Former Gore Bay resident to be inducted into Great Lakes Marine Hall of Fame

Jack Purvis
Jack Purvis

SAULT STE. MARIE, MICHIGAN—Captain Jack Purvis, who was raised in Gore Bay, is to be inducted into the Great Lakes Marine Hall of Fame later this month in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

“Jack was born in Sault Ste. Marie but was raised here in Gore Bay by his parents,” said  local shipping expert Buck Longhurst.

“I worked for him at Purvis Marine Limited (in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario),” said Mr. Longhurst. “He was a good fellow to work for and he wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He worked very hard to get his business going and is a shrewd businessman.”

“Jack went from  being a teacher of high school chemistry and physics to open this business which is now the second largest Canada flag tug and barge operator on the Great Lakes,” said Mr. Longhurst.

Captain John Wellington, president of the Sault Historic Sites, provided the inscription-information that will be on Mr. Purvis hall of fame museum award.

“Raised on Manitoulin Island, Jack was involved in the family’s commercial fishing business of James Purvis and Son based out of Quebec Harbour at Michipicoten Island. Schooled at St. Andrew’s College and the University of Western Ontario, Jack retired after a ten year career of teaching high school chemistry and physics at Bawating High School (in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) to pursue a full-time hobby of tug boating.”

“In 1967 he purchased the tug Rocket from Abitibi Paper Company and in 1975 he started Purvis Marine Ltd, in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario with the small tug ‘Rocket’ and a barge for work  on the North Channel building docks and break walls for homeowners,” said Mr. Wellington. ‘Captain Purvis foresight and business acumen developed PML into one of the largest and most versatile marine contracting firms on the Great Lakes. Over the years, PML has accumulated a diverse fleet of tugs, barges and a crane-equipped bulk freighter servicing the Great Lakes, east coast of Canada and the Arctic. This fleet includes a tug moved overland from a remote Canadian inland lake, a tug delivered from England which arrived ice-covered in late December and a barge converted from the former car ferry ‘Chief Wawatam.’

“These vessels all became viable endeavours because of Captain Purvis ability to recognize potential and overcome obstacles,” continued Mr. Wellington. “PML also operates a wharf and tanker terminal, cargo handling facilities, a floating dry dock ship repair and salvage operations. The physical locations of PML stretch from the Upper St. Mary’s River to the lower harbor of Sault, Ontario.”

“As a local business owner and employer, Captain Purvis has received numerous awards from the Sault, Ontario community including the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Business Achievement Award, the Sault Ste.  Marie Medal of Merit, the  Paul Dalseg Community Achievement Award, and the Skipper Manzzutti Award for Business Achievement.

Mr. Wellington explained, “the marine Hall of Fame started in 1955 by the Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan Chamber of Commerce to honour an outstanding marine person. A blue ribbon comprised of the marine editors of the marine publications located in the major American and Canadian cities surrounding the Great Lakes submitted names of individuals for consideration and determined who the honoree would be leach year. A banquet was held in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to honour the individual and was attended by representatives from all facts of the marine industry.”

“In 1968 through the efforts of Thomas Manse, a Sault Ste. Marie resident, marine enthusiast and publisher of “Know Your Ships,” the Republic Steel vessel ‘Valley Camp” was brought to Sault Ste. Marie to become a marine museum,” continued Mr. Wellington. “A marine hall of fame with plaques of the individual honourees was eventually established on the Valley Camp.”

“The Chamber of Commerce continued the Marine Man of the Year tradition until 1983 when it was discontinued,” said Mr. Wellington. “In 1993 Sault Historic Sites celebrated the 25th anniversary of the museum ship ‘Valley Camp.’ It was decided then by Sault Historic Sites to revive the tradition of a Maritime Man of the year. The tradition has continued since then under the auspices of Sault Historic Sites, Sault Locks Visitors Centre Association and the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce. A plaque of each year’s honoree is added to the Marine Hall of Fame on the ‘Valley Camp.’