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New Westminster's Samson V heads into 2021 with a new wheel

Local businesses help repair vessel's paddlewheel

The Samson V will be decked out with a much-improved paddlewheel when it reopens to visitors in the spring.

Rob McCullough, the city’s manager of museums and heritage services, said vessel’s paddlewheel was recently reinstalled after being rebuilt. The work was completed by New Westminster wooden boat builder Dave Sharp of Sharp Marine Restoration and Journey, and the reinstallation was overseen by Mark Mackenzie, who has been working with the city on the vessel since the early 2000s.

“The paddlewheel rebuild was removed for the repair work earlier this year, but the work was paused for several months to pick up again this fall,” McCullough said in an email to the Record.

McCullough said Sharp and McKenzie have a vast knowledge and passion for this type of work, and it was great that the city could work with local businesses on the project. He noted that Valley Towing barged the paddlewheel back to its home and “craned it in place” on Dec. 3. 

Launched in 1937 and used as a snag-boat on the Fraser River, the Samson V is the only completely intact and floating wooden sternwheeler in North America. The City of New Westminster, which has owned the vessel since 1980, operates the Samson V Maritime Museum on New Westminster’s waterfront.