The Airedale Disaster

Table of Contents

Title Page
The Editor's Notebook
The Great Seaway Blockade II - or - It Didn't Really Happen Again, Did It?
Marine News
A Gale of November Remembered
The Salvage Tug Champlain
Ship of the Month No. 141 Howard L. Shaw
Another Former Laker Located
The Airedale Disaster
Marine Historical Society Of Detroit 1986 Calendar
Additional Marine News
Table of Illustrations

We have always received considerable pleasure from reading the Dominion Wreck Commissioner's reports dealing with accidents in Canadian waters. Of particular interest are those reports prepared during the tenure of Capt. L. A. Demers as Wreck Commissioner, for Demers disliked irresponsibility and stupidity in the operation of vessels, and had no hesitation at all in making his comments very pointed if he saw something in the navigation of a ship of which he disapproved. There follows Commissioner Demers' report on the stranding of the steamer AIREDALE in the St. Lawrence River late in 1925. The accident was rather unusual and we thought our readers might be interested. The report is from the January 1926 issue of "Canadian Railway and Marine World".

"The British steamer AIREDALE, under charter to Canada Steamship Lines, and carrying a cargo of cement, flour, etc., from Montreal for Europe, ran on ground on December 6, 1925, about 10:00 p.m., on Ile aux Coudres, about fifty miles below Quebec. Her hull was reported to be badly ripped and the pumps had to be kept constantly at work to keep her afloat. After removing a considerable portion of cargo and doing some patching to the hull, AIREDALE was got off on December 13 at 11:00 a.m. by two Dominion Government icebreakers, and the tugs LORD STRATHCONA and BUSY BEE, and was towed to Quebec for repairs. An extraordinary feature of the grounding was the disappearance of the pilot, Jules Lachance, about whom nothing has been heard since December 6.

"An investigation into the disappearance of the pilot was made on instructions of the Quebec Attorney General by a Quebec coroner, who came to the conclusion that there was no evidence to show that any crime had been committed, the presumption being that he fell overboard at the time of the grounding and was drowned. The investigation into the grounding was made by Capt. L. A. Demers, Dominion Wreck Commissioner, December 15 and 16, and the finding was delivered December 19. the master, J.N.S. Butcher, and the mate, Thomas Hunter, being severely reprimanded. The finding states that there was no evidence to show that the pilot's disappearance was anything but accidental, and that his loss was to be attributed to an Act of God."

Makes one wonder, does it not?


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