William Watts was born in Collingwood, Ont., March 11, 1859. His father, Matthew Watts, was a sailor before him, having been in the employ of the Canadian Government as master on the ocean and lakes until his death from exposure on Lake Winnepeg, he having been lashed to the bottom of the yacht Keewatin for ten days and nights during the month of September, 1890. The mother was formerly Fairlina Brotchie. His first experience as a sailor was on a dredge, filling any capacity upon which he was called to fill, and so worked for five years, when he took out papers licensing him to sail as second engineer. In 1879 he went to Detroit, and that season was on the tugs Sweepstakes, C. Champion, I. W. Masters and Stranger as second engineer, without losing a day, all of the tugs being owned by John R. Gillett. The next season he filled the same position on the tug Niagara, for Merrick & Esselton, and remained on her four years, towing six barges in the Lake Superior trade. In 1884 he went into the employ of the Northwestern Transportation Company, where he has been ever since; officiating as second engineer on the Forrest City two years; on the Fayette Brown one year; on the E. M. Peck two years; and of the S. R. Kirby six years. He is a member of the M. E. B. A. He is unmarried.
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This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.