Beneath the vastness and calmness of Georgian Bay, lies not only a variety of underwater creatures but also twenty or more shipwrecks that were found, explored, preserved and retold in history books. Two ships sank 22 years apart found fame as one of Bruce Peninsula’s top tourist attractions: Sweepstakes and City of Grand Rapids. These two shipwrecks in Tobermory have been resting peacefully in a turquoise water in Big Tub Harbor for more than a hundred years but they refuse to sink and be forgotten by the world. Unlike Titanic, their remains live on….
Today, though 20 feet underwater, they are still a sight to behold. They’ll amaze you and they’ll blow you away…
Before you start your tour, have some fish and chips. They’re found anywhere around the harbor.
The tour starts from the picturesque town of Tobermory.
It is the gateway to Fathom Five National Marine Park.
Here lies some of Canada’s oldest and best preserved shipwrecks dating back from 19th century.
One of them is the SWEEPSTAKES.
It sank in 1885.
She was a Great Lake Schooner built in 1867 in Burlington, Ontario.
She weighed two hundred eighteen tonnes and 36.3 meters long.
She has 23 feet beam and a 10 feet depth of hold.
In late summer of 1885, Sweepstakes was hauling coal…
…..when it was discovered her hull was damaged.
She was stranded near Cove Island—
—and they decided…
…..to tow her at the mouth of Big Tub Harbor for repair.
But before she was completely salvaged from further damage…
From then on…
…she was laid to rest.
Few meters away from the Sweepstakes is another shipwreck.
In her heydays, she was called the “City of Grand Rapids.”
She’s 37.3 meters propeller steamer and was built in 1879 in Grand Haven, Michigan.
She carried both cargoes and passengers to Huron Lake and Georgian Bay.
She was a double-decker ship, too!
In October 1907, she caught herself a fire…
…while docked in a Little Tub Harbor.
For the security of the people and the harbour, she was towed into Georgian Bay and released to burn.
From there, she was drifted to the head of Big Tub Harbour where she burnt to the waterline and sank.
How to get there:
Get to the town of Tobermory and buy a tour ticket that goes to the Shipwrecks and the Flowerpot Island. If you know how to kayak or canoe, a local outfitters at the entrance of Little Tub Harbor is renting out equipments you can use for the whole day. The shipwrecks aren’t that far from the Little Tub Harbor.
The ship would only be in the shipwreck area for about 5-7 minutes. In my bigger opinion, it’s better to take the bigger / double-decker ferry than the smaller one. Take your seat right on the top deck for a better viewing and better pictures, too. Blue Heron company advertises that their ship has a glass bottom but you will be surprised how tiny it is (at least in my ship). So, better go upstairs and enjoy a better view.
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