Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Recalling Two Lake Tragedies: Schooner Days MCCXI (1211)
Toronto Telegram (Toronto, ON), 12 Mar 1955
Full Text
Recalling Two Lake Tragedies
Schooner Days MCCXI (1211)

by C. H. J. Snider


"I READ read with great interest your story in January 29th issue, re sinking of the Resolute," writes George Toppings, of Oshawa.

"I am a brother of Thomas Toppings whom you mention as drowning in that mishap. Another brother is still living in Montreal.

At the time of this unfortunate happening. Mr. Harrison was chief engineer on the Resolute. He was also drowned at that time. I was well acquainted with Mr. Harrison, as I fired for him for two season. He was a very fine type of man and spent an hour a day reading his Bible. I was sailing on a sister ship. the Reliance, at the time as second engineer. We were lying wind bound in the Bay of Quinte when we received word of the sinking. My brother and I went to Toronto, and we walked the docks for three weeks in hopes we would find the bodies. However, they were not found until next spring in Toronto Bay.

"Sometime before the sinking of the Resolute, she was sailing with an American ship, the steamer Hall, carrying coal from Oswego N. Y., to Deseronto, Ont. They encountered a bad storm outside the Main Duck Islands, the steamer Hall with an American crew was sunk. The Resolute headed out into he lake and landed at Port Dalhousie, Ont., twenty-four hours later, a long way from her destination, but safe. The Resolute came down to Kingston, and laid up for the winter. At that time she was in charge of Capt. John Gowan.

"I am sorry I cannot give you the dates, but thought you might be interested in knowing that there is still someone living that recalls the old Schooner Days."

Of course Mr. Toppings. Thank you for your letter. Long may such remembrances continue.

We knew both the Resolute and the Reliance well, and Capt. Gowan, who sailed them both at different time. We were shipmates with his son Alex, in the schooner Loretta Rooney, when Capt. Frank Barnhart had her in 1896. The two steam barges were much alike, both green hulled, high forward, with foremast and topmast, carrying a sail that brailed to the mast. The Resolute was a little larger. Both were built by the Rathbun Co. at Deseronto. Reliance in 1881, Resolute in 1883, and both were on the register still in 1925.

The steamer Hall, mentioned was the John E. Hall, Capt. Tim Donovan. Wreckage came ashore from her at Stoney Point, Dec. 20 1902.

The Hall was towing the ex-schooner John R. Noyes, which had been cut down to a barge. Capt. Donovan's son was the master of her. The Hall was a "family boat" owned by Capt. Donovan with Jerome Donovan first mate, John Donovan first engineer, James Donovan second; all Oswego men.

Particulars next week.

Snider, C. H. J.
Media Type
Item Type
Date of Publication
12 Mar 1955
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.20012 Longitude: -77.04944
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.928888 Longitude: -76.623888
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.20011 Longitude: -79.26629
Richard Palmer
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by [more details]
Copyright Statement
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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Recalling Two Lake Tragedies: Schooner Days MCCXI (1211)