Historian helps to save Lake Ontario steamship





An iconic photo taken by historian Mike Filey shows three canoeists paddling out of a partly submerged, abandoned Toronto ferry.

Reproduced in an expanded edition of his 1976 book, Trillium and Toronto Island, the picture taken three years earlier captured the fate of many Lake Ontario steamships.

But in this case instead of being scrapped, the century-old paddlewheeler was raised and refitted after Filey and his wife, Yarmila, launched a bid to save the vessel after seeing it “literally rotting” in a Toronto island lagoon.

They enlisted the support of then alderman Art Eggleton, a friend, future mayor and senator and later Paul Godfrey, who was metro chairman at the time.

Metro parks commissioner Tommy Thompson determined the newer ferries could not handle summer crowds and rebuilding Trillium with a steel deck and aluminum superstructure would cost $1 million, compared with up to $20 million for a replacement. Marine consultant Gordon Champion concluded the steel hull and engine parts were salvageable.

In the book’s foreword, Eggleton recalls that for him and some others, a key factor was Trillium’s “living history” link with Toronto’s past “and the enjoyment ... future generations would have.”...


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