Toronto Telegram, 17 Mar 1951
Schooner Days CMXCIV (994)
By C.H.J. Snider

What Became of Ex-?Empress of India

Barquentine SCOTIA of Buffalo, painted by Loudon G. Wilson

"I was a native of the waterfront and Fisherman's Island, the best days of my life," hails Wm. Pearsall, 97 Moberley avenue. "I was always interested in the boats. I think I knew every boat that came into the Eastern Gap. Mr. McKelvie, the foghorn keeper, and I were standing on the Eastern pierhead the day the Reuben Dowd got blown in back of Ward's Island, and saw Frank Ward go out with a fishboat and bring in the crew.

"You were enquiring about the Argyle. If my memory serves me right she started out as the Empress of India, and then the Argyle and sank off Scarboro Bluffs in 1917 as the Alexandria. I went down the next morning to see her about 200 feet off shore, in a dirty eastern gale. No one was lost. Hoping I am right."

Not the Alexandria

Right about no one being lost, old timer, but wrong about the Argyle becoming the Alexandria. They were different vessels. We said the Argyle was first the Empress of India, then the Empress, then the Argyle, then the Frontier, and went to Detroit. What became of her after that we did not know, but we think we will both know now. [ Note: she was never registered under the short name Empress. Ed. ]

"What became of the steamer Argyle?" hails A. Norton, one of the north-shore Nortons of Newcastle and Darlington, now domiciled in Buffalo, New York. "I haven't the dates, but I know where she is. I think she sank in the Thames river, was pumped out, and towed to Detroit, where they took her machinery out for scrap, and her hull was towed up the river and shoved in the bog a few hundred feet southwest of Windmill Point, which is between Detroit river and Lake St. Clair. Her name was showing on the lower bulwarks at the paddle box above water for some years, until they filled in the marsh. It is now a classy residential section, so there is probably a nice brick home built on her."

About old Newcastle

"I still get Schooner Days from my sister in Toronto. Someone was asking about Newcastle, formerly Bond Head Harbor on Lake Ontario. As I remember it the Northrup & Lyman drug firm was located there, also there was a big woolen mill, and the race track was on the mill pond south of the railroad. There was also a hotel at the harbor, a grain elevator and coal dock. I was in the schooner Vienna, 1888, and loaded barley at Newcastle.

"There was a short write-up last fall in your Schooner Days of a collision between the steamers Pontiac and Idaho, which was a mistake. The Pontiac was split open to No. 1 hatch. When she sank her forecastle deck lifted off and was carried to the Soo on the bow of the Athabaska."

Goderich and the Scotia

From Goderich come hails from Dr. W. N. Watters for information on the Grampian and the Scotia.

"Having a considerable interest in the era of lake schooners I would greatly appreciate any information you could impart regarding the Scotia, which shortly after the First War came to this port as a coal barge, and after a couple of trips was abandoned in the harbor here until around 1930, when she was disposed of by being towed into the lake and set adrift. I would particularly appreciate knowing when this vessel was built and where and by whom, also subsequent owners, and when she was cut down in rig. Since only fore and mizzen masts were standing she may at one time have been Grand Haven rigged. Do you know the date the Grampian was built and where? She is now or was in 1948 lying at Davidson's shipyard at Bay City, Mich., at which time I inspected her."

Sorry to be so slow, doctor, but while two Scotlands and one Scotia are on our list we have no Grampians except the hills upon which the father of the boy whose name was Norval fed his flocks. Our Scotia was a small two-master figuring in the Port Whitby harbor tolls of 1848 and therefore not your dish. Best we can do is to refer you to the Customs House register in Buffalo, where we think your Scotia was built in the 1870s, and to our friend Loudon G. Wilson, 6420 Lake Park ave., Fair Haven, Mich., an expert in architecture and matters marine. He made a very fine picture of the barquentine Scotia some years ago, and might be able got let you have copy and the details on which it is based. He is a prince. A note in the Toronto Globe, 1880, speaks of the Scotia being stranded and leaking but released by Nov. 30.


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