Maritime History of the Great Lakes

Scanner, v. 21, no. 2 (November 1988), p. 6

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Captain Demers - cont'd. attended the Plateau School in company with G. J. Desbarats, until recently deputy minister of national defence, the Hon. Raoul Dandurand, and the Hon. Marcel Wilson. He then attended St. Mary's Academy and graduated with a com mercial diploma. The future Dominion Wreck Commissioner entered the grocery business with the firm of Dufresne Mongenais, and later was employed by a fire insurance company. "The sea called, however, and Capt. Demers went to Quebec to join the brigan tine BEAVER, in which he sailed to Buenos Aires. He was taken ill in Argen tina, and went to hospital, his indentures being cancelled. He succeeded in obtaining a berth aboard the Royal Mail steamer TRENT, bound for Southampton, and returned to Boston 'broke'. He shipped aboard a whaler from Provincetown but deserted ship at St. Vincent when a share of his earnings was refused him, and he hid in a sugar plantation. "His next ship was the ISCA, Captain Knight, which was a barque. He went aboard in his bare feet and clicked his heels so smartly that the captain's attention was attracted and he asked: 'Can you take a royal?' 'Yes, sir', said Demers. 'Have you had breakfast? ' was his next question. 'Not since Sunday afternoon, sir', and this was Thursday morning. He got the billet. "The DOLLY WARDEN was his next ship, sailing from Belfast to Iquiqui, and in 1881 he obtained a job aboard the steamer ATLANTIC, followed by the REMINGTON. In 1885, he passed his examinations for a second mate's certificate, having studied intensively the rudiments of navigation while aboard the REMINGTON. He was unable to get a position as second mate, so again went to sea in sail aboard the barque CANDIDATE, trading between New Zealand, Chile and England. "The famous clipper ship THERMOPYLAE was his next ship, in which Demers sail ed as second mate until she was sold to Robert Reford and John Ross of Mont real. He left her in Cardiff in 1 8 9 0 and returned to Canada, when his con nections with the Department of Marine commenced. " * * * * * AN APPOINTMENT TO THE BOARD The passing of Dyke Cobb in September created a vacancy on the Executive Com mittee of the Toronto Marine Historical Society. The Committee met recently to consider the filling of this vacancy, and now is extremely pleased to an nounce that Capt. John Leonard has agreed to accept our nomination. John Leonard, of St. Catharines (or rather Port Dalhousie) is one of the founding members of T. M. H. S. and carries membership card No. 2 5 . He is well known to just about every shipwatcher and historian around the lakes and has served aboard many interesting vessels. Among his commands have been CHARLES DICK, PIC and BLACK RIVER, PINEDALE, ERINDALE and CHICAGO TRIBUNE, to name but a few. He has addressed our members at regular meetings on two occasions and will speak again at the December Meeting. On many other occasions, he has regaled us with his unique observations concerning the shipping scene. Over the two decades since the founding of T.M. H. S., John Leonard has only rarely missed a meeting, and he surely has the best attendance r e c o r d of any out-of-Toronto member. He has been a very strong supporter of the Society and always has worked to enhance its reputation and to further its ideals. He often has provided material and suggestions for "Scanner". We welcome Captain John to our Executive Committee, and feel that his ap pointment will serve to strengthen T. M. H. S. In addition, we now will have two committee members from the Niagara Peninsula. We sincerely hope that our members everywhere will share our enthusiasm and will welcome John Leonard to the Board. For the time being, there is no designation of a President for T. M. H. S., and the eight members of the Executive Committee will share the various du ties involved, including the chairing of the monthly meetings. When a new President is nominated, our members will be informed. * * * * *

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