New home for the Hallett on tonight’s agenda

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer

The Hallett may find itself in a new home before long if the Town of Fort Frances council agrees with a new report from the Fort Frances Museum and Cultural Centre’s curator.

Museum curator Kayleigh Spiers submitted the report that will find itself in front of council on July 24, 2022, nearly two months to the day the Hallett was removed from its concrete berth along the waterfront due to dangerously-high water levels. Spiers notes in the report that discoveries made during that process, along with time to ponder the significance of the beloved tug, has led to some alternate decisions being made about where it should ultimately be displayed.

“On May 30, 2022, history was made in Fort Frances when the historic Hallett tugboat was taken out of the water in order to prevent it from breaching its cradle and drifting away due to the extensive flooding in the area,” Spiers wrote.

“During the rigging of the tug in preparation for the removal, the diver hired to complete the rigging noted that the stern concrete cradle had cracked at some point and would require remedial repairs before the boat could be safely returned to its location in the water. While the Hallett has been out of the water, we have had time to consider the long-term care and sustainability of our beloved tug and have been exploring options for how to better conserve and share this important piece of our town’s history.”

Included in the report from Spiers is a three-phase proposal to create new berths for both the Hallett and its sibling Russel Brothers boat, the Owandem, somewhere along the riverfront. The plan, along with the new berths, would allow for any necessary repairs to the two boats, as well as a refresh of educational and tourism signs related to the boats. The Hallett is currently on land just a few metres away from its current home, while the Owandem is currently being stored at the town’s public works yard.

If council agrees to the proposal, it is expected the complete overhaul of the boats and their display spaces would be complete by spring or summer ’24, allowing for the museum to apply for grants to subsidize the costs of the project, alongside unbudgeted capital expenditures from the town. An accompanying report from the town’s culture and recreation manager Tyler Young notes the design works for the new site are expected to cost the town roughly $30,000 to $40,000.

Also on tonight’s agenda is a revision to last month’s allocation of Moffat Family Funding. In a report from Karyn Haney, it was disclosed that the Moffat Family Fund steering committee initially missed one of the applications that was submitted for consideration for this year’s funding. A subsequent investigation found that the application from the 908 Rainy Lake Squadron Royal Canadian Air Cadets was misfiled, and as such was not included in the submissions for the steering committee.

As a result of the discovery, the Moffat Family Fund steering committee has decided the application from the 908 Rainy Lake Squadron Royal Canadian Air Cadets be approved, allocating the cadets $12,000 for subsidization of their rental space at the Memorial Sports Centre. As a result of this reallocation of funds, the Fort Frances Kiwanis Club saw their funding reduced from $30,916.50 to $18,916.50.

Council will also be faced with a request from the Fort Frances BIA in regards to the possibility of placing a Christmas tree at the Rainy Lake Square this holiday season. A report from the town’s administration notes there are significant hurdles in placing a tree in the square in a safe and secure manner following consultations with the City of Kenora, and as such the recommendation is to either deny the request outright, or to support the BIA in seeking out an engineer to design and help implement a specifically designed stand structure that could be installed at the square in one of the catchbasins. In the event that council chooses the latter option, town administration would support the BIA and their engineer.

Tonight’s council and administration meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Fort Frances Civic Centre. The meeting is open to in-person attendees, and a link to the virtual livestream is available on the Town of Fort Frances website.