Dimensions: 128ft x 24ft x 8ft 344GT 157 NT
Type of Wreck: Steam Barge
Location of Wreck: N43.39.297 W76.24.350 Big Sandy Pt.
Place and Builder: Toronto ON  
Year Built: 1907

Preliminary List of Canadian Steamships Inland and coastal 1809 to 1930 #

ROBERVAL Date Registered: [ 1907/08/27 ]
Official Number: [ 125972 ] transferred Mills List Update #4731
First Registration Name: [ ROBERVAL ]
Registriation: [ 16/1907 ] Date Registered: [ 1907/08/27 ]
Official Number: [ 125972 ] First Registration: [ YES ]
Original Building Information:
Date Built: [ 1907 ] Length: [ 128.00 ] Beam: [ 24.00 ] Gross: [ 343.53 ] Net: [ 157.00 ]
Vessel Description: Deck: [ ONE ] Type: [ CARVEL ] Stern: [ELLIPTIC ] Gallery: [NONE ] Stem: [ PLAIN ] Frame: [ STEEL ] Propulsion: [ STEAM SCREW ] Number of Masts: [ NONE ] Type of Rig: [ NONE ].
Steel cargo vessel. First Engine: 12 – 26 x 18. Type of Engine: [ FORE & AFT COMPOUND ] Number of Engines: [ONE ]
Date Built: [ 1907 ] Built by: [POLSON IRON WORK’S LT. TORONTO ] Horsepower: [ 7.30[N] 75.00[I] ] Unit Horsepower: [N.H.P. & I.H.P. ]
Owned by: La Cie. du Nord, Chicoutimi, 1909; Hall & Eligh Ltd. 1910, 1916 Closing Information
Date Registration Closed: [ 1907/12/05 ]
Date of Reason Closed: [1907/12/05 ]
Reason Closed: [TRANSFERRED ]
Place Closed: [ MONTREAL, QUEBEC, CANADA ] Mills List says: sank September 26, 1916, near Oswego, N.Y., 2 killed.
Source of Data N.A.C., RG-42, C-7635, VOL. 484.


It was through their friendship with Chief Engineer Philip Trottier that 21-year-old, Marcel Messenau, 23-year-old Henry Seguin and 26-year-old Theodore LeRoy found themselves aboard the steamer ROBERVAL. All were from the Canadian town of Hull, just north of Quebec City and in 1916 a personal reference from a vessel’s chief was as good as being signed aboard the boat. A job aboard the Canadian steamer meant a bit of certainty in some very uncertain times for the three young men from Hull.

The Canadian economy was still suffering the effects of a two-year recession and the “war to end all wars” had drawn in the Dominion and her citizens. Indeed a berth aboard a laker meant much more than a place to sleep and a steady paycheck; it meant security ‘amid insecure times.

Both Messenau and Seguin would work in the ROBERVAL’s engine room under the supervision of Chief Trottier while LeRoy was given the position of a deckhand. Coincidentally, young Henry Seguin would find himself standing watches with Second Engineer Ovila Seguin, who was from the town of Hull as well, but oddly was no relation at all to Henry.

Also serving aboard the boat at the courtesy of one of her officers was 30-year-old Delia Parent of Ottawa. Miss Parent was a good friend of the family of Captain Peter Eligh, the ROBERVAL’s master. Yet unmarried at the age of 30, Delia was no doubt considered a spinster by 1916 standards and probably suffered from the inevitable pressures of her lady kinfolk.

Shipping out aboard the steamer could have been the result of her relatives attempting to shove her from the nest in hopes that she might at long last find a good fella, or her own attempt to simply escape the cackles of the surrounding hens. The job aboard the laker would certainly unshackle Miss Parent from the forces that were likely pulling her in many directions, as well as providing the spinster with a fair wage.

Only Captain Eligh and Delia knew for sure why she took charge of the ROBERVAL’s galley in mid July of 1916, but like the others of the crew, the lakeboat soon became her home. All of the crew were French Canadian, so English was the foreign language aboard the steamer, which is quite common on the lakers that work the St. Lawrence. ROBERVAL was indeed a French speaking vessel on a fresh water sea.

Steamer ROBERVAL, Lumber Laden, Goes To The Bottom.  BELIEVE CREW ALL SAFE.       #

Three reach Oswego In Gale; Others Found On Raft.       Oswego, Sept. 26. – Three members of the crew of the steamer ROBERVAL of Ottawa reached the lifesaving station here today in a yawl boat and announced that the steamer had foundered on Lake Ontario Monday night, about nine miles from here. Late in the afternoon four others of the crew were found floating on a raft and brought here.      

According to the story the men told, the ship encountered a violent storm and was overwhelmed by the seas. She was loaded with lumber for the Diamond Match Co. and was caught in the trough of the sea, the survivors said. This caused her deck load to shift, listing her heavily. Broadside to the seas she was pounded badly, her cabins became stove in by the impact of the waves. The steamer began to sink and then Capt. Peter Eligh ordered out a lifeboat.      

As the boat was being launched, they said, it was torn away by the storm and Chief Engineer Philip Trotier, of Hull, Que., was flung into the water. Second Engineer Oliver Sequin and Edmond Legault, second mate, were also hurled into the water, but all three managed to grasp pieces of lumber and keep afloat until they reached the lifeboat. Two others reported missing were seen in a yawl forty miles from here, near the Canadian shore, it was reported tonight. This would indicate that no lives were lost in the disaster.      

The ROBERVAL was 125 feet long and carried 256,000 feet of lumber. She was a steel boat, built-in Toronto, and chartered by Hull & Neely of that city. She left Cape Vincent yesterday afternoon, the steamer GLEN ALLEN, a sister ship, clearing about the same time, but the ROBERVAL, being the faster boat was several miles in advance when she foundered. When the vessels lost sight of each other, about 5 o’clock in the afternoon, there was a heavy sea running with wind from the west.       Had a Thrilling Experience.       The four rescued on the raft were Peter Eligh, captain; Delia Parent, cook; Joseph Parisien, mate; and Marcel Semonnaiu, fireman. They declared that Henry Sequin, another fireman, and Theodore Leroy, a deckhand, who probably were saved in the yawl, were washed overboard from the ROBERVAL with a deck load of lumber.      

Capt. Eligh tonight said that he, Miss Parent, Parisien and Semonnaiu, after being separated from the others, improvised their raft from lumber remaining on deck and then cast adrift. They did not see the ROBERVAL sink, he said, although it appears to them impossible for her to remain afloat. A search of Lake Ontario for 100 miles east and west of Oswego since the arrival of the first three members of the crew this morning, failed to show any trace of the vessel.      

Capt. Eligh tole a thrilling story of the experience of himself and the others on the raft. Many times last night, he said, all were in danger of drowning, and it was with difficulty that they kept the raft together. Their rescue was effected thirty miles northeast of here by guards of the Big Sandy life-saving station.

Buffalo Daily Courier Wednesday, September 27, 1916       #

Capt. John O’Hagan of the steamship OCEANICA, arriving tonight, reported passing the two men in the yawl, the little craft corresponded to descriptions of the one carried by the ROBERVAL, it is said.      


Two members Of The Barge ROBERVAL’s Crew was Given Up As Lost.       Oswego, Oct. 1. – All hope for the safety of the two missing members of the crew of the steam-barge ROBERVAL, which foundered in Lake Ontario fifteen miles from this port, was abandoned after a futile search of the lower end of the lake made by the lifesaving crew of the Big Sandy Coast Guard Station.      

Buffalo Daily Courier October 2, 1916 #

Following the rescue of the four members of the ROBERVAL’s crew who were found floating on a raft in Mexico Bay, the Big Sandy lifesavers set out in an effort to find some trace of the missing sailors and the ill-fated barge. The lifesavers, under the direction of Capt. S. E. Nobles scoured the lake in their powerboat for fifteen hours, and after an unsuccessful cruise returned to their station.      

Capt. Nobles reported not even a piece of lumber from the deck load of the barge was found. The failure of the lifesavers to find any trace of the wreckage has caused marine men to abandon the theory that the barge is still afloat.      

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