Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Roast Pork for Christmas?: Schooner Days MCCCI (1301)
Toronto Telegram (Toronto, ON), 22 Dec 1956
Full Text
Roast Pork for Christmas?
Schooner Days MCCCI (1301)

by C. H. J. Snider

The Tail of a Pig - 1

BROAD-BOSOMED, buoyant, the new Mary E. Ferguson of Port Credit lay at the old Northern dock near the still older Queen's Wharf one crisp morning eighty years ago, lumber laden for Niagara. She had a big load, the hold full and the lumber piled on deck so high that there was only a little well left around the tiller aft for steering, and another forward around the handspike windlass and headsail gear.

The crew of three -- Capt. Charles Tufford, later of the Toronto Ferry Co., then a boy, was one of them -- were eating breakfast in the cabin. Tremendous commotion was heard astern, as much splashing as though a carload of square timber had been dumped into the bay for rafting -- and yells, squeaks, shouts and squeals. The captain, Bob Osborne, poked his head out of the companion.

"Danged if a carload of hogs ain't jumped into the Bay!" he proclaimed. "Drop the boat, boys, and see if you can help round 'em up."

The yawlboat the Ferguson then carried on her stern davits was quickly lowered and manned. Other schooners were doing the same. The porcine lifesavers had losts of competition. Pigs are poor swimmers, for their sharp hooves make them cut their throats. Some had thus committed hara-kiri, before the rescuers reached them, others drowned, and some were picked up. The Ferguson crew made fast to a particularly vigorous laddie who had started for Niagara by grabbing his starboard hind leg.

He turned and charged the boat. The mate got him by an ear and foreleg and hauled him in. He lunged at the mate, and shot overboard. Charlie Tufford lassoed him with a bowline in the boat's painter. They towed him to the Ferguson, hoisted him aboard with the fore throat halliards and dropped him into the little well forward. He closed one eye, gave one grunt, and lay down.

A breeze had sprung up, they made sail for Niagara-on-the-Lake.

A tug blew loud and long.

"Betcha they're after ye for that pig," opined the mate. "Nobody can't say I done it."

"All right," said Capt. Osborne, "light up them heads'ls, and we'll go back with him."

"The pig won't let us," chorused mate and boy. "He's taken charge forrad and we can't get near the gear!"

"Well," said the Old Man, "you're witnesses we tried to bring him back. Guess we got to go on."

The passage took all day. After supper Capt. Osborne said: "What that animal needs is care and kindness. You've upset him by treating him rough. What does an animal appreciate most? Food. Watch me. I'll have him eating out of my hand."

He went forward with a tin plate of supper scraps, and climbed down into the forward well, cooing "Pig-pig-pig-pig-pig" in insinuating diminuendo. This suddenly became crescendo appassionato as he shot up like a rocket, uttering damns and other naughty words amid oinks, unks and oooks from the well. The captain came aft with his hands clasped behind him.

"Did he eat outta yer hand?" asked the mate.

Do I look like handfeeding a bacon hog?" snapped the Old Man.

"No," said the mate, "more like as though you'd sot down on a red hot stove."

"He's took the seat out of my pants," cried the captain bitterly. "Is a pig's bite poisonous?"

"No, painful but --"

"Painful butt! You needn't tell me! I've heard of men going mad after being bit by a dog, if the dog wasn't killed. Throw that blasted grunter overboard. I'm not going around squealing and grunting like a pig after saving that fellow's life."

"It was Charlie that saved him" said the mate. "Nobody can't say I done it."

"Well, then, Charlie had better get rid of him," the skipper hastily agreed, unbuttoning.

How Charlie discharged his responsibility will have to wait till after Christmas. There are worse substitutes for turkey than nice throat-halliard raised roast pork. Schooner Days wishes "to sailors everywhere," quoting the Shellbacks' Toast, and to all readers,


Snider, C. H. J.
Media Type
Item Type
Date of Publication
22 Dec 1956
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.25012 Longitude: -79.06627
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.65011 Longitude: -79.3829
Richard Palmer
Creative Commons licence
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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Roast Pork for Christmas?: Schooner Days MCCCI (1301)