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Historic Penninsula tug boat makes it way back home to Marathon, Ont., this weekend

Jul 08, 2018 02:54PM ● By Editor
This tug boat worked at the local mill in Marathon, hauling logs through the harbour for many years after the Second World War. On Saturday, it will make its way back home to become a tourist attraction. (Gerald Graham )

A historic tug boat that was docked in the Thunder Bay harbour for about half a century is getting ready to leave the Lakehead for the final time on Saturday, thanks to the organizers at the Marathon and District Historical Society and Museum.

The Penninsula tug boat has a long history that dates back to the Second World War, according to Gerald Graham.

Graham's father was the shipping superintendent in Marathon when the tug boat was in operation after the war.

"The Penninsula was built originally for the Canadian navy in 1943 ... and it was used out of Halifax," Graham said.

During the war, he said, the Penninsula's purpose was to go out to the north Atlantic and rescue ships that were broken down or had been attacked.

After the war in 1945, a mill in Marathon needed a boat and ended up buying the Penninsula the following year.

"They named it after the former name of Marathon, which was Penninsula .... and it was used for many years to rack up all the wood that had come down the Pic River."

In 1968, after many years of hauling logs through the harbour, the Penninsula was sold to a company in Thunder Bay called Western Engineering.

"It's an iconic image of the early days of the pulp and paper industry, which was instrumental in the starting of the town of Marathon," Graham explained, "and I think it's just a connection that's been lost for a long time."

On Saturday, Graham said the tug boat will journey back to its home community of Marathon.

"The journey happens [on Saturday at] six o'clock.  We leave the Port of Thunder Bay, and we should arrive 12 hours later in Marathon [at] six or seven that evening."

Once it arrives, he said, the organizers plan to take the boat out of the water and place it in the heart of the town's downtown core as a way to attract tourists.

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