HMS Speedy was a schooner built from green timber in Cataaqui  (present-day Kingston, Ontario) to help defend Upper Canada from the United States. The construction of the ship was rushed, and because unseasoned wood was used, HMS Speedy had leaks and dry rot soon after being built.

painting of a schooner

HMS Speedy by Snider

HMS Speedy sank in a snowstorm on October 8, 1804, off Presqu’ile Point. There were no survivors of the wreck.

This shipwreck was a tragedy for the families of those who were on board, and it had far-reaching consequences for Upper Canada. Lost in the wreck was Ogetonicut, a First Nations man who was being transported to trial in the Newcastle District and other individuals who were to be witnesses at the trial. The legal elite of the region were also on the ship.

The HMS Speedy cargo also contained six hand-written copies of the Statutes of Upper Canada.

black-and-white photo of a man with an ROV camera.

Ed Burtt with Sea Otter ROV camera

Dan Buchanan’s book, The Wreck of HMS Speedy: The Tragedy that Shook Upper Canada chronicles this event and its consequences, including the extensive search for the ship in the 1990s by commercial diver Ed Burtt. Drawing from archival records and all of Ed Burtt’s unpublished research and records, Buchanan crafts a fascinating social history of this important episode in early Canada.

The Vancouver Maritime Museum is pleased to announce that we are hosting a virtual presentation by author and historian Dan Buchanan on August 20 at 4:00 pm Pacific Time (7:00 pm Eastern Time). Dan will talk about his book, which explores the conflicts and prejudices that contributed to HMS Speedy’s demise. He’ll also discuss the discoveries Ed Burtt made and what they could mean.

Dan Buchanan is “The History Guy of Brighton.” He’s the founder of the annual Brighton History Week and a passionate speaker and local history consultant. He has also published two other history books and has created an approach to genealogy called “Community Genealogy” which combines family and local history.

This virtual presentation promises to be an exciting presentation with a fresh take on a critical event in Canadian history.

Tickets are only $5 and free for members. To get free member’s access, email