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A report on the Enquiry into the loss of life and it's continuation are reproduced below.


Note: for details of the schooner Bavaria and various incidents concerning her, see our Heritage Ships List entry.

Rumor On The Street - Capt. Marshall's body drifted ashore at Reed's Bay, Wolfe Island

Daily British Whig , (Kingston), June 1, 1889 p.1

Her Cabin Is Dry And Everything In Order

When the news of the arrival of the wrecked barge Bavaria reached the city yesterday a visit was paid the vessel laying at Garden Island. The steamer D.D. Calvin left on Thursday evening for the scene of the wreck. Early yesterday morning the work of lightening the Bavaria was commenced. As soon as a number of sticks of timber had been taken off she floated. A search was made for the missing crew, but nothing was found on or near the vessel that would give any indications as to how the crew met their fate. In conversation with the members of the crew which brought the Bavaria to Garden Island, they expressed opinions as to the way the crew lost their lives. To most of them it appeared that the captain, in the act of cutting wood on the deck, was washed overboard, and that in order to save him the yawl boat was launched and all were drowned. To look at the Bavaria from the shore a person would not know that anything had happened. She is not injured in any way except that her jib boom has been broken off. On going aboard everything was found in proper order. In the cook's department one would judge from the surroundings that it was near the meal hour. A can of tomatoes just opened, but never touched, was lying on the table. In the oven of the stove was a pan of bread being baked. The fire having gone out it ran over the edge of the pan. The captain's room was visited. It presented a home-like appearance. Everything in the cabin showed that nothing extraordinary had occurred. The captain's bedclothes were perfectly dry. His certificate, as captain, was found alongside of the cash box on the shelf where he was accustomed to leave them. There was nothing in his cabin which would lead anyone to suppose that the captain abandoned the vessel or even had thought of it. On the deck were seen the life preservers, which again showed that danger was not dreamt of. There were also four boat oars found lying on the deck. The Bavaria is full of water. Work will be immediately commenced of taking out the timber in her and making necessary repairs.

Capt. Smith, of the barge Norway, says that Captain O'Brien of the steamer Armenia, displayed a great deal of skill in seamanship on Tuesday last, when he took the Norway in tow. Notwithstanding that the wind was blowing hard at the time, he fastened the barge to the stern of the Armenia in quick time. He is an efficient captain.

The best proof that the Bavaria was not overloaded is found in the fact that she reached Garden Island in a dry condition. She was the lightest laden of all the boats and the Norway and Valencia both reached port safely. The Bavaria would also have been picked up by the Calvin had any one been on board to receive a tow line.

Staying At Galloo Island

When the steamer Armenia arrived at Galloo Island, Wednesday morning, John Carleton, in the Calvin Co.'s employ, was left in charge of the Bavaria and the Armenia returned to the Island to await her permit before pulling off the barge. Mr. Carleton found very little to employ his time. Though a stick of pine about sixteen inches square, apparently by force of the waves, had been lifted on top of the cabin, inside of it nearly everything seemed in as good condition as before the storm.

The weather being calm a few men and women went from Galloo Island in a skiff and boarded the vessel, but were rather surprised to find the boat in such good condition. Mr. Carleton after showing them around, and having nothing to detain him further, took the opportunity of getting ashore. He found the families, of which there are five, very friendly. He remained on the island two days during which he walked around a part of it in search of the lost timber but none had reached that shore.

When the Armenia received the permit she went up at once with the schr. Prussia, reaching the Galloo Island about dark. She put out a line to the Bavaria, but soon broke it. As nothing could be done until some of the deck load was removed, and the weather becoming stormy, the boats were compelled to seek shelter, where they remained all night and the following day. The storm abating on Friday morning at daylight work was commenced and the deck load removed. Then the Bavaria was pulled off without any difficulty. The boats arrived at Garden Island a few hours later and the work of unloading commenced at once. A steam pump was put on board the Bavaria and worked till near midnight.


Daily British Whig, (Kingston), 12 November 1889, p.1

An Investigation Is Now Being Held About It

Yesterday the investigation into the loss of the crew of the barge Bavaria on the 28th May last, off the Ducks, began at the office of the inspectors. Capt. Thomas Donnelly presided.

R.T. Walkem, Q.C., appeared as counsel for the Calvin company.

Captain Manson, of the steambarge Tecumseh, was the first witness sworn. He was on deck all the night of the 28th May. The wind was blowing so hard that it was impossible to keep the steamer in the right course. He turned the boat around and headed for Collins Bay, from which place he had started. One of his tow - the barge Cameron - broke loose after turning around. When abreast of Salmon Point he saw a vessel about five miles off. She had no sails hoisted except eight or ten feet of her forestaysail. He saw a number of logs in the lake, but no one on board the vessel. When off Long Point he saw a boat adrift with a man in it. It was bottom side up. The sea was breaking over it at the time. The man was about five minutes in his sight. He thought of going to the rescue, but did not think it would be safe to try it. He knew his boat would not come up head to the wind in such a heavy sea. If she could it would not have taken long to go to where the sailor was. If he had gone to the sailor's assistance he would have had to let go the barges in tow. When he came across the barge Valencia he blew four blasts on the whistle to signal the steamer Calvin to go back to the assistance of the vessel abreast of Long Point. It was about twenty five minutes after before the Calvin turned. The captain spoke about meeting the barges of the Calvin's tow related in the mate's evidence which followed.

Alexander Anderson, Dixon's Landing, mate of the steambarge Tecumseh, said that on the night of the 28th May last there was a very heavy sea on, and it was impossible to keep the vessel on her right course. She had three barges in tow. At eight o'clock he noticed a barge about four miles ahead in a disabled condition. He supposed at the time it was one of the steamer Calvin's tow. The Tecumseh passed this disabled barge about a mile to the north. It could be easily seen that she was loaded with timber. She was rolling but not as much as would be expected according to the heavy sea. She had no sail on and there was no one to be seen on deck. Between the Tecumseh and the barge sticks of timber were floating. When off Point Peter light the captain spoke to him and called his attention to something in the water. When he looked he could not at first see anything but afterwards saw a man hanging on the bottom of a yawl boat about a quarter of a mile away. The man in the boat got up and waved his hat. The men on the Tecumseh watched the man as long as they could, but they did not see him disappear. The waves were very high and, at times, the man clinging to the yawl boat would go out of sight the waves dashing over him. The captain asked him if he thought anything could be done and he replied: "It is impossible to turn the steamer." She was going at a fast rate of speed - eleven miles an hour. There was considerable talk on the steambarge about the man as we felt it hard to pass him. If there had been any hope of sending him any assistance he (the mate) would have been the first to do so. They would have endangered their own vessel if they had attempted to turn her. After passing the Bavaria the steamer came across the Valencia about four miles down the lake. The Valencia had also, by this time, lost some of her deck load. It was floating near her. He considered she had a good deck load left on board. The crew were on her deck, but did not make any signals to the Tecumseh. The Calvin was approaching the Tecumseh so the captain of the latter shifted his course to get near her. When near the Calvin Capt. Manson waved his hat to a man on her and tried to draw his attention to the barges up the lake. After passing the Ducks about three miles the Tecumseh the Tecumseh came across the barge Norway, about four miles to the northward. The Norway was under sail at the time but was in the trough of the sea and was rolling. Anderson was for fifteen years a captain on timber barges and considered four tiers a good load in the summer season. He had once broken loose from the Tecumseh in a heavy sea with four tiers on and arrived in port safely. It was impossible for the Tecumseh to pick up the barges on the 28th May off Long Point. No man would have dared to do so. The wind on the 28th May was the heaviest he ever experienced.

Cross-examined by Mr. Walkem he positively asserted that it was impossible to save the life of the man on the yawl boat. The men made a great mistake in leaving the boat to go into a yawl boat in such a heavy sea, especially when she had pine timber on. He never heard of a vessel loaded with pine being a complete loss.

Joseph Dawson, engineer of the steamer Tecumseh, said he was on watch all the night of the 28th of May last. One of the deck hands came to him and told him that there was a man in the water. The second engineer relieved him for a minute and he went and looked out of the window and saw the man. He was sitting on the stern of the yawl boat which was bottom up. He saw the man raise his hand as far as his shoulder and then it dropped as if he was completely exhausted. He was a man with dark whiskers and dark hair. He was about a half mile from the steamer. Dawson only stayed on deck about three minutes. After going down to the engine room he came on deck again but could see no sign of the man in the small boat. The captain said it was too bad to pass that man but they could do nothing for him. He agreed with what the captain said. He knew the steamer Tecumseh well and was positive that she would not turn in such a sea.

Robert Bell, Port Hope, wheelsman on the Tecumseh, was on deck on the 28th of May last and was one of the first to see the man on the yawl boat. He watched him for about four minutes and then had to go and attend to the wheel. As soon as he saw the man he communicated it to the captain, who then whistled for the Calvin, as he understood, to come back.

This morning the investigation was resumed. Capt. Malone, of the steamer Calvin, was the first witness. He stated that before the tow lines broke he saw all the men on the barge Bavaria. They were on the leeward side of the boat. He did not see any of the men on the Bavaria take to the boats. His attention was attracted to the Valencia, which at the time had taken a very bad shear. The Valencia at the time was in tow of the Calvin. She was the last boat to break away from the Calvin.

The captain stated that the tows broke away about six o'clock in the evening. A big gale was blowing at the time. When the Bavaria broke loose her bowsprit broke off. It was at this time that he saw the crew on the deck of the Bavaria>. They were pulling the yawl boat around under the lee quarter of the Bavaria. He saw the Bavaria in the trough of the sea and that was the last he saw of the crew. He thought that the Bavaria was not waterlogged at the time. When (unreadable) of Long Point he noticed that the barge Valencia was in a bad state. He ordered the captain to turn though he thought it a bit risky (unreadable) thing to do, but he did not want to desert his tow. He was afraid of disabling his engine. He went back to the Bavaria but did not hear any whistle from the str. Tecumseh. On passing the Bavaria he took notice that there was none of the crew on board and then thought that they were all below. The engineer remarked to him about there being no one on deck, so he took the Calvin close to the Bavaria. He did not see any person on the deck. If they had taken to the small boats they had certainly perished. The captain then headed his vessel for the regular course. After laying in shelter until 6 p.m. the next day he again went to look up his tow and found the Bavaria drifting down near Yorkshire Island. The crew could not have been on board now as a line could have been thrown to the Bavaria. It was so rough that he did not put any of his men in a small boat to go on the Bavaria. When he next saw the Bavaria she was stranded on Galoo Island, full of water. He then towed her to Garden Island. He did not consider the Bavaria overloaded. During the storm he signalled the Bavaria to throw overboard some of her deck load.


British Whig (Kingston, ON), 13 November 1889

They Clung To Timbers And Boat But Drifted Away

The investigation into the loss of the Bavaria was continued yesterday. James Burlingham, lighthouse keeper at Point Peter, for the last fourteen years, remembered the morning of the 28th of May last. The weather was very rough during the night and the wind increased in violence during the morning. About six o'clock he observed a tow of disabled barges, to the south-west of the light house about five miles away. When he first took notice of them they were in tow of a steambarge. He saw the tow breaking up, the centre barge heading out into the lake. The waves seemed to dash over the middle barge. He could not see the crew of the second barge on deck. Shortly afterwards he saw several men in a yawl boat, appearing as if they had come from the Bavaria. Two of the men had hold of the oars, one on each side. The yawl boat was heading for the light house and the occupants tried to make for the shore. The yawl seemed to be making good headway until a heavy squall struck her. When the squall had abated he saw that the boat was bottom side up and two or three men were clinging to it. He saw some timber floating on the lake. To one stick of timber he saw two men hanging and on another stick another man. Before the squall occurred he noticed one of the crew go up the rigging of the barge Bavaria a short distance, as he (Burlingham) thought to show the distress signal. He then went to the nearest station to telegraph for assistance from Kingston. He thought all the crew were in the yawl boat as there were five or six in it. He considered that there must have been some reason other than saving their own lives that made the men take to the boat. He thought they went to rescue someone else. He was of the opinion that the tow could not have been picked up. The gale was the heaviest he ever experienced for that time of the year.

William Burlingham, the next witness sworn, said he resided at Point Peter. The morning of the 28th May was a very windy one. He saw the tow break from the steam barge. The middle barge appeared to be rolling very heavily. He also saw the yawl boat upside down and three objects on it which looked like men. He also saw floating timber around the Bavaria. He saw two objects on one stick of timber and one on another. He also saw one man further down the lake on a stick of timber. The men on the yawl boat was in his sight about one hour and three-quarters. He kept looking at the men until they disappeared from his sight.

The wind shifted westward, which was the reason why the yawl and timber were drifted out of his sight. He saw a distress signal from the Valencia. The steamer Calvin went down the lake about three or four miles and then he saw her turn back. She stayed in the vicinity of the Bavaria nearly all the afternoon. He saw a large steambarge with one barge in tow pass down about seven o'clock. The men in the yawl boat and on the timber were seen about one hour and a half before the large steambarge passed down. He thought the men in the yawl boat did not see the steamer Tecumseh passing them. He did not think they took to the boat for the purpose of going to the Tecumseh. The yawl boat and timber had drifted out of sight before the Tecumseh came down.

Capt. A.H. Malone, of the str. Calvin, was again called. He said each of the masters of the barges had charge of the loading of their vessel. They were allowed to use their own judgement in loading. The pumps on the Bavaria were all right when the vessel started out in the spring. She did not leak any to his knowledge. After the Bavaria was unloaded she leaked very little. He considered Capt. Marshall a first-class man, capable in every respect. Capt. Marshall remarked to him that he had more load on one side than the other. The witness did not think any of the barges were overloaded. When he boarded the Bavaria at the Galoos there were three oars on the deck - yawl boat oars. The yawl boats belonging to all the barges were washed away. Two of them were found. He did not know whether the Bavaria's boats were found or not. Her boats were new ones last spring. He kept a careful lookout, but did not see any person in a boat or on the timber. The cabin was above the deck and he knew of no reason why the crew should leave the wreck. When he went back to the Bavaria, abreast of Long Point, he thought she was waterlogged. The covering board seam of the Bavaria's hatch was open when she arrived at Garden Island. He considered a barge safe with eight feet of a deck load on her. He attributed the whole accident to the extraordinary gale of wind. If the men had remained on the Bavaria he would have picked her up and towed her into safety. If they had remained in the cabin they would have been safe.

This morning Matthew Ferguson, mate of the steamer Calvin, was sworn. He saw the tow break up. The Bavaria, he thought, had no sail on. He then saw three of the Bavaria's crew aft and they appeared to be pulling the yawl boat, in the water, up on the weather quarter. He did not see any of the crew get into the boat nor did he see them again. The Bavaria did not seem to be rolling very bad when he last saw her. After the tow line broke the Calvin went back to see if she could render any assistance to the barges. The Calvin blew her whistle for the Valencia to let go her anchor which she did. The Calvin then went back to the Bavaria and blew her whistle but received no response nor could any person be seen on her deck. He thought the crew must have been in the cabin. On leaving the Bavaria the Calvin again blew her whistle with the same result. Six o'clock that evening the Calvin went out in search of the Bavaria and found her drifting down near Yorkshire Island. It was impossible to put a man on her or go alongside of her. They went back and picked up the Valencia and towed her to Garden Island. The tow lines were all new. Prudent men, in his judgement, would have remained on board. If they had they would have been saved. The storm was at its worst when the Bavaria broke loose. He heard no whistle from the steamer Tecumseh, nor did he see her.


British Whig (Kingston, ON), 21 November 1889

At the Bavaria investigation today Thomas Cadotte was examined. He was one of the crew on the barge Norway. He saw the Bavaria break her tow line and considered it was due to bad steering. He did not see anyone on the Bavaria after the line broke. He went on the Bavaria the next trip and considered her in a seaworthy condition. The enquiry has been closed.


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