I wanted to share a spooky Halloween tale about the painting of the man on my poster, James Andrews. It is a story involving a local legend, gold, and a ghost ship. Andrews and his ship left the port in Niagara this very day almost 240 years ago, never to be seen again.
James Andrews, was a Commodore, in the British Navy, and he and his ship, the HMS Ontario set sail on Halloween, Oct 31, 1780. The HMS Ontario was the largest British warship in the Great Lakes at that time, and was to sail from Fort Niagara to Fort Haldimand in Oswego when it was caught in an Autumn Nor’easter and destroyed.
According to the ships records there were over 170 passengers on board, including the crew, British soldiers, passengers and American prisoners, all of whom perished. Legend has it that the HMS Ontario may have been carrying a small fortune in gold as a year’s pay for the British garrison at Fort Haldimand on Carleton Island. It is rumored by some local sailors that if you brave the cold lake this time of year, you can still here the screams of the ships passengers coming from the fog.
This legend has made the HMS Ontario the Holy Grail of shipwrecks for treasure hunters in the Great Lakes. Allegedly it was discovered off the shores of the lake towards Rochester in 2008, but the details and its exact location were never revealed.On its discovery the rumors of gold were largely dispelled, but with 230 year in between, I like to think it just means someone got there first.
Looking forward to seeing some of you at the Opening of “Canadian Myths & Legend”, by Conor & Declan MacNeill at the Pumphouse this Friday!
Hope everyone has a great Halloween! be safe…