The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Chronicle & Gazette (Kingston, ON), July 16, 1842

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p.2 New Method to Raise Ships - use of hydrostat - a mixture of carbonate of lime and acid to produce gas.

The Unfortunate Affair of the Shamrock.

We have little to add to our yesterday's account of the sad disaster on the lake above Lachine. The coroner empannelled a jury yesterday forenoon at the house of Mr. Laflamme, at Lachine, when a full investigation of every matter connected with the accident took place. The result was that a verdict was returned of "Accidental death," and no blame was attached to the proprietors or crew of the unfortunate vessel. We subjoin the portion of the evidence which was material. Several passengers were examined, but nothing was elicited from them beyond the fact of the sobriety of the Captain and crew. Mr. Henry Roebuck of Coteau du Lac, who has an intimate experience in Lake navigation, bore testimony to the soundness of the Shamrock, and the good working of her engine, so far as an unprofessional person like myself could judge.

So soon as the bodies of the deceased emigrants can be procured, they will be decently interred, and both the proprietors of the Shamrock and Mr. Jones, the Coroner, have exerted themselves in a manner which reflects credit on them, both to relieve the sufferings of the wounded and to pay attention to the living. [Montreal Herald July 12th]

Thomas Halliman - Capt. of the steamer Shamrock, being duly sworn saith. - "I was on board the said steamer at Montreal, on Friday evening, when she left for Kingston, the cargo consisting of passengers and their luggage. I cannot state how many passengers there were. I have been Capt. of the Shamrock since the 9th of June. She left Lachine between six and seven o'clock on Saturday morning last, with three barges in tow, one of which was laden, and the other two were empty. The wind blew freshly; two of the barges were alongside of the steamer and the third was behind. We were in the habit of having more barges in tow than three, and we have had as many as six. My control over the engineer, as Captain of the boat, extended to the regulation of the quantity of steam, etc. The crew consisted of myself, 4 sailors, 2 engineers, 2 firemen and 2 pilots. There was no more than the usual quantity of steam on the engine, which is estimated by two weights which rises when the steam escapes. I had not left the deck until within ten or fifteen minutes before the accident took place, when I went to the cabin. My attention was directed more frequently than usual to the engine room on Saturday morning from the circumstance that some of the passengers were making a noise as I passed, and I wished to see what they were doing. I saw the boiler tried about fifteen minutes before the accident happened. The first intimation I had of it was the breaking of the skylight window and the rushing in of the water. I rushed on deck and saw the barge with the passengers full of water, and I then assisted as far as I could in saving the passengers. The Shamrock is a new boat, built in Upper Canada, and the engine was in good order to the best of my belief. The boiler leaked a little when the steam was off, but not to any extent. The engine was new and I never heard that it was condemned. It was built at Niagara, and the leaking of the boiler in no way affected its safety. I am of opinion that the bursting of the boiler was the cause of the accident. The engine was on the high pressure principle, and was of thirty-two horse power. The first engineer was on the watch at the time the accident occurred. He is a sober man, and I have never seen him intoxicated, but have found him very attentive and careful about his business. I certainly cannot attach the imputation of negligence to any person on board. I cannot account for the bursting of the boiler. I saved only my vest, shirt and trousers, which I happened to have on, and could not preserve even my shoes and stockings. The engineer was always at his post to obey the bells.

(Signed) Thomas Halliman.

Thomas B. Benedict, the engineer, gave a similar testimony to that of the foregoing witness. He had a young man under him, whom he was instructing as an engineer, but he never entrusted him to any extent with the working of the engine. On the first trip which the boat made, he perceived a defect in the guide of the safety valve lever, which he remedied. About two minutes before the accident took place, he examined the boiler and found the water to be above the third cock, at which time the engine was working satisfactorily. He was standing near the cylinder when the accident took place, with his back to the boiler. When the explosion took place he turned round, and saw smoke and fragments of the vessel which began to settle at the bows whereupon he rushed to the promenade deck. He has been an engineer for four years, and considered the engine of the Shamrock was a good one. The accident was purely accidental, in his opinion. According to the directions of the builders of the engine, he was allowed to carry eighty-five pounds of steam and at the period of the accident there was no more than seventy pounds of steam.

James Phelan, a sailor on board, deposed that he had been on board of a government steamer for four years, and he had never seen a more attentive engineer than the one on board of the Shamrock, nor did he ever see a better regulated boat. He cannot account for the cause of the accident.

Mr. James Ross, gave the following testimony:- "I am one of the proprietors of the steamer Shamrock, which we purchased from the Niagara Dock Company this spring for 2250 Pounds Currency - so far as regards the safety of the engine we considered the boat good, though she did not make so much speed as we wished in consequence of the engine leaking. The Dock Company warranted the boat and engine for three months, and the warranty has not yet expired. They approved of the engineer and we were perfectly satisfied with him. The hands on board appeared respectable persons."

Eleven persons were examined in all, but as their evidence went chiefly to corroborate the foregoing facts, we deem it needless to insert it.




Through To Montreal In About 24 Hours.

It is the intention of the Proprietors of this well known Boat to run her for passengers until about the 1st of October, from Kingston to Montreal, down the Rapids of the St. Lawrence, returning via Ottawa River and Rideau Canal. As follows:

Leaving Kingston every Tuesday at 4 o'clock P.M.

Leaving Gananoque do. between 6 and 7 o'clock, P.M.

Leaving Brockville, 2 o'clock Wednesday morning.

Leaving Prescott & Ogdensburgh, 4 o'clock Wednesday morning, after the arrival of the steamer Oneida from Oswego.

Leaving Cornwall between 8 and 9 o'clock, Wednesday Morning.

Leaving Coteau du Lac between 1 and 2 o'clock, P.M.

Arriving at Lachine and Montreal in the evening.

Leaving Montreal Thursday afternoon.

Leaving Lachine Friday morning.

Leaving Bytown Saturday morning.

This Boat is well fitted up with Cabins, and manned by a careful and experienced Capt. and Crew, and Engineer. It is now 15 months since she commenced running. The Boilers have been well tested and the utmost care will be observed for the safety and comfort of the Passengers. No exertions will be wanting to give satisfaction. Travelling Parties of Pleasure will now have an opportunity of taking this new and delightful mode of visiting Montreal, and descending those Rapids which many of them have so often admired from the shore.

Application to H. & S. Jones Kingston and Brockville.

H. Jones & Co., Canal Wharf, Montreal, or to Capt. on board.

July 15, 1842.

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July 16, 1842
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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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Chronicle & Gazette (Kingston, ON), July 16, 1842