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January 25, 2014

Mystery revealed: The historic Jean-Richard, abandoned shipwreck in the Ottawa River

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Mystery revealed: The historic Jean-Richard, abandoned shipwreck in the Ottawa River

16 comments:

  1. Anonymous11:13 AM

    Thank you so much Andrew King and Ottawa Start for this fascinating article. For about 25 years I have been detouring off the bike path once or twice annually to look at this wreck. I am always happy to see that it is still visible, and like you have wondered how it came to be there and why it has been left to slowly rot on public property. I have only ever viewed it from the far side of the inlet and have always meant to try to make my way around to the other side for a closer look. I really enjoyed and appreciate all your research and pictures. I have two photos I took of it in 1990. At that time the name of the ship was still visible on the hull, but unfortunately is illegible in my snapshots, so I can't confirm your theory for certain. I'll scan and send them to Ottawa Start FYI. Thank you! - Jane

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  2. This is fantastic! I love love love quirky Ottawa stories like this. Bravo to Andrew and Glen for following your curiousity and sharing this wonderful story.

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  3. Once again Andrew has found himself a great story and something to show up in his future art perhaps? I hope so. I would love to see how he translates this to one of his paintings in his fabulous style!

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  4. While it's cool to come across this wreck (as I did many years ago), it is interesting that someone could just dump a burnt boat in public waters and get away with it. Try that with your car...

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  5. Anonymous8:36 PM

    Great story! Thanks for your work in finding out what it is.

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  6. Anonymous10:53 PM

    Great detective work and a very interesting bit of history. But to call the Jean Richard a "schooner" is clearly incorrect. This vessel could not have been intended to be powered by sail. The single mast forward was there for the cargo boom only, and it is unlikely there was ever a second mast. Perhaps this was an error in translation from French.

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  7. Anonymous11:28 PM

    And the kitten's name is ... Jean Richard???
    More seriously, does the NFB film tell you who Jean Richard was? Was the ship named after a local or someone of note? Maybe someone in that ship-building community would know either specifically for this vessel or what the tradition was.

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  8. I remember that ship, been on it a few times with my grandma in summer, thank you for memories.

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  9. Thanks for all the comments from readers. We've heard from a few of you via email too and are exploring some of your leads and suggestions.

    Re: schooner / goélette -- you are right, "Goélette" seems to be used to describe a wide variety of boats, including the Jean-Richard and what we would call "schooners" in English.

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  10. Great tale - like a real detective story! Love Andrew's historical explorations of Ottawa, keep them coming :).

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  11. Anonymous12:33 PM

    when summer comes u should take a swim in side like we did .

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  12. The best way to find this is to paddle on the Ottawa River by canoe or kayak to the bay directly across from the Rideau Falls, where there is a small island at its entrance. There is an inlet where people often fish and where there are flower pot like structures in the water sticking out with mature trees that were used to anchor log booms up until the 1990s when the logging period ended. The is the boat is beached at the mouth of the inlet that enters the bay, just downstream from the old bicycle bridge that crosses it and further downstream from the old building that was used by a logging company. To get there, you can also go east on Fournier Blvd. past the cemetary and turn right into a small parking lot immediately after the bridge that crosses the inlet (if you cross the Gatineau River, you have gone too far).

    I was told by a neighbour who worked on one of those tug boats on our old dollar bill, that this was a ship brought by two brothers. The story was that it was too ugly to moor at any marina, so it was moored close to where it is now as a place where gamblers would play. It burned down mysteriously one night. Aboriginal spiritualists who I have brought there say the area has disturbed spirits, that make this area not so hospitable. One wonders if this were a murder scene too, as gamblers often disappeared after such games. Certainly, there are fishermen and bush parties in the area at night sometimes. Not too sure about whether or not my neighbour's recount is accurate, but it makes a good story. Thanks for telling your version, as this account seems to add more details. My question is who owned it at different periods throughout? This may also provide some clues about its life. And, what were its uses before it came to Gatineau?

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  13. Anonymous8:23 AM

    I used to have a 25ft boat. About 6 years ago the wife and I went into that canal to anchor off for the night. I remember like it was yesterday when we entered that canal and came across that wooden ship wreck. As we ever so slowly went pass the wreck, I thought what a shame to see something like that rotting away and what was it`s History. How did it get there and why it was left there. I remember telling my wife, wow I bet that was a nice boat at one time looking at the size of it. Thanks for answering my questions.

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  14. Some government authority will probably see this as a public nuisance and order it broken up for "public safety." Like they did with the schooners Hesper and Luther LIttle in Wiscasset, Maine.

    The underwater portions of the wreck might be in decent shape. This is important heritage that should be conserved in some manner.

    Not like what was done with the following example. A similar type cargo vessel, the steam schooner Wapama was recently broken up in California by the National Park Service (US)

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  15. Jean-Richard Carré was the son of the original owner, Paul-Emile Carré of the village of Port-au-Persil, QC. His father proudly named the ship for his young son, and he can be seen in the NFB film as a nine or ten year old.
    Jean-Richard aspired to be a mariner like his father and most members of his extended family going back for generations. He went on to do marine studies and was hoping to become a pilot on the St.Lawrence River. In 1968 while accumulating sea-time he was working on a ship that docked in Chicago. He did not return aboard after shore leave and his body was later found in Lake Michigan. Since there was no water found in his lungs, the death was ruled suspicious, but as far as I know, the crime was never solved.

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  16. Anonymous7:20 PM

    Kayaked around this wreck many times, always wondered, now I know.
    Looking forward to going back there in this summer, will view it through different eyes. Thanks.

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