Day: May 21, 2016


The Luxury Steam Yacht Gunilda was the flagship of the New York Yacht Club and the pride of its owner, oil baron William Harkness, one of the wealthiest men in the world at the turn of the century. However a penchant for cutting corners sent this vessel to a watery grave in the Great Lakes.

Harkness took his family and some friends on a cruise up the Great Lakes during the summer of 1911, with plans to fish for speckled trout in Lake Nipigon, Ontario, accessible from the northern edge of Lake Superior via Schriber Channel. En route, the handsome 59.4-meter vessel drew stares of admiration for her fine mahogany wood accents and gold scrollwork on her immaculate white hull.

Harkness put into Jackfish Bay, Ontario, to inquire about retaining a local guide to navigate the channel, but balked at the fee. Sure that his crew of 20 could ease the steel-hulled yacht safely through the final leg of the journey to the fishing grounds, he ordered Captain Alexander Corckum to “carry on!” At his command, the majestic vessel steamed out across the bay on the foggy morning of August 29 on what was to become her last voyage.

The ship was 8 kilometers from Rossport, Ontario, when it slammed into McGarvey Shoal. No one was injured, but the Gunilda Shipwreck was stranded with 25 meters of her hull perched atop the rock, with the remainder dangling precipitously over nearly 100 meters of water. Harkness took a launch ashore to arrange for the area’s heftiest tugboat, the James Whelan, to pull the Gunilda off the shoal.

The tug captain arrived with a barge in tow, then recommended that a second barge be brought in to form a sling to stabilize the stranded yacht. But Harkness refused to pay for the extra watercraft, so the rescue attempt proceeded without this precaution. A sling was tied to theJames Whelan, which tugged mightily to loosen the yacht. When at last it broke free, the Gunilda keeled to starboard. Her masts hit the water and, as the vessel filled with water, the Harkness family, friends and crew scrambled to safety aboard the tugboat. Within minutes, the flagship of the New York Yacht Club found a new home at the base of McGarvey Shoal.

It doesn’t pay to be cheap

DSC00027 DSC00036 DSC00029 DSC00045

Cora W Post

Another shore dive in Kingston Ontario, this time off Howe Island in 30 feet of Water. N44 14 44 W76 18 23 She is also known as the red brick wreck.

On Friday night the sloop CORA POST was coming up the river with 15,000 brick. There were no lights on board. The LOUISE struck her when she went down in a few minutes. Her crew had barely time to get on the steamer. The POST and cargo were not insured. Loss $3,000.
Marine Review
August 20, 1891

Kingston Ont. Sept. 24 – The steamer PRINCESS LOUISE, implicated in the sinking of the schooner CORA POST recently, is still under seizure. Action will be taken against the St Lawrence River Steamboat Company for the value of the POST. Capt. Rathwell owns her but she was chartered by the steamboat company.
The Marine Review
September 24, 1891

A dispatch from Clayton, N.Y., says: The steamer PRINCESS LOUISE, with a load of excursionists on board, while running late Friday night between Gananoque and Kingston, collided with the two masted schooner CORA POST, near St. John’s Island. A big hole was made in the schooner and she quickly filled and sank. Her crew with considerable difficulty succeeded in boarding the PRINCESS LOUISE, which was not materially damaged, The excursionists were
badly frightened and it was with the greatest difficulty that the officers of the steamer prevented a panic. It is stated that the schooner did not carry any lights at the time of the collision. No one was injured. Apparently no blame can be attached to the officers of the steamer.
Buffalo Enquirer
August 18, 1891

cora post mosaic bw Tom Wilson May 16 2005
cora post mosaic bw Tom Wilson May 16 2005 for the TEST Team

A Medbury

The schooner Hercules, which left Kingston Tuesday evening for Hamilton with railroad iron, ran into the schooner A. Medbury, near Snake Island, cutting her almost in two. The Medbury sailors had barely time to save their lives. The Medbury was loaded with salt for Chicago. The Hercules was so badly damaged that she had to be towed into port by the tug Mixer

Other names   :  also seen as A. MEDBERY

Official no.     :  388

Type at loss    :  schooner, wood

Build info       :  1855, Burton Parsons, Vermillion,  OH

Specs              :  112x24x9,   226 t. om

Date of loss    :  1872, Nov 6

Place of loss   :  100 yds N of Four Mile Point, near Kingston

Lake                : Ontario*

Type of loss    :  collision

Loss of life      : none

Carrying         :  salt

Detail              : Bound for Chicago, she collided near Snake Island with the schooner HERCULES and was cut nearly in two. She sank very quickly, her crew having time only to save themselves.

*Also given in error as Lake Michigan

Major repairs in 1861,68

Sources            :  (mv),nsp,dmt,wl,rsl,pdw

1855 Enrolled Cleveland, OH; first trip to Buffalo with salt.

1861 Repaired, Cleveland.

1862, Sep Aground St. Mary’s River with iron ore.

1863 Owned George Warner & B.L. Pennington, Cleveland.

1863, Aug Collision with propeller at Cleveland; repaired.

1863, Oct Lost sails in a gale, Lake Huron.

1866, Jun Collision with bark MERRITT, Lake Michigan.

1868 165.07 gross tons US388; repaired.

1869, Jun Collision off Cleveland, Lake Erie.

1869, Jul Collision with propeller AVON, Welland Canal.

1869, Nov Damaged in heavy weather, Lake Michigan.

1871 Repaired.

1872, Nov 6 Sunk, Lake Ontario


Edmund Fitzgerald

EDMUND FITZGERALD, US.277437, Lake Bulk Freighter built in 1958 by the Great Lakes Engineering Works, River Rouge, MI as Hull #301. Her keel was laid in August, 1957. Launched June 7, 1958 as a) EDMUND FITZGERALD for the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. (Columbia Transportation Co., Cleveland, OH, mgr.). 729’loa, 711’lbp x 75’x 39′; 13,632 GRT, 8713 NRT, 26,600 dwt. Powered by a 7,500 shp Westinghouse Electric Co. double reduction geared, cross-compound steam turbine, and two coal-fired Combustion Engineering water tube boilers, with a total heating surface of 13,288 sq.ft. Engine and boilers built in 1958. Rated service speed: 14 knots (16.1 mph). Sea trials occurred on September 13th, and she was commissioned on September 22nd. The FITZGERALD’s first cargo of taconite pellets was loaded September 24, 1958 at Silver Bay, MN. for Toledo, OH. A Bird-Johnson diesel powered bow thruster was installed in 1969 resulting in a decrease in net registered tonnage to 8686. The FITZ collided with the Canadian steamer HOCHELAGA at the mouth of the Detroit River, May 1, 1970, suffering slight damage at hatches 18 and 19. During the 1971-72 winter lay up at Duluth, MN., she was converted from coal to oil-fired boilers which were automated at that time, and the fuel tanks were installed in the space that was occupied by the coal bunkers. Also a fire fighting system and a sewage holding tank were installed at that time. Minor cracking at the keelson to shell connection was repaired by installing additional stiffening on the keelson in 1970 and additional welding was required in 1973-74. The EDMUND FITZGERALD foundered on Lake Superior during a severe storm November 10, 1975 at approximately 7:10 pm about 17 miles north-northwest of Whitefish Point, MI at position 47°0’N by 85°7’W in Canadian waters. The FITZGERALD was running downbound loaded with 26,116 tons of taconite ore pellets from Superior, WI for Detroit, MI. During the height of the storm in 70 knot winds, 25 foot waves combed her deck decreasing her normal 12 feet of freeboard. Several times tons of water washed over her deck and challenged her buoyancy. Her sinking was so quick that no radio message was given though she had been in frequent visual and radio contact with the steamer ARTHUR M. ANDERSON. The FITZGERALD disappeared from sight in a furious snow squall and then from radar. Captain McSorley of the “FITZ” had indicated he was having difficulty and was taking on water. She was listing to port and had two of three ballast pumps working. She had lost her radar and damage was noted to ballast tank vent pipes and he was overheard on the radio saying, “don’t allow nobody (sic) on deck.” McSorley said it was the worst storm he had ever seen. All 29 officers and crew, including a Great Lakes Maritime Academy cadet, went down with the ship, which lies broken in two sections in 530 feet of water. Surveyed by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1976 using the U.S. Navy CURV III system, the wreckage consisted of an upright bow section, approximately 275 feet long and an inverted stern section, about 253 feet long, and a debris field comprised of the rest of the hull in between. Both sections lie within 170 feet of each other. The EDMUND FITZGERALD was removed from documentation January, 1976. The National Transportation Safety Board unanimously voted on March 23, 1978 to reject the U. S. Coast Guard’s official report supporting the theory of faulty hatches. Later the N.T.S.B. revised its verdict and reached a majority vote to agree that the sinking was caused by taking on water through one or more hatch covers damaged by the impact of heavy seas over her deck. This is contrary to the Lake Carriers Association’s contention that her foundering was caused by flooding through bottom and ballast tank damage resulting from bottoming on the Six Fathom Shoal between Caribou and Michipicoten Islands. The U.S. Coast Guard, report on August 2, 1977 cited faulty hatch covers, lack of water tight cargo hold bulkheads and damage caused from an undetermined source.


Digital sonar image
Digital sonar image


Welcome to Ontario Wrecks

Welcome to my new project Ontario Wrecks.  Here I hope to get  the community to help me document Ontario’s rich maritime underwater history.  If you have a photo, site drawing or a even a historical photo of a Ontario Wreck(includes St. Lawrence River) please forward it to me at tom @  Thanks for stoping by and stay tuned as I populate this site.