1890 shipwreck of Canadian schooner found in Lake Ontario

OSWEGO, N.Y. – The battered wreck of a Canadian schooner that sank in Lake Ontario during a sudden squall more than a century ago has been found off the lake’s central New York shore, a team of undersea U.S. explorers said Thursday.

Jim Kennard, Roger Pawlowski and Roland Stevens said they found the wreck of the Ocean Wave while searching for historic shipwrecks off Oswego.

The 25-metre Ocean Wave was hauling hemlock lumber and lath from Trenton, Ont., to Oswego when it went down about 25 kilometres from the New York shore during a violent squall in November 1890.

All five men aboard were lost, including the captain, Thomas Brokenshire, of Port Hope, Ont., on the lake’s northern shore.

The ship broke apart and sections floated around the lake’s eastern end before eventually sinking in about 90 metres of water, Kennard said.

Kennard said one of Brokenshire’s descendants told the explorers that an acquaintance of the captain later wrote that Brokenshire was making his final voyage before retiring.

The explorers said they first came across evidence of the wreck last year while using side-scan sonar. They returned to the site this summer and used a remote-operated vehicle to obtain video images of the wreck. They said the Ocean Wave was the only known schooner to have capsized and then sunk in that area of Lake Ontario.

In July, the trio announced the discovery of a 16-metre schooner that sank during a storm in 1839. Kennard was part of the team that discovered the British warship HMS Ontario, the oldest shipwreck ever found in the Great Lakes. The Ontario sank in Lake Ontario in 1780.

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