• N 44.33.655 W 80.19.711

MARY WARD was a 129′ wooden steamer built in 1865 in Montreal. It traveled the Great Lake system between Montreal and Chicago carrying goods and passengers. She was purchased in 1872 by an Owen Sound group who put the Mary Ward into service on the Georgian Bay to Lake Superior route.

On November 22, 1872, the MARY WARD left Sarnia with a load of passengers, acid, salt, and kerosene bound for Collingwood, her new winter port. She was held up by weather and on November 24, 1872, the Mary Ward left Tobermory to Owen Sound to pick up more passengers heading to Collingwood.

A catastrophe unfolded whose cause remained a mystery for over a century. It is said that the Captain may have mistaken the lights at the Craigleith tavern for the Collingwood harbour entrance. Some suggest that the Captain simply didn’t know the waters well enough in that area. Others have suggested that there was a bank of fog caused by the warm air that day passing over the cooler Georgian Bay waters. In any event, the ship was off course when she hit Miligan’s Reef that night and became grounded on the rocks 2 km from shore.

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