Richard L. Armstrong of Collingwood was reviewing the Toronto Harbour lay-up list in the January issue when he noted, amongst the names of smaller craft wintering here, the tug BAYPORT. As his grandfather, Capt. Percy Butters, was lost in a 1959 accident involving BAYPORT at Collingwood, he wrote to ask whether this might be the same vessel. Unfortunately, the present BAYPORT is not the same tug and, to set the record straight, we are pleased to present capsule histories of both tugs, this with the thought that some of our other readers might well find the matter as interesting as would Mr. Armstrong.
The tug presently lying at Toronto is BAYPORT (II) (C.177431), a diesel tug built in 1945 at Kingston for the Canadian government as (a) BANSWIFT. She measures 73.1 x 20.0 x 7.7, 98 Gross and 19 Net. She spent a number of years in the service of Foundation Maritime Ltd., Halifax, from which she was purchased by Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. in 1960. Renamed and brought to the lakes, she was normally stationed at Midland and was used primarily to shift about storage boats during the winter months, usually at Midland, Tiffin and Port McNicoll, although she did wander over to Collingwood on occasion. She was fitted for a time with a rather strange icebreaking device on her bow in an effort to buck the Georgian Bay icefields.
BAYPORT (II) was sold in 1973 to Meridan Marine Ltd., Scarborough, Ontario, and has since lain idle in the Leslie Street slip off the Toronto turning basin. She was recently fitted with the pilothouse removed two years ago from the canal tanker CAPE TRANSPORT, this structure being used to replace her old wooden pilothouse which had rotted away. Needless to say, BAYPORT now looks rather top-heavy and it seems fortunate that she never leaves the dock.
The more famous BAYPORT was a steel-hulled steam tug built 1914 at Cleveland for the Great Lakes Towing Company as (a) FAIRPORT (U.S.212730), 68.7 x 17.0 x 11.0, 65 Gross, 31 Net. She was sold in 1941 to the Burke Towing and Salvage Company Ltd., Midland, which resold her in 1942 to C.S.L. She was enrolled as (b) BAYPORT (I)(C.171939). She served as a harbour tug and icebreaker at Collingwood, Midland, Tiffin and Port McNicoll until 1959 when she capsized and sank off Collingwood whilst towing the disabled MOHAWK DEER. The DEER, also being pulled by CAPTAIN C. D. SECORD, took a sudden sheer and pulled the tug over on her beam-ends. Three men were rescued, but three were drowned.
BAYPORT (I) was abandoned to the underwriters but was salvaged and eventually was sold to F. R. Mireault of Fort William who operated her as (c) TUG A and (d) TWIN PORT, still under steam. She was acquired in 1972 by A. B. McLean and Sons Ltd., Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, who rebuilt her 1973-74 as the diesel tug (e) ROD McLEAN. She still operates under this name at the Soo. Interestingly enough, however, her old cabin and tall stack, so typical of the steam G-tugs, can still be seen on display in a park at the Canadian Soo near the head of Little Rapids Cut.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.