Month: January 2014

THE JEAN-RICHARD: OTTAWA’S HIDDEN SHIPWRECK

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Once the subject of a 1959 National Film Board documentary, the Jean Richard now lies shipwrecked in the Ottawa River.

DISCOVERING THE WRECK

I am fascinated by maps. Maps can reveal a great many things about our region’s history, especially if you study them closely enough. Current satellite maps, old maps of the city and vintage road maps all reveal details we may otherwise miss from a ground perspective. After scanning an aerial photo of downtown Ottawa I noticed what appeared to be the outline of a ship’s hull along the shore of the Ottawa River.

Satellite image showing what appears to be the submerged hull of a ship.

Satellite image showing what appears to be the submerged hull of a ship.

With the Ottawa River being a major supply route for hundreds of years, I’ve heard of many shipwrecks lying below the river’s surface so I thought this could possibly be one of them. Aerial maps can be deceptive, but this clearly looked like a ship half submerged in the water, so I decided to see what was actually there and confirm if it really was the remains of a ship. The only way to find out was to pack an adventure bag, a lunch, and call the girlfriend to see if she wanted to join me in finding shipwreck.

Another map "bird's eye" view shows a possible ship's hull submerged in the Ottawa River.

Another map “bird’s eye” view shows a possible ship’s hull submerged in the Ottawa River.

INTO THE WOODS

Heading into the woods near the shore of the Ottawa River we used an iphone mapping system to pinpoint where the remains of this possible wreck would be. A gorgeous, sunny warm fall day, we trudged through thin brush and following a small path, hiked in about 20 minutes from the nearest road. Pushing aside some branches at the river’s edge we stumbled across a magnificent scene….a half submerged, 100 foot wooden hulk of a shipwreck.

After a short hike we parted the trees and sure enough, there was a shipwreck.

After a short hike we parted the trees and sure enough, there was a shipwreck.

EXPLORING THE WRECK

In awe that there was a large shipwreck sitting in about 8 feet of water in a hidden inlet off the Ottawa River, I quickly changed into swim trunks, grabbed the camera and climbed aboard to record this amazing find. Obviously I was not the first one to know about this wreck, as a bike path is nearby and remnants of field parties were strewn about the area.

The wooden hull listed to one side in about 8 feet of water.

The wooden hull listed to one side in about 8 feet of water.

Approximately 100 feet long and using wooden timbers and what seemed like ship building techniques from the 1800’s, the shipwreck was miraculously well preserved sitting in the water.

Looking at the bow of the ship.

Looking at the bow of the ship.

A sketch showing the hull shape and overall dimensions.

A sketch showing the hull shape and overall dimensions.

Interior of the shipwreck showing ribs, deck planks.

Interior of the shipwreck showing ribs, deck planks.

At almost 100feet long, the wreck is an impressive sight in the water.

At almost 100feet long, the wreck is an impressive sight in the water.

I sketched and measured the ship’s hull shape and filmed whatever I could to determine later what this shipwreck was and why it is just sitting here in the Ottawa River.  As we took a break to eat our packed sandwiches, a muffled animal sound came from the woods and a starving, abandoned kitten appeared.

a starved, abandoned kitten appeared as we ate our packed lunch.

A starved, abandoned kitten appeared as we ate our packed lunch.

We fed the emaciated little kitten some sandwich cheese and packed up our gear; me with tons of photos and questions, my girlfriend with a new kitten.

WHAT IS THIS SHIPWRECK?

After scouring the internet, books, and libraries trying to find out what this shipwreck was, I contacted my good friend Glen over at OttawaStart about the shipwreck. Always one to help out and promote local history, Glen made sure to spread the word through his popular website in a bid to gather more information from readers who may know more about the wreck and why it’s sitting in the shallows of the Ottawa River. The Ottawa Citizen and CBC News caught wind of the wreck story and proceeded to do their own research, even calling in a representative from the Eastern Ontario Chapter of “Save Our Ships” which has an extensive catalogue of recorded shipwrecks. The story was deemed a dead end for the media, and the shipwreck remained a mystery. I contacted the Great Lakes Maritime Museum in Kington, On to see if they had information on our Ottawa shipwreck but received no response to my requests. The ship seemed doomed to remain a mystery….that is, until this week.

IT’S ALL IN THE NAME

Almost four months after the initial discovery of the shipwreck I received a Twitter message from Glen that included an old map he had found showing various shipwrecks in the Ottawa River. Composed by the Underwater Society Of Ottawa, the map shows many shipwrecks that lie at the bottom of the river, and miraculously, the shipwreck we had come across four months earlier was clearly marked. THE JEAN RICHARD.  We now had a name to our ship. The research into the Jean Richard could now begin…

THE JEAN RICHARD

It turns out this ship has quite an interesting past and that the Jean Richard has a special place in Canadian history.

At Petite-Rivière in Quebec on May 23, 1959, St. Lawrence sailors launched their last wooden schooner, the Jean Richard. It was built by Philippe Lavoie, carpenter, Paul-Émile Square Port-au-Persil.

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With most of the wooden ship building techniques giving way to the longer lasting and easier to maintain steel hulled ships, Petite-Rivière wooden ship builders knew their boat building techniques was coming to an end after almost 200 years. The National Film Board also knew this was a dying craft, and in 1959 sent a film crew to record the building of the regions’s last wooden schooner, The Jean Richard.

A small riverside village approximately 100kms upriver from Quebec City in the Charlevoix region, it was responsible for building the majority of the wooden schooners, freighters and other ships that travelled throughout the St. Lawrence river from the 1800’s to the early 1960s.

THE NATIONAL FILM BOARD

Produced by Ottawa’s very own production company, Crawley Films, a film crew set off to document the centuries old construction process of building the region’s last wooden freight schooner. Known as a “goélette” in French, these wooden boats were being replaced by steel ships and the NFB wanted to record this important part of our Canadian heritage for future generations.

The NFB kindly couriered a copy of their film featuring the ship Jean Richard.

The NFB kindly couriered a copy of their film to me featuring our ship, the Jean Richard.

I quickly contacted the NFB head offices in Montreal to see if they had a copy of this film, and they courteously couriered the film to me which I immediately watched, studied and compared to the Ottawa shipwreck photos.  It was indeed a match. The 96 foot long, 28 foot wide Jean Richard, shown in construction in this film was built with true old world techniques and pride of craftsmanship.

A still from the NFB film "jean Richard" showing workers using adzes to shape the timbers for the ship's hull.

A still from the NFB film “jean Richard” showing workers using adzes to shape the timbers for the ship’s hull.

An annual event where the fisherman in the village gather to build a ship, the JEAN Richard is shown being built from its inception as logs chopped down in a hillside forest. Then, using axes, adzes and steam boxes to shape the timbers in the same way they built ships over a century ago. All the ship’s details observed on the wreck were clearly shown in the film.

Building the hull of the Jean Richard in the winter of 1959.

Building the hull of the Jean Richard in the winter of 1959.

Inside the hull of the Jean Richard attaching hull planking.

Inside the hull of the Jean Richard attaching hull planking.

The finished Jean Richard s documented by the NFB in 1959.

The last wooden schooner made in Petite-Riviere, the Jean Richard was documented by the NFB in 1959, and released as short film in 1963.

The 30 minute film ends with an all night party and the Jean Richard is launched at dawn into the St. Lawrence to serve the sailors who ply its waters carrying cargo, fish, and other supplies up Canada’s arterial waterway.

To OTTAWA

After it was launched in 1959 the Jean Richard served for almost twenty years on the St. Lawrence then brought down the Ottawa River and converted into a cruise ship and renamed “Ville de Vanier”.

The Jean Richard sailed to Ottawa and was re-named "Ville De Vanier" in 1976 when it became an Ottawa River cruise ship.

The Jean Richard sailed to Ottawa and was re-named “Ville De Vanier” in 1976 when it became an Ottawa River cruise ship.

Operating out of Ottawa/Gatineau waters from 1976 onwards, the Jean Richard was then converted into a floating cottage. A fire is said to have scorched the wooden ship in 1987. Its charred, lifeless hulk was hauled off to rot in a concealed inlet off the Ottawa River, abandoned and left to decay into history where it now lies.

After being abandoned in the Ottawa River, the once cherished subject of an NFB film now lies in decay on the shores of the Ottawa River.

Once the cherished subject of an NFB film, the Jean Richard now lies in decay on the shores of the Ottawa River.

This once glorious old ship was the last of its kind, worthy enough to be documented by the NFB 55 years ago, a vessel that is an example of old world Canadian ship building techniques that have since been lost in time. A wreck of great nautical importance now lies decaying slowly in 8 feet of water, half submerged in the Ottawa River only five minutes from downtown Ottawa. It needs to be saved, recognized and preserved for the sake of future generations much like the NFB did when they filmed it being built long ago.

UPDATE: February 1 2014

Thanks to the great work by fellow shipwreck enthusiasts Glen Gower, Christopher Ryan and Ian Brown, who have done extensive research into the Jean Richard. Thanks to them and other readers, we have some new info and photos.

Also, the Ottawa Citizen covered the story of our shipwreck in the Jan.31 edition of the paper: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/technology/Mystery+Ottawa+River+shipwreck+revealed/9450569/story.html

The Jean Richard in action sometime in the 1960s on the St. Lawrence River (photo Claude Robillard)

The Jean Richard in action sometime in the 1960s on the St. Lawrence River (photo Claude Robillard)

Thanks to OttawaStart.com we now know the following:

The Jean Richard in 1982 after it was re-named Ville De Vanier with major alterations having been done to it. (photo Robert Dejardins)

The Jean Richard in 1982 after it was re-named Ville De Vanier with major alterations having been done to it. (photo René Beauchamp)

Ottawastart: “Robert Desjardins, a researcher runs the excellent website “Les Voitures d’Eau: Le cabotage artisinal sur le Saint-Laurent”.  It’s full of research and photography about Quebec’s boating heritage.  He provided some additional information and corrections/clarifications:”
  • The Jean-Richard had a series of owners.  The original owner was Paul-Émile Carré, who owned it from its launch in 1959 until he died 1963.  Guy Gagnon from La Malbaie owned it from 1965-1971. From 1971-1974 it was owned by the Banque d’expansion industrielle / Transport Maritime St-Bernard Ltée. Claude Longrin of Montreal owned it from 1974-1975, then Jean Fournier owned it from 1975-1977.
  • Jean Fournier, was from Ville de Vanier near Quebec City (actually now a part of Quebec City.)
  • Desjardin’s records show that the boat was re-christened “Ville de Vanier” in 1977 beforeit arrived on the Ottawa River.  The boat had major modifications done in 1976 (at Bassin-Louise, Quebec City).
  • It was owned by Enteprises Maritimes Vanier Inc. at Ville de Vanier, Quebec from 1977-1979.
  • It was eventually sold to Jean-Paul Barette of Hull in 1979, where it operated as a pleasure craft.
  • Desjardins’ notes indicate that the boat was abandoned in 1985 after a fire near Gatineau Boom Co., and was destroyed in 1986.
  • Mr. Desjardins also suggests that we should not be using the term “goélettes”, which should only be used to refer to boats that use a sail.  He prefers the term “caboteur en bois”.

The Ville De Vanier operated as a “disco-casino” party ship on the Ottawa River, based in Gatineau. Local personality John Turmel was reportedly a frequent passenger aboard the ship during this time in the late 1970s.

The Jean Richard/Ville De Vanier in 1990 only three years after being abandoned. (photo Jane Morris)

The Jean Richard/Ville De Vanier in 1990 only three years after being abandoned. (photo Jane Morris)

Another 1990 view of the ship. Note ship's contents and equipment strewn on shore. (photo Jane Morris)

Another 1990 view of the ship. Note ship’s contents and equipment strewn on shore. (photo Jane Morris)

A marine museum in Charlevoix has been contacted and hopefully we can move forward with preserving what’s left of the ship and its unique history.

SOURCES

National Film Board of Canada

http://goelettesduquebec.ca/

http://www.encyclobec.ca/main.php?docid=55

http://affairesmaritimes.org/en/shipwrecks

http://www.shipspotting.com/gallery/photo.php?lid=1071354&sort_comments=2

SIDENOTE - The starved little kitty found at the site of the shipwreck has a warm and loving new home where she is aptly named..."Shipwreck".

SIDENOTE – The starved little kitty found at the site of the shipwreck has a warm and loving new home where she is aptly named…”Shipwreck”.

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Ottawa’s Abandoned 1,200 Seat Downtown Movie Theatre

Map showing the location of the concealed 1,200 seat movie theatre in downtown Ottawa.

Map showing the location of the concealed 1,200 seat movie theatre in downtown Ottawa.

Exploring Ottawa’s Hidden 1,200 Seat Theatre

With the closure of the World Exchange Plaza Cinemas, Ottawa says farewell to its last downtown movie theatre. There once was a time when there was a theatre on almost every downtown street corner, but that era has come to an end, with all first run movie theatres now being relegated to the outskirts of the city in large megaplex cinemas.

The majority of these old theatres have been torn down, replaced by more lucrative office and retail space. The cinemas of the past are but a distant memory, with all traces being eradicated from the downtown core. A few remain as second-run theatres, such as the well preserved and vibrant Bytowne and Mayfair theatres, and the converted Imperial Theatre which is now Barrymore’s night club.

There is however another theatre that remains intact, sitting vacant and abandoned for almost 20 years, concealed from view behind a facade of government offices. This dormant 1,200 seat theatre remains one of the largest theatre spaces in the city. It is the former Place De Ville Theatre located at 300 Sparks St.

The theatre's marquee sign on its last day March 18 1996.

The theatre’s marquee sign on its last day March 18 1996.

The Place Of The City

Opened by Famous Players on April 1, 1971 the Place de Ville Cinema was one of the few piggy-back cinemas in Canada. It was part of an ambitious plan by developer Robert Campeau to regenerate the downtown core with a massive shopping, retail and office district utilizing the most modern of 1970s amenities. For almost a century the area had been home to the city’s streetcar garages, but with their removal from Ottawa streets in 1959,  the land was purchased by Robert Campeau. He constructed towers on the site named “ A, B, and C, and the ‘Podium’ building, two large hotels, the Ottawa Delta City Centre (411 rooms) and Ottawa Marriott Hotel (487 rooms) as well as the city’s largest underground parking garage with space for 974 cars. Within this complex was also constructed the Place De Ville cinema.

 CONSTRUCTION

The theatre space was hidden from view and surrounded by office space in the “Podium” building, a 4 story building between the Mariott hotel and Lyon Street.

The Podium building today as seen from Queen Street. The abandoned theatre is in the centre of the building surrounded by the offices.

The Podium building today as seen from Queen Street. The abandoned theatre is in the centre of the building surrounded by the offices.

It was essentially a giant concrete box in the middle of the Podium building, encased with offices around it. Two cinemas were stacked on top of one another, with a massive lobby and escalators to take customers from one level to another. The lobby included a giant mural of the grand old Capitol Theatre that was demolished in 1970. Lush carpeting and the latest in cinema technology was incorporated into the new Place De Ville cinemas. A special elevator was installed for the projectionist to travel from one cinema to the other. Cinema 1 boasted 751 seats and Cinema 2 had 437 seats for a total of 1,228 seats.

quick sketch showing how the theatre sits inside the Podium buildings, shielded by an exterior shell of government offices.

Quick sketch showing how the theatre sits inside the Podium buildings, shielded by an exterior shell of government offices.

With just the one cinema at 751 seats, this makes the Place De Ville the largest still standing single theatre space downtown. For comparison, the Bytowne has 650 seats, Mayfair – 325 seats.

HISTORY

After its grand opening on April 1 1971 with “Little Big Man” and “Love and Other Strangers” the Place De Ville cinema operated until 1996 when it closed its doors on March 18 with “Mr Holland’s Opus” and “Muppet Treasure Island”.

Newspaper ad for the grand opening of the new Place De Ville Cinema April 1 1971.

Newspaper ad for the grand opening of the new Place De Ville Cinema April 1 1971.

With 25 years of operation that theatre saw some notable figures pass through its doors, including former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who lined up to see The Godfather there in 1972. Singer Tom Jones once rented the entire theatre to himself to also watch The Godfather when he was performing in Ottawa.

Both Trudeau and Tom Jones graced the theatre with their presence to watch "The Godfather" when it opened in theatres in 1972.

Both Trudeau and Tom Jones graced the theatre with their presence to watch “The Godfather” when it opened in 1972.

Shuttering its doors in 1996, the theatre was left abandoned, sealed up inside the Podium building behind a shield of government offices, left dormant, and still remains that way to this day.

FINDING THE THEATRE TODAY

Even when it was open, the Place De Ville theatre was hard to find, hidden within the Podium building, so finding it today proved even more difficult but it is in fact still there.

Follow the photo exploration below to learn more about the theatre as it looks today….

The very hidden main entrance to the theatre...I wonder why they made it so unbelievable hard to spot from the main street?

The very hidden main entrance to the theatre…I wonder why they made it so unbelievable hard to spot from the main street?

View of the main entrance to the theatre from Sparks Street. A typically bland, emotionless, devoid of any style entry that was prevalent during early 1970s buildings.

View of the main entrance to the theatre from Sparks Street. A typically bland, emotionless, devoid of any style entry that was prevalent during early 1970s buildings.

The original main entrance to the Place De Ville theatre. Now boarded up, these doors lead to the main lobby area and escalators to the second level cinema.

The original main entrance to the Place De Ville theatre. Now boarded up, these doors lead to the main lobby area and escalators to the second level cinema.

Abandoned theatre lobby area, stairs into the theatre shown. Main entrance doors would have been to the left, around the corner. Escalators to second level cinema to the right (offscreen).

Abandoned theatre lobby area, stairs into the theatre shown. Main entrance doors would have been to the left, around the corner. Escalators to second level cinema to the right (offscreen). (The theatre was up the stairs but I did not go in but I did see the vast theatre space from the doorway)

Theatre lobby area, then & now....Patrons enter the theatre on opening day (right) up the stairs that are shown in the present day photo (left).

Theatre lobby area, then & now….Patrons enter the theatre on opening day (right) up the stairs that are shown in the present day photo (left).

Abandoned theatre lobby, escalators to second level cinema. Mural of Capitol Theatre seems to have been removed.

Abandoned theatre lobby, escalators to second level cinema. Mural of Capitol Theatre seems to have been removed. (apologies for poor picture quality, a zoomed iphone photo taken from doorway)

The Podium building's exit stairwells from the theatre to street level.

The Podium building’s theatre exit stairwell to street level.

Rear of the Podium building showing the emergency exits from the theatre.

Rear of the Podium building showing the emergency exits from the theatre.

Rear view of Podium Building. A popular architectural style of the early 1970s era was poured, ribbed, rough concrete, identical to the construction technique of the NAC built in the same year.

Rear view of Podium Building. A popular architectural style of the early 1970s era was poured, ribbed, rough concrete, identical to the construction technique of the NAC built in the same year.

Theatre’s Future

Place De Ville was sold by Campeau to various companies and is currently owned by Brookfield Properties. Plans have been filed with the City of Ottawa to replace the 4 story ‘Podium’ building that contains the old theatre with a 19 floor office tower. This new development connects with the construction of Ottawa’s Confederation Line which will have a subway station at Place de Ville. The fate of this once “modern” downtown theatre has yet to be decided but it seems that its days as the largest downtown theatre space are numbered.

UPDATE

Since this post was published a special photo tour was arranged through CBC and Brookfield properties. You can view a collection of photos from this exclusive tour of the interior of the theatre at: http://www.cbc.ca/m/news/#!/content/1.2511978

SOURCES

http://spacing.ca/ottawa/2010/02/12/where-in-ottawa-a-cinema-stripped-bare/

http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/20373

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Place_de_Ville

Canada’s first “Air Force One”: Prime Minister Mackenzie King’s Silver Saloon

The "Silver Saloon" ...Canada's first "Air Force One" that flew Prime Minister Mackenzie King out of Ottawa around the world between 1945-48.

The “Silver Saloon” …Canada’s first “Air Force One” that flew Prime Minister Mackenzie King out of Ottawa and around the world between 1945-48. (At Rockcliffe airport)

During World War Two, Ottawa was home to 168 Squadron based in Rockcliffe, a special air transport group that was responsible for carrying mail back and forth between the troops serving overseas and home. This squadron of aircraft included converted B17 Flying Fortress bombers and later, B24 Liberators. (more info on these planes can be found at an earlier post here)

On June 30, 1944, the Rockcliffe aerodrome received a special aircraft delivered from the United States Air Force with serial number 44-10583. Built at the Consolidated Convair B24 factory in Fort Worth, Texas, this plane was immediately given a special designation: to become Prime Minister Mackenzie King’s personal transport aircraft.

The B24 was quickly modified for the special purpose of transporting the Prime Minister of that time and other dignitaries around the world. Modifications to this WW2 bomber included fitting it with a comfortable VIP interior that accommodated 10 passengers and a special office for the PM and his secretary. Windows were installed along the each side of the fuselage as well as an extra side door. A galley kitchen and washroom were also installed in the Prime Minister’s new aircraft. A special highly polished aluminum exterior finish and lightning bolt paint scheme was given to the PM’s new plane and by August 30, his Silver Saloon was ready for service.

Prime Minister Mackenzie King's newly modified B24 plane sporting a new interior Prime Minister's office, kitchen, washroom, new windows and a new paint scheme. 1945

Prime Minister Mackenzie King’s newly modified B24 plane with a new interior Prime Minister’s office, kitchen, washroom, new windows and a new paint scheme. 1945

Mackenzie King's plane sported a newly designed roundel that was to become the future symbol of the RCAF. The RCAF used this roundel on all their aircraft from 1946-48.

Mackenzie King’s plane sported a newly designed roundel that was to become the future symbol of the RCAF. The RCAF used this roundel on all their aircraft from 1946-48.

One of the first plane’s to sport a newly designed roundel on the fuselage (which later became the official RCAF symbol) B24-574 was ready to transport the Prime Minister of Canada and his staff anywhere around the world. This new “Royal Canadian Air Force One” soon prepared to take Prime Minister Mackenzie King on a very special journey to San Francisco. In June of 1945 the Prime Minister and his staff flew from Ottawa to San Francisco to help organize the newly formed United Nations. Representatives from 50 countries met at the United Nations Conference on International Organization to draw up the United Nations Charter. The Charter was signed on the 26th of June 1945 by representatives of the 50 countries, including Canada’s Prime Minster Mackenzie King who arrived at the signing in his new Silver Saloon.

Representatives from around the world gathered in San Francisco in 1945 to form the United Nations. PM Mackenzie King flew there in his new plane to sign the charter.

Representatives from around the world gathered in San Francisco in 1945 to form the United Nations. PM Mackenzie King flew there in his new plane to sign the charter.

RCAF-574 later carried the Governor General The Earl of Athlone and his family in March 1946, and then The Viscount Alexander of Tunis to Winnipeg in September 1946.

In 1947 it carried General H. D. G. Crerar on tour of the far east, flying across the Pacific to Hawaii, Johnston Island, Kwajalein, Tokyo, and Nanking. The Prime Minister continued to use the plane as his VIP transport, but when Mackenzie King retired in 1948, his plane was flown from its home in Ottawa to CFB Trenton where it was put into storage.

After only four years of service flying Canada's Prime Minister and other dignitaries around the world, the Silver Saloon was put into surplus storage in Trenton, On. 1948

After only four years of service flying Canada’s Prime Minister and other dignitaries around the world, the Silver Saloon was put into surplus storage in Trenton, On. 1948

Unused, and sitting in a Trenton hanger, the plane was sold as surplus to Chile in 1951. In Chile it was given a new paint scheme and operated under the Chilean designation “CC-CAN” with the “Air Chile” that operated there.

Purchased by the Chilean airline "Air Chile" in 1951, the Silver Saloon was put into airline service after being in storage at Trenton for 3 years.

Purchased by the Chilean airline “Air Chile” in 1951, the Silver Saloon was put into airline service after being in storage at Trenton for 3 years. (note new paint scheme)

Flying across Chilean skies for the better part of four years, the former PM’s plane was soon to make it’s last flight.

Local paper in Santiago, Chile reporting the crash of the former Canadian Prime Minister's plane after a landing gear malfunction.

A local paper in Santiago, Chile reporting the crash of the former Canadian Prime Minister’s plane in 1955 after a landing gear malfunction.

Landing at an airport in Santiago, Chile on February 21, 1955 the plane suffered a landing gear malfunction that resulted in it running off the runway. Local newspapers reported the crash of the former Canadian PM’s plane, and salvage crews were brought in to assess and possibly repair the damaged aircraft. Sadly, the plane was deemed beyond economical repair, and was dragged off to sit idle in storage.

Repair crews assess the damage to the former Pm's plane, but it was deemed to expensive to repair and was dragged away to sit idle for 4 years before being chopped up for scrap metal in 1959.

Chilean repair crews assess the damage to the former PM’s plane after the crash, but it was deemed to expensive to repair and dragged away to sit idle for 4 years before being chopped up for scrap metal in 1959.

Four years later the plane met its final fate when it was chopped up for scrap metal in 1959. Mackenzie King’s Silver Saloon was no more, and Canada’s first “Air Force One” disappeared into history.

Sources:

http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/44844-the-canadian-pms-transport/

http://www.goodall.com.au/warbirds-directory-v6/consolidated.pdf

http://ivansiminic.blogspot.ca/2006/09/b-24-liberator-en-chile_24.html

German U-boat Near Kingston, Ontario?

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German U-boat In St. Lawrence River? Solving the mystery of the Wahl Anchor

A Clayton, NY marina owner Wilbert Wahl says in 1942 at age 10 he watched American fighter aircraft sink a German U-boat in the St.Lawrence near Wolfe Island, just off Cape Vincent, about 20 km across from Kingston, On. During the 1960’s an area scuba diver in the area, Skip Couch, was told the story of this sunken U-boat and investigated the area.

Marina owner Wahl claims a German U-boat was sunk in 1942 off Cape Vincent, NY near Carleton Island.

Marina owner Wahl claims a German U-boat was sunk in 1942 off Cape Vincent, NY near Carleton Island.

Diving off Carleton Island near Cape Vincent, Couch retrieved an anchor, which is now on display at Wahl’s marina in Clayton, NY. This anchor has a very unusual and mysterious swastika marking on the fluke of the anchor, very similar to the swastika used by the Nazis during World War 2.

Wahl's recovered anchor he believes came from the submerged U-boat.

Wahl’s recovered anchor he believes came from the submerged U-boat.

Close up of Wahl's anchor clearly shows a swastika marking on it.

Close up of Wahl’s anchor clearly shows a swastika marking on it.

Did a German U-boat make its way down the St. Lawrence River to Wolfe Island before being sunk and now lies at the bottom of the river? With U-boats regularly patrolling the St. Lawrence River during WW2, they were spotted as far down as Quebec City, but none further than that…unless one made it it further south somehow.

Let’s investigate…

During the late 1800’s a British foundry, Byers, in Sunderland, England, made anchors. Turns out they had a very unusual corporate logo…

anchorswastj

W.L. Byers, the owner, was fascinated by the ancient discoveries in Troy, which included pottery found with the ancient swastika symbol on them…Byers made that his company symbol, and it was put on all the anchors his company produced from the late 1800’s until the 1920’s. Here is his anchor catalogue from the early 1900’s:

Byers Anchor Catalogue from the early 1900's with their logo clearly shown.

Byers Anchor Catalogue from the early 1900’s with their logo clearly shown.

Byers anchors from Sunderland used the swastika symbol on their anchors until the German Nazi Party made it their symbol in the 1920’s…and here is a Byers anchor clearly showing the Byers swastika marking:

Byers anchor very similar to the Wahl anchor in Clayton, Ny. Note similar swastika marking.

Byers anchor very similar to the Wahl anchor in Clayton, Ny. Note similar swastika marking.

…which is an almost identical looking anchor to what Wahl’s recovered “U-boat” Wolfe Island anchor.

Mystery solved…the Wahl Anchor is most likely an anchor recovered from an early 1900’s shipwreck that used a Byers forged anchor that sunk off Cape Vincent, later found by Skip Couch in the 1960’s.

So it looks like the U-boat story is merely an urban legend, although it does make for a good story around the campfire….

HOWEVER, it looks like a German U-boat actually did go down the St. Lawrence River past Kingston AFTER the war…Captured by the US during the war, German U-boat U-505 was towed down the St. Lawrence past Kingston, thru the Great Lakes to a museum in Chicago in 1954.

Captured German U-boat U-505 that was towed down the St. Lawrence River and through the Great Lakes in 1954 to Chicago.

Captured German U-boat U-505 that was towed down the St. Lawrence River and through the Great Lakes in 1954 to Chicago.

U-505 still resides in The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry where it is currently on display.

 

 

Photos/Info Sources

Google Maps

Wikipedia : U-505

http://schnorkel.blogspot.ca/2007/06/sunken-german-sub-in-st-lawrence-river.html

http://www.searlecanada.org/sunderland/sunderland212.html

Anchors: An Illustrated History By Betty Nelson Curryer  http://books.google.ca/books?id=MigKLVemmvEC&pg=PA124&lpg=PA124&dq=byers+anchors+swastika&source=bl&ots=-RwlJrPQkf&sig=N2Py_S0Xzsqol1emznjlq8uP48w&hl=en&sa=X&ei=b4HMUtH9F9OxsASCqYDQDg&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=byers%20anchors%20swastika&f=false

Arnprior Komet Trail

In flight footage of a ME163 Komet

In flight WW2 gun camera photo of a ME163 Komet

During the last days of World War II, the German Luftwaffe was getting desperate in designing new aircraft that would stop the increasingly effective Allied air attacks. The Luftwaffe believed developing advanced new technologies in aviation would help them win the war. One of their more radical last ditch effort designs was the Messerschmitt Me163 Komet. Designed by Alexander Lippisch, this strange interceptor was a rocket-powered fighter aircraft. Being the only rocket-powered fighter aircraft ever to have been operational, the design was revolutionary, and the Me 163 was capable of performance unrivaled at the time. Using a two part highly flammable liquid rocket fuel as propellant, the Komet reached speeds of almost 1000km/h and was armed with two 30mm cannons to bring down attacking Allied aircraft. The Komet proved too little, too late and the war soon ended with 300 Komets being produced. Most were captured by Allied forces and due to the advanced technology of the design, were sent back to North America for further testing, studying and analysis.

Schematic drawing of the Me163 Komet

Schematic drawing of the Me163 Komet

Three of these advanced rocket planes made their way back to Canada after the war, and through various sources, it looks to me that one ended up 30 minutes away from Ottawa in Arnprior, On…its final fate unknown. Of the three captured Komets in Canada, one (serial 191659) is currently on display at the National Aviation Museum here in Ottawa.

The Komet currently on display at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum

The Komet currently on display at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum. Serial #191659

A second one, serial #191095 was as a gate guardian at RCAF Station St Jean, Québec, until taken over by the Canadian War Museum where it was restored and later given as a gift to the USAF Museum in Dayton, Ohio where it resides today.

the second captured Canadian Komet now at the National USAF Museum in Dayton, Ohio.

The second captured Canadian Komet now at the National USAF Museum in Dayton, Ohio. Serial#191095

The third captured Komet, serial #191452 apparently ended up in Arnprior. After the war, it was brought over from Germany where it was put on a boat bound for Montreal. From there it somehow ended up at RCAF Station Arnprior where it was tossed in a pile of old aircraft stored there. Here is a photo of it from 1957 as it appeared in the Arnprior scrap heap:

The third Komet, sitting in a scrap pile in Arnprior, ...fate unknown.

The third Komet, sitting in a scrap pile in Arnprior…fate unknown. Serial#191452

In 1946 the Arnprior airport became the National Research Council (NRC) Flight Research station. The Komet was most likely brought here for study and research by the NRC. In 1951 the facility was re-named the “National Aeronautical Establishment” providing support to the NRC and secret experiments for the Defence Research Board. It is probable the advanced rocket propulsion system of the Komet was being studied here during this time and afterwards, scrapped into the pile of parts we see in the above photo.

Aerial view of present day RCAF Arnprior air base. It is currently a public airport.

Aerial view of present day RCAF Arnprior air base. It is currently a public airport.

What happened to it after 1957 is a mystery. Was it sold to a local scrap metal dealer, taken to a salvage yard? No one seems to know the final fate of this highly advanced rocket plane..maybe it still exists somewhere in Arnprior, waiting to be discovered.

The only remaining WW2 RCAF buildings at Arnprior airport. They have since been demolished after this photo was taken.

The only remaining WW2 RCAF buildings at Arnprior airport. They have since been demolished after this photo was taken.

There is a nearby scrap yard that may provide some clues to this mystery, but I will wait until the spring when the snow melts and the sun is warm before investigating further. Until then, any further info on this interesting piece of aviation history is welcomed.

Photo/info sources:

http://robdebie.home.xs4all.nl/

Wikipedia

Bing Maps

Canadian Aviation and Space Museum