Windsor maritime historian, writer and diver Cris Kohl has made probably the most vital shipwreck discovery of his profession with the discovering of the J.H. Jones, a small passenger and cargo ship that sunk off the Bruce Peninsula in 1906, tragically claiming 30 lives.
“At this level I must say the Jones is probably the most traditionally vital shipwreck that I helped determine,” stated Kohl, who was a part of a group of divers that made the invention on Canada Day however saved it secret till Thursday.
Because of Kohl’s analysis of newspaper accounts from the time, the group had been capable of finding the wreckage one hour and 45 minutes after they began looking out.
“Realizing the place the lighthouse keeper at Cabot Head was was vital as a result of he was up there watching it,” Kohl stated Thursday.
“The lighthouse keeper turned away for a few seconds and when he turned again it was gone. In order that gave us a fairly good clue as to the place it went down. And positive sufficient, it’s just about inside the line of imaginative and prescient.”
The steamer, J. H. Jones, carried provides and passengers to many Lake Huron harbour cities on Manitoulin Island and Georgian Bay, corresponding to Tobermory, depicted above on a interval postcard.
The coastal steamer went down in a storm off Cape Croker on the northeastern tip of the Bruce Peninsula on Nov. 22, 1906. All 17 passengers and 13 crew members had been misplaced.
The ship was based mostly out of the City of Wiarton, and all of its crew had been from there. Kohl stated as a result of there have been no survivors it has been very troublesome to pinpoint the ship’s location.
“This was Wiarton’s worst catastrophe, nonetheless is I imagine, I don’t suppose there’s been something worse to occur to the City of Wiarton for the reason that sinking of the J.H. Jones in late 1906,” stated Kohl, who turned occupied with shipwrecks and diving within the early 1980s.
“The captain (J.V. Crawford) was a really well-liked man in his early 50s at the moment, a businessman in Wiarton. The loss was felt for a protracted, very long time by all people on the town. 4 of the crew members left behind 16 kids after they died.”
Ken Merryman, one other member of the group, stated he has been concerned find many wrecks, however this one was particular as a result of they’d the great-grandson of the ship’s captain was there to expertise the discover.
“I’ve by no means hunted for a wreck with one of many descendants of the captain or of the folks that perished on the wreck,” Merryman stated. “We actually take pleasure in discovering these wrecks, however if you make a reference to the descendants of the individuals concerned it actually makes it particular.”
Merryman and Jerry Eliason of Minnesota set out on the path of the J. H. Jones together with Kohl after they had been contacted by the ship captain’s great-great grandson Dan Crawford. He had realized of the invention close by of one other ship, the Jane Miller, final summer time and requested if they might come again and search for the J. H. Jones.
“The Jones was form of on our shortlist anyway, however having the ability to make a reference to one of many descendants made it an important factor to do,” stated Merryman.
“It has been a dream of Dan’s as somewhat child to seek out it, and we helped him try this, in order that feels fairly good.”
Whereas Dan Crawford couldn’t make the journey up from Warren, Mich., for his or her search, his 83-year-old father Robert Crawford, who was ship captain J.V. Crawford’s great-grandson and nonetheless owns property on the peninsula, joined the group.
Robert Crawford, left, with Ken Merryman, the great-grandson of the Jones’ Captain J. V. Crawford, who was misplaced when his ship sank in 1906, was on board with the wreck hunters when the J. H. Jones was situated on July 1, 2018.
Merryman, who had a archaeological licence issued by the province of Ontario, stated they discovered the wreck on the third go with their sonar, after looking out in lower than 200 ft of water.
Merryman stated it was an thrilling second for each the searchers and for Crawford.
“He was very excited,” Merryman. “He by no means thought it could be present in his lifetime.”
The J. H. Jones was a 107-foot-long steamer inbuilt Goderich in 1888 as a fishing tug. The ship made runs from Owen Sound, up the east shore of the Bruce Peninsula to Manitoulin Island.
“There’s this class of ships we sometimes name coastal steamers that had been all around the Nice Lakes,” Merryman stated. “Earlier than there have been roads across the lakes, that is how items and passengers acquired transported across the lakes to the coastal communities.”
She had left Owen Sound to move in the direction of Lion’s Head with a load of cargo and freight when she was misplaced. The objects onboard included a brick-moulding machine, a sleigh, about 20 barrels of coal oil.
Just one physique from the wreck was ever discovered, that of a younger businessman from Manitoulin Island named Richard Addison.
Wreckage that washed ashore seven years later in November 1913 was decided to be from the J. H. Jones. Among the many objects discovered had been three barrels of coal oil, a firkin of lard, a bale of cotton and a few blankets.
The day after they discovered the ship the searchers took video of it with a drop digicam and two days later, Merryman and Kohl dived to the wreck and shot video of the hull.
Whereas the shipwreck was closely encrusted in mussels, it was largely intact and sitting with a heavy tilt to port on the underside of the bay. It was lacking many items the place its doorways and home windows had been in addition to some hull siding. The group might simply make out options such because the capstan, the stack and whistle which had fallen over, engine, bilge pump, anchor, boiler, rudder and propeller, a baggage cart, a hand truck and the steering put up.
Merryman stated the higher cabins had been gone on the ship and the group couldn’t make out any human stays.
He stated it’s potential that a lot of the on-deck cargo and our bodies might have been washed away through the sinking and over time. The searchers aren’t permitted to enter the cabin of the ship.
Merryman stated that whereas there weren’t a number of maritime artifacts or cargo seen, it’s particular to have the ability to discover such wrecks due to their place within the historical past of the communities they serve.
“We love these little coastal steamers as a result of they’re wealthy in historical past and a large factor isn’t at all times probably the most fascinating factor to dive,” stated Merryman. “There’s at all times a hyperlink to the group and that’s form of cool.”