They loved their ships

Following the wreck of a sailing ship in Georgian Bay in 1891, the publication Marine Review commented on the depth of affection people in the marine world had for particular ships. The writer had been told by an old mariner:

“For God’s sake don’t say the old boat went to pieces becasuse she was rotten. I know she was, but it would hurt my feelings to see it in print.”

The Review explained: “To those who have known, dealt with, and perhaps sailed the departed craft, it is a personal affair…This the oldtimers felt when they heard that the schooner Lottie Wolf had gone to pieces on Hope Island in Georgian Bay.”

The Lottie Wolf had been built as a three-masted barkentine in 1866 at Green Bay, Wisconsin. She measured 126 feet long, 27 feet beam, and 11 feet depth. At the time of her loss she was owned by Capt. J.S. Dunham of Chicago and skippered by Capt. Martin Howard.

As one of what was known as the Chicago corn fleet, she was a familiar visitor to southern Georgian Bay ports like Owen Sound, Collingwood, and Midland where she was bound then with 21,800 bushels of corn.

It was mid-October when, as she neared Hope Island, she struck a large boulder. To save her from foundering Capt. Howard ran her ashore on the island. That was on a Friday. On Sunday Capt. Howard arrived in Collingwood on the steamer City of Midland and telegraphed the owners with the news.

He said the bow was ashore in around eight feet of water while at the stern the aft rail was awash. He had to take the crew ashore because the schooner’s deck “began bursting”. The owner despatched a wrecking crew, but it took four days to ship the pumps by railroad from Windsor and by then the schooner was beyond saving. She was stripped of her rigging and any salvageable items, then abandoned. Her value was reported as $5,500.

What is left of the Lottie Wolf‘s wreck apparently can still be found close to shore near the Hope Island lighthouse. The reef that “did her in” is known as Lottie Wolf Shoal.

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