The barque, New Brunswick, loaded with a cargo of black walnut lumber with an estimated value of over $100,000, was located in Lake Erie in 1980. The 128-foot vessel, which sank in 1858, was found by using side scan sonar equipment.
The New Brunswick, a three-masted barque, was built in St. Catharines, Ontario, in 1847. It achieved fame that same year by hauling 18,000 bushels of wheat from Chicago to Liverpool, England. This was the first direct shipment of grain made by a Great Lakes vessel to the European continent. On August 23, 1858, the New Brunswick, loaded with a full cargo of black walnut lumber, met a fierce gale on Lake Erie. The storm tore loose the rudder and caused the cargo to shift. The vessel foundered off Romney, near Point Pelee, at the western end of Lake Erie. Of the nine crew members of the ship, only four survived by clinging to a makeshift raft constructed from the debris.
Mike Dilts, who owns the salvage rights on the New Brunswick, directed the 1980 search operation. On the 2nd day of the search, Jim Kennard, located the shipwreck with side scan sonar. A number of sonar recordings were made showing the condition of the wreck and the associated debris field. The side scan sonar recordings are similar to that of an aerial photograph of the ship on the bottom. A dive on the wreck confirmed that the New Brunswick had been located.
On going salvage efforts have produced numerous artifacts from the sunken ship and valuable black walnut logs up to 55 feet in length and 22 inches square. Having been in fresh water the logs deteriorated only about an eighth of an inch.
Mike Dilts of Lambeth, Ontario and owner of Saugeen Exploration and Salvage organized the search expedition.
Jim Kennard, an electronics engineer from Fairport, New York, designed and built the side scan sonar that was used to locate the New Brunswick. He has located over 200 shipwrecks in the inland waters of the northeast since 1970.
Simon Dexter of Marine Salvors in Toronto supplied and piloted the survey boat.