Readers will our efforts to locate a place called Red Cloud, where the canaller HADDINGTON (20), (b) MAPLEHILL (II)(38), (c) OAKBRANCH (I)(42), (d) EMPIRE LIZARD (46), (e) BASINGBROOK, was said to have grounded on June 3. 1915. Our efforts had been in vain, but George Ayoub has hit upon the answer, which we have been able to verify.
In fact, the accident did not occur at "Red Cloud" at all. The report of the Dominion Wreck Commissioner, Capt. L. A. Demers, as contained in the forty-ninth annual report of the Department of Marine and Fisheries, fiscal year 1915-1916, confirms that the grounding occurred on "Red Island Reef" in the St. Lawrence River, so it would seem that what HADDINGTON struck was really what is now known as Red Islet, off the mouth of the Saguenay River. It was on Red Islet that THOROLD came to grief as recently as January 14, 1985.
The wreck report indicates that HADDINGTON was en route from Ashtabula to Gaspe, under the command of Capt. R. J. Wilson. There are three separate references to the accident in the Commissioner's Report, and each gives a different date for the accident (June 2nd, 3rd and 4th)! In any event, HADDINGTON was refloated on the flood tide following the stranding. A preliminary enquiry was held at Quebec on June 5 before H. S. McGreevy, and the formal investigation was at Kingston on July 8 before Commissioner Demers and Captains Thomas O'Connor and James Murray, Nautical Assessors. Capt. Wilson of the HADDINGTON, and first officer Ernest Shannon were exonerated from blame. It was held that proper seamanship and good judgment were not exercised by the sailing master (pilot) Joseph Blais, who was in full command of the ship at the time of the grounding. The pilot's certificate was suspended for four months, and an additional two-month suspension was assessed for contempt of court.
That it was on Red Islet that HADDINGTON grounded, there is no doubt, as one of the accident reports is contained in a detail of mishaps by location, this one falling under the heading "Quebec to Father Point". There is no other "Red Island Reef" in that area.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.