The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Scanner, v. 4, n. 2 (November 1971)
Scanner (Toronto, ON), Nov 1971

Bascom, John N., Editor
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Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Salty Changes; News from the Inland Rivers; The Roller Boat
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Nov 1971
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Toronto Marine Historical Society
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Friday, November 5th - Annual Fall Dinner Meeting, King Edward Hotel.

Speaker: Mr. Robert J. MacDonald. Friday, December 3rd - To be announced.

The Editor's Notebook

Our Fall Dinner Meeting this year is something of a departure from the usual in that it is the first not held in the Museum restaurant. While we prefer to meet in the Museum, which the Toronto Historical Board makes available for us, its basement Ship Inn is now a licenced dining room open to the public on certain nights. As we were unable to reserve the entire room for the evening, we decided to move downtown and meet in the King Edward Hotel, one of our city's better known spots. We trust that the result will be pleasing to our members.

The December meeting will be held at the Museum as usual, and should provide members with a good chance to observe the progress on the restoration of the tug NED HANLAN.

By the way, if any readers should happen to have ideas for forthcoming meetings, please let us know. We are always anxious to present a program which will interest those attending, but can only do so with your help.

In the New Member Department, we should like to extend a warm welcome to the following who have recently joined our Society: Jack Goodrich, Royal Oak, Michigan; Tom Brewer, Rochester; Dr. Karl F. Schroeder, Grosse Ile, Michigan; Judge Lloyd K. Graburn, Willowdale; Charles Colenutt, Toronto; Barry Anderson, St. Catherines, and Captain Richard Farley, Chatsworth, Ontario,

Marine News

In the mid-Summer issue, we reported that MAUNALOA II had been taken to the Hamilton yard of United Metals following her retirement from active service in June. As we had feared, the sale to United Metals was completed recently and, about the middle of October, cutting began on the stern of the old steamer. At last report, the work was progressing rapidly. You know, once in a while, on hearing of the demise of one of our old familiar vessels, your Editor finds himself immersed in daydreams. Presuming, of course, that a win in the Sweepstakes is imminent, he dreams of rushing out and buying the ship, operating her for what would undoubtedly be a short period of time, and going head over heels into bankruptcy, but enjoying every minute of it. This was one of those occasions......

WIARTON leaves Toronto for the last time, October 8, 1971. Photo by the Editor.Another Upper Lakes Shipping steamer which was idle this summer, WIARTON, was towed from Toronto's Ship Channel on October 8, 1971, by the tugs ARGUE MARTIN and JUDGE McCOMBS. She is currently lying at the Strathearne Street pier in Hamilton near MAUNALOA but we understand that she has not yet been sold by Upper Lakes, Due to her partially stripped condition, however, there can be little doubt that she will soon be cut up.

We can now continue the story of the trials of the tanker GOLDEN SABLE, better known to locals as IMPERIAL CORNWALL. As of our last issue, we left her starting her new service into Lake Erie from the St. Lawrence, Unfortunately, it was found that her tanks were very badly deteriorated as she had been used by Imperial for many years as a "dirty" tanker, that is, she had been in the crude trade. Such a ship is not suitable for the "clean" trade, the carriage of gasoline or other highly refined products. In addition, government inspectors have apparently condemned her boilers. GOLDEN SABLE is currently laid up again at Montreal.

Shortly before being laid up, GOLDEN SABLE is seen upbound above W.S.C. Lock 1 August 25, 1971. Photo by Bill Bruce.Another new tanker service that has run into difficulties is the Big D Line Ltd., operating out of Marine City, Michigan. Earlier in the summer, the company had placed their canal tanker ALFRED CYTACKI, formerly known as WESTERN SHELL, in service between the Shell plant at Corunna, Ontario, and the Detroit area, with motive power being supplied by the Port Colborne tug HERBERT A. For undisclosed reasons, the run has been discontinued and HERBERT A. brought the tanker back to Port Colborne where she now lies. The future is uncertain.

It has been announced that the self-unloader J. L. REISS, recently purchased by the Erie Sand Steamship Co. from the American Steamship Co., will be converted to oil fuel over the coining winter. The steamer has long been known for the large black cloud of coal smoke that habitually hung over her. Contrary to earlier indications, the purchase of the REISS will not spell the end for Erie's other large self-unloader SIDNEY E. SMITH JR., and next year should see both vessels proudly wearing Erie's green hull colours.

The Interlake Steamship Co., Pickands Mather and Co., has become the first American lake shipping firm to take advantage of the U. S. Maritime Administration's tax deferment plan. Under the scheme, companies may use moneys saved under the tax deferment to establish construction reserve funds, the money eventually being used to modernize their fleets through new construction or rebuilding. P.M.'s first project will be the lengthening of CHARLES M. BEEGHLY by approximately 96 feet. The steamer, built in 1959 and currently 690 feet in length, will enter Fraser Shipyards at Superior, Wisconsin, in early December. The work should be completed by next Spring. We understand that the company already has several other ambitious projects in mind.

Despite the enthusiastic plans of some operators, the decline in demand for iron ore has resulted in many more layups amongst American lake vessels. Heaviest hit has been U.S. Steel which has sent almost all of its older and smaller vessels to the wall in various ports. It appears that, before long, the company will only be operating those ships dating from the second war or later, plus those few older ships that have been repowered. Another fleet to suffer is Wilson Transit, many of whose ships are now surplus as a result of recent corporate changes. Other firms are sending their vessels to winter quarters as soon as their immediate cargo commitments are met.

Things remain hot in the Lake Erie area where certain residents along the Canadian shore are still battling for the cancellation of sandsucking licences as a result of shoreline erosion. The opponents of the dredging feel that it is the sole cause of erosion, an apparently erroneous conclusion. Meanwhile, the fate of CHARLES DICK and W. M. EDINGTON hangs in the balance.

A recent visitor to the American Shipbuilding Co. drydock at Toledo was IMPERIAL WINDSOR. She threw her wheel in Lake Erie in early October and had to be towed to port.

Construction is progressing on a new mainland ferry terminal at Toronto. Situated across the end of the pier on the west side of Yonge Street, the facility will be roughly on the site of Canada Steamship Lines' old passenger docks. Right next to the ferry slips will be a new marine fire terminal housing the fireboat WM. LYON MACKENZIE. Observers have been intrigued by the fact that the new ferry terminal will be able to handle only the existing vessels, and that no room for expansion has been allowed. The dock is expected to feature double-deck loading ramps, an installation not seen in these parts since the burning of the old Toronto Ferry Company's shed on March 13, 1918.

We understand that the Canadian Dredge and Dock Co., Ltd., will be continuing with its program of scrapping its old dredges and steam tugs at Hamilton to provide winter work for crews. MINNICOG and SHAWANAGA bit the dust last winter as well as other surplus equipment and it appears that such gems as the big steam tugs A. M. GERMAN and FRANK DIXON will soon reach the end of the road if the scrapping goes much further.

Confirmation has now been received that the tandem tow of STONEFAX and ALEXANDER LESLIE arrived at Santander, Spain, on June 19, 1971. This means that the only lakers currently waiting on our side of the Atlantic for the tow across are ONTADOC, CREEK TRANSPORT and GEORGE M. CARL, all three being laid up at Sorel. The latter vessel, the last coal-fired steamer in the Misener fleet, operated early in the year but was retired during the summer.

Reoch's self-unloader LEADALE recently made a rather unexpected visit to Port Huron, Michigan. At about 6:30 p.m. on Monday, October 18, while upbound with a cargo of salt for Alpena, she suffered a steering failure while opposite Pinegrove Park. The vessel grounded only a few feet out from the retaining wall and two Great Lakes Towing Co. tugs were sent to the scene. The steamer was pulled free early on Tuesday morning, but then the fun began. Just as LEADALE came free, the tug at her bow ran in the mud and was unable to pull the vessel's bow out from shore as planned. The current caught LEADALE and swept her downstream, narrowly missing the city's water intake plant and the Coast Guard Cutter BRAMBLE which was moored just below the park. Fortunately, there was no damage and the steamer was brought under control before anything more serious occurred.

Late summer saw the completion of one of the most unusual ships seen on the lakes in some years. Peterson Builders Inc., Sturgeon Bay, turned out the 243 foot aluminum-hulled oceanographic research vessel which was christened ALCOA SEAPROBE. Owned jointly by the Aluminum Co. of America and Ocean Science and Engineering, Washington, the ship passed down the Welland Canal in September. She was not built for lake service.

For the benefit of our high seas fans, we must report the sale for scrapping in Hong Kong of the former Polish liner BATORY, long a familiar visitor to Montreal harbour. Retired late in December, 1968, she has been used in the interim as an accommodation ship at Gdynia, Poland. BATORY was a motorship dating from 1935. Further bad news is that Hapag-Lloyd has decided to withdraw from the North Atlantic ferry. Its two liners, BREMEN and EUROPA, currently on the New York-Bremerhaven service, will come on the North Atlantic in 1972 and will henceforth be used in the cruise service, principally in American waters.

Salty Changes

Listed are salt water ships which have traded into the lakes along with some former names under which they may have appeared in these parts. We also include well-known coastal vessels.

ANGOLAKUST, 3356, 1955. Dutch. Sold Cypriot. Renamed AKRA TENARON.

ANIK (GHISLAIN, GHISLAIN MARIE), 1134, 1969. Canadian. Sold to Cayman Islands. renamed MAYA.

ARIA (GLYNN), 6906, 1947. Cypriot. Sold to Spanish breakers.

CHRISTIANE SCHULTE, 2197, 1959. West German. Sold Liberian, renamed CITTA DI ALESSANDRIA.

FINNAMORE VALLEY, 10456, 1961. British. Sold Ceylonese, Renamed LANKA RANI.

GEMINI EXPORTER (MANCHESTER EXPORTER), 7403, 1952, Greek. Sold to Taiwan breakers.

GLOBAL VENTURE (ANTIOPE) 706l, 1941. Panamanian. Sold to Taiwan breakers.

IRIS (MARANON, DUNKERY BEACON), 8479, 1959. Cypriot. Sold, within Cyprus.

IRISH ASH, 7949, 1958. Irish. Sold Greek. Renamed ALIAKMON POWER.

MAGDEBURG, 2696, 1952. West German. Sold Liberian. Renamed RAFAELA.

MARATHA ENDEAVOUR, 11211, 1962. Bahamian. Sold Cypriot. Renamed OLYMPIAN.

NISSOS PSARA (MICHIGAN, HELGA SMITH (I)), 1700, 1947. Greek. Sold within Greece. Renamed MEDATLANTIC.

ORIENT TRANSPORTER, 5684, 1949. Greek. Sold Turkish, after engine breakdown, for use as a barge.

SANDRA (RIALTO),4993, 1949. Cypriot. Sold to Mainland Chinese breakers.

SCHEERSBURG A. (SCHEERSBERG), 1771, 1955. Liberian. Sold Greek. Renamed HARCULA.

SEPT ILES, 12282, 1955. Canadian. Sold Liberian.

WESTERN PRINCE (MANCHESTER TRADER), 7726, 1955. British. Sold Cypriot. Renamed MARINER.

News from the Inland Rivers

Very few shipping fans that we know of are the slightest bit interested in diesel towboats, but it seems that many are hooked on the past and present (if any) of steam navigation on these far away waters. Some of our readers may not believe it, but 1971 saw the entry into service of a steam powered sternwheel excursion vessel. And she is not your typical fake riverboat so common on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence to lure gullible tourists into parting with their greenbacks!

No, JULIA BELLE SWAIN is the real thing. Built at Dubuque, Iowa (on the Mississippi, for those who do not know), by the Dubuque Boat & Boiler Co., she is powered by the steam machinery removed from the catamaran ferry CITY OF BATON ROUGE. And she's a real beauty! Complete with twin landing stages, bull rails on the main deck, gingerbread on the upperworks, feathered stacks and a lovely triple chime steam whistle, she made her way up the Illinois River to Peoria where she is now in residence. Visitors to that area will know how to spend their time ....

For those who are wondering, DELTA QUEEN is alive and well and is coming up on the end of one of her most successful seasons ever. With her woodwork refurbished, old paint blasted away, and new coverings on her decks, she is every bit a Queen. Thankfully, she has not had any obvious attacks of modernization in her cabin interiors. Her 1972 schedule has been announced and, for the benefit of Great lakes fans who may only have a short time to visit aboard, we would advise that she will be running two and three day weekend trips out of New Orleans, Little Rock, Nashville, Memphis, St. Louis, Peoria, St. Paul and, of course, Cincinnati - lots of choice. In addition, many longer trips will be operated, the longest being two 19-day round trips between Cincinnati and New Orleans.

The Roller Boat

One of the strangest ships ever seen around Toronto Harbour made its appearance here some seventy-five years ago. Known as the ROLLER BOAT, she had a particularly unsuccessful career and we thought that some of our readers might like to hear something of her story.

The idea for the ROLLER BOAT was the brainchild of one Frederick E. Knapp of Prescott, Ontario. He attempted to design a vessel that would roll over the water instead of trying to push its way through rough seas, and thus provide comfortable and safe accommodation for passengers as well as speedy transit for freight, Knapp gave his plans to Polson Iron Works of Toronto and the construction of a test steamer progressed under the direction of W. E. Redway.

Upon completion in October 1897, ROLLER BOAT had a length of 110 feet and a beam of 22 feet. The hull was built in the shape of a cylinder and looked about as unlike a ship as anything could. The boat actually had two hulls or shells, one inside the other, and with a space of about five feet between. Four small steam engines were placed in the vessel and, working on spur gear rails running around the inside of the outer cylinder, they were designed to rotate the outer shell while the inner remained stationary and level. The rolling outer hull was to get a bite on the water by means of "paddles" which were affixed in a ring around the centre of the hull. Knapp spoke of speeds nearing a "mile a minute" but, in fact, the top speed produced was only about five miles per hour.

The inside cabin and freight spaces were to be entirely free of motion, either from propulsion or from the seas outside. For those passengers desiring air, there were two small platforms, one at either end, extending outwards from the hull and mounted on the inner shell so that they would not revolve.

The general appearance of the finished product was akin to that of a large, floating, smoking sewer pipe with a verandah on each end, ROLLER BOAT proved equally useful! Knapp had originally planned the vessel as a test, for he had in mind a ship of some 800 feet in length which could be loaded and unloaded by means of railway trains which could be run right through the hull! Needless to say, it was never built. So many problems became evident once the working model was placed in operation that the whole idea was abandoned.

The ROLLER BOAT herself did not operate much, if at all, after her trials in October 1897, and never really was given her chance to prove whether she could carry cargo with any efficiency. She was laid up in the boneyard east of Jarvis Street in Toronto's old harbour and there she stayed for a quarter of a century, settling gradually into the mud. In 1927 that area of the harbour was being redeveloped and the hull of the old ROLLER BOAT was dug out and cut up for scrap,

Ship of the Month No. 16

Creek Transport

The steel hulled canallers were the backbone of the Canadian lake shipping industry for many years but, all too often, we think of them solely in terms of the mass produced "built by the mile, cut off by the foot" steamers turned out by various British shipyards during the 1920's. The fact remains that perhaps the greatest advances in canaller design really took place during the very early years of this century, when specially designed vessels began to supplant the hodge-podge of wooden carriers then on the scene, Today, very few of the pre-World War I canallers remain as evidence of the evolution of this type of ship.

In the month of April 1910, the Sunderland Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. put the finishing touches to their Hull 256, a canal steamer which was building to the order of the Merchants Mutual Line Ltd., Toronto. She was a bulk carrier, 250.2 feet in length, 42.7 feet in the beam, and 17.4 in depth, these dimensions producing tonnage of 1798 Gross and 1148 Net. She was built with six hatches, the last of which was situated on the raised poop forward of the boiler house. Cargo was handled by three booms, one on the foremast immediately aft of the bridge, and two on the main which was stepped between hatches four and five. The vessel was powered by triple expansion engines with cylinders of 20 1/2, 34 and 57 inches, and a 39-inch stroke. This machinery dated back to 1896 but its previous history is not known. Steam was provided by two coal-fired Scotch boilers measuring 13'6" by 9'6".

In her first year of service, SASKATOON (I) is seen at Sault Ste. Marie, 1910. Young photo. Bascom collection.The new steamer was given registry number 123965 and was christened SASKATOON in honour of the second largest city of the province of Saskatchewan which had entered the Canadian Confederation only five years previously. She was the first of two steam canallers to bear this name. Shortly after completion, she crossed the Atlantic, probably with a cargo of coal, and entered the Great Lakes to commence service for her owners. The Merchants Mutual Line was an established Toronto concern which had been absorbed by the Canadian Interlake Line not long before the building of SASKATOON. Despite the new ownership, the fleet continued to be known by its old name. Canadian Interlake itself had been assembled between 1907 and 1910 by R. M. Wolvin and Capt. J. W. Norcross. They operated SASKATOON until the close of navigation in 1913.

In 1914 the vessel emerged from winter quarters in the colours of Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., which had been formed on December 1st of the previous year as a consolidation of a number of Canadian vessel operators including Canadian Interlake Line. Her first year under the new management was not as successful as might have been hoped as, on July 24, 1914, she stranded in the St. Lawrence River near Port Neuf, Quebec, while upbound with a load of pulpwood. She was later released and repaired. C.S.L. did not get a chance to operate SASKATOON for long as she was requisitioned for overseas service during the First War. It would appear that she was operated by British interests during this period, presumably in the British coastal trade.

SASKATOON was sold in 1920 to the Canadian Maritime Co. Ltd., Montreal, but she did not, apparently, return to lake service until 1922 when she was purchased by the Interlake Steam Navigation Co. Ltd., a firm operated by the partnership of Mapes and Fredon, Montreal. At this time, she was given the distinctive Mapes and Fredon stack colours, black with three broad gold bands. She ran for this company into the 1926 season and then a strange thing happened. In 1926 and 1927, Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. were again expanding and they now swallowed up Mapes and Fredon, with the result that, for the second time in her career, she was absorbed into the C.S.L. fleet.

The year 1927 saw Canada Steamship Lines take delivery of a new package freighter built at Midland and christened SASKATOON. As a result, the older vessel, SASKATOON (I), was renamed ROSEMOUNT (II). She continued to operate on a regular basis for C.S.L. until the onset of the Depression which, as might be expected, spelled the end for many of the older and less economical units of the fleet. Fortunately, ROSEMOUNT managed to stay clear of the company's boneyard at Kingston, but she was laid up for much of the time during the early thirties, appearing once in a while for a trip or two as required. By 1934, however, business conditions had deteriorated so badly that ROSEMOUNT was laid up at Montreal and relegated to the job of coal storage. She continued in this lowly state until 1936 when she sank at her dock.

ROSEMOUNT was raised by Foundation Maritime Co. Ltd., but she never again operated for Canada Steamships. In 1937, a number of idle C.S.L. canallers were sold to Les Chantiers Manseau Ltee. (which in 1939 became known as Marine Industries Ltd), some for scrapping and others for no apparent reason. ROSEMOUNT was included in the sale and she was taken to the company's boneyard at Sorel where, stripped of her superstructure, she lay until 1940. At this time, Marine Industries converted her, as well as several other bulk carriers, to a tanker. Strangely enough, the rebuild left the step in her deck but she received a "trunk" which was the same height as the poop and which extended forward to the forecastle. She was given a rather handsome triple-deck bridge structure and this was set back off the forecastle along with the foremast. The mainmast was moved back to the forward end of the after cabin. She was further modernized by the installation of a new six-cylinder Fairbanks Morse diesel which gave her a very good service speed. The reconstruction altered her tonnage to 1752 Gross, 1028 Net.

Renamed WILLOWBRANCH (I) in 1940, she entered service in 1941 for Branch Lines Ltd., a subsidiary of Marine Industries, operating under charter to Imperial Oil Ltd. However, by this time, Canada was immersed in the hostilities of World War II and tankers were much in demand. Accordingly, WILLOWBRANCH was requisitioned for salt water service and was turned over to the British Ministry of Transport. For the second time in her life, she left her home waters to make a treacherous wartime crossing of the Atlantic. Operating for the next few years under charter to the Coastal Tankers Ltd., she undoubtedly did her part in helping to sustain Britain during the hard years of the war. In 1945 she was renamed EMPIRE TADPOLE to bring her into line with the series of names chosen by the British Government for ships of her type. She was sold in 1947 to the Basinghall Shipping Co. Ltd., London, and, under the name BASINGCREEK, she continued in the British coastal trade.

Nearing the end of her career, CREEK TRANSPORT is seen outbound in Toronto's Eastern Gap, June 7, 1969. Photo by the Editor.The lure of fresh water must have been great for, in 1950, she returned to the lakes having been purchased by St. Lawrence Drydocks Ltd., Montreal. She was soon transferred to an affiliated firm, Coastalake Tankers Ltd., Ottawa, and she entered service under the name COASTAL CREEK. Operating agents were Transit Tankers and Terminals Ltd., Montreal, Mr. Gaston Elie, Manager, COASTAL CREEK occasionally visited the upper lakes, but she spent most of her time on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. During the late fifties and early sixties, she operated variously for Petrofina Canada Ltd. and B.P. Oil Ltd. and carried their crests on her funnel, but by 1962 she had reverted to her owner's colours. In 1965, Coastalake Tankers changed its name to Canadian Sealakers Ltd. but the management remained the same.

COASTAL CREEK continued her faithful service until July 18, 1968, when she, along with two other ships of the fleet, was sold to the Hall Corporation of Canada Ltd. In view of her age and condition, COASTAL CREEK was not the prize of the deal, the purchase revolving around other more valuable considerations. However, the thumping heartbeat of her diesel would not yet be stilled. Renamed CREEK TRANSPORT in August of 1968, she operated for Halco for about a year, being laid up at Montreal part way through the 1969 season. She was then held in reserve for a period of time but in 1970 was moved to Sorel where she is currently lying along with two other retired lakers.

For the last few years, the ship was something of an oddity, for she had retained her beautiful deep steam whistle despite her conversion to diesel power. This whistle distinctively announced her comings and goings but not, perhaps, as strikingly as did her diesel whose prounounced thumpings could be heard for a considerable distance. But now, after a life of sixty-one years, she lies cold and almost forgotten in Sorel, and her upcoming sixth transit of the cold, grey North Atlantic promises to be at the end of a long towline, a voyage at whoso end the cutting torches will be waiting.

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Scanner, v. 4, n. 2 (November 1971)

Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Salty Changes; News from the Inland Rivers; The Roller Boat