Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

SEVENTH DAY

 

QUEBEC

TUESDAY, June 23, 1914.

 

The Commissioners appointed by the Honourable John Douglas Hazen, the Minister of Marine and Fisheries of Canada, under Part X of the Canada Shipping Act as amended, to enquire into a casualty to the British Steamship Empress of Ireland, in which the said steamship belonging to the Canadian Pacific Railway Company was sunk in collision with the Norwegian Steamship Storstad, in the River St. Lawrence on the morning of Friday the 29th day of May, 1914, met at Quebec this morning, the twenty-third day of June, 1914.

Lord Mersey:
I have a letter here which I have received this morning, and which I have communicated to my colleagues. It may be worth while that you should read it, Mr. Newcombe, as it seems to be of importance. Will you take it and read it?

Mr. Newcombe:
Yes, my Lord, I will make inquiries about this. This does not purport to be a statement of a man who was present.

Lord Mersey:
Oh no, it is somewhat remote, because it is something written to me about the story told by a person who heard the story told to some other person. However, it seems to me to be somewhat important, and you might make inquiries, and if you would I shall be glad. That is, of course, if you think it worth while. It is a matter for you to decide, you know, Mr. Newcombe.

Mr. Newcombe:
Yes, my Lord, I shall make inquiries. In the meantime, Captain Walsh is still in the witness box.

 

WITNESS.

John F. Walsh - Chief Marine Superintendent of the C.P.R.
Testimony - Recalled.

 

Lord Mersey:
Does anyone else desire to ask any questions of Captain Walsh? If not, will you call the next witness?

Mr. Newcombe:
I should like to call the mate of the Storstad, who went to Montreal for the scrap log.

Mr. Haight:
Yes, he is here, but may I first put on one of the men who came from the Empress, one of the men we were looking for sometime ago, a man named Fournier.

 

WITNESS.

Henri Fournier - Coal Trimmer - ss. Empress of Ireland.
Testimony

 

Mr. Haight:
My Lord, the chief officer of the Storstad has been to Montreal and has returned, and he has found some slips.

Lord Mersey:
Then will you put him into the box, Mr. Haight.

Mr. Haight:
Yes, my Lord.

 

WITNESS.

Alfred Toftenes - Chief Officer - ss. Storstad.
Testimony - Recalled

 

Mr. Newcombe:
Call Mr. Whiteside.

 

WITNESSES.

William James Whiteside - Marconi Operator - Father Point.
Testimony

William Wallace Wotherspoon - Chief of Diving Operations.
Testimony

J. B. Belanger - Master - ss. Eureka.
Testimony

Henry George Kendall - Master - ss. Empress of Ireland.
Testimony - Recalled

Augustus Gaade - Chief Steward - ss. Empress of Ireland.
Testimony - Recalled

 

Lord Mersey:
Now, are you likely to have many more witnesses?

Mr. Newcombe:
Not a great many, my Lord.

Lord Mersey:
Do you know whether you will finish your evidence to-morrow?

Mr. Newcombe:
Oh yes, I think so; the only witness of any length now will be Mr. Hillhouse.

Lord Mersey:
He, of course, we must have; and then there will be the expert evidence called on behalf of the Storstad.

Mr. Newcombe:
Yes, my Lord.

Lord Mersey:
And is there any other evidence that you know of, from either ship?

Mr. Newcombe:
I want to examine Harrison, whose name has just been mentioned, and Powell, who was on the night watch - assistant night steward - with regard to the closing of the doors and the closing of the ports.

Lord Mersey:
With the exception of these, two men, are there any other witnesses to be called?

Mr. Newcombe:
Your Lordship mentioned the other day the lack of evidence from the boiler room forward of the engine room. Since then, one engineer has been called who was in that room and who escaped; now I believe there are some stokers or trimmers who were in that room and who are also available.

Lord Mersey:
Has anybody taken from them their statements? I do not want to take up time, you know, by putting persons in the box when they have nothing to tell us.

Mr. Newcombe:
I have just ascertained that these are the men who have gone to Liverpool and have not got back.

Lord Mersey:
Then they are not here?

Mr. Newcombe:
Apparently not; I thought they were.

Mr. Haight:
There is one man from the ship whom I should like to have called.

Lord Mersey:
Is he here?

Mr. Haight:
Yes, My Lord; I think he is in Court now.

Lord Mersey:
Have, him here to-morrow morning.

Mr. Newcombe:
Harrison is here and Powell is here.

Lord Mersey:
Have them here to-morrow morning; I think we will now adjourn until to-morrow morning at 10 o'clock.

Mr. Haight:
I should like to have one of the charts which we have been using photographed; it is quite impossible to secure other copies of the chart and I want to make some diagrams.

 

The Commission thereupon adjourned till 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 24th.