Ship Type: Schooner Lifespan: Built 1873, Sunk 1921 Length: 175ft Depths: 105ft Location: Lake Ontario, SW of False Duck Island, Ontario GPS Not for Public release at this time.

====== [[Schooner Oliver Mowat]https://justaskmarie.blog/2017/10/16/schooner-oliver-mowat/]

From Just ask Marie.

The stories of the Oliver Mowat are by far my favourite because her journey from launch in 1873 to wreck in 1901 was so well documented and in such wonderfully descriptive language indicative of her era.

She was built in Millhaven by Edouard Beaupre and launched on 15 July 1873. Her specifications were a wooden 3 masted schooner measuring 116 ft. long by 26 ft. wide by 11 ft. deep in her hold, able to carry 341 tonnes with an 18,000 bushels capacity. Her owners were Messrs. Frazer & George.

The following are excerpts taken from the Daily British Whig, Kingston, 16 July 1873….” Bath, a town that has been making steady progress backwards, and has reached a point where progression must cease, [OUCH]was once noted for it’s shipbuilding but it’s near neighbour, Millhaven, yesterday accomplished it’s first achievement in the nautical line enterprise. The new schooner of Messrs. Frazer & George of this city, was launched, and Millhaven and the country around made a gala occasion.”…

…..”there were not less than 2000 persons present at the appointed hour of 2 o’clock and the proportion of well dressed and bright looking country girls unmistakingly declared that the “Haven” would be a most attractive spot as a summer resort for city beaux.”

…..’The new vessel as she sat on the ways was much admired, her model being very graceful indeed, a close examination of her did not detract in the least from the impression gained on first view, for she is perfect in structure, and a credit to her builder, Mr. Beaupre of Portsmouth”…..

……She is a perverse boat, though, she loved the ways fondly, and would not leave them even to accommodate so large and admiring a crowd. The operations for launching were begun at 1:30 but the ordinary means employed were to no avail. Move she would not; perhaps it was not a good day for moving, was too warm for much exertion. The crowd was patient, however, and never ceased its interest in the expectant sight. Every method of hammering, levering and ramming was employed to induce the vessel to act with propriety and a graceful acquiescence becoming the occasion, but they were to be shown to be tricks that were vein as the noted heathen…. at 4:45, just as the word to adopt the last resort, that of the steamer jerking the schooner off, the vessel, as if smarting under the intended indignity, began to move downwards so neatly and gracefully that her former perverseness was overlooked. As she glided away to enter upon her natural element, the fair daughter of the owners. Miss Frazer, christened the new candidate for nautical honors, whose handsome new flag was unfurled, displaying the name “OLIVER MOWAT”.

Attending the launching of the Oliver Mowat were the Premier of Ontario, the Hon. Oliver Mowat, brother-in-law to Mr. Fraser, and Mr Wm Robinson, MPP with members of their families. Judge Burrowes, and other gentlemen together with the wives and daughters of several prominent citizens. …..”Mr. Mowat won several golden opinions, and especially so from the ladies, for his affability of manner, he is most agreeable company, and proved that it is not necessary to put on style to sustain the dignity of a Premier”.

And finally, the author of this piece who is unknown, could not help but give one last jab at Millhaven when he concluded article with…”One impression of Millhaven is that it possesses more “tight” young men on holiday occasions around its taverns than are creditable to an orderly village like it always has been”. [In this case I am sure he means drunk rather than cheap. Sounds like a rivalry of some sort.]

The above extracts are from a much longer article. I have a real soft spot for this style of writing, I find it poetic and very entertaining. In those days, the newspapers and local gossip were not just the way to get the news but also they served as the foremost means of entertainment.

The Oliver Mowat enjoyed a mostly trouble free career. She did have a narrow escape according to an article in the Daily British Whig, Kingston 4 Dec 1876 which reads….”Narrowly Escaped Being Beached”- The schooner Oliver Mowat, Capt. Beaupre, which left port last night, narrowly escaped going ashore early this morning. In a short time after she left port, the wind died away and the vessel drifted towards the west pier to the westward of the lighthouse. Just as she was in danger of being dashed on the west pier, the captain succeeded in getting a line to the beacon pier and vessel was held until this morning when the tug Morey took her in tow and towed her enroute to Kingston. Light tenders Captains Munson and Budds were on hand and took the vessel’s lines. Had it not been for their assistance the vessel would have gone ashore as the crew could not get on the pier”.

In another article, source and date unknown, is the following…. “The Mowat was considered a very lucky boat by mariners and in only one instance can it be realized that she ever came to trouble. About 10 years ago she went ashore near Cobourg, but she was so strong that all that was required after she had been raised was a little caulking and she was good as ever. Alas, her luck ran out on 1 Sept 1921, after nearly 50 years of sailing the Great Lakes. On the 1st of September 1921, near Pennicon Shoal off Main Duck Island, Lake Ontario she was rammed and sunk by the 1700 ton steel steamer Key West. The Captain and First Mate of the Key West were jailed for keeping such a poor lookout. The Oliver Mowat was bound from Oswego to Picton carrying a load of coal. She was always known as a fast sailor, and sadly was a total loss of $10,000.00. Her master at the time of sinking was Captain Thomas Van Duesen. The Captain, the Mate J. Corby and the Cook all lost their lives, 2 other crew survived.

A noted coincidence at the time of Edouard Beaupre’s death in Portsmouth 1908, the Oliver Mowat was anchored in Portsmouth Harbour under full sail. The boat he had built, loved and sailed so well was near when he passed away.

Selected News Articles


    Bad Marine Tragedy Late Last Thursday Night 
    Captain Tom Van Dusen One of the Victims. 
    Captain Thomas L. VanDusen, one of the best known sailing masters on Lake Ontario, Mate Jacob Corby and an unknown woman, a cook, were drowned late Thursday night off the Main Ducks when the steamer KEYWEST rammed the schooner OLIVER MOWAT and cut her in two. Two sailors on the OLIVER MOWAT, George Keegan of Belleville, and John Wannacott, of Picton, were saved. They were picked up by the KEYWEST and carried to Welland canal from which place the first news of the tragedy was wired to Kingston. 

The OLIVER MOWAT, one of the old-time lake schooners, purchased this Spring by Captain Van Dusen, was bound from Oswego to Picton with coal when the accident happened. The captain of the KEYWEST reported it was a clear night, but that they saw no lights on the schooner and that they were on her before they knew it. The KEYWEST, a powerful boat, slashed into her midships and tore the old schooner in half. The two sailors who were on deck were rescued. Captain VanDusen and Mate Gurley were below and endeavored to save the cook. It is thought they lingered too long. At any rate, Captain VanDusen was seen swimming in the water just as the schooner went down under the water. It is believed the suction carried him down. The KEYWEST had endeavored to keep the stern of the schooner afloat and stood by for some time after the accident, but as there was nothing could be done proceeded westward to the canal. Captain VanDusen was 65 years old and for over 40 years had been a prominent sailing master on Lake Ontario. he had sailed into Oswego for many years. His home was in Picton. Mate Gurley resided in Deseronto. The cook was about 60 years old and is thought to be a Canadian.

    An investigation will be made of the accident by the Canadian Marine Department and efforts will probably be made to recover the bodies. The water, however, is deep off the Ducks. 
    Among the other commands Captain VanDusen had was the schooner BERTIE CALKINS and several other boats. 
    Oswego Palladium 
    Tues., September 6, 1921 
    Two Masts Showing Of the Ill-Fated Schooner OLIVER MOWAT. 

Two of the three masts of the ill-fated schooner OLIVER MOWAT, projecting from the water at a point two miles this side of the Main Duck islands, mark the scene of the disaster that occurred last Thursday night when the steamer Key West rammed the vessel admidships, causing it to sink, carrying with it three members of the crew, including its master, Captain Thomas VanDusen. Such was the report brought here today by Captain Clinton Daryaw, of Picton, who arrived here early this morning in the schooner MARY A. DARYAW. The trip across was made around the foot of the Main Ducks and not around the head, where the Mowat was sunk. Captain Daryaw picked up his information in Kingston, which is agog with the particulars of the accident. Besides Captain VanDusen, First Mate Jacob Gurley, of Deseronto, and Carrioe McGulgan, the stewardness, were drowned. The name of the stewardess appears on the records of the custom house here, where the boat was last cleared.

    Oswego Palladium 
    September 7, 1921 

OLIVER MOWAT Other names : none also seen as OLIVER MOWATT Official No. : C92384 Type at loss : schooner, wood, 3-mast Build info : 1873, Beaupre, Millhaven, Ont. Specs : 116 x 26 x 11, 341 t. Date of loss : 1921, Sept 1 Place of loss : near Pennicon Shoal off Main Duck Isl. Lake : Ontario Type of loss : collision Loss of life : 3 of 5 Carrying : coal Detail : Rammed and sunk by the 1700 ton steel steamer KEYWEST, whose Capt & Mate were jailed for keeping such a poor lookout. She was owned out of Bowmanville, and known as a fast sailer. Ashore & heavily damaged by storm near Oshawa, Ont. Nov 28, 1905.

    Dave Swayze Casualty List 
    . . . . . 
    Port of Picton Register 

Name . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . OLIVER MOWAT Official Number 92584 Port . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bowmanville, Ont. Tons………………….. 169.98 RegisterTons… 197.68 Gross Tons When Built…………. 1875 Where Built……….. Mill Haven, County of Addington, Ontario Builders Name & Date of Certificate:- Fraser & George, Kingston Ont. March 15, 1905 Description of vessel:-

    Length. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116 feet 
    Breadth...................... 25 feet& eight tenths 
    Depth of hold................ 9 feet & eight tenths 
    Masts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Three 
    Decks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . One 
    Bowsprit.......... .. . . .. . - 
    Stern. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Square 
    How rigged................... Schooner Carvelbuilt of oak 
    Figure-head.................. Straight ( without) 
    Present master............... George Robertson ( March 5,1905) 

Subscribing owners:- John McClellan of Bowmanville, coal merchant Sole owner of 48 shares and William Cann also of Bowmanville and a coal merchant, owns 16 shares making the total of 64 shares.. George Robertson by bill of sale acquired 16 shares from John McLellan dated May 15, 1905.. Alvina Robertson, widow of George Robertson sold the 16 shares to William H. Peacock, Master mariner of Port Hope, dated June 8,1912.. William Peacock sells 8 shares to each of John McClellan and Wm. Cann dated March 31, 1915.. It would appear that dated March 6, 1914 William Peacock & Wm. Savage each held 52 shares in the vessel.. William Savage & William Peacock sold the total 64 shares to R. G. Hepburn & Thomas VanDusen both of Picton. dated Jan. 21, 1920.. (Hepburn was a coal merchant & VanDusen a master mariner)

REGISTERS NOTE- Registry of OLIVER MOWAT closed Oct. 5, 1921. SUNK BY KEY WEST AT DUCK ISLAND on night of Sept. Ist.1 921. Certificate of Registry and papers lost with boat

    . . . . . 
    Two are saved 
    Rest Of Crew Perish In Night Tragedy On Lake Ontario 
    Special to the Mail & Empire:- St.Catharines Ont. Sept. 4 

The steamer KEY WEST, which went up the Welland Canal yesterday, reported when she reached Port Dalhousie, her first stop after leaving Lake Ontario, that on Thursday night she had collided with and sunk the schooner OLIVER MOWAT at Duck Island, down the lake. All but two men on board the OLIVER MOWAT had been lost. The KEY WEST Captain reported he had picked up the two men in the water, their names being George Keegan and John Menaker. There were either five or seven on the lost boat. The two men were taken on with the KEY WEST up the canal, and could not be interviewed, nor - could the KEY WEST captain, as the boat had left Port Dalhousie before the facts of the loss of the OLIVER MOWAT was known here. According to the brief story of the wreck, told by the Captain of the KEY WEST, at Port Dalhousie, the OLIVER MOWAT apparently had not been carrying lights and was not seen by the KEY WEST until she was right on her. It was thought there was plenty of time for the MOWAT'S crew to get off, as they were all standing ready, but the boat suddenly gave a lurch and sank in a few seconds. The KEY WEST lowered boats and cruised about trying to find the other men, but only rescued Keegan and Menaker. The OLIVER MOWAT is owned by Hepburn, of Picton, and the KEY WEST by the Keystone Transportation Company of Montreal. The OLIVER MOWAT was an old boat, having been built at Milhaven in 1875. She was registered at Kingston and was a vessel of 541 tons.

    Toronto Mail & Empire 
    September 4, 1921 
oliver_mowat.txt · Last modified: 2019/05/07 01:14 by tom
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