost instantly, carrying down to their death George Menard, raft foreman, of Garden Island, Mrs. Haggerty and her daughter, both of Wolfe Island, and a Swede fireman, Hjalmar Olassen, who had but recently come to this country and had been living on Garden Island.

The accident happened at two o'clock in the morning, and so sudden was it and so wholly without warning that the victims had no chance whatever to escape, being caught asleep in their rooms. The remainder of the crew had an exceedingly narrow escape, and the wonder is that more lives were not lost.

It is thought that Mrs. Haggerty and her daughter were killed by the collision. The boat rammed into their berths.

Mr. Menard, one of the victims, was raft foreman of the Calvin Company, by whom he had been employed for years and was regarded as one of their best men. He was married and a steady, industrious man.

The late Mr. Menard is survived by three sons, William, Nelson, and Ira, and three daughters, Rhoda and Rita at home, and Mrs. Eclide Sequin, also residing on Garden Island. He was a Roman Catholic in religion.

The late Mrs. Haggerty and her daughter were Presbyterians in religion.

Mrs. Haggerty was a widow, living on Wolfe Island, and had been with the company for some time. Her daughter who met a watery grave with her had not been regularly employed on the boat, but was merely helping her mother. As a result of the awful accident two daughters at home - one of them almost an invalid - are now left motherless.

The Swede fireman had just been in this country a short time, and it is not thought he had any relatives here.

A search is being made for the bodies of the victims, Hiram and Sanford Calvin having gone down to the scene of the collision with divers last night.

The accident has cast a gloom over both islands, and this city, where the victims were well and favorably known. The late Mrs. Haggerty and daughter and Mr. Menard were prominent residents and ranked among their friends many Kingstonians.


The steamer Chieftain was struck amidships on the port side, opposite the cook room and the cook's bunk room. According to the survivors they had less than two minutes from the time of the collision to the time the steamer went down, to make their escape. She sank in seven fathoms, or about 42 feet of water. They were all thrown into the water and their escape was due to the fact that a quantity of raft oars and other material floated off the vessel within reaching distance. The Chieftain was valued at $50,000. There was no insurance on her. An investigation will probably be conducted by the government.

There were in all about 19 aboard the vessel - a crew of 12, Miss Hagerty, three Indians and Menard off the rafts, Earl McKegg, a son of Neil McKegg, Mrs. Fabien La Blanc, wife of the mate, and Charles Gates, of this city, all of whom, with the exception of the raft crew, were on the boat for the trip. Those rescued were picked up in a yawl and transferred to the Hero.

It is thought that Menard met his death by being tangled in the chain and ropes which littered part of the deck. The Swede, Olafsan, could not swim, and he was seen just before the ship settled trying to put a life preserver over his head. It is thought that the suction of the ship settling drew him under.


The rescue of the Chief Engineer Thomas Grey, of Garden Island, and three others, was made by Assistant Engineer Wm. Sauve, also of Garden Island. It was almost miraculous. When the ship sank, they were drawn under and lost the oars and other material to which they were clinging. They came to the surface in a semi-conscious condition within easy reach of Sauve's yawl.

According to the story of the wheelsman, Geo. Yanson, a Swede, and mate LeBlanc, who were on deck, at the time of the collision, the Hero rammed the fatal steamer without a note of warning.The channel at the point in the river where the collision occurred is of a winding nature. Pilot Hamelin, who was taking the Chieftain up, saw the Hero approaching, and turned out for her. The Hero, it is stated, kept right on her course and rammed the Chieftain at full speed.

As soon as the accident occurred mate La Blanc sounded the alarm. He roused all on board, who had not been precipitated by the impact of the collision. A yawl was freed and a number and a number got away safely in that. Fortunately the cabin floated free of the steamer and a number were rescued by that means. Captain Phelix in an attempt to save his papers, was almost caught in the suction as the ship settled. He was the last to leave her.


The Standard interviewed Charles Gates, the well-known actor, who is here visiting his father on Alfred St. and who was on the vessel on a pleasure trip. He gave a vivid account of what had happened.

"I was awakened," he said, "by a terrible crash and grinding of timbers, and before I could realize what had happened the cabin, in which I and Earl McKegg were sleeping, was flooded with water. I did not have time to dress, but as I was groping my way to the door, my suitcase, which was floating around, struck me and I grabbed it. Earl McKegg, who is only fourteen years of age, displayed remarkable nerve and was half dressed before he left his room.

"The boat sank about a minute and a half after she was struck. When I left the cabin I went forward and helped the captain search for his papers. We found the ship's certificate and one or two books. We got in the yawl and had gone only a few yards when the boat went down.

"The Hero hid nothing whatever to take us off the sinking steamer. Captain Phelix yelled to her captain to drop a boat, but they replied that it would take them half an hour to release one. In response to the captain's request they dropped us a light to assist in the search for the ship's papers and then lowered a rope ladder over the side and stood by while we climbed aboard. The Hero was not damaged. It was the most thrilling experience I have ever gone through."

The Steamer Chieftain.

The steamer Chieftain was known as the Chieftain III, this being the third by this name built by the Calvin Company. She was practically a new boat, having been built five years ago. Her dimensions were 140 feet long by 25 foot beam. She was in charge of Captain Phelix a trusted employee of the company, and had a crew of about 15 aboard, all of whom had more or less narrow escapes. The Chieftain left here two weeks ago with a raft and was on her trip, when the accident happened.

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21 Aug 1911
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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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Daily Standard (Kingston, ON), 21 Aug 1911