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The Wreck of the S.S. Ilex

Kingman's Cove, Fermeuse Harbour

Resting on the rocky shores of Fermeuse Harbour lies the rusting hull of the S.S. Ilex; a 694 ton vessel owned by Wareham and Sons of Spencers Cove in Placentia Bay. On the morning of October 27, 1948, the Ilex left St. Johns en route to Kingston, Jamaica with a shipment of salt fish when an approaching storm forced the ship to seek refuge in Fermeuse Harbour. By the time night had fallen, the crew had securely tied the ship to a wharf in Kingman’s Cove.

However, shortly after the Ilex was secured for the night, a fire broke out in the engine room caused by the ignition of fuel in the ships oil-fired boiler rooms. The Western Star reported that the chief engineer on board at the time, Arch Sutherland was nearly killed by the initial backdraft explosion. Luckily the entire crew was able to escape by lifeboat just before the ship was fully engulfed in flames. After smoldering for several days, the crew managed to salvage what they could of the cargo but the damage to the ship was irreparable and thus the ship was left as it is today.

The ship is a not known by many nor has it been turned into a tourist attraction like so many others around the province (ie. SS Charcot or SS Kyle). The easiest place to view the ship is across the harbour on the road to Port Kirwan. But for those wishing to venture closer, a short hike along the rocky beach in Kingman's Cove will bring you alongside the ships remains. While the hike to the ship is well worth the trek, the best way to explore the ship is by kayak or paddleboard.

Sources & Further Exploring

Flynn, D. (2016). The Day the Ilex Burned. The Downhome. Found at  


Western Star (1948, November 5). SS Ilex is Destroyed by Fire at Fermeuse. Western Star (Corner Brook). Retrieved from the Centre for Newfoundland Studies.

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