Sweepstakes Shipwreck in Tobermory, Ontario, photo courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/repoman/6067031587 

The Sweepstakes Shipwreck, also known as Sweeps, in Tobermory, Ontario was a Canadian schooner built in 1867 in Burlington, Ontario. On August 23rd, 1885, the ship hit a rock near Cove Island situated in the Bruce Peninsula and sank into shallow water close to the lighthouse. On September 3rd, the ship was towed into Big Tub Harbour by a tugboat named Jessie. The schooner suffered serious damage and was beyond repair, causing it to fully sink in September 1885 where it sits today. The coal that Sweepstakes was transporting and all its good rigging and equipment was retrieved. 

The almost fully intact hull of the Sweepstakes is in six meters of water and 45 meters from the head of Big Tub Harbour. The ship itself is 119 feet in length and sits beside two mooring buoys. Although the ship is deteriorating a little more each year, the Sweepstakes is one of the best-preserved nineteenth-century Great Lakes schooners today. This is largely due to the crystal clear water and relatively cold temperatures of the Bruce Peninsula. 

While the shipwreck is easily and safely accessible, Parks Canada has set barricades to prevent divers from swimming under the fragile deck. However, divers are still permitted in certain areas and are good for beginners. The clear water also allows glass-bottom tour boats to visit the wreck. The Sweepstakes Shipwreck allows visitors to explore a part of Bruce Peninsula’s maritime history up close. 


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