There was several ships that were involved with the accident of May 29th, 1914. One of the ships was called the Lady Grey she carried 188 caskets back to Quebec from Rimouski on Saturday during an extremely dark storm. Every inch of her deck was covered in caskets some as high as four casket deep and a police officer sailed with her to prevent thieves from stealing from the bodies. Finally arriving at Quebec pier No. 27 the Lady Grey docks and from there the caskets were removed to the temporary morgue.
But what was the history behind the Lady Grey?
Vickers, Sons & Maxim launched from their naval construction yard at Barrows in Furness on August 21st, 1906, an ice braking and surveying steamer, built to the order of the Canadian Government, and named the Lady Grey. The christening ceremony was performed by Mrs. O’Grady Haly. The object of the new streamer is to break ice in the River St. Lawrence, with the view of keeping it open in the winter season for navigation.

The steamer had been used by the Marine and Fisheries Board during the times when she had not been employed in her primary work in surveying the coast and channels in navigable waters. She also served doing salvage work, and for this purpose the powerful pumps have been provided. Further, she was fitted, when required to act as a tug, and having the enormous engine power, had been very useful in this capacity. Her dimensions were: Length (between perpendiculars), 172 feet: breath (moulded) 32 feet, depth (moulded) 18 feet: draft (normal), 12 feet: displacement, 1,055 tons: speed 14 knots. The hull was naturally built of great strength, so as to resist impact with the ice flow. She was built to Board of Trade requirements, and to the condition of the Canadian Steamboat Inspection Act. The bow had been powerful and strong, and was built up for mounting and breaking through green ice, and smashing up pack or solid ice. For this purpose, a broad belt is fitted fore and aft, extending in depth considerably above and below the water line, and the gross sectional form of the boat was such as to resist the lateral pressure which might otherwise close in and nip the hull. With the view of further strengthening the vessel to withstand thwart ship pressure, double framing has been fitted by the introduction of intermediate channels. Forward, where the vessel first strikes the ice, these additional members extend from the keel to the main deck, while aft. They are introduced between the bilge and main deck. The side plating was also increased in thickness from the stern to a point well aft of midships. The hull was divided into six watertight compartments, and a double bottom extends from the forward to the after peak bulkheads. The compartment forward and aft of these bulkhead were arranged as deep ballast tanks, into or from which water can be pumped to quickly alter the trim to assist the vessel in riding over the ice whereby reason of the superposed weight, the ice is broken. These tanks can be rapidly emptied from one into the other. The boat is fitted with a large rudder and proportionately powerful hand and steam steering gear. The portion of the rudder head at and above water level was protected by a heavy casting, and the gear as made strong enough to with stand excessive pressure when working among ice. Special cabins are provided, and a provision has been introduced to avoid freezing. An electric lighting installation will be fitted, and a 16,000 candlelight searchlight will be fitted. The propelling power embraces two sets of inverted vertical direct acting triple expansion surface condensing engines, working on cranks placed at 120 degrees with each other, the sequence being high, low and intermediate when going ahead. The engines, at 130 revolutions per minute, are capable of developing collectively 2,300 I.H.P. The diameter of the high pressure cylinders is 19 in., the intermediate is 30 in., and the two low pressure cylinders, 49 in., with a stroke of 27 in. Cast iron liners are fitted only on the high pressure cylinders, and the brick type for the intermediate cylinders , and each was actuated by valve gear of the double eccentric link motion, with reversing gear of the direct acting steam and hydraulic description. Any of the condensing pumps can circulate through any or both condensers. It has been thought necessary to supply the Lady Grey with two sets of propellers for ordinary summer use and for ice work. Both sets of propellers are of the built up type, with three blades. Steam was supplied at a working pressure of 180 pounds per square inch by four single ended cylindrical boilers, 12 ft. 9 in., in diameter, and 10 ft. 6in., long. Jones’s underfeed mechanical stoker system, with fan for air supply, will be fitted in Canada. In the stokehold there is a Lee’s ash ejector fitted for discharging ashes over board, in addition to two hand ash hoists. The Lady Grey was a experimental steamer. It was evident if she is found to be of utility, a fleet of these crafts will be needed to keep the St. Lawrence free from ice in the winter months, and to enable a navigable channel to be maintained from the sea to Montreal and Quebec, and the growing importance of Canadian trade renders it necessary that something of this sort shall be done, and means will be found to do it, even if it is necessary to augment this initial contribution to the ice breaking fleet owned by the Canadian Government.

The Lady Grey was employed during the season of 1908 in the ship channel service. The object of the new streamer was to break ice in the St. Lawrence River, with the view of keeping it open in the winter season for navigation. The steamer will also be used by the Marine and Fisheries Board during the times she was not employed in her primary work in surveying the coast and channels in navigable waters.
The Lady Grey long career of 49 years finally came to an end during the winter of 1955 while assisting Quebec-Levis ferry that was caught in ice, the Lady Grey sunk beneath the ice.


The Marine Engineer and Naval Architect, September 1906
Sessional Papers 1910, Fisheries and Marine Dept.