Commemorating a time when Amherstburg was a bustling Great Lakes port, a significant portion of the Marsh Collection relates to the history of the Detroit River and Great Lakes. At the turn of the 20th century, more than one in five employed people in Amherstburg had a job connected to the Lakes, such as ship captain, deckhand, steward, cook or fireman. Channel work projects on the river not only provided employment, but the need for supplies for work crews also benefitted local merchants.
Highlights of the Marsh Historical Collection’s Great Lakes Holdings:
Reference books, including:
“The History of the Great Lakes”, Vols. I & II (J.H. Beers, 1899)
“Lore of the Lakes”, “Memories of the Lakes”, “Shipwrecks of the Lakes” (D.T. Bowen)
“True Tales of the Great Lakes” and others (D. Boyer)
“The Fleet Histories”, Vols. 1-6 & 9
Greenwood’s “Namesakes of the Lakes” (5 vols.)
“Great Lakes Ships We Remember”, Vols. I to III
Great Lakes Red Book, 1930, 1952-1993
Detroit Marine Historian (newsletter of the Detroit Marine Historical Society), 1947-present
Inland Seas (journal of the Great Lakes Historical Society), 1945-present
Telescope (journal of the Great Lakes Maritime Institute), 1960-2000
McQueen Marine Papers
photographs, trophies, models of tugs Atomic and Patricia McQueen
Echo Soundings: Marine News from the Amherstburg Echo
A serial publication which reprints the “Marine News” found in the Echo, 1874-1914 and 1935. Many volumes are available, priced from $5 to $22 each. Reporting on shipbuilding, shipwrecks and other shipping news, these columns provide a glimpse into Amherstburg’s role as a vital port of call and the excitement and dangers of a career on the Lakes.
EXCERPT: Echo Soundings, Marine News from the Amherstburg Echo
The storm which prevailed over land and water over the Northwest on Thursday and Friday was one of the worst on record. A carefully compiled list of casualties shows the aggregate damage to be not less than $700,000 to $800,000, almost entirely in the loss or serious damage of vessels of the cheaper class – lake barges and towing schooners. The loss of life, by reports already received, is about 39. Both the property lost and the fatalities will be swelled by the stray reports still to come in, for though the damage has been all done, it has not all been reported, nor, probably, all even discovered yet. Reports show the following vessels foundered:-The barges Minekaunie and Marinette, in tow of the steam barge Manistique, laden with lumber at Oscoda for Chicago, broke loose Thursday morning 20 miles off Manitou Island. They water-logged and went ashore four miles south of Frankfort. Both barges are a wreck. The two crews, numbering 15 men, were lost, except one named C.W. Annis. The schooner L.J. Conway, bound from Chicago to Muskegon, was wrecked on the beach near Flower Creek, seven miles north of White Lake, and Capt. Thomas Smith with four sailors, names unknown, are lost. Barge Emerald near Kewaunee, five lives lost; barge F.M. Dickinson near Kewaunee, three lives lost; two schooners, one the Helen, near Port Sherman, the crew of six men and the captain’s wife lost; schooner Lubrene went down near Ashland, 8 lives lost; barge Star of the North near East Tawas, crew saved. The vessels known to have been driven ashore are the steam barge Wallace and consort David Wallace on Chocolay Beach, east of Marquette, crews rescued by life-saving crew. The Robt. Wallace caught fire Sunday and her upper works burned off; several vessels at Presque Isle and many lives lost; schooner South Haven near Port Sherman, captain badly injured; schooner Mary near Blenheim, Ont; schooner Pathfinder near Two Rivers, cargo and vessel a total loss; schooner Cuyahoga and two scows in North Bay; schooner P.S. Marsh and an unknown schooner at St. Ignace; the schooner Kolfage at Goderich; propeller Nashua on Grass Island, Green Bay; barge Bissell near Marquette Beach, total loss; barges Buckout, McDougall, Baker, Golden Harvest near East Tawas; two unknown schooners on Old Mackinac Reef; schooner Unadilla near Mackinac; barge Minnehaha ashore at Detroit; schooners Wm. Jones, Tallahassee, Lyman Case, Thos. Sheldon, Queen of the Lakes, Dauntless and Ida Walker are in trouble. In the majority of these cases the crews are safe, but the result in a number of others is at least uncertain.