In November of 2021, Heddle Shipyards was awarded the new build contract for the Simcoe Islander II Cable ferry for the Frontenac township, and we are thrilled to report that construction is well underway at our Hamilton Shipyard.
The Simcoe Islander II Cable Ferry new build represents the first large Ontario government vessel built in an Ontario shipyard since 2004 when Heddle Shipyards constructed the Howe Island cable ferry, still in service today. Since 2016, Heddle Shipyards has been revitalizing the ship repair and construction industry in Ontario and the Simcoe Islander II new build project is just another step towards re-establishing Ontario as a shipbuilding titan in Canada.
The Frontenac Islands Township will operate the Simcoe Islander II, and the vessel will serve as a critical transportation link between Wolfe and Simcoe Island. The new cable ferry will replace the existing vessel, initially launched in 1963, with a modern platform that will nearly triple the existing capacity of the Wolfe to Simcoe Island route. The $3.3 million investment by the Ontario Government for the new ferry will ensure residents and visitors have reliable access to the island, and it will allow for larger vehicles and increased traffic volumes. The larger capacity ferry will support the increasing volume of tourists to the area and create opportunities for the local economy.
New build projects such as the Simcoe Islander II are critical for re-building the capacity of Ontario shipyards to compete for major shipbuilding contracts, and we are incredibly grateful to the Ontario Government for their commitment to revitalizing the shipbuilding industry in Ontario. Not only has the project created and sustained skilled trades jobs at the Hamilton Shipyard, but it has allowed Heddle to grow as an organization through training and upskilling our people. “There is a tremendous amount of opportunity in the coming decades for new build vessels, specifically in the under 1000GT market,” said Director of Business Development Ted Kirkpatrick. “That being said, we need to foster the next generation of Ontario shipbuilders to bring that work to Ontario and the Simcoe Islander II project is allowing us to do that. Although we still have a long way to go, this project has shown that we can, and we will bring shipbuilding back to Ontario.”