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His Majesty's Hired Transport Nancy
Christopher Robert Sabick
Thesis: May 2004
In 1997 a group of archaeologists from Texas A&M University's Nautical
Archaeology Program traveled to Wasaga Beach, Ontario to document the hull
remains of the eighteenth-century schooner Nancy. In 1927, the schooner was
recovered from the banks of an island in the Nottawasaga River, near its
confluence with Lake Huron. The hull is now on display in the Nancy Island
Historic Site. Despite being available to the public for more than 75 years, the
1997 documentation was the first to thoroughly record the construction of the
vessel. In addition to archaeological investigation, historical research was
carried out to further our understanding of Nancy's commercial and naval career.
The archaeological data reveal a schooner that was built by talented shipwrights
using the fine timber harvested around the Great Lakes in the
eighteenth-century. This study adds a considerable amount of new information to
the otherwise scanty base of knowledge available on the construction of early
Great Lakes sailing vessels.
Historical research shows that Nancy and her crews
were participants in many important events that shaped the Great Lakes Region.
From her construction in Detroit in 1789, Nancy was employed in the fur trade.
As tensions flared between Great Britain and the United States in 1812, Nancy
was utilized as an armed transport for the British forces around the lakes. in
August of 1814, the schooner was trapped in the Nottawasaga River by a strong
American naval force. Nancy's commander set fire to the vessel to deny it to the
This thesis examines the construction details and history of the schooner
Nancy in detail. Preliminary chapters will provide the historical context for
the vessel and describe Nancy's long journey that ended at the Nancy Island
Historic Site. The second half of the thesis describes the construction of the
schooner and compares it with other contemporary vessels. The study concludes
that Nancy's hull represents an eighteeth-century construction tradition
modified for use on the Great Lakes, and also demonstrates the vessel's dual
roles as trader and military transport.
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