Sunday, March 7, 2021

TBT: Annette Fraser steam power tugboat in Wallaceburg

Throwback Thursday is sponsored by the Haycock-Cavanagh Funeral Home in Wallaceburg:

The above photo features the Annette Fraser steam power tugboat.

Here are some details about the boat:

The Annette Fraser was a steam power tugboat built in 1921 by Jack Scagel at his shipyard at the Baldoon Bend of the Chenal Ecarte River. She was 20 m (65 feet) long, 4 m (14 feet) wide and 2 m (6 feet) deep. The Annette was powered by a 714 x 10 foredraft 50 horsepower engine.

Built for commercial work it was later re-fitted as a yacht for John Stocks Fraser. She became part of the Wallaceburg Sand & Gravel Company in 1924. In 1931, she was purchased by Len Gillard and Oswood McVean.

McVean and Gillard bought the Annette and operated her as a pleasure steamer for some time. However, finances proved to be a stumbling block, and the owners signed off their interest in the craft to Doc Fralick.

After being stripped of anything useful, she was abandoned at Doc Fralick’s Shipyard near Running Creek at Nelson Street North.

The Annette Fraser was the last Wallaceburg-built steamer on local waters.

In August of 2991, the Annette Fraser was rediscovered leading to a community effort to recover what was left and bring it to the museum.

Mike Mahoney and Ron Verhaeghe, both local scuba divers, located the exact location of the propeller, while Bud Legue brought the parts to the surface.

Tradition has it that when the Annette Fraser was built, a $20 gold piece was wedged somewhere in the structure of the ship. Apparently doing so was a gesture of good luck for the ship in those days.

Thanks to the Wallaceburg and District Museum for the photo, which is on display at their 505 King Street location.

If you have an old photo that you would like to see on the Sydenham Current, let us know by sending us an email to

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