…It’s Not a Secret!

Coldwater, is a quiet, inland town, on the Coldwater River in Simcoe County, in the central part of Ontario of Canada. Not unlike a million other small towns in the world. Except that, Coldwater is a town with an unusual history.

It is fact, but it might as well be a secret, for the amount of people, including some full time residents, who are not aware of this history.

In the mid 1800’s, three ocean going ships were built in Coldwater on the Coldwater River. Sure.., would be the first reaction by anyone with good eye sight looking at the river today!  but….

Coldwater River

In 1855, the first ocean going sailing vessel, the Reindeer was built and launched sideways into the river. White oak, cut from the huge forests in this area, processed at the Coldwater Mill, was loaded onto the ship which was then floated down the river out to the deeper waters of Georgian Bay. The three master ship continued  down through the Welland canal into Lake Ontario, along the St Lawrence River out to the Atlantic Ocean, and across to Liverpool, England, where the wood was sold, and then a buyer was found for the ship.

Coldwater Mill


Coldwater River

In 1862, another ship, the Sardinia was built and it made the same trip. The Sardinia was sold to an American Register and the newspaper clipping shows the ship sitting at Sheboygan, Wisconsin on Lake Michigan. A third ship sunk out on Georgian Bay never getting to England.

sardinia copy

If you look at the photos, of the river, one would hardly blame you for not believing that anything but a small boat could pass through the waters. However, the river was dredged in some places and then dammed, bringing the level of the water up. The ships were towed by scows along the river.

Coldwater River

Today, Coldwater is a gateway to the north for, tourists, cottagers and sporting events, and  this little town provides groceries, restaurants, gas and the usual small town amenities for residents and those that pass through on their way to other places….

The government dock, still in use today, has been rebuilt for use by the county.

(clipping and some info provided by D.Binns – Canadiana Museum, Coldwater).

Isn’t life interesting!     Thanks for coming by today…...


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