I've been visiting this area all my life, and have even had the opportunity to be a frequent boater in the Port Credit Harbour Marina. Everytime I’m there, I look at the freighter, The Ridgetown, and wonder about the story behind it.
To satisfy my curiosity, I decided to dig a little deeper and research the vessel.
I was able to uncover the lengthy life it had before it ended up as a breakwall in Mississauga. Breakwall, meaning it breaks the waves from crashing into the marina and stirring up all the boats that are docked here.
Courtesy: Dave Hodge
When this boat first set sail it was known as the William E Corey, it was a steel hull propeller driven Great Lakes freighter. I asked Historian Matthew Wilkinson of Heritage Mississauga to fill us in on its early life.
Courtesy: Heritage Mississauga
“It launched on June 24th of 1905,” he explained. “One of the most fascinating stories around the Ridgetown (William E Corey) came after it was newly launched in the first few months of service. The vessel was caught in the infamous storm known as the Mutaafa Blow.”
After doing the research on this storm, well, it was definitely not the best time to be out on the water!
This storm, which took place on November 28th, 1905, is known as one of the worst witch of November storms to ever hit the Great Lakes.
Matthew described it as “hurricane-force”, with winds gusting over 100 kilometres per hour. The storm was also a snowy one, with some historians commenting that the crew could not see more than half the length of the ship.
“Many ships were imperil including the Corey,” continued Matthew. “The Corey was driven hard aground on Gull Island Reef in the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior.”
Courtesy: Google Earth
Courtesy: Google Earth
He also noted the lengthy list of other ships that were claimed in the storm:
This storm did not mark the end of the Corey. It was repaired and served for many years after.
For 53 years the vessel was known as the William E Corey, but was then sold in 1963 to the Canadian Upper Lakes Shipping Company and was renamed “The Ridgetown”.
Courtesy: Shannon Baldwin
“The career ended for this boat in 1969, when it was laid up in Toronto,” said Matthew. “The boat actually served as a temporary breakwater first in Nanticoke before it came to Port Credit on June 21 1974.”
So how did they sink the ship? Essentially, it was loaded with stone and cement and partially sunk.
Today the boat is owned by the City of Mississauga.Watch the video above for some amazing drone shots and a look inside The Ridgetown!