THUNDER BAY – The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed plans to reinvent the Pool 6 property as a transportation museum, but it hasn’t stopped them in their tracks.
On Friday the latest addition arrived, the rust-coated, weather weary tugboat Dryden 3, which was maneuvered into place toward the western end of the pier by crane, the start of a restoration project aimed at restoring the tug to its former glory.
Charlie Brown, president of the Lakehead Transportation Museum Society said the Russel tug is a unique addition to the Thunder Bay waterfront.
“It’s quite indicative as one of the exact kind of tugs that were working in the harbour here, pulling around log booms and moving logs around when the lumber industry was really pushing things out into the lake,” Brown said.
The boat in question was donated by Garden Lake Timber and installed with the help of Tower Light, which nestled the tug into place on its dirt-raised perch.
“As you can see, it’s a little bit of rough shape right now, but she’s actually in pretty good overall shape, so we’re going to paint it up, put some windows in it and she’ll be a static display, part of our marine history as well.”
It’s the first of what Brown hopes to be several additions to this particular section of the land adjacent to the pier, which is also home to the city’s cruise ship dock.
“We’re still talking to the city about bringing the Brill trolley buses in. We’re looking at pouring some pads and hopefully we can get that done this year ... Then we’ll be developing this area. We’d like to build a little stand in behind us here and we can do movie nights and all kinds of different things.”
They’re also in preliminary discussions with the city about moving the 115-year-old James Whalen Tug and a Via Rail car currently housed at the Kaministiquia River Heritage Park.
The future museum’s centrepiece attraction, the former Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Alexander Henry, is also open for business, about a month later than hoped for, Brown said.
Tourists will be able to enjoy an exterior tour for now, on Tuesdays and Fridays, which they hope to expand to include the interior of the Thunder Bay-built vessel if and when Phase 3 of Ontario’s reopening plan begins.
“If we get a lot of response from the public, then we’ll certainly open up more days. As Stage 3 comes open, I’m thinking in maybe a week or so, we can get the entire ship open and we can start giving full tours,” Brown said.
“We’re doing the distancing, so six feet. Masks are going to be mandatory. If you don’t have one, you can purchase one here at the gate. We have the spray for your hands too.”
Brown said the ship opened for tourists, which will be mostly locals this summer, on Canada. He noted it will be cash only this summer, as they don’t have credit or debit capability.
It’s a great idea for a staycation, Brown added, especially with the new addition to the fleet.