Russel Brothers Tugs

Russel Brothers built some 1,000 steel vessels of various types and sizes from 1909 to 1974, first in Fort Frances, Ontario, and starting in 1936 in Owen Sound, Ontario. Many of these vessels were small winching tugs built for the inland logging trade, but regular tugboats (many for the Navy) were built by the yard as well. Barges, passenger vessels, fish tugs and Coast Guard vessels also emerged from the famous yard.

Russel Brothers tugs have proved to be long-lasting, and many of them are still in commercial service on the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence. All the Russel tugs featured on this website are listed below.

Russel Tugs:

*Indicates currently inactive tugs

2 thoughts on “Russel Brothers Tugs

  1. Russel boats were important. They were the first company in North America to electrically arc-weld all steel hulls. A Russel design was adopted by the British (and Canadian) Navy as its main class of small harbour tug (the “Ville” class). Their logging boats were designed robustly for prolonged heavy use in remote areas, and pretty much defined this genre (the winch boats and warping tugs). This well deserved reputation for quality and value carried over into their larger tugboats and later Coast Guard ships. Russel innovative expertise was recognized when Niagara Falls needed two Maids of the Mist in 1955, and Toronto needed a fireboat in 1964, both of which are still in use today! The company exported boats into Canada’s north, and internationally to Vietnam and Africa. They became masters of shipping boats in sections on rail cars and re-assembling them at the final destination. Though by no means the only activity of this eclectic and vibrant company, the boats are the focus of this unofficial archive.

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