Philo B. Leonard, born in 1890 on Harbor Island to boat builder George Herman Leonard and Adeline (Addie) Church, lived in the DeTour and Drummond area nearly all of his life. He married Ellen LaSage from Sugar Island. His grandfather was J.Wells Church, boat builder, physician and journalist of Harbor Island. Philo, like his grandfather, built boats, which he designed and built from half models, from the tree to the final product. He designed and built numerous fishing boats and was commissioned to design and build two different wooden car ferries for the DeTour-Drummond channel. Legend tells us he built 28 boats in DeTour and on Drummond Island, in his lifetime, utilizing local materials.
1922 The Wallen Car Ferry Carried 2-3 cars
1933 The Sam C Taylor Car Ferry The first ice-breaking ferry and the last wooden ferry
1943 The Islander Tug
1948 The Gwen Pilot Boat
The boat was purchased and restored by Robert and Diane Cronan of St. Ignace and Illinois (Diane being a grand daughter of Philo Leonard). With help from Bill McCaffrey, a Waukegan Boat Builder, restoration was completed in 1987. The tug was renamed the Philo B. Leonard, to honor her grand father.
The Philo was entered in the 1988 Les Cheneaux Antique Boat Show and won first runner up best of show.
The Philo was purchased by Robert Bloch of DeTour Village and Ohio in the 1990's, and later donated to DeTour Lighthouse Preservation Society.
In 2005 the Philo was purchased by John and Mary Kostecki of DeTour Village and Pipe Island. In 2006 the Philo was moved to a resting spot next to the Pilot House, an art and antique shop on Ontario Street in DeTour Village, whose name was taken from "Philo's Pilot House".
Upon closing of the Pilot House in 2010 the boat was again donated, this time to DeTour Village. It seems all former boat owners were/are equally interested in preserving the history and significance of the builder, the early owner, and the service provided the DeTour community. The Philo now proudly rests in Shula Giddens Park, along the shore of the St. Mary's River where her working days were spent.
The DeTour Passage Historical Museum has a display dedicated to Philo B Leonard, including his tool box and many of his tools.
This restoration project, and our ongoing maintenance of this beautiful piece of history, would not be possible without the generous volunteer hours and financial support of many.
If you have any questions or would like to involved in the upkeep of the Philo please call Susie Baker at 269-501-5160
Thanks for Your Patience as We Put This Page Together
Beginning in September 2018 DeTour Village will begin an extensive restoration project. Under the leadership and support of Passage Boat Works, DeTour community volunteers will be repairing, scraping and painting the Philo, returning it's luster. Family members of Philo Leonard remain passionate about this beautiful vessel, and are activily involved it her restoration.
2018 Restoration Project
The Gwen was designed and built by Philo B. Leonard for Albert Schoop and named for his daughter Gwen in 1947. Mr. Schoop used it as a Pilot Tug and Supply Boat on the St Mary's River. In 1959, with the opening of the St. Lawerence Seaway, the Gwen became the first pilot boat in DeTour Village. She served that purpose for some time. It is unclear how long the boat was used and then placed in dry dock.
The Gwen is Renamed
The Philo B Leonard
The Philo B Leonard
Philo B Leonard
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LOCATED ON THE EASTERN TIP OF CHIPPEWA COUNTY, IN THE UPPER PENINSULA OF MICHIGAN.