Montreal Gazette, 22 September 1880, page 2


The Torpedo Explosion

The sight in the harbour at eleven o’clock yesterday morning was bright beyond description. The ships and steamers and other sailing crafts which at present crowd our harbour were decked in bunting, presenting a very handsome appearance, and the whole river front from the canal to Molson’s wharf was crowded with spectators.

From an early hour in the morning the tug St Louis, with Mr Kennedy and the Harbour Engineers on board, was busy about the pirate ship, making final arrangements for the display, with such good result that everything was ready in excellent time. At eleven o’clock the pirate ship lay black and still on the river, just opposite the Quebec boat, and loss than half a mile distant. Astern of her were anchored three buoys, marking the resting place of the lesser signals which were to herald the destruction of the pirates. The St Louis, with the engineers and electric batteries on board, was anchored 255 feet from the doomed craft. Just after eleven o’clock the first signal was exploded, but it did not materially disturb the surface of the water, was probably unseen and unheard by the great majority of those on shore. One minute later the second explosion followed casting up a large amount of water and smoke, and making a low, dull report, scarcely heard on shore. Another minute and the third signal followed, less marked. Then came the explosion. From the surface of the river rose an immense mass of water glistening in the sun; a second later, a dull, heavy thud was heard, the great white mass broke, and from its midst black spars, kegs, splinters, and fragments of the large of all kinds shot up into the air amid clouds of smoke and alter rising rained down on every side, disturbing the water on all sides, giving it the appearance of a maelstrom. As the cloud first parted, the keel of the pirate ship was seen bodily in the air, a short distance above the surface. The whole sight was magnificent. Everything was over in a quarter of a minute, and the river almost instantaneously resumed its ordinary appearance, save for a mass of debris floating down the swift current with a number of boats darting in and out, securing what plunder was available.

The explosive used to effect the magnificent and attained consisted of 100 lbs of dualine and some 50 lbs of black powder. The whole affair was under the charge of Mr Kennedy, the Harbor Engineer, and the result was another proof of the practical ability which has placed Mr Kennedy among the foremost of Canadian engineers. The arrangements were perfect in every respect. Willie Kennedy, a bright little fellow about three feet high, fired one of the charges, and the tug St Louis, on board which the batteries were, was for a time under quite a formidable storm of splinters and similar remnants. The explosives, batteries, wires, etc were all furnished very kindly by the Hamilton Power Company, which has certainly shown a spirit worthy of remembrance.

A large number of fish, chiefly large suckers, with one or two dory, were killed by the explosions. It is estimated that at least 25,000 people witnessed the scene from the river front.