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Build 2000


Trent research associate in the news

On the shores of Lake Huron, a shipwreck, believed to be the oldest ever discovered on the Great Lakes, has been excavated under the direction of Ken Cassavoy, marine archaeologist and a Trent University research associate.

The excavation, which began in May at Southampton Beach - 35 kilometres west of Owen Sound, has received widespread media attention and on July 13, was featured on CTV News.


Mr. Cassavoy says the wreck, dated to the late 1700s, is probably the merchant schooner "Weazell" built in 1786 at Detroit and lost at Southampton in 1798.

Low Lake Huron water levels and a spring ice scour in April of 2001 uncovered about a dozen ship frames pushing up through the sand of Southampton Beach. Since then, two short periods of test archaeological excavations on the site have revealed the presence of substantial remains of this earliest wreck, buried under the sand. During the 2002 work, excavators found a small-bore swivel cannon lying in the hold of the wreck - a unique find on a Great Lakes merchant ship. (To read about this find, visit

In May the excavation team began opening up the entire interior of the vessel as well as the full exterior on the starboard side of the schooner. Mr. Cassavoy says the excavation, carried out under his Archaeological License from the Ontario Ministry of Culture, was to provide full details on how this historic merchant vessel was constructed. The work is being done by volunteer excavators working under the direction of volunteer professional archaeologists.

"I doubt this kind of major archaeological excavation could be done anywhere except in a community such as Southampton and Saugeen Shores. The volunteer support of the general public, as well as area businesses and agencies is absolutely unbelievable. Without that kind of help we simply couldn't do the work on this extremely important shipwreck," stated Mr. Cassavoy in April.

Posted July 14, 2004

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