SAULT STE MARIE, MICHIGAN (September 9, 2022) – The Sault Historic Sites, Captain John P. Wellington Great Lakes Marine Hall of Fame, recognized the significant contributions of two Great Lakes maritime members today onboard the Museum Ship VALLEY CAMP in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan.
The Mariner of the Year awards honoured Mr Kevin Sprague and Captain Paul LaMarre, Jr. The award is given every other year alternating between U.S. and Canadian nominees. The complete list of previous awardees can be found here.
Mr Sprague served the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for 30 years, most recently as the Soo Area Engineer for the past 12 years, until his recent retirement in June 2022. He not only oversaw the daily operations of the Soo Locks, he managed the badly needed asset renewal projects on the Poe Lock and led the beginning of the new large lock construction.
Captain John Wellington, who gave Kevin’s introduction speech, said, “Kevin Sprague led the team at the Soo Locks during challenging times. His impact will benefit our nation, region and industry for generations.” Kevin Sprague noted, “I am grateful for the award and the recognition it brings to me and the many dedicated and talented women and men working for the Army Corps of Engineers at the Soo. Cargo moves because of you.”
Capt. LaMarre Jr. has followed in the footsteps of his great uncles Frank and William Hoffman, both masters of Great Lakes freighters in the early 1900s. Through his position as the corporate treasurer and a captain for the Gaelic Tugboat Co. and Diamond Jack’s River Tours for over 45 years, he has touched nearly every aspect of the Great Lakes Maritime trade.
Furthermore, he is regarded as one of the Masters of Great Lakes Marine Art of the 20th Century as he has been the “industry’s artist” for over 50 years, completing commissioned works for nearly every Great Lakes fleet.
Paul LaMarre’s induction speech was given by his son Paul LaMarre III, who noted, “My Father’s induction into the Great Lakes Marine Hall of Fame will forever serve as one of the proudest moments in our family’s freshwater legacy. His unrelenting dedication to our industry has given me purpose, and the emotion evoked by his artistry inspires all of us.”
Paul LaMarre Jr thanked his son for the introduction and said, “I am humbly honoured to receive this award as I think of the many people I am and have been privileged and proud to know as mentors, shipmates, business associates, and friends, some in this room tonight, who I consider more worthy than me. Each of us shares a deep connection, care and sense of tradition for our Great Lakes, their commerce, and splendour.
The Great Lakes Marine Hall of Fame is dedicated to the memory of those explorers, inventors, shipbuilders, sailors, and countless others who have made a contribution to the exploration and development of the Great Lakes through the eras of sail, steam, and the present.
Their bravery, talents, and ideas have powered the development of the Great Lakes transportation system, thus opening the heart of North America to settlement and commerce. The skill and dedication of these people and thousands of others were needed to fulfil the tremendous potential of the Great Lakes.
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About Great Lakes Maritime Task Force
The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, with almost 80 members, is the largest coalition to speak for the Great Lakes Navigation System. Advocating for domestic and international shipping, its members represent labour and management from U.S.-flag vessel operators, shipboard and longshore unions, port authorities, cargo shippers, terminal operators, shipyards, and other Great Lakes interests.
The Great Lakes commercial maritime industry supports more than 147,000 American jobs in eight Great Lakes states and generates more than $25 billion in economic activity.