The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Scanner, v. 3, n. 8 (May 1971)
Scanner (Toronto, ON), May 1971

Bascom, John N., Editor
Media Type:
Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Great Lakes Red Book; Passenger Lines Announce Season Schedules; Follow Up; S.S.H.S.A. Meetings; The Montreal - Toronto - Hamilton Express Service
Date of Publication:
May 1971
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Toronto Marine Historical Society
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Friday, May 7th - For the benefit of those who will have missed it by the time this appears in print, our May Dinner Meeting consisted of dinner served in the Ship Inn and our First Grand Photo Salon.

As our readers will know, we shall not meet again until the Autumn. Our first meeting of the new season will be Friday, October 8th, the program to be announced. Then on Friday, November 5, member Robert J. MacDonald of Erie, Pennsylvania, will address our Dinner Meeting. The subject will be Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes.

The Editor's Notebook

First off, we should like to welcome to T.M.H.S. a whole flock of new members. Greetings go to Capt. D'Alton Hudson, longtime Skipper of the A. A. HUDSON (Midland); Wm. G. Carruthers (Scarborough); Russell W. Parkinson Jr. (Livonia, Michigan); Chas. Comsa (Royal Oak, Michigan): Arthur C. Roberts (Marysville, Michigan); E. J. Morris (St. Clair Shores, Michigan); Murray S. Manson (Toronto); Gerald T. Girvin (Rochester); and Brian Renaud (Windsor).

We regret to advise that our friend, the Postmaster General, is trying to sock it to us once again with two upcoming postal rate increases. This, in conjunction with higher costs of our photo pages, leads us to consider raising membership dues to $7.00 effective next fall. Comments?

This will be our last regular issue for this volume, although we hope to produce an extra issue at mid-Summer. Until then, best wishes to all members and our deep thanks to those who so faithfully send us the latest in news for our Journal.

Marine News

The Port of Toronto was officially opened for the 1971 season on March 24th when the tanker IMPERIAL WINDSOR arrived with a cargo for the Imperial terminal here. The ship was also the first vessel to leave winter quarters this spring, having cleared port at the beginning of the same week. All told, it was a record-setting winter for the veteran canaller. She had also closed out the 1970 navigation season for Toronto, arriving in port on January 8th, 1971. The first salt water vessel in Toronto was the Fabre Line's CASSARATE which arrived on April 18th after a considerable delay due to the severe ice conditions in the St. Lawrence,

Other "firsts" for the season may be of interest. The first through transit of the Welland Canal was made on April 7th by the Hall tanker CAPE TRANSPORT which had wintered in Hamilton. The Straits of Mackinac saw the first passage on March 26th when J.A.W. IGLEHART. with assistance from the icebreaker MACKINAW, passed into Lake Michigan. The Soo Canal was opened on April 8th by CASON J. CALLAWAY which passed upbound with, as might be expected, PHILIP R. CLARKE and ARTHUR M. ANDERSON close behind. The first salt water vessel to pass up the Seaway was the French ONDINE. Ice conditions, the cause of much difficulty for ships attempting to operate during the winter months, continued to hamper operations during the first few weeks of navigation. The main trouble spots were the St. Mary's River, Whitefish Bay, Georgian Bay and the Eastern end of Lake Erie. Upbound vessels in the Welland Canal became trapped at Port Colborne because of the heavy ice in the lake and it was well into the latter half of April before the U.S. Coast Guard could break into Buffalo. Windrows in the Point Abino area of Lake Erie were estimated to be as much as thirty feet in height. The lakes had to make do with a reduced icebreaking team to handle the situation. The U.S.C.G. was forced to cancel the assignment of the breaker SOUTH WIND as a result of the late Seaway opening and this left MACKINAW as the only major American icebreaker in the area. The Canadian Coast Guard used ALEXANDER HENRY at Thunder Bay and had to rely on N.B. McLEAN to look after Lake Erie and Georgian Bay since GRIFFON, as soon as she could leave the Bay Ports, was reassigned to the Lake St. Francis area of the St. Lawrence to help the little SIMCOE. In an effort to ease the severe problem in eastern Lake Erie, the Canadian ocean breaker NORMAN McLEOD ROGERS was brought up in the latter part of April.

In our last issue, we reported that IMPERIAL VANCOUVER had been removed from Canadian registry. It now appears that she was sold to the Coral Petroleum Co., Bermuda, for operation in the Caribbean by Esso Inter-America, and that she cleared Vancouver for the last time on November 24th, 1970, She will be, or perhaps already has been, renamed ESSO ANDINA. The tanker was a 1938 product of Collingwood Shipyards and first served under the name IMPERIAL (II).

The story of the wandering PECHE ISLAND IV is gradually coming to light. The little ferry was one of four built at Wheatley in 1968 to serve the planned recreational development on Peche Island which is located in Lake St. Clair at the mouth of the Detroit River. The development soon folded and three of the ferries will be used on the Bob-Lo Island route. The fourth was sold in November 1970 to Gotaas-Larsen Inc., and on December 8th was reregistered in Nassau. The same day, she was resold to Transportation Mexicana Yucatan and was reregistered in Mexico. Under the name ZACNICHTE, she now operates out of Progresso on the Yucatan Peninsula while our politicians worry about how to recoup the loss resulting from the subsidy paid for the construction of the vessel!

As reported last year, the Medusa Portland Cement Co., has exercised its option to purchase the Interlake steamer C.H. MCCULLOUGH JR., and the vessel is now owned by the Medusa subsidiary Cement Transit Co. In a surprise move, Medusa has announced that the MCCULLOUGH will operate during 1971 in the general trade and we presume that she will be hauling ore for one of the major companies. Her conversion to a bulk cement carrier will follow later, possibly in 1972.

A recent report indicates that Tinstackers HENRY PHIPPS and WILLIAM P. PALMER are now fitting out. The other three inactive U.S. Steel veterans have had their hulls painted prior to being moved to Duluth's Berwind Dock and we hope that this bodes well for their future, especially for WILLIAM J. FILBERT and GEORGE G. CRAWFORD for which ye Ed. has a particular fondness.

Scrapping of the canaller ELIZABETH HINDMAN has progressed at the American Lakehead to the point where very little remains above the tanktop.

The two carferries being built at Port Weller for the federal government, Hulls 53 and 54, were christened HOLIDAY ISLAND and VACATIONLAND respectively in a double ceremony at the shipyard on April l7th. The vessels have two car decks and a third deck equipped with facilities for 500 passengers. They are double ended and have been fitted with Kort Nozzles which enable the ships to move sideways, a capability well illustrated by HOLIDAY ISLAND when she returned from her trials on April 10th and easily negotiated the sharp turn into the shipyard at the upper end of Lock 1. The ferries have dark green hulls, upperworks painted the colour of lime sherbet, and red stacks with large white maple leaf insignia. They will be operated by Canadian National on the Prince Edward Island service. Needless to say, the appearance of VACATIONLAND does not compare with that of another lake carferry which once carried the same name.

The motorship BULK GOLD, which sailed the lakes for many years as GRAINMOTOR of the Canada Steamship Lines fleet, is now lying at Charleston, South Carolina. Owned by Michael Zapatos of Miami, she cannot be converted to a barge as planned as a result of debts following her.

While fitting out at Port Weller in early April, the tanker LIQUILASSIE suffered serious boiler damage. She was taken to Port Colborne under tow and is now moored on the West Pier where repairs are proceeding.

In our last issue, we reported that the American Steamship Co had placed an order for a self-unloading bulk carrier to be built at Sturgeon Bay by Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company, Inc. It has now been announced that a sister vessel will be constructed at the Toledo yard of the American Shipbuilding Company and that she, too, will be delivered to BoCo for the 1973 season. We understand that this development does not preclude the possibility of BoCo exercising an option on a further self-unloader from Manitowoc.

Members who have been in the area of western Lake Ontario during the last few weeks may have spotted a vessel which appears to be some kind of self-unloading yacht. In reality, it was probably the sandsucker CHARLES DICK. During fit-out at Hamilton this spring, the DICK'S hull was painted a very light gray, almost cream, colour and her pilothouse and forecastle were painted white, a great contrast to the old colour of dark gray. The texas, after cabin and deck gear remain red, and we must admit that the ship looks very handsome in her new livery, CHARLES DICK is, of course, skippered by T.M.H.S. member Capt. John Leonard of St. Catharines.

Further to our report last month that the Kinsman Marine Transit Company was contemplating purchase of the three veteran Republic Steel bulk carriers, we can now confirm that the acquisition of HARRY L. ALLEN and PETER ROBERTSON has been completed. Presumably, both vessels have been found able to pass survey with little work required. There would appear to be some delay in completion of the deal for the third steamer, SILVER BAY, however. The official announcement of the sale stated that both ALLEN and ROBERTSON would keep their old names and this might be interpreted as an indication that Kinsman has obtained part of the Cleveland Cliffs contract to carry Republic ore, since both gentlemen are prominent Republic Steel executives.

We have received confirmation that the Escanaba Towing Co. (Clyde Van Enkevoort) has made arrangements to operate A. E. NETTLETON on bare boat charter from Wilson Marine Transit in 1971. The deal would appear to include an option for 1972 as well. As yet, the NETTLETON remains at Buffalo and there has been no sign of reducing her to a barge. The work had originally been reported to be planned for Port Colborne. NETTLETON will apparently take over on Escanaba Towing's run for Inland Steel while the WILTRANCO will be assigned to the Lake Erie coal trade.

The canal tanker WESTERN SHELL, laid up at Toronto since the close of the 1969 navigation season, was sold recently by Shell Oil to the Big D Line of Marine City, Michigan, the deal being closed on April 1st. The buyer appears to be an affiliate of the Enterprise Oil Co. and the intention is to operate the vessel, possibly under Canadian registry, in the Detroit and St. Clair River oil trade. Although there had been some indecision about whether the veteran would be operated under her own power or used as a barge, she had steam raised and was fitting out at the time of this writing.

The retired Tribal Class destroyer-escort HAIDA, recently taken over by the Ontario Government from Haida Inc., the organization that saved the famous Canadian naval vessel from scrapping several years ago, was towed to her new berth adjacent to the Ontario Place development, to the west of the Toronto Western Gap, on Sunday, April 18th. The ship, until now moored at Pier 6 during the winter months, and at the foot of Bay Street during the summer, will remain open to the public.

Several familiar ships will apparently remain laid up in 1971 unless business improves dramatically. EDWARD S. KENDRICK, of the Wilson fleet, is not scheduled to leave her berth in Buffalo's City Ship Canal (or what now remains of the Canal) and the Hanna steamer GEORGE R. FINK will not start the season. The Cleveland Tankers whaleback tanker METEOR continues to be held in reserve and we understand that JOHN P. REISS and OTTO M. REISS will share the same status in the Boland fleet. This latter item may well prove the first step in the eventual dispersion of the Reiss vessels. The Halco canallers SHIERCLIFFE HALL and STERNECLIFFE HALL, of course, remain in the Toronto Turning Basin, their futures very uncertain. Meantime, C.S.L. has announced that it will try to get through the season without the services of FRENCH RIVER currently at the wall in Hamilton. At the same port, STONEFAX and OREFAX are awaiting decisions on their futures. Upper Lakes Shipping had stated that WIARTON would not be fitted out pending improvements in the grain outlook, but the recent removal of certain pieces of equipment from this ship would tend to indicate that she is not long for this world. Despite boom times for Kinsman Transit, there are no plans to start KINSMAN VOYAGER which only last year received an extensive refit after almost a decade in ordinary. She spent last winter in Buffalo, her hull caressed by the sweet water of the Buffalo River.....

Get out the crying towels again, fellas, another of the real veterans of the lakes has bitten the dust. Almost a decade of service has been given by GROVEDALE (II) since her eleventh hour reprieve from the scrappers late in 1962, but it seems that her boilers have finally given up the ghost. Quite plainly, a vessel of her age and size does not warrant any major expense and so, for the second time in her life, she will soon be sold to Marine Salvage Ltd. for scrapping overseas. GROVEDALE was a product of the American Shipbuilding Co.'s Lorain yard in 1905, and has served successively as JOSEPH G. BUTLER JR. and DONALD B. GILLIES. Her retirement leaves WESTDALE and ELMDALE as the only straight-deck bulk carriers in the Reoch fleet.

Great Lakes Red Book

Most of our readers will be familiar with the "Red Book," a pocket-size listing of Great Lakes vessels along with their owners and appointments for the season. The book is this year being produced by a different publisher who hopes to have it available about May 15th. The usual price is $3.00, but the Marine Historical Society of Detroit has placed a special order which will enable members to purchase the "Red Book" for $2.00 each. Mutual member Al Jackman is handling sales and has issued an invitation for T.M.H.S. members to participate as well.

If you are interested, please send your order and remittance to Mr. J. Albin Jackman 8466 Salem Lane, Dearborn Heights, Michigan 48127, U.S.A. Also available is a Stack Chart illustrating stack colours of the various lake and ocean fleets. Regularly $2.00, it may be obtained by members for $1.50. When you order either item, please remember to identify yourself as a T.M.H.S. member.

Passenger Lines Announce Season Schedules


- Foot Wayne Street, Detroit -

To Cleveland, Mackinac and. Chicago.

FOR CLEVELAND, Pittsburgh and all Points East, DAILY, 11:00 p.m.

FOR ALPENA, Mackinac, Petoskey, Chicago and Way Ports, Monday and Saturday, 11:00 p.m., Wednesday and Friday, 9:00 a.m.

FOR TOLEDO, Tuesday and Thursday, 9:45 a.m., Friday and Sunday, 4:00 p.m.

WEEKEND EXCURSIONS every Saturday Night to Cleveland, $2.25 Round Trip.

You have a full day's outing and reach home in time for business Monday morning.


- Griswold Street Wharf, Detroit -

FOR PORT HURON and Way Ports, DAILY. Leave week days 8s30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Arrive 12:00 m. and 8:30 p.m., Standard Time. Sundays, leave

9:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., Standard Time; Arrive 12;30 p.m. and

8:30 p.m.

FOR ST. CLAIR and Way Ports, DAILY, except Sunday, leave 4:00 p.m.; Arrive 8:25 a.m., Standard Time.

FOR TOLEDO, DAILY. Leave week days 3:30 p.m., Sundays 9:00 a.m. and 4:30

p.m., Standard Time. Fare: Single 75 ¢ Unlimited Return $1.25.


Steamer STATE OF MICHIGAN every Saturday, 8:30 p.m., FOR ST. IGNACE, Mackinac,

Alpena, Oscoda, East Tawas and All Way Ports.

ASHLEY & DUSTIN, Agents, Foot of First Street, Detroit.

S.B. GRUMMOND, General Manager.

Schedules, Season 1895, thanks to Dave Glick, Dearborn, Chief Ticket Agent.

Follow Up

Whenever we print information about a certain fleet or ship, it must be remembered that this is in no way the final word on the subject. Every item we publish may, at some future time, be used as a reference by other researchers, and so we take pains to print additional or corrected data, as available, in order that errors be not perpetuated. Our thanks to those who have taken the time to send along their comments,

Ref. Vol. III, No. 4

- COLABEE was, as reported, torpedoed on March 12, 1942. We learn that the deed was perpetrated by U-126, Capt. Bauer, in location 22.10 N., 77.30 W. She was not, of course, sunk,

Ref. Vol. III, No. 6

- GEO. R. DONOVAN. As KENORDOC (I), while a part of convoy SC-3, was sunk on September 15, 1940, by U-48, Capt. Bleichrodt, in position 57.42 N., 15.02 W.

- JAMES B. FOOTE. As PORTADOC (I), was sunk April 4, 1941, by U-124, Capt. Schultz, in position 07.17 N., 16.53 W.

- WAHCONDAH. We neglected to mention an accident which occurred on July 12, 1915. In a fog on Lake Huron, she collided with, and sank, the Monitor CHOCTAW of the Cleveland Cliffs Steamship Company.

- CEDARTON. We reported that she had been scrapped at Montreal in 1962, but this is not the case. In November 1962, while owned by Century Metals, she was towed from Montreal to Port Cartier with a cargo of salt and was used over the winter for storage by Federal Commerce and Navigation. On April 29, 1963, she was returned to Montreal by the tug FEDERAL MONARCH. She apparently lay idle until November 1964 when she was cut down to a barge and was reported for sale. We would appreciate details of her final disposition,

Ref. Vol. III, No. 7

- SCOTTISH HERO. Through a typographical error we omitted details of her loss. While on her first Eastbound voyage after returning to salt water, she was torpedoed and sunk on June 10, 1917, off Cape Carbonara, Sardinia.

S.S.H.S.A. Meetings

Member George Thomson of Burlington is also active in the Steamship Historical Society of America and, as organizer of that group's upcoming meeting in this area he has passed along details in order that T.M.H.S. members may participate.

The meeting activities will centre around Tobermory, Ontario. The first item will be a cruise on Saturday June 19th by a local launch to Flowerpot Island, lunch being available. Dinner, location to be announced, will be served about 6:30 p.m., on Saturday and the speaker will be Capt. George Henderson, Shore Captain for the Reoch fleet.

The highlight of the weekend will be a Sunday cruise aboard the steamer NORISLE of the Owen Sound Transportation Co. Ltd. Sixty berths are available on a first-come-first-served basis for those who may wish to spend Saturday night aboard. (Motels are also available in Tobermory). The ship will sail at 7:00 a.m. for South Bay Mouth, returning at 2:00 p.m. in time for those taking the extended NORGOMA cruise to reach Owen Sound. Breakfast and lunch will be included in the steamer fare.

We have been specially invited to participate in this event, so be sure to reserve the weekend of June 19-20. A deposit on the cost will be required, so all interested should write to George Thomson, 875 Warwick Avenue, Burlington. The NORISLE fare should be about $7.00 including berth and passage.

Ship of the Month No. 15 The Deep One

All along the lock walls and piers of the canals of the Great Lakes are the names of ships that have transited the system over the years, reminders left behind by light-hearted deckhands with wayward paint brushes. So numerous are these scrawled messages that the development of the Seaway into a modern canal system can be seen through the accompanying changes in the vessels using it. (Even your Editor must plead guilty to the instigation of one such painting session aboard a certain passenger steamer). In any event, standing out in bold white paint and more legible than the rest, is a message lettered on the facing of the east pier of the outer harbour at Port Colborne almost a decade ago! "The Deep One, MAKAWELI, July '62."

MAKAWELI is seen at Allanburg on the Welland Canal on Nov. 12, 1955. Photo by the EditorMAKAWELI, for those who may not have known her, was a canal tanker that, for some twenty years, was a common sight on the lower lakes and the St. Lawrence River. Nevertheless, she was hardly a typical lake tanker, the reasons for this being evident if one looks into her history.

It was early in 1917 that the United States entered World War I . There was an acute shortage of bulk cargo vessels and so the U.S. Shipping Board placed orders with lake shipyards for over three hundred standard canal-sized carriers, built to various designs but, for the most part, three-island types with machinery amidships. These vessels became known as the "Lakers" and for many decades they served well in virtually every part of the world. One contract, however, that for Design 1060, was placed with the Great Lakes Engineering Works and called for twenty-four bulk carriers of the stemwinder type, that is, with engines and deckhouses aft, intended for the East Coast coal trade. These ships had a raised forecastle and a very lengthy poop deck that extended well forward of the pilothouse. As built, they carried, in addition to the usual fore and main masts, two pairs of kingposts, one set aft of the forecastle and one atop the fore part of the poop, each post being equipped with two cargo booms. The vessels were given the graceful, elliptical counter stern that characterised all the "Lakers."

MAKAWELI began life in the Great Lakes Engineering Works yard at Ashtabula as Hull 503. The builders gave her a length of 253.5 feet, a beam of 43.6 and a depth of 25.1 feet. These dimensions gave her a tonnage of 2507 Gross and 1495 Net. The vessel was completed in April 1919 and, following the pattern of giving this series . of ships names beginning with the letter "C", she was christened COWEE (U. S. 217844). She was fitted with triple expansion engines, made by the builder, with cylinders of 21", 34 1/2" and 57" and a 42" stroke and, with steam supplied by two single-ended coal-fired Scotch boilers, she could manage a speed of nine knots.

COWEE, along with her sisters, entered service and joined the Shipping Board's emergency fleet even though hostilities were ended long before her completion. By 1922, however, her usefulness in this role was at an end; with two of her sisters, COWBOY and COVERUN, she was sold to the Matson Navigation Company of San Francisco, a firm well known for its services in the Pacific and particularly to the Hawaiian Islands. She was converted to burn oil fuel and minor changes to adapt her to her new trade altered her tonnage to 2552 Gross and 1534 Net. Matson traditionally gave its vessels Hawaiian names and so COWEE was rechristened MAKAWELI, an Island word meaning, apparently, "fierce eye of evil," and hence the eye of a hurricane. COWBOY and COVERUN were likewise renamed MAKENA and MAHUKONA respectively.

MAKAWELI's main trade was carrying lumber from Puget Sound to the Hawaiian ports of Honolulu, Hilo and Kahului, from whence she returned to San Francisco with sugar. Presumably, she then sailed light ship for Puget Sound. This type of service continued until 1937 when she was taken to the San Francisco yard of the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation for conversion to a tanker. Apart from the natural change in location of her masts and the addition of necessary deck gear, her general appearance was not greatly altered by the conversion. Her tonnage, however, was now 2665 Gross and 1551 Net. After completion of the rebuilding, MAKAWELI continued to serve the Pacific area, but now she carried molasses, petroleum products, and even water; in short, anything that could be carried in a tanker.

And so, on a quiet Sunday morning late in 1941, MAKAWELI's duties as a tanker brought her to a port on the Southern coast of Oahu Island, where she lay peacefully at anchor. Unfortunately for her, the port was Pearl Harbor and the date was December 7, 1941, the day of the Japanese air attack on the American naval installation located there. MAKAWELI was extremely lucky; although damaged by the bombing, she escaped the utter destruction which was the fate of so many vessels lying at Pearl Harbor that day. The tanker was towed all the way to San Pedro, California, where she was repaired.

Shortly after recovering from her narrow escape, MAKAWELI was requisitioned by the U.S. War Shipping Administration and served in the Pacific during the hostilities there. By 1946, however, the government did not require her services further and her twenty-seven years on salt water were showing to the extent that Matson could no longer operate her economically. Her two sisters had already left the fleet; MAHUKONA went missing at sea during February 1941 and MAKENA had been sold to Panamanian buyers the same year. The latter ship lasted until 1960 when she was dismantled.

Thus in 1946 MAKAWELI was offered for sale. She was purchased by Lakeland Tankers Limited of Toronto, a subsidiary of Cleveland Tankers Inc., and the Ashland Oil & Refining Co. Inc., and she was brought back to her native Great Lakes. Under Canadian registry, she bore official number 177814. After bringing a cargo of oil to Toronto, she was immediately taken to Port Weller where she was drydocked and completely refurbished, having arrived from the Pacific in somewhat less than sparkling condition.

MAKAWELI served her new owners well. In addition to frequenting Lake Ontario and the Upper St. Lawrence, she operated as far East as Newfoundland and North into Hudson's Bay. She was a real workhorse for her owners and this was, in part, due to her great draft. She came by her nickname "The Deep One" very well: with a depth of 25.1 feet, she seemed extremely high when light, this impression no doubt being reinforced by the fact that, like most stemwinders, she tended to "sit down on her stern" and lift her bows high in the air.

On many occasions, MAKAWELI operated under charter to Imperial Oil Ltd. and it was on one such occasion in 1951 that she beat out the then-new IMPERIAL LEDUC in bringing the first load of Alberta crude to Sarnia. The newly completed pipeline terminated at that time at Superior, Wisconsin, and the oil had to be taken by ship the rest of the way.

The old tanker continued in lake trade until the end of 1966, at which time she and her running mate LUBROLAKE were laid up and Lakeland Tankers Ltd. ceased operations. The following year, she was sold to Steel Factors Ltd., Montreal, and was towed from her Montreal berth by the ocean tug JUNAK, having been resold to European breakers. Taken in tandem tow with MOHAWK DEER, destined to be lost en route, she was either more or less fortunate, as the case may be and arrived on November 5, 1967) at La Spezia, Italy, where she was scrapped.

And so ended the career of a vessel which, over the years, wandered more than half way around the world. Despite the number of such standard vessels built, she was the last of the World War I "Lakers" to operate on the lakes, quite an accomplishment for "The Deep One" that had worked so hard for so many years.

The Montreal - Toronto - Hamilton Express Service

Today a considerable quantity of general merchandise (package freight, in lake parlance) from overseas comes to the Toronto-Hamilton area via ocean carriers without transshipment or in containers delivered by rail from East Coast terminals. However, we cannot overlook the contribution made to the development of the Golden Horseshoe area by the Montreal to Lake Ontario package freight service. The route is still active, having been maintained latterly by Canada Steamship Lines' ENGLISH RIVER and FRENCH RIVER with help from the "Fort" class vessels.

Prior to the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, most of the general merchandise shipped from Britain and Continental Europe, as well as many products emanating from the Province of Quebec, was shipped through the old St. Lawrence canal system and across Lake Ontario to Toronto and Hamilton in canal-size lake package freighters. Since the 1940's, Canada Steamship Lines Limited has been the only lake fleet to operate this service.

On a hot August evening in 1956, CITY OF TORONTO arrives at the Toronto Eastern Gap pierheads. Photo by the Editor.Back in the 1920's, a fleet of fast express steamers was built for the run known as Montreal-Toronto-Hamilton Express Service. Named CITY OF TORONTO, CITY OF HAMILTON, CITY OF KINGSTON, CITY OF MONTREAL, and CITY OF WINDSOR, these vessels were slightly less than full canal size, being 230 x 38.1 x 20.7, with the exception of CITY OF WINDSOR, the last of the quintette, she was somewhat larger. These steamers received priority in the St. Lawrence canals and made the run from Montreal to Toronto in some 36 hours. This was extremely good time considering the number of locks in the system. For a short period after the Second War, the "Cities" were shifted to C.S.L.'s upper lakes service while some of the larger "Western" type vessels (full canal size), such as FERNIE, LETHBRIDGE, SASKATOON, SELKIRK, WEYBURN and WINNIPEG, took their place on the lower lake route. Subsequent to the final retirement of the canallers in the early 1960's, (WINNIPEG, the last to operate was laid up in 1963) and prior to the advent of all the modern carriers, the route was maintained by the upper lake steamers MARTIAN and RENVOYLE with occasional help from COLLINGWOOD,

But C.S.L. did not always have it all their own way on the route. In the 1920's the Kirkwood Line of Toronto entered the service with the small ocean steamer GREYPOINT, (a) RATHLIN. RAHANE (later A.A.HUDSON) also operated Toronto-Montreal for some years for several operators. In addition, there existed for many years a special service between Montreal and the Bay of Quinte. In the early years of the century, vessels of the Hepburn fleet operated this route and even into the 1950's the Bay of Quinte Transportation Co. Ltd, maintained the run with the small steamer GLEN ALLAN and later the CITY OF BELLEVILLE, (a) OTTAWA MAYFERRY.

With crated Chrysler autos on deck, BEECHBAY enters Toronto Western Gap c.1936. J. H. Bascom photo.The main competition, however, was furnished by Ogilvie Flour Mills Ltd., Montreal. In 1922, this firm purchased ten vessels of the stemwinder type from the French Government for whom they had been built in 1919 and 1920. With dimensions of 218.8 x 34.3 x 12.3, the steamers arrived on the lakes in 1923 and entered service under the names ASHBAY, BEECHBAY, CEDARBAY, ELMBAY, MAPLEBAY, OAKBAY, PINEBAY, POPLARBAY, SPRUCEBAY and WILLOWBAY. Originally, the operating company was known as the Bay Line Navigation Co. Ltd., but as complaints were received as a result of the similarity of the name to that of the Bay Steamship Co. Ltd. (the Hudson's Bay Co.), it was soon changed to Tree Line Navigation Co. Ltd. Although these ships commenced their lake trading as bulk carriers, it was not long before they entered the package freight trade. They not only operated on the Lake Ontario route, but also to the Canadian Lakehead and to Lake Michigan ports. In 1929, a standard type canaller, TEAKBAY, was built in England to augment the fleet.

This competition prospered for some years but, due to the depressed business conditions of the 1930's, the steamers became unprofitable. Consequently, ASHBAY was sold Brazilian in 1935 and the ill-fated OAKBAY went to Capt. Henry C. Daryaw of Kingston, for bulk service on the lakes in the same year. In 1937 CEDARBAY, MAPLEBAY and POPLARBAY were sold for conversion to tankers and were renamed JOAN VIRGINIA (later COASTAL CASCADES), TRANSRIVER and TRANSLAKE respectively, all three lasting into the 1960's. In fact, TRANSLAKE is the last of the ten in existence and serves as the bunkering barge HALFUELER in Halifax Harbour. Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. acquired Tree Line in 1937 and for a few years operated it as a separate division but by the end of the war, all of the original ships had been sold and TEAKBAY was absorbed into C. S. L. proper. During the late 1930's, the parent firm operated its steamers KINDERSLEY, MAPLETON and STARMOUNT in the Tree Line package freight division but this practice ceased upon the outbreak of war in 1939.

Returning to the "City" type express steamers, these vessels did yeoman service, operating with monotonous regularity until the four small sisters were withdrawn from service upon the opening of the Seaway. They were scrapped at Levis, Quebec, after several years of inactivity spent at Kingston, but CITY OF WINDSOR continued to operate through 1961, being cut up at Hamilton late that year.

CITY OF OTTAWA unloads at Toroonto's York Street Slip c. 1922. Andrew Merrilees collection.These steamers had actually been built to replace two earlier "Cities," CITY OF HAMILTON, (a) JAPAN, and CITY OF OTTAWA, (a) INDIA, both originally units of the famous Anchor Line of Buffalo. These vessels were regulars on the Montreal to Lake Ontario service and, when necessary, the service was expanded by the addition of other package freighters such as the steel-hulled (JAPAN and INDIA were both built of iron) GLENELLAH (later CALGARIAN), CANADIAN, BEAVERTON, EDMONTON, KENORA and MAPLEBORO. This latter vessel was originally the lumber carrier SEGUIN and later operated for C.S.L. as CITY OF MONTREAL (II) for a short period before being renamed ARVIDA,. The older ARABIAN, MAPLEBROOK((a) ARABIA, (c) CITY OF WINDSOR, (d) BELLEVILLE) and MAPLEBRANCH ((a) CUBA, (b) IONIC) were normally on the Lakehead route but did appear occasionally on the Lake Ontario run. These three ships all had wooden topsides. And finally we must mention the wooden OATLAND and JOYLAND, which carried two thin stacks mounted athwartships. They were built for the Ogdensburg to Chicago service of the Rutland Transit Co. as WILLIAM J. AVERILL and WILLIAM A. HASKELL, respectively. The company even operated on the line for a short while such misfits as the former passenger vessels BELLEVILLE, (a) SPARTAN, and ALEXANDRIA (a) ALEXANDRA, the latter being beam-engined. All of these older ships were phased out of operation in the early 1920's but the newer steel vessels ran until the Seaway era.

Prior to the formation of Canada Steamship Lines in 1913, package freight service was maintained by a number of lines, probably the most prominent of these being Inland Lines Ltd., managed by R.O. & A.B. MacKay of Hamilton. This itself was a consolidation. It had its beginnings in the Royal Mail Line, which was formed on Lake Ontario in 1840, and in the Richelieu & Ontario Navigation Co. which had its start on the St. Lawrence in 1845. Another component of Inland Lines was the Merchants Montreal Line, also known as the Jaques Line, Back in the 1850's, Hooker & Pridham began operating ships, the firm soon becoming known as Hooker, Jaques & Co. By 1857 they were extending their service beyond Lake Ontario to Chicago. In 1858 the company's name became Jaques, Tracy & Co. and, in 1872, G.E. Jaques & Co. In conjunction with Aeneas D. MacKay and Capt. J. B. Fairgrieve of Hamilton and James Norris, Sylvester Neelon and Capt. P. Larkin of St. Catharines, they formed the Merchants Lake & River Steamship Line. There were 25 steamers in the fleet in 1872 and 1873 most of them chartered.

The Merchants Line continued to flourish and by 1898 was operated by Capt. J. B. Fairgrieve and R.O. & A.B. MacKay, Hamilton, W.A. Geddes, Toronto, and G.E. Jaques & Co., Montreal, In 1910 the Montreal & Lake Erie Steamship Co. of Toronto (in which Sigmund Samuel, noted philanthropist, held a large interest), operator of CITY OF OTTAWA, CITY OF HAMILTON and CITY OF MONTREAL (I), (a) CHINA (the latter burned in 1913), was absorbed and from then on the line was known as the Merchants Montreal Line.

Another firm engaged in package freight service was the Canadian Interlake Line, established by Capt. J. W. Norcross and R. M. Wolvin of Montreal. They formed the Mutual Steamship Co. about 1906 and the building of CANADIAN and ACADIAN (I) followed shortly thereafter, as well as the purchase of the wooden WASAGA, built in 1876 and originally in the Anchor Line fleet under the name WISSAHICKON (I). Later, the company absorbed the Canadian Lake Line of J.H.Plummer & Co., Toronto, operator of the J.H.PLUMMER, A.E.AMES and H.M.PELLATT along with KENORA, REGINA and TAGONA; the combined fleet then became known as the Canadian Interlake Line.

While the old wooden propellers and sidewheelers of the 1850's had been small, they certainly were numerous, as also were their owners. In addition to the early operators already mentioned, we should include McPherson & Crane of Hamilton and Montreal (John McPherson & Co.), H. & J. Jones & Co. of Montreal (later Jones, Black & Co.), Holcomb & Henderson (later Holcomb & Cowan and Henderson & Company), Butters & Co., the American Express Line and Chaffee & Company. All of these in their own way contributed to the development of the Lake Ontario route.

During the 130 years since Montreal-Lake Ontario steamboat service began, there have been many changes and amalgamations but it has become evident that here, as in most other trades, "rationalization" only reduces competition for a short period. In recent years, one company effectively eliminated serious competition, but then the number of lake package freighters was reduced following the opening of the Seaway to large vessels in the direct ocean-lakes service and now, in its turn, the container is causing a further realignment of services. Even Toronto has been dropped as a terminal for Canada Steamship Lines' route, having been replaced by a new facility in the small harbour at Port Credit that was originally intended to avoid the necessity of stopping at Hamilton as well. Truly, "the old order changeth."


There are many more ships we should have liked to mention, and much more we should have said about the ones we did, but space would not permit in an article of this sort. If response indicates sufficient interest in the subject, we shall consider doing detailed fleet lists of some of the individual operators.)

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Scanner, v. 3, n. 8 (May 1971)

Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Great Lakes Red Book; Passenger Lines Announce Season Schedules; Follow Up; S.S.H.S.A. Meetings; The Montreal - Toronto - Hamilton Express Service