Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | November 13, 2014

Artifact of the Week. Brass porthole rim from the MS Eastcliffe Hall, 1970.

scan0009Brass porthole rim salvaged from the MS Eastcliffe Hall, which sank near Morrisburg on July 14, 1970 in 60 feet of water.

scan0010Superstructure of the Eastcliffe Hall.  The freighter was built in 1954.  On July 14, 1970 she struck a shoal in the St. Lawrence River near Morrisburg and sank within minutes drowning nine of the 21 people on board.  Even though the St. Lawrence Seaway was ten years old, there were still areas around the “drowned islands” in the river that even seasoned mariners were still getting used to.

The steamer with its load of pig iron was on its way to Michigan under the command of Captain Joseph Groulx.

Around 3:00 a.m. the vessel ran aground on Gooseneck Island shoal, a former island.  After easing the ship back from the shoal, the boat turned hard to starboard.  Now free of Gooseneck, the vessel was heading full speed towards Chrysler shoal.

At 4:00 a.m., campers at nearby Chrysler Park Marina heard what was described as a “sonic boom.”  They now saw ship lights sitting at an awkward angle and heard cries for help, before they were drowned out by the sound of “glass breaking and hissing steam” as the vessel now plunged towards the bottom of the river.scan0011OPP rescue boat.

scan0012The rescue operation started immediately and eleven people were found drifting downstream in the current while another one was found clinging to a mast protruding from the water.

The captain, along with five crewmen and three passengers died.scan0013OPP rescue camp.scan0014The barge Mapleheath, in the Cornwall Canal.

The cargo was removed from the Eastcliffe Hall by the Mapleheath, and her protruding masts were cut away.  Today she remains at the bottom of the river visited by numerous divers.

The photographs were taken by veteran Cornwall photographer Marcel Quenneville.

Dairy of A.J. McGillis, Glen Walter. Original spellings and grammar maintained.

November 8, 1907 – A & P and M & C went to concession. very cold tonight.

Nov. 9 – had to leave cows in for the first time.

Nov. 10 – Mary McLennan and Mrs. D. McLennan (Mason) was here.

Nov. 11 – very warm and we were picking apples.

Nov. 15 – Mr. Matheson and C. Craig was here on his pastoral visit didn’t see anyone but Dunkie girls picking hickory nuts.


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Cornwall Industry

A Cornwall Community Museum Blog

Cornwall Canal and Shipping History

A Cornwall Community Museum Publication

Cornwall Community Museum

In The Wood House at the waterfront, Cornwall, Ontario, Canada

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