During the Kingston Harbour Cleanup in the 30’s the derilect Dredge Islander was towed out to the Snake Island graveyard in Lake Ontario.
Category: Boat Dive Intermediate
: 4 miles NE of Avon Point, Avon Lake, Ohio Depth: 65 feet
Coordinates: LORAN: 43771.7 57368.3 GPS: 41 34.428 81 57.524
Official #: C153443 Lies:bow northwest
Type:steel sandsucker Cargo:sand
Power: triple expansion engine; 15½” 26”x44” diameter x 26” stroke
Owner(s) National Sand and Material Company, Ltd., Toronto, Canada Hull #: 79
Built: 1927 at Collingwood, Ontario, Canada by Collingwood Shipbuilding Company
Dimensions: 252’ x 43’6” x 17’5” Tonnage: 1981 gross
Date of Loss: Saturday, October 17, 1936
Cause of Loss: foundered
DEATH TOLL OF LAKE STORM TOTALS 19.
SEVEN MEN SURVIVED SHIP WRECK.
LAKE ERIE SCENE OF TERRIBLE DISASTER SATURDAY NIGHT.
Cleveland, O., Oct. 19. — (UP) — The bodies of 18 men and a woman, all in life preservers, bobbed in the choppy waters of Lake Erie today, victims of a gale that sank the Canadian sand ship Sand Merchant. Seven men survived.
There was only the faitest possibility that any of the 19 missing were alive. All authorities had given them up and coast guard vessels searched the lake for the bodies.
The survivors, who saved themselves by clinging to life boats for 11 hours Saturday night and Sunday morning, were recovering from exposure. Inquiry in the cause of the disaster will be undertaken here and probably in Canada.
Stories of heroism and fortitude in the face of torturous death were told by the seven men. MARTIN WHITE, 39, second engineer, could not forget that his 20 year old son, HARRY, said,
“Try to save yourself, dad,” then slipped off the heaving, overturned lifeboat, exhausted, and sank. HERMAN DAULT remembered his vain efforts to keep his brothers, ARMOS and JOSEPH awake. He slapped them, pulled their hair, talked. Finally after five hours their grip loosened and they were gone into the storm.
But most vivid of all in the minds of the survivors was the tragic fate of First Mate STANLEY DRINKWATER, of Port Stanley, Ont., and his wife. Together they clung to an overturned boat, the giant, wind-lashed waves breaking over them. Together they went down.
The Sand Merchant was capsized by mountainous waves at 10:00 p.m. Saturday, 17 miles northwest of Cleveland in approximately 60 feet of water. She sank rapidly.
Capt. GRAHAM MacLELAND was picked up with two of his crew three miles northwest of the Cleveland Harbor by the freighter Thunder Bay Quarries. They were landed at Sandusky, O. Four other sailors were hauled aboard the Marquette & Bessemer No. 1 and returned to Cleveland.
MacLELAND, of Cape Tormentine, N.B., declared the storm was the worst he had experienced in 30 years on the lakes.
The survivors in addition to MacLELAND, MORSE and WHITE, were HARMAN DAULT of Victoria Harbor, Ont.; JOHN L. IDESON, Port William, Ont.; WILLIAM GIORD, New Castle, N.B. and JACK MEUSE, 32, Yarmouth, N.S., a repairman,
MORSE, GIORD, MEUSE and WHITE were brought to Cleveland. All but MEUSE were in hospitals.
The dead were:
DRINKWATER and his wife; Second Mate WILFRED MOURRIE, Victoria Harbor, Ont.; Wheelsman ARMOS DAULT, Victoria Harbor; JOSEPH DAULT; D. BOURRIE, Victoria Harbor;
Deckhand HARRY WHITE, Ponte Moud, N.S.; Steward H. A. LYTELE, Toronto; Assistant Cook FRANK BURNS, Toronto; First Engineer WALTER McINNIS, Bay Duvin, N.B.; Third Engineer SANFORD GRAY, Victoria Harbor; Fireman HAROLD CANNON, Harvery, N.B.; PETER DAIGLE, Port Dalhousie, Ont.; ROBERT HARPER; A. ROBITALIE, Midland, Ont.; Oilers NICHOLAS McCARTHY, Sydney, N.S.; RONALD
F. DeMILLE, Raxton, N.B.; Repairman S. W. AGRANT, Thorolid, Ont.; M. PRELAULT, address unknown.
Marshall Evening Chronicle Michigan 1936-10-19
1860: The wooden passenger and freight steamer LADY ELGIN sank in Lake Michigan following a collision with the schooner AUGUSTA with an estimated 297 lost their lives.
I can’t give the wreck the attention it needs as it has been well recorded here. Enjoy.
On 10 August 1890, TWO FANNIES (3-mast wooden bark, 152 foot, 492 gross tons, built in 1862, at Peshtigo, Wisconsin) was carrying 800 tons of iron ore on Lake Erie when a seam opened in rough weather. The crew kept at the pumps but to no avail. They all made it off of the vessel into the yawl just as the bark sank north of Bay Village Ohio. The CITY OF DETROIT tried to rescue the crew but the weather made the rescue attempt too dangerous and only two men were able to get to the steamer. The tug JAMES AMADEUS came out and got the rest of the crew, including the ship’s cat, which was with them in the yawl.
Location: 5 miles north of Bay Village, Ohio
Coordinates: LORAN: 43773.0 57385.3
GPS: 41 33.855 81 55.281
Lies: bow east Depth: 60 feet
Official #: 24144
Type: three masted bark Cargo: Iron ore
Owner(s) Captain Alfred Miller (50%), Aldrich of Hillsdale & Baldwin of Kinosha
Built: 1862 at Peshtigo, Wisconsin by George O. Spear
Dimensions: 152’ x 33’ x 12’ Tonnage: 492.24 gross 467.63 net
Date of Loss: Sunday, August 10, 1890
Cause of Loss: sprung a leak in heavy seas
Two schooners were lost early yesterday morning off Cleveland harbor. The schooner TWO FANNIES sprung a leak and sank as day was breaking, The crew consisted of Capt. Miller, Mate Losier, Second Mate Bull and Alexander Last; Harry Anderson; Claud Merchant and James McDonald. All escaped safely in a yawl. The boat carried stone and was fully insured. The schooner FANNIE L. JONES was swamped by the heavy seas just outside Cleveland. Capt. E. C. Cummings of Milan was drowned. The Cleveland life-saving crew saved the JONES’ crew from the rigging.
Buffalo Evening News
August 12, 1890
. . . . .
Two sunken wrecks on Lake Erie should receive attention as obstructions to navigation. The schooner FAYETTE BROWN, sunk a short time ago near the dummy in collision with one of the Northern Steamship Company’s steel boats is in the channel of boats passing to and from Buffalo, and outside of Cleveland a short distance northwest of the piers the spars of the schooner TWO FANNIES, which foundered in a gale last season, are but a few feet below the surface of the water. Mr. M.A. Bradley, owner of the FAYETTE BROWN, says she is not worth raising a and no one claims the hull of the sunken TWO FANNIES, which is certainly a total loss.
July 16, 1891
. . . . .
The schooners FANNIE L. JONES and TWO FANNIES sank in Lake Erie during a gale. No particulars.
Daily British Whig, Kingston
August 13, 1890
48° 48′ 57.996″ N, 86° 57′ 31.23″ W RAPPAHANNOCK
Other names : none
Official no. : 111083
Type at loss : propeller, wood, bulk freight
Build info : 1895, Jas. Davidson, W. Bay City, MI hull# 66
Specs : 308x43x21, 2380g 1192n
Date of loss : 1911, Jul 25
Place of loss : near Jackfish Pt., Ont.
Lake : Superior
Type of loss : storm
Loss of life : none
Carrying : coal
Detail : Bound for Duluth with the big barge MONTEZUMA in tow, she was put on the beach in an attempt to save her from a terrific 75 mph storm and fog, but pounded to pieces anyway. She later drifted into 80 feet of water and sank. The wreck was later clamshelled to remove her cargo.
Bay City, Mich., July 27. — The steamer RAPPAHANNOCK, owned by Capt. James Davidson of this city, sank off Jackfish Point, Ont., in the 70-mile gale that swept Lake Superior Tuesday night, but her crew was saved. Her tow, the barge MONTEZUMA, is somewhere on the lake and the steamer SACRAMENTO of the Davidson fleet left the Soo last night in search of her. Both vessels were coal laden, Ashtabula to Duluth.
The RAPPAHANNOCK sprang a leak in mid-lake and Capt. W. A. Rattray of Algonac headed her for Jackfish. Before reaching the harbor the vessel filled so fast that she was run aground on Jackfish Point in 18 feet of water. The crew was barely off when the vessel, which had begun to break up, slipped off the Point into 50 feet of water. She will be abandoned.
Buffalo Evening News
Thursday, July 27, 1911
. . . . .
MONTEZUMA FOUND BY THE SACRAMENTO.
Detroit, Mich., July 28. — The barge MONTEZUMA, of the Davidson Steamship Company’s fleet, which broke away from the steamer RAPPAHANNOCK in the gale on Lake Superior Tuesday, has been found at anchor off Grand Island by the steamer SACRAMENTO and Is being towed to Duluth.
Buffalo Evening News
Friday, July 28, 1911 5 – 3
Steam screw RAPPAHANNOCK. U. S. No. 111083. Of 2,380 tons gross. Built 1895. On July 25, 1911, vessel foundered off Jackfish Bay, Lake Superior. With 18 persons on board. No lives lost.
Loss Reported of American Vessels
Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1912
Steam screw RAPPAHANNOCK. U. S. No. 111083. Of 2,380 tons gross; 1,911 tons net. Built West Bay City, Mich., 1895. Home port, Duluth, Minn. 308.1 x 42.5 x 20.2 Freight service. Crew of 17. Of 1,200 indicated horsepower.
Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1911
Ship Type: Side Wheeler
Lifespan: Built 1854, Scuttled 1931
Length: 176 ft (54m)
Depths: 70 ft (21.5m)
Location: Amherst Island, Lake Ontario, Canada
GPS: W76.37.15 N44.08.18
Launched as the “Kingston” at Montreal in 1854, she was one of the finest Canadian steamboats of her day on the Upper St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario. Indeed, when the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) toured Canada in 1860, she was chosen to be his ‘floating palace’. In 1872, she was gutted by fire while off Grenadier Island in the St. Lawrence River. Rebuilt as the Bavarian, she again burned in the fall of 1873. The iron hull, rebuilt yet again, in Power’s shipyard at Kingston, was this time christened “Algerian.” In 1905, she was renamed “Cornwall”. Near the end of 1911, she was purchased by the Calvin Company of Garden Island, opposite Kingston. She was converted to a well-equipped rescue vessel and used until around 1925.
In the early 1930’s, during a snowstorm, the stripped Cornwall was scuttled near Amherst Island close to the graveyard where she remained until being discovered by Rick Neilson in 1989.
There is still much to see on this wreck. The boilers and some steam pipes are still present; wooden barrels are scattered about; the windlass is still attached to the bow section; and there is even a bed still there. Most importantly, both feathering paddle wheels are intact, a complete history of this wreck and ship can be purchased here.
Thomas Wilson wreck painting by Kurt Carlson
1902: The whaleback steamer THOMAS WILSON sank after a collision with the GEORGE G. HADLEY a mile off the Duluth piers while outbound with iron ore and nine lives were lost located at 46° 47′ 0″ N, 92° 4′ 10″ W
Here’s an account of the collision written by the News Tribune’s Chuck Frederick in May 1996, when the wreck site was named one of Minnesota’s most endangered historic sites because of damage caused by ships’ anchors:
On a glorious June day in 1902, the whaleback steamer Thomas Wilson sailed quietly across glass-still water through the Duluth entry and into Lake Superior.
Less than a mile out, the wooden freighter George Hadley was changing course. The captain had decided not to enter the harbor in Duluth. He steamed the ship instead toward the Superior entry — and into the path of the Wilson.
Neither boat was able to yield. The nose of the 287-foot Hadley slammed into the broadside of the Wilson. She went down fast. Water poured into cargo holds that had been left unsecured. The captain figured he could save time by bolting down the hatch covers during the trip across the calm lake.
Within minutes, the Wilson’s mast was all that was left poking through the still water about a half-mile from the Duluth entry. The Hadley was able to beach itself along Minnesota Point where it could later be salvaged and repaired.
Nine crew members went down with the Wilson, a ship that is now part of Northland shipping lore. She was built in 1892 in Superior at the American Steel Barge Co., an ancestor to today’s Fraser Shipyards. The company was owned by Alexander McDougall, who designed the whaleback steamers, including the SS Meteor, a sister ship to the Wilson that now is open for tours on Superior’s Barker’s Island. The Wilson’s anchors are displayed on the lawn in front of the Marine Museum in Duluth’s Canal Park.
The wreck is popular among divers, who wait for northeasterly winds to push in clear water. But it’s not the ship it used to be, they say. “It has been utterly destroyed” by the anchors dropped by Great Lakes vessels, said Elmer Engman, a Proctor diver who owns Inner Space Scuba Equipment along Miller Trunk Highway.
“It looks like a ship that’s been in a war,” said Scott Anfinson of the State Historic Preservation Office in St. Paul. “It looks like someone’s been dropping bombs on it. Instead of colliding with one ship, it looks like it was hit by five or six boats all at once.”
The Wilson’s deck has been destroyed by the anchors, but the forward cabins and bow structure are still intact.
News from the stranded whaleback steamer THOMAS WILSON at Baileys harbor is not as favorable as the reports at first received. captain Martin Swain of the wrecker FAVORITE reported that the WILSON lies on the old lighthouse Shoal, about three-quarters of a mile from shore. The forward end of the steamer is free. The engine-room is full of water, showing that the ship’s bottom is badly cut up. The hull has a list to starboard, which may prevent the use of hydraulic jacks in launching her off the rocks. The weather yesterday was favorable for wrecking. The reef at Bailey’s Harbor is famous among the old-time mariners as a good spot to avoid. A large number of vessels have gone ashore there and countless more have missed going ashore in clear weather because they believed their own eyes rather than the compass by which they were supposed to be steering. It is a fact well known by those commanders whose courses have been laid near the reef that the “local attraction,” or whatever it may be called, will cause a very marked deviation in the compass whenever the vessel get within a certain undefined distance from the shore. In clear weather and daylight it is possible to ignore to ignore the compass, but in cloudy or stormy weather the vessels that venture too close to the danger line within which the shore attraction prevails is apt to come upon something decidedly unexpected and unpleasant.
Assorted newspaper Clippings
October 11, 1901
The whaleback steamer THOMAS WILSON was released from Bailey’s harbor reef at 7:40 o’clock yesterday morning. The wrecking tug FAVORITE took the steamer in tow for a dry-dock. The WILSON is thought to be in better shape than was indicated when she went ashore.
Assorted newspaper Clippings
October 16, 1901
THOMAS WILSON. Built April 30, 1892 Whaleback Bulk Propeller – Steel
U. S. No. 145616. 1713 gt – 1318 nt 308.0 x 38.0 x 24.0
Sunk in collision with steamer GEORGE G. HADLY, June 7, 1902, 1 miles south of Duluth, Minn., piers; 9 lives lost.
American Barge Co., Superior, Master Shipbuilding List
Institute for Great Lakes research
Stern is located at N 48o 12.018’ W 88o 29.606’ Bow located at N 48o 12.003’ W 88o 29.525’
In 1947, the Canada Steamship Lines steamer EMPEROR, loaded with ore and bound for Ashtabula, hit the rocks off Isle Royale at 4:10 a.m. The vessel sank within minutes but the crew was able to launch 2 lifeboats. Captain Eldon Walkinshaw, First Mate D. Moray, and 10 other crew members drowned when one of the lifeboats overturned. Twenty-one other survivors were rescued by the U.S.C.G. cutter KIMBALL.
The Emperor was constructed in 1910 by the Collingwood Shipbuilding Co. in Collingwood, Ontario, for the Inland Lines Ltd. of Midland, Ontario. It was launched on December 17, 1910 and assigned registry number 126,654. At 525 feet in length, it was the largest Canadian-built freighter ever built at the time of her launching. The ship had a beam of 56 feet in beam, a depth of 27 feet, with 4641 registered tons and 7031 gross tons. It contained a 1,500 horsepower triple expansion steam engine with two Scotch boilers which powered the ship to a nominal speed of 10 knots. The Emperor was built of steel, with an arch and web frame construction to provide an unobstructed cargo hold with hatches placed every 12 feet. The pilothouse, captain’s quarters, and mate’s quarters were at the bow of the ship, and the crew’s quarters and engine room were aft, with unobstructed deck space between.
Although launched in 1910, the Emperor did not begin its first voyage until April 1911. On its first trip, the ship broke its main shaft in Thunder Bay, Ontario and had to be towed all the way to Detroit for repairs. Also in 1911, the ship overrode its anchor while in the Soo locks, tearing a hole in the bottom and sinking the vessel.
In May, 1916, the ship was sold to the Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. It was involved in some additional minor incidents, including groundings in 1926 and 1937, and the loss of a rudder in 1936. including the death of a crew member who fell into the hold in 1918
THE “EMPEROR” OF ISLE ROYALE.
Bettey Tomasi and Frederick Stonehouse
Lake Superior has triumphed over vast numbers of sea-going vessels – most being early sailing wood-hulled craft which were no match for Nature’s moody lady. But the Great Lake continues to prove her superiority over man’s humble efforts to traverse her as she still occasionally claims a trophy in the form of a mighty steel hulled cargo ship. Such was the case in the demise of the ore carrying EMPEROR – Destination — depths!
We had read about her, dreamed about her and yearned to see her and now, finally we were actually going to dive on her! Our excitement mounted as we helped each other into the last wet suit glove prior to our entry off the gunwhale of our dinghy. We tried mentally to prepare ourselves for the icy onslaught of Lake Superior’s merciless waters, but immediately on ‘splash-down’ we became aware that, while we were mentally prepared to descend into the frigid depths, we were definitely not physically ready! The liquid ice seeped into our suits and until our body heat was able to warm the water, a process requiring only a minute or two but seeming much longer, we began to wonder at the dubious wisdom of this adventure. Once the gigantic bow loomed into sight, though, all doubts disappeared and we began eagerly our descent down the starboard – swimming over one ghostly gaping hatch after another. In the eeriness of the swim, it seemed as if the emptied hatches would go on adinfinitum or, perhaps one of the reported trapped crewmen might make himself manifest to confront us with our audacity at trespassing on this watery graveyard. These thoughts were dispelled when we, at last, reached the end of the cargo holds and came upon the stern cabin which was emblazoned with the identification “EMPEROR” across the superstructure. It had been a relatively easy swim to the cabin, to about 110 feet as the ship rests on a steep incline of an underwater granite mountain — one of many such edifices in Lake Superior. However, a glance at our underwater pressure gauges indicated that there would be no time on this trip for exploring the stern as we were well aware that the swim to the surface would be more challenging as it was all ‘uphill’ and therefore, we wanted to conserve enough air for the climb.
During the entire dive, our thoughts were taking us back in history to the early June morning in 1947 when the mighty EMPEROR made her final voyage.
On November 6, 1918, the 525-foot ore carrier CHESTER H. CONGDON met death on the razor edged reefs of Isle Royale’s deadly Canoe Rocks. Twenty-nine years later, on June 4, 1947, the Canada Steamship Lines steamer EMPEROR repeated the CONGDON’s error and died on the same reef. The crew of the CONGDON was lucky; the moody lake gods smiled and not a man was lost, but the gods frowned on the EMPEROR and 12 of her crew of 33 drowned in the
At 3:10 p. m., June 4, the EMPEROR was working her way through the wispy tendrils of a thick Lake Superior fog. The silence of the inky darkness was pierced only by the intermingling sounds of the low rumble of the steamer’s powerful 1500 horsepower Scottish built steam engine, the gentle chuckle of water at her barn-sized bow, and the methodical bleat of her bellowing fog horn. Behind was the dock she had just left at Port Arthur (Thunder Bay, today); ahead, her destination, Ashtabula, Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie.
Sleepily, First Mate James Morrey peered ahead, out through the pilothouse window, but the fog prevented his seeing much beyond the EMPEROR’s bow. Morrey was bone-tired. He had spent the steamer’s entire dockside period (as per regulations) personally supervising the loading of the steamer’s iron ore cargo. Now it was his watch and his responsibility to guide the freighter safety past Isle Royale. There would be plenty of time for sleep later. Sipping his coffee, he continued to search ahead.
Five minutes later, the sleepy Mate was jarred from his feet and thrown to the steel deck. At her full speed of ten knots, the EMPEROR had rammed into the northeast edge of Canoe Rocks! As there was no doubt that the vessel was sinking, an immediate SOS was radioed off
into the airways. Quickly the desperate signal was answered by the U. S. Coast Guard Cutter KIMBALL. The cutter had been at Isle Royale on purely routine matters when the call for help galvanized her into action. With her engines straining at forced full speed, the staunch Coast Guard craft headed for the EMPEROR, now rapidly sinking 3½ miles, 281 degrees from the Blake Point Light (Isle Royale).
On board the ore carrier the situation was serious. Vast torrents of freezing water were gushing through the steamer’s sprung hull plates and rapidly flooding her holds. Aware that the steamer’s life was almost over, fear-stricken crewmen rushed to their lifeboat stations and began to abandon ship. Within an hour the once proud steamer had slipped beneath the
surface of the lake. Above she left the inevitable result of any marine disaster, water-logged lifeboats wallowing in the gentle swells, floating debris of every nature and a total of 21 stunned, half-frozen survivors.
When the KIMBALL arrived on the scene she immediately pulled ten men from a half swamped lifeboat, four from the slippery keel of an overturned boat and seven more from a frigid perch atop the nearly awash Canoe Rocks. All told, twelve men died in the disaster and
it isn’t inconceivable that some of them actually were trapped in the steel coffin of the steamer’s hull when she sank! Notable among those lost was her captain, Eldon Walkinshaw of Collingwood, a veteran Lake skipper of 42 years experience, and James Morrey, the First Mate.
The reason for the loss of the EMPEROR is clouded in the mystery born of a multitude of bureaucratic investigations, all carefully conducted with the distinct advantage of hindsight. That the steamer was far off course is not hard to determine, but why, is. In the official
report, the Canadian Board of Investigation blamed the Mate, stating that he “did not keep proper watch” As the Mate was conveniently lost with the ship, he could hardly defend himself. The Board did, however, criticize the prevailing system “which required the First Mate to be in charge of the loading of the ship during the period when he should have been off duty. (and) . . . resulted in his becoming overly tired, suffering as he was from a lack of sleep.”
But that conclusion hardly touches the root of the problem. The EMPEROR was far to the south of her intended course. Why? The downbound steamer track from Port Arthur was well known, and is in fact indicated on navigational charts, and there was no unusual wind or sea conditions (fog limits visibility, but does not force a ship off course). Regardless of Mate Morrey’s ability to keep a proper watch, the helmsman should have held the steamer on the proper heading. Why then did the steamer strike the rocks? Stories of drunkeness and irresponsibility are legion, and probably untrue. The real reasons for the loss will most likely never be known. The fact remains, however, that the steamer was far south of her course, without apparent reason, when she struck and died on Canoe Rocks.
For the scuba diver, the wreck of the EMPEROR presents both a tempting and a terrifying target. Tempting because it is a relatively intact ore carrier, and therefore a very unusual wreck. But she does paint a streak of terror (however faint and admitted or not) through a
diver’s heart. The grisly remains of at least part of the dozen men lost during the sinking are undoubtedly still entombed in the stern, not a pleasant thought for the diver exploring the steamer’s inner recesses.
Resting on the west slope of Canoe Rocks, only a short distance northeast of the CONGDON, the steamer’s bow is in a shallow 40 feet, but the stern slants sharply downward into 150 foot depths. Listing to port with her hatch covers blown open by trapped air during the sinking and covered in part by a thick brownish-green lake growth, the EMPEROR is an awe-inspiring sight.
The EMPEROR, official number 126654, was launched in 1910 at the Coliingwood, Ontario shipyard of the Collingwood Shipbuilding Company. Until 1916 she was owned by the Inland Lines Ltd., but in May of that year she was purchased by the Canada Steamship Lines. At 7,031 gross registered tons, 525 feet in length, 56 feet in beam and 31feet in depth, she
wasn’t the largest vessel on the lakes, lthough she was still respectable indeed.
During her life, the EMPEROR was just another bulk carrier; but in death, she became the “Emperor” of Isle Royale, and the exalted playground of scuba divers.
Almost before we realized it, we were breaking surface and helping each other with our clumsy reentries into the dinghy for the return trip to our ‘mother ship,’ the W. R. Busch which was standing off about a quarter of a mile in about 600 feet of water. As soon as our teeth stopped chattering, we began to all report different sights, reactions and enthusiasms. On one point we were all clearly agreed — we must return and make another ‘drop’ on one of
the most exciting wrecks Isle Royale has to offer. There was so much left to explore in the stern cabins, that the mutual obsession and resolve was unanimous. We would return to
the wreck of the EMPEROR!
Author’s note: Subsequent dives were made the following summer revealing cabins
with bunk beds still intact, replete with shoes under them! Could these have belonged to the crewmen entombed somewhere in the bowels of the ship?
Canadian Diving News
Vo. 4 No. 9 April
The former sandsucker NIAGARA II was scuttled at N45 15.052 W081 36.030 as an attraction to divers off Tobermory, ON. Name: Niagara II – Steel sand sucker
Rating: Experienced open water to advanced divers
Sunk: 1999 sunk as a dive site
In 1998 the Tobermory Maritime Association was formed with the objective of obtaining and sinking a new wreck to enhance the diving opportunities in Tobermory. After an extensive search the perfect ship was found – The Niagara II. This exciting wreck was sunk in May 1999, and offers a wonderful diving experience for all levels of certification. The Niagara II lies perfectly upright in approximately 100 ft. of Georgian Bay’s crystal clear water, just east of Little Cove. The top of her wheelhouse is at a depth of 45 ft. and both the bow and stern decks lie in the 65 ft. range.
The Niagara II was originally a Steel Sand Sucker built in England, 1930. Its original name was the Rideaulite and worked for Imperial Oil running back and forth between Montreal and Ottawa. It was then renamed to the Imperial Lachine. In 1954, Toronto Dry Dock Ltd. converted it to a sand sucker and this is when it obtained the name Niagara. 30 years later, in 1984, it was renamed to the Niagara II and its engines were converted to Diesel in 1990. The owners decided to sell the Niagara II for scrap in 1997
Steam screw RIDEAULITE.* Official canada No. 155286. Of 723 gross tons. Built at Haverton Hill, Emgland, in 1930.
175.0 x 35.2 x 13.0.
* Renamed IMPERIAL LACHINE – Canada – 1947
Herman Runge List
RIDEAULITE (47) (b) IMPERIAL LACHINE (I) (54), (c) NIAGARA (69), (d) W.M.EDINGTON (155286). Ottawa River tanker. 1930 Furness Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., Haverton Hill-on-Tees. 175 x 35.2 x 12.9. Gross 723, net 343. Rebuilt as sandsucker at Toronto 1954. Gross 769, net 382. Owners: l) Imperial Oil (1930-54). 2) Holden Sand & Gravel Ltd., Toronto (1954-68). 3) McNamara Marine Ltd. (1968-69). 4) Federal Equipment Quebec Ltd. Chomedy (1969). 5) Ontario-Lake Erie Sand Ltd., Oakville.
On 22 June 1909, W.P. THEW (wooden propeller freighter, 133 foot, 207 gross tons, built in 1884, at Lorain, Ohio) was in ballast, creeping through the fog off Alpena, Michigan on Lake Huron when she was rammed by the WILLIAM LIVINGSTONE (steel propeller freighter, 532 foot, 6,634 gross tons, built in 1908, at Ecorse, Michigan). After the collision, the LIVINGSTONE drifted away and lost track of the THEW. The THEW sank in 80 feet of water. Fortunately the steamer MARY C. ELPHICKE answered the distress whistle and picked up the THEW’s crew from the lifeboat. No lives were lost.
GPS Location: N45° 02.705’ W83° 09.205’
Depth: 84 Feet
Wreck Length: 132 Feet Beam: 24 Feet
Gross Tonnage: 206 Cargo: None
Launched: 1884 by H.D. Root at Lorain, Ohio
Wrecked: June 22, 1909
Description: The W. P. Thew was one of about 700 19th-century Great Lakes steamers designed to carry forest products like logs, lumber, railroad ties, or shingles. After a 25-year career, Thew was lost in a “hit and run” accident. Just off Thunder Bay Island, the ship was struck in a fog by the 545-foot freighter William Livingston and sent to the bottom. The Livingston didn’t stop after the collision. Although the Thew sank quickly, no lives were lost. Today its remains lie splayed out on the bottom with all of the machinery and deck equipment displayed at the site.