Jason Gillham – October 2019
More than 6000 shipwrecks are scattered throughout the Great Lakes of Canada and the United States according to The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. Here in Canada chances are your fish finder has pinged a wreck or two while searching for Pike in Georgian Bay, whose notorious quick temper has claimed many over the years.
It was in the bay this August that our team at 2G Robotics came across a shipwreck while testing new products. While we were certain that this was not the first time the wreck had been found, our amateur maritime historians went to work. Through some further research found that the wreck is identified as the City of Chatham in the Great Lakes Diving Guide by Cris Kohl.
The City of Chatham steamer was built in the late 19th century and overcame numerous challenges with fire and weather related groundings before ultimately falling into disrepair. Her remains were intentionally sunk to create a mill pond to protect Whicher’s Mill. In 1994 Adam Henley provided artwork documenting the wreck as it sat at that time.
2G Robotics benefits from having a great number of test sites available to us within a short drive from our Waterloo, Ontario headquarters. Our team, along with technicians from Seatronics, departed from the Wiarton boat launch to test our new ULS-500 Micro Inspection Skid where we were fortunate to come across the City of Chatham wreck. The high resolution laser data and the stills image mosaic allowed us to spend time reviewing many details of the remaining timbers that were part of the steamer’s hull that cut through the Georgian Bay waters a century before us.
The real discovery was how substantially the wreck has deteriorated over the past couple decades and through the use of our new technology we are able to clearly see the degree of degradation that has taken place. Maritime History is a substantial part of understanding the history and settlement of the Great Lakes region. Accurate documentation of the various wrecks that define our history is important before these submerged time capsules are lost forever.