Dive into the World of the Lost Warship
Travel back in time to a forgotten era of battles, forts and shipwrecks: some of the most historically rich attractions in the 1000 Islands.
Here, you can sail back in time and take the wheel of the ship of history in the Captain’s Quarters of the British warship and pride of the 1000 Islands, HMS Ontario. Step into the reconstructed Captain’s Cabin to explore a time of battles, forts and shipbuilding. The cabin is built to look and feel just like an authentic, 18th century warship. The interactive table in the centre of the room responds when you touch one of four themed artifacts. Each artifact will display fun fact videos about the various wonders of the 1000 islands. The 18th and 19th centuries in the 1000 Islands and Ontario were an era in which bloody international battles were waged, warships and forts were constructed, and river pirates smuggled their wares up and down the St. Lawrence under cover of darkness.
The HMS Ontario was a British warship built in the 18th century and used during the American Revolutionary War. During a raging storm on Halloween night in 1780, the Ontario met its fateful demise in the deep, chilly waters of the lake with which it shared a name: Lake Ontario. All 130 passengers and crew perished along with their once-mighty vessel. But you can “fast forward” in time to over two centuries later in the Captain’s Cabin, one of the most lovingly preserved shipwreck attractions in the 1000 Islands. Experience the ship as it was discovered using sonar technology and an underwater vehicle: completely intact and nearly perfectly preserved in its watery resting place. The fresh, icy waters of the 1000 Islands and Lake Ontario kept the warship in pristine condition for more than 200 years.
HMS Ontario Fast Facts:
- There are an estimated 4,700 shipwrecks in the Great Lakes and 1000 Islands; Ontario itself serves as the watery grave to at least 500 ships. As one of the prize attractions in the 1000 Islands, shipwrecks capture the past in a unique and fascinating way.
- Because there is very little light and oxygen in the deepest depths of Lake Ontario, few organisms can live here and decomposition happens at a very slow rate. Today, zebra mussels – an invasive species that has taken hold of many of the St. Lawrence-1000 Islands and Great Lakes waters – have attached themselves to the HMS Ontario, but little else.
- Because the HMS Ontario is still technically property of the British Navy, it is considered a war grave.