Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | August 24, 2017

The tugboat “Mary I. Robertson” in the Cornwall Canal.

The tug “Mary I. Robertson” pulling the “South Wind” through the Cornwall Canal.  Tug skipper Fred Robertson is pictured wearing his cap, while Jim Warner steers the tug in the wheelhouse.

Robertson named the vessel after his wife Mary Isabella McCourt Robertson.

The tug was docked in October, 1955 after its skipper, the 77 year old Fred Robertson injured his hip.

On October 13, 1955 the Cornwall “Daily Standard-Freeholder” reported.

For the past 41 years he has operated the “Mary I”, first at Peterborough (Glen Ross 1914) where she was built, then for 31 years in the St. Lawrence.

Six days a week, during every one of those 30 summer he has been up at 5 a.m. and down to his tug to begin the day’s routine.

Patched, padded and reinforced – she is now on  her third boiler – the little craft makes her run to gather sand at St. Regis and haul it back to Cornwall three times a week.

She used to make the trip daily but “like myself”, as Mr. Robertson put it, “she is getting old.”

Tom Thomas, who lives on the St. Regis Indian Reservation has been helping Fred ever since the “Mary I” has been hauling here.

“When we get to the spot,” explained Mr. Robertson, “I blow a whistle and Tom comes down to the pump, I can always rely on him.”

More information about the “Mary I,” and other vessels that sailed the St. Lawrence around Cornwall,  can be found in THE LIVING RIVER – SECRETS OF THE ST. LAWRENCE -from Montreal to Cornwall to Prescott” available for $30 at the Cornwall Community Museum and the Lost Villages Museum.

But hurry, there are only 40 copies left.


The museum is open Wed. to Sun., 11 am to 4 pm, until mid Dec.

613 936-0280

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Cornwall Industry

A Cornwall Community Museum Blog

Cornwall Canal and Shipping History

A Cornwall Community Museum Publication

Cornwall Community Museum

In The Wood House at the waterfront, Cornwall, Ontario, Canada

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