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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Tomorrow when the light is better I will photograph the detailed sketch of the ship. From the Globe and Mail. link:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20080614.SHIPWRECK14/TPStory/?query=patrick+white

THE ONTARIO

The 'holy grail' of shipwrecks

Lost for two centuries on the floor of Lake Ontario, a revolutionary-era vessel is found by two zealous engineers


PATRICK WHITE

June 14, 2008

The last time anyone laid eyes on it, the Ontario was the most-feared ship on the Great Lakes.

It was 1780. Yankee militias were threatening to storm across Lake Ontario and seize Montreal from the British. And if it weren't for the intimidating profile of the 226-tonne Ontario - 22 cannons, two 80-foot masts, a beamy hull with cargo space for 1,000 barrels - they just may have.

But six months after it launched, the pride of the Great Lakes fleetsailed into a Halloween squall with around 120 passengers on board and was never seen again.

It remains the worst-ever disaster recorded on Lake Ontario, according to Kingston historian Arthur Britton Smith.

For 228 years, the Ontario eluded countless shipwreck-hunters, thwarting any explanation of its disappearance and fanning rumours of a priceless booty on board.

On a flat-calm morning two Saturdays ago, the Ontario reappeared.

Yesterday, two Rochester engineers revealed their discovery.

"I can't tell you how excited we are," said Jim Kennard, 64, who has spent more than half his life pursuing the Ontario. "This is the holy grail of lost ships on the Great Lakes."

The find provides a denouement to one of the region's most intriguing historical mysteries and validation for Mr. Kennard and Dan Scoville, 35, who have braved years of early mornings, rough waters and snooping shipwreck thieves in their quest for the Ontario.

At first, the twosome wasn't sure what they'd found. The Ontario appeared as a mere blip on the side-scanning sonar system that Mr. Kennard, a retired Kodak engineer, designed and built himself.

After a few more soundings, "we could see this blip had two masts, each with a crow's nest," said Mr. Kennard, who has discovered seven of Lake Ontario's estimated 500 shipwrecks in the past six years alone.

"There was only one vessel we knew of that was built like that."

Their next step was to video the ship up close using a microwave-sized remote submersible of Mr. Scoville's design.

"Right away we saw the quarter gallery, the windows in the stern, the cannons," said Mr. Kennard.

"There was no mistaking. That's when we started getting excited."

As final confirmation they summoned Mr. Smith, author of the definitive book on the Ontario.

He showed up early Tuesday. The men were soon popping champagne.

"What I saw was far beyond my wildest dreams," said Mr. Smith. "I thought she'd be covered in silt, but she looks like she might have sunk last week."

In the pitch-black water of around 4 degrees Celsius, the Ontario has aged remarkably well. Leaning on a 45-degree angle, its masts still jut straight up from its decks where several guns lie upside-down. Zebra mussels cover much of the woodwork, but a brass bell, brass cleats and the stern lantern are perfectly visible. Seven big windows across the stern still have glass.

"This is the only revolutionary-era vessel in such perfect shape," said Mr. Smith, who speculated from the positioning of the wreck that Captain James Andrews may have been racing the ship west toward calmer waters at Niagara River when hurricane-force winds knocked it over.

There was no evidence of the roughly 113 Canadian men, women, children and American prisoners who went down with the ship.

Six bodies washed ashore the year after the Ontario sunk, but the rest of the passengers - mostly Canadian soldiers from the 34th regiment - were never found.

Nobody knows for sure how many passengers perished; the British kept their prisoner counts secret.

Out of worries over looting, Mr. Kennard and Mr. Scoville are keeping the ship's location hush-hush.

"You get a bit paranoid," said Mr. Kennard. "There are all sorts of games that go on out there and this is a British Admiralty war grave."

As for the rumours of gold treasure, Mr. Smith said it was all a myth.

"Other than a bit of loose change on the captain, there would be no money on board," he said.

"Nobody has seen anything like this. That's her true value."
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
^^ It would certainly be their property; no question about that. If it were to be raised it might be a good thing it belongs to them. It is an important part of our history and I hope it is raised and treated properly so that we can enjoy it.
 

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Coruscanti Cognoscente
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Is it right to raise it though? Or should it remain on the lake floor (doesn't have quite the same ring as "ocean floor" to it does it?) in its "natural" state?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yes, the question is always that. The Titanic will never be raised.. it is still such a monument and such an icon of history. To me, though.. this one is a perfect candidate to come up.... think of The Mary Rose in England. Mind you, it is prohibitively expensive to do such a project.
 
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