Historic Alligator Warping Tug Boat comes to Renfrew County, Ontario, Canada
Help Celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Renfrew County
Renfrew County -- 150th Anniversary, 2011
June 8, 2011:
I have sent this out mainly to the directors of the Canadian Forestry Association, but in my exuberance, I have Bcc'd
a large number of forestry friends across the country.
To participate in the County of Renfrew's 150th anniversary celebrations, www.EXPO150 the CFA has undertaken
to transport the W.D. Stalker Alligator Steam Tug Boat up to Pembroke in the Ottawa Valley from its berth in the Lynn River in Simcoe,
Norfolk Country Ontario. The town of Simcoe needed to dredge their river so the Alligator was dry-docked last year and refurbished in
preparation for this once-in-a-lifetime excursion. Norfolk County was Forest Capital of Canada for the years 2008 and 2009. During that
time, they celebrated the centennial of the St. Williams Tree Nursery, and Dr. Edmund Zavitz' role in reforestation in Ontario and beyond
and we plotted to celebrate the Alligator Warping Tug Boat on a grand scale.
As many of you will know from my unabashed promotion last year of the "Alligators of the North" book (that has gone far and wide) the
alligator boat was a significant - revolutionary forestry workhorse invented and manufactured by the West & Peachey Company of Simcoe.
This particular boat was salvaged from the woods a number of years ago by a team of enthusiasts under the leadership of Ron Judd and restored
to operating condition; in fact it's the only operating West & Peachy Alligator steamer in existence. And we have it here in the Ottawa
Valley for the summer of 2011!
It will be a static component of the extensive forestry exhibit at EXPO 150 this week and Ron Judd, his son (Captain) Fred and their
colleagues are arriving soon to greet and inform the 20,000+ visitors all about the Alligator. Shortly after we will be trucking the
boat to the Chats Lake level of the Ottawa River to Braeside (site of the old Gillies sawmill) to be launched and eventually steamed up
for an exciting flotilla that will ply the Ottawa River from Norway Bay Quebec to Braeside on June 25th.
Note - in the picture, the wheelhouse and smoke stack had to be removed for transport. Even in this dismantled state, the boat
is "oversize" and requires a permit for highway travel.
W.D. Stalker Alligator Steam Tug Boat
Here is a photo of one of the Alligator Boats at Arnprior in 1907.
Photo Source: The Upper Canada Valley by Clyde Kennedy, page 160.
June 9, 2011:
I will send you more information on the June 25th Norway Bay to Braeside Flotilla. The send-off from the Norway Bay wharf will be rivalled
only by the reception at Red Pine Beach at Braeside. That coincides with McNab Days celebrations put on in McNab-Braeside Township that will
be underway at Braeside and Waba Cottage at White Lake.
June 25, 2011:
Today is the day that we will steam up the W.D. Stalker Alligator Steam Warping Tug Boat for the Norway Bay to Braeside Flotilla.
The crew from Simcoe is here and really enthusiastic about their excursion on the Ottawa. There are two other steamers and all kinds of
other watercraft that will be on the water today.
I attach a picture taken of the Alligator safely moored at Haughton's Bay near Bristol, Quebec. (before the monsoons of the past few days).
July 4, 2011:
FYI my brother-in-law Bob Wingrove helped in refurbishing the boat. He did the wheelhouse. His wife told me about it and I found
your letter and the picture on line. We have seen the boat on our visits to Simcoe. It's fun to know a member of our
family had a part in the restoration.
... Sandy Hewitt
Photographs by Wayne Campbell.
The W.D. Stalker on June 25, 2011
The tug is towing what looks like a flat-bottomed steel, or iron, skiff, with a frame structure built onto it. There was one of these steel hulls,
beached, on the Ontario side, just above the dam at Fitzroy Harbour, for years. Would this be the same steel hull? It would appear
to have been abandoned by one of the lumber companies.
The riverdrive scow (as I call it) was beached for many years at the Chenaux boom. The Haughton family from Bristol bought it
years ago and restored it into an honest replica of the early days when it was a bunk house and cookery for the river men at
the sorting boom there. They have installed all new flooring, a period cook stove and tables, benches and bunks. Some of the
crew visiting from Simcoe slept in there while the flotilla was being prepared for.
I don’t know about such a scow at Fitzroy, as to whether it was another vessel, or even maybe this one at one time. I will try to find out.
Renfrew Industrial Commission
E-mail Dave Lemkay, Sandy Hewitt and Al Lewis
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