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Old lake freighter finds second life as a break-wall

June 2019

In the Port Credit section of Mississauga, Ontario, a former village on the shores of Lake Ontario, the harbour is protected by two crushed stone break-walls and a third that is actually a former lake freighter:  the S.S. Ridgetown.

The Ridgetown, originally named the S.S. William E. Corey, was launched on 24 March 1905 as the flagship for the Pittsburgh Steamship Company at a cost of $475,000 (equivalent to $13.5 million in 2019 dollars). 

Unfortunately, it was shipwrecked within 3 months during the Mataafa Storm, one of the worst storms in the history of the Great Lakes, causing $100,000 in damage.

In July 1963, S.S. William E. Corey was sold to a British company and renamed Ridgetown.  Two years later, it was sold to Upper Lakes Shipping Limited and remained in operation until it was paid-off in 1969.

During the construction of the Ontario Hydro Power Plant in Nanticoke, Ontario, from 1970 to 1973, the S.S. Ridgetown served as a break-wall for the first time.  In late 1973, the ship was moved to Port Credit and partially sunk with tons of rocks inside the hull to weigh it down. 

The S.S. Ridgetown is the fourth-oldest lake freighter still in existence.  The other three, the S.S. Howard L. Shaw (launched in 1900) and her fleet mates S.S. Douglas Houghton (1899) and  S.S. Victorius (1895), coincidentally are all serving as break-walls a short 22 kms  to the east at Ontario Place in Toronto.

Sources: https://hikingthegta.com/2015/05/25/the-ridgetown-port-credit/, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_William_E._Corey, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Howard_L._Shaw

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/old-lake-freighter-finds-second-life-as-a-break-wall/

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