Friends of the Phoebe Get Along


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Friends of the Phoebe have found new kindred souls in the volunteers of the Brigantine Inc., a charitable organisation that offers youth sail-training on the well known, Kingston-based St. Lawrence II tall ship at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour. They contribute their well honed skills and professional experiences to the major annual maintenance tasks to get the St. Lawrence II “ship-shape” for the summer season.

From the left: John Page, Ron Lees, Bruce Shaver, Bob Campbell, Ken Williams holding a print of the ship, Danny Qullet, David Shurtleff, Captain Chris Chafe, Roland Boegman and Paul Jeffrey. Bruce Shaver is the volunteer coordinator. They show heavy mahogany and oak boards, value of $1260, donated by Goodfellow Lumber from Delson, Quebec. The print was donated by local artist Jim Keirstead. It now graces the offices of Goodfellow Lumber as a token of appreciation.

The St. Lawrence II moored at Portsmouth Olympic Harbour on a misty morning. The Kingston Penitentiary is in the background, the future home of the St. Lawrence II if the vision of making the penitentiary a new historic development becomes a reality in the distant future? Guess when: 5-10-15-20 years from now?


Inside the St. Lawrence II workshop at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour the volunteers are like a buzzing bee colony. They make light of many tasks. If you are recently retired or you are young and want to learn some useful skills, come an join us on Tuesday mornings, 9-12.

Ron Lees, John Page, Paul Jeffrey and Roland Boegman, painting the pine boards that will be the new sole in the ship.Bruce Shaver cleaning and refurbishing the windlass that lowers and raises the anchor.

Danny Qulllet, Roland Boegman, Paul Jeffrey and Gerrit van der Zwan’s right hand and arm only he inspects the efficacy of clamping and gluing the gunwale on the tender. 

Pine floorboards, mahogany bulkheads, and much more, ready or being prepared for installation in the ship.


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Friends of the Phoebe Move On


Friends of the Phoebe applied recently for volunteer positions preserving the historic steam launch at the City’s Portsmouth Olympic Harbour where she is stored in the Sail Measuring Room. She can be seen by the public when there is an event. Over a year, and especially in the summer, there will be many people who have an opportunity to admire her. We are happy with her new location where she is safe and well.

City staff will from now on maintain the exhibit and therefore declined our applications because there were no job descriptions available that included the Phoebe. Instead we were offered volunteer positions at City Hall as tour guides. The Friends of the Phoebe declined that offer.

city hall july 1 2012

We could have been here as volunteer tour guides.

They are now happily volunteering to prepare the  the St. Lawrence II, a tall ship for youth training, that will travel this summer to Halifax and from there to New York to participate in a tall ship event. The group meets once per week on Tuesday morning also at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour where the Brigantine Inc., the charity that manages and maintains the vessel, has its headquarters.


Volunteering for the St. Lawrence II and its cultural presence in Kingston

To join in the effort drop in at the worksite or contact the volunteer coordinator at:


The Friends of the Phoebe will meet bi-annually with the City’s Artefact Technician and the Manager of Cultural Heritage, to discuss the ongoing preservation issues for the wooden boat, boiler and steam engine and other parts of the propulsion and hull.

forbes boiler top detail

The boiler and the steam engine built by the Davis Dry Dock Company at Kingston in 1914.engine forbes top


This website will be updated twice per year, but for all practical purposes it is now an archival site together with earlier sites. For reference and research here are the addresses of all three:


henk chuck paul jeffrey 2005Summer 2005 the restored Phoebe came out of her cocoon a cramped boathouse at the rear of the Pump House Steam Museum. Her story is described in the book: “Steam Launch Phoebe; Her 100 Year Journey” by Paul Jeffrey. Available at Novel Ideas bookstore on Princess Street, Kingston, ON.


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Bi-annual Preservation Consult


A bi-annual meeting between Cultural Services staff and Friends of the Phoebe was held for the first time on January 5 of this new year.

Jennifer Campbell, Manager of Cultural Heritage and Meaghan Eckersley, Civic Collections Technician, met with six members of the Friends of the Phoebe volunteers to exchange ideas and suggestions for the preservation of the historic steam launch Phoebe.

The meeting was held in the Olympic Harbour Sail Measuring Room where the current Phoebe exhibit is located.


From the left: volunteers Cuck McIvor, Gerrit van der Zwan and Henk Wevers, and guest Shirley Bailey, testing the “Victorian Photo Studio” at the Phoebe Exhibit in the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour.


The following list establishes goals to achieve in the next several months. Staff will decide the priorities and how they can be implemented. Contractors will, from now on, take charge of the preservation work such as regular cleaning, engine and boiler preservation, hull maintenance and so forth. Please note that preservation of the wooden hull and superstructure requires different techniques than engine and boiler preservation.

Humidity and temperature control sensors were put in by staff and this will give a monthly and annual picture of the Phoebe’s surrounding micro climate that affects mostly her hull.

LED lighting brightens the interior of the Phoebe and shows the nice mahogany and cream ceiling, the engine and boiler, and pilot house as well as aft cabin. LED lighting does not cause any temperature change and low level lighting would not affect the paint and varnish. A simple heat sensing switch could turn the lights on when persons approach the exhibit, with a timer to turn the lights off. Meaghen will look into this.

Flags at the bow and stem have seen better times and will be replaced with historically correct flags of the 1914s indicating her US owner who sailed her on Lake Muskoka in Canada. The flag of that time was the First Canadian Ensign, 1868-1922 and it should be flown from the aft flagpole. It was suggested that the bow could fly a Kingston pennant to indicate where she was built. Other ideas about flag etiquette are welcome.

Image by Herman De Wael

Cabin and pilot house curtains were part of her historic appearance and staff made a note of that.

Friends of the Pboebe would very much  like to see the steam whistle returned. They took it off during restoration in 1998-2003 but it would be very easy to put it back in place at the fore of the funnel there is a rough hole in the funnel skirt that locates it. The whistle has a female pipe thread and so has the steam pipe that is present on the boiler and was the base for the whistle. The original photo of 1914 can serve as reference as to the height of the whistle, which requires a correct length of steel pipe of about 1 inch diameter. This is a simple taskfor a contractor who has experience with pipe fitting.


The original Phoebe steam whistle at one of the volunteer restoration fundraising events. Floyd Allen, former captain of the Phoebe between 1979-1982, on the right, whistling the maritime salute. Henk Wevers looks on. The whistle was hooked up to a vacuum cleaner for the air supply, replacing steam as the energy source. Note the pipe and fittings below the whistle.


Staff informed us that they have now established contact with a local experienced boat and engine conservation authority, Henry Copestake, who is the proprietor of DC Marine. Henry has extensive experience with historic and classic as well as modern boats and diverse propulsion machinery. His company did a wonderful job in cleaning the Phoebe after she was set up in her current location and before the most recent exhibit. All the visitors were in awe about her beautiful lines and appearance. Henry would also be an excellent choice for the preservation of the engine and boiler.


Henry Copestake and helper prepping the Phoebe for the new exhibit event.


Thank you Jennifer and Meaghan for informal, pleasant, and constructive meeting.


To go to the INDEX click the photo below.


Phoebe’s 2016 Exhibit Opening


On December 8, 2016 a large number of visitors came to the opening of the new exhibit in the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour. Together with the Brigantine Inc. St. Lawrence II and the Marine Museum, the Friends of the Phoebe had organised this special event for the citizens of Kingston. Supporters of all three organisations gathered for a festive opening of the new Phoebe Exhibit.

To see the photo reportage click the icon below, or continue reading…


Cultural Services staff and Friends of the Phoebe had in the days before the event worked hard to make the Phoebe shine, and shine she did. Everybody commented on the fact that the large 48 foot wooden steam launch looked her very best in the Sail Measuring Room of the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour building. 

Here are some photos of the preparations and what many visitors wanted to know how she got into the building? Have alook:

Just a few inches to spare…

phoebe-arrives-at-poh-gAnd here she is in her niche of the large special events room
exhibit-oct-2016-ephoebe-cleaning-tara-henryHenry Copestake of DC Marine Inc. was contracted by city staff to clean the Phoebe after he had trailered her from the Pump House Steam Museum on Ontario Street to her new home in the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour building.

phoebe-cleaning-taraClean enough? Wow the Phoebe never looked better, thanks Tara for your hard work.


What do you think? Paul Robertson, City Curator and Chris Howland, Assistant Supervisor Recreation Facilities, City of Kingston.




Chris Whyman, Town Crier who opened the event, with Eva and John Allen Barnes who impersonated the first owners of the Phoebe: Dr. John Brashear and his wife Phoebe Stewart. The resplendent costumes represent the late 1800s and early 1900s which represented the overlap between the Victorian and Edwardian period in Canada.

For many more photos of visitors at the event click the icon below.


One… Two… Three…Alexander Henry, St. Lawrence II and Phoebe



The AH leaving the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes, her berth for the last thirty years, on her way to a temporary mooring, not sure of her future. Photo credit: Judy Labbe.

After the museum ship Alexander Henry left Kingston, the Phoebe became the largest marine artifact in the collection of the City of Kingston. 


The Phoebe’s new exhibit will open on Thursday with a great party at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour. Come and see her in this splendid setting. 


The steam launch Phoebe in Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, Kingston, Ontario.


Here is the program we hope you drop in and enjoy this special event.

All Welcome.



And where is the Alexander Henry now? 

alexancer-henry-paul-jeffrey-picton-oct-2016The Alexander Henry in Picton, Prince Edward County, Ontario. Photo credit: Paul Jeffrey. See latest article in the Whig.


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Dismantling Has Started


October 28, 2016 was the start of the dismantling of Phoebe’s exhibit shelter that housed her for the last eight years in her 102 year journey. The historic steam boat is now exhibited at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, in Kingston, Ontario. 

dismantling-site-nov-28-29-2016The construction site at the rear of the Pump House Steam Museum at 23 Ontario Street, Kingston Ontario. October 29, 2016. The display shelter is being dismantled to enable the building of a glass extension to the museum building. Photo credit: Henk Wevers

dismantling-roof-tilesThis photo shows the rough boards nailed to the rafters to give the appearance inside the shelter of the historic methods of roofing. In this modern era half inch plywood covers the boards to smooth the surface out.

The Friends have spoken to staff at Parks and Recreation and at Cultural Heritage about the marking of the many joints to keep track of what belongs to what and where, when it is all dismantled and stored in a warehouse. These joints are all different because they were hand carved. the work was done by the students from the Building Construction Internship Program of the Limestone District School Board in early 2008.

std march 25 brace post fitting sean nice cropped 320x250Teacher Sean Conboy in 2008 with one of the students in the program fitting a joint for one of the trusses.


A complex tenon joint hand carved by the students. With hindsight these should have been marked with Roman numerals, as is the custom in historic timber framed barn building, see example below. BUT who could have thought that eight years later the structure had to go?

Example of markings for the reference of each joint in a historic timber framed barn. Note the roof boards that were similarly applied on the Phoebe shelter to comply with historic building methods.



We will keep you posted on the progress in the dismantling process. It is estimated it will take two weeks to completely clear the site. The timbers will go into cold indoor storage and there the timbers will safely sit until they are going to be reassembled in one of Kingston’s parks. Possible when Grass Creek Park is renovated, but that’s in the future. A couple of years from now?


Ps. Don’t forget this big and wonderful party to celebrate Phoebe’s new exhibit. there will be lots of fun…advertisement-with-text-nov-18-hc-eb


To go to the Index please click on the icon below.

std july 11 group in truss nice

Phoebe Exhibit Opening and More…


The Friends of the Phoebe have come together with the St. Lawrence II, Brigantine Inc. and the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes to throw a huge party December 8th, at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour starting at 3pm and until 5pm.

We will show you what the St. Lawrence looks like, but first…


Drop in and bring your family, friends and neighbours.





Here she is under full sail on the river at Kingston. Photo from Internet.

Below she sits on dry land at the Metal Craft Marine and Kingston Marina site where  she undergoes a thorough maintenance job. Photo credits: Henk Wevers.


Two senior crew members spend a nice day in late November 2016 on the repainting of the hull. A few spots have been fixed by solidly welded steel patches that need be ground flush and then painted like the rest of the hull. Where are the junior crew members? Inside cleaning up…

Walking around the huge hull one cannot avoid being impressed by the spirits of the founding members, especially her designer Francis MacLachlan who put ideas on paper in 1952 and supervised the building of the tall ship at the Kingston Shipyards in 1953. For more on her and Kingston’s industrial history click here.

aft-hull-and-nameThis is where a crew of officers, deckhands and some of Kingston’s youth spend their summer. In the belly of the beast and on deck, of course, learning the ropes.

 A few interesting boat details:


 The propeller and it immediate surroundings. Can you name the parts? Propeller bearing with grease nipple, propeller shaft with the propeller fit on a tapered end of the shaft, the large nut with a lock nut and a small lock hole that will receive a lock pin.

There is something wrong though. The locking in place of moving parts with two nuts goes back more than 150 years. Lots of history here, but the thinner nut should go nearest the propeller, it should go on first, and the thickest nut should be on top of the thinner one.  Phew, sorry, just remembered this fact from my engineering class 1957 in Holland. It is counter intuitive but it is the only right way.

For the mechanics of the joint, click the icon below:twonuts_thin_nut_onbottomThis photo shows the propeller and part of the rudder with the pintles where the rudder hangs in the fixed hinges welded onto the stem of the hull:


The grey pieces of metal are made of zinc and will preserve the steel hull. The brash propeller, steel shaft and hull form a galvanic element when in the water, much like the reverse of a battery. The zinc is less “noble” than the steel and the brass, and it will dissolve very slowly, while the other more noble metals will remain. I also learned that about 60 years ago. Any better explanations from our material science friends are welcome.


Like every tall ship the St. Lawrence II has a nicely carved “beakhead”.

And finally the anchor chain…Symbol of hope, arrival or departure, connection with the past, continuity between generations, linkage between all people. Every part plays its role and the chain is as strong as its weakest links…therefore the links should be strong…


Come to our event on December 8 at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour to meet the crew, talk to Francis MacLachlan who made it happen and enjoy the young crew members.



Phoebe “Coming Out” Party



Please pencil in on your calendar: December 8th, from 3-5 pm in the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour…

The Friends of the the Phoebe invite you to the Phoebe’s new exhibit in the great Sail Room at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour. See looks like she was just about seventeen instead of her 102 years as a historic wooden steam boat, built right here in Kingston.


The Phoebe on her supports after her small boathouse at the Pump House Steam Museum was removed. It was as if she emerged from her cocoon when the restoration volunteers saw her for the first time in full glory, 2005.

And here she is in 2016 in the Sail Room of Portsmouth Olympic Harbour. We will dress her up for our special OPEN HOUSE on December 8 between 3-5 pm, everybody is invited.


Some highlights of the program:

Special exhibit panels explaining her history and who her first owners were.

Meet our friends from the Brigantine St. Lawrence II who will join us in the celebration and who will showcase their organisation of youth oriented square rig sail training.

Interesting exhibits of maritime objects; a steam engine that you can touch and see in action; other steam related equipment.

Posters; bookmarks; pewter Phoebe Christmas ornaments; the book “The Steam Launch Phoebe,  Her 100 Year Journey” by Paul Jeffrey; brochures and more.

Enjoy live music and the sound of a steam whistle

There will be ample seating for seniors and lots of room for the young, meet your friends and make new ones. We hope your Councillor will be there and we have invited our Mayor to this early December, pre-Christmas party; we expect our retired and current elected officials might drop in…

There will be a chance to have your photo taken with Phoebe and Phoebe; a mystery? Not really but we keep you in suspense… Where did we hear that recently?

Stay posted, pass this on to your friends they would very much appreciate it.


Back to the INDEX, click on the photo of Phoebe Brashear-Stewart surrounded by her family and grandchildren on Lake Muskoka, 1900.


Phoebe Amidst the Gems



The Kingston Lapidary and Mineral Club’s Annual Gem & Mineral Show also called The GEm Storm, was held this weekend at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour. This was the first big show that saw the historic steam launch Phoebe displayed in the background.


So I went in and asked if the visitors to the gem displays also might have seen the shining 48 feet steam boat? “No not really,” one man selling pens made from semi precious polished rocks. That was sure disappointing. When I started asking others especially the owners of stands near the Phoebe they all said, “You bet! She is really wonderful.”

Then I approached the receptionist, who was in charge of the admissions, how many people had bought a ticket. This was near the end of the show and some exhibitors started packing up. Two staffers had difficulty closing the cash box, so it would have been a busy day. “At least twenty-five hundred, came through,” she said.

Phoebe must have received a lot of glances with so many eyeballs in the room.

One of our volunteers offered the comment, “More people saw her in one day than during a season at the Pump House Steam Museum.” He is probably not far off.

Staff from Cultural Services had organised to have the trailer cleaned and it looked good. And from a straw vote among the exhibitors it seemed she had been part of the show.

This has always been our idea that the Phoebe could be an ambassadress of goodwill for the City of Kingston that prides itself on the history that is around every corner and impresses the visitors and citizens alike. 

The gem exhibitors were from all over Ontario and Quebec, their experiences of Kingston has been enhanced by the steam launch Phoebe.

compton phoebe city hall 82

To go to the INDEX click the photo and you will find all the titles of posts and special stories on this website listed.

The Phoebe and Museum Ship Alexander Henry




A previous post showed the historic steam launch Phoebe being manoeuvred into the big Sail Room at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour where she has found a nice home. For details please click here.

There is great potential for the public to enjoy the exhibit when there are events such as the upcoming 47th Annual Gem Storm October 15, 2016October 16, 2016.

The Phoebe Exhibit will be in the background but her size will “WOW” the crowd and she will be a charming ambassadress for Kingston’s Cultural Heritage. 


The Phoebe in her temporary home for the next two years with the promise that she might be permanently displayed at the newly re-visioned building in the future. There will be a “Design Charrette” for the public to attend and give input on October 12 for details click here. 


The Friends of the Phoebe are planning an event on December 7th when we hope, with the cooperation of the staff in Cultural Services, and Recreation and Leisure Services, to present her to the citizens of Kingston and Greater Area. Pencil the date in on your calendars, you would not like to miss this event from 3-6 pm. Stay posted  we will give more details closer to the date.

Around the Phoebe are several panels of the Centennial Exhibit 2014 which explains her history, the remarkable couple of scientists John and Phoebe Brashear, her first owners, the restoration history by the Friends of the Phoebe, and her repatriation from the US by Jack Telgmann in 1997. Jack was the first Curator of the Pump House Steam Museum.


One of the panels depicting the structural  elements  of the Phoebe, examples of the restoration work and three long time volunteers at the bow of the Phoebe when her original boathouse was dismantled and she emerged for the first time from her cocoon and showed her beautiful lines. The volunteers are: Paul Jeffrey, Chuck McIvor and Henk Wevers. Click the photo and it will enlarge.


And where did the Alexander Museum Ship Go?


The Alex H is moored in Picton near a commercial dock owned by Henk Doornekamp who took the responsibility of moving her from the Dry Dock at the  Marine Museum of the Great Lakes, She might by sunk as a diving artefact near Kingston or scrapped for her steel and other metals used in the construction. OR with luck Thunder Bay might adopt her as a museum ship. She was built there. Photo by Paul Jeffrey, taken from HW 33 at a distance of 3-4 km from shore.


Two iconic historic boats, one to stay in Kingston for the public to enjoy, the other gone from the historic drydock on Ontario Street where so much industrial and social history is embedded in this downtown part of our city.


And finally core members of the Friends of the Phoebe at their monthly luncheon at the Hatter’s Cove restaurant of the Seniors Association Kingston on Frances Street.

friends-of-the-phoebe-lunch-oct-2016 From left to right: Bob Campbell, John Page, Chuck McIvor, Ron Lees, Henk Wevers, Paul Jeffrey, Dave Shurtleff. Friends of the Phoebe having a good time.

To go to the INDEX please click here.