Boats and Ships on Lake Nipissing
There were around 54 working ships on Lake Nipissing. Below, we highlight 6 of them.
The Woodchuck (built in 1925) was an “alligator” tugboat that could retrieve jammed logs in shallow water. They were slow but powerful and could haul up to 4000 logs.
The Seagull 1 (built in 1906 by J.B Smith and Sons) was a steam tugboat that was used to haul booms of logs across Lake Nipissing. Its hull required extensive repairs so the engine was removed and was taken out of use.
The Seagull 2 (built in 1930, and first owned by Armstrong Towing Co.) also hauled log booms. By the mid 1930′s the lumber trade deteriorated greatly and it became a tour boat making trips down the French River. Many Quintland tourists went on these excursions. In 1940 it was purchased by J.B Smith and Sons and became a tugboat once more; it was used until 1960 when it became more economical to transport by land. Intended for display at Lee Park in North Bay, the Seagull II was lost to the scrapyard when it was unknowingly sold off and destroyed – to the anger of the local community. The museum retains her original steam-whistle and life-jackets today.
The Screamer was built in 1922 by J.B Smith and Sons. Its hull was top-heavy and tended to list dangerously in turns; another hull was built on the outside to stabilize it. It could haul up to 10,000 logs. By 1940 the Screamer’s hull was badly rotted so the wheelhouse and engine were removed and it was towed by the Woodchuck to Smith Island where it was doused with gas and set on fire. The Northern Belle was a passenger vessel built in 1905 and owned by J.A Clark of Sturgeon Falls. It was the ‘jewel’ of Lake Nipissing during the 1910′s and 1920′s. In 1926 it burned to the water line and then sank in shallow water at the dock in North Bay.
The Chief Commanda was a steel-hulled tour boat, assembled and launched at Callander by Ontario Northland Boat Lines in 1946. This diesel vessel was retired in 1975, spent many years in Dokis on the French River, and is now located at North Bay’s waterfront as a restaurant.
It was replaced with the current Chief Commanda II, Canada’s first all-aluminum catamaran in 1975. This sight-seeing vessel was prefabricated by Marlin Yacht Company of Gananoque, Ontario and assembled and launched in Callander. The Chief Commanda II offers tours on Lake Nipissing, Callander Bay and the French River and is based at the North Bay Wharf. It spends the winters pulled up on shore in Callander beside the municipal dock.