Home History Four Factors that Sank Bert Corbeau’s Wawinet and Took So Many Lives
Four Factors that Sank Bert Corbeau’s Wawinet and Took So Many Lives

Four Factors that Sank Bert Corbeau’s Wawinet and Took So Many Lives

197
4

For decades, people have often wondered why Bert Corbeau’s yacht, Wawinet, sank taking Bert and 24 friends to their deaths.

The 87 foot Wawinet was designed and built in 1904. She was purchased by Sir William Mackenzie, one of Canada’s great business pioneers and was used at his summer mansion on Balsam Lake not far from Kirkfield. Even on this relatively calm lake, the yacht was described as “impressive but rather unstable and had a way of getting in trouble while puttering around Balsam Lake.” Imagine how she would behave on the rough Georgian Bay years later on the night she sank.

The Wawinet’s most distinguishing feature were her eight large rectangular portholes, 12 by 18 inches on each side of the yacht. On the fateful night of her sinking, when she was rocking back and forth in the rough Georgian Bay waves, were these portholes closed?

Albert ‘Bert’ Corbeau, born in Penetanguishene, at 5’ 11’’ and 200 pounds, was one of the biggest players in the NHL. Nicknamed “Pig Iron”, he was the NHL player to record 100 penalty minutes in a single season. Bert was the first player in history to have played for both the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs. During the first few months of the 1927-28 season, he was the first captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Retired from hockey, Corbeau became the plant manager at the Midland Foundry and Machine Shop.

To celebrate the completion of a wartime contract on Monday, September 21, 1942, a cruise and picnic was organized by superintendent Bert Corbeau. The Wawinet, with 42 men on board, left the Penetanguishene dock around 4:30 pm. After a wonderful trip that ended at the Delawana Hotel, at 8:20 pm, the Wawinet headed home on a clear night.

Nearing the southern point of Beausoleil Island, a number of factors came into play and the Wawinet quickly sank. 25 men, including Bert Corbeau, himself a very strong swimmer, drown. A coroner’s hearing was quickly convened and through testimony (much of it included in the main story), the factors were explored for relevance. Many recommendations about pleasure craft safety were developed.

Please read the 37 part illustrated story “Four Factors that Sank Bert Corbeau’s Wawinet and Took So Many Lives” at the Huronia’s Past and Present site.

Since the site is closed for members’ protection from scammers, only members can access the archive of thousands of photos and stories. It’s easy to join….go to the site and click ‘Join Group’.

(197)

Comment(4)

  1. So sad 🙁 Interesting that Bert was the first player in history to have played for both the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    1. My Name is Cassandra Corbeau. Bert was a distant relative of mine. How do I “join group” to see more about this?

      1. The Huronia’s Past and Present site is dedicated to the history and current events which will affect the future of the North Simcoe area. There are thousands of historic photos with captions and hundreds of illustrated albums with photos and videos. It’s easy to join by going to the site and clicking “Join Group”.

        We hope to see you soon join us on our voyage across the sea of history and through the mists of time!

  2. I’ve dove that wreck. Its hull is still more or less intact. It’s hard to find and visibility is terrible due to boat traffic and wind turbulence. It is amazing how close it lies to the sandbar slope and how much luck had to do with survivors who swam a few feet to safety or the opposite way to their deaths.

Leave a Reply

Four Factors that Sank Bert Corbeau’s Wawinet and Took So Many Lives

4
%d bloggers like this: