Tugfest welcomes 2nd largest
The second largest ship produced by Owen Sound's former shipbuilding firm Russel Brothers will be returning to take part in the Owen Sound - Russel Brothers Tugboat Festival. 135 feet in length, she was originally called the Ville Marie and built as a Canadian Coast Guard survey vessel. Now in private hands, for the last several years she has been Still Watch.
This large vessel will be the star attraction of the Tug Fest, which organizer Dr. Steve Briggs expects will attract 15-20 steel hulled vessels of all sizes. "The goal of the festival will be to focus attention on Owen Sound's, and specifically Russel Brothers' contribution to shipbuilding" he says. "But it will also be a fun, interesting and unusual attraction as well."
Launched in 1960, the vessel was sold in 1984 to a religious organization that helped drug-addicted youths return to society. In 1995 she was sold to Tom Marshall and family of Pickering, Ontario. Tom has kept her substantially in Coast Guard trim, but parts of the ship have been modified to make it functional as a floating cottage.
When she was launched, newspaper reports called her the largest vessel constructed in Owen Sound, since the CP Railway Steamship Manitoba in 1889. Her first assignment was on the St. Lawrence Seaway, where she acted as a buoy and lighthouse tender, and engaged in marine surveying. Her hull was specially re-inforced for ice-breaking at the start and end of the shipping seasons.
In 2002 Still Watch was also a TV star! The ship was used in 22 episodes of a fictional TV series called Adventures Inc., which starred Michael Biehn. The series was shot mostly in Toronto harbour, and was discontinued with the death of one of the principle actors after the first season. The after deck was shortened for the TV show.
Owen Sound Tug Fest runs Sat./Sun. July 28-29, 2007. The boats will be docked near the Marine & Rail Museum along the inner harbour. There will be boat races Sat. afternoon at 1:30pm, a gala supper banquet at the Rusty Gull restaurant, and a Christmas Lights Parade of boats after dark about 9:30pm, before Steve Santini's spectacular Destination Valhalla escape stunt near the grain elevators at 11pm. Sunday morning at 10am see Newfoundland Dogs performing water rescue demonstrations at the West Side Boat Launch. The fest web site is http://russelbrothers.com.