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Home / Life / Tugboat Daniel McAllister – Then & Now Montreal

Tugboat Daniel McAllister – Then & Now Montreal


By: Dick Nieuwendyk – mtltimes.ca


The Daniel McAllister was built in 1905, at Collingwood Shipyards Ltd, and launched in 1907 as the Helena for the Public Works Department for service on the Atlantic coast.


Daniel McAllister Tugboat before restoration in 2008
Daniel McAllister Tugboat before restoration in 2008

In the 1940s, while working on the Great Lakes, her steam engine was replaced with a more powerful diesel engine from a surplus United States Navy minesweeper. She was now a single screw tug rated at 900 horsepower.  After a major refit in 1956, she was renamed Helen M.B.


In 1967 McAllister Towing Ltd of Montreal acquired the tugboat and named her Daniel McAllister, after a member of this important family of ship owners. (Captain James McAllister started the McAllister enterprise with his brothers and in-laws shortly after he arrived from Cushendall, County Antrim, Ireland in the 1880’s).


Daniel McAllister Tugboat in 2013  (Photo: Dick Nieuwendyk)
Daniel McAllister Tugboat in 2013 (Photo: Dick Nieuwendyk)

In the 1960s the Daniel McAllister was often seen guiding, towing and pushing large passenger ships entering and leaving the port of Montreal and assisting them in docking. She was retired from service in the 1980s. In 1997, the Daniel McAllister was acquired by the Musée maritime du Quebec of Montreal. In 2008, the Old Port of Montreal Corporation acquired the tug, and restoration work began in 2009 under the supervision of naval architect Raymond Daoust.


Almost three months of meticulous work were required to restore the Daniel McAllister to its original pride! Its exterior and life boat were repainted in their original colours; her hull was repaired, and her woodwork, identification plates, portholes, and navigation and search lights were also restored.


The tug is now a museum piece resting on a concrete cradle viewable to visitors at the dock of gate number one of the Lachine Canal, off the Old Port of Montréal Quays, at the foot of McGill St., just west of the Café des Eclusiers, in Old Montréal.


The Daniel McAllister is the largest preserved tug in Canada, and the second-oldest preserved oceangoing tug in the world.

The Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board has recognized her as being of exceptional importance.


Source: Old Port of Montreal / McAllister Towing / Canadian News Wire



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