On Tuesday, October 7, 1902, strong northwesterly winds were blowing breakers high onto the Kincardine pier. Around 10pm, faint cries could be heard coming from the water. Upon investigation, a large schooner had run aground near the south pier and the large rolling breakers forced the crew of six into the rigging. A rescue boat and crew were quickly put together and set out for the wreck. The crew consisted of John McGaw Jr., Walter McGaw, Tom MacGaw Sr. (Big Tom), and William Ferguson.
The rescue crew managed to get to the ship and get the crew into the boat, however as they were about to leave, the boat capsized throwing everyone into the water. They all scrambled to regain the wreck. Only five of the ten people made it. Those that drown included Captain Alex Gordon, Mrs. Kennedy, the cook, Steve Ryan, Perry Bond, both crewmen, and rescuer William Ferguson.
A second rescue crew was put together and cast out. This crew included Dan Matheson, Tom McGaw Jr. (Little Tom), Bob Sanders and Bob Green. This crew was able to make the Ann Maria, and remove the remaining crew members, William Pemberton, and George Schryer, as well as members of the first rescue crew.
A week earlier, on September 28, the Ann Maria, loaded with coal consigned to H.T. Hurdon of Kincardine, left Cleveland, and crossed Lake Erie. It was then tugged up-river to Lake Huron. Shortly after being released from the tug, the steering gear jammed, and could only be steered with the utmost difficulty. The Ann Maria managed to get to Harbour Beach Michigan in inclement weather. There, after the necessary repairs were complete, the Ann Maria started its fateful journey to Kincardine.
In the aftermath of the wreck, members of the rescue crew were awarded gold life saving medals from President Theodore Roosevelt, as well as bronze medals from the Royal Canadian Humane Society for their bravery and sacrifice. Another outcome of the tragedy was the recognition of the need for a lifesaving service by the Town of Kincardine. Near the north end of the east dock, a notch was cut out and a ramp was built up to a new building where the lifeboat was housed. The life saving crew, made up of volunteers performed drills and regular practices for several years afterwards.