Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Windbound ‘Mid Hard-Case Wreckers: Schooner Days MCLIV (1154)
Toronto Telegram (Toronto, ON), 3 Apr 1954
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Windbound ‘Mid Hard-Case Wreckers
Schooner Days MCLIV ((1154)

by C. H. J. Snider

Toronto-Manitoulin, 1868 - 3

THE RIPPLE of Toronto was an able little schooner yacht of 20 tons or so, but when seven big commercial schooners of from 10 to 20 times her size, had to hard-up the helm and run for shelter, Capt. W. C. Campbell, Ripple’s owner in 1868, could not be charged with anything but good sense in following their example.

Here resumes the Ripple’s log of her pleasure voyage from Toronto to Manitoulin 86 years ago. But for the disappearance of schooners from the lakes this log might have been written last summer—or next. It is, indeed, a good guide book for the 1954 cruiser, though the Port Maitland wrecks and wreckers have been cleaned out long, long ago. The mouth of the Grand River was an old naval depot after the war of 1812, and the hulks left there, and the wrecks which occurred afterwards made it a great pollicking ground for the hard cases Capt. Campbell encountered.

The last extract from the Ripple’s log left her fuming with impatience at Port Colborne. The; log continues:

Port Colborne

Thursday, July 30, 1868

It has been blowing hard all day from the S.W., right down the lake, so that schooners ready to sail had to lie over all day. About 11 p.m. the wind shifted more to southward, and we got a chance of a tow out, so we cast off bur mooring and at 11.30 stood on our course for Long Point S.W. by W 1/2 W. We managed to hold this course with a light breeze, which was however gradually freshening and at the same time hauling more to the westward till 2.30 a.m. when we put about and stood South till 4, Gull Island light bearing due north at 2.30 and distant 5 miles.

July 31, Friday

Weather clear

Wind: S.W. blowing a gale.

Distance from. Pt. Colborne 21 miles.

This is the weekly-versary of our mishap and again we have a gale to record.

(The mishap the week before was getting aground at Port Dalhousie in a gale.)

At 4 a.m. when the watch was called, we came about and stood due West, Gull Island being about 12 miles distant, due North. We stood on this tack till 6, making ten miles, then came about and stood S. The wind now began to freshen and by 7 the sea was heavy and the wind blowing fresh from the S.W., and our good little vessel laboring a little. At 7 all hands were called to shorten sail. We took in our jib, then came about and stood N by W. We then took a single reef in our mainsail. The wind freshened every moment and as it was dead in our teeth we determined to run for the Grand River, distant 20 miles.

The sea was so heavy that it would have been very difficult for us to have made anything, and we should only have had our labor in vain tacking backwards and forwards all day. At 9:30 we made Pt. Maitland, having run the 20 miles in less than 2 hours, and here we have had to lie idle all day. In fact the wind and sea grew worse after we came in, and three schooners ran in for shelter as well as ourselves. We are fortunate in having Capt. Wagner as our pilot. He is very well acquainted with the lakes and indeed without him we should have been hard put to it.

August 1, Saturday

Weather threatening, clearing towards evening

Wind: S.W. blowing hard

We lay idle all day, the wind blowing too hard from the S.W. to venture out. Four schooners ran in after us for shelter, and not one dared venture out.

Port Maitland is a horrid, dull hole with a tavern, a general store and a custom house officer. It is at the outlet of the Grand River and a branch of the Welland Canal comes out here. The people are a hard lot, with a number of hard cases, who live by wrecking.

We are sick and tired of the place, but managed to catch enough fish to make two good meals.

Snider, C. H. J.
Media Type
Item Type
Date of Publication
3 Apr 1954
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Geographic Coverage
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 42.8812547531454 Longitude: -79.2486728466797
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 42.8579707235509 Longitude: -79.5762663598633
Richard Palmer
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Windbound ‘Mid Hard-Case Wreckers: Schooner Days MCLIV (1154)