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The Catherine


Tuesday, January 2, 1934

Sch. Catherine Burned Sunday Night
After Hitting Shoal Outside Canso, N. S.

Capt. MacLeod and Crew of 28 Take to Dories
and Reach Island in Safety

Gloucester lost another fine schooner Sunday night at 10.30 o'clock when the Catherine, largest hooker of them all, burnt to the water's edge, after she collided with Bald rock shoal, just outside Canso, Nova Scotia, during thick weather.  Capt. Archie A. MacLeod and crew of 28 men were forced to abandon the sinking vessel, and reached shore in nine dories, the first of which touched land at Canso at 1.30 o'clock Monday morning.  The vessel was insured for $35,000 through the agency of Warren A. Elwell.

The Catherine, which follows the halibuting industry most of the year, goes haddocking throughout the winter months.  The craft left Boston recently for the banks and ran into heavy weather which damaged her and forced her into Liverpool where she went on the ways, it cost $1100 to make repairs.  Capt. MacLeod then set sail for the banks again, and according to report had 25,000 pounds of haddock and cod, when the craft ran into more trouble.  She had iced up considerably, and this extra tonnage made it necessary to head for harbor to get rid of the encumbrance.   Capt. MacLeod sought refuge in Canso, N. S., at the eastern tip of the island.  This port is a hazardous one to enter even in fair weather and plenty of daylight, it is said, for like considerable of the Nova Scotian coastline, rocks predominate.  Capt. MacLeod at the wheel could hardly see his hand before him, so thick was the weather, as he navigated through the treacherous drift ice that clogged Chedabucto bay.  For years he had sailed in all sorts of weather in the best of schooners, from Gloucester to Cape Mugford, Labrador.  But the fates were against him on this voyage, and just as he neared his goal, the 121-foot schooner piled up on Bald rock shoal, at the northern entrance of the harbor.  The craft trembled as she smashed against the adamant obstruction, and within a half hour keeled over on her side.

Capt. MacLeod realized that his boat was doomed, but proved himself equal to the situation and remained calm, ordering his men to break out the dories from their nests and launch them, ready to leave the ship and row for shore..   It was bitter cold, and the turbulent sea savored of hardship that must be borne before the half hour pull to safety would be attained.  Soon nine dories had been launched and all were plying their way through drift ice that more than once threatened to crumple their frail craft rather than let them pass.  Hardly had the last dory been filled than the Catherine toppled over, and the galley stove in which a roaring fire was burning because of the intense cold, upset.  The flames licked hungrily at the vessel, and finally reached the oil tanks, causing explosion after explosion to rend the air.

It was three hours later when the first dory load of wary men beached their boat upon the shores of Canso, and from then on, the nine followed, the men being exhausted from battling through the drift ice that crowded in upon them, seemingly awaiting a chance to crush their dories, and carry them to a tragic destiny..

One of those who escaped was "Muggins", a Scotch collie dog, who had been presented to Capt. MacLeod by the foundry officials at Liverpool, while his vessel was on the ways there.  This mascot of the ship was ordered to embark upon the ocean jaunt, but Muggins probably never expected to emulate Robinson Crusoe on his maiden voyage.  But as soon as he shed the icy harbor waters, he became devoted to Canso and was rather sure of making the seaport town his future residence.

As soon as he had made sure of the safety of his crew, Capt. MacLeod sought a telephone, and telephoned his wife in this city.  It was as if he had lost his best friend, for the Catherine was a most important factor in his life, as any real schooner is to its skipper, especially when the master is the owner.

Shortly after dawn broke on New Year's day, both of the tall and stately spars had fallen into the sea, and by 11 o'clock, the craft had burned to the water's edge.  The captain and crew were quartered at the Wilmot hotel, and Hilton hotel in Canso, where warm clothing and food were given them.  Capt. MacLeod communicated with the American consul at Sydney, to learn what arrangements might be made to transport members of the crew home.

The Catherine was launched from the shipyards of the later Arthur Dana Story at Essex on October 10, 1915, and sailed on her maiden voyage on Wednesday, November 3, 1915 with Capt. MacLeod her owner in command.  Her first trip was haddocking.  She was 120.6 feet draft.   Her tonnage was 159 gross, and 77 net.  At first she had a 100 horsepower engine for motive power, but three years ago replaced this engine with a 240 horsepower Fairbanks-Morse engine.  She was easily the largest vessel out of this port, and one of the finest sailors.  There was no ceremony at her launching ceremony for Capt. Archie was busily engaged in securing a trip of haddock in schooner Georgianna at the time, and made a nice stock, his crew sharing $71 each.

The waterfront was sorry to hear the sad news that Capt. MacLeod had lost his vessel.  Capt. MacLeod is a leader in the halibuting and haddocking industry, and one of the most considerate of masters, for he is always ready to ship a veteran fisherman whom he perhaps might not need.  That is why he had 29 men in the crew instead of 27 men as a double dory haddocker might have.

Listed in his crew are the following from Gloucester: Joseph Simmons, cook; Leo Martin, engineer; Osber Dorrey, assistant engineer; John Arthurs, 78 years, and who had been with Capt. MacLeod in the Catherine since she was built in 1915; Karl Oscar Peterson; Herbert Simmons; John "Diabetes" MacKinnon, Fred Evans, John Fiander, Albert Beck; Alphonsus Williams, George Hodgdon; Jerry Fitzgerald; Peter Doucette; George Allen; Nehemias Smith; Philip Carr; Alexander Meagher; Duncan MacDonald; Charles Langley; Dan MacDonald; Duncan King; Michael Keating; Matthew Fowler; John Langley; Stephen Atwood and Charles Erickson.  Edward Hart, another member, is from Boston.  Alexander "Sandy" Meagher and Duncan MacDonald spent the untimely holiday with their many relatives in Canso.


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