The Roger B
The Roger B, built by Jim Doukes in Owen Sound in1922, was Killarney's mail boat for many years. She was owned and operated by Norman Beauvais. The following photo and article come from The Sudbury Daily Star of Saturday, July 21, 1962. It was one of many articles written about the celebrations surrounding the 1962 opening of Highway 637, connecting Killarney with Highway 69.
KILLARNEY MAIL BOAT FIGHTS FIRE DEATH TO END
KILLARNEY -- A gallant old ship, which has served Killarney well, fought hard for its life but died in a mass of flames Friday night as the villagers celebrated the official opening of the road between Highway 69 south and Killarney.
The mail boat Roger B, owned by Norman Beauvais, which for 14 years in fair weather and foul has carried the mail between Killarney and Little Current, was set afire by the man who has so often brought her safely through the gales.
About two years ago she was beached and her engines taken out, but Friday night, surrounded by gaily decorated pleasure craft and commercial fishing boats, she put to sea again, this time under tow.
Twice she broke her cable as though conscious and fighting against the fiery death she knew awaited her once she got out into the bay.
Her hold filled with water but she managed to keep afloat. Once she broke tow and headed for the shore as though anxious to rest her tired old body on the beach, which since her last trip, has been her home.
As holidaying boats and their crews hooted and jeered at her, she seemed to resent this final ignominy and refused to give up.
Beauvais soaked her decks and the wreaths on her wheelhouse with gasoline, but each time he tossed burning rags at her from a dinghy her cabin would blaze for a moment and then them flames would die.
Several times Beauvais risked a severe ducking in the cold waters of the wind-swept bay to climb aboard the trembling hull and pour more gasoline over her tired old body.
Then he tried sailing by and throwing buckets of gas onto the flames and eventually the wooden superstructure caught, and as horns blew and shouts came from the onlookers flames leaped 20 feet in the air and the 40-year-old Roger B ceased to exist.
It was 40 years ago when the Roger B was built and later shipped by rail to James Bay where she worked as a fishing boat.
Rutherford Township Reeve John Skelliter knew her well in those days. For many years she battled the frigid waters of the north and then once again she was sailed to the railhead where she was loaded onto a flat car and brought to Little Current on the Manitoulin Island.
There she once again felt the cool kiss of water against her hull and went into the mail service in the North Channel. Other boats have done her duty in the past couple of years and now they are needed no more as the highway joins Killarney with the rest of the world, and Beauvais hauls the mail over the highway by truck.
Today, a beached charred hull and some flotsam in the channel are all that remains of the once proud Roger B.
The Roger B was built in Owen Sound by Jim Doukes in 1922.