Patt McLaughlin Franc hasn’t seen the St. Clair River quite like this in years.
“The last time I saw ice like this was probably in the 1960s,” said the Stag Island cottager, reacting to thick, heavy ice that’s wreaked havoc on shoreline docks in St. Clair Township.
The U.S. resident has been sharing photos online with fellow Stag Islanders, assessing the damage at places like Pier 90, which houses 45 boat slips for cottage owners.
In recent weeks the overpowering force of the ice sheets has crushed portions of the Corunna dock, and battered boats left over the winter.
“The ice has really done its damage this year — everybody is quite shocked,” said Pier 90 Committee president Randy Robbins, who is gathering repair estimates for the site.
On the St. Clair Parkway, dozens of residential docks have been damaged or wiped out completely by ice floes.
A YouTube video shot March 8 shows one boathouse being bashed and shaken by a floe that was reportedly freed by a passing icebreaker.
“We don’t even know what the damage is like over on the island yet,” said Robbins. “It could be a costly expense with this much ice.”
The ice is flowing down from Lake Huron, which has been breaking up after covering 96% of the lake surface a few weeks ago.
Despite the damage it has caused in the river, the ice is receding quicker this spring that it did a year ago. Last year, the Great Lakes were almost completely locked in ice for the first time since 1979.
That caused delays to the start of the shipping season and saw rows of freighters anchored in convoys for weeks just offshore at Sarnia awaiting help from icebreakers.