Table of Contents

Title Page
Catching the Wave - A Wreck Rediscovered
Good Legends
The night of 29-30 April 1853.
Treasure Ship?
Table of Illustrations

1. C.H.J. Snider, "Schooner Days, no. 208", Toronto Telegram, 5 Oct. 1935.

2. Willis Metcalfe, Canvas & Steam on Quinte Waters (South Bay, Ont.: South Marysburgh Marine Society, 2nd. ed., 1979) pp. 103-4.

3. Early in his career, Merritt had been partner to Luke Shea (sometimes Sheay). Shea and Merritt built a series of well-known steamers on the middle St. Lawrence including the British America, John Bull, Voyageur, St. George, Canadian Patriot, Canadian Eagle, Canada, Britannia, and Montreal (1825-33), many of them for the Torrance and Molson interests. They also built the Brockville for the upper St. Lawrence. George H. Wilson, "The Application of Steam to St. Lawrence Valley Navigation, 1809-1840" (M.A. Thesis, McGill University, 1961) pp.267-70. Gerald J.J. Tulchinsky, The River Barons: Montreal Businessmen and the Growth of Industry and Transportation, 1837-53 (Toronto and Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1977), pp. 79, 207, 209). Luke Shea ended his career working for the Kingston Marine Railway. British Whig (Kingston), 21 Oct. 1842.

4. Montreal Gazette, 4 Aug. 1852. James Shearer was well known for a number of Montreal steamboat interiors. Among the most famous of these were the Champion and the Kingston. In the 1880s he redesigned the interiors of most of the Royal Mail Line vessels. Shearer died in 1906. See forthcoming biography by Larry McNally in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, v. 13.

5. Alfred Dubuc and Robert Tremblay, "John Molson jr." DCB, 8:630-4. See also Tulchinsky, River Barons, p. 217. Larry S. McNally, "Montreal Engine Foundries and their Contribution to Central Canadian Technical Development, 1820-1870" (M.A. Thesis, Carleton University, 1991), pp. 30-32.

6. National Archives of Canada (NAC), RG12, A1, vol. 176, Shipping Register for the Port of Montreal, #12 of 1852.

7. Montreal Gazette, 4 Aug. 1852. Montreal Pilot, 9 May 1853, quoting Ogdensburg Sentinel.

8. Montreal Gazette, 4 Aug. 1852. The return trip was advertised in the Hamilton Spectator, 9 Aug. 1852.

9. NAC, RG12, A1, vol. 176, Shipping Register for the Port of Montreal, 12 of 1852.

10. The Canadian "Northern" opened in sections between 16 May 1853 and 2 June 1855. The railway was the Ontario, Simcoe and Huron Railroad Company ("Oats, Straw and Hay) to 1858 when the name was changed to the Northern Railway of Canada. J.M. and Edward Trout, The Railways of Canada, shewing the Progress, Mileage, Cost of Construction, The Stocks, Bonds, Traffic, Earnings, Expenses, and Organization of the Railways of the Dominion. (Toronto: Monetary Times, 1871), pp. 106-7. See also G.R. Stevens, Canadian National Railways (Toronto: Clarke, Irwin & Company, 1960) 1: 398-99.

11. For a very local perspective on this see P.S. Garand, The History of the City of Ogdensburg (Ogdensburg, N.Y.: Manuel I Belleville, 1927), pp.228-29. For the larger context of the Northern in Montreal/Boston railroad politics in the 1840s and 1850s see Tulchinsky, River Barons, pp. 112-3, 119-23, 186-87. It is particularly worth noting that the Montreal railway most closely entangled in Boston's railroad plans was the Champlain and St. Lawrence. John Molson jr. was a major stockholder.

12. Archives Nationales du Quebec-Montreal, Greffes du Isaac Jones Gibb, no. 14136, 8 Sept. 1852, Sale of the Steamer Ocean Wave from the Hon. John Molson to Edwin Corydon French Esq; no. 14144, 10 Sept. 1852, Sale by way of Mortgage of the Steamer Ocean Wave from Edwin Corydon French Esq. to the Hon. John Molson.

13. Daily British Whig (DBW ), 22 Sept. 1853. The ad of the "Northern Ogdensburgh Railroad Company" stated that "The increased facilities afforded by the addition of the steamers Ocean Wave and Boston on Lake Ontario, together with a perfect arrangement, and large shipping facilities, directly interested from Rouse's Point to New York, by the addition of Boats expressly built for running directly through without transhipment, enable the company to speak now with more confidence than before they have been able to do."

14. DBW, 9 Sept. 1852. The Boston was launched in Quebec in 1852 for Adam Burns. She broke her walking beam in Oct. 1852 (DBW, 12 Oct. 1852). A new engine was built by the Novelty Iron Works in St. Catharines and installed by the Niagara Harbour and Dock Co. in 1853. (DBW, 9 June 1853). She was sold as a blockade runner and burned in 1864. (John M. Mills, Canadian Coastal and Inland Steam Vessels, 1809-1930, Providence, R.I.: Steamship Historical Society of America, 1979, #323).

15. G.W. Brown, "The Opening of the St. Lawrence to American Shipping", Canadian Historical Review 7 (1926): 4-12. DBW, 23 June 1854.

16. The definition of nationality and the prohibitions against imports remained virtually unamended from United States, Statutes at Large, 1 Sept. 1789, chap. 11, sec. 1, 5. A major shift would not occur until the Civil War.

17. William Ratigan, Great Lakes Shipwrecks & Survivals (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Edmund Fitzgerald ed., 1977), pp. 212-14. On the railway steamships see Dana Ashdown, Railway Steamships of Ontario, (Toronto: Boston Mills Press, 1988), pp. 27-29. Adventures on the Great Lakes (Toronto: Coles Publishing Co., 1980), p. 78.

18. Trading and Shipping on the Great Lakes (Toronto: Coles Publishing Co., 1980), p. 50. James C. Mills, Inland Seas: Their Shipping & Commerce for Three Centuries, (Chicago: A.C. McClurg, & co., 1910), p. 146.

19. DBW, 27 Oct. 1851, 30 Apr. 1852. The American lines had been connecting with the Oswego and Syracuse Railroad. (DBW, 3 May 1850).

20. Walter Lewis, "The Comet/Mayflower", Inland Seas 41 (Summer 1985): 115-16. In their initial advertisement promoting the use of the Ocean Wave and the Boston, the Northern even noted the presence of its resident agent R.J. Cummings and his 169 Broadway office in New York. Lines connecting Montreal and New York ran through Rouse's Point. (DBW, 22 Sept. 1852)

21. DBW, 22 Sept. 1852. As noted above, the Boston broke her engine in October and was out until the following season.

22. DBW, 30 Nov. 1852.

23. DBW, 12 Mar. 1853 quoting Leader (Toronto). See also DBW, 5 (6) Apr. 1853 [original incorrectly dated] for the emphasis on freight in the notice of William Bowen, the Kingston agent.

24. DBW, 23 Apr. 1852.

25. DBW, 1 June 1853 (Richardson).

26. DBW, 14 May 1853, (Wright, Forsyth, Oliver).

27. DBW, 14 May 1853 (Wright), 20 May 1853 (Malcolmson).

28. DBW, 14 May 1853 (Wright).

29. DBW, 2 May 1853.

30. Montreal Pilot, 9 May 1853 quoting Rouse's Point Advertiser.

31. DBW, 6 May 1853 quoting Globe. There was a lawsuit over the loss of the seed. See DBW, 16 Jan. 1854 about Lyman vs. Hackett at the Toronto assizes.

32. DBW, 14 May 1853 (Wright).

33. DBW, 14 May 1853 (Forsyth).

34. DBW, 14 May 1853 (Oliver).

35. DBW, 16 May 1853 (Potter). In DBW, 30 Jan. 1886 James Stead recalled that it was he who saw the flames first. In fact, he indicated that it was only on the second glimpse that he drew the attention of the mate to the light.

36. DBW, 19 May 1853 (D. Dulmage), 27 May 1853 (P. Dulmage).

37. DBW, 14 May, 16 May 1853 (Wright, Forsyth, Potter), 30 Jan. 1886 (Stead). Stead said, 33 years after the fact, that the captain had given him the order.

38. DBW, 14 May 1853 (Wright).

39. DBW, 14 May 1853 (Oliver).

40. DBW, 14 May 1853 (Oliver). Others in timing the events of the tragedy made reference to their watches being set to Kingston or Oswego time.

41. Snider says that they had a two mile run to the point. Philip Dulmage said simply that he sent his brother for "assistance" while he "got ready my fishing boat". DBW, 27 May 1853. According to Stead the young man who died was Tommy Bear. DBW, 30 Jan. 1886.

42. DBW, 4 May 1853 (Belyea).

43. DBW, 21 May 1853 quoting Chatham Planet.

44. DBW, 21 May 1853 (Henderson).

45. New York Tribune, 6 May 1853 quoting editorial from Ogdensburg Sentinel.

46. DBW, 4 May 1853 (Belyea).

47. DBW, 4 May 1853 (Belyea), 13 May 1853 (Henry and Lydia Wilson).

48. DBW, 13 May 1853 (Cousins).

49. DBW, 4 May 1853.

50. DBW, 21 May 1853 (Henderson).

51. DBW, 2 May 1853.

52. Montreal Pilot, 9 May 1853 quoting Ogdensburg Sentinel.

53. New York Tribune, 6 May 1853 quoting Ogdensburg Sentinel.

54. DBW, 2 May 1853.

55. The term "galley" was rarely used for this class of vessel on the lakes.

56. Ratigan (Great Lakes Shipwrecks & Survivals, p. 305) offers a wild story of the purser wielding a fire axe to break out the side of the ship.

57. DBW, 20 May 1853

58. DBW, 14 May 1853.

59. DBW, 16 June 1853.

60. DBW, 14 May 1853, (Dulmage).

61. DBW, 8 June 1853 quoting Globe.

62. Globe, 2 May 1853.

63. Province of Canada, Statutes, 16 Vic., c. 167. Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Debates. 1852-53, 20 Sept. 1852, 24 Feb., 13 June 1853. Province of Canada, Legislative Council, Journals, 13-14 June 1853.

64. Oswego Palladium, 23 June 1857 quoting Rochester Union (thanks to Ken McLeod for reference). A variation appeared in the Daily News (Kingston), 19 June 1857.

65. Daily News , 17 July 1857, quoting Picton Gazette of 8 July 1857. This reference is paraphrased in Willis Metcalfe, Canvas & Steam on Quinte Waters (South Bay, Ont.: South Marysburgh Marine Society, 2nd. ed., 1979) pp. 103-4.

66. DBW, 3 Sept., 18 Sept., 14 Oct. 1852.

67. Daily Spectator (Hamilton), 23 Oct. 1852. See also J.B. Greer, Diving or Submarine Explorations, being the Life and Adventures of J.B. Green, (Buffalo: the author, 1859).

68. Daily Whig, 19 Sept. 1910, p.2

69. New York Tribune, 4 May 1853.

70. Kingston Whig-Standard, 2 May 1931, p. 10. See also 29 April 1933, p. 2.



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This article originally appeared in FreshWater. Underwater photography courtesy of Northern Tech Diver.