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The Ithica

February 13, 2009

ithica_angle

The MV Ithica (also spelled Ithaca) has long been a fixture in the Churchill area.  This small freighter was transporting a load of iron ore from Rankin Inlet to Montreal in 1961, when it was caught in a storm and wrecked at Bird Cove, 20 km east of Churchill.  The legend goes that this ship was once owned by Benito Mussolini, though it is not at all clear to me what use he made of it.

A typically scruffy paleontology field crew visits the Ithica.  L-R are Pete Fenton, me, and Norm Aime (perhaps you can understand why the people at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre called us "the guys with the funny hats").

A typically scruffy paleontology field crew visits the Ithica. L-R are Pete Fenton, me, and Norm Aime (perhaps you can understand why the people at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre called us “the guys with the funny hats”). (photo © David Rudkin, Royal Ontario Museum)

The ship was long ago stripped of its cargo and any valuables, and has been left to gently rust and decay on the tidal flat.

The ship was long ago stripped of its cargo and any valuables, and has been left to gently rust and decay on the tidal flat.

A gap in the hull frames the view westward along the shore.

A gap in the hull frames the view westward along the shore.

At low tide, Bird Cove becomes an immense sandy tidal flat, with the Ithica toward its seaward edge.

At low tide, Bird Cove becomes an immense sandy tidal flat, with the Ithica toward its seaward edge.

Ithica from the east at high tide

Ithica from the east at high tide

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 29, 2012 10:39 pm

    I love these Graham!
    All your different perspectives and textures are very interesting.
    The first image makes it look especially monumental. It must be quite something to come across The Ithica for the first time. I like the bit of history you’ve added also, fascinating.

    …and those hats are great! =)

  2. Graham permalink*
    February 29, 2012 11:28 pm

    It is quite something, Karen; the first time I saw it it was surrounded by water. And it is quite a little hike to get there – you don’t walk across unless you know how soon the tide will be coming back! The hats are essential, and some of us have such lumpy heads that we have little choice when it comes to style.

  3. Steve Brandy permalink
    February 10, 2015 12:42 pm

    I can remember when she had all her paint. She was a victim of a stormy night in Sept of 1960. The ship was painted black with a red funnel (now missing) and white trim here and there. I had the impression as a child, that her crew were rescued by a tug that came from the harbour. They were not rescued this way. They waited for low tide, and made the very same walk toward the gravel road that countless tourists have made ever since. There was not room at the local hotel in town for them, so they were put up in the hockey arena, with blankets and cots supplied by the army. The ship’s origins remain a matter of argument. Some say she was built in Trois Rivierres in 1924….others insist she was built in Greece. Either way…she’s a “fish out of water” now and bound for oxidized oblivion. A very clever local with a winch and …other equipment, managed to get away with her anchor…which must have weighed several tons!
    Rust never sleeps… Many thanks for this Graham!

    • Graham permalink*
      February 14, 2015 5:45 pm

      Thanks, Steve. The ship has deteriorated even further since I took those photos!

Trackbacks

  1. Over the Waves: M/V Ithaca | Original Shipster

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