Maritime History of the Great Lakes
White Star (Steamboat), C103961, fire, 11 Jul 1903
Full Text

The passenger steamer WHITE STAR was totally destroyed by fire at her dock near the foot of York St. early this morning. The well known steamer had been refitted after being out of commission for 6 weeks, and was to have recommenced her trips to Oakville on Monday morning.
      Capt. Cooke and his crew had a marvellous escape from death. There were 10 people on the boat, and all were sound asleep when the fire, which spread with frightful rapidity, broke out. At 1:30 Mrs. Cooke, the wife of the Captain, was awakened by a crackling noise, and she stepped from her stateroom out on deck.
She felt the casting on the smokestack and found it unusually hot. Returning to the stateroom she informed her husband, and while speaking to him of it, the flames burst through the deck and appeared to envelope the whole ship. Mrs. Annie Fraser of 11 Trinity St., the cook, and Mrs. Elida Livernois, of 10 Gill Place, the ladies maid, were awakened first, and their screams aroused Chief Engineer Thomas O'Reilly, Second Engineer Hugh McWilliams, and two other member of the crew. The rushed on the wharf with their clothing in their arms, and were quickly driven from there by the heat of the flames. Some of them had taken time to collect a few valuables but the captain and engineers were forced to leave half-dressed and without their shoes.
      An alarm was sent in from York Street, and the entire downtown department was turned out. Seven lines of hoses were laid out along the wharf but the firemen could do little to stem the fury of the flames, which had obtained a hold on all the upper works of the boat. The blaze lit up the whole bay, and many people came downtown expecting to see a disasterous fire in the wholesale district. At 1:45 the smokestack of the boat collapsed and her decks forward fell in.
      Chief Thompson directed all of the energies of his men to saving as much as possible of the hull, there being very little danger of the fire reaching any other boat. The flames had obtained a good start, and the fire burnt in places down to the water's edge. It is believed, however, that the engine can be recovered.
      Hugh McWilliams, the second engineer, joined the boat yesterday. He is a marrried man who lives in Picton. He says he was awakened by the screams of the women who had reached the wharf. He jumped from his berth and opened the cabin door, but was stopped for a moment by the rush of the flames. To escape he had to rush through the fire and smoke, and reached the dock in safety. It is hoped that all members of the crew escaped, as it is thought some of the men may have been sleeping uptown. The crew had just been engaged, and the captain was not sufficiently acquainted with them to know whether or not they were all on the dock, in the confusion of the fire.
      The WHITE STAR met with an accident early in the season, breaking her walking beam. She had since been laid up and the necessary repairs, a new skeleton walking beam, and a new cylinder, had been completed, and she would have resumed her route on Monday. The boat was owned by the Oakville Navigation Co., and agent Fred Baker, but the other officers of the company reside at Oakville, and nothing could be learned as to insurance. The captain stated the vessel was valued at $10,000.
      Toronto Globe
      July 11, 1903 p.3

      . . . . .

      The loss of the stmr. WHITE STAR by fire Saturday morning deprives the harbor of one of its best steamers. The WHITE STAR had a fine steel hull, which was not, however, destroyed by the fire, and it is quite probable that the company will reconstruct the steamer. The WHITE STAR was modelled in Montreal about three years ago, and brought to Toronto to sail on the Oakville - Lorne Park route. She ran between Niagara and Buffalo during the Pan American. The WHITE STAR was valued at between $40,000 and $50,000, the insurance, which amounted to $25,000, was held by Lloyd's Company of London, England.
      Toronto Globe
      July 13, 1903

      . . . . .

The Toronto and Hamilton Navigation Company's steamer WHITE STAR, which was burned to the water-line at the time of the Toronto fire, has been taken to Cornwall to be rebuilt.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Friday, May 20, 1904

Paddle wheel steamer WHITE STAR. Official Canada No. 103961. Of 451 tons gross; 229 tons reg. Built Montreal, Que., 1897. Home port, Montreal, Que. 167.2 x 25.3 x 8.2 Owned by W.W. Paterson, of Oakville, Ont.
      List of Vessels on the Registry Books of the
      Dominion of Canada on December 31, 1902

Item Type
Reason: fire
Lives: nil
Remarks: Rebuilt as EMPIRE
Date of Original
Local identifier
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.634444 Longitude: -79.370833
William R. McNeil
Copyright Statement
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Emailwalter@maritimehistoryofthegreatlakes.caWWW address
Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.


White Star (Steamboat), C103961, fire, 11 Jul 1903