Gladstone, which lies in strong current just offshore from Canatara Park. Built in 1888, the 283-foot wooden cargo ship was intentionally sunk in 1923 to provide the foundation for a loading dock that later burned down. Drone photo, courtesy of David Cooke,
  • Bulk Carrier
  • 10 – 20ffw
  • 290ft length
  • Canatara Park, St. Clair River

In 1888, an American shipbuilder in Cleveland named W. Radcliffe constructed a wooden cargo bulk carrier named the Gladstone. The 2,112-ton vessel was 283 feet in length with a 40 foot beam, and was employed hauling iron ore and other material through the Great Lakes – an older version of the lake freighters that still ply these waters today.

In 1918, while Gladstone was lying at her winter moorings in Pine River, Michigan on Lake St. Clair, her hull was crushed by an ice jam, rendering her unseaworthy. The wreck was purchased by C. Peel of Chatham, Ontario. In 1923, she was brought here to Sarnia to serve as a breakwater.

The online “Great Lakes Shipwreck File” confirms that this is indeed the vessel whose remains lie today off Canatara Park beach. A few years ago, when Great Lakes waters were extremely low, parts of the wreck actually lay mere feet below the water, briefly posing a maritime hazard for small boaters.

David Swayze Shipwreck File Record


Other names:  none
Official no.:  85996
Type at loss; propeller, wood, bulk freight
Build info:  1888, W. Radcliffe, Cleveland
Specs:  283x40x22  2112g  1812n
Date of loss:  1918, (Dec)
Place of loss:  Pine River, St. Clair, MI
Lake: St Clair R
Type of loss:  iceLoss of life:  none
Carrying :  none

Detail: Her hull was crushed by an ice jam while she was lying at her winter moorings. Sank. Wreck purchased by C. Peel of Chatham, Ont. for use as a breakwater at Sarnia, Ont., in Dec 1923, and removed there.

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