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Historical society to commemorate 150-year-old lifesaving event in Highlands

This image shows a ship that was believed to look like The Arran, a ship which a number of boys who were stowaways were put off onto the ice in St. George’s Bay back in May of 1868.
This image shows a ship that was believed to look like The Arran, a ship which a number of boys who were stowaways were put off onto the ice in St. George’s Bay back in May of 1868. - Submitted

Fearing a part of its history may get permanently lost, a historical group is developing an event and special day to commemorate the sighting of castaways by Catherine Ann Gillis-MacInnis.

The story unfolded 150 years ago in April 1868 when six boys and one young man stowed away on the “Arran” a wooden three-mast bulk carrier while in Scotland bound for Quebec with a cargo of coal and oakum.

Ranging in age from 11 to 22 years, they were treated unkindly by captain Robert Warr and first mate James Kerr during the voyage across the Atlantic.

Eventually, all but one of the stowaways were put out on the ice in St. George’s Bay off Highlands on May 15.

Unfortunately, two of the younger ones didn’t make it and, if it had not been for Catherine Ann Gillis-MacInnis spotting them a distance offshore that evening, the other four wouldn’t have been rescued.

Taylor Chaffey, president of the Bay St. George South Historical Society, said while the story has been recorded elsewhere due to there being a trial for the Warr and Kerr after they returned to Scotland, there is nothing written locally on the incident.

Chaffey said the historical society, in a joint effort with the Bay St. George South Local Service District, is establishing an event in May to become an annual commemoration of Catherine’s sighting of the boys and their rescue.

Chaffey said some of the descendants of the stowaways are expected to visit the site and at least one is coming from as far away as Australia.

The Stowaways:

Hugh McEwan – 11 years old

John Paul – 11 years old

Hugh McGinnes – 12 years old

Peter Currie – 12 years old

James Bryson – 16 years old

David Brand – 16 years old

Bernard Reilly – 22 years old

Source: Bay St. George South Historical Society

Sentencing in court:

Captain Robert Warr – guilty of culpable homicide – 18 months in prison.

First Mate James Kerr – guilty of culpable homicide - four months in prison.

Source: https://www.scribd.com/document/86143133/The-Stowaways-on-the-Arran

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