SS Jane Miller

was a steamer that sank with the loss of 28 lives near Wiarton, Ontario on Georgian Bay on November 25, 1881. Her wreck was discovered in 2017 resting upright in over |100|ft of water


The Jane miller was built in 1879 for James Miller & Sons, and was used as a small freighter along the Bruce Peninsula and North Channel (Ontario)|North Channel of Georgian Bay. In September 1879 she collided with the schooner MOUNTAINER at night on Owen Sound, badly damaging the schooner. It was sold to Andrew Port in June of 1880 to be used in general freight service along the south shore of Georgian Bay, the east side of the Bruce Peninsula, and Manitoulin Island.

Registration Records

Canadian Registration List

First Registration Name: [ JANE MILLER ] Location: [COLLINGWOOD, ONTARIO, CANADA ] Registriation: [ 3/1879 ] Date Registered: [ 1879/07/29 ] Official Number: [ 78022 ] First Registration: [ YES ] Original Building Information Built By: [ DAVID MILLER, LITTLE CURRENT, ONT. ] Built At: [ LITTLE CURRENT, ALGOMA, ONTARIO, CANADA ] Date Built: [ 1879 ] Length: [ 78.00 ] Beam: [ 18.00 ] Depth: [ 7.6 ] Gross: [ 210.10 ] Net: [ 142.87 ] Vessel Description Deck: [ TWO ] Type: [ CARVEL ] Stern: [ROUND ] Gallery: [NONE ] Stem: [ PLAIN ] Frame: [ WOOD ] Propulsion: [ STEAM SHIP SCREW ] Number of Masts: [ ONE ] Type of Rig: [ SLOOP ] First Engine Type of Engine: [ HIGH PRESSURE ] Number of Engines: [ONE ] Date Built: [ ILLEGIBLE ] Built by: [HYSLOP & RONALD, CHATHAM ] Horsepower: [ 45 ] Unit Horsepower: [COMBINED ] Closing Information Date Registration Closed: [ 1881/12/20 ] Date of Reason Closed: [1881/11/25 ] Reason Closed: [UNKNOWN ] Remark: [THE STEAMER LEFT SEAFORD ON 25 NOVEMBER … BOUND FOR PORTS ON MANITOULIN ISLAND ONT. AND HAS NOT BEEN HEARD OF SINCE. ] Source of Data N.A.C., MG-40 D3 B.T., B-3717, 1879, VOL. 1 - COLLINGWOOD

Mills List Original Vessel Data Name: [ Jane Miller ] Mills Number: [ 027210 ] Propulsion: [ Screw Propeller ] Official Number: [78022 ] Dimensions: [ 78x 18 - 210 tons ] Built in: [ Little Current, Ontario, Canada, 1879 ] Closing Information Date Closed: [1881/11 ] Reason Closed: [ Foundered ] Where Closed: [ Colpoys Bay, Ontario, Canada ] Addendum .Jane Miller; 78x18x8 Owned by R. D. Port, Wiarton 1881. Built by D. Miller, Little Current 1879. Engine 16×18 by Hyslop & Ronald, Chatham Ont., from “William Seymour”. Steam barge, Georgian Bay. Capsized in gale 25/11/81 Colpoy's Bay near Wiarton, 25 killed. All cargo on deck, none in hold

Swayze Shipwreck List JANE MILLER Other names : none Official no. : C78022 Type at loss : propeller, wood, pass. & pkg frt “coaster” and ferry Build info : 1878, D. Miller, Little Current, Ont. Specs : 78x18x8 210gc 143nc Date of loss : 1881, Nov 26 Place of loss : probably near the mouth of Colpoy's Bay, Georgian Bay Lake : Huron Type of loss : storm Loss of life : 30 [all] Carrying : gen frt Detail : Departed Meaford, Ont., bound for Wiarton into teeth of a gale and was never seen again. She had serviced the number of small ports on the inside coast of the Bruce Pen. A plaque was erected in her honor by the Ontario Government in 1968. Sources: mmgl,is(4-65),slh,gs,wm2,csv,mpl,rp


On the afternoon of November 25, 1881, the Jane Miller departed Owen Sound with a load of cargo. She arrived in Meaford, Ontario, where thirty additional tons of cargo was loaded, much of which was stored on deck. The JANE MILLER departed Meaford in the late afternoon headed for Spencer's Wharf near Wiarton as a blizzard began to blow with winds from the southwest. The strong winds and rough seas required a stop en route at Big Bay for additional cordwood for fuel. Departing Big Bay between 8 and 9 PM, eyewitnesses saw the JANE MILLER pass White Cloud Island and enter Colpoys Bay. As she approached Spencer's Wharf, the blizzard intensified for a few minutes, and when the snow abated the steamer had vanished without a trace.


The ship had little to no permanent ballast on board, instead relying on the weight of her fuel and cargo in her hold to keep her properly trimmed. It was speculated that the blizzard had resulted in the Jane Miller consuming more of her fuel than expected, and that combined with the extra cargo loaded at Meaford, had become top heavy. When the snowstorm increased in intensity in Colpoys Bay, a strong gust of wind flipped her on her side, and she sank in minutes

On December 4th three men started rowing from near Spencer's wharf towards White Cloud Island to see if they could find any indication of the missing ship. Half a mile northeast of Spencer's wharf they discovered a patch of discoloured water with air bubbles rising to the surface. Bearings from certain objects on the shore were made, and the position was later determined to be very close to the last observed location of the JANE MILLER. Continuing on to White Cloud Island they found in a bay several items, including “oars, some pins of the lifeboat, a piece of a mast, and a steamers gang plank”. The tugboat TOMMY WRIGHT dragged the area hoping to find the wreck, but was unsuccessful as soundings revealed depths greater than 33 fathoms (198 feet or 60.35 metres) in the area.

A historical plaque was erected near Spencer's Wharf to commemorate the sinking.

Crew & Passengers

{| class=“wikitable sortable”

! Name !! Position !! Notes

Richard Dawson Port Captain
Charles Frederick Port Purser
Alex Scales Wheelman
James Christie Chief Engineer
August Keppel Fireman
Gilbert Colbert Fireman
Three or Four unknown crewmen Deckhand
Andrew Port Passenger
J. Jestin Passenger
Stewart Thompson Passenger
Leon Butchart Passenger
Mrs Leon Butchart Passenger
Capt. Malcolm McLeod Passenger
James Warner Passenger
James B. Hallock Passenger
Mr. Hill Passenger

There were an additional ten passengers whose names were not recorded, bound for Lion Head or Tobermory to work as labourers over the winter.


The wreck of the JANE MILLER was discovered on July 27, 2017 by a shipwreck hunting team made up of Jared Daniel, Jerry Eliason and Ken Merryman operating with a permit issued by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (Ontario). The discovery was announced on November 25, 2017, the 136th anniversary of the sinking. The wreck is upright, in over 100 ft of water. The pilothouse, smokestack, and upper deck cabins have collapsed, but the hull is mostly intact, and the mast and three lifeboat davits are still in place. The permit did not allow for the divers to enter, but Daniel reported seeing sixteen corpses inside the hull. Merryman admitted that he was unsure if they had seen any human remains, since the wreck is heavily encrusted with zebra mussels, making identification of any such remains very difficult. A subsequent investigation of the wreck by divers from the Ontario Provincial Police and Canadian Forces did not find any human remains. Despite this, the wreck of the Jane Miller has been designated a protected archaeological site under the Ontario Heritage Act, and Merryman has not released the exact position and depth of the wreck, in order to further protect the site.


Wikipedia contributors, 'SS Jane Miller', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 24 October 2018, 00:57 UTC, <> [accessed 26 November 2018]

Bowling Green State University Holdings

jane_miller.txt · Last modified: 2018/12/04 14:03 by tom
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