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Missinaibi

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  Famous as one of the two tugs on the reverse of the last Canadian paper dollar bill.

Missinaibi [C. 190439] registered at Owen Sound; built at Owen Sound in 1952 by Russel Brothers. 38'3 x 11'5 x 4'; 14 g.t., 330 hp. Owned by Pineland Timber Co. Ltd., Sudbury, Ontario. See clipping file for pics. Canadian List of Shipping 1970: Steel tug Missinaibi [C.190439] registered at Owen Sound. Built at Owen Sound in 1952. 38'; 14 g.t.

More on the Dollar Bill

 

The MISSINAIBI at Hull, Qc on Sept. 26, 1985 after its purchase from CIP in 1984 by the City of Hull and before her transfer to the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Photo by George Ayoub, Rene Beauchamp collection.

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Missinaibi at her final berth, c. 1997. Photo courtesy Gerry Ouderkirk.

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RBF notes: On display (Hull, QC April 6, 2004).

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Sept. 26, 2005 photos by Steve Briggs. Click photos for 1024 pixels wide.
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Russel Brothers built Warping Tug Missinaibi
(as featured on the Canadian $1 bill)

 

The small tugboat called the Missinaibi "logged" a lot of miles on the Ottawa River before it reached its final harbour at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. A notable symbol of Canada's early industrial era, it will now live on as a tangible witness to its past history for future generations.

The Missinaibi about to dock at it's final pier at the Ottawa
Canadian Children's Museum playground, 1996.
 
The Missinaibi was one of hundreds of tugboats built by Russel-Hipwell Engines Ltd. of Owen Sound, Ontario. The company specialized in the construction of small boats for industrial use -- coastal vessels, tugboats, barges, etc. -- and in 1952 it built the Missinaibi, whose name means "traces left by the water". The Missinaibi, a 14-ton tugboat measuring 14 metres long, was driven by a six-cylinder Cummins diesel engine that generated 330 horsepower and ran two propellers. The tugboat was first purchased by the Pineland Timber Company, and was sold in 1956 to the Gatineau-based Canadian International Paper Company, which later became the CIP.

The Missinaibi began its career in the Outaouais region, navigating the Ottawa River as it hauled log-floats to the paper company in Gatineau. Its home port was near Verdun Street in Hull, and then in Gatineau's Fournier Bay. The Missinaibi would also travel as far as Hawkesbury and Carillon, in the days before the Carillon dam was built. For major repairs, it would go downriver to the shipyard in Sorel. The boat was retired in the mid-1970s, and put into dry-dock on CIP property near the Notre-Dame Cemetery in Gatineau.

The little tugboat would probably have passed into oblivion and been sent to the scrapyard like so many others, had it not become the illustration on the back of the Canadian one-dollar bill. In 1963, celebrated Ottawa photographer Malak took a picture of the Missinaibi in its natural element: navigating the log-filled Ottawa River against the background of the Parliament Buildings. This photograph was to play a major role in deciding the tugboat's fate when the government decided to change the design of Canadian paper currency in a move to tighten security and prevent counterfeiting. The new notes included security innovations such as multicolor printing, along with familiar design elements from the previous bills to facilitate public recognition.

It was thus decided to use panoramas once again of representative regions of the country, based on photographs from various sources, to create a single landscape. Each scene had to be suitable for engraving and major print-runs. Modifications were thus made to the original photographs, and none of the illustrations which appeared on our paper currency was an exact replica of the original photo.

In a 1989 article in Le Droit, one of the last tow-pilots of the Missinaibi, Aldoma Legault, who died in 1994, recounted taking the ship's helm in 1969 and 1971 for the photo shoots. No pilot is visible on the dollar bill, however -- a creative liberty taken by designers in their adaptation of the original shots. n.b. - M. Legault was remembering falsely. The original Malak photo was taken in 1963, was not posed, and shows no pilot on the Missinaibi, only a man with a pole on the afterdeck. For counterpoint, here's a 1981 article about M. Legault describing the accident as occurring in 1970, wherein he also admits "I wasn't too good at the math". - ed.

 
The Missinaibi as it is today. Note front winch roller.
 
The engraving on the back of the one-dollar bill featuring the Missinaibi is the work of Gordon Yorke of the British American Bank Note Company. The overall design of the one-dollar bill is the result of the joint efforts of the Bank of Canada, the Canadian Bank Note Company, British American Bank Note, and Thomas De La Rue and Co. Ltd.

About 3.4 billion one-dollar bills were printed between June 3, 1974 and June 30, 1989, when the paper dollar was discontinued.

Despite its sudden and unexpected fame, the Missinaibi did not escape the scrapheap after log-floating ceased on the Ottawa River. The City of Hull noticed the abandoned tug, however, and municipal authorities, thinking it could be used as a tourist attraction, purchased it from the CIP in 1984 for the nominal price of one dollar. The Missinaibi was stored in a municipal warehouse for some time, until the municipality decided to donate it to the Canadian Museum of Civilization, which will restore the tugboat to its rightful glory after years of neglect.

 

Owen Sound SunTimes

 

For more Russel exhibits visit Owen Sound Marine & Rail Museum 1165 1st Ave West, Owen Sound, ON N4K 4K8
(519) 371-3333     http://marinerail.com