The sinking of HMS Speedy in 1804 off Presqu’ile Point was more than a tragic loss of the twenty souls onboard—it had shocking and far-reaching repercussions for the young colony of Upper Canada. At the centre of it all is Ogetonicut, a Mississauga First Nations man charged with murdering John Sharp, a white trader. As Ogetonicut’s trial drew near, it was moved east to Newcastle for fear of angering the indigenous community that was gathering at York. With the shipping season coming to a close, the HMS Speedy set sail with the accused and the legal elite of the young colony on board. But on the night of October 8, the Speedy was lost in a violent storm; there were no survivors and the ship could not be found. The mystery surrounding the ill-fated vessel has continued for more than two centuries, despite the efforts of commercial diver Ed Burtt, who began a search for the Speedy in the early 1990s. Were the remains he located at the bottom of Lake Ontario from the lost ship? Were valuable copies of the Statutes of Upper Canada on board? What evidence lay in the untouched artifacts Burtt found? Based on unparalleled access to archival documents and to all Ed Burtt’s unpublished research and records, this is a meticulously researched look at a fascinating episode in Canadian history—the story of the ship and those who sailed her, the modern-day search for the wreck, a First Nations protagonist and perspective, the legal personalities and colonial government of the time—and a unique social history of early Canada.
This text comes from the back cover of the book “The Wreck of HMS Speedy: The Tragedy That Shook Upper Canada,” written by Dan Buchanan and published in 2020 by Milner & Associates, Inc. The text is copied by the author from proofs of the back cover of the book for promotion of the book on his web site – www.danbuchananhistoryuy.com.