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Wreck of the
Bark Amanda
at Metis, 1841
Part Two.

Another extract from the CD-ROM
"Navigating the Lower Saint Lawrence in the 19th Century,
version 1.0"

       The following article is a clipping from a New York paper, but our researcher, those 148 years ago or so, didn't mention from which. Their source was probably one of the three newspapers then serving Quebec City and surroundings; the Quebec Gazette, the Quebec Chronicle and the Quebec Chronicle.  
    New York, October 13, 1841. 
       The Amanda, Master Davis, from Limerick to Quebec was totally wrecked on Little Metis Point, in the St. Lawrence, on September 26, 1841. Twenty-nine passengers and twelve of the crew were drown.  
      On page 3 of the July 7th, 1840 Quebec Gazette, we read the following notice on her arrive from the "Ships Arrival Notices" of the previous year, suggesting she was no mysterious ship but a regular Quebec trader:

Captain Davis, of the bark Amanda, arrived here on Monday from Halifax.

Photo taken by Jim and Gloria Morissette.      Now, we get into the interesting parts. In 1878, the British Consulate had a large gravestone erected in memory of all those lost in the wreck of the Amanda of 1841; actually the largest, highest and most prominent marker in the graveyard. However, a prominent Metis summer resident, sadly passed away some years ago, wrote Lloyds in a letter dated October 1950 inquiring for further details of the incident. I won't transcribe the entire letter as it includes details on other shipwrecks that occured more recently.

     "A very careful search has been made both at Lloyd's and the records of the Registrar General of Shipping & Seamen, but no reference can be found concerning the loss of a vessel named Amanda. Both the British and Canadian Registers as far back as 1826 have been searched. It would appear, therefore, I think, that the name Amanda" may be incorrect and it is interesting to note that a vessel named Amanda", which badly written, is not unlike Amanda with the initial letter missing, is recorded as having been lost at Metis on October, 1846, the same date as the Ocean was lost. In any case I trust the information we have been able to extract will prove of interest."

     To confuse the situation further, the following article on the wreck of the Amanda, written by H.M. Patton, M.D, in 1893, doesn't corroborate the above details. Although I honestly believe this article was a product of Dr. Patton's imagination, I've transcribed as is from page 64 of "Metis Beach, Past and Present" collected by Jessie Forbes.
           "Half a mile from the Metis lighthouse, beyond the furthest tip of the Point Rocks, there lies a treacherous reef, visible only at the ebb-points of the biggest tides of the year. The older dwellers in Metis call it the Amanda Reef, after a ship, the Amanda, carrying Scottish immigrants to our village. Directly across Metis Bay from the lighthouse is a craggy eminence, to which was given the name of 'Mount Misery', in remembrance of the tragedy.
     "The Amanda was expected to arrive at Metis on the 28th of May, 1842. The morning dawned warm and bright. 'They've a fine day for it', was the smiling comment of young Jimmy McAlpine, whose betrothed bride, Jean Gordon, was among the passengers. But beautiful as the spring day was, a few of the villagers felt disquiet. the wind seemed to be veering to the east, a change that almost certainly meant several days of rain, fog, high winds and rough water. If only the ship could enter the Bay before sundown, all would probably be well.
     "The Jim McAlpine had an inspiration, which proved to be a fatal one. They would light a big fire on Turriff's Beach to guide the ship in. The fire had its effect, but not the one hoped for. As the skipper turned her prow toward the beacon and past the east end of the long Point Rocks, she crashed full-on against the hidden reef. The only survivors said that they had thought the light was the beacon at Father Point. Her back was broken on the reef, masts, rigging and humans beings were swept off by the foaming waves, before the eyes of the horrified villagers who had hastened to the Point. It seemed that only one hope remained; for someone to get a rope across. Without a word, Jimmy McAlpine grabbed a rope, tied it around his waist, gave the other end to Neil Blue, and leaped into the icy turmoil of the waves. The watching group watched him make his perilous way to the mainmast, and draw himself up into the rigging. As he prepared to make fast the rope, the ship lurched over on her side, and he was seen no more, except for a brief instant when he appeared, supporting an unconscious girl.
     "It was not until two days later that the bodies of Jimmy McAlpine and Jean Gordon were washed up by the morning tide at Cavil's Point. Bound together by the long tresses of her hair, they were united in death, as they had hoped to in life.
     Apart from Neil Blue, married to Mary Ann Smith, living at Metis in the 1840's, the remainder of the story doesn't hold water. Firstly, Father Point light-house was only installed in 1859, with a non-revolving catoptric G order of lighting with six red lamps and reflectors at 43 feet, visible within 10 miles. Secondly, inbound overseas vessel were obliged to cleared Customs first, which would have been Rimouski or Quebec City. Finally, we never had and still haven't any harbour around Little Metis Point, plus the Amanda's displacement would not allow her to approach except on the highest tides. Unfortunately, this short story, perhaps gut-wrenching and intriguing, has led others to confuse fact with fiction, believing the wreck of the Amanda was caused by shoreline distractions.

After covering the above, we are still without answers:

  • Where was the Amanda built?
  • When was she launched?
  • Who were the owners?
  • Who were the underwriters/brokers/insurers?
  • When and where was she certified/classified?
  • Was she registered with Lloyd's under another name?

     At least, with the following auction notice I found recently in the Quebec Mercury, we shouldn't expect many souvenir collectors wading about on the Amanda Rock at low tide. While I never found who bought the Amanda or what they paid for her, the chances of her not getting off and being towed to Quebec for repairs is small.

Quebec Mercury #119. Tuesday, October 5, 1841.
      UNDERWRITERS' SALE. Will be sold, on Wednesday next, the 6th instant, at two o'clock, at the Exchange, for account of the interested: Lot 1. The hull of the ship Amanda, of Limerick, 427 tons, as she now lies or did lie wrecked at Little Metis. Lot 2. The 2 chain cables, 290 fathoms each, 1 inch, and 2 anchors. Lot 3. The lower rigging, topmast and topgallant rigging, chain topsail sheets and ties, topgallant sheets and ties, a lot of sails and jolly boat, safe on shore.  
      Thomas Hamilton,  
      Auctioneer & Broker.  
      Quebec, 4th October, 1841.      
           The following additional details was kindly furnished by James McMahon, within the last few months (May 2001), that answers a few of the above questions. From the Limerick Ship Register, we learn the Amanda was a barque of 427 tons, built in Nova Scotia in 1838 and registered at Limerick August 14th, 1839. Her measurements were 111 5/10 feet long, 24 4/10 feet at midship with a hold depth of 17 8/10 feet. The figurine was of a woman's bust (sic). Owned by George Gibbons Williams, a merchant of Limerick with 64/64 shares, she was operated by Harvey Bros. as the owners' agents. She left Limerick August 22nd, the last vessel to leave for the 1841 season.

     From the microfiche index of the Vice-Admiralty Court cases between 1785-1899, prepared March 5th, 1987, by Ministère des Affaires culturelle, Archives nationales du Québec, the following details in index-card format emerges:

 Amanda boat
1488 Lynch James 1841.
    and cross-referenced in microfiche #16 of 19 files as:
Lynch James
1488 Amanda Davis 1841
      The evolving Amanda story continues. Check in from time to time.

     If you have any comments or contributions towards solving this unusual maritime disaster, e-mail me at:


G.R. Bossé©1999.

Posted Feb. 26, 1999.

Updated March 20, 2002.

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