Maritime History of the Great Lakes
J. C. Morrison (Steamboat), burnt, 4 Aug 1857
Full Text

The splendid steamer J. C. MORRISON, belonging to the Ontario, Simcoe and Lake Huron Railway Company, was burnt to the water's edge, at Barrie, Lake Simcoe, Tuesday night. No lives lost.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      August 6, 1857

      . . . . .

      Burning Of The Steamer 'J. C. MORRISON '
About half-past 12 o'clock on the morning of Wednesday last, our town was alarmed by the cry of "Fire", which was found to be on board of the J. C. MORRISON steamer, then lying at the wharf opposite Fraser's Hotel. When first discovered it was issuing from below, near the fire place, and was beyond all possibility of being extinguished. A few minutes only elapsed before the flames had reached almost every part of the boat, and it was with the utmost difficulty that those on board escaped. Indeed many of them had not time to pick up their stockings and shoes - all individual property, as well as the expensive furniture of the boat being lost. Fortunately for the safety of the wharf, and the buildings contiguous thereto, the wind was northward, so that it was only necessary to clear the boat from the wharf, to send her adrift on the bay ; but this , by reason of the few persons present, was attended with much difficulty and danger. She then drifted on to the next wharf, where it was thought, for sometime at least, impossible to clear her, but the energy of those assembled, and the presence of the Fire Brigade, she was again sent off, having done little damage. She bore away slowly across the bay towards the station, a complete sheet of flame, sending a deep lurid reflection of light over the whole neighbourhood - grand to the sight, but sad for reflection. In a very short space of time she grounded on the opposite shore, and burned to the water's edge, where she remains, a mere spectre of her former elegance and worth.
This catastrophe must prove a serious loss to the Company, especially at the present juncture ; and not only to the Company but also to the different stopping places on the Lake, especially Orillia, the old boat MORNING not being adequate to the increasing business on the Lake. There is an insurance effected on her, but to what amount we can not yet learn. The loss to those on board will be serious. We are informed that Capt. Bell has lost some important documents connected with his own private business, his watch, etc. Messrs.Rolfe and Sutherland also sustained serious loss in cash, notes, etc., the latter a gold watch, worth seventy pounds. They were left almost in a state of nudity, and had to borrow or purchase clothing for immediate use. Miss Rolfe, and another young lady passenger, barely escaped, leaving almost everything behind them. Indeed it was miraculous how they all escaped with their lives, being sound asleep, when only a few minutes from the first alarm every retreat from the boat was intercepted by the flames. We sympathize deeply with the sufferers - they have most of them been long connected with the boat, and had secured themselves to the esteem of those who know them ; but with Captain Bell do we more especially sympathize - he has been a great sufferer by fire, having been burnt out at considerable loss on three previous occasions. He is long known as a steady, careful man, and to whatever sourse the present fire may be traced, we feel sure that no blame will be attached to Captain Bell.
      Barrie Northern Advance
      Thursday, Aug. 6, 1857


The J.C. MORRISON after drifting from the Barrie dock,drifted across until within about a quarter mile of the railway Depot, she sank, her walking beams being visible above water
      Toronto Globe
      Aug. 6, 1857


      Preparations are being made for raising the hull of the J. C. MORRISON, as soon as the weather permits.
      Barrie Northern Advance
      September 24, 1857

BURNT WRECK OF J.C. MORRISON LOCATED IN 1976 (about 30 yards from Barrie Sewage Outlet Pipe)

Item Type
Reason: burnt
Lives: nil
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original
Local identifier
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.40011 Longitude: -79.66634
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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J. C. Morrison (Steamboat), burnt, 4 Aug 1857