The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Scanner, v. 6, n. 1 (October 1973)
Scanner (Toronto, ON), Oct 1973

Bascom, John N., Editor
Media Type:
Meetings; Editor's Notebook; Keewatin At Duluth
Date of Publication:
Oct 1973
Language of Item:
Copyright Statement:
Protected by copyright: Uses other than research or private study require the permission of the rights holder(s). Responsibility for obtaining permissions and for any use rests exclusively with the user.
Toronto Marine Historical Society
WWW address
Full Text


Friday, November 2nd - 8:00 p. m. at the Marine Museum. Daniel C. McCormick (author of "The Wishbone Fleet") will present an illustrated address entitled "Transition - St. Lawrence Canals to Seaway."

Friday, December 7th - 8:00 p. m, at the Marine Museum. William R. Wilson will speak on the subject of passenger vessels and will present some of his photographs of them.

Editor's Notebook

With this issue we kick off the sixth volume of this publication and we hope that our various issues will be of interest. Any readers having suggestions for articles or news or other items to contribute may feel free to contact the Editor. We are always happy to receive new ideas.

Speaking of articles, readers may have noticed that several months ago we dropped our feature dealing with changes of name and ownership involving salt water vessels which had traded into the lakes. Our reason for this was that most of these items are available from other publications better qualified to report such things. We have had no comments on the disappearance of this column from our pages, but if enough readers really want it to return, we could be persuaded to bring it back. Let us know.

MEMBERSHIP FEES ARE NOW DUE and those wishing to remain members in good standing should remit $7. 00 in Canadian Funds to the Treasurer, James M. Kidd, 83 Humberview Road, Toronto, Ontario. Individual billings will not be mailed, so be advised! Only those joining in the past few months will not be required to renew now, and they will know of this as they were, notified at the time of their joining. THIS IS THE LAST ISSUE WHICH WILL BE SENT TO THOSE WHO HAVE NOT RENEWED.

In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to Donald J. Dube of Windsor.

Marine News

As we mentioned in our last issue, the parade of old lakers down the Seaway and across the Atlantic for scrapping continues. The latest vessels to make the one-way trip are Columbia's WYANDOTTE (down the Welland September 5-6 in tow of SALVAGE MONARCH and HELEN M. McALLISTER) and HURON (down the Welland September 10-11 with G. W. ROGERS and SALVAGE MONARCH). Both these veteran self-unloaders had been moored at the West Street wharf in Port Colborne where they were sealed for the ocean voyage.

We now have more information on other lakers which have made the scrap voyage earlier this year. B. F. JONES and EDWARD S. KENDRICK, the first to go, arrived on May 19th at Castellon, Spain. R. E. WEBSTER and A. E. NETTLETON cleared Quebec on June 15th in tow of JANTAR; JOHN P. REISS and CITY OF SAGINAW 31 cleared Quebec on June 29th behind KORAL; and on August 14th, JANTAR was back to pick up UHLMANN BROTHERS and OTTO M. REISS at Quebec. FAIRPLAY X took WILTRANCO and J. CLARE MILLER in tow from Montreal on August 22nd.

Scrappers on the lakes are active too, as Western Iron and Metal has bought the Goderich Elevator and Transit Company's storage barges F. H. DUNSFORD and K. A. POWELL. Both are to be dismantled at Thunder Bay. The DUNSFORD passed up the Soo Locks on August 18th in tow of the big tug THUNDER CAPE, while the same tug passed up with POWELL on August 31st. At Humberstone, Marine Salvage is cutting on the forward end of PETER REISS, while at Hamilton, United Metals have made quick work out of STERNECLIFFE HALL only the stern keel section being left by mid-September.

The three Canadian Dredge and Dock breakwater hulls have now arrived at Toronto, all three being delivered by SALVAGE MONARCH and HELEN M. McALLISTER. KINSMAN VENTURE was brought into the harbour on August 31st, LACKAWANNA on September 3rd, and RIDGETOWN on September 4th. The vessels are presently resting in the Toronto Turning Basin and it now appears that they may not be used in the Eastern Gap realignment project. A certain amount of stripping has been done on the ships (which were pretty well cleaned out anyway) but no effort has been made to unload the stone cargoes. It is rumoured that RIDGETOWN may join WIARTON, GROVEDALE and HENRY R. PLATT JR. as part of the Stelco dock facing in Hamilton, but we have no confirmation of this.

We really must apologize for the misleading comment in our last issue to the effect that the appearance of the FRONTENAC (newly converted to a self-unloader) is not unpleasing. We based our statement on an aerial photo of the ship in the Collingwood Shipyard which appeared in August in the Toronto papers, but boy - how wrong could we be! The boom is hinged aft as on TADOUSSAC but instead of being set on the forward end of the aft cabin, it sprouts from a monstrous silver box set right on deck. This rig, which appears ridiculously topheavy, completely hides the funnel from sight when viewed from the bow and only the very tip of the mainmast is visible over the top of the installation. We have no doubt in saying that FRONTENAC is the ugliest self-unloader conversion ever perpetrated on the lakes, bar none!

It was announced on September 13th that Collingwood Shipyards had won a contract for a small bulk carrier for N. M. Paterson & Sons Ltd., Thunder Bay. The vessel, to be built as Hull 207, will measure 355' (l. o. a.) x 49' x 30'6 and will cost $5 million. The keel will be laid in June 1974 with the launch scheduled for October 1974 and delivery in the Spring of 1975. The motorship will operate in the lakes - East Coast trade and will probably be somewhat similar in appearance to LABRADOC and PRINDOC. Collingwood yard will be busy over the next few years as, in addition to the Paterson vessel, three other ships are in the works, H. M. GRIFFITH is to be delivered to C. S. L. late this month (October), while the new Manitoulin Island ferry is due out in early summer 1974 and a self-unloader for Algoma Central by October 1st, 1974.

During the week of September 10, the Roen Steamship Company of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, sold its barge SOLVEIG for dismantling at Kewaunee, The vessel, a 325-foot ugly duckling built off-lakes in 1944 as an L. S. T., was rebuilt as a crane barge for Roen in 1951 and served mainly in the pulp trade. This latest step in the breakup of the Roen interests leaves but three ships in the fleet, the barge MAITLAND NO. 1 and the tugs JOHN PURVES and JOHN ROEN V.

The tug HERBERT A., formerly owned by Herb Fraser and Associates of Port Colborne and sold last year for ocean service, is still lying at Sorel, Quebec, and was apparently renamed TARA HALL during August. It is not known what use will be made of the vessel.

Branch Lines' newest tanker ARTHUR SIMARD is due to enter service about the 15th of October and already Marine Industries has an order for the next tanker in the series, this one scheduled for completion in September 1974. Marine Industries also has an order for six salt water ships for a foreign owner so things will be booming in Sorel for the next few years.

The C. S. L. package freighter FORT ST. LOUIS has been chartered to the Newfoundland Steamship Company Ltd., a subsidiary of Clarke Traffic Services Ltd., for service between Montreal and Corner Brook, Nfld. With ESKIMO, FORT CHAMBLY and FORT ST. LOUIS operating off-lakes this summer, the drastically reduced lake run was held down by FORT HENRY, FORT YORK and FORT WILLIAM. Not one of these latter ships has been observed by your editor with anything near a capacity load and long gone are the days of big deckloads of package freight. Indeed, we will not be surprised if the C. S. L. lake package freight service is discontinued completely in the near future.

The research vessel INLAND SEAS, previously owned by the University of Michigan, has been bought by Don Lee of Port Lambton and has been moved to her new owner's home port from Sturgeon Bay. We understand that a buyer for the vessel is being sought.

Several St. Lawrence area tugs have been renamed. Davie Shipbuilding's tug TAKIS V is now the DONALD P. while FOUNDATION VISCOUNT is sailing for Richelieu Dredging Inc. under the name C. O. PARADIS. FOUNDATION VANGUARD now carries the name A. MOIR.

Good news for steam fans! The Toronto sidewheel ferry TRILLIUM passed her recent hull and machinery survey with flying colours, despite having been idle since 1956. Much work will have to be done, of course, on both hull and machinery if she is to be actually returned to service but at least the outlook is favourable. Now the city must consider the financial outlay required to rebuild the upperworks of the ferry.

Speaking of ferries, the Metro Toronto Parks Department has called for tenders for the repowering of the 1951-built double-ender THOMAS RENNIE. The RENNIE is the last of the ferries on Toronto Bay without direct pilot-house engine controls. Although her engines have given trouble in past years, much work has been done on them recently and they are now operating very smoothly. It seems a waste of money to repower the ship before she really needs it.....

For those interested in deep sea passenger vessels, we should make reference to the sale for scrapping of two major ships. The first is the Italia Line's motorship GIULIO CESARE which was built in 1951 for the service between Italy and South America, The CESARE arrived at La Spezia on May 11 and thus becomes the first victim in the forthcoming purge of Italian passenger operations. The other vessel recently sold for scrap is the P. and O. liner CHUSAN, a steamer built in 1950 by Vickers-Armstrongs Ltd, at Barrow-in-Furness. A tremendously popular vessel in both cruising and the trans-Pacific service, she was the second ship in the P. and O. post-war building programme. The scrapping of CHUSAN seems especially untimely when the company is still operating the older HIMALAYA. CHUSAN left Southampton for Kaohsiung, Taiwan, on May 12.

IMPERIAL ST. CLAIR is rapidly taking shape in the building berth at Port Weller Dry-docks but, from your editor's observations, it seems unlikely that she can be delivered this navigation season. As we had thought that the appearance of the new ship would surely spell the end for IMPERIAL SARNIA, we find most interesting a note in the Fall issue of Imperial Oil Fleet News that "as IMPERIAL SARNIA will probably be running next season, manning the new ship will be a problem." It seems we may have the old girl around for a while yet.

In our last issue we neglected to mention the retirement of the Canadian Coast Guard vessel MARMOT, a landing-ship type creature which has been around the lakes during the last few years. Supposedly to be scrapped at Owen Sound, MARMOT was towed from Thunder Bay by ALEXANDER HENRY. The HENRY abandoned the tow at Point Iroquois and from there down through the locks at the Soo to Pipe Island in the lower St. Mary's the tow was handled by the tug DANA T. BOWEN now based at the Canadian Soo. The HENRY then completed the tow to Owen Sound. Your editor observed the BOWEN and MARMOT downbound in the Canadian lock at the Soo in the early evening hours of August 13th.

Three well-known salt water ships which frequently visited the lakes have been sold, two of them for dismantling. The very handsome motorvessel AKOSOMBO which made several trips up the Seaway in 1972 has been sold by Elder Dempster Lines Ltd. to the China Mutual Steam Navigation Company Ltd. AKOSOMBO is notable for her very tall funnel and her splendid accommodations. A typical Blue Funnel liner (she served this line as ASCANIUS), she was built in 1950. The two ships sold for scrapping are OLYMPIC STORM, a 1954-built Liberian tanker which has made many calls at Toronto, and EXANTHIA, a veteran of 1941 which had served American Export Lines. The latter ship, along with sisterships EXTAVIA and EXIRIA inaugurated the American Export services into the lakes after opening of the Seaway and was well known for the classic lines given her by her builders, including a handsome counter stern, an anachronism on the high seas by the time of her building. EXANTHIA was sold by the U. S. Dept. of Commerce to Luria Bros. & Company while OLYMPIC STORM was bought by the Tung Ho Steel Enterprise Company Ltd. who began demolition on January 13, 1973.

The sandsucker CHARLES DICK spent a rather unusual summer running sand from the Niagara Bar to the Rochester area. She finished up the contract and headed back to her usual stomping grounds on Lake Erie on September 21.

A photograph appearing in the Goderich Signal-Star on September 13th shows the former Reoch steamer ELMDALE which is now a unit of the storage fleet belonging to the Goderich Elevator and Transit Company. ELMDALE already has a storage cargo of 289,540 bushels of wheat for the winter. We have also been informed by one of our spies that the owners of the ship have been busy painting the hulls of the remaining four storage units, the steamers LIONEL PARSONS, R. G. SANDERSON and D. B. WELDON, and the barge C. S. BAND.

The Hall tanker INLAND TRANSPORT has apparently been sold to United Metals in Hamilton as were the bulk carriers SHIERCLIFFE HALL and STERNECLIFFE HALL. The tanker, however, remains at Sarnia where she has been laid up since the close of the 1972 navigation season.

Reports appearing in Superior Evening Telegram and the Duluth News Tribune indicate that a firm called Incan Marine Ltd. (a joint venture of Canadian Pacific and Inchcape Ltd., a British concern) is considering the operation of a carferry service between Thunder Bay and Superior. The service would, we understand, be operated with barges and the principal cargo would be newsprint shipped from Thunder Bay by the Great Lakes Paper Company. At last report, Incan was attempting to arrange docking facilities at Superior. At least one barge is reported to be already under construction, although we have no idea where it might be being built.

AVON FOREST, the second vessel built at Port Weller Drydocks for the Burnett Steamship Company Ltd., cleared Port Weller on August 31st. She proceeded to Port Alfred for a load of newsprint bound for Europe.

We have a report that two more units of the Kinsman fleet have been put to the wall, the GEORGE E. SEEDHOUSE at Toledo and KINSMAN INDEPENDENT at Lorain. They join SILVER BAY and KINSMAN VOYAGER which went in earlier in the season. We hope they will be reactivated later this autumn.

The second major casualty of the 1973 season, (the first was HENRY H. ROGERS) has been Inland Steel's WILFRED SYKES. She grounded at Thunder Bay on August 5th while backing from the ore dock (Valley Camp) . She went to South Chicago under her own power and was on the drydock from August 9th to the 14th. She apparently suffered a fair amount of bottom damage.

The Hanna Furnace Corporation's steamer GEORGE R. FINK was sold during the month of September 1973, thus putting an end to rumours that other purchasers were on the verge of buying the vessel. She passed down the Welland Canal in tow of SALVAGE MONARCH and SUPERIOR on September 27-28 bound overseas for scrap, having been bought by Steel Factors Ltd. The FINK was hardly an old ship, having been built in 1923 as WORRELL CLARKSON, but she was still a hand-fired coalburner and this no doubt would discourage anyone interested in operating the ship further.

Elsewhere in this section we have commented on the number of ships under construction or ordered from the Collingwood Shipyard division of the Canadian Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Ltd. It now develops that the yard has also won a contract for two 15,500 self-unloading bulk carriers to be built to the order of the Gypsum Transportation Company, a subsidiary of the Canadian Gypsum Company. The new vessels will operate solely on the east coast. Meanwhile, things look good for Port Weller Drydocks as that firm was low bidder on a new ferry for the Canadian National Railway's service to Newfoundland. The contract is to be let before the end of the year.

Keewatin At Duluth

It hardly seems that long, but it really is eight years since the retirement from passenger service of the Great White Twins of the lakes, the Canadian Pacific Railway steamers KEEWATIN and ASSINIBOIA. Yes, it was the fall of 1965 that saw the end of the C. P. R. lake passenger service, although ASSINIBOIA carried on two more seasons in a freight-only capacity.

The subject of the C. P. R. boats was brought up recently when John Greenwood of Cleveland sent us a page out of the May 17, 1958, issue of Skillings' Mining Review. The page featured the "Marine News" column by Wesley R. Harkins, and we quote:

"A passenger ship in the Duluth-Superior harbor at this early stage of the navigation season is quite unusual, and it was doubly odd that it was one of the Canadian Pacific Railway's ships, the str. KEEWATIN. The ship arrived at Duluth early Tuesday morning, May 6, and moved across to Superior where she went on the dock at Knudsen Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. shipyard for propeller repairs. The ship had 'lost a bucket' (broken a propeller blade) just off Passage Island as she approached Port Arthur. Since the drydock at Port Arthur would not be available for about a week (str. NIPIGON BAY still in dock), the passenger ship moved under its own power to Superior for necessary repairs. Only one propeller blade was broken, but all four were replaced during the docking.

"The KEEWATIN is one of two sister ships that ply regularly between Fort William, Ont., and Port McNicoll, Ont. (on Georgian Bay) carrying package freight in the early and late parts of the season and passengers (and freight) in the summer months. The two ships (the other is the ASSINIBOIA) were built in Scotland in 1907 and brought to this side where they were cut in two for the move into the upper Great Lakes and then put back together again, Once reputed to be among the fastest ships on the Lakes (up to 18 m.p.h.) they make the run from the Lakehead to the Bay in 38 hours. The ships are 350 ft. in length, 43 ft. beam, and 15 ft. depth. They carry some 240 passengers and are manned by a crew of 86 men.

"The KEEWATIN completed its drydocking and was back on its way to the Lakehead Thursday evening, May 8."

Wish we had been aboard KEEWATIN that trip. Funny thing, though, we have never heard how she managed to throw that bucket......

Ship of the Month No. 33

John Hanlan

One of the smaller but best loved passenger ferries which operated on the waters of Toronto Bay was the wooden double-deck propeller JOHN HANLAN, a vessel that served 45 years on the Island route. She came from the yard of Abbey at Port Dalhousie, a well known builder of lake schooners and tugs. Completed in 1884, she was given official number 85519 and measured 71 feet in length, 16 feet in the beam and 6 feet in depth, her tonnage being 37 Gross and 25 Net.

The diminutive steamer was built for the Hanlan Ferry Company to operate principally between the City and Hanlan's Point on Toronto Island, a cottage area popular among Toronto's well-to-do of the time. An amusement park was also located on the Point. The HANLAN got off to a less than auspicious start, however, for on August 29, 1884, in her first year of service, she was damaged by fire. A disgruntled former member of the ferry's crew, one James Robertson, was arrested after the fire and charged with arson. The steamer was immediately repaired and returned to service.

JOHN HANLAN frequently made trips from Toronto across the lake to Port Dalhousie at harvest time to pick up cargoes of Niagara fruit bound for the Toronto market. In the early days of her Island service, she operated in conjunction with the Doty Ferry Company, another operator of ferries on Toronto Bay. In 1890 she was purchased by Lawrence Solman and eventually was chartered to the Toronto Ferry Company Ltd, Solman acquired full control of this concern about 1915.

The date is June 30, 1909, as JOHN HANLAN lies sunk in Toronto's Bay Street ferry docks after being rammed by the H. M. PELLATT.Towards the end of the first decade of the new century came the one major accident which the HANLAN was to suffer in her lifetime. In the early morning hours of June 30, 1909, the HANLAN was laying over for the night at the inner end of the old Bay Street slip, moored parallel with the waterfront and Lake Street. At ten minutes past five, the Canadian Lake & Ocean Navigation Company's steel canaller H. M. PELLATT was entering the slip, intending to tie up on the west side. Captain William Anderson of the PELLATT, who refused to comment at any length to newsmen after the occurrence, apparently rang down for the engines to be reversed but some problem developed and the PELLATT continued ahead, striking the starboard side of the HANLAN near the stern. The little ferry was badly crushed and was pushed right up on the edge of the pier, doing considerable damage to the sidewalk and roadway. She then slid back in the water and sank, rolling onto her starboard side and coming to rest in the position shown in the rare photograph reproduced on our photo page. During all this, she also managed to strike the big double-ender BLUEBELL moored nearby.

Seeing the popular ferry lying sunk and cut almost in two, the papers of the day sadly commented, "It looks as if the JOHN HANLAN has made her last trip to the Island." But such was not the case as the plucky steamer refused to play dead. She was raised and rebuilt and in 1911 she returned to her familiar run across the Bay. Before the accident she had sported a typical (for the day) ornamental octagonal pilothouse with a peak on top, but she was rebuilt with an up-to-date square structure which somehow fitted her character even better. The rest of the ship was changed very little. Her upper deck was open, with shelter provided by a boat deck extending aft from behind the pilothouse. Her lower deck was open fore and aft with an enclosed cabin surrounding the engine area and extending right out to the sides of the vessel. The engineer and his controls were placed at deck level where they never failed to produce stares of wonderment and fascination from the many small-children who crossed to the Island, each boy no doubt longing for the chance to wrap his hand around the brass handle of the throttle.

JOHN HANLAN, incidentally, was powered by low-pressure non-condensing engines which puffed most satisfyingly as she steamed along. She had remarkably fine lines for a wooden steamer of her size and her bow lifted up and back giving her the appearance of a proud little lady showing herself off to all who cared to look.

After her return to service following the accident, JOHN HANLAN continued on the Island run, usually operating to Ward's Island, then a summer community of tents at the extreme east end of the Island, or to the lakeside Home for Little Children, a convalescent hospital located on Gibraltar Point. Along with the other assets of the Toronto Ferry Company Ltd., the HANLAN passed to the ownership of the City of Toronto on November 1st, 1926. The management of the ferry fleet (along with the Hanlan's Point amusement park) was handed over to the Toronto Transportation Commission, operator of the street railway system, on February 21st, 1927. JOHN HANLAN was one of three steamers put into service on April 15th, 1927, the first day of T. T. C. operation.

The HANLAN in her later years was commanded by Captain Patrick J. McSherry, an affable gentleman who had been Lightkeeper at Toronto's Gibraltar Point Lighthouse for a number of years. He came from a family of lake sailors, three of whom perished in the wreck of the schooner BELLE SHERIDAN when she foundered in Weller's Bay, Lake Ontario, in 1880. In the days of Lawrence Solman and the Toronto Ferry Company, the ferry skippers were never required to wear uniforms unless they so desired and bought them on their own. Pat McSherry took full advantage of this situation and could usually be seen sporting a bowler hat. It was with great reluctance that he complied with the T. T. C.'s requirement that officers wear uniforms complete with peaked cap.

Despite the technological advances achieved by the 1920's, JOHN HANLAN operated right to the end of her days without the benefit of electric light, as far as we can discover, although all but one of the other ferries were fitted with generators. As a result, she must have had a very quaint atmosphere about her when she operated at night, her cabin aglow with lamplight, on occasions such as the evening of July 1st, 1927, when she carried a large party from the city to observe the Dominion Day fireworks display at Hanlan's Point.

But alas, like all wooden vessels, her upperworks needed more and more repair work as time passed, and her hull began to lose its strength. She even damaged her own stern when, about 1927, she attempted to tow the ferry LUELLA back to the city docks from Ward's Island where LUELLA was lying disabled, having broken her shaft. JOHN HANLAN began to tow while LUELLA was still tied to the dock, a deckhand probably dozing by the rail instead of attending to his duties. Unfortunately, the hawser did not break and the HANLAN's superstructure at the stern was torn away, including the towing post. Despite her age, repairs were effected.

JOHN HANLAN operated through the 1927 and 1928 seasons but finally in the spring of 1929 she failed to pass inspection. The tired old steamer suffered the humiliation of being towed to Sunnyside Beach where she was set afire on July 19, 1929, as a spectacle. Similar acts of public "vandalism," designed to increase attendance at the Sunnyside amusement park, proved to be the end of two other veteran Island ferries, JASMINE and CLARK BROS.

Before the HANLAN was burned at the stake, her whistle, a very high-pitched and far-carrying chime, was removed and transferred to LUELLA, a wooden single-decker dating from 1880. When this steamer was herself retired at the close of the 1935 season, the whistle was again moved, this time to the T. J. CLARK, a passenger and freight steamer built in 1911. The CLARK last operated in 1959 and was scrapped during the winter of 1960-61 by the Toronto Dry Dock Company Ltd. During 1960, while the CLARK was lying at the Bay Street docks, the whistle disappeared and, despite the efforts of several enthusiastic searchers, the wandering artifact has never surfaced. Somewhere, where its true value is probably not realized, rests the last reminder of the many years of faithful service of the little steamer JOHN HANLAN.

Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.

Scanner, v. 6, n. 1 (October 1973)

Meetings; Editor's Notebook; Keewatin At Duluth