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Iroquois Disaster

Replies: 23

SS Iroquois sinking, Canoe Pass off Sidney, BC, April 1911

Rocky (View posts)
Posted: 24 Sep 2005 6:42AM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 25 Sep 2005 1:07PM GMT
Hello Ian...

There are some websites on “Google” to check out. I just typed in “SS Iroquois” and the word “Sidney” all on one search line.
SS Iroquois picture and details
Images of the SS Iroquois from the Salt Spring Island Archives.

I recall my maternal grandmother’s story of this tragic event. She was just a girl but knew many on board. I know there was never a full list of the victims who drown, and I know every single Gulf Island had it’s horrid story of an “Islander” drowning that day. Every island was affected by loss of some family member or members.

There will be a more accurate list somewhere. Try the BC Archives. I know I have seen this query before and I may have even answered it. I recall digging some information on this a few years ago, but I can’t readily find anything I wrote or anything I collected. Seems I forgot what website I was on…. Must be my old age…LOL. I know the ship sank off Sidney in Canoe Pass, and it was within a mile or so of the government wharf, as onlookers saw it all happen as the little ship fought the storm then listed to her side and rolled over and disappeared beneath the waves.

A partial list of those who drown on the SS Iroquois off Sidney were as follows, this is not an official list. I gathered this off the BC Archives website and a few books I have in my small library:

John Bathenas……………..age 35
John Brayson………..…….age 30
Stanley A. Clarke……….….age?
Isabel Fenwick………….....age 30
Yet Sam Fong…………..…age 18
Suey Hos Foon…………….age 28
Herbert Locke hartnell….…age 24
Evan Francis Hooson………age 2
Fanny (Lawson) Hooson…...age?
(mother to Evan F. Hooson) both from Pender Island.
Arbuthnot Dallas Monroe….age 50
Anderson Oleson…………..age 26
Mesach Phillips…………….age 27
Chan Long Tom…………….age 45

Monroe (ships Purser)……… age?

There were about 21 to 22 lives lost that day on board the SS Iroquois. Not all are recorded deaths in the BC Archives as the bodies must never have been found. This small ship carried human passengers, the mail, supplies and cargo, lumber, live animals and hay throughout all the Gulf Islands.

I (assume, not a good thing) most of the Chinese names may have been labourers and deckhands for the Steamer as all but the Captain Sears and his mate drown. Captain Sears and one mate were the only ones to escape the fate of the other 21 to 22 people by using the only row boat that made it ashore in the storm. It is noted that the sinking of this ship changed how BC handled passenger lists on ships in that era…. Meaning a more accurate way of knowing how many passengers were on board came of this tragedy.

Bea Hamilton, author of SALT SPRING ISLAND, Mitchell Press Ltd, Vancouver, Copyright 1969, gives an unfavourable account of Captain Sears in her book (pp 86 to 89). Note there is no ISBN for her book, but it is in major libraries in BC.

Richard Mouat Toynbee author of SNAPSHOTS of SALT SPRING and other Favoured Islands, Morris Printing Company Ltd, Victoria, BC, Copyright 1978 (no ISBN)… gives numerous images and small stories between pages; 54 & 57.

Note: The SS Iroquois had previously capsized off Jack Point, Nanaimo. The little ship was salvaged and repaired for service until it’s fateful doom in April of 1911.

Note: T.W. Patterson (Lieutenant Governor of BC, 1909) was a shareholder in the SS Iroquois, He owned and lived on Moresby Island, which at that time had a government wharf. The SS Iroquois called to this port twice a week.

I will try digging around the next few days… looking for any old postings from here or other sites. As I said earlier I have seen this, or it may have been in an old Times Colonist story (from the “Islander” section). I recall the story of how Captain Sears had an awful time after this tragedy and his survival amongst all the deaths. This was a very big trial in court during those days and will have a large amount of information in the BC Archives at Victoria. You may also want to check out the Victoria City Archives as they will have obituaries listed from newspapers of the day. I do not have access to Victoria at the moment so you may want a volunteer if you are not close to the city.

Try the Sidney Museum website.

Also check the Salt Spring Island Archives-Museum website, they may have more information.

I also have a question for you... was your ancestor from the Gulf Islands? If he was Hugh Armstrong's website may help. You would have to dig in his 1901 and 1911 Census information but he may have made important vital statistic notations as he has done for many of my ancestors in the Gulf Islands. Simply type "Hugh Armstrong Victoria Census" into a Google Search. You will have to dig about his incredible amount of information but it is worth the effort.

Kind regards; Rocky Sampson
SubjectAuthorDate Posted
Ian Edwards 22 Sep 2005 7:20PM GMT 
Bette 23 Sep 2005 3:17AM GMT 
BroMaelor 23 Sep 2005 10:08PM GMT 
Rocky 24 Sep 2005 12:42PM GMT 
BroMaelor 24 Sep 2005 1:18PM GMT 
Diane 24 Sep 2005 3:37PM GMT 
Rocky 24 Sep 2005 6:35PM GMT 
Diane 24 Sep 2005 7:15PM GMT 
BroMaelor 25 Sep 2005 1:25PM GMT 
jonestycanolr... 6 Feb 2013 1:10PM GMT 
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