The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Major (Dry Dock), scuttled, 3 Aug 1931


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Hull No. 47
JOHN MITCHELL* Launched April 3, 1889 bulk propeller (wood)
      U. S. No. 76792 1864 Gross Tons - 1491 Net Tons 283' x 14.4' x 20'
      * Renamed (a) MAJOR - U.S. - 1902
      (b) MAJOR - Can. - 1914
      Became Canadian 1914. Can. Official No. 134263, retained name as converted to a floating dry-dock in 1920 at Midland, Ont. Partially burned at Penetang, Ont., August 3, 1931. Hull scuttled in Midland Bay. Raised April 1962, and sunk between Brebeuf and Giants Tomb Islands.
      Frank Wheeler & Co., West Bay City Ship Building master List
      Institute for Great Lakes Research
      Perrysburg, Ohio
     
      . . . . .
     
     
      DRYDOCK MOVED FOR FREIGHTER
      Old MAJOR Makes First Trip In Ten Long Years
      TO NEW DOCK
      For the first time since it was acquired in 1921, the Georgian Shipbuilding and Wrecking Company's floating drydock was moved from her time-honoured place at the foot of the Company's yards, on Sunday afternoon.
      The arrival of the S. S. J.E. SAVAGE, with some 2,000 tons of coke to be deposited on the D.S. Pratt yards, next to the shipyards, was the occasion for the moving of the dry-dock. The hugh coal freighter is a self unloader, and requires ample space for the conveying machinery to operate. In this case she tied up at the Dobson dock, while the coke was unloaded on the Pratt yards across the slip. The 2,000 tons, and an additional 1,000 for Clark & Duncan, deposited across the bay, were unloaded in 11 hours. The SAVAGE docked at 1;00 p.m. and cleared about midnight.
      Although the ship, arrived at Midland from Fairport at 11:30 a.m., she was not able to dock immediately, as she had to wait until the drydock had been moved to make room for her in the slip.
      Grounded Last Time.
The vessel is one of the Valley Camp line of freighters. It will be recalled that on her last visit to Midland, she grounded on the shoal at the mouth of the harbour and was removed with difficulty by the tugs LUCKNOW and STRATHBOGIE.
      At one time the floating dry-dock which was moved to accododate the SAVAGE, was known to mariners as the "MAJOR," one of the staunchest vessels on the lakes. For 31 years she sailed with the many wooden-hulled freighters that then ploughed the broad bosom of the northern lakes.
      But that was in the distint past. A decade ago, the old MAJOR was purchased by the Georgian Bay Shipbuilding and Wrecking Co., and not since she was fitted up as a dry-dock in 1921, has she stirred from her old moorings.
      Moved In Three Hours.
      The transfer from her old resting place, to a bearth alongside the town dock, was made by the tug LUCKNOW at 2:30 Sunday afternoon, the move taking about three hours. If ships can feel, as some ......
      Midland Free Press
      Thursday, July 16, 1931

      . . . . .

      Fire of undetermined origin early today destroyed a drydock owned by Ganton Dobson, beached on the west shore of Midland Bay. Mr. Dobson had planned to tow the drydock to Owen Sound.
      Burning of the drydock to the water's edge brings to an end the interesting career of the "MAJOR" a lake freighter which was converted into a drydock.
      The MAJOR was of wooden construction with reinforced steel arches and Howe truss. She was 292 feet in length, with a 41 foot beam and 20 foot depth.
      On Nov. 9, 1913, carrying a cargo of coal, her smokestack snapped off in Lake Superior. Hours after being abandoned by her crew the vessel was picked up and towed to Sault Ste. Marie where her cargo was salvaged.
      The MAJOR was bought by James Playfair (since deceased) and taken to Midland. After repairs had been made she carried grain, coal and ore with other Playfair vessels. In 1918 her engines were placed in another ship and the hull was sold to Georgian Bay Shipbuilding and Wrecking Co. She was turned into a drydock and from 1922 to 1940 the MAJOR took nearly 250 vessels on drydock for repairs.
      Ivan Brook's Scrapbook
      dated September 27, 1941

      . . . . .

      FIFTY TWO YEAR OLD 'MAJOR' DRY DOCK BURNS.
     
      FIRE DESTROYS G. DOBSON'S HISTORIC SHIP.
      The old " MAJOR " drydock owned by Ganton Dobson of Midland, which had recently been beached on the west shore of Midland Bay previous to being towed to Owen Sound, was totally destroyed by fire early last Saturday morning.
      The cause of the fire is still shrouded in mystery. Many of Midland's citizens were awakened by a strong smell of smoke blowing off the bay, and upon investigation discovered it to be issuing from the burning hulk of the old MAJOR.
      The life story of the MAJOR is one of the most interesting tales of the Great Lakes.
      She was owned by Ganton Dobson, for many years president and general manager of the Georgian Bay Shipbuilding and Wrecking Company, and is now occupying the same office in the newly formed Georgian Bay Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., which had planned to take her to Owen Sound to continue her career as a dry dock. She has been in service for 52 years. Of wooden construction, reinforced with steel arches and Howe Truss, she was built by a noted shipbuilder, James Davidson, in the year 1889, in Bay City, Michigan. She was 202 feet long by 41 feet beam and 20 feet deep. She had a very successful life until November 9, 1913. This was the year marked by so many disasters on the Great Lakes.
      When she was on Lake Superior, carrying a load of coal and making heavy weather, she rolled her smoke stack off her. She was abandoned by her crew, but some hours after she was picked up and towed to Sault Ste. Marie, where her cargo was salvaged and the steamer sold to the late Jas. Playfair and his associates. They brought her to Midland where she underwent repairs, and was put in the stone, coal, ore and grain trade. This she carried on until the year 1918. Her engines were then taken out and put in a new steel boat. The hull was sold to the Georgian Bay Shipbuilding and Wrecking Co., who made her into a dry-dock in the winter of 1921 and 1922. Until recently she had lain at the foot of Midland Avenue.
      The MAJOR had dry-docked 230 ships, of all kinds, successfully; many of which were extensively rebuilt; thus providing many men with work throughout the depression, besides bringing much trade to the merchants of Midland.
      There are not many ships left on the Great Lakes at the age of 52 years still carrying on business. This one was one of the last built by Mr. Davidson.
      Free Press Herald, Midland
      Wednesday, October 1, 1941

      . . . . .

      "MAJOR" DRY DOCK FIRE BEING PROBED BY INSURANCE MEN.
      DOBSON WELCOMES INQUIRY.
      An investigation into the circumstances surrounding the destruction of the MAJOR drydock by fire is being conducted by the insurance companies involved, according to information supplied to the Free Press Herald by Ganton Dobson, former owner and president of the recently formed Georgian Bay Shipbuilding Company which acquired the MAJOR.
      Mr. Dobson welcomes the investigation, and hopes that information may be forthcoming which will determine definitely the origin of the fire. Personally, he has not the faintest idea how it could have been started unless by sparks or a lighted cigarette thrown from a vessel passing nearby.
      The insurance company appraisers have been in Midland and have estimated the loss.
      It is not expected that the amount of insurance will prove sufficient to repair the drydock so that it can proceed on its way to Owen Sound.
      The Georgian Bay Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., will hold a meeting at an early date to arrive at a decision as to whether or not the drydock should be repaired.
      Mr. Dobson hopes that the whole matter can be cleared up soon, and with the MAJOR in working order he can proceed with her to Owen Sound, and there undertake drydock repair work, before the navigation season closes.
      Free Press Herald, Midland.
      Wednesday, October 8, 1941


Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Notes:
Reason: scuttled
Lives: nil
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
1931
Subject(s):
Local identifier:
McN.W.18830
Language of Item:
English
Donor:
William R. McNeil
Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
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Major (Dry Dock), scuttled, 3 Aug 1931