The Dredge Munson Shipwreck

A new exhibit developed by grade 7/8 students participating in Takeover Day activities is now on display at Glanmore.  The Dredge Munson is a small scale exhibit on display until early summer 2018 which tells the story of a shipwreck in Lake Ontario. The exhibit features artifacts salvaged from the wreck along with excellent underwater photographs by photographer Warren Lo.

Based out of Belleville, Ontario, the dredge Munson went into service in the 1880s and was used for maintaining water depth and for digging out harbours.

The dredge Munson sank in April of 1890.
The dredge Munson sank in April of 1890. Photos by Warren Lo Photography.

In April of 1890, the Munson had been working on the Kingston Harbour, increasing the depth of the harbour to accommodate the schooner-barge Minnedosa, the largest four-masted Canadian sailing vessel ever built on the Great Lakes.

Divers swim along the the wreck.
Divers found the Munson wreck in the 1980s. Photos by Warren Lo Photography.

After completing its job the dredge was being towed back home by the Emma Munson, Suddenly, the dredge Munson unexpectedly sprang a leak. Tow lines were cut and it rapidly sank near Lemoine Point outside of Kingston, Ontario in a matter of four minutes.

Bill Green, a Belleville man, was a cook on the dredge and had been busy making dinner when the Munson began to sink. After jumping off the ship, Green was submerged in the icy water for several minutes before being rescued.

artifacts from the Munson wreck
Household objects aboard the Munson wreck. Photo by Warren Lo Photography.

The wreck of the dredge Munson was discovered nearly 100 years later by divers in the 1980s, at a depth of 40 meters (130 feet). Once the location of the wreck was known by the public, many divers began stealing artifacts from the wreck.

While this was happening, a local diver went down and retrieved as many of the artifacts as he could in order to preserve them. These artifacts were later donated to the Glanmore National Historic Site, so they could be kept for future generations to enjoy.

divers near the Munson wreck
The cold waters of Lake Ontario have helped to preserve the wreck. Photo by Warren Lo Photography.

The theft of artifacts from the dredge Munson wreck in the 1980s and early 1990s was one of many instances used for the development of legislation designed to protect shipwrecks in Lake Ontario.

It’s now illegal to remove artifacts from shipwrecks.