Soon after LAKESHELL (I) appeared in 1932, Dominion Tankers ordered, from Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd., Wallsend-on-Tyne, a tank barge which appeared in 1933 bearing the name PETER G. CAMPBELL. This ship has since been named, successively, (b) RIVERSHELL (I), (c) GOOD HOPE, (d) B. A. SENTINEL and now serves as (e) GULF SENTINEL. To tow this barge in the lake and river trade, the wooden tug FLORENCE (Can. 88309) was purchased from the Essex Transit Co. Built at Levis, Quebec, in 1885, she measured 91 x 19.8 x 9.0 and had a gross tonnage of 113. Her early years had been spent in the service of the Sincennes MacNaughton Line Ltd., and later she had served the Hackett Towing & Wrecking Company of Amherstburg, Ontario.
When the Quebec Transportation & Forwarding Co. of Quebec was formed during the winter of 1905-06, three large former upper lake schooners were acquired for the pulpwood and coal trade between the lower St. Lawrence River ports and the Great Lakes. They were the FRANK D. EWEN, ABERDEEN and ZAPOTEC. To tow these barges, the FLORENCE was purchased in 1906, and her powerful fore and aft engines were well suited to towing the three barges at once.
In 1914, FLORENCE passed to the fleet of the Geo. Hall Coal Co. of Canada Ltd., Montreal, and about 1920 she again changed owners, passing this time to the Essex Transit Co. Ltd. of Ford City, Ontario. This firm employed her in the sand and gravel trade until 1932 when she sank at her dock in Windsor.
In 1933, she was purchased by Dominion Tankers and was given a thorough refit before entering her new career of towing the CAMPBELL. Unfortunately, the new service did not last long as FLORENCE foundered in heavy weather on Lake Ontario off the False Ducks in November of 1933 while towing the tank barge. Although this misfortune led to the conversion of the PETER G. CAMPBELL to a self-propelled tanker in 1935 by the installation of diesel engines and twin screws, it did put an end to one of the most handsome steam tugs ever to sail the lakes. FLORENCE was a double-decked tug and had a beautiful sheer to her hull along with a finely raked, tall, thin funnel.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.