The restored Muskoka Lakes passenger steamer SEGWUN has now enjoyed her two best seasons since her return to service. 1986 was a good year for passenger support despite horrid weather, but 1987 was better than anyone could have hoped, with perfect weather and full loads for much of the season. SEGWUN's centennial season ended with three sold-out excursions to Lake Rosseau on the Thanksgiving Weekend, complete with turkey dinner served aboard.
1987 saw SEGWUN featured on a Canadian 36 cent stamp, issued on July 20. It was also the year that she got back her phoenix. A carving of the legendary bird rising from the flames was put on NIPISSING (II) when she was built in 1887, to symbolize the boat rising from the ashes of NIPISSING (I) which burned in 1886. Shortly after NIPISSING was rebuilt as SEGWUN in the mid-1920s, the phoenix was moved to the pilothouse roof of the fleet flagship, SAGAMO, which herself was almost destroyed in an earlier fire. After the withdrawal of SAGAMO and SEGWUN in 1958, SAGAMO became a restaurant at Gravenhurst and SEGWUN became a museum. SAGAMO was later destroyed by fire and the phoenix went with her. A new one was carved for SEGWUN this year and it was unveiled at the Centennial Celebrations on July 4, at which Lieutenant-Governor Lincoln Alexander presided.
But 1987 has also presented problems for SEGWUN. Overdue for survey and inspection and operating on an extended ticket, she had to be drydocked, but the Gravenhurst marine railway had been torn up by the town several years ago during a waterfront beautification project. The cost of a new railway was prohibitive, although fundraising was underway. With despair looming on the horizon, the government at last relented from its previous stand and agreed to allow the drydocking to take place this autumn in the chamber of the Port Carling lock. Construction of cradles to hold the ship began at once.
Downbound on her last trip of the season, Thanksgiving Day, SEGWUN did not return to Gravenhurst, but rather remained at Port Carling while her passengers were taken back by bus. The canal was closed that afternoon, following which SEGWUN was placed inside on her cradles, with the gates cofferdammed and the lock pumped dry. SEGWUN's own crew was to do any necessary work and it was hoped that the steamer could be towed back to Gravenhurst by mid-November. It was not anticipated that SEGWUN's hull would require any major work, and she should be in great shape to begin her 101st season next year.
For those members of T.M.H.S. who supported the fund-raising drive of the "Friends of SEGWUN" in 1987, your efforts are greatly appreciated, as they will help pay for the drydocking and will assist in retiring debt. Tax receipts will, we are assured, be mailed to all donors very shortly. For anyone who might wish to contribute and has not done so, cheques payable to "Friends of SEGWUN" may be mailed to P.O. Box 68, Gravenhurst, Ontario, P0C 1G0.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.