The Bayfield Beach Shipwreck

Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2022
A photo of the shipwreck Lynda Hindman in Bayfield before it became totally submerged.

The Bayfield Beach Shipwreck: A Story of Shoreline ‘Protection’

By Alyssa Bourassa, Coastal Stewardship Technician, Lake Huron Coastal Centre

In this segment of ‘What is Buried in Your Beach?’ we will uncover how the Lynda Hindman shipwreck came to be a tourist attraction and conversation maker off the shores of Pier Beach in Bayfield. 

(HISTORICAL NOTE: There are alternate spellings of Lynda. Linda has been used in some historical texts. Some sources state the boat originated from Dunkirk, New York. We wrote the specifics of the boat’s history based on a newspaper clipping sourced from the Maritime History of the Great Lakes.)

People have tried to ‘protect’ Bayfield Pier Beach, from erosion, with a variety of structural features over the years. These attempts have ranged from well-designed and coastal-engineered constructions to ‘Do-it-Yourself’ weekend-style projects. 

(NOTE: Shorelines are regulated in Ontario and permits are required for any shoreline protection works so contact your local conservation authority first if you are considering any shoreline works.).

Without a reliable management plan in place it was once common to see the dumping of concrete slabs, the placing of concrete blocks (some with exposed re-bar) and triangular structures (known as Wave Busters and/or Lenson Mobile Breakwaters TM). The installation of steel, sheet pile walls, breakwaters, and groynes extending into the water was a common sight for many years. 

Yet the strangest story of attempted shoreline protection in Bayfield is the Lynda Hindman shipwreck. What may have been assumed to be an accident, caused by a bad weather event or human error, was actually an attempt at wave protection for the adjacent property owned by Brigadier Dr. Morgan Smith. 

The Lynda Hindman was originally known as the Steam Screw. It was owned by William A. McGonagle. It was built in Lorain, Ohio in 1908 and it weighed 355 gross tons. It changed hands to another United States family in 1936 and was renamed Marguerite W. before it found its home in Canada in 1954 with the Hindman family of Owen Sound. 

The tugboat was used for their lumber business and spent most of its time in White Fish Bay and Sault Ste. Marie. Ruth Hindman was the first to officially own the boat within the family before it was passed onto Lynda Hindman, as we know it today. 

A vicious Lake Huron storm broke the boat free from its cables. This caused it to be put out of commission. It was then relocated to the Goderich harbour where it sat with other scrap metal. It was purchased in 1973 by Brigadier Dr. Morgan Smith who towed it to Bayfield and pulled close to shore. 

The following is an excerpt from a newspaper clipping that explains the history of the shipwreck: 

I was at the Archive Building in Bayfield last week. They have typed (verbal) records about the Lynda Hindman. Apparently, several of these old steamships were moored at Goderich, Ontario in the 1970’s awaiting dismantling for scrap sale. A resident of Bayfield purchased the stern of the Lynda Hindman and had it hauled from Goderich to Bayfield to use as a breakwall. A mishap with storms and ice stopped this procedure and the stern now sits off the shore of Bayfield, sticking out of the water about 12 feet. Most tourists believe it is a wrecked ship, but the truth is it is only the stern section and was left by this landowner in Bayfield 30 years ago. It now adds to the local lore.” 

Currently the Lynda Hindman sits underneath the surface of Lake Huron after disappearing in 2018 due to high water levels. 

Although it didn’t serve the shoreline with much protection from waves, it is part of the fascinating history of Bayfield.

  • Doom VS. (2011, November 8). The Hindman Scuttling.
  • Lake Huron Coastal Centre. (2019). Bayfield Pier Beach Management Plan: Coastal Processes and Management Recommendations. Goderich. 
  • West, G. (1966). Lynda Hindman, C153120, sunk, abandoned, 1966. Retrieved from Maritime History of the Great Lakes.