Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Frances Smith (Steamboat), aground, 1 Nov 1868
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      Misfortune never comes singly as we have had for the past few weeks, successively to record some dire mishaps, so this week we announce with deep regret the wreck of the steamer "Ergnces Smith!"
      This fine boat, is well known was built at Owen Sound, but little more than a year ago by her present owner Captain Smith and since that time has run regularly between Owen Sound and Collingwood, where she carried the mail, and mainly all merchandise between the two ports It appears that on Tuesday evening, she left Owen Sound for Byng Inlet and having made the run in shorter time than was expected, reached the vicinity of the Inlet before daybreak. At this time a heavy gale was blowing and the sea running high , while the Frances was making her way cautiously in close proximity to what was known to be a dangerous shoal.
      Suddenly however the white foam was discovered breaking dead ahead upon a sunken reef and the next moment the boat had run her bow high upon a rock hidden beneath the water some four feet and there remained fast in spite of every effort to free her. It was now near morning and the main land was discovered about five miles distant. Finding that the vessel was not to be got off and that the heavy sea which swept upon her with violence was racking her badly, it was thought best to settle her deeper in the water in order to steady her. This was done by letting in the water at the pipes. On Thursday morning the weather having moderated though still very rough the Captain and the crew took to the boats, and set off for Bying Islet about fifteen miles distant and arrived there the same evening. Here fortunately the steamer Bonnie Maggie- was found discharging her last cargo and the next morning this vessel put off to the aid of the Frances Smith ! but could do nothing more than remove the load and some of the furniture which she took back yo the Inlet and that same evening left with the Captain and crew of the Smith for Owen Sound, where she arrived at 7:30 Sunday morning. At that time the vessel struck and when the life boat was lowered so heavy was the sea that the little craft was capsized but fortunately no lives were lost, though the crew was in imminent danger. However the boat having been righted and got clear of the Smith, reached Bying Inlet without further accident.
The steamer now lies filled with water and will probably have to remain so during the winter but it is hoped that in the spring efforts to get her afloat may prove successful. It is to be feared however that the stress of weather and crush of ice she will have to undergo before that time will pretty effectually finish her. Not only will her loss be felt by her owner Capt. Smith but by the townspeople in general who have been accustomed to regard the boat from the day of her
launch as an Owen Sound institution.
We understand she is insured for $22,000 one third her value.
      Owen Sound Advertiser
      December 3, 1868,
      {Courtesy Bill Hester]

      Our readers will be pleased to hear that the FRANCES SMITH is yet safe on a rock in Byng Inlet and that Captain Smith starts in the beginning of next week to bring her off, hoping to have her here two weeks after the opening of navigation.
      Meaford Monitor
      Friday, April 9, 1869

      The steamer MAGNET has left for the Georgian Bay to raise the steamer FRANCIS SMITH under the superintendence of Captain Fortier.
      Orillia Expositor
      April 30, 1869
      . . . . .

      The Frances Smith
After six months hibernation ice bound exposed to the fury of every wind and waves the Frances is once more afloat. On the 24d ult the tug Qkonra ,Captain Daun left Owen Sound and steamed away for the vicinity of the shoal. After a fair run through perfectly open water, she was joined by the Magnet a powerful wrecking tug from Detroit, which had been engaged to bring off the stranded vessel. The two tugs now steamed on in company till they encountered heavy
floes of drift Ice, the Magnet becomIng wedged in and separated from her consort. In this condition she remained three days, and was at last liberated only to find the small tug in the same condition as herself had been, the centre of a drifting ice. It was now Wednesday, 28th, the boats were within five miles of the Frances and the floe, which held the tug having broken up she soon reached the Smith and was shortly after joined by the Magnet. As expected the hold of the steamer was found full of ice. Having cut through this the pumps of the Magnet were brought to play, while the Okoura was dispatched to Byng Inlet mills for reinforcements. On the way ,however she encountered solid ice, and could make no progress. A party was then detailed with a small boat, to make the mills if possible, and by dint of ferrying the gaps and sledging the boat across the solid portions, they reached their destination, and procuring the necessary help, returned to the steamer. All hands now went to work to break up and remove the ice from the interior, and having got it all out, the steam from the Magnet was blown off into the hold of the Frances, and afterward the boiler emptied into her this effectually removed all ice: she was then pumped out. Both tugs were attached, and the Smill! moved again into deep water. Leaving the Frances in charge of the Okonra and thinking the ice had become sufficiently open. The Magnet then endeavored to put in at the mills to procure the cabin furniture, &c., and also to leave the men who had assisted, but in this she was unsuccessful, and rejoining the Okonra, the two boats towed the Frances till Sunday morning, when they parted, the Okonra returning, with the Byng Inlet men, to Owen Sound, and the Magnet taking the Smith to Detroit Dry.docks. It is found that the injury sustained by the steamer is far less than was feared, and it is hoped that she will be on her regular route within a month.
      Owen Sound Advertiser
      May 6,1869
      [courtesy Bill Hester]

      The Steamer FRANCIS SMITH Raised.
We are pleased to learn, as we did on Tuesday, by telegraph, that the new steamer FRANCIS SMITH which sunk in Byng Inlet last fall, has been raised, and is now in Detroit undergoing repairs. The raising was effected by the wrecking steamer MAGNET and the tug OKONRA which were three days in the ice. The hull of the raised vessel seems to be perfectly sound, and she was easily kept afloat with the use of one steam pump. The principal damage has been the rusting of her machinery and the action of the water on her upper works and interior fittings. We shall be glad to see her on her route this summer, and her whole souled commander pacing her quarter-deck.
      Barrie Examiner
      May 6, 1869
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      . . . . .

      The WAUBUNO has continued her trips here longer than was at first expected, on account of the ice. Should all be clear she will start for the North shore today or next.
      The FRANCES SMITH has been safely taken from her enforced winter quarters by the MAGNET and towed to Detroit. The chief damage was found to be in her machinery though her upper works were also very much shattered by the ice. After repairs she will immediately resume her old route..
      Meaford Monitor
      Friday, May 7, 1869

Item Type
Reason: aground
Lives: nil
Freight: supplies
Remarks: Got off
Date of Original
Local identifier
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 45.770555 Longitude: -80.546111
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Frances Smith (Steamboat), aground, 1 Nov 1868