Sunday 21 April 2013

Tugboat SALVAGE MONARCH (Revisited, Again!!)

Laid up at Ramey's Bend , January 2, 2011
The new tug's name, SALVAGE MONARCH basically said it all just as did her fleetmates SALVAGE QUEEN and SALVAGE PRINCE, as her owner, Pyke Salvage of Kingston, Ontario fully intended to "rule" in the salvage business along the newly opened St. Lawrence Seaway and when needed elsewhere on the Great Lakes. When launched in Appledore, England in 1959, SALVAGE MONARCH was state of the art, with powerful twin engines, a huge steam winch and a smaller one forward, and was built with a strengthened hull for harbour ice breaking operations.
During her grim reaper days with a scrap-tow in Port Colborne
- Summer 1974
In the early 1960's Pyke Salvage was bought out by McAllister Towing and Salvage of Montreal and as the SALVAGE MONACH became so active in leading scrap-tows to the Ramey's Bend or down the St. Lawrence River to Quebec City while working for McAllister, she became known as "The Grim Reaper" for hauling vessels down to their death. She certainly looked the part in this black & white snap I took of the tug and her catch along West Street in Port Colborne in 1974. I still recall as a kid seeing so many old canallers and American lakers laid up at their final resting place at that narrow slip that jutted in from the canal channel near where ships would turn towards Dan City, Welland and below, before the bypass was built. At one time ships were built or repaired at Ramey's Bend but I mostly saw them waiting for their turn to be dismantled by the welder's torch.
Paul Cook of Port Stanley sent me this photo taken by his dad who used to take his family to the Welland Canal years ago. Here the upbound SALVAGE MONARCH looked almost brand spanking new while exiting what looks to be Lock 3 in August 1970. Beauty snap Paul and Thanks 👍👍  
Near Maitland on St Lawrence - 1977 Photo by Pierre Desaulniers
Her powerful 1400 bhp twin engines producing a 23 ton bollard pull would have come into good use when the MONARCH was tasked to lead a barge laden with bulldozers, locomotives and other mining equipment that had been removed from the grounded freighter JEAN LYKES down the St. Lawrence River to Prescott (now Johnstown) in these 1977 snaps by Pierre Desaulniers, who worked on the SALVAGE MONARCH back then.
Arriving at Prescott (now Johnstown) - 1977 Photo by Pierre Desaulniers

In dry dock  while working for Le Groupe Ocean (date unknown)  Photo by Pierre Desaulniers

Photo by Pierre Desaulniers
She continued towing and doing harbour tug duties in Montreal, Trois-Rivieres, and Halifax while wearing the Quebec City based Le Group Ocean's colours which bought her in 1997. However at some point after being purchased in 2002 by Heritage Harbour Marine of Goderich or when chartered to Norlake Transportation of Port Colborne, her original McAllister red adorned her wheelhouse again when I first snapped her in January 2011 while laid up behind the former Toronto excursion boat, JAGUER II ( at Ramey's Bend in Port Colborne and then again the next year when she had been moved to Toronto.

Despite her age, ongoing refits and being fortunate to have operated mostly on the fresh water Great Lakes, the SALVAGE MONARCH remains useful especially throughout this past shipping season, when the tug was seen pushing fleetmate barge COASTAL TITAN loaded with a heavy lift cargo up the Welland Canal to to Toledo. On her return, she pushed other fleet barges and an Ocean dredger to Trois- Rivieres. Then soon after returning to Toronto, she became lead tug the former CCGS ALEXANDER HENRY tow to Thunder Bay, where the retired buoy tender and icebreaker will continue her life as a  museum ship at the same port she was built in 1959.

The SALVAGE MONARCH truly is a survivor and I've enjoyed snapping her many times during my visits to Toronto where she's shared mooring space with the laid up tug W.N. TWOLAN and other Toronto Drydock fleetmates like the M.R. KANE and RADIUM YELLOWKNIFE.
During my last visit to Toronto harbour in January, I was happy to see her sitting in the belly of the former pulpwood carrier turned floating dry MENIER CONSOL for repairs or maintenance which suggests the MONARCH will reign the Lakes in salvage and towing for many more years. Be flexible, accept change or be cut up for scrap metal. You don't have to tell her about that end. c);-b


  1. I just love all this info and pics!! Thanks so so much!! Jo, The Prescott Anchor.