Geography is all about the interaction of people and their environment. Here is a perfect example; the schooner “Sweepstakes” lies in six metres of water in the sheltered water of Big Tub Harbour. I had taken this picture from the “Blue Heron V”, a glass bottomed boat that plies the crystal waters off Tobermory. The treacherous conditions of submersed reefs, fog, sudden gales and high traffic leaves the lake bottom totally littered with hundreds of wrecks. It is a divers and explorers dream come true.
At the far end of big Tub Harbour you can see the remains of two ships that had slipped beneath its surface, “The Sweepstakes” and the “City of Grand Rapids”. The glass bottomed boat hovered nose first over the more deeply lying “Sweepstakes”. The passengers rushed from side to side (myself amongst them) trying to get the optimal view.
“The City of Grand Rapids” lies in shallower water (3 metres). A submersed reef of struts just cuts the surface and because of the depth we viewed it from afar. The charred ribs reminded me of the scavanged carcass of a marooned whale; picked clean by gulls and wolves. “The City of Grand Rapids” had been a two-deck steamer that shuttled between Manitoulin Island, Owen Sound and Tobermory before its unfortunate demise.
In late October – 1907, “the Grand Rapids” caught fire in adjoining Little Tub Harbour and was towed out to burn itself to the waterline. Cut loose, it drifted back into Big Tub Harbour where it rolled over and extinguished itself. From above the waves it is still possible to see the innards of an old piano that was used to entertain the passengers.