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The Construction of the Griffon Cove Wreck

Paul Hundley
Thesis: December 1980
Chair: Steffy
Nautical Archaeology Program

During the summer of 1978, an archaeological investigation was undertaken to re-examine a shipwreck site in Lake Huron. The remains, found in 1955 by a local fisherman on Russel Island one mile northwest of Tobermory, Ontario, Canada, were raised and have since been acquired by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. The field work centered on an in-depth examination of the ship's timbers and material from an excavation of the original recovery site.

The ship was believed by some to be the Griffon, built by René Robert Cavalier de la Salle in 1679. At the time of their recovery, the timbers were examined by two Canadian experts who were of the opinion that the material was from the Griffon. This fact has never been proven. The Russel Island ship is one of many vessels in the Great Lakes which have been claimed to have been the Griffon.

Research was undertaken to prove whether or not the Griffon Cove wreck was indeed the Griffon. The information gathered while in Canada was brought back to Texas A&M University for analysis. To aid in an understanding of the ship's construction, a 1:10 scale model was built duplicating the timbers exactly as they were recorded. Simultaneously, a set of hull lines was drafted from the frame shapes. The completed hull lines offered a description of the ship which could be compared to lines of other vessels in order to identify parallels.

Evaluation of the hull remains, artifacts associated with the wreck, and contemporary historical records has led to the conclusion that the Griffon Cove wreck is not the Griffon. These remains are from a vessel, probably a local variation of a Mackinaw boat, approximately 45 ft, in length, used and abandoned in the mid-1800s.

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