The Harry H, a Suspected Rum Runner on Lake Ontario
The Harry H began its life chasing down German submarines in World War I and spent the last years of her life docked in the Oshawa Harbour. After World War I, it was sold off to a private owner instead of being repurposed for World War II. The history of the boat began with a visit from German submarines.
According to a letter in the Oshawa Archives, it was after a visit by two German submarines in the summer of 1916, that resulted in the sinking of five ships, when the navy decided to design an effective antisubmarine vessel. Unfortunately, steel was a scarce resource and the large shipbuilding yards had been contracted to build destroyers and other large ships.
As a result, a new ship was designed to be made from wood, built for speed rather than strength. In total, during the course of the First World War, approximately 441 of these subchasers were built and placed into active duty. When the world’s political climate once again soured, some of the ships were repurposed for World War II. Others, however, were sold off.
Spanning 100 feet long (30.5 metres), its original name was Subchaser SC-238.
The ship was crewed by two officers and 24 enlisted men. It originally boasted two 3-inch guns and two machine guns, but the 3-inch (7.6 cm) guns proved to be ineffective. The depth charges which replaced them were designed to explode near a submarine, which would be destroyed by the resulting shock wave.
In 1922, David Sullivan purchased the ship, renamed the Allan. In 1925, the vessel was found abandoned.
By 1933, the ship re-named Harry H, had been in the hands of several different owners. That year, it was seized by the R.C.M.P. for infractions to customs regulations. It was rumoured that after the seizure, the R.C.M.P. used the ship for chasing Rum Runners on Lake Ontario.
Harry H was found at the bottom of the Oshawa Harbour basin in the summer of 1965 due to a pump or battery failure. In the fall of the same year it broke away from the dock during high winds. It was later found underwater next to a clay bank in shallow water at the harbour. A mast, as well as part of the deck, could be seen through the water. They were later torn off by ice.
In August 1978, a dredging operation by the Porter Dredging Company ended the life of the Harry H.