The navigation errors do not forgive in the rapids! One of the examples of the risks incurred dates back to 1873. The Louis-Renaud, a boat mainly transporting goods, also welcomed passengers aboard. It operated between Valleyfield and the port of Montréal, via Beauharnois and up to Rivière Châteauguay, and then crossed the Lachine Rapids and headed to the port of Montréal, before returning via the Lachine Canal.
The captain fled
However, during its trip down to Montréal on May 13, 1873, the ship ran onto a sandbar, in the middle of the rapids. The impact was so violent that the boilers exploded, jeopardizing the lives of 108 passengers, mainly women and children. The captain and his men jumped ship, abandoning the boat, the passengers and the goods, to take the first rowboat.
A heroic rescue
A young law student named Calixte Lebeuf then decided to take command. He ordered everyone to lie down on the deck to avoid the threatening jets of steam. Then he organized the rescue operations with the assistance of the Mohawks who had come from Kahnawake. The young man's determination and the invaluable assistance on the part of the rescuers from the Indian reserve prevented all loss of life and even goods! Calixte Lebeuf went on to become a lawyer and a judge in the course of his career.