Motorized Model Ships

Jamie Heap
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Collingwood man was a meticulous maker of many motorized masterpieces

Danny Seguin (left) and Nicholas Seguin (right) stand in front the R.M.S. Titanic, one of more than a dozen motorized model ships built by the late Big B Take-Out owner Cyril Mitchell.

COLLINGWOOD-While it may have just been a hobby for the late Cyril Mitchell, his legacy of meticulously-crafted motorized, model ships persists.

“It was a hobby for him; he really enjoyed it,” stated Danny Seguin, son-in-law of the late Cyril Mitchell.

Mitchell passed away on December 15, 2012 of esophageal cancer at the age of 79. Publicly, Mitchell was better known for being the builder/owner/operator of the former Big "B" in Oxford and the Parkside Motel.

Each of Mitchell’s model ships, which took between 8 and 12 months each to build, are motorized. In addition, Mitchell built a lift capable of lowering the ships into a pond in his backyard with the use of a remote control. One of Mitchell’s meticulously crafted masterpieces currently sits at the bottom of the pond-it sank.

Each of the more than one dozen ships that are on display in Mitchell’s garage has a backstory behind it. In fact, many are well-known in the seafaring community.

Take the R.M.S. Titanic for example, which sank on its maiden voyage from England after striking an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland on April 15, 1912.

Mitchell also built a series of motorized model “Lady Ships” whose Canadian National Steamship line originals were named after famous British Admirals: Lady Hawkins, Lady Drake, Lady Somers, Lady Nelson, and the Lady Rodney. The former three cargo and troop carriers were sank by German U-Boat torpedoes during World War II. While torpedoed, the Lady Nelson was refloated and converted into Canada's first hospital ship in Mobile, Alabama. Similarly, the Lady Rodney, which had been taken over by the Department of National Defence in June of 1942, served as a troopship between Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Other ships include the Stanley Park, Edmund Fitzgerald, the N.S. Savannah, the Debbie Jane and the Nicholas S.

The Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC, was a wartime Canadian merchant marine ship while the Edmund Fitzgerald was an American Great Lakes freighter that sank in a Lake Superior storm on November 10, 1975. The entire crew of 29 was lost at sea.

The N.S. Savannah was the world’s first nuclear-powered merchant ship that sailed between 1962 and 1965 for demonstration purposes.

The Debbie Jane was named for Mitchell’s daughter Debbie Seguin while the Nicholas S was named for Mitchell’s grandson Nicholas Seguin.

Not to be forgotten is Mitchell’s Queen Elizabeth 2, a model so big that it had to be stored off-property in a relative’s garage because he ran out of room in his own.

“I like these ships so much because of the attention to detail that he put into them,” stated Mitchell’s 29-year-old grandson Nicholas Seguin of Lower Sackville, Nova  Scotia. “On the back of the QEII, you can even see a swimming pool,” he added.

The real QE2 was a Cunard line ocean liner that operated as both a transatlantic liner and a cruise ship between the years 1969 and 2008.

According to Mitchell’s daughter Debbie Seguin, the railings on her late father’s homemade and handcrafted motorized model ships were made of real copper.



Organizations: R.M.S. Titanic, Department of National Defence

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Oxford, Canada Stanley Park England Mobile, Alabama Vancouver, BC Lake Superior Nova Scotia

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