• Sidewheeler
  • 30ffw
  • 1000ft Length approx
  • Prescott ON St. Lawrence River
  • N44 41.581 W75 31.401

Chronological History #

  • 1867, February 2 Launched & registered at Fredrickton, New Brunswick, built to run Saint John River, between Saint John & Fredrickton
  • 1877, July 2 Registered Prescott, Ontario to run Saint Lawrence River in Thousand Island area
  • 1878 Transferred to Toronto, to run Toronto to Niagara River
  • 1880 September Fire on boiler deck, extinguished with little damage
  • 1881 Owned Ambroise E. Lalande, Montreal, Quebec
  • 1883 Owned Allan R. Oughtred, Montreal
  • 1883, June 27 Stranded near Thousand Island Park; released
  • 1884 Owned James G. Ross, Quebec City, Quebec
  • 1886 Large repairs, Ogdensburg, New York
  • 1889, September 12 In collision with tug MYRA, beached near Prescott & abandoned
  • 1902 Dynamited to remove hazard to navigation
  • 1962 Located by the Syracuse Skin Divers Club

3D Model by Roger Lacasse #

Mills Listing #

  • Rothesay 1867 Official Number:54485
  • Built at: Carleton, New Brunswick Propulsion: Sidewheel
  • DIMENSIONS Tonnage (gross):839
  • Final Location: Near Prescott, Ontario, Canada How: Foundered (Collision)
  • 193x29x8 Owned by J. Lunt, Saint John N. B. 1871, 1877; St. Lawrence Steamboat Co. 1882; to C. Fisher, Montreal 1883; J. G. Ross, Quebec 1886. Built by J. & S. E. Oliver, Carleton N. B. and launched 07/02/67. Engine by Fleming & Humbert (Phoenix Foundry). Used on Saint John River to 1876. Intended to run “opposition” service Quebec-Montreal but bought off by Richelieu & Ontario Navigation Co. after one month (July 1877). On Lake Ontario/Thousand Islands thereafter. Used Clayton, N.Y.-Dickinson’s Landing Ont. 1882-1884 but seized and sold November 1884 re unpaid wages. Sunk in collision with “Myra” 12/09/89 near Prescott, 2 killed. Wreck blown up 1902 by Royal Military College cadets.

2022 Photos by Matthew Charlesworth CC #

Selection of Historical Articles #

Statement of Wreck & Casualty, 1889  Department of Marine & Fisheries #

Sidewheel steamer ROTHESAY, registered at the port of Prescott; and bound from Brockville to Prescott on September 12, 1989 collided with the tug MYRA, a 1/4 mile above Prescott. A total loss. Vessel was 22 years of age and her loss valued at $1,500.      

Buffalo Evening News  Friday, September 13, 1889 #

Prescott, Ont. – The excursion steamer ROTHESAY collided last night with the tug MYRA of Ogdensburg. The MYRA sunk and the ROTHESAY was beached, the 60 passengers escaping. Samuel Jardine and Wm. Sullivan, of the MYRA were drowned.      

Toronto Globe Friday, September 20, 1889 #

THE “ROTHESAY” COLLISION – Prescott, Sept. 19 – The firm of John Donnely & Son, Wreckers, of Kingston, have the contract for raising the tug MYRA, which was sunk in collision with the steamer ROTHESAY on the evening of the 12th. inst. and will commence operations at once. The body of Samuel Jarden, an engineer on the ill-fated tug, was found this morning about one mile below this town in a fearfully scalded state. An inquest will be held this evening. The body of fireman Wm. Sullivan has not been recovered yet. The ROTHESAY is still lying in the same position as when beached. No arrangements have been made for raising her as yet.      

2010 Photos Tom Rutledge CC #

Removal of Obstructions Marine & Fisheries Report Sessional Papers, Federal 2-3 Edward V111.,A. 1893 #

 The sunken steamer ROTHESAY was blown up at Prescott by R.M.C. officers. The wreck was considered a dangerous navigational obstruction. Cost $368.96      

 The wreck of the steamer ROTHESAY which lay in about 25 feet of water, 500 feet from shore, in the bay between the upper wharf at Prescott and the wharf at McCarthy’s Brewery, has been blown up under the direction of Capt. C.D.O. Symond R. E. acting for the Dep. of Marine & Fisheries of Canada, and no portion of the wreckage now remains within 20 feet of the surface of the water.

2000 Photos Tom Wilson CC #

Baldwinsville Messenger, August 10, 1962       #

A Baldwinsville Businessman and three fellow members of the Syracuse Skin Divers Club recently discovered what is believed to be the hulk of a cruise ship that sank in the St. Lawrence River near Ogdensburg some 72 years ago.

The quartet recovered a set of matched anchors, weighing about 650 pounds apiece, there considered being quite a “find” among amateur salvagers. Theodore (Ted) White of Parkway Dr., Baldwinsville, known widely in the area through White Signs Co., was accompanied on the expedition by James Sprague, Philip Keneson and Philip Volmer, all of Syracuse.

The matched pair of anchors, believed to date to the War of 1812, are now at the White Signs building on River Rd., Town of Lysander. They are destined to decorate the grounds of The Castaways Restaurant at Brewerton, according to Mr. White.

While the identity of the wreckage has been open to widespread speculation in the north country, Dr. J. L. Carroll, first vice-chairman of the Ontario St. Lawrence Development Commission produced a photo and information of the steamer ROTHESAY, which sank in 1890 after colliding with a tug boat. Mr. White said that the sunken bulk resembles the photo and that he is satisfied the wreck is that of the ROTHESAY.

According to information gathered so far, Mr. White said the ROTHESAY was a 200-foot cruise ship, originally used on the River Clyde in Scotland. She was transferred to the St. Lawrence River service in 1887. On the down run from Kingston to Prescott in 1690, the side-wheeler collided with a tug boat the MYRA or MOIRE.

The ROTHESAY was returning from the Thousand Islands late at night while on a moonlight excursion trip when the collision occurred. The captain and chief of the tugboat were drowned, and attempts to beach the excursion vessel on the Prescott shore proved futile.

The ROTHESAY was considered at that period in river history to be one of the most palatial of St. Lawrence passenger ships. Mr. White said the ROTHESAY lies in about 35 feet of water. At the time of her sinking, most of the navigational equipment was salvaged, but heavier gear remained aboard, probably because modern salvage and skin diving gear was not available in those days.

White said time and current have worked the hulk into deeper water. For the most part, he said, the lower portion of the ship is still intact. It is kept the company in its silent grave by numerous eels and a family of bass. Some pottery was found, marked “Parisienne Granite.” White said he and his companions raised the heavy anchors by use of 55-gallon drums, which floated the prizes when filled with air.    

Historical Photos #

Letter from CAPTAIN FRANK E. HAMILTON Inland Seas       Spring 1963 #

To the Editor, Inland Seas I, for one, am convinced that the wreck explored by the Syracuse Skin Divers Club (See INLAND SEAS, Winter 1962, p. 329) is not the steamer Rothesay.

Here are my reasons for disagreeing with the story. To begin with, the Rothesay was not a cruise ship, nor was she built on the River Clyde in Scotland. Instead, she was a river steamer, built for day trips on the St. John River between St. John and Fredericton, New Brunswick. Rothesay was built by J. and S. E. Oliver at their shipyard at St. John, N. B., being launched there on February 2, 1867.

On July 20, 1877, the registry was transferred from Fredericton, N. B., to Prescott, Ontario. MacDonald and Lunt, owners, put her on the Toronto-Niagara River run in 1878 and continued the operation for the following two years, finishing on September 15, 1880.

The following Spring Rothesay collided with the tug Myra a few miles above Prescott, Ontario. The Myra sank and Rothesay was beached and later sank in shoal water. The wreck was abandoned as worthless and was stripped of everything of value.

In 1901 the hulk was blown up by officers from the Royal Military College at Kingston, the cost to the Canadian Government is $368.00. The wreck was then lying 1/4 mile offshore. (Sec picture, this journal, p. 40.)

Now about the anchors found at the wreck. A close look at the picture (p. 297) will show that the anchor is stowed inboard, on an anchor table with the stock (cross arm) outside, the shank resting on the bulwark cap. This type of anchor war not in existence during the War of 1812. In that period the stock was made of wood and was firmly fixed in place. The anchor shown has a metal stock that could slide back and forth through the shank.

I also think that the author of the story has confused the Rothesay with another steamer, namely, the iron side-wheel steamer Rothesay Castle, built at Renfrew, Scotland, in 1861, and brought over as a blockade runner for the Confederate States during the Civil War. She was brought to Lake Ontario and renamed Southern Belle April 1876.

Another wreck in the vicinity is the American steamer Toltec. This steamer burned and sank near Prescott on September 4, 1919. The Toltec, also about 200 feet in length would have the same style anchors as shown in the picture of Rothesay. Another look at the wreck might convince the divers that they had found the propeller Toltec instead of the side-wheeler Rothesay.  

More on the Rothesay

The Past Around Us

Scanner Ship of the Month No. 94

A Century of Sail and Steam on the Niagara River, by Barlow Cumberland

Robertson’s Landmarks of Niagara

SOS Newsletter Dec 03

Youtube Video Daniel Villeneuve

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