Maritime History of the Great Lakes
All Aboard for La Cloche: Schooner Days MCLXI (1161)
Toronto Telegram (Toronto, ON), 22 May 1954
Full Text
All Aboard for La Cloche
Schooner Days MCLXI (1161)

by C. H. J. Snider

Toronto-Manitoulin in 1868 - No. 10

WM. COOPER CAMPBELL, owner of the Toronto schooner yacht Ripple, was not a Spartan, but he was a good sailor, and believed in having things shipshape and Bristol fashion, This really makes for the comfort of all on a cruise. The worst slug-a-bed could not object to the hours kept aboard the Ripple, for she was now at the entrance of the famous scenic cruising water, the sheltered North Channel between the north shore of Grand Manitoulin and the rugged and ragged south coast of Algoma, with the Cloche Mountains looming high inland. The North Channel begins at Killarney, and winds through islands, rocks and headlands for forty miles or so, before broadening out to 10-mile breadth for another hundred miles, to reach the St. Mary's River, the Soo, Fort William and Port Arthur and, for that matter, the head of Lake Superior and of Great Lakes navigation.

The Ripple was not going that far, but there is a freshness in her logbook of 86 years ago which reflects the same intoxicating sense of adventure which the higher latitude of the North Channel and, Lake Superior - within 44 degrees of the top of the world-inspires to this day.

Probably Cooper Campbell chanted the full orison for his crew this August morning in 1868—

"Heigh below ye sleepers!

Don't you hear the news?

Arise and shine

In the Black Ball line!

Don't turn and twist.

Get up out of this!


Show a leg, show a leg, show a leg."

That's what my Old Man used to greet our day with in the Albacore, if he was feeling particularly benevolent toward the watch below, except that our call came at eight bells, not seven, and the half hour's difference means a lot. Cooper Campbell, however, had made his preparations for an early start on this particular day, and his entry in the Ripple's logbook reads:


August 17, Monday

Weather Fine

Wind N.W.

Distance 45 Miles.

3.30 a.m.: "Starboard watch ahoy! Make sail and get the anchor apeak!"

4 a.m.: "All hands on deck."

The port watch tumbles up, and off we go with a light air doWn the bay. The wind soon changed around to the N.W. blowing a fine working breeze. This being dead ahead we had to beat out, disturbing the poor steward and slumbering starboard men, who were sometimes pitched out of their berths as the vessel tacked.

Clearing the islands at last the order comes to "Ease sheets!" and off we go for Little Current, with a fair wind over the quarter. It was a lovely sail, and we bowled along at the rate of eight miles an hour, reaching Little Current at 11. Here we invested in Indian work, and discussed the best places for sport. A gentleman belonging to the place offered to take us in his boat to La Cloche, the principal Hudson Bay trading post on Lake Huron.

We finally decided to take him and his pilot. on board, tow his boat, and start ourselves for La Cloche, All went well for a time, but the water being too shoal it was necessary for us to stop at a wharf about 2 miles from the post, built on an island, and herein lay the puzzle. The pilot did not know on which island, and as there were some forty or fifty in sight there was abundance of latitude for choice. We determined to run between the island and the shore, judging the wharf would be on the most sheltered side of the island. Here we reckoned without our host, for we soon found ourselves in a perfect nest of rocks and shoals.


We now shortened sail, and Capt. Waggoner took his post at the foremast head, all being told off to work the sails at a moment's notice. After a great deal of twisting and turning we at last found the wharf and soon were safely moored to it. We now started in Johnson's boat for La Cloche, and were most hospitably received by Mr. Mackenzie, the chief trader, who insisted on our remaining to tea, and afterwards sent us over to the Ripple in his own boat.

The Post forms quite a collection of houses, the store house, clerk's house and offices, Mr. Mackenzie's house and those for the men with stables and offices give the place quite the appearance of a village. All the ports on Lake Huron are subordinate to this one, and receive their supplies and send their furs there. The Indians here do not speak English and as the nearest neighbors are at Little Current it must be a lonely spot for any white man. They are busy now getting ready the outfits for the different outposts for the Fall.

August 18, Tuesday

Weather Wet and Stormy

Wind: E.

This day has been a zero. Rain, rain from morning till night with lots of wind do not conduce to comfort or pleasant locomotion. We therefore lay at the wharf all day, doing an amount of sleeping such has not been done before and may never be done again. We hoped to have seen Cummings and Dupont, the clerks, in the evening, but it was even too stormy for them to come. How much we miss our dinghy!

Snider, C. H. J.
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Date of Publication
22 May 1954
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Richard Palmer
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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All Aboard for La Cloche: Schooner Days MCLXI (1161)