Category: Shore Dive Beginners


1889: ROTHESAY, a wooden sidewheel passenger vessel, collided with the tug MYRA in the St. Lawrence between Kingston and Prescott. The latter sank with the loss of 2 lives. The former was beached on the Canadian shore where it settled and was abandoned. The wreck was dynamited in 1901 and part of it remains on the bottom in 35 feet of water.

Sidewheel steamer ROTHESAY, registered at the port of Prescott; and bound from Brockville to Prescott on September 12, 1989 collided with the tug MYRA, a 1/4 mile above Prescott. A total loss. Vessel was 22 years of age and her loss valued at $1,500.
Statement of Wreck & Casualty, 1889
Department of Marine & Fisheries

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Prescott, Ont. – The excursion steamer ROTHESAY collided last night with the tug MYRA of Ogdensburg. The MYRA sunk and the ROTHESAY was beached, the 60 passengers escaping. Samuel Jardine and Wm. Sullivan, of the MYRA were drowned.
Buffalo Evening News
Friday, September 13, 1889

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THE “ROTHESAY” COLLISION – Prescott, Sept. 19 – The firm of John Donnely & Son, Wreckers, of Kingston, have the contract for raising the tug MYRA, which was sunk in collision with the steamer ROTHESAY on the evening of the 12th. inst. and will commence operations at once. The body of Samuel Jarden, an engineer on the ill-fated tug, was found this morning about one mile below this town in a fearfully scalded state. An inquest will be held this evening. The body of fireman Wm. Sullivan has not been recovered yet. The ROTHESAY is still lying in the same position as when beached. No arrangements have been made for raising her as yet.
Toronto Globe
Friday, September 20, 1889

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The wrecked steamer ROTHESAY is in the same position, with stern down in the mud. The boats owners have turned her over to the Insurance Company. She was inspected by Capt. Donnelly of Kingston, and other well known wreckers. Some of these gentlemen were of the opinion that the ROTHESAY could be put on the Marine Railway for $3,000. The stories being told as to the hull, Captain McLeod brands as falsehoods. He says during the past summer he carefully examined the ROTHESAY and found her in such excellent condition, as to warrant him rating her B 1.
Toronto Globe
Saturday, September 21, 1889

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The steamer ROTHSEY has been considerably racked by winds, and unless raised immediately will go to pieces. Her upper works are caving in, the staunchions are giving way, the hurricane deck is beginning to lop, and a general caving in is liable to take place should a heavy sea set in. The insurance companies offer her for sale to the highest bidder.
Toronto Globe
Tuesday, October 8, 1889

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In legal parlance the old hulk of the steamer ROTHESAY has been “arrested,” on the grounds that she is rapidly deteriorating, and if repaired, would be unsafe for the transport of freight or passengers. The crew has claims to the amount of $1,300 and a general claim for $250.
Toronto Globe
Saturday, October 12, 1889

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John Lasha and others, Plaintiffs, against the steamship ROTHESAY
Pursuant to the order of this honorable court, herein dated 21, Oct. 1889, and the commision of sale issued pursuant thereto, the steamship ROTHESAY, together with her furniture, cables, anchors, and small boats, will be sold at Public Auction, by James Robertson, Deputy Sheriff of the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville on Wednesday the 30th. day of October 1889 at the Town Hall of Prescott.
Toronto Globe (Advert)
Thursday, October 24, 1889

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The captain and crew of the steamer ROTHESAY, have received their pay, $1,300.
Toronto Globe
Monday, October 28, 1889

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Kingston, Ont., Nov. 12 – The Donnelly Wrecking Company has purchased the steamer ROTHESAY, sunk near Prescott. They will raise her and use her for excursion purposes.
The Marine Review
November 12, 1891

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Brockville, Nov. 16. – The steamer ROTHESAY, ashore near Prescott, is rapidly breaking up. Nothing has yet been done towards raising her.
Toronto Globe
Saturday, November 29, 1902

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The sunken steamer ROTHESAY was blown up at Prescott by R.M.C. officers. The wreck was considered a dangerous navigational obstruction. Cost $368.96
Removal of Obstructions
Marine & Fisheries Report
Sessional Papers, Federal
2-3 Edward V111.,A. 1893

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The wreck of the steamer ROTHESAY which lay in about 25 feet of water, 500 feet from shore, in the bay between the upper wharf at Prescott and the wharf at McCarthy’s Brewery, has been blown up under the direction of Capt. C.D.O. Symond R. E. acting for the Dep. of Marine & Fisheries of Canada, and no portion of the wreckage now remains within 20 feet of the surface of the water.
Toronto Globe
Monday, November 18, 1889

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A Baldwinsville Businessman and three fellow members of the Syracuse Skin Divers Club recently discovered what is believed to be the hulk of a cruise ship which sank in the St. Lawrence River near Ogdensburg some 72 years ago.
The quartet recovered a set of matched anchors, weighing about 650 pounds apiece, there considered to be quite a “find” among amateur salvagers.
Theodore (Ted) White of Parkway Dr., Baldwinsville, known widely in the area through White Signs Co., was accompanied on the expedition by James Sprague, Philip Keneson and Philip Volmer, all of Syracuse.
The matched pair of anchors, believed to date to the War of 1812, are now at the White Signs building on River Rd., Town of Lysander. They are destined to decorate the grounds of The Castaways Restaurant at Brewerton, according to Mr. White.
While identity of the wreckage has been open to widespread speculation in the north country, Dr. J. L. Carroll, first vice-chairman of the Ontario St. Lawrence Development Commission produced a photo and information of the steamer ROTHESAY, which sank in 1890 after colliding with a tug boat. Mr. White said that the sunken bulk resembles the photo and that he is satisfied the wreck is that of the ROTHESAY.
According to information gathered so far, Mr. White said the ROTHESAY was a 200 foot cruise ship, originally used on the River Clyde in Scotland. She was transferred to the St. Lawrence River service in 1887.
On the down run from Kingston to Prescott in 1690, the side-wheeler collided with a tug boat the MYRA or MOIRE. The ROTHESAY was returning from the Thousand Islands late at night while on a moonlight excursion trip when the collision occurred.
The captain and chief of the tugboat were drowned, and attempts to beach the excursion vessel on the Prescott shore proved futile.
The ROTHESAY was considered at that period in river history to be one of the most palatial of St. Lawrence passenger ships.
Mr. White said the ROTHESAY lies in about 35 feet of water. At the time of her sinking, most of the navigational equipment was salvaged, but heavier gear remained aboard, probably because modern salvage and skin diving gear was not available in those days.
White said time and current have worked the hulk into deeper water. For the most part, he said, the lower portion of the ship is still intact. It is kept company in its silent grave by numerous eels and a family of bass. Some pottery was found, marked “Parisienne Granite.”
White said he and his companions raised the heavy anchors by use of 55 gallon drums, which floated the prizes when filled with air.
Baldwinsville Messenger, August 10, 1962
Inland Seas
Winter, 1962
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To the Editor, Inland Seas:
I, for one, am convinced that the wreck explored by the Syracuse Skin Divers Club (See INLAND SEAS, Winier 1962, p. 329) in not the steamer Rothesay. Here are my reasons for disagreeing with the story.
To begin with, the Rothesay was not a cruise ship, nor was she built on the River Clyde in Scotland. Instead she was a river steamer, built for day trips on the St. John River between St. John and Fredericton, New Brunswick.
Rothesay was built by J. and S. E. Oliver at their shipyard at St. John, N. B., being launched there February 2, 1867. On July 20, 1877, registry was transferred from Fredericton, N. B., to Prescott, Ontario. MacDonald and Lunt, owners, put her on the Toronto-Niagara River run in 1878 and continued the operation for the following two years, finishing on September 15, 1880. The following Spring Rothesay collided with the tug Myra a few miles above Prescott, Ontario. The Myra sank and Rothesay was beached and later sank in shoal water. The wreck was abandoned as worthless and was stripped of everything of value. In 1901 the hulk was blown up by officers from the Royal Military College at Kingston, the cost to the Canadian Government being $368.00. The wreck was then lying 1/4 mile offshore. (Sec picture, this journal, p. 40.)
Now about the anchors found at the wreck. A close look at the picture (p. 297) will show that the anchor is stowed inboard, on an anchor table with the stock (cross arm) outside, the shank resting on the bulwark cap. This type anchor war not in existence during the War of 1812. In that period the stock was made of wood and was firmly fixed in place. The anchor shown has a metal stock which could slide back and forth through the shank.
I also think that the author of the story has confused the Rothesay with another steamer, namely, the iron side-wheel steamer Rothesay Castle, built at Renfrew, Scotland, in 1861, and brought over as a blockade runner for the Confederate States during the Civil War. She was brought to Lake Ontario and renamed Southern Belle, April 1876.
Another wreck in the vicinity is the American steamer Toltec. This steamer burned and sank near Prescott on September 4, 1919. The Toltic, also about 200 feet in length would have the same style anchors as shown in the picture of Rothesay. Another look at the wreck might convince the divers that they had found the propeller Toltic instead of the side wheeler Rothesay.
Inland Seas
Spring 1963


The package freighter ARIZONA was launched on August 19, 1868, at Cleveland, Ohio by Quayle & Martin for E.T. & J.C. Evans of Buffalo, New York.

Located at N44 06 55 W76 24 40 Arizona is located southwest of the ferry landing on the south shore of Wolfe Island near the red buoy. Built in 1868 Arizona caught fire December 4, 1922 and without adequate water hose protection was towed 1.5 miles upstream where her sea cocks were opened and she sank into 25 ft. of water. She was a wooden propeller barge with a 765 ton displacement with a length of 186 ft. and a beam of 33 ft.

At Milwaukee the steamer ARIZONA and consort PLYMOUTH will both receive repairs about equal to a rebuild. The ARIZONA will be double decked. The steamer RUBE RICHARDS and consort MAY RICHARDS, also wintering on Lake Michigan will receive repairs costing about $6,000.

The Marine Review

December 24, 1891

Steam screw ARIZONA. U. S. No. 1768. Of 765 tons gross. Built 1868. On Dec. 1, 1922 with 12 people on board vessel burned at Cape Vincent, Lake Ontario and became a total loss. No lives were lost.

Loss of American Vessel Reported during 1923

Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1923

Steam screw ARIZONA. U. S. No. 1768. Of 765 tons gross; 601 tons net. Built Cleveland, Ohio, 1868. Home port, Oswego, N.Y. Freight service. Crew of 12.

Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1920

Detroit, May 8 – The propeller BLANCHARD from Buffalo for Chicago and the propeller ARAZONA from Sault Ste. Marie for Buffalo, collided today at noon at the head of the St. Clair Flats, the latter sinking in four fathoms, she was laden with flour and wheat.

The Toronto Mail

Friday, May 9, 1873

HMS ST LAWRENCE (1814 – 1832)

St Lawrence had her keel laid on 12 April 1814, and was launched on 10 September 1814. British naval commodore Sir James Lucas Yeo commissioned her as his flagship, with Captain Frederick Hickey as Flag Captain, in the Kingston Royal Naval Dockyard in Kingston, Upper Canada. The ship cost Britain £500,000 or over CA$120 million in today’s dollars.
At the time, Lake Ontario was effectively landlocked for any but the smallest vessels, due to shallow water and rapids on the St. Lawrence River downstream and Niagara Falls upstream. As a result, warships operating on Lake Ontario had to be built on site, either in Kingston or in the American naval dockyards at Sackets Harbor, or converted from merchant ships already operating in the lake.
Control of the lake, which was the most important supply route for the British for military operations to the west, had passed back and forth between the Americans and the British over the course of the war. The construction of a first rate ship of the line, in a campaign that had been dominated by sloops and frigates, gave the British uncontested control of the lake during the final months of the war. HMS St Lawrence never saw action, because her presence on the lake deterred the U.S. fleet from setting sail.
After the war ended in 1815, the ship was decommissioned. In January 1832, the hull was sold to Robert Drummond for £25. Between May and August, the hull was towed out of Navy Bay. It later formed the end of a pier attached to Morton’s Brewery in Kingston and was used as a storage facility by the brewery, for cordwood among other materials. Later, it was sunk in 30 feet (9.1 m) of water close to shore at 44°13′14″N 76°30′18″W and is now a popular diving attraction.


The steamer Conestoga was built by Quale & Son of Cleveland for Anchor conestogaLine and launched July 6, 1878. A considerable amount of money, technical design and skill went into construction, as evidenced by the description in the Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer on July 8, 1878: “Fitted out in all proportions with a care to strength, durability and beautyÖ it is estimated that her cost will be near $90,000.00. The Conestoga was powered by a steeple compound engine capable of a speed of 8 knots.

The upper portion of the steeple engine protrudes above the river, marking the site. She sank on May 22, 1922 outside Lock 28 of the Old Galop Canal, one mile east of Cardinal, Ontario. A fire broke out in the engine room while awaiting passage at the lock. The ship was flushed from the Lock and allowed to ground and sink in her present position. Loss was estimated at $200,000.00. She was carrying 30,000 bushels of wheat, much of which was salvaged.



Take exit 730 from highway 401 and head South on Shanly Road straight past the Highway 2 intersection until you are in the parking lot of the Legion building. Take the tiny unpaved road west of the building which passes between a waterfront beach/park and a small canal. Park your car near the ship’s smokestack, which can be seen protruding from the surface about 50 feet (14 meters) from shore.

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