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Ernest Blythe (1881-1910)

Arctic & Northern Biographies

Highlights of History from The Whitehorse Star

The Weekly Star (Whitehorse, Y.T.), Friday, September 30, 1910

Accident on River. Ernest Blythe of Steamer Selkirk is Drowned

    The first fatality of the season occurred on the river at about 2 o'clock last Saturday morning when Ernest Blythe, second mate of the steamer Selkirk, lost his life at a point in the Thirtymile about six miles above Hootalinqua.

    The Selkirk left here sometime Friday forenoon with a fair-sized passenger list and a large barge loaded with cattle for Dawson. In rounding a bend in the Thirtymile one corner of the barge struck fast on a bar, thus causing the swift current to carry the stern against the opposite bank, smashing the buckets from the wheel and snapping the cable which, connected one side of the barge with the steamer, causing the two to double together like a closing jack knife.

    It was at this strenuous period that Second Mate Blythe and a deck hand, Joe Donnegan, endeavored to carry a line ashore in one of the ship's boats, but in some manner the line fouled with the boat which was upset and the current being very swift, Blythe was carried under and disappeared within a second after the boat overturned. Donnegan managed to hold to the boat and was later picked up. The body of Blythe has not been seen since it disappeared.

    The cattle-laden barge broke away from the steamer and drifted on down the river but lodged on a bar about two miles below the scene of the accident. The news was wired from Hootalinqua to this place Saturday morning and a party of ship carpenters immediately left on the steamer Dawson to make necessary repairs on the Selkirk which was done in time for her to continue on her trip early Monday morning.

    Eddie Blythe of the shipyards force, brother of the unfortunate seaman, accompanied by his wife, went down on the Dawson, but aside from seeing the point where their brother lost his life, could accomplish nothing. The company has kept a launch patroling the river in quest of the body ever since the accident but thus far the search has been unavailing.

    The dead mate was a native of Bristol, England where he was born 29 years ago, His mother resides at Los Angeles, California. He had been on the river in the employ of the company in whose service he lost his life for seven or eight seasons and was a general favorite with all his associates,