The steel steamship Canadia was launched from the Dumbarton yard of Archibald McMillan and Son Ltd (Yard No 363) on 5th November 1898. She measured 375.0′ x 48.5′ x 17.9′ and her tonnage was 4322 gross tons, 2797 net tons. She was powered by a triple expansion steam engine by D Rowan and Co Ltd., Glasgow delivering 326 net horse power. She was built for P L Fisker of Copenhagen and operated for this company until she was purchased by her final owners A/F D/F Hafnia, Copenhagen in 1910.
On February 16th 1915 the Canadia departed from Galveston, Texas bound for Gothenburg in Sweden with a full cargo of flour and cotton. She reached Newport News where she took on bunker coal for the voyage across the Atlantic. She departed from Newport on 24th February bound for Kirkwall where she was to undergo an inspection by the British authorities before proceeding across the North Sea to Christiana and then to her final destination, Gothenburg, Sweden. On 11th March she was intercepted by a British patrol vessel and instructed to proceed to Kirkwall as planned. On the evening of the 12th , without warning, sheer rocky cliffs appeared out of the gloom directly ahead of the ship. Despite the helm put hard over it was too late to avoid her running aground with her stern jammed high on the rocks. She and her crew were in a very dangerous position. She had run aground at Fugli Stack on the south west side of Fair Isle. They fired distress rockets which were soon answered by men ashore. However, her position on the stack, which is separated by a wide deep channel, from the mainland made any rescue attempts by them almost impossible particularly in the dark. One of the crew bravely jumped into the surf with a rope and swam to the shore. He then climbed almost three hundred feet to take the rope to the waiting islanders. Then, one by one as the Canadia began to break up beneath their feet, the crew hauled themselves ashore but, as it was dark and too dangerous for them to climb the cliff, they huddled in the cold and dark awaiting daylight. At the first signs of light a ladder was lowered from above but, by then, the crew were freezing cold and unable to climb up without assistance. The local men scrambled down and helped the crew, one by one, to the top of the cliff and safety. Despite the difficult position of the wreck and the towering cliffs above the wreck site all the crew survived with only the captain requiring hospital treatment.
The wreckage of the Canadia lies at under the craggy rocky outcrop of Fogli Stack on the west side of Fair Isle in approximate position 59° 31.451’N, 001° 39.559’W. We have no reports of the status of the wreck but the broken wreckage was positively identified when the maker’s plate was recovered by divers.
We would like to thank Lloyd’s Register Foundation – Heritage & Education Centre for allowing us to reproduce documents from their archive in this article.