Municipal employees and members of the Reef Boat Club pooled resources last week to give the CCGC Westfort a fresh coat of paint and complete a project that started last fall.
The CCGC Westfort is a coast guard vessel on display at the Meaford harbour. It was built in 1973 in Georgetown, P.E.I., and was stationed in Thunder Bay until it was donated to the Municipality of Meaford in 2005 by the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans. Its two engines were removed and it was towed from Parry Sound to Meaford in 2006. Retired ship captain, Cpt. Bruce Sheppard, was given the honour of guiding the vessel into the harbour, where it was placed on display adjacent to the harbourmaster’s office.
Until recently, Cpt. Sheppard and a loyal crew of volunteers cleaned the Westfort each year and gave the vessel a fresh coat of paint every third or fourth year.
Last year, at age 93 years, with no crew to call on, Cpt. Sheppard welcomed help from the Reef Boat Club members. A crew of volunteers led by the club’s Vice-Commodore Tony Palujankas cleaned and painted the vessel’s hull and nautical artifacts and tended to the flower beds that are part of a coast guard display.
Palujankas first raised the idea of stepping in and helping Captain Sheppard during the club’s annual general meeting in 2019, according to the club’s media chair, Liz Harris. “The club totally endorsed the idea. It’s our way of honouring Captain Sheppard and his contribution to preserving marine heritage,” she said.
“The Westfort is the only full-sized ship on display in Canada memorializing the service of Canadian coast guard vessels. It’s the only coast guard vessel that has been salvaged, reclaimed and looked after. It’s a huge piece of marine heritage.”