Photo of Fathom Five National Marine Park, in Ontario, Canada

Weekly Gem #15 "Don't worry mate. Just keep a wide berth, and we'll be fine."

Published 3/21/2015

Location: This 'hidden gem' is in the narrows of central Lake Huron, in Ontario, Canada. (see Clue Me! beta map ). Fathom Five National Marine Park encompasses a cluster of at least thirty shipwrecks dating from the early 1800's. These ships were apparently heading out of the western portion of Lake Huron, through a 'narrows' leading into the Tobermory harbor. This is an extraordinarily treacherous area during foul weather, suggesting these captains were faced with a choice between slim and none. Out in the open there's no chance. If they could manage to dodge the rocks and the shoals and get through to the harbor, they would most likely survive.

The problem is clear if you look at a map of Tobermory. To reach the harbor, there were only small gaps between a ring of very flat islands. Those islands had shifting sandbar shoals between them. At least 30 times, ships trying to run through these narrows didn't make it.

The name of the Park. Fathom Five. This derives from the days before submersibles. Anything that sank 30 feet (i.e. five fathoms) or more below the surface was not just sunk, but irretrievable. 

"Full Fathom Five" became known to the non-sailors among us thanks to these lyrics from Ariel's Song.

"Come unto these yellow sands, And then take hands: Curtsied when you have, and kiss'd The wild waves whist, Foot it featly here and there; And, sweet sprites, the burthen bear. Hark, hark! .......

Full fathom five thy father lies; Of his bones are coral made; Those are pearls that were his eyes: Nothing of him that doth fade, But doth suffer a sea-change Into something rich and strange. Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell: Ding-dong. Hark! now I hear them—Ding-dong, bell."

~~ William Shakespeare, from The Tempest


Here's the original entry from our Clue Me! map.


Canada's first National Marine Park is on freshwater.


Fathom Five National Marine Park is mostly under the crystal clear water of George's Bay on Lake Huron. It is located on the tip of the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario

Why It's Interesting

More than 20 historic underwater shipwrecks dot this northernmost point of the Niagara Escarpment. A tall tower enables spectacular views of surrounding islands and flowerpot geological formations. The water is some of the clearest in the Great Lakes.

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