The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Scanner, v. 5, n. 2 (November 1972)
Scanner (Toronto, ON), Nov 1972

Bascom, John N., Editor
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Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; A Perfect Picture Of Decrepitude; Ship of the Month No. 25; William T. Sharp; Late Marine News
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Nov 1972
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Toronto Marine Historical Society
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Friday, December 1st - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. The Editor will speak about Great Lakes railroad carferries..

Friday, January 5th - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Mr. John Jursa of the Public Information Department of the Toronto Harbour Commission is arranging for an address and slide show on the Port of Toronto.

The Editor's Notebook

Those present at the October meeting not only saw a good selection of slides dealing with our members' summer shipping activities, but were involved in a discussion of your Executive's ideas on a better format for our meetings. We hope to put the new arrangements into effect at the November meeting -- drop around to one of our get-togethers and see if you don't notice an improvement.

In addition, it was stated that your Executive wished to see more members lending a hand at meetings and in the operation of the Society. In particular, it was hoped that Messrs. Bruce Smith, Dyke Cobb, Bill Wilson and Jack Heintz would agree to being "conscripted" for active service!

As an additional comment, your Editor wishes to make it quite clear that he is aware of the desire on the part of many of our members for more news and articles dealing with salt water vessels. He is, however, unable to supply this information himself and would suggest that those involved make an effort to contribute items of interest, such as the excellent article by Gordon Turner in last month's issue. 'Nuff said?

In the New Member Department, a most hearty welcome goes out to Martin R. Bliss of Stockbridge, Michigan.

Marine News

Two-way vessel traffic returned to the upper reaches of the St. Clair River on September 26th when the partially raised bow section of the SIDNEY E. SMITH JR. (II) was secured to the American shore of the river. The bow still had a severe list to the starboard, however, and looked rather precarious. As with the stern section which was floated some time ago, workmen have been engaged in cutting away the superstructure which was, as might be imagined, in rather poor condition due to its summer beneath the swift waters of the Narrows. The stern section, on which bids for removal and scrapping have been asked, is currently moored above the bow and is secured to the lower end of the Peerless Cement Company dock. The Coast Guard is still discouraging vessels from passing oncoming traffic in the area of the wreck and vessels approaching the Blue Water Bridge must make appropriate Security Calls on the radio when upbound near the Traffic Buoy and when downbound at various buoys in Lake Huron.

The package freight operations of Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. have now been at a standstill for a number of weeks as a result of strike action by the company's cargo handlers who are seeking wages comparable to those paid at other docks to ordinary stevedores. The company has stated that it could not remain in operation if wages for handlers were that high and the argument has become deadlocked. In recent days, C.S.L. has been circulating word that it will abandon the service entirely if a settlement is not forthcoming in the near future. Meanwhile, shippers are becoming concerned over their goods which are marooned in C.S.L. warehouses beyond the picket lines and in the holds of the company's vessels laid up in various ports.

The Algoma Central Railway's self-unloader ALGORAIL encountered misfortune on October 6th when heavy winds blew her against the breakwater at Holland, Michigan, where she was to unload a cargo of salt from Goderich. The motorship sustained a fourteen foot gash in her side and settled to the bottom in shallow water. She was soon raised, unloaded, and sent off for repairs.

Another accident occurred on October 1st when the U.S. Steel ore carrier PHILIP R. CLARKE, downbound in the Seaway on her only such trip of the season, struck an unknown obstruction below the Snell Lock. She unloaded her cargo of grain at Montreal and went to the yard of Canadian Vickers Ltd. where her crew was paid off for a month to allow for extensive repairs.

The tug JOHN ROEN III has apparently been sold by Consolidated Paper to the Solveig Marine Towing Company of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

Salvage work is underway on the small steel goelette VOYAGEUR D. which was sunk earlier in the year near St. Irenee, Quebec. The operation is being undertaken by Atlantic Salvage Ltd. and we understand that much of the cargo of aluminum has already been brought to the surface. VOYAGEUR D. was a visitor to the lakes during the 1971 shipping season.

The barge ALFRED KRUPP, used recently as a breakwater in the Hydro Electric Pumped Storage Project at Ludington, Michigan, was raised during the month of August. She was towed to Kewaunee, Wisconsin, on September l4th by the tug JOHN ROEN V. We understand that the barge appears to be in good shape. ALFRED KRUPP was latterly a unit of the fleet of the Mohawk Navigation Company Ltd., Montreal, and last operated about 1960, after which she was used for grain storage at Owen Sound. She was sold for use in the Lake Michigan "breakwater fleet" in 1967.

It appears that the Escanaba Towing Company's barge WILTRANCO has run into some more bad luck. We understand that she snagged the SMITH wreck buoy in the St. Clair River on two occasions during the latter part of the season and that she ran foul of a dock at Marine City, Michigan. In addition, her tug LEE REUBEN suffered an engine failure at the Soo during September and one of the barge's crew members was killed in a Blue Water Bridge unless she has two tugs. Visions of WILTRANCO high and dry some day in Port Huron's Pine Grove Park .........

The scrapping of THORO, (a) CARMI A. THOMPSON, (b) THOROLD (III), at Ramey's Bend on the Welland Canal is progressing at an unusually fast rate. As of October 21st, only about one quarter of her tank top was left and the side plating was cut right back to forward of the stern cabins. She will undoubtedly disappear entirely in short order. Meanwhile, THOROLD IV, (a) GOSFORTH, is in service on the lakes. We have yet to hear any recurrence of the report which made the rounds earlier in the year to the effect that Q & O was considering dropping further tonnage at the close of this year's navigation season. Mentioned as candidates for the retirement ranks were OUTARDE and the rather elderly motorships (ex barges) BLACK RIVER and PIC RIVER.

If Canada's Liberal federal government is returned to office in this fall's elections it appears that we may see some drastic changes in the shape of the Toronto Waterfront. On a recent visit to our city, Prime Minister Trudeau announced, presumably as an election plum, plans to redevelop the waterfront from York Street west to Bathurst Street as a park. City politicians were caught with their pants down on this one as they apparently had no inkling of what was planned. If the development is carried out, picnickers may well be able to look forward to eating their lunches in close proximity to the crystal clear waters of picturesque Toronto Bay on land currently occupied by the facilities of, amongst others, the Terminal Warehouse, Toronto Elevators, the Metro Marine Yard, the Canada Malting Company, Harbour Brick, and the former site of our late, lamented baseball stadium. It will be interesting to see whether the companies named, all of which engage in lake shipping, will relocate elsewhere on the waterfront.

UHLMANN BROTHERS, currently the "grand old lady" of the Kinsman Marine Transit Company's fleet, ran into a spot of trouble on September 21st. While in Lake Superior near Eagle Harbor, Michigan, she was caught in the trough of a heavy sea which was running and sent out a call for help. A number of vessels, including ELTON HOYT 2nd, stood by but UHLMANN BROTHERS managed to fight her way out of the trough and continued her voyage.

The second major collision of the 1972 season occurred about 11:00 a.m. on October 5th when the Bethlehem Steel Corporation's bulk carrier ARTHUR B. HOMER was struck head-on by the Greek salty NAVISHIPPER near Buoy 83 in the Fighting Island Channel of the Detroit River. It was subsequently learned that the salty had missed a turn in the channel and it was while her skipper was trying to correct the error that she strayed into the path of the downbound laker. It seems that the U.S. Coast Guard was waiting to serve NAVISHIPPER with a notice of violation for not carrying a pilot, but the accident occurred before the U.S.C.G. could board the vessel. The ship had sailed from Toledo with no pilot as a result of a longshoremen's strike at that port. The fine for such a violation is the ridiculously low sum of $500. The NAVISHIPPER was riding high in the water at the time of the collision and she opened a large gaping hole in the bow of the HOMER. The latter's forward cabins were pushed backward by the flaring bow of the Greek. The HOMER was subsequently unloaded at Detroit and proceeded under tow to Lorain where repairs, estimated at something in the area of $750,000, are being completed by the American Shipbuilding Company.

A Perfect Picture Of Decrepitude

We are all, no doubt, familiar with the sight of retired vessels lying at dock or at anchor in the various lake ports awaiting sale to other operators or scrappers. Such ships may begin to look a trifle rough after a couple of years of inactivity as the sun bleaches and bubbles hull paint and soot in the air leads to smudges on whitework. However, at no time has your Editor seen anything to resemble what may be seen at the presesnt time in the Strathearne Street slip in Hamilton Harbour.

Earlier in the year, we reported that the last remaining steam tugs of the Canadian Dredge and Dock Company Ltd. had been towed to Hamilton where all three were to be broken up. The trio was not scrapped at C.D. & D's own pier as were other superannuated steam tugs, but are currently being cut up by United Steel and Metals.

All that is left of FRANK DIXON, built in 1920 at Dartmouth, England, is her grimy gray hull, completely stripped of cabins and machinery. In fact, the day we saw her, the hull of the DIXON was swinging out into the slip, her forward mooring lines having chafed in the rusty fairlead until they parted. STRATHMORE, built in 1911 at Midland and the oldest of the group, was partially cut down. All the fixtures had been stripped from her cabins and her pilothouse had been cut away, leaving only her very tall funnel protruding above the boat deck.

During happier days, the Canadian Dredge & Dock tug A. M. GERMAN is seen at work in Port Colborne Harbour, May 10, 1958. J. H. Bascom photo.By far the saddest sight of all, however, is what remains of A. M. GERMAN. Built in 1926 at Midland, this tug was, in your Editor's opinion, one of the most handsome steel tugs ever seen in these parts. Now, however, she lies devoid of any navigational equipment. Her paint is faded and blistered and her forward cabin shows evidence of severe damage by fire some time in the past. Burned areas are well rusted over and every port and window in the vessel has been smashed. Woodwork in the pilothouse hangs in strips and the frames of several unshuttered windows have been wrecked beyond repair. The funnel is so badly rusted that daylight can be seen right through it in several spots. Never have we seen a ship in such sickening condition.

The three tugs last operated about 1958 in the preparations for the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. In the intervening years, we held hopes that they and their already-scrapped mates such as MINNICOG and SHAWANAGA might be converted to diesel power as were G. W. ROGERS and TRAVELLER, but this was not to be. If these faithful workhorses cannot be rebuilt and put to use by other owners, then we sincerely hope that the scrappers may do their job quickly and put all three out of their misery as soon as possible.

Ship of the Month No. 25


In the late 1880's, Polson Iron Works Ltd. of Toronto established a branch shipyard at the Georgian Bay port of Owen Sound, Ontario. The first vessel built at the new yard was the famous passenger and package freight steamer MANITOBA launched in 1889 for the Canadian Pacific Railway as a replacement for the unfortunate ALGOMA. In fact, the engines of ALGOMA were salvaged from the wreck on Isle Royale and fitted in MANITOBA where they served until the steamer was scrapped in 1950.

The camera of A. E. Young caught SEGUIN upbound in the St. Mary's River about 1918. Photo from the Bascom collection.The second vessel built by Polsons at Owen Sound was the freight steamer SEGUIN (Can. 94763). She was 207.0 feet in length, 34.2 feet in the beam, and 13.0 feet in depth, and her tonnage was 1141 Gross, 771 Net. Launched in 1890, she was an iron and steel bulk carrier constructed primarily to carry lumber, her owners being the Parry Sound Transportation Company Ltd., Toronto. This concern was controlled by lumberman J. B. Miller.

SEGUIN was powered by a triple expansion engine built by Polsons in 1890 with cylinders measuring 17", 28" and 46" and a 30" stroke. This machinery gave her Nominal Horsepower of 116 on steam supplied by two Scotch boilers measuring 11' by 11'. It is interesting to note that these engines outlived the hull for which they were built. Subsequent to the final demise of SEGUIN, over a half century later, they were installed in the big tug STOIC ESSEX for the Detroit and Walkerville Perry Company. She was later known as the tug (b) J. E. McQUEEN before being purchased by the Imperial Oil Company Ltd. in 1944 and rebuilt and repowered for use in South American waters.

SEGUIN served in the lumber trade and other operations for the Parry Sound Transportation Company Ltd. until 1916 when she was purchased by A. B. McKay of Hamilton. He sold her in 1917 to Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal, who rebuilt her as a package freighter with 'tween decks. To facilitate the handling of package freight, two deck cranes were fitted soon after the conversion. They replaced SEGUIN's main mast and the cargo booms which were fitted on it. In fact, at the time of her commissioning in 1890, SEGUIN had carried three masts and was equipped for auxiliary sail.

C.S.L. introduced its "Maple" series of names (see the October "Ship of the Month") in 1919 and accordingly in 1920 SEGUIN became (b) MAPLEBORO, the "B" of "Boro" signifying that the ship was a package freighter. During the 1920's, C.S.L. departed from its usual colour scheme when MAPLEBORO served as an additional ship on the Northern Navigation Company Division package freight run from Sarnia to the Lakehead. Presumably to make her look more like the large passenger steamers on the same route, she was given a black hull with a wide white band extending down from the deck for about six feet. She was the only freight vessel to be so painted and looked all the more unusual in that she had no raised forecastle -- in fact, the "forecastle" was actually a step or two below the rest of the deck.

In 1923, MAPLEBORO was placed on the Montreal-Toronto-Hamilton express package freight service and to conform with the practice of having vessels on this route named for the cities they served, she was renamed (c) CITY OF MONTREAL (II). She did not see much service on this route, however, for in 1926 there arrived the first of the new "City" class express steamers built especially for the service. She was accordingly given the name (d) ARVIDA but continued on the run until the next year when all of the new vessels were in operation.

ARVIDA was laid up in Hamilton in 1927 and after several years of inactivity she was towed to Kingston where she joined Canada Steamship Lines' large fleet of inactive carriers, many of which were never again to see active service. She remained at Kingston until 1937 when she was sold to Les Chantiers Manseau Ltee., Sorel, the firm that later became known as Marine Industries Ltd. The by now decrepit remains of ARVIDA were towed to Sorel and there, in 1944, she was cut up for scrap.

William T. Sharp

It is with deep regret that we report the death of one of the early members of the Toronto Marine Historical Society, Mr. William T. Sharp of Toronto. We learned only recently that Bill lost his life in a mountain-climbing accident in British Columbia during the summer months while on an expedition with the Alpine Club of Canada.

Bill was a Professor of Mathematics by profession and at the time of his death was Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Toronto. He was an avid ship and railway enthusiast and some of our members will recall that he participated in the NORISLE-NORGOMA excursions in June 1971.

He will be sadly missed.

The Garden Island Timber Droghers

In the last issue of SCANNER, we published a picture showing the C.S.L., steel canaller MAPLEHURST laid up in the upper harbour at Port Dalhousie along with a number of other ships in the fleet. To the extreme left appears the wooden bulk carrier SIMLA. This latter vessel was built by the Calvin Company at their yard on Garden Island, Ontario, for their own fleet.

The Calvin family settled on Garden Island, which is located in the Upper St. Lawrence River near Kingston, in the 1830's and built up a large and lucrative timber forwarding business. Timber was gathered from all over the Great lakes area and brought to Garden Island by vessels. There it was unloaded and formed into rafts. which were towed down the River to Quebec City by company owned tugs for shipment to the United Kingdom.

Originally lake schooners, commonly referred to as "timber droghers," brought the timber to Garden Island. When steam superceded sail in lake trade, the Calvins built their own steam barges which towed the old schooners, by now cut down to barges. Squared timber was collected at the beaches and in small out-of-way harbours and was stowed aboard the vessels while at anchor as the weather permitted. The steamers were fitted with timber ports in their bows and the schooners were equipped with stern-ports. The sticks were floated out to the ships and entered via the ports, sliding down inclines of heavy plank in the hold and positioned by hand labour. When a ship was loaded to the port sills, the ports were closed and caulked. Further loading then went on via the deck, the timber being hoisted up by masthead tackles or gaff purchases. Thus the timber droghers not only filled their holds but also carried high piles of timber on deck.

Many of the Calvin schooners were named after foreign countries, such as BAVARIA, BURMA, CEYLON, DENMARK, NORWAY, etc., and this practice was carried over into the steam era.

This early photo of D. D. CALVIN, supplied by the late C. H. J. Snider, illustrates the loading of timber through the steamer's bow port. In the background is the schooner HERBERT DUDLEY.The first Calvin wooden propeller was built at Garden Island in 1883 and was launched as D.D.CALVIN (Can. 83298). She was 166 feet in length, 32 feet in the beam and 15 feet in depth, with tonnage of 750 Gross and 483 Net. Upon completion of the heavy wooden hull, the CALVIN was towed to Cleveland for the installation of her machinery. D.D.CALVIN served her original owners until she burned at Garden Island on April 11, 1910.

The Calvins' second steamer was the ARMENIA (Can. 74388) which they purchased in the 1880's. Built at Chatham, Ontario, in 1873, she measured 172 x 25 x 12. Tonnage was 643 Gross and 403 Net. She was sold out of the fleet about 1900.

The third steamer in the fleet was JACK (Can. l0066l), built at Garden Island in the Calvins' own shipyard in 1895. Her measurement of 178 x 38 x 13 gave her tonnage of 833 Gross, 478 Net. She proved to be an unlucky ship and was involved in a number of mishaps including a serious collision with a lock gate in the Welland Canal. At any rate, she was rebuilt and renamed BOTHNIA in 1896 and passed out of the fleet about 1902. She was abandoned as a total loss after a collision in the St. Clair Flats with the steel upper laker S.S. CURRY on June 23, 1912. At that time, BOTHNIA was bound from Meaford to Welland. One crew member lost his life in the accident. Montreal Transportation Company Ltd. were her owners at the time of the accident.

INDIA (Can. 107735) was the fourth steam barge in the Calvin fleet and was built at Garden Island in 1899. She measured 215.9 x 36.4 x 15.0 and her tonnage was listed as 976 Gross, 573 Net. When the Calvins retired from the timber forwarding trade in 1914, the INDIA went to the Montreal Transportation Company Ltd. and thus in time became a unit of the fleet of Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. She settled to the bottom in the Welland Canal in 1922 and was abandoned to the Reid Wrecking Company of Sarnia. Capt. Reid salvaged the INDIA and sold her to Crawford & Company, Montreal (India Navigation Company). This concern sold her in 1926 to Ramsey Bros. of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, who operated her until she burned in the North Channel off Manitoulin Island on September 5th, 1928.

The last wooden steam barge built by the Calvins at Garden Island was the SIMLA (Can. 112144) of 1903. She was 225.6 feet long, 34.8 feet in the beam and 15.0 feet in depth, her tonnage being 1197 Gross and 731 Net. When the hull was completed, it was towed to the yard of Polson Iron Works Ltd., Toronto, for the installation of engines. Like INDIA, the SIMLA went to the Montreal Transportation Company Ltd, in 1914 and later joined the C.S.L. fleet. She was retired from service in the early 1920's and was laid up at Portsmouth, Ontario. The hull being no longer fit for service, her power plant was removed and in 1929 was installed in the steel canaller MAPLEHEATH where the engines continued to see service until this ship was withdrawn from service as a bulk carrier in 1959. The hull of SIMLA burned at Portsmouth about 1926 and the hulk settled on the bottom. It was finally raised by Sin Mac Lines Ltd. on September 6th, 1937, and was scuttled in deep water in Lake Ontario off Kingston.

It may be of interest to our readers that the Calvin family owned one further steamer, but that she never ran in the timber trade. This vessel, of course, was the steel canaller PRINCE RUPERT (Can. 124260) built in 1908 at Dumbarton, Scotland, and owned and operated by several Calvin subsidiaries. She measured 249.0 x 43.0 x 19.5 with tonnage of 1908 Gross and 1172 Net. She, too, was acquired by Montreal Transportation Company Ltd. in 1914 and was renamed (b) NORTHMOUNT. She was requisitioned for war service in 1915 but was lost at sea on December 18, 1915, while on a voyage from Newport News, Virginia, to Trinidad.

(ED. NOTE - We hope our readers will enjoy a look into the timber droghing operation through the photo of D.D.CALVIN appearing in this issue. The photograph, from the collection of the late C.H.J. Snider, was taken some time during the 1890's and shows D.D.CALVIN loading squared timber through her bow ports while lying in Toronto harbour off the foot of Brock Street).

Late Marine News

Over the past few years, it has been evident that the Algoma Central Railway was systematically weeding out its older vessels and replacing them with modern self-unloading motorships. The last of the old steamers was MICHIPICOTEN, owned by the subsidiary Providence Shipping Ltd. This was a Nassau, Bahamas, company formed when the MICHIPICOTEN was purchased in 1964 from the United States Steel Corporation for whom she had been built at West Bay City, Michigan, in 1905 as HENRY C. FRICK, a name she carried until her sale.

MICHIPICOTEN was to have been retired in 1971 but she was held in the A.C.R. fleet through 1972 to run on the Toledo to Sault Ste. Marie coal route until delivery of the newest self-unloader ALGOWAY . Since this was accomplished in September, MICHIPICOTEN has been used in other trades, but just as we were going to press with this issue of the "SCANNER", we learned that MICHIPICOTEN was due to pass down the Welland Canal on October 27th on her last voyage. Her cargo was salt bound for a lower "St. Lawrence River port (probably Quebec City) and after discharging the salt she was scheduled to sail light to Sorel where she is to be laid up prior to being towed across the Atlantic for scrapping.

And so passes another of the rapidly disappearing conventional steamers from the Canadian lake fleet. We could hope that some other operator might purchase MICHIPICOTEN for further service, but prospects are not good. After all, who would want a sixty-seven year old coal-fired steamer these days? Now, a few years ago ....

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Scanner, v. 5, n. 2 (November 1972)

Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; A Perfect Picture Of Decrepitude; Ship of the Month No. 25; William T. Sharp; Late Marine News