Thunder Bay

Diver starts surveying wreck of historic vessel

Archaeologist Chris McEvoy is surveying the wreck of a boat believed to have once carried a Father of Confederation.

Wreck is believed to be the Mary Ann, the first vessel registered in Canada

The Mary Ann once carried a Father of Confederation. Diver and archaeologist Chris McEvoy is surveying a wreck believed to be the Mary Ann. (Chris McEvoy)

A Thunder Bay, Ont. archaeologist has begun surveying a shipwreck believed to be the remains of the first vessel registered in Canada.

Part of Chris McEvoy's mission is to confirm that the wreck is indeed the Mary Ann, a tugboat that, according to a 1944 article in the Port Arthur News Chronicle, was ordered built by senator Lachlin McCallum — who named it after his daughter — and once hosted an excursion by Sir Hector-Louis Langevin, one of the Fathers of Confederation.

McEvoy is a member of the Superior chapter of Save Ontario Shipwrecks, which is working to promote dive tourism in the region by surveying and marking the sites of wrecks.  His survey is part of those efforts.  
Chris McEvoy's survey of this wreck is part of a larger effort by the Superior chapter of Save Ontario Shipwrecks to promote dive tourism in the region. (Chris McEvoy)

McEvoy has explored several archaeological sites in his lifetime and said it can be difficult to maintain a balance between his work and his excitement.

"One side of your brain is like, 'Oh my god. Oh my god, look what I found,' while the other side is keeping it respectful and academic at the same time," he said.

Thunder Bay divers David Shepherd and Robert Valley discovered the wreck in 2013 in waters off the Welcome Islands.

That's several kilometers from where it was believed to have been intentionally sunk, McEvoy said.

McEvoy can't yet reveal details of what his survey has found, he said.

He has completed two dives so far and expects to continue his work until the end of the fall.
The Canadian tug boat Mary Ann was registered in 1867. In 2013, two Thunder Bay divers discovered what are believed to be the remains of the ship. (Supplied)

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