Norton Class Tugboat




Courtesy of Bradley Shoebottom

Click on the above photo to view a larger image


Launched: 29 Nov 1943

Entered Service: 20 Dec 1943

Removed from service: 07 Dec 1945

Sold: 1946

Fate: 2018 - Acquired by the Marathon and District Historical Society to become a museum ship.  Jul 2020: A derelict vessel on a beach at Marathon, ON.


The NORTON was launched on 29 Nov 1943 by Mrs. B.S. (Gwendolyn) Hastings at the Montreal Dry Dock, Montreal, QC. She was sailed by the builders to Quebec City for completion, then to Halifax for commissioning. She started service early in 1944 and was active from St. John's, NFLD to Quebec City, to Yarmouth, NS. Some excerpts from the files at the LAC: "only  tug available to salvage work in Western North Atlantic", "Arrival Halifax Tug NORTON with frigate Lanark in tow from Liverpool", "HMCS BEAVER (armed Yacht) in two from Halifax", "HMCS Tug NORTON towing battle class trawler HMCS FESTUBERT to Sydney". These entries along with many others showed that the NORTON was busy carrying out military duties during her life as an active Canadian Naval vessel towards the latter days of WWII, and, not without risk. In 1946, NORTON was declared surplus to requirements and turned over to the War Assets Corp. She was sold on 22 Mar 1946 to the Marathon Paper Mills of Canada Ltd., Port Arthur, Ont. She was later sold to the Gravel and Lakes Services Ltd Co of Thunder Bay, ON. Last heard in 2018, her certification lapsed a couple years back and is presently not in service. After being paid off she was renamed W.A.C. 1 and later Penninsula. On 07 Jul 2018, Penninsula sailed from Thunder Bay, ON to Marathon, ON, where he new owners, Marathon and District Historical Society will bring her ashore as a static display as a tribute to the towns logging history.


Update:  Jul 2020 - the Town of Marathon, which earlier this month applied to Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice for an order that would allow the municipality to dispose of the 140-tonne vessel, possibly having it dismantled. The large tugboat leaning precipitously to one side on a Marathon public beach has become a “blight” and a “public safety hazard” and needs to be removed.



Photos and Documents          Last trip of the Penninsula (former NORTON)



Commanding Officers


Ch/Skpr Wallace Thomas Myalls, RCNR - 22 Apr 1944 - unk


Lt John Harold Gordon, RCNR - 28 Aug 1944 - May 1945



Former Crew Members


Brazil, William Stanislaus, Skpr, RCNR - 05 May 1944


Scott, George Smith, Mate, RCNR - 15 Feb 1944


Short, John Clarence, Cd (E), RCNVR - 01 May 44



Photos and Documents


HMCS NORTON was launched 29 Nov 1943 by Mrs. B. S. (Gwendolyn) Hastings at the Montreal Dry Dock, Mtl, Quebec.


Mrs. Hastings, B.S. Hastings, (then Manager of the Montreal Dry Dock, later President), Elizabeth Hastings (Beswick), Rev. Dr. McCutchson D.D. of the Montreal First Baptist Church, Mr. Labelle, President of Montreal Vickers (Mtl. Dry Dock was a subsidiary of Vickers at the time) and sundry other employees and Canadian Naval officials.


S.T. Cossey is in the second row, right side, standing behind the lady in the dark fur coat and to the right of the navy officer.


Article on the tug Peninsula from the Marathon Courier, Sep 1948, Vol 4, No. 9


Courtesy of Jim McBride

Silver tray commemorating the commissioning of HMCS NORTON

Courtesy of Leigh Cossey




(left) The scissors used by Gwen Hastings during the launching of the NORTON and (right) a cigarette box engraved made from the wood of the railing of the stand with the top of the champagne bottle that was used in the christening of the NORTON at the same time. These two items along with the tray are in the Hastings/McBride family


Courtesy of the Hastings/McBride family


The Peninsula formerly HMCS NORTON will make her final trip on July 7th sailing from Thunder Bay to Marathon Ont. where the new owners Marathon and District Historical Society will bring her ashore as a static display as a tribute to the towns logging history. She now proudly bears the insignia of her past owner, the Marathon Corp. and the flag of new owners.

Courtesy of Leigh Cossey




(1) Tug Peninsula enters Marathon harbour for the last time July 7, 2018. 7:02 pm.  Photo courtesy Ian and Erica Bestwick collection


(2) Peninsula pulled ashore waiting to be moved to her display sight. Photo by Stan Johnson