BUILT: 1873 St. Catherines, Ontario
LENGTH: 136 Feet 350 Tons Burden
Operated: Between Sarnia and Duluth until
Total Deaths: Approximately 120 and only
In July 1881, the Asia was impaired and sank in the shallow waters of the St. Mary's River. Under the management of the Northwest Transportation, she was towed to port for repairs. The Asia continued to run from Sarnia to Duluth until she was leased by the Northern Transit Company.
In 1882, the Manitoulin had burned at Manitowaning in the month of May, and the Asia was scheduled to operate on the Georgian Bay Route. Asia was under the command of Captain John Savage. The Northern Transit Company out of Collingwood, Ontario had just issued his permit on July 3, 1882, and this was said to be his first command. On this trip it is believed that about 85 passengers boarded the vessel in Collingwood. At Owen Sound 12 additional passengers boarded along with the crew 25, thus there were in total approximately 122 aboard the Asia. Unfortunately the exact number and who was on board will never be known as there are no passenger record lists. On board among the passengers and freight was a gang of approximately 30 shanty men going to work in McDougall. They were en route to the lumber camps on the French River and with them their team of working horses and supplies. Also on board the Asia were 5 cows and cords of wood that had been picked up at Presqu'il. The Asia was considered to be a very sturdy vessel, and on the day that she capsized her cargo was the largest of the season.
Records of the day noted that a storm warning was in effect and that the vessel's company had considered holding her in port until the storm warnings were cleared. The Asia left port and the shelter of the Bruce Peninsula and encountered the full force of the storm. The waves seemed as high as a mountain and everyone on board went into a panic and prayed for God's help. Everyone on board was confused and bewildered about what was happening to them and that death seemed very near. Wave after wave engulfed the Asia and finally one massive wave forced the ship onto its side. It all happened in a moment as the water rushed over those on board amid the terrifying cries of the people and helpless animals. The Asia's stern went first and soon the remainder was swallowed by the furious waves. People were clinging to life-preservers or pieces of timber in an attempt to save themselves.
Approximately 38 people were left drifting somewhere on Georgian Bay. As the hours passed by, the numbers became less until about a dozen were left. Drifting for hours in a boat filled with water the weather finally became calm. However, One by one the survivors continued to die. The lighthouse at Byng Inlet was finally sighted and it was a welcomed sight for the only two survivors, their names are Duncan Tinkis and Miss Christine Morrison.
Christy Anne Morrison Captain Savage