Russel Brothers Limited   OWEN SOUND, ONTARIO   Steelcraft Boat Builders
Gordon C. / John G. Duplain
VFC Plongeur / Philippe F.
Capt. Felix / Staffa

Canadian List of Shipping 1956: Gordon C. [C.198452] registered at Bathurst, N. B., built at Owen Sound in 1955. 33'4 x 10' x 4'5; 9 g.t.; 6 n.t; 165 hp. Owned by Bathurst Power & Paper Co. Ltd., Bathurst, N. S. Canadian List of Shipping 1970: Steel tug Gordon C. [C.198452] registered at Québec. Built at Owen Sound in 1955. 33'; 9 g.t.. Renamed b] John G. Duplain. Canadian List of Ships 1997: Philippe F. [C.198452] ex- VFC Plongeur. Registered at Québec 1965/06/30.

Yves Tessier provides this list of past names and owners (April 2007)
Yves Tessier 1041 Rte 344 Greece's Point Brownsburg-Chatham QC J8G1T5 Tel. 819-242-8112
Bathurst Power and Paper ( Bathurst )
Papeterie Reed Ltee ( Forestville )
Raynald Collard ( Baie - Comeau )
Urgence Marine Inc. ( Montreal )
Yves Tessier ( Greece's Point )
Yves Tessier ( Greece's Point )

VHF Plongeur
VFC Plongeur
Phillipe F
Phillipe F
Phillipe F
Phillipe F


VFC Plongeur, Baie Comeau, QC. Michel Tremblay Collection.


For sale 2005. Robert B. Farrow Collection.


Listed on Scruton Marine in 2005:


1955/2005  35.5’ x 10’ x 4.5’ Steel Russel Brothers Tug
Commercial steel tug professionally rebuilt and converted for pleasure from 2003 to 2005
Also suitable to be used as a work tug
Hull plating: ¼” below water line
                   3/16” above water line
Deck plating: ¼” square pattern
Deckhouse: 3/16” steel plate. New
Cabin sole: ¾” plywood overlaid with ¾” solid cherry wood planking. New
Cabin interior: Solid cherry wood trim. New
Engine: Cummins H-6-IP, 165 hp @ 1800 rpm
Transmission: Twin Disc MG509
Exhaust: Dry
Cooling system: Keel
Propeller: 33 x 20 RH, three blade
Shaft: SS, 2.5” dia
Bow Thruster: Vetus Model 95KGF
Fuel tanks: 2 x 125 gallons
Fuel consumption: 3 gallons an hour at cruising speed.
Anchors: Navy stockless, 40 lb. 250’ of 3/8” chain, New
               Danforth 25 lb, 150’ rode
Windlass: Electric Vetus Alexander III, New
Lines: 25’ x 1” braided nylon, New
Batteries: 6v golf cart type 1000 cc
               4 for engine start
               2 for bow thruster
               4 general services
Alternator: 165 amp Motorola, model A-210-311, New
Sector switch: 5. New
Panel: Blue Sea system, all breakers located in pilot house. New
Wiring: Marine grade. New
Shore power
Inverter: Pro Watt 3000. New
Panel: Blue Sea system, all breakers located in pilot house. New
Charger: Newmark model MN80, 3 bank 80 amp. New
Wiring:  Marine grade. New
Barometer: Schatz
Chronometer: Schatz 8 day ship’s clock
Compass: Corsair with compensation spheres
Sound signal: Air horn. New
Searchlight: Guest. New
Lights: Running, anchoring and towing. New
Windshield wiper: Pantograph stye. New
Depth indicator: Autohelm Seatalk. New
Radio: Sea Worthy. New
VHF: Eclipse. New
GPS: Furuno GP32. New
Navigation Software:  Nobeltec Visual Navigation Suite. New
Fresh water:  Jabsco 31755. Pressurized drawn from 20 gal water tank. New
Fresh water:  Drinking water drawn from a 5 gall container. New
Sea water:     Head. Jabsco electric marine toilet, model 37010. New
Sea water:     Holding tank, polyethylene. 
Sea water:     Washdown. Jabsco 31700. New
Sink: Stainless steel. New
Oven: Sanyo microwave
Refrigerator: Kenmore, domestic 110v AC. New
Located in Québec, Canada
New Price $129,000 USD firm


Photos by Steve Briggs July 4, 2015. Owen Sound harbour. Click to enlarge. Greg Aldworth comments (4/7/17) "The same stern configuration as the Chippewa III, drawn by the same company naval arch."


Man berths tug at its birthplace

By Paul Jankowski, Sun Times, Owen Sound Sunday, July 25, 2010 6:40:00 EDT PM

Al McCabe doesn't have the ties to Owen Sound that his tug, the Staffa, does. McCabe lives in Elmira and named the boat after an island near the part of Scotland where he grew up.

But he berths the tug, which was built in Owen Sound by Russel Bros., at the Owen Sound marina. The ship's propeller was made by the Kennedy foundry, another defunct Owen Sound company, he said. "It's very sad to see all these beautiful factories go that built these beautiful machines, but that's life," McCabe said Saturday.

The Staffa was tied up in the harbour and McCabe and two friends - Richard Kerr from Elmira and Doug Whitehead, visiting from Scotland - were getting ready for the parade and races that were part of TugFest, one of the events during the Heritage Days celebrations put on by the Marine & Rail Museum and the Billy Bishop Home and Museum.

Three of the 18 tugs at TugFest were made by Russel Bros., a firm that was started by Colin and Jardine Russel in Fort Francis in 1907 and moved down to Owen Sound in 1933. The others were Old Ironsides, owned by local businessman Harold Sutherland, and Mink Isle, which sails out of Ottawa. Both were built in 1947. Russel Bros. went bankrupt in 1993, but in its time it built some famous vessels including the Ancaster and Missinaibi, which before the advent of the loonie were pictured on the back of Canadian one dollar bills, and two of the Maids of Mist, boats that ferry tourists to the bottom of Niagara Falls.

McCabe bought the Staffa, then called the Capt. Felix, two years ago from a man named Yves Tessier in Greece's Point, Ont. The boat was originally built "for the Bathurst Paper Company in New Brunswick and sent down there in 1955. It worked hauling log booms around the east coast for the longest time. Then it ended up in Baie Comeau in Quebec hauling log booms there, then Montreal hauling barges until it was cast aside probably sometime in the 90s," McCabe said. When Tessier bought it, "it was a rusted hulk" and he spent about eight years doing extensive restoration work, McCabe said.

It took McCabe about two weeks to sail it up the Ottawa River to the Rideau Canal, down to Lake Ontario, up the Trent-Severn Waterway to Georgian Bay and then across to Owen Sound. McCabe had continued the restoration of the tug, pulling the engine out in the fall and taking it to Hawkesbury to have it rebuilt. "It's very hard to find people to rebuild these engines now, it's kind of a dying breed," he said. It took three of four months to find the parts for the Cummins engine, which weighs just under 4,000 pounds and produces 160 horsepower. A modern engine, putting out the same horsepower, would weigh about 800 pounds but his rebuilt Cummins should be good for 20,000 hours, McCabe said.

And there's no reason why the hull, with proper maintenance, won't be around another 55 years. he added. Saturday's Tugfest "is kind of the start of the season for me because of the engine work," McCabe said. "I'll probably get out on it once a week" for the rest of the summer. "I'll take it up the coast to Lion's Head, Tobermory, up that way this year once I get the engine tuned up," he said. "Wherever I want to go, I can go."


Photos by Steve Briggs June 29, 2016. Owen Sound Marina. Click to enlarge.


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