Grande Hermine: Abandoned But Not Forgotten

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A burnt-out vessel, also dubbed “the ghost ship,” “pirate ship” and “the abandoned ship” is located in the Jordan Harbor shoreline, just off Lake Ontario’s west shore, between Hamilton and St. Catharines, and is a replica of The La Grande Hemaine.

The La Grande Hermine (sometimes referred to as a carrack: a 3 or 4 masked ocean-going sailing ship) was one of three ships used by Jacques Cartier to discover the St. Lawrence River back in 1535 and the St. Lawrence Iroquoian settlement of Stadacona (near Quebec City today).

The first replica of the La Grand Hermine appeared at Expo 67 in Montreal (1967) and was a life-size wooden version of Jacques Cartier’s “carruck”. She served as a floating restaurant during the exhibition. After the Expo, the model was moved to Quebec City and displayed in an artificial pond situated in a city park, where she lived for at least three decades, poorly kept. She was broken up in the same park where she had been sitting for years.

A businessman purchased another version of the La Grande Hermine hoping to turn it into a restaurant or casino. It arrived at Jordan Harbour and while he was waiting for permission from Niagara Falls, and money to make his dream come true, his premature death stranded the ship.

As one story goes, a bunch of kids were on the ship in Jan of 2003 and lit a warm-up fire. The fire sadly got out of control and ruined the ship’s loads. The second story goes that the ship’s burning was due to arson by unknown arsonists. Luckily, the whole of La Grande Hermine did not go up in smoke and its battered and “rustic” look actually makes for a photographer’s delight.

Grande Hermine
Image credit: Flikr

This curious landmark tilts strongly to one side as it half sits and half floats, only a few meters off the shoreline. The burned-out hull still sits in the harbour, situated on Queen Elizabeth Way between the 55 and 57 kilometer marks, and is worth a visit for everyone at no charge.

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Kathy is the owner of Kirk Scuba Gear, a passionate Scuba Diver, Ocean Advocate and Managing Editor of The Scuba News Canada

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