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Little tugboat with big adventures: Life aboard the Glen G

Retired tugboat becomes a cottage alternative with a spot in Collingwood's harbour in the summertime

A tugboat turned floating cottage is a frequent visitor and crowd favourite at Collingwood harbour.

Her name is Glen G, and she’s got quite a story. 

Glen G was built in Chicago in 1909 as a large steel fish tugboat, and she was known as the “Hollis M” at the time. She was purchased by a man in Port Arthur, Ontario in the 30s who changed her name to Glen G after he brought her to Canada. 

She is now owned by Conrad Defreitas, who fell in love when he saw her sitting on the river in Oakville in 2014, for sale. The man selling her was having a hard time, as her old, thick body was competing against much larger fibreglass yachts for sale in the area. 

“They call them roughnecks. Tugboats were for hardcore kind of redneck boaters, so no one was interested in buying her,” said Defreitas. “So I came in and got her for a really good price.”

Defreitas, who works as grounds crew for Air Canada, was actually looking to purchase a cottage at the time. 

“I decided I was just going to buy this boat and turn it into my personal floating cottage instead,” laughed Defreitas. 

In 2018, with the help of a small crew, Defreitas and Glen G made the trek to Collingwood. It took about 10 days, venturing to Pelee Island and through the Welland Canal and into Lake Erie for a total trip of roughly 600 nautical miles. 

“What an experience, it was a great trip,” said Defreitas. 

Glen G called Georgian Bay home ever since. 

The tugboat stays in the water year-round, docked in Collingwood throughout the summer and at a marina in Meaford in the winter. But Defreitas’ favourite thing is “floating on a hook” in the middle of the bay somewhere, far from civilization. 

“I just love the freedom I feel on it, I can go anywhere. I found paradise,” he said. 

And regardless of where she is, Glen G is always turning heads. 

Defreitas said people of all ages approach the Glen G, asking all sorts of questions about the tugboat and his journey. 

He joked it happens so much, he’s even made a drinking game out of it — one drink for a drive-by, and two if someone takes a picture.

“It doesn’t take long for my guests and I to get pretty tipsy,” he laughed. “The boat does catch a lot of people’s eyes, it brings back a lot of memories.”

Defreitas loves the interested crowds, and attempts to answer the questions as best he can. He likes hearing their stories and seeing the passion in their eyes. 

“I really try to promote it to the kids,” he said. “You never know, you might set a spark.”

This week, he is gearing up to take Glen G to Midland for TugFest 2021 — a meeting of minds, Defreitas calls it.

"I am really interested in all the stories and stuff from the tugboat captains,” said Defreitas. “The funny stuff, the hardships and misery. I really enjoy all their stories. Once they are gone, the stories go with them and you are never going to get the answer to some questions.” 

In the meantime, Defreitas will continue collecting stories of his own, and spend his days exploring Georgian Bay with Glen G. 

“She’s an old girl so I’m not going to put her to work anymore,” he said. “She’s retired, so we’re just going to go, explore Georgian Bay, and grow old together.”

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Maddie Johnson

About the Author: Maddie Johnson

Maddie Johnson is an early career journalist working in financial, small business, adventure and lifestyle reporting. She studied Journalism at the University of King's College, and worked in Halifax, Malta and Costa Rica before settling in Collingwood
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