Jeremy Bannister, a professional underwater photographer, specializing in shipwrecks, has allowed us to share his amazing photos of the wrecked Sir CT Van Straubenzie.

The Sir CT Van Straubenzie collided with the steamer City Of Erie on September 27, 1909, at night. She quickly sank 205 feet into Lake Erie 8 miles east of Long Point. The Department of Transport reports 3 deaths, including a female cook.

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Sir CT Van Straubenzie was a three-masted barkentine, a vessel with at least three masts, all of them fore-and-aft rigged, except for the foremost one, which is square-rigged. The ship was used for transporting cargo.

Sir CT Van Straubenzie, Official Canadian No. 75632, was built in St. Catharines, Ontario, in 1875. Her homeport was also at St. Catharines. The dimensions of the ship were 127.7 x 26.2 x 13 of 317 tons reg. Owned by John Williams, Toronto. Ont.

The Sir CT Van Straubenzie was sailing light (empty) from Port Colborne to Cleveland for a sand load with Capt. Corson from Hamilton, NY, at the helm. Part of the dramatic newspaper clipping reads:

Out of the darkness which overlay Lake Erie off Dunkirk at 3 o'clock this morning darted the tiny schooner T. Vance Straubenstein straight into the course of the ponderous steamer City of Erie of the C. & B. Line. There was a crash and shrieks from three who will never call out again, Capt. Corson of the sunken schooner, Mate James McCallum an unknown woman who cooked for the crew of four.
Thomas Hollis and Thomas Garner, two seamen, pulled from the wreckage by the hands on the City of Erie, were saved to tell their half of the tragedy.

On October 1, 1909, the Buffalo Evening News reported that the Pilot of the City of Erie was blameless in the accident:

Capt. James Stone, supervising inspector of steamboats rendered a decision this afternoon in the collision between the CITY OF ERIE and the Canadian schooner SIR T. VAN STRAUBENZIE off Dunkirk at 3 o'clock last Monday morning in which two men and a woman were drowned. In his report, Capt. Stone finds that the schooner's starboard lights or green light was not burning at the time of the accident, and therefore finds in his decision that the pilot of the CITY OF ERIE, Edward S. Pickell, is blameless.

Photographer Jeremy Bannister dove down more than 200 feet and captured amazing photos of the shipwreck. Bannister has had his video work presented through National Geographic, The Travel Channel, and his Youtube Channel.

Erie Wrecks says, "at 200 feet, this dive is well beyond the limits of sport diving as defined by all major certifying agencies. Very experienced divers should only attempt it with specialized training and equipment for depths above sport diving limits. Her wire rigged forward mast is still standing. Collision damage can be seen on her starboard side, and her cabin is collapsed. There is a wheel, and the cast iron bell is in the bow of the wreck. Alas, there is no name on the bell. Trawl nets have dragged the port anchor to the starboard side. The ship's yawl boat dangles from the stern on the starboard side. In addition to the depth, divers need to be mindful of the steel net cable that is draped across the site."

This photo from the Royal Ontario Musem shows what the Sir CT Van Straubenzie looked like before the collision.

Pgoto via Royal Ontario Museum
Photo via Royal Ontario Museum

We hope you enjoy the photos by Jeremy Bannister as much as we do, and I look forward to working with him again soon.

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