In Memoriam

Alexander Barbour eng.

Alexander Barbour

1936-2022 (86}

Alex passed away peacefully in the wee hours of the morning Monday December 5, 2022 at his home in Ottawa with his two lads on deck.

Alex was born in Dundee, Scotland in 1936. He apprenticed at Baxtyer Bros., which made the sails for Lord Nelson's Victory, and later served on the H.M.S. Unicom. He joined Parks Canada in 1973 where, for 15 years, he was Senior Engineer, Machines and Vessels, Restoration Services Division. In 1988 the Architectural and Engineering Services of the Canadian Parks Service were transferred to Public Works Canada. At PWC he was Chief of the Marine and Industrial Section of the Heritage Conservation Program. He won the PWC Freeman Award and the Canadian Parks Service Citation of Excellence for his unique contribution to moving Dredge No.4 NHS.

Alex's life work was always about preservation and restoration of historic ships and machinery. It was a passion that took him from coast to coast in Canada, into the United States, to a rum distillery in Martinique and even to the Falkland Islands. He was happiest on site wearing a dirty set of overalls and a pair of work boots. His marine restoration projects included the stern wheelers S.S. Klondike, S.S. Moyie, and S.S. Tutshi. In Baddeck, N.S. his team replicated Alexander Graham Bell's Hydrofoil HD 4. His salvage work included the 2000 Ton gold dredge (Dredge No.4) out of the permafrost in the Yukon and the preparatory work to move H.MC.S. Haida from Toronto to Hamilton. He worked with the original steam whistles from the RMS Titanic and designed the system for blowing replica whistles for the travelling TITANIC Exhibit. Closer to home he worked on restoration projects for the fences on Parliament Hill, the Mint and Rideau Hall and the preservation of the NCC's Tin House. For a number of summers Alex could also be found at Mooney's Bay in his white boiler suit with a big smile on his face stoking the fires of the Bytown Pumper.

[click] Obituary in the Ottawa Citizen

[click] Profile by Pragmata Historic Machinery Conservation

[click] Alex Barbour interview 1993

[click] Society for Industrial Archeology - General Tools Award 2003 - Alex Barbour

[click] Care of canoes (contribution to an article)

Images & Projects

Alexander Graham Bell's Hydrofoil - The world's fastest boat in 1920.

HD-4 or Hydrodome number 4 was an early research hydrofoil watercraft developed by the scientist Alexander Graham Bell. It was designed and built at the Bell Boatyard on Bell's Beinn Bhreagh estate near Baddeck, Nova Scotia. In 1919, it set a world marine speed record of 70.86 miles per hour (114.04 km/h).

During 1977–78, a conservation project was undertaken by the Federal Government of Canada to preserve the weathered hull of the HD-4, an experimental hydrofoil craft built at the laboratorie of Alexander Graham Bell in Baddeck, Nova Scotia. After achieving a world marine speed record of 70·86 m.p.h. (114·01 km.p.h.) in 1919, the craft was beached on the shore of a salt water lake. Forty years’ exposure to severe weathering caused wood rot, metal corrosion and the disintegration of the canvas covering. Due to the deteriorated condition of the craft and the loss of most of the external structures, complete restoration was not desirable or practical. The aim of the project was therefore, to stabilize the wooden hull, while preserving its weathered appearance.

Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, the commander-in-chief of the military forces of British North America, is credited with the idea of a clock for the British Army and Royal Navy garrison at Halifax, to resolve tardiness in the garrison. He arranged for a turret clock to be manufactured before his return to England in 1800.

A major restoration project in 1960 saw the exterior façade of the Town Clock building returned to its original Georgian appearance and roof replaced due to water damage. George Rose, a parks employee recorded this restoration. Another restoration was carried out in 2005 to restore the clock's faces. New copper roofing and restored clock face/hands were done in 2018.

For more information about the Town Clock on Citadel Hill see Wikipedia or the Parks Canada website.

S.S. Klondike National Historic Site of Canada is a large sternwheeler dry-docked on the bank of the Yukon River beside the Robert Campbell Bridge in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.


The S.S. Klondike was designated a national historic site of Canada:
- to commemorate inland water transportation in the Yukon Territory;
- to represent Yukon steamers and other vessels.

The heritage value of the S.S. Klondike resides in its completeness and legibility as a fast water shallow drafter sternwheeler steamer representative of the type of vessel built for Yukon water transportation. The S.S. Klondike was built by the British Navigation Co, launched in 1937 and operated as a freight and passenger vessel on the Yukon river until 1955, when she retired. Commercial navigation ceased on the Yukon River in 1957. The S.S. Klondike has been restored by Parks Canada to the 1937-1940 period ship.

The S.S. Moyie, National Historic Site of Canada. This elegant sternwheeler is the oldest intact passenger steam vessel of its type in the world. The machinery and the steel frames of its hull were built by the Bertram Engine Works of Toronto, shipped west by rail and assembled in Vancouver. Launched at Nelson on 22 October 1898 by the Canadian Pacific Railway, the S. S. Moyie carried passengers and freight on Kootenay Lake for 59 years. It was retired from service in 1957. Rescued and preserved by the people of Kaslo, the "sweetheart of the lake" recalls the role of sternwheelers in the history of western Canada.

The S.S. Tutchi. She’s a burned out hulk now, and her ruins lie in Carcross where she was built. In her day, the steamer Tutshi was a class-act of the Yukon riverboat fleet. The S.S. Tutshi was one of the largest riverboats in the Yukon. Weighing in at just over 1000 tonnes, she was built in Carcross in 1918 by the White Pass Company, for the run between here and Graham Inlet on Tagish Lake. The Tutshi had a crew of 29, and could carry 135 passengers. She started out as a wood-burning vessel, but was converted to oil power when she began carrying tourists to Ben-My-Chee, beginning in the 1920s. Ben-My-Chree at the southern tip of Taku Arm was the garden site of the North. Tourists flocked there onboard the Tutshi to see the incredible gardens created by Mr. and Mrs. Otto Partridge. They imported plants and trees form around the world, and were hailed as the North’s most creative botanists.

St-Roch, National Historic Site of Canada. Maritime Museum, foot of Cypress Street 1905 Ogden Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia
The St. Roch was built in 1928 by the Burrard Dry Dock Company of North Vancouver to serve as an Arctic supply and patrol vessel for the R.C.M.P. In 1942, under the command of Sergeant Henry Larsen, she became the first ship to cross from the Pacific to the Atlantic by the Northwest Passage, having made a 27 month voyage from Vancouver to Halifax along the northern edge of the continent. Two years later she returned to Vancouver via the more northerly deep-water route. Making the east-west journey in only 86 days, the St Roch was the first ship to complete the hazardous journey in both directions.

Tin House facade, Ottawa. National Capital Commission. The original Tin House was designed and built by Ottawa tinsmith Honoré Foisy in the early 1900s and stood at 136 Guigues Street in Lower Town. Constructed from prefabricated aluminum elements in a Queen Anne Revival-style, the facade was likely intended to showcase Foisy’s skills and the products he offered. When it was to be demolished in 1961, the National Capital Commission saved the notable facade. Ten years later, Canadian sculptor and artist Arthur ‘Art’ Price restored the facade using both original and newly fabricated materials. It was installed in its present location, the so-named Tin House Court, in 1973.