Our readers will, without doubt, recall that the steamer CARMONA (00), (a) MANITOBA (84), (c) PITTSBURG, was featured as our Ship of the Month No. 143 and 143A in the issues of January and March, 1986. Despite already having printed some fourteen pages of information concerning this famous old ship, we had little doubt that our efforts would lead to the development of even more detail, and this is exactly what has transpired. Our sincere thanks to Ron Beaupre and to George Ayoub for providing additional material which, unfortunately, we had to save for this issue due to a shortage of space in the May and Mid-Summer issues.
Ron, in reviewing some of his old newspaper clippings, came across C. H. J. Snider's "Schooner Days - CLXI" which appeared in "The Evening Telegram" (Toronto), on Saturday, November 10, 1934. In it, Snider mentioned in part that "the name and fame of the lake-faring Scots lives after them. The MacGregor Channel across Cape Hurd, the northerly prong of the Bruce Peninsula, is so called from Capt. Albert J. MacGregor, Scotch (sic.) sailing man, who saved the steamer MANITOBA by taking her through there into Tobermory with seven feet of water in her hold, when he could not keep her afloat long enough to get around Cove Island and into the main channel. Cove Island, The Flowerpots, Bear's Rump, etc., all lie to the north of Cape Hurd, and the main channel into Georgian Bay from Lake Huron lies between them and Fitzwilliam Island and Yeo Island, outliers of Manitoulin. There is a MacGregor Bay on the Georgian side of the Bruce Peninsula which also commemorates this resourceful Scot. Until he proved its practicability in a gale of wind and snowstorm, the MacGregor Channel was not supposed to be navigable for anything larger than fish boats."
Unfortunately, in a manner typical of much of Snider's ramblings, he did not give any further details of the incident involving MANITOBA, nor did he pinpoint the date of the occurrence. We know nothing else about the matter.
Concerning MANITOBA, which was wrecked late in 1883 behind Chantry Island at Southampton, Ontario, and was not salvaged until the spring of 1884, George Ayoub has found that the government Inspection Report for 1884 indicates that MANITOBA was employed for about two months in towing in the "Montreal Division". We tend to doubt the accuracy of this report, in that MANITOBA was hardly suited to the towing trade, and because all other available reports indicate that, after being salvaged, she was taken to Detroit and lay there until reactivated in 1888 as CARMONA. As well, the government record goes on to indicate that the steamer was not inspected in 1884, and this might lead one to believe that the report of her operation was simply hearsay. The vessel was not listed in the Inspection Reports for 1885, 1886 or 1887, and this would seem to indicate that she had been retired from service.
George has also provided a number of quotes from various issues of "The Railway and Shipping World" (later "Canadian Railway and Marine World") which previously were not available to us. They provide additional detail concerning the latter years of the steamer's service under the name CARMONA.
May 1898 Issue: "Str. CARMONA is likely to be the only boat on the east shore route of Lake Huron this year. The efforts made by Goderich and Kincardine to secure a line of good boats for the Windsor - Sault Ste. Marie route have had no success. The CARMONA has been very much improved this winter."
March 1902 Issue: "In June 1899, the Str. CARMONA was damaged in the Detroit River (sic. - it actually was the St. Clair River -Ed.) due, it is alleged, to the negligence of the U.S. barge CRETE which was in tow of the SHENANDOAH. Damage amounted to $3,000 but it was not until quite recently that the CRETE happened to get into Canadian waters, when the process was at once served. Judgment is reserved in the Admiralty Court in Windsor."
The decision, as we mentioned earlier, was handed down by Judge McDougall of Toronto on May 31, 1902, and gave W. J. Brown and others, as owners of CARMONA, damages totalling $2,780. All of the other reports concerning the collision, however, indicate that it was GRANADA (also in tow of SHENANDOAH) that struck CARMONA, not CRETE. This most recently discovered report may either be in error in naming CRETE instead of GRANADA, or may simply indicate that all three of the Davidson boats in the tow were libelled in the action, but that the process servers may have been unable to "plaster" CRETE until shortly before the trial was held. We strongly suspect that this latter supposition may be correct.
Needless to say, of course, we are pleased to present this additional material (even if it is open to interpretation), and we hope that any other member who has access to information concerning MANITOBA/CARMONA/piTTSBURG will bring it forward so that we may augment our extensive, if somewhat fragmented, history of this interesting steamer.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.