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The three-masted schooner Norway (1873)

Declared a total loss, but recovered

See also the entry in our ships database.

Kingston Whig-Standard; November 9, 1880: Last evening the steamer HIRAM A. CALVIN left for a trip up the lake in search of the schooner NORWAY, which was on the lake during the gale, and for the safety of which there is much anxiety. She had not reached the dismasted vessel when we went to press.


Kingston Whig-Standard; November 9, 1880: Schooner NORWAY - Found dismasted and without her crew near the False Ducks. Oswego, Nov. 9. -- Capt. Vanalstine, of the steambarge SAXON, just arrived, reports passing the schooner NORWAY, of Kingston, about 15 miles south of the False Ducks, dismasted and floating with her bows down. The stern is out of water. The tug ROBB has just reached her and is trying to get a line around her stern. There is no one aboard the vessel.


Belleville, Nov. 9. -- Capt. Wilson, of the schooner MARQUIS, reports that the schooner NORWAY, of Garden Island, foundered about 12 miles from the Ducks, loaded with timber and dismasted. All hands are lost. The W.T. ROBB took her in tow this morning.

Capt. Abraham Malone, of the schooner ORIENTAL, reported on Sunday that he saw the schooner NORWAY about 4-1/2 miles to windward at dark on Saturday. That was the last he saw of her. The NORWAY was sailing down the lake in good style. When last seen she was off Presque Isle. The crew was composed of Capt. Wm. O'Brien, whose parents reside on Garden Island. He is aged about 23 years and single. Alfred Joliffe, mate, was a resident of Wolfe Island, having a wife and daughter. He was about 60 years of age, robust and a 1st. class sailor. He was an uncle of Mr. W.H. Goodwin, Principal of the Queen's Street School. Thomas & William Snell were the supporters of a father and mother on Garden Island. They were in poor circumstances. P. Crosby, second mate, was the eldest of a family of that name on Garden Island. He was about 22 years of age. Jos. Bissonette was a Kingstonian and lived near Mortonwood. Francis Quinn had a sister on Garden Island. She is a schoolteacher. They resided together. Sarah Cottenden, the cook, is the daughter of a Garden Islander.

The NORWAY was built on Garden Island in April 1873 for Calvin & Breck by H. Rooney. She registers 410 tons, is valued at $12,000 and classed A 1-1/2. Messrs. Calvin & Son are the present owners. There was no insurance.

Enquiry is made for a young man named Peter Barns, of Little's Lane, who was believed to be on the NORWAY. A widowed mother, named Black, was also making enquiry at Calvin's office in the city regarding her son, who was on the vessel.


Kingston Whig-Standard; Wednesday, November 10, 1880 : When the Schooner ORIENTAL arrived on Sunday afternoon, considerably damaged by the fearful gale through which it passed, her Capt. reported that the schooner NORWAY should be close at hand, she having been before the ORIENTAL, to windward, and heading for the same destination, Garden Island. Hours passed, and yet no tidings were received of the craft, respecting which grave apprehensions were entertained. The crew of the ORIENTAL stated that when they last saw the missing schooner she was making so far to the south that it was probable she would have to tack in order to clear Nine Mile Point, and to attempt such a thing in the gales would be suicidal. Yesterday's news confirmed previous suspicions. The loss of the crew, so near home, is a very distressing event, and the relatives of those who were drowned could not be more prostrated than D.D. Calvin, whose depressing thoughts were not of the vessel, but of the unfortunate men. The schooner NORWAY was in good trim and under the command of skilful and careful men; but what did good management amount to when the vessel has disabled in a blow the like of which has not been experienced on the lakes within the memory of the oldest navigator. Some years ago shortly after the NORWAY was built, she was struck by a squall and upset on Lake Huron. The cook was confined in the cabin, and would have been drowned had not Capt. George Malone, now master of the schooner BISMARK, dove down broken the cabin window and rescued her.

Reasonable conjecture. -- The Schooner NORWAY left Garden Island some three weeks ago, for Toledo, where she loaded timber, and in due time started for Garden Island. There are many surmises regarding the accident. One gentleman, of long experience in the shipping business, says it is evident that the schooner was struck suddenly by the squall, which blew the sails away and took the masts out of her. Even in the harbour some vessels were in danger of losing their spars, and those that had sails set had them torn and blown to pieces as quickly as if they were made of paper. It was no light wind dismasted the NORWAY, for as a matter of fact no vessels on the lakes are kept in better trim than those owned by the Messrs. Calvin & Son. Every precaution is taken by the firm to keep the schooners in perfect working order. Men are employed, after each trip, to thoroughly inspect them and have necessary repairs made. Only competent men are employed at this work. Even had the crew taken to the yawl, far from shore, at the nearest seven or eight miles, it was impossible for the boat to ride out the sea.

The Schooners Officers. - From a gentleman intimate with all on board the NORWAY we learn the following particulars:

Capt. William O'Brien, was the son of the present head teamster on Garden Island. He was a young man of 23 years. From his boyhood he had been sailing. From before the mast he worked upwards until he became mate of the schooner SIBERIA, the captaincy of which was held by his brother George. Last spring he was made captain of the NORWAY and by his careful and painstaking endeavors to fill that position won the confidence of his employers. He was proud of the honour of being a captain, and well he might, for it is a post to which many young man aspire.

"A better man never sailed a vessel than Captain Frederick Jolliffe," was the certificate of an old mariner who had known Mr. Jolliffe for 40 years. Mr. Jolliffe was born on the Isle of Wight in 1819 or 1820. He was apprenticed to a merchant ship, after which, in company with his father and brother, he emigrated to Canada, settling near Toronto. He persued the calling of a sailor. About 1840 he was married in this city, in St. George's Cathedral, to Miss Mary Wright. They settled in Kingston living on Wellington Street for a number of years. Subsequently they moved to Wolfe Island, where they had since resided. Mr. Jolliffe was a most careful commander, in fact too careful. No neater or trimmer vessel than his sailed on the Lakes. He commanded vessels owned by the late Capt. R. Gaskin. One of the oldest vessels sailed by his was the Schr. DESPATCH, now plying between Buffalo and Detroit. The other schooner which he commanded were the MARY MERRITT, JESSIE DRUMMOND, JESSIE H. BRECK, BISMARK, and last year the ANNANDALE, now sailed by Capt. Dandy. For 25 years Capt. JOLLIFFE did duty for Messrs. Calvin & Breck. During the whole course of Capt. Jolliffe's career he lost but one vessel. This was the fall of 1847. The Captain was a jolly whole-souled fellow, who bore his age well. He was robust and hearty. He expressed himself as not desirous of going on the last trip. The Captain had a large family but only one daughter and his wife survive him. The Captain has a brother at St. Catharines, one sister at Lockport, N.Y., and another at Toronto. His brother Joseph was drowned in Western Ontario not too many years ago. Capt. Jolliffe was also an uncle to Mrs. W.H. Goodwin. All who know the late Captain regret his untimely death and sympathize with his sorrowing relatives. A telegram, received last evening from St. Catharines, reports that Capt. Jolliffe was sick abed when the NORWAY passed through the Welland Canal.

Remainder of the Crew. - William P. Crosby, 2nd. Mate, leaves a mother and father on the Island. His mother was a domestic in Mr. I.A. Breck's family previous to her marriage, and it was with moistened eyes that that gentleman last evening spoke of the young man's death. He was much respected on the Island. He was advancing and no doubt expected promotion in a short time.

Francis Quinn lived with his sister, Miss Quinn, the present assistant teacher on Garden Island. He was the brother of the noted diver John Quinn, now of Detroit. Another brother, Terrance, lives at Port Dalhousie.

The most heavily bereaved family on the Island is that of Mr. Snell, both of whose sons, Thomas and William, have been drowned. The loss will be more deeply felt as the boys were the support of a crippled father.

Sarah Cottenden, the cook, was a domestic in Mr. I.A. Breck's house on the Island. On his removal to Kingston she boarded the vessel, and her sister now lives with Mr. Breck. Deceased was an industrious person, amiable and kind. Her parents reside on Garden Island.

The Kingston Boys. - Joseph Bissonette was known in this city. He leaves a wife and two children, who reside near Nortonwood. They are left in very unfortunate circumstances.

Peter Burns, who was believed to be on board, lived in Little's Lane, off Barrie Street. A Whig reporter visited the widowed mother last night. He learned that Peter was the eldest of a large family. He had been ill during the summer, but had recovered sufficiently to resume work. Bissonette got him the position on the NORWAY. He was seen by a young man named Hussey while the vessel was passing through the canal on Thursday last. The mother had hoped that he had got off somewhere, but the chances are against the supposition. Mr. Burns was about 28 years of age.

Our readers will sympathize with the friends of those who, by this terrible accident, met an unhappy death. That the brave fellows met it unflinchingly we have no doubt. It would have been a source of comfort to many persons had there been even one survivor to tell the harrowing story accurately. This accident, following so soon after the loss of the OLIVE BRANCH, has caused a profound sensation in the city.


Buffalo Commercial Advertiser; November 11, 1880 : The names of the crew of the schr. NORWAY, wrecked on Lake Ontario Saturday night are Wm. O'Brien, captain; Alfred Jolliffe, Wm. Crosby, second mate; Sarah Cottenden, cook; sailors names, Wm.Snell, Thos. Snell, Joseph Bessonette, Frank Quinn. All these hail from Garden Island. There was another sailor on board, name unknown. The NORWAY measured 410 tons, was built at Garden Island, by H. Rooney, in 1873, was owned by Calvin & Breck, of Garden Island, rated A11/2 and was valued at $17,200.


Kingston Whig-Standard; November 11, 1880 : Arrival of the Schooner NORWAY -- Last night the waterlogged Schooner NORWAY arrived at Garden Island in tow of the tugs HIRAM A. CALVIN and W.T. ROBB. The latter was the first to discover the wreck. The tug was on the way from Oswego to South Bay with the Schr. MARQUIS, and finding the NORWAY in the condition described, dropped the tow, which under sail proceeded to its destination, and a line was attached to the very unfortunate craft. The ROBB could not handle the vessel, and started ypwards Kingston for assistance. The Steamer CHIEFTAIN was hailed, and as the two boats were returning to where the NORWAY was left the HIRAM A. CALVIN was signalled. The last named and the ROBB were left to convey the vessel to Garden Island. When the two were attached they failed to move her and then Capt. Donnelly in the course of a minute inspection found that it was held by two anchors which appeared to have been dropped before the members of the crew were swept away. A release was effected by the chains being cut. The NORWAY is nearly underwater her deck is swept of cabin, centreboard, everything else and her spars and rigging being a tangle mass overhanging beside her. Her appearance is a decisive evidence of the severity of the gale in which she was caught. The vessel's hull has not been damaged in any way. She can be repaired for an expenditure of $3,000.


Kingston Whig-Standard; November 12, 1880 : A Reasonable Theory. -- When the tug ROBB picked up the schooner NORWAY it was found that the little anchor was down and the chain "weather-fitted." The big anchor and chain were gone. The theory is now advanced that just as soon as the spars were carried away the anchors were dropped. While the spars and rigging were being cleared away, the sea swept the deck and drowned the whole crew. Capt. Donnelly states that he saw marks in the rigging made by sailors who attempted to cut it adrift. The NORWAY is afloat off Garden Island. A line holds her to the wharf. As soon as the present gale abates men will commence work upon her. The owners of the tug ROBB demand $1,000 salvage. No settlement has yet been effected.


Buffalo Commercial Advertiser; November 13, 1880 : The tug ROBB which first discovered the wrecked schr. NORWAY, and which, in company with the tug HIRAM A. CALVIN, towed her to Garden Island, has put in a claim for salvage, which Messrs. Calvin & Son, the owners of the NORWAY do not wish to allow. They are willing to pay as much per day to the owner of the ROBB as they would have asked under similar circumstances. This proposal, however, has not been accepted.


Buffalo Commercial Advertiser; November 16, 1880 : A letter from Kingston says: When the tug ROBB picked up the schr. NORWAY, it was found that her little anchor was down and the chain weather bitted. The big anchor and chain were gone, and the theory is now advanced that as soon as the spars were carried away, the seas swept the deck and drowned the whole crew. Capt. Donnelly stated that he saw marks in the rigging made by the sailors, who endeavored to cut adrift. The NORWAY is afloat off Garden Island, where a line holds her to wharf. As soon as the present gale abated, men will commence work upon her. The owners of the tug ROBB demand $1,000 salvage, but no settlement has yet been effected. Capt. Dix, of the schr. WHITE OAK reports that he nearly collided with some sticks of oak timber, this side of the Ducks, on his last trip to Oswego. He thinks it was part of the schr. NORWAY's deck load, and that if it struck a vessel, she might sustain considerable damage.


Buffalo Commercial Advertiser; November 17, 1880 : It will cost $3,000 to repair the Canadian schr. NORWAY, which recently waterlogged and lost her entire crew on Lake Ontario.


Kingston Whig-Standard; November 17, 1880 : The Lost Norway. -- Today Capt. John Donnelly, for the 1st time within a week, was in the city. A Whig reporter interviewed him regarding the lost Norway. His statement in substance was that he found the schooner anchored about ten miles from the False Ducks in a waterlogged condition. The Captain of the Tug ROBB stated that he had towed the vessel ten miles, but such a thing was simply impossible as both tugs could not move her beyond the length of the anchor chains. Capt. Donnelly cut the chains and the two tugs together drew her along at the rate of 2-1/2 miles per hour. Donnelly does not think the Tug ROBB is entitled to the salvage asked. The theory advanced by the captain is that the vessel carried away her bowsprit yards, and in consequence the bowsprit and jibboom and gearing. This caused the vessel to broach to and roll in the trough of the sea. The sailors went to work and chopped down the mizzen and main-masts, and both those with the rigging were carried overboard. The anchors were then dropped, but it was impossible to out-live the terrible gale. The vessel was drawn down to her anchor and all hands perished. The rail on the port fore-rigging bears the mark of an axe. That the men perished herorcally there can be no doubt.

This morning the vessel was pumped out. It was then found that her hull was apparently undamaged. Three sticks of timber are out, one through her starboard side, one through the bulkhead of her forecastle, and one on the portside. There was nothing whatever in the forecastle with the exception of a bag containing two shirts and a coat and vest. These belonged to one of the sailors.


Kingston Whig-Standard; December 3, 1880 : NORWAY DISASTER. -- Mr. C.W. Crowley received yesterday afternoon a fuller description of the body that went ashore at Little Marsh, near Henderson. Mr. Crowley had written to the Coroner, giving him a description of one of the sailors lost from the NORWAY but the description did not answer that given of the body. The Coroner writes that the drowned man had lost one of his thumbs, or rather the end of the right thumb. He was 5 feet 10" in his boots, had very dark brown hair and light sandy chin whiskers and moustache, was between 30 and 40 years of age, and weighed about 165 lbs. He had no coat, but a stripped cotton overshirt, knit wool undershirt, and ordinary dark cashmere vest and trousers. Two more bodies have floated ashore at Campbell's Point and the Coroner will send descriptions of the man by the next mail.

While the employees of Messrs. Calvin and Breck were unloading the NORWAY this morning they found the body of Peter Burns, one of the crew, in the bow on the end of the timber. The deceased was about 27 years of age, and had been professionally a sailor, but he had made only two trips on the unfortunate vessel. It will be remembered that some doubt was entertained at first respecting his fate; his mother who lives in Little's Lane being of the hopeful opinion that he had left the vessel at the Welland Canal. The Lapse of time, however, dispelled this idea. The deceased has on his oil-skin clothing and rubber boots, but was quite stiff, being partially frozen. Flags were hoisted at half mast at Garden Island as soon as the body was found and identified by Capt. G. O'Brien, who went to Henderson harbour to examine the body which floated ashore near that place. The Seamen's Union having been communicated with, steps were taken this afternoon, we understand, to have the remains of young Burns buried by the members of the Association.

LATER -- A telegram received as we go to press says the body, found in the NORWAY's hold, is that of William Snell.


List of Vessels on the Registry Books of the Dominion of Canada on December 31, 1886 : Schooner NORWAY. Official Canada No. 72583. Of 332 tons reg. Built Garden Island, Ont., 1872. Home port, Kingston, Ont. 135.5 x 26.0 x 11.9. Owned by D.D. Calvin, of Garden Island, Ont.


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