Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Patricia McQueen (Tug), aground, 20 Nov 1948
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Chilled Crews of Tug and Dredge Reach Shore After Harrowing Ordeal,
      Clinging to Wreckage of Battered Vessels
      South Bay Mouth, Ont., Nov. 22- (CP) - After a harrowing three nights and two days clinging to the wreckage of a battered tug and dredge on the rocks of storm-swept Manitoulin Island, 15 men and a woman were safely ashore today.
      They were crew members of the dredge ELLA M., and the TUG PATRICIA McQUEEN. A snowstorm that lashed Lake Huron into 15 foot waves drove the vessels ashore on reefs 20 miles apart.
Heroes of the rescue were Stuart Peacock, 35 year old guide, and John Desjardine, both of Tobermory, who at the risk of their own lives saved the helpless survivors from both the tug and the dredge
      Aware of the plight of the two vessels when attracted by the distress signals of the tug which on Thursday night he had passed and exchanged salutes.
When the rescuers set out on what Peacock described as the "worst trip I have ever experienced." The wind was "really howling" and waves were about 10 feet high. Peacock said they pounded their way through high seas and biting cold wind to the tug whose rudder was smashed. The tug was drifting towards a reef, when, after a struggle, Peacock and Desjardine managed to get a line on the PATRICA McQUEEN and pulled her into the troughs.
      Ten men and a woman aboard the ELLA M. were rescued yesterday when Peacock worked the GRACIE from the rocks and sped up the coast to Rabbit Island. He transferred them to a former Royal Canadian Navy minesweeper, the Tug LACHINE, which bucked up the stormy lake from Sarnia, covering 190 miles in 10 hours to answer the urgent call for help. Capt. Oscar Leduc is captain of the LACHINE.
      Built to face North Atlantic storms and heavy seas, the LACHINE was formerly the Bangor Class minesweeper of that name, stripped of armament and wartime gear to take up her peacetime service.
      Her sturdiness was needed as she forged up Lake Huron on her rescue voyage. "She took quite a beating," her owners at Sarnia told the Telegram, "It was no easy weather she was battling." The LACHINE carries a crew of nine. " Its just a miracle we're alive, said Mrs. H. D. Brimacomb of Penetang, one of two cooks on the ELLA M.
      Huddled In Cabins
      She said she expected the dredge to break up at any minute during the 60-hour ordeal. They huddled in two cabins on the upper deck after the dredge sank in 12 feet of water and heavy waves broke up the interior of the dredge.
      The two vessels had left here Thursday for winter anchorage at Little Current, on the north shore of the Island. The ELLA M. went aground in the dark when Captain Angus Morrison decided to take the McQUEEN and her tow eight miles south to Fitzwilliam Island.
      On the way south a four-inch towline snapped, fouling the McQUEEN,s propeller and seizing the engines. The other tow-line pulled the McQUEEN to the rocks, smashing her rudder.
      The cable was cut and wnen its anchor failed to hold, the McQUEEN drifted before the storm until it piled into a reef outside the harbor. The 25 families of South Bay Mouth watched all Friday night from the shore, powerless to help the McQUEEN as heavy seas battered it against the rocks.
      Cooks On Bathtub
The galley of the ELLA M. was smashed. Mrs. Brimacomb scrambled eggs for the crew in a fire lit in the dredge's bathtub.
Captain Morrision said it was the worst storm he had seen in nine years on the Great Lakes. No estimate was available of the damage to the two vessels.
      Manitoulin Island - The largest fresh water island in the world - stretches across the northern end of Lake Huron. Rabbit Island, where the ELLA M. was wrecked, is midway up the islands eastern side, three miles off shore.
      The PATRICIA McQUEEN is owned and operated by Captain J. E. McQueen of Amherstburg.
      The ELLA M. foundered Thursday night off Rabbit Island. The McQUEEN, its rudder smashed and engines useless, drifted 16 hours in the blinding snowstorm, Friday night it piled into the rocks off the south east corner of Manitoulin.
      Five men struggled ashore from the McQUEEN in a lifeboat Saturday. The night before, a tiny motor launch, GRACIE 11, smashed into the rocks astern of the 40-foot tug in a futile attempt to tow it into the harbor.
      Aboard the ELLA M. were Captain William Harper, Rochester, N. Y., Mr. and Mrs. H. D. Brimacomb, Penetang; James E. Bond of Little Current; Sam Castrilli, Toronto; E. A. Caddel, Providence Bay; Elmer Rowe, Little Current; John Morrison, Mansfield and Jack and Donald Everets, Fisherville.
      On the PATRICIA McQUEEN were Capt. Morrison; Chief Engineer J. R. Ferguson, 62, Kingsville; Second Engineer Alex Beeham, 30; Wheelsman Harold Mayville 21, Amherstburg; Reginald Gelstron, 17, South Bay Mouth; the McQUEEN's cook was making his first trip as a member of the crew.
      Toronto Telegram
      November 22, 1948
      NOTE. -- The PATRICIA McQUEEN was built at Lorain, Ohio in 1911 as BALTIMORE. She was of 518 gross tons. 64 feet 5 inches length, 16 feet beam and 6 feet 9 inched depth of hold.

The dredge ELLA M. was built at Welland, Ont., in 1904 she was 101 feet in length

Item Type
Reason: aground
Lives: nil
Remarks: Got off
Date of Original
Local identifier
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 45.55007 Longitude: -82.01651
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Patricia McQueen (Tug), aground, 20 Nov 1948