Jim Kennard and his partners were wrapping up their season of searching for historic shipwrecks on Lake Ontario’s eastern end when they decided to make one last sweep of the lake bottom with their sonar equipment.
The U.S. team’s last-ditch effort earlier this month paid off with the discovery of the shipwreck of the Roberval, a 39-meter Canadian steamer that sank nearly a century ago, killing two of the vessel’s nine crew members.
The Roberval was one of only two sunken steel-clad ships still undiscovered in the lake, which made it a much sought-after find by Great Lakes shipwreck hunters, Kennard said.
“We’ve been looking for this for two years now,” he said. “It was a nice way to end the season.”
The Ottawa-based steamer was hauling lumber across the lake’s eastern end, bound for Oswego, N.Y., when it ran into rough conditions in late September 1916.
According to the explorers, tons of spruce lumber piled on deck broke lose when winds kicked up high waves that knocked the ship on its side. Some of the lumber smashed into the upper cabin structure and hit a crewman, who was knocked overboard and drowned.
A second crewman went down with the ship when the shifting timber trapped him in a forward compartment.