THUNDER BAY, ON ----- November 3, 2013 ---- . Two thunder Bay Divers have located and identified a previously unknown shipwreck in Thunder Bay of great Historica significance. The Wreck, believed to be the 79’ Tug Boat Mary Ann, has the distinction of being the first vessel ever registered in the Dominion of Canada in 1867. The ship was reported to have been scuttled in 1936 at a different location at water depths in excess of 200’. As such it would not have been accessible to recreational Divers. As it turns out the wreck is in a different, much shallower location offering great recreational potential. “This ship is a once in a lifetime find” commented David Shepherd, one of the two divers responsible for the initial discovery. “How often do you get to find and dive into history.” David shepherd and Rob Valley Discovered the wreck using sophisticate side scan equipment, computer technology and a lot of luck.
A group of Local Divers are in the process of establishing a local chapter of the Ontario Under Water Council
The find was in many ways accidental. Shepherd and Valley were calibrating their equipment on what they believed was a known shipwreck but instead discovered the Mary Ann without realizing it. It wasn’t until latter when they returned to the GPS coordinates for a dive with friends that they realized they were on a new shipwreck. “I was completely shocked when David came back to the surface and informed me ‘well it’s not the ship we were supposed to be on’” reports Valley. “The big question now was “if it isn’t what we thought it was, what is it”. Over the next three month Shepherd, Valley and other local Divers returned on numerous occasions to the site to document and film the wreck. Then, using historical documents and the knowledge of local shipwreck historians including well known wreck hunter Ryan LeBlanc, that they compared the data collected from the wreck, they were able to confirm the find as the Mary Ann.
This is a really exciting and encouraging find” said fellow diver Mayor Richard Harvey of Nipigon, who has been Working alongside Shepherd and Valley to establish a local Chapter of the Ontario Under Water Council. “I believe there is incredible potential to develop the North Shore of Lake Superior as a Dive Tourism Destination and a find like this is a real boost for establishing a local under water council.”
The mandate of the Local chapter of the Ontario Under Water Council will be to preserve and Promote Shipwrecks and safe wreck diving. Once formed the local chapter of the OUC will start the process of getting historical protection for the Mary Ann and other new finds as well as developing dive strategies for the many other shipwrecks in the area. All three agree that there are many more shipwrecks waiting to be found and documented in Lake Superior.
For More information contact David Shepherd at 807-252-3799 or Richard Harvey at 807-887-4614
The Mary Ann was originally reported to have been scuttled in the Thunder Bay “Graveyard of Ships” For more information on the “Graveyard of Ships” and the Mary Ann see <http://www.graveyardofships.com/?page_id=2>
Registration Number: Unknown
Year of Construction: 1867
Length in feet: 78
Beam in feet: 15
Depth in feet: 8
Gross Tonnage: 87
Net Tonnage: 57
On October 20, 1886 the tug Mary Ann rescued the crew of the A. Neff which had wrecked at Edward Island.
Condemned in 1901 and abandoned at Port Arthur
Out of commission, registry closed June 21, 1933. Mortgage register.
First vessel registered in the Dominion of Canada
Although included as vessel #1 in the original contract, it is unclear as to whether or not this vessel was taken out the graveyard.
Update: It has been confirmed that the MaryAnn is not in the Graveyard of Ship site.
Construction Material: Wood
Where Built: Stromness, Ontario
Builder: William Hardison
Owner: Pigeon Lumber Company
Original Wreck Site: CNR Docks