In our mid-summer issue, we told the story of the steamer AGAWA, later the HERON BAY of the Q & O fleet. We mentioned the stranding of AGAWA in December of 1927 on Advance Reef and here, courtesy of Scotty McCannell, are some excerpts from the report of the wreck as it appeared in the Monday, December 12, 1927, issue of The Globe, a Toronto morning daily.
Tehkummah, Ont., December 11 -- The last members of the crew of the steamer AGAWA, which ran on Advance Reef, Manitoulin Island, last Wednesday in a snowstorm, were taken off the wreck this morning at 9:30. Five of them were brought to Tehkummah, after being rescued by the yawl which removed William Johnston, an oiler, last night. The other fourteen were taken to Sault Ste. Marie by the tug GENERAL......
Members of the crew told a vivid story of hardship. They were penned in the observation room of the steamer since Thursday with only one small coal-oil stove to supply heat. This stove was turned out from time to time to conserve precious fuel. The force of wind and waves broke one door and one window in the observation room and it was nailed up again. The doors of the staterooms were used for this purpose. The men said they had nothing to eat. After a meal on Wednesday evening they did not have a meal until yesterday noon. William Conenigs, the last man to leave the after-end of the ship, stated that he had remained in the stoke hole to try to keep enough steam in the boiler to supply the heating system on Wednesday night... The AGAWA ... is partly a wreck. The spars and rigging on the stern of the boat were washed overboard by the heavy seas, while spray freezing rapidly covered her with ice to a depth of several feet in places. Members of the crew said today that a hundred tons of ice is clinging to the forward end of the ship. The bow is resting on the bottom in 14 feet of water, while there is 42 feet of water under the stern. Efforts to pull the boat from her position on the rock under her own power were hopeless. The AGAWA is loaded within a few feet of the hatch tops with wheat for winter storage, it being the last trip of the season. It is expected that this wheat will be a total loss since the hatch covers were washed away, allowing tons of water to pour in on it....
"The crew all moved forward on Thursday. We sent out the last wireless message at 8:00 a. m. that day. The only heat we had in the observation room, where the whole 21 of us huddled up, was from a very tiny stove ... we could not open the windows because of the ice. Today (Saturday) when the sea moderated we chopped a hole through the door large enough to crawl through and got out on deck for the first time since Thursday. "
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.