The Walker House saw about 50 people take in the special presentation of local shipwreck artifacts on the 128th anniversary of the Erie Belle’s explosion on what is now Boiler Beach.
Former Kincardine resident Carl LaFrance, now of St. Thomas, was in attendance to speak to guests about items he retrieved from the site of the Erie Belle explosion, as well as other shipwreck sites off of Station Beach and north of Kincardine’s pier.
Included and of note are the Erie Belle’s compass, steam vent, boiler tie bar and rigging chain, the ship’s log from the J.N. Carter, as well as a hull planking spike from the A.J. Rich, and other items from wrecks off of Kincardine’s shoreline.
LaFrance retrieved many of the items to save them from the elements and the possibility of them being taken by other divers for private collections.
“If I hadn’t taken it, some other diver would have come along and it would have disappeared,” he said. “The only place it has significance is here in Kincardine.” Read more.
Several artifacts retrieved from Lake Huron, including from the ill-fated Erie Belle tug, have been presented to the Kincardine Walker House Museum.
The Kincardine News presented Walker House staff with the artifacts Nov. 2 after they were shipped to the newspaper by former Kincardine resident Carl LaFrance.
The finds include the brass casing of the compass from the Erie Belle and a brass frictionless ships log, used to measure speed and nautical mileage, which is believed to belong to the schooner J.N. Carter.
The two ships are linked in history. The Erie Belle was destroyed and four of 12 crew were killed in a boiler explosion south of Kincardine at what is now Boiler Beach on Nov. 21, 1883 while towing the Carter, which went aground. The schooner was freed from the shoal that winter after its cargo of lumber was loaded onto the ice. The J.N. Carter sank in Georgian Bay in September 1894. Read more.