Captain John Munro was born May 10, 1842 in Argyllshire Scotland, and was raised in Bruce Township, where his parents farmed. By 1881, he was sailing the Great Lakes and is listed as a sailor on the 1881 Canadian Census. During the 1890s he owned the schooner Azov. The Avoz, a two masted schooner, was built in 1866 by John Simpson in Hamilton.
During his time as owner, tragedy and bad luck struck. In 1898, Captain Munro’s son James, aged 22, fell off the Azov and drowned, just after being called to take his watch. It was James’ first sailing season. On a different voyage, two of Captain Munro’s nephews drowned in the St. Clair River when their workboat overturned. Another time, the fore gaff broke, causing the Azov to be disabled out on Lake Huron. Eventually Captain Munro sold his interests in the ship.
On October 22, 1911, the Azov had its final stroke of bad luck. The schooner was on the Michigan side of Lake Huron, going across the mouth of Saginaw Bay, when the cargo of lumber it was carrying shifted, causing the vessel to fall onto its side. The Azov was abandoned off the coast of Port aux Barques. The crew, after 18 hours in a yawl boat landed six miles north of Goderich. The schooner, expected to sink on the American side of the lake, and drifted across and foundered about five miles off Kincardine. Tugs freed the Azov, and it came ashore near McGregor Point.
Seemingly Captain Munro escaped the ill fate and bad luck of the Azov. Retired from the lake and farming in Bruce Township, he and his wife moved to Southampton in 1913. There it is said he missed the lake so much he purchased a small boat. July 15th, 1915 is the day Captain Munro met his fate when he accidentally went overboard and drowned. Using dynamite to disturb the lake where he went overboard, Captain Munro’s body was recovered from Lake Huron eleven days later. Captain Munro is buried, along with other family members in the Southampton Cemetery.
In 1954, the wreck of the Azov was rediscovered, and several pieces, including its nameplate became part of the Museum’s collection.