CRYSTAL BEACH, ON - 60 years before the Edmund Fitzgerald sank into Great Lakes legend, the gales of November created the deadliest and most destructive storm ever to hit the region. Two Buffalonians lost their lives trying to save others.
It was called the "White Hurricane" and it roared across a land and lake mass the size of western Europe from November 7 through November 10, 1913.
Winds gusted above 80 MPH, pushing blizzard conditions and 35-foot waves across all five Great Lakes. The storm resulted in 19 ships lost, 19 others stranded and more than 250 lives lost.
One of the last of the ships lost was the U.S. Coast Guard light vessel 82, which sailed out of Buffalo. She dropped anchor just off Point Ibn, Ontario. The light vessel was sort of a floating lighthouse. The crew's mission was to guide both U.S. and Canadian ships away from the rocks of the point.
LV 82 was swamped and sunk, taking all six crew members with her. Among the Coast Guardsmen lost were Chief Engineer Charles Butler and cook Peter Mackay.
Now, 99 years later, a volunteer group in Crystal Beach has raised enough money and interest to honor the sacrifice with a new memorial.
Saturday, September 29, at 11am, a plaque will be unveiled during a public ceremony at Waterfront Park in Crystal Beach. Organizers are looking for any relatives of the lost Coast Guardsmen who would like to take part in the ceremony.
You can contact the Crystal Beach Maritime Society at (905) 894-0842.
Watch 2 On Your Side Friday at 6 p.m. for Pete's complete report on the White Hurricane.