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Ancaster

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  Famous as one of the two tugs on the reverse of the last Canadian paper dollar bill.

Canadian List of Shipping 1956: Ancaster [C.193615] registered at Ottawa; built at Owen Sound in 1951. Hull 900. 24’ 8 x 7’ 5 x 2’ 9; 4 g.t.; 3 n.t.; 20 hp. Owned by E. B. Eddy Co., Hull, Québec. Transport Canada List 2002: Built by Russel-Hipwell Engine Co., 1951. Owned by The Owen Sound Marine & Rail Museum, Owen Sound, Ontario. Transport Canada List 2002: Built by Russel-Hipwell Engine Co., Owen Sound, Ont. Owned by The Owen Sound Marine & Rail Museum, Owen Sound, Ontario. GAO Notes: Steel diesel workboat/warping tug Ancaster [C.193615] 25’; 4 gross tons. Built by Russel Bros. Now a museum piece at Owen Sound.

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RBF notes: on display Owen Sound, ON (Owen Sound, ON July 31, 2002)

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Ancaster in Ottawa, c. 1979.
source: http://speleocanada.smugmug.com/gallery/297991/2/11829614

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The Ancaster returned to Owen Sound (largely because of Don Capel's efforts) one day short of 40 years after it was launched, and is now a permanent exhibit of the Owen Sound Marine & Rail Museum. (mouse-over schematic for photo overlay)

These rugged little winch boats (or logging tugs) were designed by Harry Warkentin of Russel Brothers Fort Frances c. 1928. They were built starting in the 1930's at Russel Brothers of Owen Sound, mainly for use in the lumber industry in Northern Ontario & Québec. They shared some of the features of their steam powered predecessors, the Alligators, in that they had heavy steel skids welded onto their flat bottoms, and a strong forward mounted winch to enable them to pull themselves overland if needed, to get to the next little bay.

The Ancaster was hull #900, one of approximately 330 produced. The welded hull number is usually found at the bow just behind the front roller. If there isn't one, look on the stern of the cabin and at the interior cabin walls and you might find a builders tag showing date, hull number and size. The tag is usually about 2" x 4".

The Ancaster was launched April 3rd, 1951 on the Ottawa river and was employed by the E.B. Eddy company moving logs from river to factory in Ottawa. In 1979 it actually sank at the foot of Chaudiere Falls! Then, in 1982 Ontario Hydro raised and restored the tug (at a cost of $1700) to include it in the 150th anniversary of the Rideau Canal Floating Parade.

At this point, the Owen Sound Historical Society (see brochure) began an impetus largely led by Don Capel, to bring the Ancaster back to Owen Sound. There were plans to include it (and it's Russel built compatriot from the dollar bill, the Missinaibi) in a permanent historical display in Hull. However, it sat unused for a few years and was eventually given to Ottawa's National Capital Commission in 1985.

The Ancaster sits in the Ottawa Hydro yard c. 1985
The Ancaster sits in the Ottawa Hydro yard c. 1985.
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Finally, Don Capel's decade long quest ended, and one day short of 40 years after it was launched, the Ancaster returned to Owen Sound, where it remains outside the Owen Sound Marine & Rail Museum. On Nov. 3rd 1982, the then-chariman of Ont. Hydro, Lon Campbell, had written "Credit must be given to (Owen Sound's) Mr. Harry Warkentin, the designer, and Russel Bros., the builders, because after 31 years the boat is now in good condition even though on more than one occasion it has been completely submerged. For many years it was in drydock, with little or no attention given to it."
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Ancaster's return to Owen Sound from Ottawa by Wayne West Float & Crane
and subsequent repainting in 1991. Photos courtesy Paul Capel.
Doug Vanwyck (of West Crane, now Vanwyck Crane) and Ancaster at Ottawa April 1, 1991.
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Don Capel, Orris Hull and Frank Weaver at Russel factory site, April 1991.
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Ancaster unloaded at the Marine & Rail Museum, Owen Sound, April 23, 1991.
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Unknown volunteer prepping and painting.
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Unknown volunteer prepping and painting.
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Orris Hull prepping and painting.
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Orris Hull prepping and painting.
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Ancaster and model (model by Don Capel).
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Don Capel beside the Ancaster, Owen Sound Marine & Rail Museum, April 22nd, 1991.
Photo courtesy Grey Bruce Image Archives.

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May 15th, 2006 Photos by Steve Briggs

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CLICK TO READ ARTICLE   TUG VANDALIZED - Apr. 10, 2008: Owen Sound Marine & Rail Museum collections curator Mindy Gill - Sitowski holds the Ancaster's stern hatch cover, which was ripped off the historic tugboat by vandals last weekend. Some windows in the tug were also smashed. The boat was built by Russel Bros. in Owen Sound in 1951 and was featured on the $1 bill. Police are looking for help in solving the crime.

 

Tues July 13, 2010 Dave Miller, left, and Paul Lihou with Wiarton Window and Door install new windows in the 1951 tug Ancaster on display at the Owen Sound Marine & Rail Museum in preparation for Owen Sound Museums Heritage Days July 22-24. The Saliwonchyk family of Owen Sound donated the $2000 for the window replacement. Photo by Willy Waterton. ENLARGE to 1024 pixels wide

 

Ancaster (hull # 900) in Owen Sound, August 2017. Photos courtesy Mike Cunningham.

 

For more Russel exhibits visit Owen Sound Marine & Rail Museum 1165 1st Ave West, Owen Sound, ON N4K 4K8
(519) 371-3333     http://marinerail.com