Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Down the Hatch Go Yachtsmen: Schooner Days MCLXIV (1164)
Toronto Telegram (Toronto, ON), 16 Oct 1954
Full Text
Down the Hatch Go Yachtsmen
Schooner Days MCLXIV (1164)

by C. H. J. Snider

Toronto-Manitoulin, 1868 - No. 13 (Resuming the Ripples Voyage)

Toronto-Manitoulin, 1868, — No. 13

BRUCE MINES at the farther end of the North Channel, beyond the end of the Grand Manitoulin, were an irresistible attraction for the argonauts of the Toronto yacht Ripple, RCYC, in their historic cruise so long ago. The Bruce Mines had shipped their first direct cargo of copper to Wales in the schooner Minnesota, in November, 1850, and other sailing vessels had followed, among them the brig J. G. Dasher, from Bruce Mines to Liverpool, in 1863. Being so near to the mines in their Manitoulin cruise the Ripples had to see this contemporary evidence of Ontario's vast mineral resources, and Capt. Cooper Campbell's logbook gives a brisk account of how they all went underground.

August 24, Monday

Weather fair but threatening towards night.

At 8 o'clock we were off to the mines, ready for our tour of inspection. At the office, Captain Ball, the captain of the gang, gave us costumes, the donning of which caused many a roar of laughter. Miners' jackets and trousers of corduroy, woolen drawers and undershirts over our own clothes, besides oil skins, coats and overalls, and dark gray, hard wide-awake hats, in which we had to wear a nightcap to keep out the dirt, formed our motley uniform.

Each one had a candle duly fitted on the front of his hat by a lump of moist clay. Off we tramped, dry and tolerably clean with many a laugh and many a joke. Then such a getting down ladders, breaking our backs and our heads through low galleries, climbing over rocks, clambering on hands and knees up slippery, wet inclines and sliding down similar ones in a manner the reverse of graceful.

Down, down 180 feet in this manner. Here, the men are at work. Close by us some brawny fellows hammering away, boring and preparing for blasting, their foothold on some narrow planks overhanging what seems a bottomless abyss. Then away beyond this, looking like a host of fireflies flitting along the opposite side of the cavern and making the rocks resound again with their sturdy blows, are more miners at work. A sound like thunder is heard, a blast had gone off. The wind of it almost blew our candles out and the smell of the powder is nauseous.


Which way now? Down into the abyss. But there is no ladder. Never mind, you are sailors. Here is a chain, you can go down hand over hand. Down, oh down where to? Capt. Waggoner sets the example, seizing the chain firmly and with his knees braced firmly against the edge of the rocks gradually works from our sight. Where to we cannot tell until we follow and land by his side.

Our descent accomplished we pass through some galleries and down more ladders, see more caves and more fireflies. Down, down, down till we are fairly at the very bottom covered, with dirt and slime, wet and begrimed, in fact, such objects that, our best friends would scarcely be able to recognize us.

Such a gathering and chaffing of opinions, such efforts to keep the candles in our hats when they would bump against anything and everything! Such hitching of breeches that wouldn't keep up and rubbing of shins and knuckles because they had been bumped too hard already, never was seen.


Down in these not silent depths we had visited and smoked our pipes and had sung. Now, such a-getting up stairs! Up the shaft by ladders all the way, holding on tight by our hands and looking sharp after our clothes in case the machinery for pumping should catch us, over 300 feet to the top. How thankful we were once more to see the light of the sun and to rest our tired legs on a dry log! We now had leisure to look at and see each other. So handsome and grimy did we all look that we marched straightaway to a photographers and had a group taken as we were.

We were all highly delighted with our visit, fearing only that we carried away too much ballast and our good Ripple would be quite out of trim with her load of specimens. Capt. Ball was very kind and explained everything. The mine we visited was called Copper Bay Mine. It is sunk some 300 feet and a shaft is now being sunk some 30 feet lower. A new gallery has been pushed out through the neighboring rock and we were just in time to catch a glimpse of this new discovery of copper vein.

The whole of the ore is extracted by blasting. It is then hoisted up by buckets, culled over by men at the mouth of the shafts, then passed on to the crushing machine. It is then put into sieves and washed until all the copper that can be extracted is taken out. It is now like a very fine sand, or sandy mud, which when squeezed shows its bright glittering contents. After being left to dry in the sun it is packed in barrels and shipped to England. A large propellor has just come in and has taken a full load.


After dinner we invited Mrs. Bennett, her daughter, Miss Lott, and Mr. and Miss Marks to go for a sail. The breeze was light, but we gave them a run of 12 or 14 miles and spent the afternoon pleasantly. Our first intention was to go hunting tomorrow to Otter Tail Lake or Portloch Harbour, but as time is wearing on we decided to give up the idea.

Mr. Cumberland, the member for Algoma, had a meeting here tonight at which he said many things which we scarcely thought he would have said if a reporter from the Globe had been present.

This is the first time the District of Algoma has been represented in Parliament, and politics have been running high lately on account of the new mining bill taxing the products of the mines, to which it is said Mr. Cumberland did not give that strenuous opposition which his mining constituents expected he should have.

The remainder of the evening was spent at Mr. Bennett's house where quite a gathering was held and mirth and music reigned supreme. Harley and Morley highly distinguished themselves, the former especially in a magnificent duet with Alderman Baxter of Toronto, election touter for Cumberland. Both heroes endeavored to outshine the other while each despised the other for trying his part in a different key.

On the whole, the evening was a great success and Harley was quite smitten with the charms of the young and beautiful Misses Bennett, and could scarcely be prevailed upon to stop venting his feelings in melodious numbers till a late hour.

Snider, C. H. J.
Media Type
Item Type
Date of Publication
16 Oct 1954
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 46.30006 Longitude: -83.79992
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 46.3843 Longitude: -83.7602
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 46.31676 Longitude: -83.88323
Richard Palmer
Creative Commons licence
by [more details]
Copyright Statement
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.


Down the Hatch Go Yachtsmen: Schooner Days MCLXIV (1164)