Canadian National Railways
PEI car ferry MV Abegweit
Article 1944 ship un-named
The vessel was the most powerful icebreaker in the world at the time of her commissioning on June 28, 1947. She was also reportedly the heaviest vessel ever constructed in Canada. Her patron at the time of commissioning was Mrs. J. Walter Jones, the wife of the premiere of Prince Edward Island. The vessel entered service on August 14, 1947, and earned her place in the hearts of the PE Islanders, who affectionately called her the Abby.
The Abby measures 372 feet in length and displaces 7,000 tons. While in ferry service, her eight main engines generated 13,500 brake horse power (10MW) and drove propellers at both bow and stern. She carried 950 passengers and 60 cars, or one complete passenger train of 19 railway cars.
The growth of vehicle and rail traffic by the 1950s soon made the Abby obsolete. Subsequent vessels introduced in the 1960s and 1970s could carry more vehicles and rail traffic, as well as load and unload with greater speed.
The replacement for the Abegweit was the MV Straightway. But while she was under construction, the CN Marine decided to carry on the name and call the new vessel the MV Abegweit as well. To accommodate this change, the original MV Abegweit was renamed MV Abby in the fall of 1982 and she maintained this name through the end of her ferry service. After finishing service on the Borden-Cape Tormentine route, the MV Abby was moved to Pictou, Nova Scotia, and listed for sale.
In the winter of 1982-83, Columbia Yacht Club purchased the MV Abby as our new Club Ship. The Abby left the Northumberland Strait for good in April 1983 and remains "in service" today, hosting members and guests on the lakefront at the foot of Randolph Street in downtown Chicago.
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