John Hewson, second in charge of the machinery of the steamer Modjeska, on the run between Hamilton and Toronto, was born in 1865 at Port Hope, Ontario. He received a careful education in the schools of Penetanguishene, Ontario, to which port his parents had moved, and when fifteen years of age he started sailing, his first experience being as fireman on the small tug Kate Pilgrim, running between Penetanguishene to the different ports on the north shore of the Georgian Bay. After about three years' service on her Mr. Hewson fired on the tug Tender for three months, in 1884 transferring to the freight steamer Wiarton Banner, as engineer, and remaining on her for eight months. For the next five months he was engaged as fireman on the passenger steamer Cherokee, following which he went as second engineer for eight months into the big tug Superior. The succeeding year he was chief fireman eight months on the steamer Northern Belle, plying between Collingwood and Sault Ste. Marie, and commanded by Capt. James Bassett, and he subsequently became chief engineer of the fishing tug Welcome, sailing out of Collingwood, on which he remained eight months. His next season he put in as engineer of the tug W. J. Aikens, and then he went for a season and a half into the tug Heather Belle, fishing out of Owen Sound. Receiving a more lucrative offer, he left her and for three months held the berth of chief engineer on the steambarge Dominion, running between Kingston and Toledo and up Lake Superior in the grain trade. The next season he sailed out of Buffalo for four months, assisting the engineer as greaser on the steamer Tampa. Then he was for four months greaser on the big steamer Boston, sailing out of Buffalo in the service of the New York Central railway.
Having by this time gained considerable experience, Mr. Hewson returned to Canadian vessels, shipping as second engineer on the steamer Arabian, on which he remained a season and a half. For two seasons following he was chief engineer of the propeller Orion, going from her into the propeller Acadia, sailing from Montreal and Toronto to the head of Lake Superior. While on that vessel Mr. Hewson had one of the worst experiences of his life. During a fierce gale on November 5, 1896, the Acadia was wrecked on Lake Superior, near the mouth of the Michipicoten river, the terrible seas and high wind piling her right upon the rocks, a quarter of a mile from shore. All on board took to the boats and finally landed in a bleak locality, over one hundred and twenty-five miles from any habitation, and with nothing saved from the wreck but the clothes they wore. They almost perished with hunger and cold before they reached any help, and were in a pitifully exhausted condition. Mr. Hewson experienced another narrow escape, in 1891, while on the propeller Dominion, which came near foundering in a fierce gale on Lake Superior, the boiler room being continually flooded so that the steam was difficult to raise. For fifty hours they battled, finally reaching the "Soo" in a terrible state, almost the entire upper works of the vessel having been carried away and a great amount of the cargo spoiled. In the spring of 1897 Mr. Hewson was appointed second engineer of the steamer Modjeska, which position he has ably filled to the present time.
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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.