The Wexford

Ill-Fated Ship

Wexford’s Wreckage Lies Near Goderich


By James Donahue


Among the fleet of ships lost in Lake Huron during the Great Storm of November 9-10, 1913 was the British steamship Wexford. She disappeared during the height of the storm after locking through the locks at Sault Ste. Marie and stopping at Detour, at the top of Lake Huron, for coal.


For years the location of the Wexford was a mystery. After continual searching, and with the help of sonar, sport divers found the Wexford in 2000 off South Bend, Ontario, lying in about 75 feet of water.


It is interesting that the ship is among the few, and perhaps the only victim of that storm, to have sunk to the bottom in an upright position. Most of the steamers that went down in the storm were found lying upside down, which has been a peculiar phenomenon of that event.


The Wexford was a steel hulled cargo ship, built in 1883 in Sunderland, England, for ocean trade between English ports and South America. The vessel was 250 feet in length, had a broad beam 40 feet in width, and was schooner rigged with two masts and sails, even though it was steam powered.


The Wexford came on the Great Lakes in 1904, made its home port in Collingwood, Ontario, and began hauling grain from Fort William, now Thunder Bay, Ontario, to Goderich.


The ship was still on the job, apparently making that same run on the day of the big storm nine years later. Her skipper was Captain Bruce Cameron. The ship carried a crew of from 17 to 24 sailors. The numbers vary.


The general belief is that the Wexford was carrying grain, although some stories say the ship also was hauling steel rails when it sank.


Tragically, the Wexford almost made it to the safety of the Goderich breakwaters before it sank. Some of the wreckage came ashore within a few miles of that city.


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