James Carruthers

Today was spent on grading and getting committee work organized for the rest of the month for GVSU. The nature of academic work escapes the public, much as I surmise most specialized work goes over our heads, but it is certainly not just sitting about thinking big thoughts in a coffee house. If one does a good job, then lots of papers to grade, egos to salve, and paperwork to organize. I do my level best to stop doing it by 10 p.m. and spend at least an hour on McDougall stuff, and that’s been a struggle for years. Which makes this project seemingly go on forever.

As I was working this evening I was reminded that the centennial of the 1913 storm is coming up in the next year. Sorting through some files to find a particular item reminded me of a photo that I obtained from the Collingwood (Ontario) Museum) last year. Far from being a disinterested observer, Captain McDougall took a leading role in the operation of Collingwood Shipbuilding, including the construction of the James Carruthers perhaps the most famous of 1913’s losses on Lake Huron. Prior to this time, I can’t remember seeing either of these images. The first is from April 28 and her stern cabin.

The second is her departure from Collingwood on June 13, 1913, within five months she would be on the bottom not 150 miles away from her launching site.

One can only wonder at what McDougall thought of the loss of this, greatest of all Canadian ships at that time, and from his shipyard no less. Carruthers‘ sister ship, the J.H.G. Hagarty would have her cabins, hatches, and decks ripped off and reworked during the winter of 1913-1914. This would delay her launch until well into 1914 and give her a far different profile than the Carruthers. The Hagarty would sail until the late 1960s.


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