GEORGE T. DAVIE

Located at N44 06 830 W76 34 826is The steel barge GEORGE T. DAVIE, en route from Oswego to Kingston with 1,100 tons of coal and under tow of the SALVAGE PRINCE, began leaking and sank off Nine Mile Point, Lake Ontario, in 85 feet of water. The hull was located by divers in 1999. The ship had once been part of Canada Steamship Lines. 18 april 1945

Story by Rick Neilson
“Capt. Alfred E. Brown paced restlessly in the pilothouse of the tug Salvage Prince. The cold April winds blowing across Oswego Harbour were foremost on his mind; he was anxious to get underway. Since arriving yesterday with the barge George T. Davie in tow, he had managed to get her loaded with 1,148 tons of hard coal at the Oswego coal dock. Strong winds convinced him to stay tied up in port overnight, rather than face a boisterous trip back across Lake Ontario in the dark. Now in the early morning light the skies were clear, and the winds had diminished to about six knots from the west. It was time to cast off. On being informed of his decision, James Ruth, acting master of the Davie, and the other three crew members, G. Conaghan, L. Moore and H. Moore, immediately prepared the barge for departure. Shortly after eight o’clock in the morning the Pyke Salvage tug and her consort cleared the Oswego harbour breakwater and headed north for Kingston. Although the seas were heavy from the west, the barge followed the tug well all day. After passing the Main Duck Islands their course was set for Nine Mile Point, passing west of Pigeon Island. Even after the wind and sea were noted to be “freshening,” there was no indication of danger. But this state of affairs was soon to change dramatically. According to James Ruth’s statement taken from the Shipping Casualty report, “At 2:45 p.m. with a very heavy following sea the barge seemed to begin to steer very badly indicating that she must be going by the head. Forward pump and siphon working steadily.” There were three pumps and three siphons on board, all reported as in good working order at the start of the voyage. At 3:30 p.m. the Davie was observed from the tug to shear badly to starboard, capsize and sink. The four crew members, with no time to launch the lifeboat, were thrown into the ice-cold water, but were picked up within two minutes by the Salvage Prince. For the composite barge George T. Davie it was the end of a forty-seven year career. Built in 1898 at St. Joseph de Levis, Quebec by the Davie Shipbuilding Company, her dimensions were 177.5 feet long by 35 feet wide, with a hold of 12.5 feet deep, and a registered tonnage of 680. For the most part she had an uneventful career, usually serving in the grain and coal trade on Lake Ontario and on the St. Lawrence. Although originally registered at Quebec City, after being acquired from J. R. Booth by the Montreal Transportation Company, her registry was transferred to Montreal. While owned by this company, she sank in the St. Lawrence River near Alexandria Bay in June 1911. After being raised the following year and rebuilt, she went aground at the foot of Wolfe Island. In June 1920 Canada Steamship Lines purchased the Davie from the Montreal Transportation Company. The C.S.L. soon sold her to John E. Russell of Toronto, who in turn sold her to the Sowards Coal Co. in 1926. At this time her registry was transferred to Kingston, where she entered the Collingwood Shipbuilding Company’s dry-dock that fall for a complete overhaul. In 1927 and 1928 she was being towed by the steamer Patdoris. By 1931 the Davie was employed by the Pyke Wrecking and Salvage Company, but it is not clear when ownership officially passed into their hands. Although she occasionally saw more glamorous service as a salvage lighter, her routine role in the coal-carrying trade continued until she disappeared from the surface on that cold April day in 1945. Striking on her starboard side, she still lies with her decks heeled sharply in that direction. Upon impact the weight of the coal forced the hatch covers off, and most of the cargo spilled out over the lake bottom. The crane, lying amid the coal, was formerly on the Henry Daryaw, which sank in the St. Lawrence River near Brockville in November 1941. Fastened on the roof of the intact cabin is a fresh water tank, its shape distorted by the pressure. Windows and doors allow a good view of the tangled woodwork inside. The steam-assisted steering wheel sits proudly at the stern, and the rudder is hard to port, no doubt as a result of the helmsman’s vain attempt to counteract that final sheer to starboard. The lifeboat rests near the side of the barge, not far from the crane’s clam bucket. A wooden ladder leans against the starboard bow, while high on the port bow a large anchor hangs from the hawse pipe. Leading off onto the bottom, the tow cable heads north in the direction of home.

 

Category Fleet Lists
This record was created from a CSL fleet list
SECTION A: BASIC SHIP PARTICULARS
NAME: George T. Davie
OFFICAL NO.: 107233
TYPE: B1 (St. Lawrence grain barge)
YEAR BUILT: 1898
BUILDER: G.T. Davie & Sons
COUNTRY WHERE BUILT: Canada
LBP: 177.42
BEAM: 35
MOULDED DEPTH: 12.42
GROSS TONNAGE: 680
SECTION B: OWNERSHIP/NAME CHANGES/DISPOSAL
CSL OWNERSHIP DATES:
FROM: 1921
TO: 1923
CHRONOLOGY:
YEAR VESSEL NAME OWNERSHIP/COMMENTS
1898-1905 George T. Davie John L. Davie Quebec Que. Ca.
1905-07 George T. Davie J.R. Booth Quebec Que. Ca.
1907-21 George T. Davie Montreal Transportation Co. Ltd.
Montreal Que. Ca.
1921-23 George T. Davie C.S.L.
1923-26 George T. Davie J.E. Russell Montreal Que. Ca.
1926-29 George T. Davie J.T. Sowards Montreal Que. Ca.
1929-44 George T. Davie Pike Towing & Salvage Co. Ltd.
Kingston Ont. Ca.
1944-45 George T. Davie L.R. Beaupre Kingston Ont. Ca.
18 April 1945 Capsized and sank in heavy weather 2 m. W. of Nine Mile
Point, Lake Ontario in tow Oswego-Kingstion, coal.
At times of sin King a local Kingstonian Billy Bois (pronounced
locally Booah) was the sole crew. As she went over Billy went with her
and finally sat on the keel until the salvage Prince returned to rescue
him.
This vessel was named after George Taylor Davie the famous shipbuilder
of Lauzon, Levis, Quebec and was DSL Hull No.2.
SECTION C: CONSTRUCTION
SHIPYARD: G.T. Davie & Sons
SHIPYARD LOCATION: Levis, Que.
HULL NUMBER: 2
DATE OF LAUNCH: 1898
DATE OF DELIVERY: 1898
HULL: Composite, steel framed, wood planked below W.L. steel plated
top sides and deck and hatch coamings.
HULL CONSTRUCTION: Rivetted and Bolted.
SUPERSTRUCTURE: Wood
SECTION E: ENGINE AND MECHANICAL
ENGINE TYPE: Nil
STROKE: Nil
TURBINES: Not Applicable
NUMBER OF BOILERS: 1
TYPE: LOCO. for steam auxliaries
BOW THRUSTER: Nil
STERN THRUSTER: Nil
PROPELLER: Nil
SECTION F: CARGO HANDLING CAPACITY AND FEATURES
HOLDS: 1
HATCHES PER HOLD: 24 C to C