The Wellington Transportation Company of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, announced during the month of August that their giant carferry, SUGAR ISLANDER, would be placed in drydock for an extensive program of enlargement. The craft has long been known for its commodious appointments, its very reasonable charter rates, and its amazing ability to be in the centre of the St. Mary's River (on the sunny side) whenever a lake freighter passes.
All fun aside, the 64-foot auto ferry, built at the Soo in 1947, has become too small for the large amount of traffic passing back and forth from Soo, Michigan, to Sugar Island, a large island located at the head of the lower St. Mary's River. Accordingly her owners arranged for her to go on the drydock of the Soo Welding Company on September 14th and while there, SUGAR ISLANDER will be lengthened by 29 feet. Her beam will be increased by 2 1/2 feet at the same time. It is hoped that the reconstruction will not only increase the ferry's capacity but will add to her speed, an important factor because of the swift current in Little Rapids Cut where the ferry crossing is located. The pilothouse structure will be lifted from the deck during the lengthening operation and will be widened and replaced amidships once the job is completed.
The reconstruction will cost in the area of $40,000 and should be finished early in November. During the rebuilding of SUGAR ISLANDER, her place will be taken by the Drummond Island - DeTour ferry DRUMMOND ISLANDER, but the Chippewa County Board of Commissioners has specified that this vessel must be returned in time for the November deer season on Drummond Island, In addition, the Commissioners have renewed the franchise of the Wellington Transportation Company to operate the Sugar Island ferry for another ten years commencing in April, 1971.
The company is operated by twin brothers, Jim and John Wellington, and their father Charles. Jim is a member of our Society, being an avid follower of the lake shipping scene. As a matter of fact, T.M.H.S, seems to be well represented aboard the ferry since the majority of the specification for the rebuilding were drawn up by the Rev. Edward J. Dowling, S. J., of Detroit, who spends the better part of each summer piloting the ferry!
We wish success to the Wellingtons in their project and we look forward to seeing the lengthened SUGAR ISLANDER, still as busy as ever, back on her run soon, taking care of the odd assortment of vehicles and loads that people insist on taking across the St. Mary's.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.