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Waiting out the winter in a harbour brought an end to this Collingwood-built ship

One of the town's most popular wooden ships, the Majestic, met a fiery end while waiting for spring to come

November is known to be a dangerous and unpredictable month for ships on Georgian Bay. The story of one of Collingwood’s most popular wooden ships, Majestic, warns of the dangers that accompany ships overwintering in harbours.

Majestic was built by the Collingwood Dry Dock Co. in 1895 for the Great Northern Transit Co. of Collingwood. Originally, her hull and upper decking were painted white with a black stack that featured a broad white band.

Two models of Majestic are preserved in the Collingwood Museum’s collection, both showing her original white hull. The older of the two models was part of the Huron Institute’s collection and features red horizontal lines along the hull’s length. This half model, featured in Photograph 2, was created by Richard Sheffield. It’s possible that Sheffield employed artistic license in the addition of the red markings. Conversely, he may have captured a detail of the ship’s appearance that has been lost to time.

The second model was created by J.A. Scott in 1981 and joined the Museum’s permanent collection in 2002 (Photograph 3). The entire model is painted white with the exception of its black stack (Photograph 3).

When the Great Northern Transit Co. merged with the Northern Navigation Company in 1899, black paint was added to Majestic’s hull. The ship’s upper decking remained white with a prominent red smokestack, featuring a black and white band.

Today’s featured photograph shows Majestic’s updated paint colours while docked in Collingwood harbour in 1911.

Upon joining the Northern Navigation Company, Majestic operated on the Sarnia-Lakehead and Duluth route. Later, she worked the Georgian-Bay Mackinaw service.

While docked in Point Edward for the 1915 winter season, Majestic caught fire. Her burning hull drifted into Saronic, another Collingwood-build steamer. The Saronic was saved, but Collingwood’s Majestic was lost.

To read more about Saronic and the honour bestowed on her by the Government of Canada, click here

If you have any information to share about today’s featured photograph, please contact Collingwood Museum staff at [email protected].

Remember This is a weekly series of historic photographs submitted by the Collingwood Museum to These photographs were originally collected and documented by the Huron Institute in an historical catalogue entitled Huron Institute Paper and Records: Volume III. Much of Collingwood’s early history has been preserved due to the dedication and foresight of the early museum’s founders, namely its secretary-curator David Williams, upon its establishment in 1904.