Ship of the Month No. 153 CITY OF OWEN SOUND

Table of Contents

Title Page
The Editor's Notebook
Marine News
Ship of the Month No. 153 CITY OF OWEN SOUND
Once More For Glenellah/Calgarian
The Engine of the Beatty Line Steamer Quebec
United Empire Revisited
Lay-Up Listings - Winter 1986-87
Segwun Needs You!
Table of Illustrations

- by Ronald F. Beaupre -

After he completed the construction of the wooden-hulled propellor QUEBEC at Chatham, Ontario, Captain John Simpson moved to Owen Sound in the autumn of 1874. He had obtained a contract to build a new ship, and during the winter of 1874-75 he was busy constructing her in his Owen Sound shipyard, located on the west bank of the Sydenham River, very near its mouth. The building ways were the same used for the construction of the sidewheeler FRANCES SMITH, which had been launched in 1867 by Melancthon Simpson.

By early June, the new steamer's hull was nearly complete and the community was eagerly looking forward to the launch day. On June 8, the local fire engine was loaded on a scow and ferried over to the yard, where it pumped water into the hull for almost an hour, in order to see if it was watertight and to swell the oakum in the seams.

The long-awaited launching ceremonies were finally held on Tuesday, June 15, 1875. Alexander M. Smith, representing the owners (Smith and Keighley), arrived on the train from Toronto with a large party of friends, business associates and their guests. The steamer OKONRA arrived from Keppel, her decks crowded with passengers, and she was followed in by the steam barge P. E. McKERRAL, which had brought passengers from Meaford.

There were to be two launches that day, as the schooner BELLE McPHEE had been hauled out onto the stocks adjacent to those upon which the steamer, CITY OF OWEN SOUND, had been constructed; the McPHEE had been lengthened by over twenty feet and a third mast had been stepped. However, she was in a position such that she might be struck by the stern of CITY OF OWEN SOUND, and so the schooner was the first to be put into the water. Two crews were busy hammering away to wedge the hulls up onto the launch ways. When the dogs were, at last, knocked away to allow the McPHEE to return to her element, she did not move, although the shipyard crew made several attempts to shift her. Then the tug HAND came up the river and was asked to pull on BELLE McPHEE, but the first line snapped, causing the HAND to drive her bow into the east bank. A second attempt was successful, as the McPHEE slid sideways into the river, crossed the channel, and was caught just as she was about to strike "the wharf.

By the time BELLE McPHEE was clear of her ways, Capt. John Simpson had CITY OF OWEN SOUND ready for her launching. On the platform at the steamer's stem stood A. M. Smith, and several ladies and gentlemen, including Capt. Wyatt and his daughter. Miss Wyatt had the honour of christening the vessel, dashing a bottle of wine against her bow. Moving slowly at first, CITY OF OWEN SOUND gathered speed and splashed into the river with all flags flying. The festivities continued throughout the day, concluding with a moonlight excursion on the FRANCES SMITH.

An extremely early photo of CITY OF OWEN SOUND, probably taken in 1875, shows her before her upper deck was rebuilt.
CITY OF OWEN SOUND was a wooden passenger and freight propellor, 172.0 feet in length, 31.0 feet in the beam, and 13.0 feet in depth, with tonnage of 898 Gross. Her engine had been salvaged from the wreck of the propellor CITY OF LONDON, which had burned at Collins Inlet on August 20, 1874. The burned-out hulk had been towed to Owen Sound, where the engine and boiler were removed and refurbished. The remnants of CITY OF LONDON were then discarded near Balmy Beach, northwest of Owen Sound. The engine was a low-pressure, condensing type, with a single cylinder of 38 inches diameter, and a 36-inch stroke. Steam was provided by a single, wood-burning, firebox boiler, 9 feet by 15 feet, 8 inches. Both engine and boiler had been built in 1862 by Oille of St. Catharines (who manufactured machinery for many steamers of the period), so it seems likely that the machinery served in yet another vessel before it went into CITY OF LONDON in the spring of 1866.

CITY OF OWEN SOUND was a typical propellor of her day, with general cargo carried in the hold and on the main deck, accessible via large cargo ports along both sides of her enclosed main deck cabin. The crew's quarters were on this deck fore and aft, and in the lower forepeak. Minimal passenger accommodation was provided in the deckhouse located on the upper (promenade) deck. There were two short rows of small staterooms, between which was the open main cabin which served as both lounge and dining saloon, and which was lighted from above by means of a clerestory. This cabin only extended from just abaft the pilothouse to the middle of the upper deck and, as such, the steamer could only accommodate a very small number of passengers at this stage of her career. The upper deck rail was closed forward of the pilothouse and open around the rest of the deck.

A small octagonal pilothouse was located well forward on the upper deck and was raised about three feet so that the officers could enjoy good visibility both fore and aft from within it. The ornate, multi-paned pilothouse windows could be lowered into wells for ventilation in good weather. The pilothouse was capped with a domed cupola which rose to a peak at the centre and was topped with an ornamental finial. A tall fidded mast, equipped with auxiliary sail, was stepped behind the pilothouse. The lifeboats were carried on the open section of the upper deck, between the deckhouse and the extremely tall smokestack, which was set well aft and raked to match both the angle of the stem and also the mast. Two large ventilators were placed athwart the funnel, and a tall, thin flagstaff was carried at the fantail.

CITY OF OWEN SOUND's hull was painted white, while the wale strakes and funnel were black. Her name was carried in large letters on the side of the main deck cabin forward, under the legend 'Chicago & Sarnia'. The letters 'G.T.R.', for the Grand Trunk Railroad, appeared on the upper deck rail.

The new ship was quickly readied for service and she ran an excursion from Owen Sound to Meaford on Thursday, July 1, 1875. For the remainder of that year and all of the 1876 season, she ran for John Pridgeon's Chicago and Sarnia Line in connection with the Grand Trunk Railroad, and her running mates in this fleet were the steamers MONTGOMERY, JOHN PRIDGEON JR. and S.D. CALDWELL. A typical voyage for CITY OF OWEN SOUND saw her haul a cargo of salt from Kincardine to Chicago, then grain from Chicago to a Georgian Bay port, and on to Port Colborne. She averaged 10.5 miles per hour on the 500-mile trip from Kincardine to Chicago in July of 1875.

As she lay in Owen Sound harbour during the winter of 1876-77, many improvements were made to the steamer. Her passenger cabin was extended back along the upper deck to the stern so that additional staterooms could be built. The lifeboats, of which there were now four instead of two, were relocated on the hurricane deck and eight new radial davits extended up from the promenade deck. A large new galley was placed on the main deck forward of the cargo area and a tall galley stack rose through the upper deck on the port side of the pilothouse. On the boat deck were placed two large water barrels, one beside the new texas and one hard aft over the fantail. These probably were for fire protection but may also have supplied wash water for use in the staterooms. CITY OF OWEN SOUND could now accommodate almost 100 passengers.

The pilothouse was raised to the level of the boat deck, and the passenger cabin was extended forward beneath it. Just forward of the pilothouse, bridgewings extended out to the ship's sides. A new texas cabin was constructed abaft the pilothouse to accommodate the senior officers, and the mast rose out of the centre of this cabin, with auxiliary sail still carried. The reconstruction increased the steamer's tonnage to 1092.93 Gross, 743.19 Net.

In 1877, CITY OF OWEN SOUND opened navigation as she sailed for Collingwood on May 3 with the schooner PRINCE EDWARD in tow, PRINCE EDWARD dropping the towline as soon as she was clear of the ice field. The steamer ran in Smith and Keighley's Collingwood and Lake Superior Line with the sidewheelers CUMBERLAND and FRANCES SMITH, operating between Collingwood and Fort William, with calls at a great number of way ports. (At this stage, the steamer's hull was still white and the strakes black, but the legend 'Collingwood & Lake Superior Royal Mail Line' appeared on her bows.) CUMBERLAND was not to last for long, for on July 24, 1877, she stranded hard upon Rock of Ages Reef and defied all efforts to retrieve her, breaking up in a fall storm. To replace the lost CUMBERLAND, Smith and Keighley purchased the propellor ANNIE L. CRAIG from American owners in 1878, and she joined the fleet as (b) CITY OF WINNIPEG.

We now introduce a new character to our story, namely Barlow Cumberland. He was one of the founders of the Niagara Navigation Company Ltd. and, in 1878 (that company's first season of operation with CHICORA), served as its vice-president and general manager. That first year on the Niagara proved to be a difficult one for the new company and accordingly in 1879 Cumberland sought another position. "To enable obligations to be fulfilled, monies had to be earned elsewhere", be stated. Probably through connections with A.M. Smith of Smith and Keighley, who had owned CITY OF OWEN SOUND since her building, Barlow Cumberland secured the position of general traffic manager for the Collingwood and Lake Superior Line. At the same time, he retained his own general ticket and freight agency in Toronto, as well as the vice-presidency of Niagara Navigation, although in April of 1879 he relinquished his duties as manager of the N.N.Co., two positions with that firm being more than he reasonably could fulfill once the line had become established.

This view of CITY OF OWEN SOUND, sometime in the period 1877 to 1883, shows her rebuilt upperworks.
Over the winter of 1880-81, Smith and Keighley reorganized their shipping concerns and incorporated as the Canada Transit Company Limited, which later would be known as the Canada Lake Superior Transit Company Ltd. Barlow Cumberland retained his position as general traffic manager with the firm all through this period. All seemed to go well for the company until July 19th, 1881, when CITY OF WINNIPEG was destroyed by fire at Duluth.

Then, on October 16, 1881, CITY OF OWEN SOUND ran full speed into a rock ten miles north of Gore Bay in the North Channel of Lake Huron. Her distress signals brought the steamer MANITOULIN to the rescue. CITY OF OWEN SOUND was carrying 30,000 bushels of wheat at the time of the stranding but, by the time MANITOULIN arrived on the scene, the crew already had jettisoned some 4,000 bushels. With MANITOULIN alongside, another 6,000 bushels were transshipped, but still the CITY could not be hauled free. The crew threw another 2,000 bushels overboard and then, at 5:00 p.m. the next day, MANITOULIN succeeded in pulling her off her rocky perch. Because CITY OF OWEN SOUND's rudder was jammed, the tow was difficult and so MANITOULIN took her only as far as Gore Bay. The damage suffered in the accident was, fortunately, not serious, and CITY OF OWEN SOUND was back on her route by October 21st, 1881.

In June of 1881, even before the loss of CITY OF WINNIPEG, the Canada Transit Company Ltd. had arranged to purchase another steamer. She was the 240-foot, iron-hulled CAMPANA, (a) NORTH (80), which had been built as a freighter in 1873 at Glasgow. In 1878, whilst operating on the River Plate, she had been chartered to carry mules from Brazil to South Africa for the Kaffir War, but when the mules were discharged at Cape Town, the purser collected the freight charges and then disappeared with the funds. The steamer was summarily sold to pay the crew wages, and later she made her way to the Thames, where she was purchased by Alexander M. Smith, president of the Canada Transit Company.

Barlow Cumberland, having successfully brought the big CHICORA down through the old Welland Canal in 1877, was engaged to superintend the cutting in two of CAMPANA, and her passage up through the old St. Lawrence Canals (four of whose locks were still only 180 feet in length at that time). The job was carried out successfully, and CAMPANA arrived at Collingwood on November 4, 1881, and at Owen Sound on November 24. Her cabins were constructed that winter at Owen Sound and she entered service in the spring of 1882. Smith would own her (in his own name) until his death in 1895, although she ran on several different lake and river services over those years.

It is interesting to note that CAMPANA first arrived at Owen Sound on the day before the steamer JANE MILLER was lost in a fierce southwester which swept Georgian Bay. CITY OF OWEN SOUND was also out on the lower Bay and was caught in the storm, but she rode it out without damage. CITY OF OWEN SOUND, FRANCES SMITH and CAMPANA ran together to the Lakehead in 1882, and also through the 1883 season, the CITY making eighteen trips up to Duluth during 1883.

In 1883, the "Chicago Inter-Ocean" carried an advertisement which listed the steamers of the Northwest Transportation Company (the Beatty Line) and of the Canada Transit Company together, making it appear as though the latter was a division of the former. All indications lead one to assume that there were "business arrangements" between the Beattys and Smith and Keighley, but little concrete detail is available at this late date. Both companies had certain affiliations with the C.P.R. in later years and, in fact, CAMPANA was chartered to the C.P.R. after the loss of ALGOMA late in 1885 and until the new MANITOBA appeared in 1889. In 1889 and 1890, she was chartered to the Northwest Transportation Company (the Beattys) and ran with UNITED EMPIRE until the new MONARCH was delivered from her builders. Another connection between the two firms might be indicated by the fact that CAMPANA's first lake master was Capt. Anderson, formerly of the Beatty Line's QUEBEC.

Sometime during this period, CITY OF OWEN SOUND was given new colours. The hull below the main deck was painted black, and her funnel sported what appears to have been a wide red band on the black. The lettering 'Collingwood & Lake Superior Royal Mail Line' was taken off her bows at this time.

On December 3, 1883, CITY OF OWEN SOUND arrived at Collingwood for winter lay-up and another rebuild. Wooden arch braces, with steel straps laminated into them, were built into the sides of the hull. These arches, beginning near the forepeak, rose up through the sides of the hull until, at mid-point, they passed just beneath the top of the open rail that ran along the promenade deck. Then they sloped down toward the stern. The arches transected the forward gangway on each side which, when opened, could no longer be used for cargo handling but only for ventilation. At the same time, the steamer's boiler was converted to burn coal instead of the wood fuel used earlier.

The completely overhauled and strengthened CITY OF OWEN SOUND began her 1884 season on Thursday, May 1st. Unfortunately, as she crossed Georgian Bay from Collingwood to Owen Sound that night, a passenger fell through an open hatch and later was found dead in the cargo hold below. The steamer also lost a crew member while crossing Lake Superior early in October of 1884. She was running at full speed, with her sail set in a gale of wind. The porter, Richard Loame of Owen Sound, had just lit the aft running lamp and was proceeding forward along the hurricane deck when the steamer lurched suddenly, throwing him into the lake. He was seen swimming strongly toward the vessel, which immediately was hove to and a lifeboat was lowered. However, the unfortunate man could not be found in the heavy seas and gathering darkness.

A most interesting photo from the Alan Howard collection shows CITY OF OWEN SOUND (with arches added) moored at Fort William c.1884.
On November 12, 1884, after repairs to a damaged forefoot at Collingwood, the steamer sailed on her last trip of the season. She called at Owen Sound before heading north with a heavy load of freight. Two weeks later, it was reported that she had been driven ashore at Michipicoten River, but that all passengers and crew were safe. A tug and steam pumps were sent up from Sault Ste. Marie. Captain Neil Campbell, master of CITY OF OWEN SOUND, attempted to hire a salvage tug to retrieve his ship in December, but he was forced to abandon her. On February 27, 1885, the "Port Arthur Sentinel" reported that "the CITY OF OWEN SOUND is lying very snug and in good shape. She has not suffered any serious injury and, being frozen solid inside the shoals, it is thought that she will be safe from any ice jams."

In the spring of 1885, Capt. Campbell, along with Capt. Donnelly, salvage master from Kingston, succeeded in raising the wreck and towing her to Owen Sound, arriving there on the evening of June 1st. She was soon on the Owen Sound drydock where she was surveyed for damage. The "Collingwood Enterprise" of July 23 reported: "The cost of repairs on the CITY OF OWEN SOUND is estimated at $17,500. She is badly hogged on the port side, and it was found on opening her up that all her frames amidships were broken, her deck beams lifted, and her covering boards and planking started." The decision to repair her was not made until much later that year and, in fact, she lay in Owen Sound harbour until early in November, when she was placed back on drydock. She was floated again on December 7, 1885, and resumed service the next year, sailing from Owen Sound on her first trip on April 28, 1886.

Other than a drydocking in June of 1887, all went well until October of that year. Under the command of Capt. F. X. LaFrance, CITY OF OWEN SOUND cleared Duluth on Wednesday, October 19, laden with 24,500 bushels of corn in the hold and 411 packages of fish on the main deck. She had a very rough passage down to the Soo, and left there on the morning of the 23rd. She struggled through heavy weather all that day and night as she worked her way along the North Channel. About 4:00 on the morning of Monday, October 24, Captain La-France was feeling his way past the Clapperton Island light as the wind continued to blow and snow reduced visibility. Unfortunately, his ship struck that infamous obstruction to navigation, Robertson's Rock, located near the middle of the main passage north of Clapperton Island. CITY OF OWEN SOUND immediately began to take on water and soon the crew was forced to abandon the vessel. Two lifeboats were lowered as the foundering steamer drifted off the rocks and over toward the island. As she sank, her entire upper cabin went to pieces and floated free of the wreck.

Capt. LaFrance and his crew took refuge at the Clapperton Island light and from there signalled to CAMPANA as she passed by at 10 o'clock that morning. CAMPANA hove to and picked up the entire crew, taking them down to Collingwood. About two weeks later, Capt. Donnelly of Kingston located the wreck in 114 feet of water in a bay on the north side of Clapperton Island. It was his belief that CITY OF OWEN SOUND was very badly damaged and that she was lying in her final resting place. Such, however, was not to be the case...

CITY OF OWEN SOUND lay undisturbed on the bottom of the North Channel for more than three years. Early in the summer of 1891, the Collins Bay Wrecking Company, Kingston, under the leadership of Capt. William Leslie, went to the wreck site with the hope of salvaging the steamer from the depths. The Collins Bay Wrecking Company was actually part of the Collins Bay Rafting and Forwarding Company, of which Capt. Leslie was general manager. The firm was incorporated at Toronto on May 26, 1874, and its principal business was the transportation of squared timber from the upper lakes to the lower St. Lawrence River, although Capt. Leslie's main expertise was in the field of salvage work.

Using pontoons, he had been successful in raising several ships, including the railroad carferry WILLIAM ARMSTRONG, which sank in 83 feet of water off Brockville on June 30, 1889. Leslie brought the ARMSTRONG back to the surface in 1890 but the effort proved to be a financial disaster. One of the pontoons broke free of the wreck whilst it was still resting on the bottom, and the pontoon shot upward into the hull of the barge ROBERT GASKIN, "torpedoing" the ship and sending her to the bottom also. Capt. Leslie had been born at Kingston in 1842 and was married to Marion Laura Breck, daughter of Ira H. Breck of Garden Island; Ira Breck's sister, also named Marion, was married to his famous business partner, Dileno Dexter Calvin.

The iron pontoons, seven of which were to be used in the attempt to raise CITY OF OWEN SOUND, were 46 feet in length and 10 feet in diameter, being tubular with cigar-shaped ends. They were divided into three compartments each, by means of watertight bulkheads, and were built of heavy plate strengthened by longitudinal and cross braces. To prevent rolling, bilge keels were fitted. At each end was a well through which chains were passed and then secured by coggles. The lifting capacity of each pontoon was 100 tons.

The tug EMMA MUNSON, chartered to the Collins Bay Rafting Company, left Kingston on July 21, 1891, for Georgian Bay with two pontoons in tow. Upon arrival, she joined the ongoing efforts to salvage CITY OF OWEN SOUND. By August 26, it was reported that the stern of the wreck had been raised fifty feet. However, Capt. Leslie was experiencing much difficulty, as the "Chicago Inter-Ocean" of September 29 reported that the chains had parted just as the wreck had been lifted two feet off the bottom, thus allowing her to sink again. Sometime that autumn, EMMA MUNSON was sunk in an accident, and it may have been that she was the victim of another pontoon "torpedo". Determined to succeed, Leslie continued the salvage operations and reported bringing the wreck to shore by early October, 1891. CITY OF OWEN SOUND was towed to Little Current one month later, and there she wintered, resting in slings.

In the spring of 1892, there were several newspaper reports that the salvagers were working on raising CITY OF OWEN SOUND, fifteen miles above Little Current (on Clapperton Island). However, we believe that they were actually bringing to the surface the tug EMMA MUNSON, as she arrived at Collingwood on June 10, 1892, slung between two of Leslie's pontoons. Repairs to the tug were soon completed and steam was raised on Dominion Day, July 1st. By late July, CITY OF OWEN SOUND was partly out of the water at Little Current and her cargo of corn, still in the hold, was found (not surprisingly after all those years in the water) to be putrid. The following report appeared in the Thursday, August 18, 1892, issue of the "Collingwood Bulletin": "The wreck of the steamer CITY OF OWEN SOUND was towed into harbour on Saturday morning by the tug EMMA MUNSON. On Monday it was drydocked. An examination of the hull showed it was sound in every respect, with the exception of a large hole on the port side and the absence of the forefoot." The enclosed main cabin and the upperworks were entirely gone.

At first, the repair work was delayed as the shipyard and the wrecking company sought an easy method of disposing of several tons of rotting corn in the hold. The town of Collingwood refused to loan its steam fire engine for the purpose of cleaning out the wreck and this caused much adverse press comment, as the town fire rig had been loaned out for other private use in the past. In any event, the wreckers used their own pumps to flush out the hull and, by August 25, Mr. McEvan (McEwen?) of Rodney Street, Collingwood, was busy cleaning up the ship's engine. EMMA MUNSON had towed the Collins Bay Company's schooner SYLVESTER NEELON to Collingwood for drydocking, as she also was damaged during the salvage efforts.

Repairs to the hull of CITY OF OWEN SOUND were nearly complete by late September and the Wilson Brothers were working on their contract to build the new cabins. The ship was being transformed into a well-decked steam barge designed specifically for the timber trade. She emerged from the Collingwood drydock on October 27. 1892, and left on November 15 for Parry Sound to load lumber for Oswego. The Collins Bay Rafting and Forwarding Company (which now owned her) had announced that she would be renamed (b) SATURN, but this was not done until more than three years later.

This fascinating photo caught the salvaged hull of CITY OF WEN SOUND in Collingwood drydock late in the summer of 1892. Courtesy Ron Beaupre.
CITY OF OWEN SOUND was re-registered at Toronto on December 23, 1892, enrolled as C.71181, this being her very first official number. With dimensions of 172.0 feet in length, 31.0 feet in the beam and 13.0 feet in depth, she was 731.77 Gross Tons and 497.61 Net. The engine and boiler were the same as previously carried, providing 30 Nominal Horsepower or 280 Indicated Horsepower at 64 r.p.m., with 53 pounds of steam pressure from the boiler. The registered owner, of course, was the Collins Bay Rafting and Forwarding Company of Collins Bay, Ontario.

The rebuilt steamer was equipped with two large, square ports carried low in the bows, one on each side immediately abaft the stem, these being for the handling of squared timber. She had a full forecastle, with another large port cut into either side of it, and the pilothouse and texas were located on the forecastle head. The anchors rested on the forecastle head, with the stocks protruding forward athwart the stem, and with the chains leading out through hawseholes down on the main deck. A closed rail ran along the entire length of the forecastle.

The pilothouse was a small, square structure, with two large windows in its front, each containing two large panes. There was an open monkey's island atop the pilothouse, but the only navigation equipment located there was a "cussing box" through which orders could be relayed down to the wheelsman inside the cabin. Abaft the pilothouse was the texas, which contained the master's quarters, and the tall fidded mast rose out of this deckhouse. Bridgewings ran out to the sides of the ship from the texas roof, and the running lights were carried at the extremities of the wings.

View of CITY OF OWEN SOUND as a steam barge at Toronto comes courtesy of the Ontario Archives and is dated September 1895.
The cargo deck was protected by a heavy closed rail some four feet in height, with the hogging arches rising well above it. The stern cabin was a large, squarish structure consisting of two decks, the lower one being completely enclosed within the raised poop. A tall, thin smokestack rose out of the centre of this cabin. The lifeboats were carried atop the after cabin, and the overhang of the boat deck provided some shelter for the passageways down either side of the upper deck cabin and around the fantail. The ship's hull was painted white to just above the first rubbing strake, and then a dark colour (either black or perhaps a dark green) from there to the top of the main deck rail. The forecastle, poop, rails and cabins were all white, while the tall stack was black.

Despite the rebuilding, ill fortune still plagued CITY OF OWEN SOUND, as she ran up on Black Rock late in November of 1892 after departing Parry Sound on her very first trip. Some 80,000 feet of her lumber cargo had to be lightered and the steamer was then hauled free of the rocks, apparently with little damage suffered.

There was some relief for the owners through the 1893 and 1894 seasons, but disaster struck again in the autumn of 1895. On Tuesday, November 5, 1895. she was crossing northern Lake Huron and was labouring in heavy seas brought on by a southwest gale. She had in tow the schooner JAMES G. WORTS, and both were laden with Manitoba wheat destined for Midland. They had loaded at Fort William on consignment for James Richardson and Company, Kingston. Apparently, the master decided to enter the Cape Hurd Channel, as the Cape would provide some shelter from the storm. Ships would often use this channel under similar circumstances, then run into Big Tub harbour at Tobermory and wait out the storm there.

At four o'clock on the morning of November 5, CITY OF OWEN SOUND stranded on a shoal about two miles west of Devil Island. The crews of both steamer and barge were forced to abandon their ships, but they landed safely at Tobermory. Both vessels filled with water, and the WORTS sank in 25 feet. JAMES G. WORTS (C.71245) was 136.0 x 26.3 x 11.3, 309 Net Tons, built in 1874 by Jamiseon at Mill Pond, Ontario, near Picton, and at the time of the accident she was owned by the Sylvester Brothers of Toronto.

The residents of Tobermory seized the opportunity to obtain much-needed feed grain, and almost anything that would float made a trip out to the two wrecks. Unfortunately, the keeper of the Big Tub light, Abraham Davis, sailed his little skiff out to the wrecks and was never seen again. He was a veteran of the rebellion of 1837 at Prescott and was deeply missed by the community.

A large salvage tug was in the area at the time of the stranding. Grummond's 123.8-foot, 1881-built, wrecking tug MARTIN SWAIN had delivered the steam barge W. B. HALL at Collingwood the same day as the stranding at Tobermory, and she proceeded to Owen Sound for bunkers, then sailed on November 7 for Tobermory. She pumped grain and water out of CITY OF OWEN SOUND for some time, but then left her to salvage the schooner S. T. ATWATER which was ashore on Manitoulin Island. The SWAIN was unable to do anything on the ATWATER due to heavy weather, and returned to Tobermory to find the Canadian tug ADAM AINSLIE working on the wrecks of CITY OF OWEN SOUND and JAMES G. WORTS.

Capt. William Leslie arrived soon after with his big new tug PETREL and the schooner SYLVESTER NEELON. He managed to raise CITY OF OWEN SOUND after lightering some of the wet grain, and work was progressing on JAMES G. WORTS until a storm arose on the evening of November 15. The WORTS split open along her keel and was abandoned along with her cargo of 22,000 bushels of wheat.

PETREL, with CITY OF OWEN SOUND and SYLVESTER NEELON in tow, arrived at Owen Sound on Sunday, November 17. 1895. The wet grain was sold by auction the following Tuesday, and had been shipped out to Toronto, Kingston and Detroit by Friday of that week. (One might wonder why grain, soaked in water for two weeks, would be in such demand. In fact, it would be used for feed purposes.) SYLVESTER NEELON was left for the winter at Owen Sound, and PETREL towed CITY OF OWEN SOUND to Collingwood on November 2k. She went on the drydock the next day and it was found that she had sustained severe damage. The swelling of the grain had forced the deck upward to such an extent that it had to be replaced. She also required considerable new bottom planking, a new forefoot, replacement of part of the stem, a new section of keel, and a complete re-caulking. This work was completed during the winter of 1895-96, and at long last she actually was renamed (b) SATURN, being registered under the new name at Toronto on February 14, 1896. Her registry was then transferred to Kingston on March 16, 1896.

During the reconstruction, the sides of the steamer's hull were built up above the apex of the hogging arches so that the hull was flush with both the forecastle and the quarterdeck (the old upper deck aft). The arch braces were now built completely into the hull with no portion of them exposed, and a new deck was laid, the old spar deck being thus transformed into a sort of 'tween deck. At the same time, the lifeboats were removed from the roof of the aft cabin and were relocated on either side of the deck amidships. Her depth was increased to 19.0 feet, while her beam was slightly reduced to 29.0 feet. Her length remained 172.0 feet, but her tonnage was increased to 883 Gross and 570 Net. As rebuilt, her hull was painted black and she sported a high boot-top painted a light colour, perhaps orange but probably a light grey. The closed rail was white from stem to fantail and the deckhouses also were white. The stack was black, and the name SATURN was inscribed in large and extremely fancy letters on the rail forward.

SATURN is at centre of this photo by W. A. Traill, below Lock One at Port Dalhousie. At left is CUBA, at right schooner-barge F. L. DANFORTH and steamer ERIN.
Early in May of 1896, SATURN, under the command of Capt. Alex Anderson, departed Owen Sound for Grand Marais, Michigan, to load timber for Collins Bay on Lake Ontario. Her consort was the schooner-barge SYLVESTER NEELON, and the pair arrived at Collins Bay some three weeks later. For the next five years, SATURN continued on the run from the upper lakes to Collins Bay, often with the consort barges MUSKOKA and WAUBAUSHENE. Oddly enough, all three vessels had originally been built by John Simpson; MUSKOKA and WAUBAUSHENE were both constructed by him at Chatham back in 1872.

The final chapter of the history of CITY OF OWEN SOUND/SATURN was told in the "Wiarton Echo" of Thursday, September 19, 1901, the report originating from Southampton. "On Tuesday evening about 7:30, a dozen persons, being Captain Manson and a crew of ten able-bodied seamen, and Mrs. Rue, the cook, of the steam barge SATURN, arrived in Southampton from Sauble Beach. At 7:00 the same morning, there was 11 feet of water in the hold and, owing to the arms of the air pump breaking, the crew were unable to keep the SATURN afloat. At 10:00 a.m., the (steam) barge was rapidly sinking, and with water over the deck, they were forced to abandon the doomed barge and trust themselves to a yawl boat. They were about 40 miles northwest of here and the heaviest gale of the season was at its height. They battled the wind and waves for seven and a half hours, finally making land a short distance above French Bay on the Sauble Beach, after a close call from being swamped as they struck the breakers. The SATURN was owned in Kingston and had a consignment of 800 tons of coal from Cleveland for Mr. Smith of Owen Sound. There was no insurance on the (steam) barge. The ill-fated vessel had been used for three years as the lighthouse supply boat and in that capacity called at Southampton. On Wednesday, a portion of the cabin was found on the beach a few miles north of here."

SATURN had found her last resting place. Strangely, it was not too far from where Capt. Donnelly had been sure that she would stay back in 1887. As a result of her loss, the steamer's registry was closed on November 21, 1901.

* * *

To all of the following people, whose help was invaluable in the research of this vessel's history, the writer extends his most sincere gratitude: George Ayoub of Ottawa; Ivan Brookes of Hamilton; Pat Folkes, Bill McNeil and Gerry Ouderkirk, all of Toronto; Rick Neilson and Don Page of Kingston; Pat Labadie of Duluth, and Rev. Peter J. Van der Linden of Detroit.

Ed. Note: We greatly appreciate Ron Beaupre's assistance in writing this feature, which took him many months of preparation. We trust that the Editor's "blue pencil" has caused no problems, and we would note that our only substantial additions to the text involve certain details concerning the steamer CAMPANA and the involvement of the Beattys and Barlow Cumberland with the Canada Transit Company Ltd.


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