SS Alice Hackett and the Ghost of the White Horse

When I see the storms coming in from Georgian Bay like today, I am reminded of the thousands of shipwrecks that lie on the bottom of it. How horrifying it must have been to be aboard a distraught ship, especially in the freezing waters of November. Here’s the story of Georgian Bay’s first shipwreck. Nov. 4, 1828

When Drummond Island was evacuated in 1828, the Government sent the schooner SS Alice Hackett to do the job of transporting the remaining 25 island residents south to Penetanguishene, including an innkeeper named Fraser with his thirteen barrels of whiskey, and William Solomon, a government interpreter.

Solomon arranged for his possessions to be part of the voyage – two horses, four cows, twelve sheep, and eight pigs, and they all set sail. This turned into Georgian Bay’s first shipwreck after they hit a sand bar at Fitzwilliam Island, near Manitoulin Island. A storm and the inebriated condition of the crew from Fraser’s fine spirits are reported to be the cause of the ship going off course.

Miraculously, all 25 passengers survived the wreck along with some pigs, the thirteen barrels of whiskey, and Solomon’s white prize horse named ‘Louie’.

They managed to take refuge on the shores of Fitzwilliam Island and after 3 days, all were saved and arrived safely in Penetanguishene. All, except for Louie, that Solomon tried in vain to have taken off the island but to no avail. Louie could be seen by boats for years later running on the Island. He would end up dying there which, since then, has become known as (Ghost) Horse Island.

When you hear the howling of the storm, think of the ones who went down listening to that as the very last sound they would ever hear.

Published by Annette Sandberg

I grew up on the Niagara Escarpment in Grey County and this ancient land was, and still is, my backyard playground. I am a Certified Hike Leader with Hike Ontario and I lead hikes for various Ontario Trail Clubs, Sightseeing Tour Agencies and individual groups of family & friends who want to experience nature safely and informatively with an experienced Guide.

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