Cary Baker 2000, for NTDMM all rights reserved
  • Steel Barge
  • 95ffw (30m)
  • 177ft length
  • Pigeon Island, Lake Ontario.
  • N44 06 830 W76 34 826

Chronological history #

  • 1898 Built by Geo. T. Davie & Sons Levis PQ
  • 1904 J.R. Booth
  • 1807 Montreal Transportation Co.
  • 1908 Value 16,000
  • 1910 Value 7,000
  • 1911 Sank at Point Vivian near Alexandria Bay NY
  • 1911 Raising Fails by Calvin C.
  • 1912 Raised by N.R. Hinkley
  • 1912 Rebuilt Value 17,000 J
  • 1912 Used with Barges JESSIE and BERTIE CALKINS
  • 1914 Restricted to St. Lawrence River
  • 1915 Value 17,000
  • 1917 Value 38,000
  • 1919 Restricted to Lake Ontario
  • 1923 Russell Construction of Toronto
  • 1926 Sowards Coal
  • 1929 Pyke Towing
  • 1944 Pyke Salvage
  • 1945 Sank Pigeon Island, Lake Ontario

Photo Gallery 2022 Matt Charlesworth CC #

She capsized and sank in 85 feet of water 2 miles west of Nine Mile Point and 3 miles north of Pigeon Island on eastern Lake Ontario at 3:30 pm on 18 April 1945 while on passage Oswego New York – Kingston with a cargo of coal. She was under tow by the tug SALVAGE PRINCE (C 147642, 171 tons gross) (both tug and barge then owned by Pyke Salvage). There was only one crew member (Billy Bois) on the barge, after she turned over he sat on her keel and waited to be picked up.

Photos 2009 Tom Rutledge CC #

Story by Rick Neilson #

“Capt. Alfred E. Brown paced restlessly in the pilothouse of the tug Salvage Prince. The cold April winds blowing across Oswego Harbour were foremost on his mind; he was anxious to get underway. Since arriving yesterday with the barge George T. Davie in tow, he had managed to get her loaded with 1,148 tons of hard coal at the Oswego coal dock. Strong winds convinced him to stay tied up in port overnight, rather than face a boisterous trip back across Lake Ontario in the dark.

Now in the early morning light, the skies were clear, and the winds had diminished to about six knots from the west. It was time to cast off. On being informed of his decision, James Ruth, acting master of the Davie, and the other three crew members, G. Conaghan, L. Moore, and H. Moore, immediately prepared the barge for departure. Shortly after eight o’clock in the morning the Pyke Salvage tug and her consort cleared the Oswego harbour breakwater and headed north for Kingston. Although the seas were heavy from the west, the barge followed the tug well all day. After passing the Main Duck Islands their course was set for Nine Mile Point, passing west of Pigeon Island. Even after the wind and sea were noted to be “freshening,” there was no indication of danger.

But this state of affairs was soon to change dramatically. According to James Ruth’s statement taken from the Shipping Casualty report, “At 2:45 p.m. with a very heavy following sea the barge seemed to begin to steer very badly indicating that she must be going by the head. Forward pump and siphon working steadily.” There were three pumps and three siphons on board, all reported as in good working order at the start of the voyage. At 3:30 p.m. the Davie was observed from the tug to shear badly to starboard, capsize and sink. The four crew members, with no time to launch the lifeboat, were thrown into the ice-cold water but were picked up within two minutes by the Salvage Prince. For the composite barge George T. Davie it was the end of a forty-seven-year career.

Historical Photo Gallery #

Built in 1898 at St. Joseph de Levis, Quebec by the Davie Shipbuilding Company, her dimensions were 177.5 feet long by 35 feet wide, with a hold of 12.5 feet deep, and a registered tonnage of 680. For the most part, she had an uneventful career, usually serving in the grain and coal trade on Lake Ontario and on St. Lawrence. Although originally registered at Quebec City, after being acquired from J. R. Booth by the Montreal Transportation Company, her registry was transferred to Montreal. While owned by this company, she sank in the St. Lawrence River near Alexandria Bay in June 1911. After being raised the following year and rebuilt, she went aground at the foot of Wolfe Island.

In June 1920 Canada Steamship Lines purchased GEORGE T DAVIE from the Montreal Transportation Company. The C.S.L. soon sold her to John E. Russell of Toronto, who in turn sold her to the Sowards Coal Co. in 1926. At this time her registry was transferred to Kingston, where she entered the Collingwood Shipbuilding Company’s dry dock that fall for a complete overhaul. In 1927 and 1928 she was being towed by the steamer Patdoris. By 1931 the Davie was employed by the Pyke Wrecking and Salvage Company, but it is not clear when ownership officially passed into their hands. Although she occasionally saw more glamorous service as a salvage lighter, her routine role in the coal-carrying trade continued until she disappeared from the surface on that cold April day in 1945. Striking on her starboard side, she still lies with her decks heeled sharply in that direction.

Upon impact the weight of the coal forced the hatch covers off, and most of the cargo spilled out over the lake bottom. The crane, lying amid the coal, was formerly on the Henry Daryaw, which sank in the St. Lawrence River near Brockville in November 1941. Fastened on the roof of the intact cabin is a freshwater tank, its shape distorted by the pressure. Windows and doors allow a good view of the tangled woodwork inside. The steam-assisted steering wheel sits proudly at the stern, and the rudder is hard to port, no doubt as a result of the helmsman’s vain attempt to counteract that final sheer to starboard. The lifeboat rests near the side of the barge, not far from the crane’s clam bucket. A wooden ladder leans against the starboard bow, while high on the port bow a large anchor hangs from the hawse pipe. Leading off onto the bottom, the tow cable heads north in the direction of home.

Photo Gallery Adam Rushton/Tom Rutledge 2000 CC #

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