The steamers City of Winnipeg, City of Owen Sound and Frances Smith, have been often mentioned and their route described, as have also the Algoma and the Manitoba. These various steamers formed the line that carried passengers from the provinces of Quebec and Ontario to the interior of the north west district via Collingwood.
On the completion of the Canadian Pacific railway, that company formed a line of their own consisting of the steamers Algoma, Alberta and Athabasca. The Manitoba had her name changed to the Carmona, and, as is properly detailed in its place, now runs on the route from Toronto to Rochester. The vessels City of Winnipeg, Owen Sound and Frances Smith are now no longer afloat.
Of the Algoma it is unnecessary to say anything. She was first of all called the City of Toronto, forming one of the R. M. line from Toronto to Kingston. She afterwards became the Racine and finally the Algoma.
The Alberta and Athabasca are both screw propelled steel vessels built for the C. P. R. in 1883, by Aiken & Co., of Glasgow; each of them is of 1,440 tons burthen. They are lighted by electricity and have all the most recent improvements. They began their regular work for the C.P.R.in 1884.
"On the night of the disaster the wind, which on board the vessel seemed only a fairly strong breeze, was actually a moderate gale, and was forcing the vessel along at the rate of sixteen instead of fourteen miles an hour. When, as Capt. Moore and his officers supposed, they were some fifteen miles from Isle Royale, Capt. Moore decided to turn his vessel and get out into the open lake. The blinding snowstorm then raging prevented them from seeing how near they were to the fatal spot. The orders were being obeyed and the vessel had nearly come round when suddenly
the steering apparatus was smashed, and the Algoma was helpless and at the mercy of the wind and waves within sixty feet of land. Nothing that human ingenuity could devise could then avail to save the vessel, and the captain and officers, who were all on duty, applied themselves to save the lives of passengers and crew. No boat could live in that sea, and all attempts to get out a lifeline were useless. The sea washed over the vessel, and, in fact, soon smashed the small boats to pieces as if they had been eggshells. All this time the Algoma was pounding on the rocks with all the force of a heavy sea, now raising her hull out of the water and then forcing her down as with a steam hammer blow of hundreds of tons' force. In the meantime the passengers had been ordered to gather in the bow of the vessel, and when the position of things changed, were brought aft, but not without having their numbers much diminished. All who obeyed the captain's orders were saved. A life line was strung along from the main rigging to the stern, and both officers and men did all in their power to save the lives of the passengers. This is proved beyond the possibility of a cavil or doubt by the affidavits of those who were saved.
"It is only necessary to add that the first officer, after Captain Moore was seriously hurt, finally got all those who were still left down from the spar deck to the main deck aft, where they were comparatively safe, till morning broke. Some idea of the terrible nature of the storm which broke upon the vessel in the early morning may be gathered from the fact that the fishermen on Isle Royale, where those who were saved from the wreck took shelter, had their deep sea nets washed ashore during that night, an occurrence unprecedented in the knowledge or memory of the oldest among them."
The Campana, a propeller of 1,287 tons, built in Glasgow in 1873, took the place of the Algoma for some time, being chartered by the C. P. R. in 1889, though the Polson Company built at Owen Sound a yet larger steamer for the C. P. R. than either of the two just described. She was known as the Manitoba, being the second steamer of that name. She was of steel throughout, of 1,620 tons capacity, fitted with electric lights and the latest improved steam engines, and was valued at a quarter million of dollars.
The C. P. R. has also a steamer at Kingston now, known as the Orion, formerly as the Isaac May. She was built in 1872 by Andrews, of Welland and re-built in 1891, when her name was changed from Isaac May to the one she now bears. She is a propeller of 490 tons burthen.
As the steamers of the C. P. R. are the largest vessels afloat on the Canadian lakes, so is it claimed for them that they are also the best appointed. They are at any rate largely patronized by the general public.
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This electronic edition is based on the original in the collection of the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston.