Skip to content

The James Whalen tugboat now rests on land

The city has up to two years to consider options for the historic tug.

THUNDER BAY — The City of Thunder Bay has up to two years to decide what to do next with the 117-year-old James Whalen tugboat.

The historic vessel is sitting out of the water, on cribbing, at the Paterson Dock near the James Street Swing Bridge.

On Friday night, local contractor LH North completed the two-day job of moving the James Whalen from the Kam River Heritage Park to its temporary, fenced-in storage site.

Under the $793,000 contract with the city, the company is also responsible for storing the boat securely for the next two years.

Cory Halvorsen, manager of parks and open spaces for the city, said now that the entire hull is visible, the city will be able to assess its integrity with respect to leaks.

"We want to get a full picture of that. We got some of that information during the lifting process," Halvorsen said in an interview Monday.

He said he's unaware of any damage that was incurred during the lifting process – when a cable snapped, causing the Jame Whalen to crash back into the water – but a hole was already visible in the bottom of the hull.

"There's definitely portions of the hull that were compromised, but this didn't appear to be related to the work that was taking place."

The Lakehead Transportation Museum Society is lobbying to have the tugboat moved permanently for display at its leased site at the former Pool 6 elevator property.

But Halvorsen said it's too soon to speculate about where it will ultimately go.

"Currently it doesn't fit within the boundaries that the LTMS has, so that would be an expansion of the existing operation there. We're not ruling out any sites right now. What we want to look for are the most affordable options for a location where it could be brought if it continues to be on display."

When asked if the tug could be returned to Kam River Heritage Park, Halvorsen replied "If there is a different installation type that could be accommodated there, it's an option as well."

He added, though, that "There's some bigger-picture planning exercises that we're going to have to do at the same time as we talk specifically about the boat. We need to think about the Waterfront Master Plan as it relates to Pool 6, but also Kam Park. We're going to have to reassess the assets that are there and what opportunities there are potentially to have the tug go back there."

The James Whalen was launched in Toronto in 1905 and had various owners before being acquired by the City of Thunder Bay in 1992 as a tourist attraction.

In May of this year, it unexpectedly took on water and remained submerged in the Kam River until last week.


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks