Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Toronto Leader (Toronto, ON), Monday, Nov. 15, 1875
Full Text
Loss of the Olive Branch.

About 9 o'clock Sunday morning the schooner Olive Branch, from Oswego, laden with coal, was driven ashore on the south side of the island, directly opposite Church street, and as there was a dreadful sea funning, it was feared that the vessel would go to pieces every moment. her position, however, was soon observed by Mr. Ward, the well known, courageous fisherman, who resides on the Island, and he instantly proceeded to render assistance to the shipwrecked mariners. He was assisted by the following young men, who are employed by him as fishermen, viz, George Gereaux, Martin Omeha and his brother Dennis.

The Olive Branch was found with her broadside to land and about three hundred feet from the shore. The breakers were then lashing over her with tremendous force and Captain Preston and crew of five men and a woman were almost powerless to help themselves. Ward, however, was equal to the emergency, and after repeated efforts he got a small line to the vessel, and the famishing crew then tied a large rope to it and passed it ashore, keeping one end, however, on board. The woman was then tied to the rope in the centre and the men on shore hauled her to land, but as she was in the water all the way, she was nearly drowned when rescued.

Then one of the sailors was dragged ashore in the same way, but he was so much exhausted that Ward was afraid to try another man on the rope, fearing that he might be drowned. Taking one of his own boats he attached the line to it, and had it hauled to the vessel, but by the time two other men had dropped into it the spray from the vessel was so nearly swamping it that Mr. Ward and his companions pulled it ashore and landed the men. Unfortunately at this juncture the end of the line held on the vessel accidentally slipped into the water and was lost. The greatest difficulty was then experienced in getting another line to the vessel, but was finally accomplished, and one end being tied to the masthead and the other extending along the shore, the remainder of the crew were taken off by being sent aloft and then sliding down the rope to the land.

An idea of the dreadful nature of the catastrophe may be imagined when it is stated that the last man was not got off till between three or four o'clock in the afternoon. They were all taken to Mr. Ward's residence and cared for by that noble hearted fisherman, who has been the means of saving many lives from shipwrecked vessels on the Island. It will be remembered that he obtained a medal from the British Humane Society for rescuing the crew of the Jane Ann Marsh, and yesterday's work is deserving of similar recognition at the hands of the Society.

If Mr. Ward had had a life boat at his command, as he should have, he would have been much better able to rescue the crew. His own boats have been frequently injured when employed in saving life, and we understand that he has never received a dollar to recompense him for his losses. We hear that although he assisted in rescuing a crew from a vessel owned by a wealthy merchant of this city, recently, he has been unable to obtain from the latter even a pair of oars to replace those that he broke in the effort to save the lives of the crew. We feel half inclined to name the merchant who has acted as shabbily toward this gallant fisherman.

The Olive Branch, it seems, lost her foremast on Saturday night in the lake, and when she approached the land she was unable to bear away, and consequently drifted ashore. The vessel and cargo will be a total loss.

Item Type
Date of Original
Monday, Nov. 15, 1875
Local identifier
Language of Item
Richard Palmer
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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Toronto Leader (Toronto, ON), Monday, Nov. 15, 1875