Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Nautical Mystery...

If you happen to travel along the QEW, between Niagara Falls and Toronto,
you will no doubt come across this strange and unusual landmark...
an empty shell of ship.
  In past years, I've always wanted to stop and photograph her but never had a chance!
This past November, I did.
So, here's a little history...
 This 140 ft. wooden vessel was built in 1914 to resemble the French Explorer, Jacques Cartier's flagship, La Grande Hermine (The Big Weasel).  She was christened Le Progress, and began life as a ferry boat on the St. Lawrence River, where Cartier sailed in 1535 and later claimed Canada for France.
According to folklore, Le Progress also moonlighted as a cargo ship, floating restaurant,
and even posed as a 'haunted pirate ship' for local fundraising.

I spent a good hour here as clouds were thick and shifting ever so quick
so lighting was a challenge.
Good thing I was traveling one would've had the patience to wait with me!
As I walked the shore looking for different angles, a pair of swans glided out from the brush!
They didn't seem bothered at all by my nice!
 They stayed nearby for a while 'til I kindly asked them to waddle out and pose by the ship...
and they obliged...haha!
Ok, back to the story...
In 1991, while functioning as a floating restaurant, adornments (masts) were added to more closely replicate La Grande Hermine. Unfortunately, the restaurant could not sustain and when funds depleted, it was towed here, to Jordan Harbour, to await further relocation to a spot near Niagara Falls, in hopes of turning it into a gambling venue, but the owner passed away before permission was granted. 
 Here she moored for years.  Abandoned.  Rotting.
And, sadly became a victim of arson in January, 2003.
Birds and wild plants make their home here but all we see is a rusting metal shell.
Owners of the harbour have been trying to get rid of it, but local government won't foot the bill. 

A roadside eyesore?  Not worth a second glance?  Maybe to the locals, but I knew I had to do a
little digging, find out how and why she came to sleep here.

So next time you drive along the western shore of Lake Ontario, keep your eyes peeled...
though she's hard to miss!  Pull over, take some pictures, and remember this bittersweet story.
You may even be greeted by these swans!
Thanks for visiting.  Next, I'll share pics from Niagara Falls!


  1. I enjoyed your nautical mystery! It's that way with so many things in life. Think about that the next time you see an old crumbling house, or a quiet little senior citizen in a wheelchair. They all have a story to tell....

  2. It is a bittersweet story for sure. The swans add to the story as well. What a shame. I am surprised no one has come forward asking to salvage it with all that metal. I would think the city or county would actually come out even or ahead a bit once that metal is tallied up. You took some awesome photos of it. I just wonder why the owner's family did not have a hand in the fate of this ship. Happy New Year to you Lynn.


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