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Russel boats were important. They were the first company in North America to electrically arc-weld all steel hulls.
A Russel design was adopted by the British (and Canadian) Navy as its main class of small harbour tug (the "Ville" class). Their logging boats were designed robustly for prolonged heavy use in remote areas, and pretty much defined this genre (the winch boats and warping tugs). This well deserved reputation for quality and value carried over into their larger tugboats and later Coast Guard ships. Russel innovative expertise was recognized when Niagara Falls needed two Maids of the Mist in 1955, and Toronto needed a fireboat in 1964, both of which are still in use today! The company exported boats into Canada's north, and internationally to Vietnam and Africa. They became masters of shipping boats in sections on rail cars and re-assembling them at the final destination. Though by no means the only activity of this eclectic and vibrant company, the boats are the focus of this unofficial archive. 2007 marked the 100th Anniversary of the company's start in Fort Frances, Ont. in 1907, and the 70th Anniversary of their move to Owen Sound, Ont. in 1937. On July 28 & 29 of 2007, as part of Owen Sound's 150th Homecoming celebration, we held the Owen Sound - Russel Brothers Tugboat Festival.
|Interesting Features in the Archive|
- 1920's ERA RUSSEL ALLIGATOR Discovered near Timmins, being restored for Marten River Provincial Park.
- RUSSEL BROTHERS FORT FRANCES LEGACY A comprehensive overview by Arden Erickson Barnes.
- NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS Ads and articles from the 1930's and 1940s, collected by Robert B. Farrow.
- NAVY TUGS: VILLE, TANAC AND GLEN CLASSES Photos and specs for each, and factory views.
- REMEMBERING THE HALLETT 2003 article by ex Hallett deckhand Larry Fontana of Fort Frances.
- TUGS FOR VIETNAM AND AFRICA Ten Tropical River Tugs for Saigon in 1947, more for Cameroon.
- LAKE ERIE OIL AND THE TRANSLAKE III TRAGEDY Capsize & fatality, 1958, by Gerry Ouderkirk.
- LIST OF RUSSEL BOAT TYPES PRODUCED 1950 -1964 A yearly non-specific list by M. E. Croft.
- RECONSTRUCTION OF RUSSEL BOATS Scow HBC 300 and tug Rupert River c. 1962 by Ted Eldred.
- RUSSEL SAILBOATS Russel Brothers experimented with building aluminum racing yawls in the 1960's.
- LOG BOOM JUMPING Getting in & out of the boom in 1973. These boats were built tough, by Yves Cloutier.
- HALLETT 1975 RUSSEL VALUATION Originally $43,870 in 1940, valued by E.M. Cordrey at $70,000 in 1975.
- QUEBEC LOGGING USING RUSSEL TUGS Working with Russels in La Mauricie about 1980, by Yves Cloutier.
- 64 YEARS OF THE RAPIDE DES COEURS ON THE ST. MAURICE RIVER and yes, still working in 2007!
- REBUILDING AN 80' RUSSEL TUG Tug Glenmont becomes cruise ship Carolina Borealis, by Gerry Ouderkirk.
- RESTORING A RUSSEL WARPING TUG Emma Morgan by Nick Finazzo of Pier 500 Marina, Wyandotte, MI.
- RESTORING A RUSSEL WINCH BOAT P. P. M. 4 is still in active service with S. C. Richardson and Sons.
- SINKINGS AND RAISINGS OF RUSSEL BOATS Interesting photographs, clippings & read a TSB report.
- RAISING AND SINKING A RUSSEL WINCH BOAT L. O. 2 used as a diving attraction in Wakefield, QC.
- THE CAR FERRY QUINTE Toronto Marine Historical Society Ship of the Month #300, by Gerry Ouderkirk.
- THE LAST RIVER DRIVE IN CANADA included Russel boats, and occurred in Kapuskasing, Ont., 1994.
- WM LYON MACKENZIE Modeller Gerry George's exhaustive 2004 photo documention of Toronto's fireboat.
- THE FIRST AND LAST OWEN SOUND RUSSEL BOATS 1938's Bluefin & finally 1974's Beaver's Helper.
- MODELS OF RUSSEL BOATS Joe Fossey and Roger Hauka's R/C Villes, and others from several artisans.
- LOCATIONS OF RUSSEL HULLS Russels in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, maps from Robert B. Farrow.
- RUSSEL DESKTOP WALLPAPERS Russels for the digital age! 1024 x 768 pixel Russel boats for desktops.
- Thank you's and acknowledgements Partial list of the many (some tireless) contributors to this archive.
The Owen Sound Dollar Bill Photo Mosaic is located off main street (2nd Ave. East) between 8th and 9th streets, on the wall of Shopper's Discount Clothing Co., across from its main sponsor, Scotiabank.
The two logging boats featured on the reverse of the dollar bill were made in Owen Sound by Russel Brothers. The larger Missinaibi is now in the Museum of Civilization in Hull, QC, while the smaller Ancaster is displayed outside the
Owen Sound Marine & Rail Museum at 1165 1st Ave West. Click here for more on the Dollar Bill.