Governor Cornwallis (ferry)

Governor Cornwallis was a ferry that operated on the Halifax–Dartmouth Ferry Service between the Nova Scotia cities of Halifax and Dartmouth between 1942 and 1944 before sinking in a spectacular fire.

Name: MV Governor Cornwallis
Owner: Halifax-Dartmouth Ferry Commission
Operator: Halifax-Dartmouth Ferry Service
Route: HalifaxDartmouth.
Builder: Hugh D. Weagle
Completed: 1942
Identification: IMO number: 174894
Fate: Caught Fire[1]
Status: Out of service
General characteristics
Tonnage: 248 GT
Length: 41.1 m (134.8 ft)
Beam: 15.5 m (50.9 ft)
Height: 3.3 m (10.8 ft)
Propulsion: Diesel electric engines


Named after Edward Cornwallis, the founder of Halifax, the ferry was built because of the heavy wartime traffic on the Halifax to Dartmouth ferries which had grown to 6 million passengers and 500,000 vehicles per year. The original tender went out in 1938 and 6 bids were received. The tender was ultimately won by a Dartmouth shipbuilder Hugh D. Weagle for $93,551. Governor Cornwallis was launched at 8:30am on November 20, 1941 and operational to the public December 6, 1942.


Throughout the short career of Governor Cornwallis, her superintendent's log book showed many mechanical problems, and was becoming a headache to the city of Halifax and Dartmouth. At 4:05pm on December 22, 1944, Governor Cornwallis left the Halifax dock with 20 motor vehicles and 300-400 passengers. Almost immediately the crew discovered a fire in the ceiling of the engine room. When Governor Cornwallis arrived at the Dartmouth dock all the passengers were let off and the boat was towed to the beaches of Georges Island to be burned. On January 12, 1945, the provincial fire marshal concluded that the fire was caused by poor installation of the heating furnace's smoke pipe. Governor Cornwallis has since slid off the beach and into its final resting place in the deep waters off Georges Island.[1][2]


  1. "Ferry Destroyed, Passengers Safe". The Evening Citizen. Ottawa. The Canadian Press. December 23, 1944. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  2. "Governor Cornwallis - 1944". On the Rocks: Shipwrecks of Nova Scotia. Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Retrieved 7 February 2013.

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