This fascinating picture is from a photo album owned by Dr. Edgar D. Hutchinson, who practiced medicine in Amherstburg during the 1920s – 1970s. It was sent to me by his grandson David Hutchinson in 2005.
The International Tug Boat Race on the Detroit River dates back to 1949 and was originally a loosely organized event. It was discontinued for many years until 1976 when the International Freedom Festival brought it back. In 2003 the Freedom Festival declared bankruptcy and the future of the race was in limbo. Enter Detroit tug man Brian Williams, who, with the help of numerous companies, individuals and the Detroit and Windsor Port Authorities, was able to resurrect it.
These days up to 30 tugs, ranging in length from 45 to 140 feet, compete at the same time, all muscling for the best position. Some of the larger tugs are actual working tugs with more than 2,000 horsepower; the Detroit River boils as the tugs create a huge wake.
The International Tugboat Race is a favorite summertime spectacle for people on both sides of the river. This year’s race starts 1 pm on June 25 below the Ambassador Bridge and finishes just east of Dieppe Park (Riverside Drive at the foot of Ouellette Avenue, downtown Windsor). Note that in Dr. Hutchinson’s photo, it appears the tugs are racing in the opposite direction.