Phoebe Shelter Re-purposing Project Started

The way it started: students in the Building Construction Internship Program  of the Limestone District School Board built the Phoebe shelter in 2008 with donations from the community.

The long awaited rebuilding of the timber-framed Phoebe shelter that was originally at the Pump House Steam Museum on Ontario Street, downtown, has started. The photo above is just a reminder of our volunteer history at the Pump House Steam Museum where the Phoebe was located.

The Phoebe display at the Pump House Steam Museum, 2009.

Remember that the historic steam-launch Phoebe and her display shelter had to make way for a modern extension to the late Victorian pump house? The Phoebe was moved to the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour building further west along King Street and the timber-framed shelter was dismantled and put in storage.

Council at the time had the foresight to set money aside for the re-purposing of the building in Grass Creek Park near the McLachlan Wood Work Museum on HW 2 towards the eastern edge of the city of Kingston.

The following photos show the start of the Grass Creek Park re-purposing of the original Phoebe shelter, this time with an extension and enclosure of the building.

The top photo shows the area where the shelter will be located, and the bottom one is a view towards the septic field. There will be an open grassy area between the building and the septic field. The septic system is set far back from the recreational water’s edge.

From top left and clockwise: large holding and settlement tanks, the foundation for the columns of the timber frame are being dug. The logo of the company that has been granted the contract: Bourgon Consstruction at:

The poster below shows the architect’s concept and location plan of the new setup.

We will keep you posted, while we can’t wait to see the finished building. It will be a magnificent reminder of our volunteering in the Phoebe volunteer group.

The students and teacher in the Building Construction Internship Program  of the Limestone District School Board who built the Phoebe shelter in 2008.

Click the picture to go to the INDEX for all the information on this website.

Twice a Year Inspection

The historic wooden steam launch Phoebe in the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour building amidst a community event, one of many.


Friends of the Phoebe met with the City Curator Paul Robertson and Alison McMahon, Conservation Technician Department of Cultural Services, at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour to discuss the preservation and conservation of the Phoebe. This is a twice annual procedure.

Here are the notes we took during the discussion with city staff.

  • Monitoring of Phoebe`s condition.  Because of a job vacancy no report on measurements of cracks, humidity or temperature was available in February.  There was also no report in July.  With addition of Allison McMahon to the staff, hopefully a report will be prepared for the next review early 2020.
  • Cracks in or between hull planks.  In February, at our previous meeting, it was planned that an expert be engaged to review the situation and make recommendations.  Perhaps this could be followed up.
  • Temporary storage behind the Phoebe has continued.  The display panels were accessible but a better job keeping the area clean should be done by the city. A large triangular bench for one of the parks has been stored behind the Phoebe for more than a year. Parks and Recreation will be asked if it can be removed.
  • Phoebe Endowment fund held by city.  No report was available, the curator will look into this.
  • Engine Fogging . The maintenance manual specifies that the boiler should be fogged with a lubricant to prevent corrosion.  This should be done, and the engine turned over.  There are possible additional items in the maintenance manual that should be reviewed.  Allison should be given access to this document that was purchased by the City in 2007 or thereabouts. It was produced by a registered conservationist from Queen’s University.
  • Paint chipping on the hull.  Can something be done to keep the boat presentable.  It was suggested that a plan be made to address this problem.
  • Dust on boat and trailer.  Dust is a problem in the sail room so a routine should be developed to keep boat and its infrastructure as clean as possible.

The Phoebe in her first year of sailing on Lake Muskoka in June 1914. She was built in Kingston, Ontario and shipped by railway to Gravenhurst where this photo was taken. Photo Credit Ken Robinson, relative of Dr. Brashear, Phoebe’s first owner.



The site of the historic dry dock and marine museum, that was purchased two year ago by Kingston developer, has been sold. The new owner has donated the dry dock and pump house, parking area and the existing buildings to the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes. Click here for the report in the Kingston Whig. Would there be a future for the Phoebe as one of the main attractions in the collection of this community museum?

The city should consider whether there is a future for the Phoebe in this to be revitalized complex, and if so work with the Museum while the visioning process will begin.

To go back to the INDEX click here.

A Snippet of Social History in One Photo


This is the earliest photo of the historic steam launch Phoebe (ed. actually: Phoebe II). It is dated June 1914 and we can safely assume that she was delivered sometime in May 1914 when the ice was gone from Lake Muskoka. Her keel was laid in 1913 when friends of Dr. Brashear had ordered her from the Davis Dry Dock Company in Kingston, Ontario. She replaced the steam launch Phoebe,which had burned the year before in winter storage. Dr. Brashear was heartbroken with the loss of the steam boat especially since he had not even adjusted to the lost his solemate Phoebe A Stewart who had died in 1910. The obituary from 1913 shows the important role their summer home on Lake Muskoka played in the latter part of the Brashears’ lives. Their home and work was in Pittsburgh, PA, but from June to September the family “summered” on Urania Island in Lake Muskoka, Canada.

Phoebe A Stewart Brashear 


Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA
DEATH 23 Sep 1910 (aged 66–67)

Muskoka Lakes, Muskoka District Municipality, Ontario, Canada

PittsburghAllegheny CountyPennsylvaniaUSA

From the very large digital file photo at the top of this post, I have selected different subjects. These shed a light on the Edwardian custom for well-to-do Americans and Canadians to “summer” in the Canadian wilderness that included the Lake Muskoka area. Ken Robertson, Florida, USA, a descendant of John and Phoebe Brashear. sent us the photo. It is part of the book by Paul Jeffrey, Steam Launch Phoebe, Her 100 Year Journey, available at Novel Ideas Bookstore, Kingston, Ontario.


In the early 1900-s people traveled by  train. Whole families from the larger cities in the US, like Pittsburgh, would travel to Toronto, Canada and then onto Gravenhurst in the  first class comfort of the train. Servants most likely traveled on the same train in third class. Steam at that time was the most prominent form of power for large conveyances such as trains and boats and heavy steam locomotives would huff and puff into the station announcing their arrival with a blast of the steam whistle.

Note in this detail the passengers disembarking and walking up a ramp to the wharf where the steam launches came to offer them a ride to a cottage on Lake Muskoka, and other nearby lakes.  The Brashear family lived during the spring and summer on Urania Island in Lake Muskoka, opposite the little town of Beaumaris.

The young man on the right admirers the steam launch Phoebe. He is well dressed for the occasion with a three-piece suit, a tie and a fashionable straw hat, and a wristwatch. He must have been proud to wear one.

The British War Department began issuing wristwatches to combatants from 1917. When the soldiers returned from WWI, they kept these watches and it became a modern symbol to wear a wristwatch instead of a pocket watch.

The company H. Williamson Ltd., based in Coventry, was one of the first to capitalize on this opportunity. During the company’s 1916 AGM it was noted that “…the public is buying the practical things of life. Nobody can truthfully contend that the watch is a luxury. It is said that one soldier in every four wears a wristlet watch, and the other three mean to get one as soon as they can.”

By the end of the War, almost all enlisted men wore a wristwatch, and after they were demobilized, the fashion soon caught on – the British Horological Journal wrote in 1917 that “…the wristlet watch was little used by the sterner sex before the war, but now is seen on the wrist of nearly every man in uniform and of many men in civilian attire.”  To Read more click here. 


In the background is a well dressed lady sitting down on a bench. Going on holidays to the Canadian Wilderness meant dressing appropriately in long cool cotton dresses with hat and jewelry. A man near her reads possibly the latest stock market news and stories about the front in Europe on his “tablet”, that is the 1914 newspaper. Could it be the Globe and Mail? More than likely.

By the 1850s, The Globe had become an independent and well-regarded daily newspaper. It began distribution by railway to other cities in Ontario shortly after Confederation. At the dawn of the twentieth century, The Globe added photography, a women’s section, and the slogan “Canada’s National Newspaper”… For more click here.


In the background and detached from the train station is the boat building business of H.Ditchburn, with two men discussing the fitting of a wooden run-about or maybe the rental of this boat, after all the sign is clear; “Boats for Sale or Rent”. The man in the shirt and tie might well be a customer, or the owner of the launch discussing issues. The person standing in the launch is dressed more like a yard employee listening attentively.

In 1904 the enterprise was run by Henry’s nephew, Herb Ditchburn, who partnered with Tom Greavette to reorganize the firm as the H. Ditchburn Boat Manufacturing Company. The firm built many custom-built gasoline launches along with some stock models, mostly consisting of rear-cockpit configuration with engine forward. In 1910 the company’s line included 26 to 30 foot launches. Click here for more.


Note the term “custom-built gasoline launches”. While steam engines were a common source of power for the trains and for the larger boats like the Phoebe, this was the period in which the internal combustion engine replaced many steam engines in the smaller and lighter boats that then could go so much faster, and were easier to handle. These lighter and more versatile internal combustion engines became rapidly the engine of choice for automobiles making steam and electric propulsion obsolete. With respect to the latter we are about to come full-circle.

The man standing on the platform to the right and looking at the smaller boat, can also be seen with others in the full photograph at the top of this post. They stand on a veranda that is separate from the arrival area and they might be employees of the railroad, as the enclosed building attached to the platform is most likely the warehouse and station office.


The Gravenhurst railway station and wharf.

The building that sheltered the arrival and waiting area for the steam launches, like the Phoebe, is seen past the horse drawn carriages. The train that carried the vacationers and was seen in the background of the photo at the top of the post,is in this view at the center of the photo in the distance with the public walking back and forth on the station platform. The Ditchburn Boat Company is seen in the  foreground at the right.

Note how busy the local station was with trains lined up three deep. Photo from: The Steamboat Era in the Muskokas, the Golden Years to the Present, Volume II , page 166, Richard Tatley, Stoddard, Boston Mills Press.

We hope you enjoyed this photo essay of years gone by.

Phoebe’s Timber Framed Shelter



Remember this? It was taken apart and put in storage in 2016; and remember the teacher and students who built it?

kb july 22 done profile cropped 600x800

std july 11 group in truss nice

The crew that built the timber framed shelter with some help from the Phoebe volunteers and donations from local and regional donors. Teacher Sean Conboy and students in the Limestone District School Board who were enrolled in the Building Construction Internship Program. June 2008.

Now the stored timbers and partially assembled trusses will come out of storage and will be rebuilt at Grass Creek Park.

The timber framed structure will be re-purposed at the Grass Creek Park east of the city. The plans shown at a public meeting recently had two possible configurations, with the concept shown here as the more interesting.

We don’t know yet what the outcome of the public consultation was but construction will start in the fall. The consulting firm MTBA Associates Inc from Ottawa will complete the design and work with timber frame specialists to re-erect the building with its modifications to serve as a change room and washroom facility on the shore of the St. Lawrence at Grass Creek Park in the former Pittsburgh Township, near the MacLachlan Wood Work Museum. The building will beautifully complement the museum structures and as an impressive stand-alone building it will enhance the experiences of visitors to the park. The vistas over the St. Lawrence River are magnificent; the park is one of the most beautiful parks in the Kingston area.

For sketches and layouts of the new building with the Phoebe shelter as the core click HERE.


THERE IS ALSO  exciting marine history news coming from Gananoque. A group of citizens  there have been planning for many years to establish a small craft marine museum and the construction of a large livery shelter will start in the fall of this year. Two years ago they installed permanent docking slips in the river adjacent to the waterfront boutique buildings that now house the Thousand Islands Boat Museum. This heritage waterfront also includes the Arthur Child Heritage Museum that has graced the area for many years and where you can explore the heritage and traditions of Gananoque and the Thousand Islands. The two museums complement each other well and will make a great attraction for visitors from the area, the rest of Canada and from abroad.

The concept sketch of the livery building that will be build this fall,  and the waterfront where the docks were under construction two years ago. We encourage you to visit the town of Gananoque and explore what is going on at the waterfront, it will surprise you!



The Friends of the Phoebe are looking for younger volunteers who have an interest in our maritime heritage and specifically the combination of steam propulsion and historic wooden boats built in Kingston and area. Our youngest fiend recently visited the exhibit in the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour.

The photo was submitted by a long term friend of the Phoebe, Henry Copestake.

In the background is the Phoebe exhibit sporting a new Kingston flag on the bow. This upgrading is a result of core members of our group meeting twice a year for a meeting at which best practices for the preservation of the historic wooden boat are discussed.

The latest meeting was held on the 19th of January, 2018 at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, in Kingston, ON.

The minutes of the meeting submitted by Paul Jeffrey who met city staffers Meagan Eckersley, City Artefact Technician, and Tom Riddolls, Curator of the MacLachlan Wood Work Museum.

(1) Shrinkage of hull planking. Measurements of the width of the gaps at 12 locations were recorded monthly from February 2017 to December 2017 that indicate stability. I have the complete measurements.
(2) The trailer was painted as needed. The wooden blocks which support the trailer and minimize the weight on the tires have been painted black.
(3) Environmental Conditions: The average interior temperature has been 19.1 degrees C with an average humidity of 31.7%.
(4) Pest Management. Traps are in place with no indication of any animals or insects.
(5) Lighting interior. LED puck lights powered by batteries were purchased but found to be inadequate, The City hesitates to wire 120 volt lights within Phoebe.
(6) Flags and flag pole. The stern flag pole that was chewed by a rodent has been replaced. A new City flag is now at bow with a new Canadian flag at stern.
(7) Skirting of trailer. The cost would be of the order of $1800. The City was also concerned about children hiding under the skirting, or even rodents making their home there. No action has been taken
(8) Window curtains in Lounge. The shallow upper curtains are in place. No action has been taken to install full curtains that slide horizontally and can be tied back
(9) Meagan will discuss with her supervisor regarding their receiving Phoebe archives and copies of the hard-cover colour Phoebe book.
(10) Both Meagan and Tom support the inclusion of Phoebe into the development of the Portsmouth area.

This post has been written by Henk Wevers. Inquiries for historical information and submissions are welcome at  


A perfect Christmas and End of the Year Gift…

If you look for a wonderful present to give to one of your family members or friends, think of the second full colour edition of the book Steam Launch Phoebe; Her 100 Year Journey” by Paul Jeffrey.

It is sponsored by the Friends of the Phoebe and only cost $20. Available at Novel Ideas downtown, and at Chapters in the West End of Kingston.

The book is a wonderful resource to explore the history of this vessel, the social backgrounds of the owners and builders, the efforts by Jack Telgmann and the Friends of the Phoebe to restore her and to preserve this unique marine and industrial artefact in Kingston. She is currently at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour.

Inside the book: Marine artist Fred Werthman shows his original oil painting with Dr. Brashear the first owner behind the wheel and with the family cottage on Urania Island, Lake Muskoka in the background. There are 170 pages of colour and black and white photos in this book. Several colour illustration explain the design and construction of the Phoebe.

An exposed view inside the 48 feet length over all Phoebe steam launch. In the book is a whole series to show all the structural elements of the wooden boat, including the  lines of the hull. Model by Henk Wevers.

Warren and Sheila Black, at the 2014 centennial anniversary of the Phoebe. Warren’s father Herman Black owned the Phoebe from 1953-1959 in Mentor Harbour, Cleveland, Ohio. Sheila holds a complimentary copy of the book. Warren is now the proud owner of the Phoebe model scale 1:16, exactly 3 feet long.


Fall 2017 Update Friends of the Phoebe

The Friends of the Phoebe are now volunteering for the tall ship St.Lawrence II at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour where both the tall ship and the steam launch Phoebe are located. The Phoebe is safely exhibited in the Sail Measuring Room. Friends of the Phoebe and staff meet twice a year to discuss upgrades to the exhibit and to optimise her preservation.


We received a surprise photo and short story from the estate of Joseph Fulman, a USA citizen in Delaware who took fishing trips to Canada at the Sterling Lodge in Newboro on the Rideau waterway. Joseph and his friends took this lovely photo of the Phoebe.

 The Phoebe went to Ottawa in 1982 and this is most likely a rest stop at Newboro Locks since the photo was taken by Joseph Fulgham or one of his fishing buddies. We received this nice photo from Linda Fulgham, daughter in-law. Note the smoke emerging from the funnel and the nice reflection in the water. 


Friends of the Phoebe continue to donate to the Phoebe account at the City of Kingston. The Community Foundation informed the Friends of the Phoebe that the 2016 income from the two endowment funds, totalling $32,000 plus, was $1,048 this money was credited to the City of Kingston for the exhibit and educational work involving the historic steam launch.

While the amount is modest by city accounting we are proud that annually this funding is made available. The Community Foundation for Kingston and Area and The Friends of the Phoebe are to be commended for establishing and maintaining these endowments in perpetuity.

Combine that with the Gordon C. Leitch Discovery Centre endowment fund of just under $32,000 yielding around $1,000 per year for the Pump House Steam Museum and the Friends of the Phoebe continue contributing to the cultural heritage in Kingston.

We hope you enjoyed this update.

Preserving the Historic Steam Launch Phoebe.



The Friends of the Phoebe met on July 7, 2017, with City of Kingston staff to review the preservation of the wooden boat with her metal hardware, steam engine, boiler and propulsion system. This is part of a twice a year review called by the Manager of Cultural Heritage and attended by the Civic Collection Technician in Cultural Services. This gives the Friends of the Phoebe an opportunity to submit suggestions and to discuss common interests to promote and preserve the Phoebe. All this leads back to a motion that was unanimously supported by Council in their meeting on July 12, 2016. Click here for the report and motion. 

Friends of the Phoebe meet with city staff met at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour on King Street West, the site of Phoebe’s exhibit  in the Sail Measuring Room. Staff and volunteers discuss the condition of the boat . From left to right: volunteer Gerrit van der Zwan, Civic Collection Technician Meaghan Eckersley, volunteers Paul Jeffrey and Dave Shurtleff. Henk Wevers took the photo. 

With the briefing notes and our preliminary comments collected, we met for the remainder of the meeting in one of the small conference rooms at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour to discuss details, and come to agreements about the preservation methods and enhancements to the exhibit.

From left to right: Dave Shurtleff, Gerrit van der Zwan, Paul Jeffrey discussing a  point on the aganda, Meaghan Eckersley, chairing the meeting. Photo by Henk Wevers. 

For the full details of the meeting and the subsequent minutes which were approved by the Manager of Cultural Heritage, see below at the end of this post.


The Friends of the Phoebe also received confirmation that the Department of Parks and Recreation are developing plans to re-erect the timber framed exhibit shelter that gave the Phoebe protection at her former exhibit at the Pump House Steam Museum. The structure was donated by, among others, Goodfellow Lumber from Delson, Quebec, and Upper Lake shipping from Toronto, Ontario. Students in the Building Construction Internship Program of the Limestone District School Board made the joinery and put it together under the watchful eye of their teacher in early 2008. For a series of photos depicting the construction click here.

When further information becomes available about the Phoebe exhibit and the timber framed shelter we will add more posts.

The Friends of the Phoebe wish their supporters a great summer, we will be back in the fall of 2017.


Full report on the first twice yearly meeting of the Friends of the Phoebe and staff from the Department of Culture at the City of Kingston.

We had our ltwice a a year meeting on  July 7, 2017, with  Meaghan Eckersley, Civic Collection Technician, Cultural Services, for the City of Kingston and a Cultural Services Collections Assistant. Friends of the Phoebe present: Paul Jeffrey, Gerrit van der Zwan, Dave Shurtleff and Henk Wevers. We met at the Phoebe Exhibit in the Sail Measuring Room of the POH.

Meaghan explained the monitoring of temperature, humidity and light intensity since March 2017. She would like to have a full year of measurements before releasing the data. The hull planks shrinkage and expansion is measured and there is a relationship with the seasons and the room’s micro-climate.

After a year of monitoring, the environmental data will be used by staff to assess the expansion and contraction of the hull planks and to determine whether or not intervention/repair is indicated.

At the sit-down meeting in the POH conference room agenda items were addressed and below with the suggestions and decisions included.

Stern flag and flagpole: Friends indicated that a new Canadian flag would be appropriate. Some Friends had suggested the British Ensign as more historically correct. However she was built in Kingston and sailed initially on Lake Muskoka, Canada. We also recommended to put a courtesy flag at the bow and it should be the Kingston flag. The flagpole should be cut off at the bottom 15 cm as it is chewed by rodents. Items approved and will be taken care off by staff.

Manager of Cultural Heritage: Provided the quotes are reasonable we can proceed with the addition of these flags on the existing poles. Our team will work to source and install these items.

Gaps in the hull: see above, action aimed at cosmetic repair after one year of data. Friends suggested a flexible caulking that stays flexible over time to accommodate the shrinkage and widening of the cracks. We submitted that the seams between the hull planking does not affect the structure in the land-based exhibit.

Paul Jeffrey: Suggest that hull cracks be left as they are at present without caulking. Any caulking performed now may simply lead to more problems in the future if Phoebe is kept in a more humid environment or if she is ever placed back in water. I suggest that we develop an information board for display at Phoebe which explains board shrinkage and expansion and how this is affected by type of wood, and orientation of board cuts from logs. 

Dave Shurtleff suggests: Regarding the gaps in the hull, I suggested that the hire a consultant who is qualified in the preservation of wooden boats and who is familiar with the latest calking materials and their properties be engaged before action taken.

Gerrit van der Zwan suggests: To use a soft compressible seam filling foam that is available at building suppl companies. It can be pressed into the seams and he can apply a soft latex caulking over it. Then paint the hull. If needed the foam filling and the caulking can be removed simply by pulling the foam filling out of the seams. Good for cosmetic improvement and reversible for without affecting the planks of the historic boat. 

Gerrit and the Friends volunteer offer to do this.

Manger of Cultural Heritage: We will continue to monitor the gaps in the hull. The suggestions and concerns made by the friends are noted and will be considered should our assessments indicate a need for conservation-based intervention.

LED lighting for the cabin will be implemented. We suggest that it can be switched by hand so it can be switched on by custodian of the sail room when an event takes place and the public can observe the Phoebe. Motion switch? Would be an alternative.

Manager of Cultural Heritage: As discussed, the best option from a collections care and logistical standpoint is a battery operated LED attached to a timer which will be installed in the cabin.

Trailer: Spot-painting of the aluminum parts of the transverse bunk supports will be painted in the colour of the trailer to hide the shiny metal. Friend of the Phoebe commented that the Phoebe is well supported over the full length of the keel and keelson and with the two bunks, installed by MetalCraft Marine specialists, and the several bilge supports that were part of the trailer design.

Paul Jeffrey adds:  It will be wise to periodically check and adjust pressure points on hull as needed.

Manager of Cultural Heritage: This painting will be undertaken by City staff. The trailers support and load displacement will continue to be monitored.

Engine decommissioning: The engine needs to be turned over a few times a year and engine cylinders need storage oil fogging. The oil comes in spray cans that can be purchased for a few dollars at Canadian Tire or equivalent outlet. Test engine state of preservation by turning the propeller by hand. Reasonable torque indicates normal friction ibetween cylinders and pistons and related parts.

Paul Jeffrey adds: Engine requires minimal maintenance such as oiling of the cylinders. There is no reason to remove the electric motor drive.

Boiler preservation: spray with storage engine fogging oil or Rust Check or any other preservation oily substance.

Manager of Cultural Heritage: These recommendations are noted.

Flagging tape: remove and install barrier instead by bolting posts to concrete floor or glue the base of the posts to the concrete. This would make the flagging tape superfluous and its removal improves the cosmetics of the exhibit.

Manager of Cultural Heritage: The flagging tape will remain in place in the immediate future and the retractable stanchions will be reset. Staff will look into more aesthetically pleasing flagging.

Plating railings: Only nickel plate the repaired sections of railing which is galvanised steel piping and the few bases that are made of brass. The existing nickel plating is original and should be preserved.

Manager of Cultural Heritage: Repaired railings will not be nickel plated at this time. The original nickel plating will continue to be monitored.

Other points:

Make a plaque or poster that tells the public about why the Phoebe is in the POH, what her role might be in the new development plan of the POH and the PEN. Also explain the opening of the seams and why this is not a structural problem or something we don’t care about.

Staff will discuss the installation of an additional interpretive sign. One that explains her present location as well interprets her as a complex composite artifact of the Civic Collection – addressing the seams, the repaired railings, the rodent gnawing, etc. This sign will not speculate about her future home or the development plans for POH or the KP sites.

Install curtains according to the June 1914 photo of the Phoebe in Gravenhurst. She was only 4-6 weeks old there and it forms the basis of what was historically correct.

Staff will source out a cost effective curtaining option.

One mirror in the engine room to show the engine to the public. The mirror can be on a stand so it can be removed easily when needed. Alternative hang it in a frame from the ceiling. Alternative, install a camera in the engine room and in the washroom to show the interesting parts for the propulsion and the folding wash basin on a Monitor placed at floor level or overhead. Or provide a “tour” of the boat’s internal compartments by showing a virtual tour on a monitor. Start on command by observer.

Paul Jefrey suggests:   All comments are good. With mirror(s) will need to experiment on placement so that the images are clear to the visitors. We are asking for a lot which may be more than the City will supply..

Manager of Cultural Heritage; These interpretive suggestions are noted and will be considered moving forward.

A dinghy was never part of the original Phoebe.

Minutes written by Henk Wevers, proofread by the Friends of the Phoebe and comments provided by Manager of Cultural Heritage.



Friends of the Phoebe Get Along


, , , ,

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.


Click HERE to go to the Index of this website.

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.


Please take me to the INDEX