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Into the Blue

Andrea Curtis's extensive search for clues about the true nature of her heritage led her through public archives and familial memory and resulted in the disturbing discoveries laid bare in Into the Blue. Entrusted with her late grandmother's personal papers, Curtis had become obsessed with learning the facts surrounding the sinking of the steamer J.H. Jones on Georgian Bay during a gale in November 1906. The captain, James Victor Crawford, was Curtis's great-grandfather, a man grandmother Eleanor described in a girlhood poem as a "pirate".

An aspiring writer who was raised in a depressed Georgian Bay town by a tyrannical maiden aunt, educated at Berkeley and McGill and ultimately married to a prominent Montreal divorce lawyer, Eleanor had always been a romanticised role model for Curtis. Given Eleanor's lifelong bitterness about the way her family was shunned by the Wiarton community following the loss of the J.H. Jones and the 40-odd souls aboard her, Curtis expected to unearth unsettling material implicating her great-grandfather in the disaster.

What Curtis did not imagine was that she might find evidence that the true buccaneer in the Crawford family was Eleanor herself. "Whenever I think I know something for certain", she reflects, "I discover some new detail that alters the picture entirely. Things go in and out of focus, are illuminated, then disappear into the darkness before I can clutch them, make them my own".

Curtis devotes most of Into the Blue to the rich local lore surrounding the short-lived rise and prolonged fall of Wiarton and the maritime yarns that shed light on what might have happened to the Jones. The wrecked ship and most of her dead were never given up by the bay. Yet it is Eleanor's personal story that clearly fascinates the granddaughter: "Eleanor didn't write much after her marriage to my grandfather Paul", she observes. "Perhaps she didn't have the time or mental space once my aunt and mother were born. Or maybe she found it too risky." --Deirdre Hanna,

Important places

Georgian Bay (26)
Midland (3)


Ontario (2,314)


Canada (8,082)

Other geographical areas

Great Lakes (57)
Central Lowlands (North America) (1,334)
Central Canada (3,035)