Table of Contents

Title Page
The Editor's Notebook
Marine News
Where is Coatsworth Cut?
Ship of the Month No. 132 GLENMAVIS and GLENFOYLE
Some Nautical Terms Explained
Table of Illustrations

(A Glimpse of Yesteryear from an Old News Report)

The Foundering Canal Vessels - Certainty that There Is Some Fatal Defect With Them.

An Article Designed to Attract the Attention of Builders and Owners to a Most Important Subject.

The Founderings on the Lakes for a Long Period of Years, and How Canalers Figure - An Awful Record.

- LOST -

The great majority of the canal vessels on the lakes are unsafe in heavy weather. And there are a great many of this class of craft, and everyone is aware that violent storms are frequent. To show clearly that "The Inter Ocean's" condemnation of these canal vessels grows out of no one-man opinion - at least (though the builders, owners and masters of them will not concede it) that the point raised against them is well taken - the founderings for the past fourteen years on the lakes are given. "The Inter Ocean" has

urged for several years past that there must be some fatal defect about this class of craft. It was at first laughed and jeered at by the press of the entire lakes, and by sailors and marine men generally, but of late a great many people, while not conceding that there can be anything wrong about these "staunchly built, well equipped craft that can go anywhere", do allow that the foundering of so many of them is very strange. To our mind, the fact that the vessels were strongly built and only a few years old, and fitted out in the best possible way, is the best possible clew (sic.) to a defect in the style of their build - to their shape. The foundering of old vessels never surprises us, or any one, but for good, new vessels to founder every season does attract attention and thought, and when it is found, upon investigation, that most all these vessels are of one particular style of construction, it becomes evident that a clew, at least, has been obtained to the cause, if not the immediate cause itself. "The Inter Ocean" still stands alone in the position that there is some great defect with the build of these vessels, but it stands upon the record. The record is here given, and ought to convince everyone. It would make the record more fair (and more favorable to our position) if just the foundering schooners or sail craft were given, but we give all the craft that have foundered since 1865.

- THE RECORD -1866

- Bark MOJAVE (canaler), Capt. D. N. Malett, on Lake Michigan, 10 lives - all hands.

- Schooner PERSIAN (canaler), on Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron, 10 lives - all hands.

- Barge ARK, Capt. J. Buzzard, on Lake Huron, 6 lives - all hands.

- Schooner M. BALLARD (canaler), Capt. John Coyne, on Lake Ontario, 9 lives -all hands.

- Schooner COQUETTE, Capt. Patrick Leigh, on Lake Michigan, 6 lives - all hands.


- Schooner B. DORAN (canaler), Capt. G. J. Way, on Lake Ontario, 6 lives -all hands.

- Little Propellor [sic] HIPPOCAMPUS (flat bottom and top-heavy, she being loaded between decks and on the upper deck with basket peaches, and having only the same sort of freight in the hold, loosely packed), on Lake Michigan, 17 lives.


- Schooner ARROW (old), Capt. Durgen, on Lake Michigan, 6 lives - all hands.

- Schooner J. B. MARTIN, Capt. Thomas Lord, on Lake Huron, 10 lives - all hands.

- Brig ROBERT BURNS (canaler - and always supposed to have been struck by the propellor THOMAS A. SCOTT), Capt. Henry Curm, in the Straits, 11 lives, all hands.

- Schooner W. W. ARNOLD, Capt. Charles Beardsley, Lake Superior, 12 lives -all hands.


- Propellor R. G. COBURN, Capt. Gil Dumont, on Lake Huron, 51 lives.

- Bark TWILIGHT (canaler), Capt. Gibbs, on Lake Huron, 8 lives - all hands.

- Schooner ELI BATES (canaler), Capt. Timothy McEwan, on Lake Erie, 9 lives -all hands.

- Schooner JESSIE ANDERSON, Capt. Martin Ryan, Lake Erie, 8 lives - all hands.


- Schooner SOUVENIR, Capt. Charles Crane, on Lake Michigan, 7 lives - all hands.

- Barge ADRIATIC, Capt. D. Murdock, on Lake Erie, 9 lives - all hands.

- Barge BALTIC, Capt. J. W. Van Norman, on Lake Erie, 9 lives - all hands.

- Schooner JENNIE and ANNIE (canaler), in the Straits, 6 lives - all hands.

- Propellor LAC LaBELLE (laid sunk for many years, and had been raised, repaired and put in commission), Capt. Thomson, on Lake Michigan, 7 lives.

- Barge TABLE ROCK, Capt. James McAuley, on Lake Huron, 5 lives.

- Schooner CORSAIR (canaler), Capt. C. L. Snow, on Lake Huron, 7 lives.

- Schooner RAPID, Capt. A. Henderson, on Lake Erie, 9 lives - all hands.

- Schooner C. C. GRISWOLD (canaler), Capt. James Hand, on Lake Superior, 10 lives - all hands.

- Barge SATURN, Capt. R. Stringleman, on Lake Superior, 8 lives - all hands.

- Barge JUPITER, Capt. Peter Howard, on Lake Superior, 8 lives - all hands.

- Schooner W. 0. BROWN, on Lake Superior, 9 lives - all hands.

- Schooner NESHOTA (canaler), on Lake Huron, 7 lives - all hands.

- Barge FOREST QUEEN, Capt. William Walker, on Lake Erie, 5 lives.


- Propellor CITY OF DETROIT, Capt. R. S. Rider, on Lake Huron, 20 lives.


- Schooner GILBERT MOLLISON (canaler), Capt. Joel A. Turner, on Lake Michigan, 9 lives - all hands.

- Schooner ATLANTA (canaler), Capt. Sam Moran, on Lake Huron, 10 lives - all hands.

- Propellor IRONSIDES, Capt. Trowell, on Lake Michigan, 24 lives.

- Schooner KETCHUM (canaler), on Georgian Bay, 9 lives - all hands.

- Schooner WANDERER, Capt. Whitworth, on Lake Erie, 6 lives.


- Propellor EQUINOX (old and out of condition), Capt. Dwight Scott, on Lake Michigan, 23 lives.

- Propellor MENDOTA (old and out of condition), on Lake Michigan, 15 lives.

- Schooner M. WILLIAMS, Capt. J. Barry, on Lake Michigan, 8 lives - all hands.

- Schooner CONRAD REID, Capt. Gibson, on Lake Erie, 6 lives - all hands.

- Scow SUTLER GIRL, Capt. Patrick Doyle, on Lake Erie, 5 lives.

- Schooner ISAAC G. JENKINS (canaler), Capt. John Brown, on Lake Ontario, 9 lives - all hands.


- Schooner MAGGIE HUNTER (canaler), Capt. F. Nixon, on Lake Ontario, 7 lives - all hands.

- Schooner CORNELIA B. WINDIATE (canaler), Capt. William Mackie, on Lake Michigan, 10 lives - all hands.


- Schooner MAGELLAN (canaler, and supposed to have been struck and passed over by a propellor, the poor crew being found mutilated by a propellor's wheel), Capt. John Belyea, on Lake Michigan, 9 lives - all hands.

- Schooner KATE L. BRUCE (canaler), Capt. Hans Hanson, on Lake Huron, 12 lives - all hands.


- Propellor JAVA (iron), on Lake Michigan.

- Schooner TUSCOLA (old and small), on Lake Michigan.

- Schooner PORTAGE (old), on Lake Erie.

- Schooner J. G. McGRATH (canaler), on Lake Huron.

- Schooner JAMES R. BENTLEY (struck reef in the Straits), on Lake Huron.

- Barge REBECCA, on Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron.

- Schooner AETNA (canaler), on Lake Michigan.


- Steamer WAUBUNO (canaler), Capt. G. H. Burkett, on Georgian Bay, 23 lives - all hands, passengers and crew.

- Schooner C. G. BREED (canaler), Capt. Rose, on Lake Erie, 5 lives.

- Brig H. ROONEY (canaler), Capt. Radford, on Lake Ontario, one life.

- Schooner W. B. PHELPS (canaler), Capt. Dan Kelly, on Lake Michigan, 5 lives.

Such is the record, and a horrible one it is.


All these canal vessels foundering were the "boss carriers", the "largest carriers through the canal", the "best paying vessels of the entire fleet", etc., etc. We have already stated that the really good vessels foundering, being most all of one style of build - the canal style - attracted our attention to the canalers. Now we have an idea that the fact that these vessels were the largest carriers through the canal - that is, carried the largest cargoes on the least draught of water - leads up to the immediate cause of the loss of this class of craft - points to the great and fatal defect, for defect there certainly is. The cabin below deck is dangerous at best, for a huge sea over the quarter crushes in the cabin doors like egg-shells, and fills the vessel with water aft. But in forcing a vessel to carry on the depth of water in the Welland Canal - a little over ten feet - is where, in our opinion, the great evil is. The bottom is built so broad, in order to admit of the largest possible cargo on the limited draught, that it has too much buoyancy, and "wants to get on top". The vessels go over until their entire sides are under, and are then engulfed. The old style of canal vessels, vessels built to carry 14,000 to 18,000 bushels of grain through the canal on the depth of water in that thoroughfare, get along as well as any vessels on the lakes, but the big canal carriers are positively unsafe. At least, that is our humble opinion, and we offer the record to support it. The subject is worthy of


which our shipbuilders generally and men investing money in canal vessels

should devote to it. Meanwhile, the underwriters should see to it that canal

vessels entering the Chicago and Buffalo grain trade do not overload, for in this trade there is no canal to in any way check them.

Ed. Note: The above item, although a bit confused in construction, and rather peculiar in spelling and grammar, pointed out a major concern of the period. The article appeared in "The Chicago Inter Ocean" on February 3rd, 1880, and we thank member Jack Messmer of Lancaster, New York, for sending us a copy of the clipping.


Previous    Next

Return to Home Port or Toronto Marine Historical Society's Scanner

Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.