The roller ship was an unconventional and unsuccessful ship design of the late nineteenth century, which attempted to propel itself by means of large wheels. Two such vessels were constructed and found to be impractical.

Round ships.

"The Canadian Merchant Marine had only forty-one ocean-going merchant ships at the outbreak of the Second World War. During the war this fleet underwent tremendous expansion as Canadian shipyards produced 403 merchant vessels. Most of these were taken over by Great Britain and the United States but a significant number sailed under the Canadian flag. The cost of the war was high, fifty-eight Canadian-registry merchant ships were lost to enemy action, or probable enemy action, and 1,146 Canadian merchant sailors perished at sea or in Axis prison camps. In addition, six Canadian Government owned, but British-registered, merchant ships and eight Newfoundland-registered merchant ships were lost to enemy action. Many other vessels serving the war effort were lost at sea to marine causes or accident."
The above appears on the web at: family heritage a page that also lists many details of the ships lost and damaged.

The smallest vessel listed is the Lucille M of 54 gross tons, (the size of a boat about 25m long) owned by Frederick Sutherland. She was shelled by U89 off Cape Sable. The 11 crew escaped, including the four wounded, and rowed 100 miles to shore at Shelburne, Nova Scotia.
The largest vessel listed is Canadian Pacific's Empress of Britain of 42,300 tons. She was torpedoed by U32 off Ireland on 28 October 1940 after being bombed by German aircraft. There were few casualties.

For many of the ships that were lost, it is reported that there was no loss of life, and presumably they were rescued by other ships. All 36 crew of the Canadian Cruiser of Canadian Tramp Shipping were taken prisoner after being sunk by the German battleship Gneisenau in February 1941. One man later escaped from the POW camp to Spain. The crews of some ships were not so lucky. All on board Imperial Oil's Victolite, 45 crew and 2 DEMS gunners, were lost in February 1942. The Canadian Government-owned Bic Island  was sunk and all of its crew were lost as well as the survivors she had rescued from the SS Gurney E Newlin and SS Sourabaya.

The above is is just a random selection of the entries on the website.

The Battle of the Java Sea

Robert Allan Ltd.

Schottel drives.

Train Ferries

In July 1947 the Cunard company's transatlantic liner "Queen Mary" returned to commercial service at the end of her war service. She resumed her weekly crossings which continued until air travel took so many passengers that she became no longer commercially viable. In 1967 Cunard offered the ship for sale and the City of Long Beach was the succesful bidder. Read more in an extract from an article in the Ships Monthly magazine of June 1986 describing the delivery voyage.

At the left is shown Roy's model of Canadian Pacific's British-registered Beaverford in her peacetime colours. Included in the list on the above website, this vessel was lost with all of the crew on 5 November 1940. By that time she had made 16 wartime crossings of the North Atlantic and had survived a U-Boat attack on convoy HX 55 in July 1940.When the German battleship Admiral Scheer attacked convoy HX 84 eastbound in the North Atlantic, Beaverford was one of several ships sunk.

Most of Beaverford's crew were from Britain but three were Canadians including one of her two gunners.Tower Hill Memorial, the UK Merchant Navy monument in London, records the names of all 77 members of Beaverford's crew who were killed when she was sunk. The names of the three Canadians in her crew, Clifford Carter, Laughlin Elwood Stewart, William Lane Thibideau, are also inscribed on the Sailors' Memorial at Point Pleasant Park in Halifax, Nova Scotia which overlooks the harbour mouth whence Beaverford made her final departure in 1940.

Canadian Pacific lost 4 of the 5 vessels of the "Beaver" class during the war.

The 'eagle eye' of Peter recently spotted an unusual ship in Hamilton harbour. It interested Peter because it was smaller than the ships we usually see in the harbour. What turned out to be more interesting was the shape of its bow.  The ship is the VikingBank and it was built by Ferus Smit at one of their shipyards in Groningen and Leer (Germany). The only information they give out about the bow design is: Special bow form with vertical stem profile and sharp waterlines without bulb results in less resistance at moderate speeds while having more displacement and cargo hold volume. Sharp entrance angles and less bow flare reduce speed loss in seaway." 

  In the 1990's the magazine "Ship's Monthly" ran a series of articles under the heading "A Captain and his Ship". The August 1997 issue featured Captain James Caldwell, at that time Master of the veteran Canadian steamship "Segwun".

At the end of the civil war in the USA, the South lay in economic ruin, seemingly unable to rebound from a tragic depletion of manpower and treasury.
That year George N. Ives, whose family was prominent in business and agriculture in Connecticut, came to Morehead City, North Carolina, to establish a wholesale fishing business. He would stay and become a leading citizen, distinguishing himself with numerous contributions and reforms in fisheries and related trades, and in fishery management.
One of Ives’s first concerns was the lack of a local boat that could support his business needs. The log-built craft were, he wrote in Forest and Stream in 1881, “strong and serviceable boats admirably suited for their purposes...” About the boats that were used for “business and pleasure,” he noted that they were “deep, sharp, clinker-built; fast sailers, but totally unfitted for shoal water navigation.”! In the sharpie of his native state, Ives perceived characteristics that he thought would be ideal for the Carolina sounds. He placed an order with George M. Graves, a sharpie builder in Fair Haven (now a part of New Haven).

The ‘Flower’ Class corvettes, hurriedly-built, armed with obsolescent weapons and slower than a surfaced U-boat, will always be linked inextricably with the Battle of the Atlantic. Yet, despite their limitations, they were to become formidable opponents and claimed a significant number of U-boat kills.

RMS Queen Mary - sale and last voyage

Sternwheelers of the Okanagan

Lest we forget the merchantmen

The business was founded in 1930 when Robert Allan commenced private practice as a consulting Naval Architect after serving as Technical Manager of a local major shipyard. 

Thames spritsail barges.

Lest we forget the


Lest we forget the fishermen – “Harry Tate’s Navy”

If you don't know the name then you may know one of their most well-known products, the Schottel Z-drive. Most often found on tugs, they combine propeller, rudder and Kort nozzle into one device, Peter F. demonstrated the tug he is building during the meeting in March 2019, and you will have noticed that it is powered by model Z-drives, 

Offshore Powerboat Racing

Roller ships

This is an extract from "Sharpies in the Carolinas", published in issue 137 of "Wooden Boat" magazine in July/August 1997.

        Here in the Great White North we are familiar with cold weather and know how to live in and with it. But little can compare with the experiences of the sailors who manned the Arctic convoys of World War 2, which carried Allied supplies to Russia through the Barents Sea. And the worst of all must have been the experience of the crew of one ship.

Niagara, St. Catherine's and Toronto Navigation Co.

Lest we forget the merchantmen

Because it could be built quickly and inexpensively, the sharpie was accessible to many who could not afford a vessel of conventional construction. A small operator with a sharpie could vie with the schooners owned by the wealthy or by shipping companies. A farmer could contract with an independent sharpie owner at a rate significantly lower than that asked by the schooner operators. Or a farmer might just buy his own sharpie and not have to hire someone else to take his produce to market.
No small credit for the triumph of the sharpie must go to the perceptiveness and acumen of George Ives. He assured success of his endeavors by having his boat built by a top-notch builder and then testing its mettle against the home fleet in its native waters of Long Island Sound. He was well prepared when he made his case for the sharpie with the Carolina boatmen. He knew the local boats and their capabilities and limitations. His thoroughness gave him the confidence to challenge the fastest boat in the area.
After winning a race between the two types of boat, the pressure was on to get more of the new boats into local service. Ives had shipped his two boats on the deck of a schooner, but for the average fisherman, ordering a boat from New England was not an option. Even if one were to sail the new boat south to avoid shipping costs, there were risks. We might also assume that many Carolina sailors still had some mistrust of flat bottoms on seagoing boats.

Flower class corvettes, an extract from "The Corvette Navy" by James B. Lamb

USS Wolverine - the Great Lakes aircraft carrier.

Construction of modern super yachts. 

Nikola Tesla, the first R/C model boater

Confederation Marine Modellers

The 'Flower' class corvettes.

In the late 19th century, the only way for rail vehicles to cross the Detroit River was a train ferry. One of these would make a realistic and relatively simple model to build. 

The loss of the MV Beignon.

          Charles Herbert Lightoller was born in Chorley, Lancashire, UK, on 30 March 1874. At age 13, not wanting to end up with a factory job like most of Britain's youth at the time, young Charles began a four-year seafaring apprenticeship on board the barque Primrose Hill. On his second voyage, he set sail with the crew of the Holt Hill, and during a storm on 13 November 1889 in the Indian Ocean, the vessel ran aground on an uninhabited four-and-a-half-square-mile island now called Île Saint-Paul. The island was uninhabited and unable to support habitation. He was lucky to be rescued by another vessel eight days later.

          The world's first light vessel was the result of a business partnership between Robert Hamblin, an impoverished former barber and ship manager from King's Lynn, Norfolk, UK, and David Avery, a regular investor in small projects. In 1730 the pair secured a government licence to moor a ship – with a prominent light affixed to it to serve as a navigation aid – at the Nore in the mouth of the River Thames. Hamblin and Avery intended to profit from the vessel by collecting a fee from passing merchant vessels. The licence was opposed by Trinity House which considered that it possessed a monopoly on construction and maintenance of navigation aids in British waters. After an extensive legal dispute the licence was revoked in 1732 and Trinity House assumed direct responsibility for the proposed lightship; Hamblin and Avery were granted nominal lease revenues in exchange. 

Battleships and the end of an era.

Nautical lore . . . .  for modellers whose interest extends to ships, the sea, the lakes, and the men and women who work and play in them.

Charles Herbert Lightoller - 2nd mate of RMS Titanic and survivor of multiple shipwrecks.

 It is not a commonly known fact that sternwheelers were used more extensively in British Columbia than in any other part of North America even though they are popularly associated with the Mississippi River area of the United States. 

An extract from the "Nautical Magazine and Naval Chronicle for 1858"

Take a bow.

Convoy SL36 left the anchorage of Freetown harbour on 16th June 1940. The convoy was in two sections, ships bound for UK West Coast ports on the port (left) wing, while those in the starboard (right) wing were heading for East Coast ports. One vessel was most unsuited to be in its company. The 5,218-ton Beignon housed a powerful diesel engine.

Information from wikipedia.

          The spritsail barge developed on the River Thames from lightering barges. 

Suggestions for avoiding collisions at sea.

Light vessels.

Information from wikipedia.

Nautical lore - Sharpies in the Carolinas.

RMS Segwun: A captain and his ship.

In 1901, the American-owned Niagara, St. Catherines & Toronto Railway  established the Niagara, St. Catherines & Toronto Navigation Company following the purchase of the Lakeside Navigation Company. 

The meeting of the Foundation Franklin and the Beaverford.

The unique tale of the SS Warimoo

        Canada had two navies in the Second World War. First, of course, was the Royal Canadian Navy, the big navy, the “real” navy, the “pusser” navy. It was, as its corps of public relations officers endlessly reiterated, a very big deal indeed. Thousands upon thousands of uniformed men and women filled teeming offices and training establishments, vast and ever-growing complexes of brick and concrete, representing the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars. Its organization, embracing dozens of commands, hundreds of departments, and thousands of experts and specialists, ranging from physicists to dietitians, from jurists to journalists, was a triumph of administrative genius which represented one of the nation’s major wartime accomplishments.

Toronto's Atlantic ocean liners

Surprising thought it may seem, there were two, and only two, ocean liners registered at Toronto, a port they never even saw.