10 November

Storm on Great Lakes Kill 251 Seamen

November 10, 1913, was a tragic day on the Great Lakes and in many homes in Canada and the United States. A storm that started on Friday, November 7, and raged through the weekend had cost the lives of 251 seamen. Lakes Superior and Michigan were hit first. Twenty-six ships were lost within 48 hours. The toll was worse on Lakes Huron and Erie where 41 ships were sunk or wrecked with a loss of 194 lives.

It was nearly the end of the navigation season. A storm warning had been issued by the American Weather Bureau to all ports on the Great Lakes, but there was no indication that a wind approaching hurricane force would develop. On the morning of Saturday, November 8, the centre of the storm was at Sault Ste. Marie. The barometer was dropping rapidly, and there was heavy rain over the lower Great Lakes. The Weather Bureau issued another warning. Then the wind intensified and moved into Lake Huron. Waves began to rise to frightening heights, but in 1913, few ships had wireless, and they kept plodding along their courses. By Sunday morning the full fury of the storm was sweeping southward through Lakes Huron and Erie. Winds were gusting up to 90 miles an hour. The skippers on Lake Huron had to decide whether to head into the wind and hold on, or run before it into the more narrow southern area. There were sand bars and rocky reefs along the way, not leaving much running room.

It was in the pocket of Lake Huron, from Goderich to Sarnia, that many ships were wrecked. On Sunday morning the wind suddenly changed from northwest to northeast, and crews were amazed to see the huge waves driving in the opposite direction from the wind. Some huge ships just crumpled and disappeared. One of them was the James Garruthers, 550 feet long, and 7,800 tons. She was never seen again after leaving Sault Ste. Marie.

Altogether, the loss and damage to ships and property exceeded $100 million. The four days of horror are still remembered by veteran Great Lakes seamen from Sarnia to Tobermory.


10 November

-1678    Quebec Council allowed the sale of liquor to Indians to check the increasing flow of furs to English traders.

-1696    An English settlement at Ferryland, Newfoundland, was destroyed by Iberville.

-1727    France excluded all foreign commerce from French colonies.

-1852    Hugh and Andrew Allan established the Montreal Ocean Steamship Company for service between Canada and Britain.

              Parliament was dissolved at Quebec owing to an outbreak of cholera.

-1853    The Great Western Railway was opened from Niagara Suspension Bridge to Hamilton, a distance of 43 miles. It reached London on December 31.

-1856    A telegraph line was opened between Newfoundland and New York.

-1898    A Joint High Commission meeting at Washington failed to settle the Alaska Boundary.

-1916    Prices were controlled by Order-in-Council.

-1925    A wheat yield of 423 million bushels was the largest in history up to 1925.

-1960    The deepest oil or gas well in Canada was completed at Fording Mountain, British Columbia.