The Best Fresh Water Scuba Diving in the World”- Shipwrecks and Shipwreck Diving
Two-thirds or more of the shipwrecks that occurred on Lake Ontario during the schooner and early steam era, took place between Point Petre in Prince Edward County and the Main Duck Islands. This “Graveyard of Lake Ontario” contains some of Ontario`s richest marine heritage.
This area has been referred to as “The Marysburgh Vortex” and some compare it to the “Bermuda Triangle”. According to shipping and insurance records during the schooner era and the early days of steamship travel, more than two thirds of the shipwrecks in Lake Ontario occurred in the area encompassed by the alleged Vortex. It has also been the scene of numerous UFO sightings over the years.
About the Vortex: the-mystery-of-the-marysburgh-vortex
Mariners’ Park Museum
An annual memorial service is held for local fishermen, and known contributors towards the museum and the community. It is held annually on the second Sunday in August at two p.m.South Bay, County Roads 10 & 13.
Please see Mariner’s Park web page for more information.
“THE GRAVEYARD OF LAKE ONTARIO (ode)”
The Main Duck is widely known,
For a score of helpless vessels
On its jagged shores have blown.
Duluth to Montreal,
Cleveland to the sea,
Veteran mariners spin tragic yarns,
About an island near the Galoos.
Ancient brigs and man-of-wars,
Schooners, barques and frigates
Are derelicts on its shores
Laden freighters, tugs and tows
Have grounded on its shoals,
Held prisoners by rocky tentacles,
Unfreed in their struggling throes.
The Graveyard of Lake Ontario,
A sailor’s last Port of Call.
For many a veteran seaman
Arrived not at home in the fall
Lulled by the wind and the waves,
They sleep in the boundless deep
In a harbour fair, safe port at last.
by Willis Metcalfe
Location of Shipwrecks
*A – FALSE DUCK ISLAND
*B – TIMBER ISLAND
*C – MAIN DUCK ISLAND
1 & 2. Owens & Sublimnos 30′ 1960′s cruiser and an underwater habitat sunk in about 30′ of water off our beach on Prince Edward Bay. Good sites for open waters, navigational and night diving.
3. Atlasco Wooden propeller, 218′x33′x13′. Built in 1881 as a package freighter, she was later converted to a bulk freight barge. On August 17, 1921, she sank in about 43′ of water off the south shore of Pt. Traverse in a gale while downbound with a cargo of wire cable. All hands escaped safely in a lifeboat. View a ship’s wheel, rudder, winch, 4 anchors, coils of wire cable etc.
4. Fabiola 2-masted schooner, 95′ x 22′ x 9′, registered tonnage 131. Built in 1852, she sank on October 23, 1900 when Captain Danny Bates lost her, south of the False Duck Islands on his way home from Oswego with a cargo of coal. No lives were lost. The hull sits upright in 55′ of water, mostly intact, with a section of the stern collapsed. View winch, pump, windlass etc.
5. Manola Steel steamer, bow section. Built in 1890 and sank on Dec. 3, 1918 by foundering in a storm while under tow. She lies upside-down in 45-80′ of water on the rocky floor of Lake Ontario. Both sections of the hull were enroute to Montreal where they were to have been joined and used for World War I service. Eleven lives were lost.
6. Florence Steam tug, 102′ x 19′ x 13′. She sank on November 14, 1933 in some 80′ of water off Timber Island with no loss of life. She presently lies in 40-50′ of water on a rock bottom with her hull torn apart, as attempts had been made by her owners to drag her ashore to salvage her engines. One can view rock formations and often observe fish which have made this wreck their home.
7. Annie Falconer 2-masted schooner, 110′ x 24′ x 9′, 253 tons. Built in Kingston, Ontario in 1867, sank November 12, 1904 between False Duck and Timber Islands by foundering with a cargo of coal. She is sitting upright in 80′ of water on a mud bottom. The wreck is well preserved. The stern is broken off and lies within visible range at an angle to the main hull. Much of her equipment remains on board – deadeyes, anchors, ship’s wheel, blocks, chain etc.
8. Olive Branch She sank on the night of September 30, 1880 near False Duck Island, on one of the Pennicons in 100′ of water, taking the lives of the captain and crew. She is sitting upright at the base of a shoal. This wreck is intact, much of her equipment remains on board – deadeyes, steering wheel, anchors, blocks.
9. Sheboygan 3 masted schooner 135′ x 27′ x 10′. Built in 1871, she sank on September 25, 1915 by foundering in a violent storm with a cargo of coal; the crew of 5 perished. She sits upright in 95′ of water on a hard bottom near Amherst Island. Masts, rigging, blocks, deadeyes, etc. adorn this beautiful, well preserved wreck.
10. John Randall Steam barge, propeller, 10′ x 23′. Built in 1905, sank on November 16, 1920 in School House Bay, Main Duck Island, while under the command of Captain Harry Randall, with a cargo of coal. The crew of 4 were saved and spent eight days with the lighthouse keeper on the island. She lies scattered in 20′ of water in the bay.
Wrecks not shown on map:
George C. Marsh, 135 ft. schooner, cargo coal, sank 8/08/1917
Glendora, schooner mixed cargo sank, 11/19/1887
Wm. Jamieson, sank N.W. Amherst Island
John Ray, sank 1853
Ocean Wave, vessel with 13 passengers, 15 crew, burned 7, sank 4/29/1853
Ida Walker, sank 1886
Madcap, Hay Bay.
Eliza Quinlan, off Pt. Traverse in 1883
Minerva Cook, 1886.
Katie Eccles, sank 1922, off Timber Island
Metcalfe, sank 1861 off Yorkshire/Main Ducks
Maggie Hunter, sank 1930 off the Main Ducks/Yorkshire
Gazelle, sank 1830 off the Main Ducks/Yorkshire
Norway, sank 1880 off Main Ducks/Yorkshire Ducks
Oliver Mowatt, sank 1921
Hibernia, n.w. off Amherst Is.
Norman, British Gun boat, sank 1883 west of Pt. Pleasant
Forest Queen, off Pt. Pleasant
Hiawatha, 518 ton vessel sank in 1917
Atlas, 11/23/1783, off Main Duck
Cornwall, 176 ft. vessel, sank 11/14/1933
Maple Glen, 250 ft. vessel, sank 1925
Lady Washington, 11/24/1803
Acorn, sank 1850 off Pt. Traverse
Underwater photos compliments of Mike Williams.