• Type of Wreck: Tug
  • Dimensions: 89ft x 22ft x 8ft 111 GT 64 NT   
  • Depths 100ft (33m)
  • Location of Wreck: N 44’01.123 W76’36.121

Shotline Diving Site Map of the
FRONTENAC – Cary Baker for NTDMM @2000

Frontenac (1901) Year of Build: 1901 Official Number: 111767

CONSTRUCTION AND OWNERSHIP Built at: Garden Island, Ontario POWER Propulsion: Screw DIMENSIONS Tonnage (gross): 111
Final Location: Main Ducks, Lake Ontario, Ontario, Canada
How: Foundered

89x22x8 Owned by Calvin Company, Kingston; to Donnelly Salvage & Wrecking Co.
1916; to Sincennes-McNaughton
1929. Built by Calvin, Garden Island Ont. Engine 10-20½x15 (builder uncertain). Towboat.
Sank 05/12/29 near Main Duck Island, Lake Ontario.

The Frontenac was built on Garden Island, 2 miles south of Kingston, with Wolfe Island to the south. The builder was Calvin Company, whose founder D. D. Calvin, had built a lumber empire during the 1800s and the ships to transport them. Calvin maintained a fleet of 12 to 15 vessels that transported square timber to Garden Island, where the timber was unloaded and built into rafts that were floated to Quebec City. From here it was shipped to British markets. These huge rafts were among the largest man-made objects of the 19th century, some of them between a quarter and a half-mile in length.

Built by his son in 1900 for towing rafts, the Frontenac saw the wane of the great days of the timber trade. Rafts became fewer and fewer, and the company went out of business at the outset of World War 1. In 1912, the Frontenac was sold to the Donnelly Salvage and Wrecking Company, who owned and worked her up to the Spring of 1929. Among other vessels, the company also owned the steamer Cornwall, along with the Frontenac’s sister ship, the William Johnston. In the Spring of 1929, she was purchased by the Sin-Mac Lines and didn’t last a full year in their employ. Newspaper reports are conflicting as to the day she left port for the last time, but she foundered on Wednesday, December 11. The basis for the following scenario is an interview with Captain Omar Marin of the Rival, who rescued the crew and captain of the Frontenac. It is interesting to note that Captain Marin and his crew had themselves been rescued a few weeks earlier from the sinking of the tug Russell, which had sunk while bound for Hamilton with a barge in tow.

The two tugs had cleared Portsmouth harbour about 1:45 P.M. for the grounded freighter Sarniadoe to take off cargo. The Rival had the barge Cobourg in tow. The tugs arrived at Ducks Island at about 5:00 P.M. and due to weather conditions were forced to return. It was about 8:15 P.M., with a heavy sea running when the Frontenac began to blow distress signals. The Rival cast off the line to the barge and started back to the Frontenac.

On reaching the Frontenac, she had settled low in the water with waves sweeping over her. The crew was standing beside one of the lifeboats ready to swing out when the Rival came alongside and took off the crew. They picked up the barge in bitter cold, with ice covering the tug and made their way back to Portsmouth. It was presumed at the time that, buffeted by heavy seas and being built of wood, the tug was unable to stand the strain. This is even though she had been completely refitted the previous year. The local manager of Sin-Mac Lines, reportedly on board the tug when she went down, refused comment to the newspapers. Captain Mallen and the crew of the Frontenac returned to their homes in Morrisburg without commenting on the sinking.

Name of Ship:


Year of Registration: 1901

Type of Ship: Wooden Screw Steamer

Port of Registry: Kingston, Ontario

Where Built: Garden Island, Ontario

Gross Tonnage: 110

Net Tonnage: 63

Official Number: 111767

Reference: 1445|42 Volume: 1445

Other Reference:

Old VolumePagesMicrofilm Reel #See Volume No.

NOTES From the Collection of: C. Patrick Labadie #

FRONTENAC (1901, Tug (Towboat))
Build: 1901 Official Number: 111767
Vessel Type: Tug (Towboat) Hull Materials: Wood
Number of Decks: 1
Built on Bottom of: 1875 MAY HAVE BEEN TUG ST. JAMES, C74209.
Original Owner and Location: Calvin Co., Garden Island.
POWER Propulsion: Screw
DIMENSIONS Length: 89′ Beam: 21.8′ Depth: 7.8′ Tonnage (gross): 111 Tonnage (net): 64

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