The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Scanner, v. 4, n. 7 (April 1972)
Scanner (Toronto, ON), Apr 1972

Bascom, John N., Editor
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Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Ship of the Month No. 21; Consortium Ile D'Orleans; Late Marine News
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Apr 1972
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Toronto Marine Historical Society
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Friday, April 7th - Mr. James Walder on "Toronto - Seaway City." As usual, 8:00 p.m. at the Marine Museum.

Friday, May 5th - Annual Spring Dinner Meeting, King Edward Hotel.

The Editor's Notebook

The March meeting was a great success for those who attended despite the inclement weather. Alan Howard's fascinating reminiscences of his years with CAYUGA and her predecessors held us spellbound. We could have listened all night. Our thanks to Alan for bringing back memories of those years that passed all too fast.

Our Autumn dinner meeting at the King Edward Hotel was so successful that we have decided to return there for the May dinner. Complete details of time and cost will be sent as soon as possible. We hope that we will see many of our out-of-town members at this meeting.

We must congratulate our Program Committee for lining up an excellent series of meetings both for this spring and also for next season. They have a number of ideas in the works as well, but they could still use your help in suggesting speakers or subjects.

In the New Member Department, we should like to extend a most cordial welcome to Lawrence A. Pomeroy Jr. of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and to Daniel J. Cornillie of Grosse Pointe, Michigan.

Marine News

It is not often that a vessel which appears headed for the wreckers' yard is reactivated, but such is the case of GEORGE M. CARL of, Scott Misener Steamships Ltd. This steamer has been lying idle at Sorel and all indications were that she would soon be sold and would make the one-way tow across the North Atlantic. However, her owners have now decided that an improvement in business prospects merits the fitting out of the CARL and it has been announced that she will head down the St. Lawrence for an upbound cargo of ore. She will then proceed to Port Colborne where she will be converted from coal to oil fuel by Herb Fraser and Associates Ltd. The conversion will undoubtedly ensure her operation for several more years.

The Interlake steamer HENRY G. DALTON suffered a serious fire in her after cabin while tied up at Buffalo in early March. No shipkeeper was aboard and it was not until the fire had gained considerable headway in the galley and mess that it was discovered. Damage is estimated at about $70,000, The vessel was just concluding a three-year charter to the Wilson Marine Transit Co. at the time and has since reverted to Interlake. The Pickands Mather organization has no plans to operate the vessel due to extensive repairs required.

The proposed deal between the American Shipbuilding Co. and Litton Industries Inc. for the purchase by AmShip of the shipyard at Erie and the Wilson fleet has been called off. It would appear that monetary considerations may have killed the sale, but it may be that AmShip had no desire to inherit the problems being encountered by Erie Marine in the completion of STEWART J. CORT. In addition, the value of the Wilson fleet of steamers has been considerably decreased by the firm's loss of ore contracts. Nevertheless, Litton says it considers its lake operations to be a viable business and is not seeking other buyers.

Since the recently-announced retirement of ROBERT S. McNAMARA, observers have been speculating as to what ship would be used by the Ford Motor Co. to transport coal to its plant on Detroit's River Rouge. It is now learned that the company may be intending to convert HENRY FORD II to a self-unloader for the service. The HENRY is a 598 foot motorship built in 1924 at Lorain and, along with her near-sister BENSON FORD, is known for the particularly distinctive sound produced by her diesels. Both ships have previously been employed mainly on the ore run between Marquette and the Rouge.

Speaking of the Ford Motor Co., we should record the passing on March 2nd of John Dykstra, president of the company from 1961 to 1963 and a director from 1958 to 1965. The steamer JOSEPH S. WOOD was renamed JOHN DYKSTRA. in his honour at the time of her purchase several years ago.

Cadwell Marine Ltd., Niagara Falls, was recently fined $200 on each of two counts of smoke emission by the steam sandsucker C. W. CADWELL. The offences allegedly occurred on October 28 and December 10 while the ship was unloading at the Queenston wharf. The vessel's owner complained in court of the high cost of conversion to oil fuel and attempted to lay part of the blame with the provincial government which collects considerable royalties on the sand the vessel dredges from the Niagara River.

For several months, rumours have been making the rounds to the effect that the Papachristidis Co. Ltd. had made arrangements to dispose of its lake fleet. However, it was not until mid-March that it was announced that Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd, had purchased the five maximum-sized Papachristidis bulk carriers for the sum of $25 million. The purchase brings the number of ships in the Upper Lakes fleet to 22 and makes it the second largest Canadian lake operation. The two Vickers-built units involved in the sale, MONTREALAIS and QUEBECOIS, will retain their original names, but GRANDE HERMINE, PETITE HERMINE and FEUX-FOLLETS will become CANADIAN MARINER. CANADIAN HUNTER and CANADIAN LEADER respectively. The vessels will be delivered to their new owners in time for the start of the 1972 shipping season.

The Bethlehem Steel Corp. is expected to take delivery of its new self-unloading bulk carrier STEWART J. CORT about the first of April, but we must say that we will believe this when we see it! The Bethlehem fleet will activate all of its units about the fourth week of April and will even run its oldest ship, the 1917-built BETHLEHEM which most observers had thought the company would retire upon completion of the new vessel. Bethlehem will be one of the few fleets on the lakes to achieve 100 percent operation of its units this year and for this reason, perhaps we should review some of the plans for the various lake fleets that have made their intentions for the coming season known.

American Steamship. Co. will activate all its vessels with the exception of PETER REISS which has now been laid up after operating earlier in the winter on Operation Coal Scuttle. A surprise to us is the operation of HENNEPIN, JACK WIRT and UNITED STATES GYPSUM.

United States Steel will operate all of its self-unloaders and 32 of its 41 straight-deckers, including the craneship CLIFFORD F. HOOD. One of the self-unloaders, the veteran W.F.WHITE, has received a major refitting during the winter at Cleveland.

Columbia Transportation Div. will run all of its units except J. CLARE MILLER and JAMES DAVIDSON.

The Interlake Steamship Co. will not operate SAMUEL MATHER, COLONEL JAMES PICKANDS, WALTER E. WATSON, or HENRY G. DALTON. ROBERT HOBSON may be activated if conditions merit,

Kinsman Marine Transit Co. will keep five vessels in ordinary. These will include R.E.WEBSTER, JOE S. MORROW, and PAUL L.TIETJEN, the latter vessel being a surprise in her appearance on this list. The other ships which will not turn have not been identified positively, but are suspected to be UHLMANN BROTHERS and KINSMAN VOYAGER. A happy development is that JAMES E. FERRIS will be activated this year.

Wilson Marine Transit Co. poses a very large question mark at this time. The company had originally intended to operate only THOMAS WILSON, J. BURTON AYERS, J. H. HILLMAN JR., A.T.LAWSON and BEN MOREELL, but recent developments concerning ore rates make it questionable that the company will operate at all.

National Steel Corp. (Hanna) will not fit out either GEORGE F. FINK or THOMAS E. MILLSOP although the latter may appear later should conditions warrant her operation.

Algoma Central Railway will operate all its units, including the steamer MICHIPICOTEN.

The Reoch companies will apparently activate all their ships including the last of the straight-deckers, ELMDALE and WESTDALE.

Imperial Oil Ltd. will run everything except IMPERIAL WINDSOR. One of the east coast ships may return to the lakes to replace her.

Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. will operate all its vessels except, of course, WIARTON. The sale of this ship to Hamilton scrappers has been held up pending the sorting out of the Upper Lakes-Maple Leaf Mills-Neonex deal.

The Algoma Central Railway recently released its annual report for the year 1971. Total cargo tonnages were up 36% over the previous year. The report stated that the new self-unloader currently building at Collingwood is expected to be delivered in September of this year and an artist's impression of the new vessel showed her carrying the name ALGOWAY on the stern. We are pleased that the company is returning to its famous "Algo" series of names.

Details of the planned conversion of W. M. EDINGTON to diesel propulsion have now been released. The little sandsucker will be towed to Whitby for the removal of her steam machinery. She will then be towed back up Lake Ontario and through the Welland Canal to Port Colborne for the installation of the diesel. It looks like a good deal for whoever gets the towing contract!

Gordon Hacquoil, General Manager and a Director of N.M.Paterson and Sons Ltd., Thunder Bay, died on January 30th, 1972. He had served with the Paterson firm for over 45 years.

The Canadian Dredge & Dock Co. Ltd., Toronto, formerly a division of CDRH Limited, has been acquired by Marwell Dredging Ltd., Regina, Saskatchewan. Only one of the officers of this company is from the lakes area so it would appear that the new management may not be too close to the local shipping scene. CD&D operates mainly on the lower lakes and one of their biggest marine projects has been the construction of harbour facilities at the new Ontario Hydro installation at Nanticoke.

In order to consolidate its various operations, the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Co. Ltd. has moved its offices from Montreal to Delphian House, St. Catharines, where it will maintain joint offices with the parent company, the Ontario Paper Co. Ltd. Speaking of Q&O, it appears that the company is negotiating for the purchase of at least one and perhaps more salt water vessels which it plans to keep in 12-months-a-year service. The ship(s) would operate on the lakes in the summer and the east coast in winter. One of the ships in which interest has been shown is the small British motorship GOSFORTH, a familiar visitor to the lakes for a number of years.

In order to dispose of the partnership assets of the S.& J. Tug Co. following the death of James Reid, a public auction will be conducted by the Sheriff of Lambton County at Sarnia, Ontario, on April 10, 1972, to sell, subject to a reserve bid, the 90-foot steel tug NIPIGON. Readers will remember that this is the tug that was hauled so laboriously overland from Lake Nipigon to Lake Superior when the firm purchased her only last year.

And still the Steinbrenner empire expands! It was announced recently that negotiations for the purchase of the Great lakes Towing Co. by the American Ship Building Co. are nearing completion. The "G Tugs," so named because of their stack insignia, serve virtually every major American lake port and form the largest towing company on either side of the lakes.

The former Canadian Pacific liner EMPRESS OP CANADA, still operating under her old colours but with the new name MARDI GRAS, ran aground on a sandbar off Miami on March 11th while on her first trip for her new owners. She was released without damage after several hours.

The P. & O. Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. has announced that its 29,779-ton liner IBERIA is to be withdrawn from service and put up for sale. The ship was built in 1954 by Harland & Wolff Ltd. at Belfast. She is, apparently, somewhat slower than other ships of the fleet and does not fit into the cruising plans of the company. Her place on the service will be taken by the line's new vessel under construction at Genoa. To be named SPIRIT OF LONDON, this ship is expected to be delivered next autumn.

For those who collect technical data on new vessels, we have some statistics on the U.S. Steel flagship nearing completion at Lorain. ROGER BLOUGH has been assigned official number U.S. 533062. Gross Tonnage is 22,041. while Net is 14,114. Her midsummer draft will be 28'7" and her capacity at that draft will be 47,300 g.t. She is now expected to enter service late this June.

Some few months ago, we reported that the new Branch lanes tanker building at Sorel would be christened ARSENE SIMARD. We now learn that a sister ship, 415 feet in length, has also been ordered from Marine Industries for delivery in 1973. This ship will be named ARTHUR SIMARD.

The museum ship VALLEY CAMP, formerly a unit of the fleet of the Republic Steel Corporation, has been entered in the National Register of Historic Places. That means that the vessel, currently on display in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, has been designated a historic site and is eligible for federal assistance (the U.S. government) in future development.

Ship of the Month No. 21


by James M. Kidd

In April 1931, permission was granted by the Welland Canal authorities for the passage of ships up to 550 feet in length and this step ushered in a new era of exciting vessels for Lake Ontario. (On the 1st of December 1930, special permission had been obtained by Toronto Elevators Ltd. from the Department of Railways and Canals for the passage of JOHN ERICSSON on a 17-foot draft, and this was really the forerunner of events to come). Within two or three months of the opening of the 1931 navigation season, Toronto hosted NORONIC, TIONESTA, JAMES B. EADS, THOMAS BRITT, DOW CHEMICAL (I), and our ship of the month, SARNIAN. For the ensuing twelve years SARNIAN was a regular visitor, bringing almost weekly cargoes of grain to Toronto Elevators. SARNIAN spent the winter of 1931-32 in Toronto and was the first vessel upbound in the Welland Canal at the opening of navigation on April 15, 1932. On July 17, 1932, she established a record upbound passage time of 5 hours, 40 minutes.

SARNIAN is seen downbound at Sault Ste. Marie during her C.S.L. years in this 1923 photo by A. E. Young.In the year 1895, the Cleveland Shipbuilding Co. built a 'tween deck package freighter for Messrs. M. M. Drake and Thomas Maytham of Buffalo. Named CHILI (U.S. 127078), she measured 320.5 feet in length, 42.0 feet in the beam, and 21.8 feet in depth. Her Gross tonnage was 2584, while Net tonnage was shown as 1845. By 1900 the registered owners of the vessel were the Republic Steamship Co., Buffalo, with Drake and Maytham as Managers, and by 1908 she had been sold to the Chicago and Duluth Transportation Co., Chicago, managed by C. W. Elphicke & Co.

CHILI was sold again in 1911, this time to Roy M. Wolvin's American Interlake Line Ltd., Toronto, operated by the Merchants Mutual Line, but registration remained American. She did not appear in the Canadian Register until October 3, 1913, when she was registered in Port Arthur (Can. 134011) for Canada Interlake Lines Ltd., Toronto. At this time her dimensions were shown as 331.8 x 41.5 x 22.0. Tonnage was 2656 Gross, 1710 Net. Her Canadian document was issued bearing her new name SARNIAN.

Canada Interlake Lines Ltd., which had been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal, was taken into the parent fleet on March 26, 1917, and C.S.L. became the owner of record.

SARNIAN continued in the Canadian lake trade until August 29, 1921, when she stranded on Espanore Island, Lake Huron. This is a small island located just off the southwest shore of Drummond Island, and to the east of DeTour Passage. SARNIAN, while upbound, appears to have missed the channel, presumably due to poor visibility. The steamer was salvaged in due course and taken to Collingwood Shipyards where she was repaired. At this time, the final step in a series of renovations was completed. Spars and doghouse were removed from the deck area and two new masts stepped immediately aft of the pilothouse and aft of the stack, the texas cabin was enlarged, and a new upper pilothouse was built. She came out with a greatly improved appearance.

SARNIAN served C.S.L. for a further half decade after her grounding. Late in 1926 business conditions deteriorated and this combined with the mechanical condition of SARNIAN caused C.S.L. to decide that she was surplus to their requirements and to lay her up in Midland.

About this time, Canada Steamship Lines had ideas of promoting a fast freight service between Montreal, Trois Rivieres, and Quebec City, and their eyes fell on the burned-out hull of the passenger steamer UNITED STATES which had become the property of the Reid Towing and Wrecking Co. Ltd., Sarnia, for their salvage bill. (Readers should refer to the article on this subject by the late Capt. Frank E. Hamilton which appeared in the October 1971 issue of the "Telescope," the publication of the Great Lakes Maritime Institute). Thomas Reid, in one of his brilliant deals, exchanged the remains of UNITED STATES for SARNIAN. The speed of the former passenger vessel and yacht was just what C.S.L. wanted for their experiment, but the shortlived BATISCAN was the unfortunate result of the program of reconstruction. Tom Reid did much better with SARNIAN!

Although this swap presumably took place in 1928, registration of SARNIAN to Reid Towing was not recorded until January 24, 1930. The insurance company suit involving John H. Clark and Alfred E. Mathews of Toronto no doubt was the reason for holding registration in abeyance and further credence is evidenced by the fact that C.S.L. did not register BATISCAN until January 7, 1930. As a matter of fact, when the hull of UNITED STATES passed down the Welland Canal on September 16, 1929, bound for Lauzon and rebuild, she was not registered in either the U.S. or Canada as the American document had been surrendered on March 6, 1928!

Reid, no doubt, began scouting around for a customer who would be interested in SARNIAN, and on January 12, 1931, Mr. Gordon C. Leitch of Toronto recorded the purchase and proceeded on January 16th to incorporate the Northland Steamship Company Ltd. Other principals in Northland were Mr. F. T. Carnegie and Mr. G. R. Martin of the Mankato Brewing Co., Mankato, Minnesota.

Northland was to operate the vessel for nine seasons. Her final owners, Upper Lakes and St. Lawrence Transportation Co. Ltd., Toronto, purchased SARNIAN on March 1st, 1940. This was really the result of Mr. Leitch's decision to amalgamate Northland (one ship), Blue Line Motorships (two ships) and Norris Steamship Co. Ltd. (two ships) with the 29-ship fleet of Upper Lakes,

SARNIAN's undoing came in a 50 mph northwest gale and snowstorm while she was en route from Port William to Toronto on December 9, 1943, with 164,000 bushels of barley. While seeking shelter near Bete Grise Bay on the east side of the Keweenaw Peninsula, she was blown onto Point Isabelle Reef. The stranding occurred at about 8:00 on the morning of the 10th. The resultant battering that she suffered led to her abandonment. Capt. J. Hanley and the crew were removed by the Eagle Harbor life saving station, transferred to the cutter PLANETREE, and taken to Sault Ste. Marie when the weather abated. Her register was closed on December 30, 1943, and she was left for the winter.

SARNIAN was released from the reef on July 24, 1944, by K. M. Strait & Co., Houghton, Michigan, who brought her into Portage Lake where she was offered for sale "as is where is" by the underwriters on August 23rd. United Towing and Salvage Co. had her towed to Port Arthur Drydock where she arrived on September 12th for survey and temporary patching. The wartime demand for ships must have influenced the underwriters and led to the decision to hold her for possible sale, but no takers appeared and so she left in tow for Indiana Harbor and the wrecker's torch on July 13, 1947.

Thus ended the life of one of Toronto waterfront's regular visitors, a reportedly cranky ship that pushed her luck once too often. Your scribe spent many hours aboard SARNIAN while she unloaded in Toronto and the crewmen were extremely friendly - men like Capt. Stan Tischart, Capt. Hicks Macbeth, and the late Capt. Bert Bazeley, who were wheelsmen, mates, etc., in the 1930's.

Consortium Ile D'Orleans

By Skip Gillham

In 1971 the Canadian federal government awarded a $21-million contract to a consortium of three firms for dredging in the St. Lawrence. The companies involved are McNamara Marine, the J. P. Porter Co. Ltd., and Marine Industries Ltd. The contract calls for the removal of 14 million cubic yards of "spoil" from the river bed off Ile d'Orleans, a large island located just downstream from Quebec City. This will permit deep-sea ships of 100,000-ton capacity to dock at Quebec.

Workmen at Whitby put the finishing touches on the conversion of ILE D'ORLEANS during 1971. Photo courtesy McNamara Marine.During normal dredging operations, spoil from the bottom of a harbour or river is pumped through pipe supported by floats and is discharged nearby. This method can frequently be observed in operation on Hamilton Bay, one of the large suction dredges used there often being the Porter unit SHUNIAH. It is not practical, however, to follow this procedure at the North Traverse project on the St. Lawrence since the contract requires that the spoil be dumped eleven miles from the site and not just a few hundred feet away.

The Consortium has purchased three "stretched" canallers to assist in the dumping of the spoil material. These are being converted to self-propelled hopper scows. The spoil will be pumped into the hoppers and the ships will then proceed to the specified dumping area where the hoppers will be opened for fast unloading. This method will allow for a continuous dredging process.

The three vessels involved are OREFAX (a) SOUTHCLIFFE HALL, HUTCHCLIFFE HALL, and BULKARIER. All three were purchased late in 1971 and now undergoing conversion to spoil carriers. OREFAX was idle at Hamilton during 1971 and in the fall was towed to Whitby. HUTCHCLIFFE HALL had been laid up at Kingston since the end of the 1970 season but was taken to Sorel before the Seaway closed. BULKARIER has been inactive for several years and was purchased from J. D. Irving Ltd. Her conversion is being done at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

The former Hall Corp. motorvessels OREFAX and HUTCHCLIFFE HALL will be renamed ISLE ROYALE and ILE AUX COUDRES respectively. Their old engines have been removed and in the future they will be propelled by large Harbour Master marine outboards. BULKARIER, a steamer, will be renamed SABLE ISLAND and will be equipped with a 1600 h.p. General Motors diesel. Bow and stern thrusters will also be added.

The problem of supplying electricity to the dredges is being solved by the conversion of the former Canadian National Railway east coast carferry PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND to a floating "mother ship". She will be equipped with six diesel generator sets of 1200 h.p. each. This will enable the Consortium's dredges to operate over a wide area. The mother ship will also serve as a dock for the spoil ships. The spoil will be pumped through the floating pipeline to the mother ship and then into one of the hopper scows. Two vessels can be moored at one time so that when one is filled and moves away, the spoil can be directed to the second carrier. PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND is currently undergoing conversion at Whitby.

Two other veteran lake vessels are involved in this operation. The former tanker CREEK TRANSPORT has been acquired for conversion to a "coastal floating station" (whatever that may be). She has been idle at Montreal and latterly at Sorel since 1969. When she enters service, she will carry the eighth name of her career, ILE DE MONTREAL.

The former canal bulk carrier LOADMASTER (a) NORMAN B. MacPHERSON was acquired in the spring of 1971. She had left; the lakes back in 1959 and had served as a dredge and hopper barge around Saint John, New Brunswick. She was brought back to the lakes during the past summer and was taken to the Whitby yard of McNamara Marine. There, she was outfitted with dump scow bottoms and Harbour Master marine outboards. She is now on the St. Lawrence as (c) ILE D'ORLEANS,

It seems possible that ILE D'ORLEANS will be reunited with her sister ship and former running mate CHARLES R. HUNTLEY, Together, they sailed originally for the Eastern Steamship Co. and later for the Upper Lakes & St. Lawrence Transportation Co. Ltd. The HUNTLEY has been a dredge for McNamara for the last decade. It appears that she may see some service on the North Traverse project as her outboard propulsion, which replaced her original steam machinery several years ago, has now itself been exchanged for conventional diesel engines.

The North Traverse job requires a unique approach to dredging. Considerable imagination and engineering skill has gone into the preparation for the challenge and perhaps we are witnessing the start of what might become common dredging procedure.

Late Marine News

We have learned that the vessels which U. S. Steel will not operate this year are WILLIAM P. PALMER, J. P. MORGAN JR., PERCIVAL ROBERTS JR., WILLIAM J. FILBERT, GEORGE G. CRAWFORD, PETER A. B. WIDENER, HENRY H. ROGERS, HOMER D. WILLIAMS. Somehow we still cannot make our number of operating vessels agree with that announced by the company, but U. S. Steel must use different mathematics than we do. The WILLIAMS, one of the repowered tinstackers, is a surprise on the non-operative list but she apparently is in need of shaft repairs.

The Maid of the Mist Steamboat Co. Ltd., has announced that a third vessel for the fleet is currently under construction at Wheatley, Ontario. The company currently operates two diesel excursion vessels built at Owen Sound during the mid-1950's to replace an earlier pair of wooden steamers. The motorship will be named MAID OF THE MIST (III) and will have a capacity of 150 passengers. She will be sailed as far as Chippawa and then trucked to Niagara Falls where she will be lowered into the gorge by cranes.

The Cleveland Board of Education is seeking to obtain the former U. S. Coast Guard tender WOODBINE for a floating training ship for students of diesel engineering and oceanographical and ecological studies. If the project is approved, the vessel would be moored on the Cleveland waterfront.

Port Weller Drydocks Limited expects to launch its Hull 55 in April. The ship will be a 683-foot automobile and newsprint carrier for the Burnett Steamship Co., Ltd, Immediately after her launch, work will be commenced on a sister vessel.

Reports from Sault Ste. Marie state that the craneship YANKCANUCK is carrying a new stack design now that she is a unit of the Marine Division, Algoma Steel Corp. The stack is painted blue with a white band and black top, and carries a red "A" on the lower portion of the funnel.

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Scanner, v. 4, n. 7 (April 1972)

Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Ship of the Month No. 21; Consortium Ile D'Orleans; Late Marine News