BUILT: 1909, Sorel Quebec
LENGTH: 108 Feet long, 25 feet wide
Owner: Dept. of Marine & Fisheries
Wreck: Lake Superior near Caribou
Island Light house.
Date: April 22, 1922
Death Toll: 22
The Lambton met her fate near the Caribou Island Lighthouse which is the most secluded lighthouse on the Great Lakes. The lighthouse is 65 miles out on Lake Superior which even on a good day can be quite dangerous and precarious. The weather conditions are unpredictable. Lambton was stationed at Parry Sound, Georgian Bay. She was said to be seaworthy and tough. George Johnston who was the fog alarm inspector had trained a new light keeper by the name of George Penefold. Mr. Penefold was outraged to learn that the government expected him to make his own trips off the light in the month of December in a small 28 foot boat. He campaigned to the authorities by writing letters showing his concerns. The government approved by commissioning the Lambton which was 108 feet long as a lighthouse tender which made her responsible for lighthouse supplies from Quebec north to the Upper Great Lakes. At the time Mr. penefold thought that his concerns had been dealt with. Not quite. Johnson who is the fog alarm inspector witnessed a shocking scene that autumn which urged him to write to the proper authorities. His belief was that the Lambton was the wrong choice for lighthouse tender because he witnessed the vessel's crew chipping ice off the steering cable. The Lambton was originally designed as a tug and the vessel sat low in the water which meant that the steering quadrant was susceptible to freezing spray. This was dangerous in open water. On April 18, 1922, the Lambton left Sault Ste. Marie with keepers for the lighthouses at Ile Parisienne, Caribou Island which also included George Penefold going to Michipicoten Island. The vessel had 22 people on board and all of their supplies for the season. The Lambton was near White Fish Bay when she came across the Glenfinnan. The Glenfinnan was struck in an ice jam, and the Lambton collided with her while trying to assist her. The Lambton was attempting to free the big steel steamer. She collided with her port quarter. No apparent damage was obvious at the time. In the process, the Lambton's steering gear was damaged. The crew continued on its way instead of returning to port to make some repairs. The weather began to deteriorate with a driving force to a full-blown gale. The Lambton however, began to forge ahead into the unknown. About 40 miles from White Fish Point, the Lambton was seen struggling with her broken steering gear. Why the Captain decided to challenge the storm will always be a mystery. Perhaps he felt that he needed to get the light house keepers to their posts the sooner the better. The steamer Midland Prince was the last vessel to see the Lambton. Officers saw the tender fighting the gale as the wind shifted from southeast to northeast. This storm was the worst that they had ever come in contact with. All hands on board died.