Bryan Porter Posted on 5:18 am

Phoebe steam launch

The Phoebe is a steam launch built in 1914 by the Davis Dry Dock Company in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Her first owners were John and Phoebe Brashear from Pittsburgh USA, who owned a cottage on Lake Muskoka. The Phoebe received Canadian Heritage designation when the late Jack Telgmann, retired engineer from the Kingston Locomotive Works, and Curator of the Pump House Steam Museum, repatriated her from the USA in 1979.


The Phoebe is a unique example of steam driven pleasure boats form the late 1800s and early 1900s, known as the Edwardian period.

In 1998 the current group of volunteers took on the responsibility of restoring the Phoebe to her original strength while maintaining a historic record of her many travels in the USA and Canada.

We decided that the objective of the restoration would be to respect Phoebe’s history as much as possible by not replacing parts of the hull and cabins if not necessary for safety and structural integrity. This means that some damage or wear and tear can be seen in the restored boat, and we believe that this is important for the interpretation of the exhibit of which the Phoebe will be the centre part. In other words Phoebe looks her age, but is basically a strong and healthy ninety year old.

All structural elements have been inspected and replaced. This includes the keel, the keelson, the floors, and sections of ribs, the cabin floor beams, the aft deck beams, the aft deck planks, and repairs on the mahogany paneling in the cabins.

Since the start of the project the number of volunteers has grown to 14, most of who have been with the project for more than three years. It can therefore be said that most important resource is our volunteer group who work on the Phoebe one or two afternoons per week, all year. At our work site on the shore of Lake Ontario, the winter and the summer months give us some challenges concerning extreme heat and cold, with the spring and fall as the most beautiful,. The group dynamics seem to be right as we have very little change over in the volunteer base.

The Phoebe Restoration Project has the interest of many persons in the community and it is proceeding well with their help, the steady work of our volunteers, and the financial support of individuals and businesses. Thanks to all.

Text supplied by the Phoebe Restoration Project

Late June, 2007 the Phoebe was temporarily moved to the Pump House Steam Museum giving people a chance to see the completed exterior renovation. Work will continue on the interior and panoramas will be displayed here when completed in 2008/2009