User talk:RDavS

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First ship on Great Lakes[edit]

The following factors have moved me to amend the article Queen of the Lakes, which I started, to recognize conflicting reports. Some say that the Griffon was the first ship on the lakes; others say it was a smaller Frontenac. Reports conflict also with regard to the first ship lost on the lakes -- some saying it was the Griffon, others the Frontenac. John Brandt Mansfield's History of the Great Lakes (Vol. I, p. 81, 1899) says that LaSalle built the "little bark Frontenac" in which Tonty set sail for Niagara beginning on Nov. 18, 1678. After staying close to shore as far as present day Toronto, they crossed to the mouth of the Niagara River and arrived there late on Dec. 5, but had to remain offshore through the night due to the rough surf. They made shore the next day on the east bank. He says nothing about losing the Frontenac.

In an abridged translation of a journal (available at the time of this writing at The journeys of Rene Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle. Volume 1, (hosted by the Portal to Texas History)) Louis Hennepin, one of LaSalle's party, says he set sail from Fort Frontenac on Nov. 18, in a "brigantine of about 10 tons and 15 men". They entered the Niagara River on Jan. 6, 1679, and built a fort and a few homes. Then on Jan. 20, LaSalle arrived with a "great bark" with supplies for building the planned ship (the Griffon), but that this bark was cast away on the lake within two leagues of Niagara. After returning for a short time to Fort Frontenac, Hennepin again boarded a "brigantine" to get back to Niagara. He gives no name to any vessel other than the Griffon. The "brigantine" in which he sailed for Niagara in November is distinguished from the "great bark" that was lost on Jan. 20. He does not clarify whether or not the second "brigantine" was the same as the first.

Father Christian LeClercq's section of this same volume says that after LaSalle returned from France to Fort Frontenac in late September, he sent troops to Niagara in a "brigantine" on Nov. 18, and that this vessel arrived on Dec. 6. He says LaSalle made frequent trips to Fort Frontenac to bring supplies, at times by walking over the frozen lake, and, after the thaw, in boats. In the context of these trips he reports: "the pilot who directed one of his well loaded barks lost it on Lake Frontenac." The context suggests this happened after the spring thaw, but a footnote says, "Jan. 8, 1679 cf. Margry I., 576". In the bibliography (at the end of Vol. 2) this reference is identified as the six-volume work edited by Pierre Margry, Decouverteset Etablissements des Francais dans L'Quest et dans le sud de L'Amerique Septentrionale, Paris 1879-1888. Again, no vessel is named other than the Griffon.

I don't know yet what these men would have meant by either "brigantine" or "bark". I do know that these terms historically did not have the precision they carry today. In any case, the brigantine that left Ft. Frontenac on Nov. 18 is distinguished from the bark that was lost.

Another account (available at this writing at | Old and Sold), refers to what Hennepin and LeClercq called a brigantine as a small barge. "La Salle, whose plans were well formulated, at once set his carpenters to work building a small barge of ten tons' burden; and on the eighteenth of November, Father Hennepin, La Motte, and a small band of picked men, using paddles, poles, and aided by a piece of canvas stuck up for a sail, left the fort for Niagara." According to this author (unidentified on the web page other than saying it was first published in 1910) this barge, a "frail craft," carried some of the materials for the planned ship and made it safely to Niagara, where it was pulled up on shore. The author continues that LaSalle came in a second party about the middle of January, his vessel loaded with anchor, guns, and rigging for the new ship. This vessel is described as "the clumsy barge," and "the little craft", which "with difficulty kept to the wind by the improvised and rude sail." It was this vessel that went ashore on a "sandy beach" some thirty miles from Niagara. Most of the cargo was rescued, but with great difficulty, and dragged ashore, and after the men were warmed at an Indian village they dragged the cargo through the snow to Niagara to meet Tonty and the others, who were waiting for them. (This account puts Tonty/Tonti with the lead group, while other accounts put Tonty with LaSalle. Tonty' journal puts him with LaSalle.) Nothing here is said of the original barge returning to Fort Frontenac to become the vessel used by LaSalle. It hardly seems likely, given that the journey took 18 days. Even had they left immediately to get the second group, loaded in one day at Fort Frontenac, and made equally good time on both legs of the round trip, they would not have arrived back at Niagara until January 11. Neither barge is given a name in this account. No vessel is called Frontenac. Unfortunately, the web site that posts this document does not identify the author or how one might evaluate his credentials or sources.

I have found the source of this account. It is included in the book "Our Inland Seas -- Their Shipping and Commerce for Three Centuries" by James Cook Mills, A.C. McClurg & Co., Chicago, 1910. The pages that contain the above references begin with page 41. Mills seems to have had access to at least translations of primary source documents. He quotes a letter from LaSalle to the Marine Minister in France. Interestingly, that quote says, "The fort at Catacaqui with the aid of a vessel now building, will command Lake Ontario..." No date is given for the letter, but Mills suggests it was some time before 1677. Since LaSalle favored wooden sailing ships, the vessel mentioned might be one, but no name is given and Mills gives no indication that a "ship" had been built on Lake Ontario and clearly refers to Le Griffon as the first ship on the lakes.RDavS (talk) 02:27, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

A brief mention in the "Toronto Telegraph" (Aug. 22, 1936) says, "...since LaSalle's shallop, the Frontenac, first approached it in Nov. 1678," The article cites Schooner Days No. 254 by C.H.J. Snider. From 1936, this is a late entry and likely influenced by other writings. Notably, the article recognizes the name Frontenac, but describes it as a shallop, which is not a ship. In any case, a vessel of only ten tons burden is not very big. Was the Frontenac, if it was actually called that by members of LaSalle's expedition, really nothing more than a large batteau or mackinaw?RDavS (talk) 15:01, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

Queen of the Lakes[edit]

Nice job on the Queen of the Lakes article that helped me clarify the SS Edmund Fitzgerald's reign as Queen of the Lakes. The Fitzgerald article incorrectly stated that she was the largest freighter on the lakes until 1971. I will correct the Fitzgerald article and link it to the Queen of the Lakes article. Thank you for a placing a great resource on Wikipedia.--Wpwatchdog (talk) 18:02, 28 February 2011 (UTC)

You're welcome. Thank you, too, for improving "Queen of the Lakes".RDavS (talk) 02:36, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

Re: Genesis Creation talk[edit]

You are right, I am also pushing a POV - the NPOV. This has been explained thoroughly on the Noah's Ark talk page, but to quickly summarise, neutrality is defined in terms of notable reliable sources on a topic. Since they describe it as a creation myth, we must follow suit in order to remain neutral (that is, not favouring a minor viewpoint, which includes hiding the neutral viewpoint until later in the article). If there is notable opposition to this classification, then the article can mention it according to its weight (in this case, I don't think anyone argues the classification, though their is a notable, but minor, viewpoint that it is historical which we can cover later in the article).

As for my assumption of your beliefs, editors looking to substitute neutral terminology (as I've explained above) for phrasings that they perceive to leave the door open to viewpoints they recognise as minor is a familiar call sign of editors who hold such viewpoints. I'm sure you'll agree it's the most obvious (only?) explanation for such behaviour, though maybe not the only one. You're welcome to correct me if I'm wrong about your beliefs though, and I'll apologise. Entertaining the wishes of non-neutral POV-pushers tends to just encourage them, and so I pointed it out before it got carried away (like it has on the Noah's Ark talk page).

Finally, I have no opinion on that organisation. Ben (talk) 08:04, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

I hear your quack. Majority equals neutral; minority equals fringe; no other view is worthy of consideration or respect; end of discussion. Period.RDavS (talk) 00:36, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

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ArbCom Elections 2016: Voting now open![edit]

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