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The Identity and Construction of Wreck Baker:  A War of 1812 Era Royal Navy Frigate

Daniel Robert Walker
Thesis: December 2006
Chair: Crisman
Nautical Archaeology Program

The aim of this thesis is to determine the identity of a wooden warship from the War of 1812 located at the bottom of a shallow bay near Kingston, Ontario.  An archaeological survey of the wreck, designated 'Wreck Baker' was undertaken by the author in 2000.  Using the archaeological information gathered in conjunction with historical research at the National Archives of Canada and in secondary sources, Wreck Baker will be identified as Priness Charlotte.  
On Christmast Day 1814 the frigate HMS Psyche splashed into the ice cold waters of Lake Ontario to take part in a war that had ended one day earlier with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent.  The Psyche's launch was the fourh of the year, following the frigates HMS Princess Charlotte, HMS Prince Regent, launched together April 14, and the First Rate HMS St. Lawrence launched on September 10th.  Three of the four ships launched during 1814 now rest at the bottom of Lake Ontario.  Two of the wrecks have been identified as St. Lawrence and Prince Regent, the largest ships built by the Royal Navy at Kingston.  The size and construction of the third wreck provide important clues to its identity.  This wreck, called both Wreck Baker and Deadman Bay II by previous investigators, is located, along with Prince Regent (Wreck Able, Deadman Bay I) on the bottom of Deadman Bay at the north-east corner of Lake Ontario, near  Kingston, Ontario.
In the summer of 2000 an archaeological survey was undertaken with the aim of recording and understanding the unique construction of Wreck Baker in order to conclusively identify it.  Understanding the construction of Wreck baker required dives into both Lake Ontario and the National Archives of Canada.  The work in Lake Ontario provided insight into how th ship was built and the archival work provided the historical context that explains the ship's novel construction.  Together the archaeological and historical records allowed Wreck Baker to be conclusively identified as Princess Charlotte.

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