la grande hermine

This abandoned ship sits on the side of a major highway in Ontario

You’ve probably spotted the gigantic abandoned ship that impressively rises out of the water while you've been driving along the QEW from Toronto to Niagara Falls. 

The rusting shipwreck, which closely resembles a pirate ship and floats only a few metres off the shoreline at the Jordan Harbour off Lake Ontario, is named La Grande Hermine or The Big Weasel. 

Tilting strongly to one side and measuring in at 140 feet (40 metres) in length, it’s a life-sized replica of the three-masted sailing vessel that famous explorer Jacques Cartier travelled on in the 1500s.

la grande hermine

Image Courtesy of @martraymond_photography/Instagram.

While the original didn’t survive, a replica was featured at Montreal’s 1967 Expo event as a gimmicky floating restaurant. It was later destroyed after sitting on display in a park in Quebec City for nearly three decades. 

la grande hermine

Image Courtesy of @alt.vue/Instagram

The third version of the vessel that sits off the highway in the town of Jordan today was purchased by a businessman and was intended also to be a floating eatery or gambling casino. 

la grande hermine

Image Courtesy of @jamology/Instagram

Despite the unique drifting venue, the business failed to get off the ground and the ship was abandoned. 

la grande hermine

Image Courtesy of @james_bombales/Instagram

An arson fire destroyed much of the ship in 2003 and what’s left of it remains burnt, rusted and run down, on the side of the road making for an interesting sight. 

la grande hermine

Image Courtesy of @travelcultureblog/Instagram

You can visit this fascinating roadside attraction and piece of history for free. Just follow Exit 55 to the parking lot on Beacon Boulevard.

Make sure to respect the rules of the area during your visit. Adhere to social distancing measures by visiting with a small group and pick up your trash to leave the area just as beautiful as you found it.

la grande hermine

The present site looks like this, as of Summer 2022. Image via Edison Ma.

UPDATE: The masts of La Grande Hermine have since been removed after a 2021 request by the Canadian Coast Guard, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Lead photo by

shyamrajani_


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