On Thursday, July 9th, 2022, Hamilton’s 176th birthday, Heddle Shipyards was honoured to host the recommissioning ceremony of the STV Pathfinder, a legacy sail training vessel operated by Brigs Youth Sail Training. More than 100 people attended the Heddle Shipyards Hamilton Facility to celebrate the re-birth of the STV Pathfinder and her return to the Brigs Youth Sailing fleet.

Built-in 1962 by the Toronto Brigantine organization, the STV Pathfinder served as a sail training vessel on the Great Lakes for more than fifty years until it was decommissioned in 2017. In 2018, Blair McKeil of Breakwater Financial purchased the vessel and generously donated it back to the Brigs Organization, along with funds to support the re-fit work. The re-commissioning ceremony on July 9th marked the official re-birth of the storied vessel and her return to the Great Lakes. The tall ship is scheduled to set to sail in July and will carry youth sailors in training as far as Georgian Bay over the next two months.

The re-fit work on the STV Pathfinder, some of which was performed by volunteers and third-party contractors, took place at the Heddle Shipyards Hamilton facility this past winter. The work included a complete engine refurbishment, interior repair, steel renewals, new wooden decking, and comprehensive upgrades to the electrical systems. The major overhaul of the vessel will ensure the STV Pathfinder continues to support the training of youth sailors across Ontario for decades to come.

“The return of STV Pathfinder to sail training is exciting for the Hamilton Community. We’re incredibly honoured to lend support and be a partner to Brigs,” says Blair McKeil, CEO of Breakwater Financial. “The teamwork and skills that youth gain through this sail training program not only fosters and rewards self-confidence, leadership and character but most importantly, connects young people from all walks of life and nurtures lifelong friendships.” says Mr. McKeil. “Many Brigs alumni go on to rewarding and exciting careers in the marine industry including the Canadian Coast Guard, Canadian Navy and commercial operators,” he said.

From everyone at Heddle Shipyards, we are sincerely grateful to Blair McKeil and Breakwater Financial for providing the investment that made this project possible. The Brigs Youth Sail Training organization is a critical part of promoting the marine culture and industry in Ontario and is a platform through which young people learn valuable life skills and build friendships that will last a lifetime. Organizations like Brigs Youth Sail Training and Breakwater are what make Hamilton a stronger and more vibrant community and we are honoured to have played a small part in this important initiative.