It was a stormy day on November 25th, 1881- at Owen Sound and Meaford a heavily loaded ship was on it's way to the Manitoulin Island. Short on the woodfuel needed to get to its destination, the captain took a detour - one that would cost the crew dearly. The ship, named Jane Miller, was capsized by gale-force winds and the 30 passengers aboard were lost in the storm.
A local couple waiting for their son working on another boat, claimed they saw the lights of the Jane Miller heading toward land. However as the storm worsened and it became harder to see at a distance, and the lights they saw disappeared all at once.
The locals held out hope that the passengers and crew were able to safely find their way to land, but a week later when there was still no word they knew their greatest fears had become a reality - the passengers they hoped would make it home were now ghosts lost in the water. This was named one of Georgian Bay's worst marine disasters.
Now, some 136 years later, the Jane Miller has been found. Or so American shipwreck hunters Jared Daniels, Jerry Eliason and Ken Merryman revealed after their summer discovery of a sunken ship in the Georgian Bay.
The wreck was found in Colpoys Bay, Ontario - a small community near Sauble Beach and the South Bruce Peninsula. The ship was found mostly intact with even its lifeboats still attached. Surprising really, when you consider how long the vessel has been submerged. Most terrifying though, is that the hunters reported that remains of 16 bodies could possibly still be scattered throughout the ship.
Shipwreck hunter Ken Merryman, says that “I kind of suspected we might see human remains, and maybe we did, but it was hard to tell from the zebra mussels.”
So far, the hunters aren’t revealing the exact details on where or how far down the Jane Miller was found (although they did reveal that it was a 'diveable depth'). The team is also being prohibited from entering the ship to uncover more info until the government officials involved can navigate preservation and protection matters.
Jared Daniels, one of the shipwreck hunters responsible for the underwater find has notably said, "the Miller was so close to safety within the Bay itself that she should have made it even in hurricane type winds. It was a true mystery to me as how it [sank]."
Which begs the question, did something sinister happen aboard? Did these experienced sailors just become victim to poor weather? Or did something happen when the fog of the storm descended? Unfortunately no one aboard survived to tell the tale of what went on that fateful night so we we'll just have to wait for the wreckage to give us some answers.
For more information on the history of the Jane Miller, you can read Scott Cameron's detailed account of the story here. And for more information on the recent discovery of the boat, check out Jared0425's thread on scubaboard.