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In Memoriam: Willem VanMaanen

We, the owners/operators of the Great Lakes Ships and Ocean Ships websites would like to acknowledge the passing of site contributor, Willem VanMaanen and express our deepest condolences to his family and friends.

Willem passed away suddenly on September 14, 2020 at his post, aboard the Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin, in his 56th year.

Willem VanMaanen was born in Holland in 1964 and emigrated to Canada early in his life. He attended Merritton High school and then began his maritime career in 1985, aboard the tug W.N. Twolan. He worked the winter of 1985-86 as ship keeper in Toronto, aboard several Upper Lakes steamers before joining Canada Steamship Lines in 1986. In the years that followed he worked aboard many CSL ships including Manitoulin, Nanticoke, Winnipeg, Hon. Paul Martin, Simcoe and finally Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin.

For more than 20 years he was 3rd and then 2nd Engineer aboard the Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin and while he would've made an excellent Chief Engineer, he chose to remain 2nd Engineer. It was his life, his passion, it was his home.

His ship photography began at an early age as well. In 1979 he took his first ship photo and in the years that followed many thousands more followed. Right up until his final day in fact, ship photography was his biggest interest. I met Willem in 1980 and together we chased the ships around for nearly 40 years. It is difficult to find words, in the wake of his loss, as his life was still in full motion. He looked forward to a month's vacation in October; then at home with his two cats; then another vacation to Holland in June of 2021 where he and I were going to do the marathon 3 weeks of ship photography, along with many friends from Holland, England and Germany.

He was enjoying life. After years of struggle he was finally in a great place with work, with his personal life and with his health. To imagine that he's gone so quickly and so finally, simply doesn't seem real. With a heavy heart, I have to finally accept that Willem has arrived at his final port of call.

Willem's photography will remain in these archives and across time more of his pictures will be added to the site. By sharing it with others, we hope to honour his photography and to keep his legacy alive.

At long last, 'Finished with engines' my friend... Until we meet again.

Jeff Cameron

James Whitaker