James Panton
The Sinking of the "Canadian"

June 4, 1861

Sources of Information

Many thanks to our cousin Linda Adam who located information at:

The maps are from: The calendar for June 1861 was calculated on my faithful old Macintosh LC III
The tombstone photograph is a "Robert Sewell Exclusive"
The Cape Bauld Lighthouse photo is courtesy of Linkum Tours
Contact Robert Sewell
Click to return to the Family of James Panton  or the Sewell Genealogy Site Map .

The "Canadian" left Quebec City for Liverpool on June 1, 1861. 
She struck an iceberg and sank about four miles north of Cape Bauld on June 4.
June 1861
June 1861
The Institute for Marine Dynamics indicates:

June 4, 1861 
Straits of Belle Isle 51°30'N 55°30'W 
SS CANADIAN struck a berg from Quebec to England 
35 lost, 266 survivors; Sank in half an hour. 

Linda Adam found a  more detailed account in 
“Hamilton Evening Times Saturday, June 29, 1861 Page: 3"
at The Paper of Record.
Wreck of the Canadian
   The unfortunate loss of the fine steamer Canadian, a few days ago, filled the public mind with feelings of the deepest regret. Below we give an extract from a letter received from Mr. Thomson, who was on board the ill-fated vessel, by Messrs. F.W. Gates & Co., of this city:

St. Johns, N. F., June 18th, 1861.

   I telegraphed you that I had arrived here safely. The Canadian sailed from Quebec on the 1st inst., and all went well until Monday night, when the Captain stopped the ship off Florin light, on account of the ice, where she remained till about three o’clock the following morning, when she proceeded through the Straits of Belleisle, and steamed till about ten o’clock, a.m., when on account of the ice and thick weather, when was put about, going very slow – about five knots an hour.

   About ten minutes to twelve she struck a small piece of ice, which was only out to the water about three or four feet, but which must have torn off the plates of the three compartments, as they all filled at once.

   I was sitting in the Saloon at the time of the collision, but thought nothing of it, and as it was near lunch time, I went on deck. When I got there, I say there was something wrong, as the Captain had ordered the boats to be got ready for lowering, which was done as soon as possible.
As the steamer was filling very fast, the crew and passengers were transferred to them, and they were all lowered to them in safety with the exception of No. 8, which was lost, and all the people in it, with one exception. Mr. Norris and myself had put six or eight women into this boat, and intended getting in too, as it was one of the last from the ship; but were prevented by the men on board, who would not allow us in. Seeing them lowering another, I ran for her, and managed to get on board by sliding down the tackling as they lowered her. Poor Norris went up the rigging of the ship, and when she went down, was thrown into the sea; but was picked up in about three-quarters of an hour, having secured a spar.

   Mr. Panton the mail officer was lost. He worked very hard getting passengers, and some of his mail bags into the boats. He had a seat in one of them; but left it for a short time, and some woman getting it, he told her that he would go to another boat, but he was too late. I saw him hanging by a rope over the ship’s side, and he went down with her. She went down in about thirty-two minutes, at a distance of about four miles from land. All that I saved was my order book, my money, and the clothes I wore. We were very soon picked up by four French fishing vessels, and taken to Quirpon Bay. The Captain chartered one of them, the barque Jules, for £400 sterling, to take us to St. Johns; and we were all transferred to her. No one can describe our sufferings on board. We had hard biscuits for breakfast, ditto with salt pork for dinner, and ditto without the pork for tea. We slept on her cargo of salt, with a little matting over it; one sail under us, and another over us. None of the passengers had their clothes off for ten days. The number of passengers lost is from 34 to 37; but the ship’s papers being lost also, we cannot ascertain this with certainty.

The Canadian went down about four miles north of Cape Bauld.
Cape Bauld Map 1
Cape Bauld Map 2

James Panton is memorialized on the tombstone 
of his sister Susan Panton and her husband 
Charles Randolph Montgomery Sewell
Cemetery Stone
In Loving Remembrance of
A much loved
And ever lamented brother
Who perished nobly in
The discharge of his duty as
Mail Officer
And saving the lives of some
Of the passengers on board the
Ill fated steamship
Which was lost at sea
June 4 1861

This stone is located in 
The Hamilton Cemetery
Christ Church Section C
Lot 7 1/2
York Street, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Cape Bauld in the 21st Century
Cape Bauld Lighthouse
The lighthouse 
at Cape Bauld 
on Quirpon Island 
is now automated 
and is operated 
as an inn.

Please visit
Linkum Tours
Cape Bauld Light

Photo Courtesy 
Linkum Tours

Click to return to the Family of James Panton

Please visit the Sewell Genealogy Site Map .

Contact Robert Sewell