"The tug LAURA GRACE, under the command of Capt. William Murphy, with a crew of nine men and one woman, was driven ashore during a severe storm at Grandview Beach, off the port of Rochester, N.Y. With the exception of one man who remained aboard the tug, the rest of the crew reached shore in a small boat. A United States Coast Guard boat rescued the sole occupant of the tug the following morning."
LAURA GRACE was a wooden steam tug (C.107171) built 1901 at Collingwood for the Pidgeon River Lumber Co., Port Arthur. She measured 76.0 x l6.6 x 11.0, 86 Gross Tons and 58 Net. By 1902, she had passed to the Lake Superior Tug Co. Ltd., an enterprise of the famous James Whalen. She ran at the Lakehead for a decade and a half. In 1917, Whalen sold his Canadian Northwest Steamship Co. Ltd. (originally formed by Thomas Marks & Co.) to the Montreal Transportation Co. Ltd. Some of Whalen's tugs seem also to have gone along in the deal, LAURA GRACE included. Control of M.T.Co. had been acquired in 1916 by Roy M. Wolvin and so, even though M.T.Co. was a separate entity until 1920, management rested at least in part with Canada Steamship Lines, of which Wolvin was one of the founders.
Randy Johnson of the Canadian Sault wrote in December to ask us about the steamer AURANIA which foundered in 1909 in Whitefish Bay. AURANIA was a steel barge built in 1895 at Chicago by the Chicago Shipbuilding Co., 352.0 x 44.2 x 21.9, 3113 Gross, 2999 Net. Her ownership remained with the shipyard but she was operated by the Corrigan fleet of Cleveland. About 1903, she was purchased from the builder by Capt. James Corrigan, but meanwhile, in 1899, she had been rebuilt as a steamer, 3218 Gross and 2889 Net.
AURANIA sailed for Corrigan until she was lost in a freak accident in the spring of 1909. On April 25, 1909, she found herself in Whitefish Bay on an early-season trip. She was beset in heavy ice and for the better part of a week, she bucked her way through the icefield towards open water. She never made it. On April 30, while still trapped in heavy ice, her weakened plates opened up and she sank off Parisienne Island.
AURANIA was not the only Corrigan barge converted to a steamer. AMAZON, AUSTRALIA (b) S. B. COOLIDGE, and POLYNESIA (b) A. D. MacBETH, all built in 1897 and similar in design and dimensions, were treated in a like manner, receiving engines removed from wooden steam barges of the fleet. MacBETH was scrapped at Hamilton in 1940, COOLIDGE at Buffalo in 1948, and AMAZON at Buffalo in 1954.
On November 23, the Turkish bulk carrier C. MEHMET, (a) FEDERAL SCHELDE, ran aground in the St. Lawrence near Fisher's Landing. The McAllister Towing Co. sent MAPLEHEATH in tow of DANIEL McALLISTER to remove part of her ore cargo. The job done, MAPLEHEATH and her tug set off for the Dofasco plant at Hamilton where she was to unload the ore. While the tow was upbound in Lake Ontario on November 27, both tug and barge encountered problems in high winds and heavy seas. When the towline parted with the strain, the tug stood by and radioed for assistance. The barge was ordered to anchor and the tug went to Port Weller for shelter, it being impossible to remove the seven crewmen from the barge.
MAPLEHEATH was tossed about, but her anchors held about ten miles off the Niagara Bar. Her crew was removed by helicopter. MAPLEHEATH herself was showing lights during her difficulties and was in no immediate danger. She was recovered by DANIEL McALLISTER when the storm abated and arrived safely at Hamilton on November 30th.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.