George T Davie

KEY STATS:
Ship Type: Composite Barge
Lifespan: Built 1898, Sunk 1945
Length: 177 ft (54.5m)
Depths: 75- 100ft (23-30m)
Location: Off Simcoe Island, Kingston, Ontario
GPS N44 06 79 W76 34 78


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The George T. Davie was a steamer owned by the Montreal Transportation Co.  She was built in Levis, Quebec by the George T.Davie shipbuilding yards in 1898.  This composite barge (wood and steel) was 177 ft in length, and sailed the Great Lakes carrying various cargos until April 18, 1945, when she sank for the second and last time.

The George T. Davie sank in June 12, 1911 near Alexandria Bay in the St. Lawrence River while carrying a cargo of grain.  The Calvin Co. of Garden Island tried unsuccessfully to raise her after several attempts.  Her stern lay on a ledge of rock and the bow in 65 ft of water.  

At this point Captain Gus Hinkley accepted the contract to raise the Davie; new to the salvaging business he was out to make a name for himself.   He immediately brought tree vessels and 16 men to the job.  He dry-docked two of the vessels, the barge Jessie and schooner Bertie Caulkins in Kingston in order to have holes bored through the sterns. These holes fomed eight 10- inch wells and through these were dropped two- inch iron chains, capable of lifting 50 tons.  

With this system Hinckley was prepared to raise 1,000 tons, and used divers to pass the chains under the wreck.  After securing the hatches, pipes were attached and pumps drained the hull of water. During the raising process she rolled briefly to one side and for a short time it looked as if the effort was for naught. With a little ingenuity and praise of his crew Hinckley made the adjustments to the chains and successfully raised the Davie.  Hinkley made a tidy sum for his salvaging efforts and the raising of the George T.Davie was one of many that brought him wide acclaim as an expert salvager. 

The George T. Davie sank while being towed from Oswego, New York, to Kingston by the tug the Salvage Prince.  She capsized and as the story goes one crewmember had to scurry up the keel to be rescued.  She sank in 75 to 100 ft, 3 miles off Pidgeon Island, in Lake Ontario, Can.

The Davie was rediscovered by Rick Neilson in 1983 and moored in 2000 after Harold Vandenburg found her.  This wreck is a divers dream; she is in pristine condition and features a ship wheel at the helm.  The mooring line is placed about 20 ft off the wreck; divers first see the boilers and a winch.  Her decks sit in 75 ft and working ones way from the stern, checking out the holds on your way to the wheelhouse one of the best tours to cover the wreck.  Highlights on the wreck are a dory still intact, crane complete with shovelhead, ships wheel and the wheelhouse.

This is a dive that is best done at least twice as there is much to see. Limiting factors are depth, so monitoring time and air closely are a must.  Good buoyancy is also essential as there is a light dusting of silt on the wreck and the bottom is of a silt composition.

story by Tom Wilson  The strongest impression when first seeing this wreck is its impressive size: I mean, it’s a 177-foot barge that screams out DIVE ME. The George T. Davie started out in Levis, PQ’s George T. Davie shipbuilding yards in 1898, and sailed the St Lawrence and Lake Ontario until its untimely demise on April 18, 1945. While being towed from Oswego, New York, to Kingston, Ontario, by the tug “Salvage Prince,” she capsized and, as the story goes, the one crew member had to scurry up its keel to be rescued. She sat all alone on the bottom until discovered in 1983 by Rick Neilson and finally, in 2000, was moored for all to enjoy.

Coming down the line to about 15 ft (3m) off the bow, the first things you encounter are the boilers and winch. The best way, so far, to dive her is go to your left and around the bow, to the stern on the topside (75ft [23m]). Check out the holds on the way to the wheelhouse, where you can poke your head in and take a peek inside. Coming around the stern, you’ll see the wheel and rudder. Now for the fun stuff, once you have hit the bottom side of the lake. The top half of the wheelhouse is just off the wreck. Then the crane comes in view, complete with shovel head. Between the crane and the wreck is a dory with the mast still inside. On the way back to the wreck, there’s a coal shovel and rigging wire. Then you’re back on the line. There’s lots to see and play with – well worth a second dive.