Name board belongs to steamer that sank near Long Point in 1922
The City of Dresden was involved in a famous shipwreck near Long Point in 1922. The steamer’s name board is under the gavel at an auction house in New Hamburg. Displaying the artifact are, from left, Ethan Miller and Justin Miller of Miller and Miller Auctions. (Contributed photo)
A colourful piece of Norfolk’s past is on the auction block in New Hamburg.
Miller and Miller Auctions has been commissioned to sell the name board of the steamer City of Dresden.
Those familiar with the lore and legend of Long Point will smile in recognition. The City of Dresden was the boat that washed ashore near Port Rowan in 1922 with a hold full of contraband whisky.
The gavel comes down on the artifact Feb. 10. The auction house estimates it will sell for between $3,000 and $3,500. Miller and Miller contacted The Reformer in case someone wants to buy it for a local museum.
“If there’s some donor that’s interested in the history, this is a great opportunity to return it to Norfolk,” said Ethan Miller, a partner in the auction house.
The late historian Harry Barrett, of Port Dover, shared details of the Dresden incident in a story titled, The Night The Whisky Ship Ran Aground.
As Barrett tells it, the City of Dresden was a rickety steamer en route to Michigan with 1,000 cases and 500 kegs of Corby’s whisky. This being Prohibition, the shipment was allegedly destined for Mexico.
On Nov. 17, 1922, all was well until the steamer reached Long Point. A gale blew up and Capt. John McQueen was forced to seek shelter in Long Point Bay.
When the wind shifted to the northeast, choppy water forced McQueen to seek shelter on the south side of Long Point. As he rounded the tip, McQueen was forced to lighten his load. He jettisoned kegs and cases of whisky, which washed up on shore.
A lone patrolman at a lifesaving station could not believe his good fortune. He buried dozens of kegs and cases for later retrieval.
The Dresden proceeded down the south shore toward the mainland. The steamer hit a sand bar in the area of Hastings Drive and broke apart.
At least one crew member drowned but most were saved. For the next two days, residents of the Port Rowan area spirited away cases and kegs of prime, contraband whisky.
Liquor officials showed up two days later. They managed to retrieve only a small fraction of what was lost. In later years, there were reports of farmers paying off their mortgages with the proceeds of the illegal alcohol.
In his report on the Dresden incident, Barrett said sand-blown bottles of Corby’s turned up on the beach at Long Point for many years afterward. He said that entire kegs and cases were uncovered along Hastings Drive when cottage construction began there in later years.
Dickie Edwards, the liquor inspector responsible for tracking down the illegal booze, notarized the name board as part of his investigation, according to the auction house.
Miller said the name board is part of the estate of the late Tom Brunton, who acquired the relic from a cottager in the Long Point area.
The board measures eight feet by 8.5 inches. It was displayed for a time at the Harbour Museum in Port Dover around 2005.
More information about the name board and the bidding process underway is available at www.millerandmillerauctions.com .