The M/V John Hamilton Gray was built for Canadian National Railway at Sorel, Quebec in 1968 for service between Cape Tormentine, New Brunwick and Port Borden, Prince Edward Island.
During the summers when she wasn't needed as an icebreaker, she ran between North Sydney, Nova Scotia and Port aux Basques, Newfoundland.
A stern loader, she could carry standard gauge railway cars, trucks/lorries, and automobiles. Had 8 Fairbanks-Morse diesel-electrics. Made a very distinctive rumble which would shake the panes of windows in houses almost 3 miles inland from Port Borden!
CN Marine was created in 1977 as an internal subsidiary of the railway company and she was repainted to the white/blue colour scheme. She was modified in 1980 for new docks which were to accomodate the new replacement for MV Abegweit (1947).
CN Marine was completely spun off from the railway in 1986 when it was renamed as Marine Atlantic - the current Crown corporation. The Gray, or "Big John" as we called her, was sold in July 1997 after she was declared surplus with the May 31 opening of Confederation Bridge (which replaced the ferry service). She sailed to Les Mechins, Quebec and was refitted into a casino cruise ship and renamed M/V Contessa I.
She sailed to West Palm Beach, Florida in November 1997 and was used there by Contessa International for several years before moving to Port Aransas, Texas around 2000/2001 when she was renamed M/V Texas Treasure II for Texas Treasure Casino Cruises (still owned by Contessa Intl. though).
Around spring/summer 2003 she failed her mandatory CDC hygiene inspections and then some USCG inspections and was moved to Freeport, Bahamas where she spent most of the fall of 2003, listed for sale.
Lloyd's lists her as demolished at Alang, India on March 15, 2004.
I'd be interested to see photos of her on the beach as well.