The Nancy and the War of 1812

The Nancy was a schooner built in 1789 at the then-British port of Detroit, by a Montréal shipbuilding company under the supervision of John Richardson (whose daughter’s and wife’s names were Nancy). Richardson lavished care on the vessel, intending it to be “a perfect masterpiece of workmanship and beauty.” The schooner was built for the fur trade, to carry goods including food, clothing, rum, meat, powder, blankets, tools, weapons and ammunition to the trading posts of Sault Ste Marie and Fort Michilimackinac.

During the War of 1812, the British pressed the Nancy into service as a supply ship. The schooner was deemed “capable of mounting six 4-pound carriage guns and six swivel guns.” While in this service, American forces destroyed the schooner in the Nottawasaga River.

The sunken hull of the Nancy formed an obstruction in the river and an island formed of silt and sand, which is now the Nancy Island Historic Site. The hull’s remains rest in a museum on the island to mark the site of her demise.

Author: James Marsh