We hope that our readers enjoyed our Ship of the Month features 143 and 143A, which appeared in the January and March issues and which concerned the wood-hulled sidewheel passenger and freight steamer CARMONA (00), (a) MANITOBA (84), (c) PITTSBURG. What started out as a small article concerning a vessel about which very little had previously been written, turned into an opus that to date has occupied thirteen pages, not counting the photographs! And still the story continues...
In connection with the MANITOBA'S grounding on Chantry Island at Southampton, Ontario, on November 14, 1883, we mentioned briefly that MANITOBA had had an earlier adventure in the same area. Back on September 4th, 1879, MANITOBA's crew had been involved in the rescue of the crew of the scow schooner MARY AND LUCY, which had grounded on the reef at the south entrance to the harbour of refuge behind Chantry Island. We gave what we knew of the incident, but we now have the full story, thanks to the efforts of member Lorne Joyce.
Thinking it appropriate to our considerations of MANITOBA, Lorne sent along a copy of "Schooner Days - CLXXV" (one we had never before seen), which appeared in "The Evening Telegram", of Toronto, on Saturday, February 23rd, 1935. In it, C.H.J. Snider, who skippered "Schooner Days" in the "Telegram" for so many years, dealt with the wreck of the MARY AND LUCY, and outlined the rather substantial part that MANITOBA and her crew played in the incident. We reproduce the entire article here, as we are sure that our members will find it to be of interest, although it certainly shows, in many ways, the more than fifty years that have elapsed since it was written.
"No sooner was the story of the black Nemesis in Schooner Days on the street the other week than Montye Macrae, bond dealer and yachtsman, made a remarkable discovery of a corollary to the rescue of the crew of the MARY AND LUCY therein related.
"Homeward bound with 'The Telegram' in his pocket, Mr. Macrae dropped into the shop of the late Wilbur Smith, Oakville watchmaker, whose stock was being prepared by the executors for sale by public auction. Mr. Macrae was still thinking of the long-ago MARY AND LUCY wreck, but had no expectation of finding anything connected with it, when he was shown a dulled silver watch of the old key-winding pattern, which the Smith executors had found among the articles the late watchmaker had taken in trade or in part payment on other goods.
Presented by the Government of Canada to Mr. Elgin Belyea First Mate of the steamer QUEBEC, in acknowledgement of his humane exertions in attempting to rescue the shipwrecked crew of the MARY AND LUCY of Goderich, 4th Septr., 1879
"What a flush of excitement flooded the business man's mind! He had just been reading one-half the story of the wreck and rescue of fifty-five years before, in which the brave volunteer lifesavers, Ross Lambert, the lighthouse keeper's son, and Murray, the purser of the steamer MANITOBA, whose boat was used, were drowned. Here was the other half of it, shouted from the back of a watch case, and honouring a former townsman. Mr. Macrae's home is in Oakville, and the Belyeas have lived there, or in Bronte and Trafalgar Township, for many generations.
"In fact, Alexander Belyea, a brother of Elgin Belyea, is living with another brother, E. C. Belyea, and a sister, and a nephew, Jack Belyea, on a farm on the 3rd Line, Trafalgar Township, at the present time.
"Elgin Belyea was, like most of the Belyeas of a generation ago, a sailor, and in 1879 he was second mate of the Beatty Line steamer QUEBEC, Capt. Anderson. She was lying in shelter at Southampton, along with the steamer MANITOBA, Capt. Symes, of the same line, when the schooner MARY AND LUCY, laden with pine lumber, struck the reef south of Chantry Island in the northwest gale which destroyed her.
The volunteer life-saving crew was organized from the two steamers and a few brave Southampton men, among them a merchant tailor of the town, and Ross Lambert, son of the lightkeeper on Chantry Island. Samuel McClelland, first mate of the MANITOBA, was another who took part in the rescue and is the only survivor of the gallant band.
"A few years ago, Jack Belyea met him in Winnipeg. He was surprised to find that the gentleman introduced to him as Colonel McClelland, of the Winnipeg Grenadier Guards, was the former first officer of the MANITOBA, and his uncle's oar-mate in the lifeboat; but the colonel showed him a silver watch, the match of the one which has just now turned up unexpectedly in an Oakville shop. It had been given to him for his gallant work, and had an inscription similar to Elgin Belyea's.
"The picture of the QUEBEC here reproduced (a rather interesting broadside view of her which we have not seen before - Ed.) is from a faded photograph handsomely framed in the Belyea farmhouse on the 3rd Line, Trafalgar. It is interesting as showing the old-style passenger and freight steamers, strengthened with great wooden arches like bridge-spans, which were the latest word in lake commerce sixty years ago. The QUEBEC and her sister ship (sic), the ONTARIO, were built at Chatham in 1871, and were the finest vessels of their time. The MANITOBA, of similar size but different model, was built in the same year at Thorold. (In fact, QUEBEC was built at Chatham in 1874, and ONTARIO at the same port in 1875 - Ed.)
"It is a far cry from these old wood-burners, which creaked their way up and down the lakes and welcomed every fuel pile and harbour of refuge, to the oil-fuelled EMPRESS OF BRITAIN, crossing the Atlantic on a four-day schedule. Yet the Beatty connection is not remote. The Beatty Line, which possessed these early paragons, was operated by J. and H. Beatty and Co., consisting of William Beatty, his sons James H. and John B., and his nephew, Henry Beatty. The latter, who became manager of the line when it was known as the Northwest Transportation Co., was the father of E. W. Beatty, K.C., present president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, operating the EMPRESS OF BRITAIN. Mr. Henry Beatty joined the C.P.R. in 1882 and managed their lake traffic for ten years.
"From the contemporary account in the 'Globe' of Sept. 5th, 1879, it appears that the steamer QUEBEC arrived off Southampton after midnight on Wednesday, in calm weather and fog so thick that Capt. Anderson could not make out the light. After repeated soundings, he resolved to lie to and await the break of day. Although the water had been as smooth as a millpond in the lull of the wind, at three o'clock in the morning a squall struck the QUEBEC with terrific force, and to save her from driving on a lee shore, Capt. Anderson tried to run her down the lake for Sarnia. She rolled so hard in the trough that he had to abandon this project and head her up for the Michigan shore, but with daylight, the harbour of Southampton was visible and he put her about and got her inside the breakwater and moored in the lee of Chantry Island.
"Before this was accomplished, the MANITOBA was sighted some miles to windward, making for the harbour, which she had left twelve hours before, bound for the Soo. She was deeply laden and rolling heavily. Steamers carried sails in those days, and the MANITOBA'S foresail was set to steady her, but she steered wildly in the swell. She was so, tossed that very often one paddlewheel, and sometimes both, were seen by the watchers on shore to be spinning in the air instead of the water. The QUEBEC'S crew and passengers and the gathering townsfolk cheered heartily as the MANITOBA, handled with splendid seamanship, swung alongside into the shelter of the breakwater.
"Then the growing light revealed the scow-built lumber schooner MARY AND LUCY of Goderich, grinding on the reef which runs south from Chantry Island, with sails in tatters and the crew in the rigging, waving for help. She had struck about daylight, trying to make the harbour. As soon as the two steamers were moored, a yawl was lowered from the MANITOBA and manned, according to the 'Globe', thus: 'Capt. Symes of the MANITOBA took his place in the stern to steer, and her crew was made up as follows! John Byers, first mate of the MANITOBA, Elgin Belyea, first mate of the QUEBEC, Samuel McClelland, James Murray and Daniel McKay, steward, purser and watchman respectively of the MANITOBA, and Ross Lambert, son of the lighthouse keeper on Chantry Island. The yawl made her way with considerable difficulty across the wind, keeping more than a mile from shore, and after running about two miles down the harbour, she was headed for the wrecked vessel.'
"The MARY AND LUCY, meanwhile, had been pounded over the reef by the mountainous seas, and, floated by her lumber cargo below decks, was driving before the northwest gale down Southampton harbour toward the mainland shore, where she struck and piled up.
"'The breakers', says the 'Globe', 'proved too much for the lifeboat, which was almost immediately overturned, and the seven men, weighted down with heavy clothing, were in imminent danger of perishing. By dint of great exertion, the captain and the mates succeeded in getting themselves and the others into the boat again; but it was afterwards overturned three times during their desperate run for shore, where many of the people of Southampton and Port Elgin were waiting to render what assistance might be possible.
"'Before the boat was righted for the last time, Lambert was separated from the others, clinging to a pair of oars, and Murray was seen to sink in utter exhaustion. Lambert, after floating shoreward for some time, threw up his arms and also sank. The steward and the watchman were back in the boat, and with the captain swimming at the bow and the two mates in the water astern, the yawl was kept upright with her head towards the shore, which was reached not a moment too soon for the exhausted sailors.
"'Strange to say, those on board the stranded MARY AND LUCY made their way safely to shore on rafts made out of the lumber which formed her cargo, so that the only lives lost were those of their would-be rescuers.'"
Thus endeth C.H.J. Snider's version of the MANITOBA'S first adventure behind Chantry Island. Before we close, however, perhaps we should say some brief words concerning the MARY AND LUCY. According to the "Register of the Shipping of The Lakes and River St. Lawrence" dated 1864, the MARY AND LUCY was a scow-schooner of 91 tons, which had been built in 1855 at Cleveland by R. Calkins. Valued at $1,800 in 1864, she was then registered at Cleveland and was owned by J. Garlic. According to the 1871 "Merchant Vessels of the United States", MARY AND LUCY (U.S.17571) was then registered at St. Clair, Michigan, and her tonnage was recorded as 103.55. Although Snider's article, as well as Elgin Belyea's watch, indicated that MARY AND LUCY hailed from Goderich, we have no information as to her coming under Canadian registry, and she is not mentioned in the 1874 Dominion register.
Lorne Joyce has added a bit of information about the Belyea family, which came to Bronte about 1816. Capt. John Belyea helped to save survivors of the burning of the steamer OCEAN WAVE off Point Traverse in eastern Lake Ontario on the night of April 30th, 1853, when he was the master of the schooner EMBLEM of Bronte. John Belyea and his crew were lost on Lake Michigan in the 1873 sinking of his schooner MAGELLAN of Bronte. The Belyeas had the first welded-steel fishtug on Lake Ontario, the BELYEA BROS., which was built in 1930 at Port Dover by George Gamble.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.