Friday - January 4 - 8:00 p. m. at the Marine Museum. Film Night. Among films scheduled are "Farewell Voyage of the QUEEN ELIZABETH," a National Film Board feature on the Montreal tug SIR HUGH ALLAN, and a very old N. F. B. film on old lakers. Others may also be shown.
Friday - February, 5 - 8:00 p. m. at the Marine Museum. An open slide night. Members are invited to bring slides, but we would ask that they be of a historic nature, e. g. slides of old ships that have been retired.
The Editor's Notebook
Our November meeting proved to be one of the best we have ever had, thanks to Dan McCormick who journeyed up from Massena, N. Y., to present an impression, through photo and word, of the old St. Lawrence canals and the transition to the present Seaway. The photos were rare and valuable, but even more spellbinding were Dan's reminiscences of the old canals. All those present join in thanking him for coming and hoping that he will be back soon.
In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to J. Edward Schwartz of Lakewood, Ohio, to Bob Ireland of London, Ontario, and to Paul Michaels of Flint, Michigan.
This is our last issue of the 1973 calendar year and we would like to thank all those who have faithfully sent us news and clippings to make our job a little easier. Please keep 'em coming in 1974.
And now, as the mists rise from the cold lake waters, as ice begins to form in the backwaters, and as the ships hurry along, the salties to their freedom on the open ocean and the lakers to the safety of winter quarters, we send along to each and every one of you our very best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happiness in the New Year.
Those who have been following the story of the TRILLIUM, Toronto's sidewheel ferryboat, are breathing a lot easier these days. The reason, for anyone who may not have heard, is that Metro Toronto Council has approved plans to rebuild the TRILLIUM and put her back in service after a 17-year period of idleness spent amongst the lily pads in Lighthouse Pond. Council gave its blessing to a budget of $900,000 for the job. The ferry is to be taken almost immediately to the Keating Channel where the work of demolishing her rotten wooden superstructure will begin. She will be rebuilt according to the original plans and the new superstructure, to be made of aluminum, is to be an exact replica of the original in every detail. It is apparently hoped that she will be ready for service in 1975. Speaking as one who has watched TRILLIUM both in operation and in years of mouldering away in a backwater, your Editor forecasts that the day the steamer goes back in service will be a day of marine celebration such as has not been seen on the Great Lakes for many many years.
CONISCLIFFE HALL, en route to Port Colborne for conversion to a drillrig, is seen on Lake Ontario near the False Duck Islands, October 15, 1973. Wm. Baird Photo - the Kingston Whig-Standard, courtesy Nels Wilson.The breakup of the fleet of Halco canal motorships laid up at Kingston continues. In our last issue we reported the removal of CONISCLIFFE HALL to Port Colborne for conversion to a drill rig (see the photo this month) and now we can confirm that EAGLESCLIFFE HALL has been sold for service in the Caribbean (not the Mediterranean as earlier rumoured). She cleared Kingston at 10:30 a. m. on November 17 under the command of one of our members, Capt. Denis Conway, bound for New Orleans. We understand that she encountered engine difficulties the first day out but that she was able to proceed. It is said that she will operate under the British flag and that her regular run will be from New Orleans to Rio de Janeiro. In addition, we have heard that the new owner (as yet unidentified) has options on the two remaining Hall canallers, WESTCLIFFE HALL and NORTHCLIFFE HALL.
Another laker wandering to salt water is Canada Steamship Lines' package freighter FORT CHAMBLY which has been chartered for six months to Saguenay Shipping for service between Port Alfred and the Caribbean. The ship had spent part of the autumn laid up at Kingston but departed in early November en route to her new duties.
In our last issue we commented that we believed the trip early this fall of C. H. McCULLOUGH JR. down the Welland Canal to Oswego was this steamer's first transit of the Welland. We stand corrected. Our treasurer has shown us a photo he took of her in the canal, the year apparently being 1937. Surprisingly, she made another trip down this fall on November 9th with soy beans for Victory Mills in Toronto, the first such cargo to arrive in many months. She cleared Toronto on the 12th and headed back to the upper lakes. Now we may have been wrong about the canal passage, but we can state definitely that this was the McCULLOUGH's first visit ever to Toronto.
The camera of Bill Bruce caught the tug PRESQUE ISLE, part of Litton's tug-barge combination, inbound at Port Weller piers, on November 16, 1973.The tug PRESQUE ISLE passed up the Welland Canal on November 16 en route from New Orleans to Erie where she will be coupled with the barge of the same name. The tug, registered at Los Angeles, is a very stubby thing with a cabin five decks high. The most startling feature of the tug, however, is her draft markings. How many times have you seen a tug which draws twenty-three feet of water? The tug, being coupled right to the big barge, will have to rise and fall in the water just like the barge as it is loaded and unloaded and this is of course the reason for her great depth.
One of the biggest items of marine news to break in some time is the announcement that the American Shipbuilding Company has a $70-million contract to build two 1000-foot self-unloading bulk carriers for the Interlake Steamship Company. The vessels, to be built at AmShip's Lorain yard, will be delivered in July 1976 and July 1977, and will be capable of handling about 59,000 tons of ore each. The job will require immediate expansion of the Lorain drydock and a contract for this work has also been let. PM is certainly thinking big about this major piece of expansion for its lake fleet as it also has an option on the construction of two more similar vessels. We understand that the design of the ships is not yet complete, but they will be twin screw motorships with rounded bows. It is pleasing to report, however, that they will not be stemwinders and will have pilothouses located forward.
While on the subject of new vessels and ship design, let us turn our thoughts once again to the ugliest duckling of all time, BoCo's CHARLES E. WILSON, the heroine (?) of a feature article in our last issue. We keep hearing very interesting reports on this vessel, reports that mention continuing mechanical difficulties, terrible vibration and noise in her boxy after cabin, and problems whenever the vessel tries butting into a head sea. She apparently will be heading back to Sturgeon Bay for the fitting of a raised forecastle designed to keep the deck a bit drier. Meanwhile, another beauty, BoCo's next in line to be christened H. LEE WHITE, is to be launched at Sturgeon Bay on December 1st. We just can't wait to see what she looks like....
A number of very large colliers may be in the works for the Detroit Edison Company which needs the tonnage to supply coal for its generating station at St. Clair, Michigan. Edison has signed a letter of intent with the American Steamship Company (BoCo) for the construction of one 770-foot ship to be ready for service by April 1, 1976. She is to be built at Sturgeon Bay and it has already been said that she will look just like other "new Profile" lake vessels. In other words, she will be another WILSON. Edison has not committed itself on the construction of any further ships at this time, but has let it be known that three or four vessels might be needed.
Another new one was christened as a bottle of bubbly broke across the bow of PAUL THAYER at the AmShip yard at Lorain on October 27th. The ship is a sister to WILLIAM R. ROESCH which entered service earlier in the season. Yet another christening was that of C. S. L.'s newest monster, H. M. GRIFFITH which was given her name by Mrs. G. E. Gathercole, wife of the Chairman of the Board of Ontario Hydro, in ceremonies at Collingwood on September 26th. The GRIFFITH has since entered service, as has the THAYER.
When U. S. Steel sent its BENJAMIN F. FAIRLESS down the Seaway this fall, observers of the shipping scene wondered whether this trip would be more successful than PHILIP R. CLARKE's ill-starred Seaway passage of 1972. Well, it happened again, and your Editor wouldn't be surprised if some of U. S. S. 's bigwigs are beginning to get a complex about sending their boats east. During the evening of November 7th, the FAIRLESS was raising in Lock 4 of the Welland. For some unexplained reason, there was a freak blowback in a discharge valve, possibly a result of air being sucked in and blowing up through the system under pressure. The valve was unseated and a massive fountain of water shot up out of the west wall of the lock causing a nice flood on Canal Road. Fortunately, the FAIRLESS was undamaged but she had to be lowered again and then backed out of the upbound lock. She and a number of other vessels had to be routed up the east half of the flight locks normally used for downbound movements.
The Goderich elevator owned by Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. has been sold to the Goderich Elevator and Transit Company Ltd. which owns the other elevator in Goderich harbour. Presumably this is one reason that the storage barges K. A. POWELL and F. H. DUNSFORD were sold for scrap during the summer months, although we suspect that they were in pretty poor condition anyway and the purchase of ELMDALE would allow their disposal.
One piece of very good news which we can report is that U. S. Steel will be drydocking their idle bulk carriers WILLIAM J. FILBERT, PETER A. B. WIDENER and WILLIAM P. PALMER this fall for repairs prior to their re-entering service next spring. The removal of this trio from standby status will leave only CLIFFORD F. HOOD, HENRY H. ROGERS, GEORGE G. CRAWFORD and PERCIVAL ROBERTS JR. laid up at Duluth.
Meanwhile, U. S. Steel has announced the names of vessels which will be sailing late into the winter months, and it is the longest such list yet. It includes ROGER BLOUGH, ARTHUR M. ANDERSON, CASON J. CALLAWAY, PHILIP R. CLARKE, IRVING S. OLDS, ENDERS M. VOORHEES, LEON FRASER, BENJAMIN F. FAIRLESS, A. H. FERBERT, SEWELL AVERY, ROBERT C. STANLEY, RALPH H. WATSON, EUGENE W. PARGNY and EUGENE P. THOMAS.
An announcement made in the November 4th issue of the Chicago Tribune would, we think, have to be put in our "Let's wait and see" department until next spring. It stated that a vessel named GALAXY will begin Great Lakes cruises in 1974 and will operate on the lakes from April 13 through October 22. With a capacity of 329 passengers, she is apparently scheduled to depart from Chicago on alternate Saturdays at 6;00 p. m. arriving at Montreal the following Saturday. Calls are scheduled at Holland, Macinac Island, Detroit, St. Catharines, Toronto and Kingston. We have been waiting for an announcement of this nature since we lost SOUTH AMERICAN in October 1967, but we must admit that we are still sceptical about this one. To begin with, we have so far been unable to find any vessel named GALAXY in the shipping registers. Secondly, such a vessel would probably be in other than U. S. or Canadian registry and yet the list of ports of call would indicate that it would, in effect, be engaging in "coasting" services on both sides of the lakes. We would be interested in hearing how the operators (whoever they may be, and they are not yet identified) propose to bypass American and Canadian coasting regulations.
Upper Lakes Shipping's bulk carrier THORNHILL, the victim of an early-season grounding at the lakehead, ran into more trouble on October 22nd when she grounded in the lower harbour at Sault Ste. Marie near the head of Little Rapids Cut. She was manoeuvring in heavy fog at the time. With the help of tugs MISEFORD, JOHN MCLEAN, JOHN PURVES and THUNDER CAPE, the vessel was released on October 24th. We understand that she sustained no serious damage.
Speaking of groundings, readers will recall that in our last issue we reported the grounding and subsequent release of VANCOUVER TRADER. She got hung up on rocks near the piers at Port Colborne. In order to get some of the grain out of the vessel, McAllister Towing sent the barge (and former canal steamer) MAPLEHEATH which thus made one of her very infrequent visits to the Welland Canal area.
Tankers are much in the news these days what with the (alleged) energy crisis. Tankers downbound with western oil are being given priority of passage in the Seaway. Six tankers are running regularly from Lake Ontario refineries to the Montreal area and they include the salt water vessels MIDJRECHT (operating for Gulf Oil along with GULF CANADA), OLYMPIC SKY (operating for Texaco) and BRITISH KIWI (carrying for Shell and her owners, B. P.). The latter vessel has had tough luck weather-wise as on three occasions she has had to seek shelter in Toronto harbour. On one of these, BRITISH KIWI lost one whole trip.
We have heard from several sources that the McAllister tug DANIEL McALLISTER has been taken out of service because of a very serious engine problem, and if we are to believe one source, her owners have no intention of repairing the damage. DANIEL McALLISTER is a 109-footer built in 1907 at Collingwood as HELENA. Originally operating for the Minister of Public Works, she wound up in Hamilton after the Second War and set a macabre kind of record by towing to the scrapper's yard every one of the 29 steamers sold to Stelco by the U. S. Maritime Commission, assisting either on the trip from Erie to Port Colborne or during the Welland Canal passage. She capsized at Chicago in 1955 and was subsequently rebuilt as a diesel by the Penetanguishene Navigation Company. She passed to McAllister Towing about 1967 after several years of idleness at Toronto. Although not by any means a frequent visitor to the Toronto area since joining the McAllister fleet, she has assisted on jobs in this area and has joined in a number of scrap tows. We sincerely hope that she will be repaired and returned to service.
While on the subject of tugs, we understand that chances are very good that the old Pyke Salvage tug SALVAGE PRINCE will be turned over to the Pump House Steam Museum at Kingston by her current owners, McAllister Towing, who assumed control over the vessel at the time of their takeover of Pyke Salvage in the 1960's. She is currently lying idle at Kingston and has not operated for over five years. A 93-footer, she was built in 1924 at Selby, England, and is, of course, a steamer.
Another tug about which we can pass along some information is the old Canadian Dredge & Dock diesel HELEN S. A few weeks ago we were asking around about her current whereabouts and our correspondent Nels Wilson in Kingston was able to supply details, HELEN S. was originally a steam tug and was built in 1899 at Collins Inlet. She operated into the early 1960's and several years ago was sold to two Queen's University students who intended to make her into a houseboat. She was taken to the C. S. L. elevator in Kingston where her deckhouse was partially demolished. She lay idle during the summer of 1972 with no more work being done and then, at the request of C. S. L. management who were fearful that she would sink at the elevator, she was towed around to Picton where she still lies.
Incidentally, we have heard that Canadian Dredge & Dock is planning on building a new tug at Kingston during the coming winter. We have no details of the new craft other than the fact that it seems almost certain she will replace the aging G. W. ROGERS, a veteran of 1919.
Readers will recall our previous report to the effect that the former Ford Motor Company collier ROBERT S. McNAMARA was towed down the Welland Canal on August 29, 1973, by the tugs TABOGA and BARBARA ANN, the vessel having been sold to United Steel & Metal. She was taken to Hamilton but, contrary to expectations, has not been scrapped there. She was partially loaded with scrap and old railroad ties and then her completely open hatches (when on Ford's run, she was rebuilt with large coverless hatches suitable for the coal service) were covered over with a plastic material. Sold to overseas breakers, she was towed from Hamilton on November 14 by SALVAGE MONARCH and HELEN M. McALLISTER, stopping briefly at Kingston on the way down the Seaway. She left Kingston on November 17th, and, we suppose, was taken straight to Quebec City. We do know that it was the intention of her buyers to take her across the Atlantic this fall and, what with her large hatch areas only temporarily covered, we wouldn't bet on her safe arrival on the other side of the big pond.
Bad news always seem to come in bunches. In our last issue we reported that on September 28th the Kinsman Marine Transit Company sold to Marine Salvage Ltd. of Port Colborne two ships, one being JOE S. MORROW, the other being not identified (but rumoured to be either BUCKEYE MONITOR or HENRY LALIBERTE). The MORROW sale has been confirmed and we have learned that she will winter at Cleveland with storage grain, probably being sent overseas in the spring. The other sale turned out to be BUCKEYE MONITOR, which operated during 1973 as did the MORROW, and which laid up at Buffalo during mid-November. She passed down the Welland Canal under tow of SALVAGE MONARCH and the G-tug OKLAHOMA on November 26th. Strangely enough, it appears that HENRY LALIBERTE, while not included in the original sale, may also have sailed her last. While backing from the Frontier slip at Buffalo on October 27th, LALIBERTE struck a bank and apparently did grievous damage to her steering equipment. She was put into winter quarters immediately and rumours of her sale for scrapping have been heard.
While on the subject of scrap tows, we can pass along a few more bits of information for the record-keepers amongst us. GEORGE R. FINK was towed from Quebec City on October 22 by the German tug HANSA and we have heard that she was to be joined in the tow by an east coast ferry bound also for a European scrapyard, HENRY G. DALTON,part of the tandem tow that also included the ill-fated UNITED STATES GYPSUM, arrived safely at Vado, Italy, on June 16, 1973, having called at Gibraltar on June 11th. Scrapping of B. F. JONES and EDWARD S. KENDRICK began at Castellon, Spain, during the month of August, the hulls having been resold to Varela Davalillo. They had arrived at that port on May 19th, A. E. NETTLETON and R. E. WEBSTER in tandem tow arrived at Santander, Spain, on July 5th. CITY OF SAGINAW 31 and JOHN P. REISS arrived together safely at Castellon, Spain, before June 30th,
In our October issue we reported the sale for scrapping of the P & O liner CHUSAN and it is now our sad duty to advise of the sale for the same purpose of the ORCADES, a 28,472-ton liner built for P & O in 1948. Sold to Nan Feng Steel Enterprises Company, destruction of the vessel was begun in March of this year.
Just as we were preparing this section of the newsletter for printing we learned that the tugs JOHN PURVES and YVON SIMARD brought the former Chesapeake and Ohio carferry PERE MARQUETTE 22 past Port Colborne on November 26th but due to wind conditions, did not clear the Canal until November 30th. She is bound for a scrapyard overseas. It will be remembered that the 22 and her sister, PERE MARQUETTE 21, were sold earlier in the year to the Construction Aggregates Corporation for other than self-propelled transportation uses, We had thought that they would be cut down for use as barges but it seems that this is not the case. It appears that the broker in the subsequent resale was Marine Salvage Ltd.
We notice from the vessel passages that the tug OLIVE L. MOORE and barge SULTANA passed up the Soo on November 9th. The MOORE has, of course, operated during the last several years for the Escanaba Towing Company, a firm which was not active during 1973 having no vessels with which to do business. The SULTANA is the cut-down hull of the old Nicholson Transit steamer which has kicked around the lakes doing odd jobs for the last decade. Now it may be just a coincidence, but this tug and barge combination was active back in 1968 during the salvaging of the craneship BUCKEYE after she grounded near Port Colborne. To the best of our knowledge, the two have not been together since. We wonder....
At long last, the new Bethlehem Steel "I-Beam" insignia has appeared on a ship other than STEWART J. CORT which has had it since she entered service. JOHNSTOWN has been observed with the new design during the past month and we doubt that the other vessels in the fleet will now be long in getting the treatment. We hear that it looks good on JOHNSTOWN's rather dumpy funnel but we shall see what it does for LEHIGH and STEELTON! It could be that BETHLEHEM herself escaped just in time.
It has now been announced that Port Weller Drydocks has indeed won the contract for the new ferry to be built for the Newfoundland ferry service. Port Weller submitted the lowest tender for the job. In other-than-official circles the name of Port Weller Drydocks has been mentioned in connection with another possible job, that of building a tanker for a Canadian shipping firm which until now has never been in the tanker business. We shall wait and see.
In the last issue we reported that certain vessel retirements in the Q & O fleet were possible. The steamer SHELTER BAY and motorships BLACK RIVER and PIC RIVER were mentioned. We have now learned that SHELTER BAY has passed her inspection and will not be scrapped. Sad to say, however, OUTARDE will not be so lucky. She passed up the Welland Canal for the last time on December 1st en route for a cargo of grain which will be delivered to a St. Lawrence port. It appears she will winter at Sorel and we presume that she will be towed overseas for scrap in the spring, OUTARDE was built in 1906 as ABRAHAM STEARN for the Hawgood fleet and was purchased by Q & O in 1962 from the Midland Steamship Line, Inc. for whom she had served as MICHAEL K. TEWKSBURY. As far as BLACK and PIC RIVER are concerned, each version of the story we hear is different and we will have to wait for an announcement from the owners before we know what their future will be.
Ship of the Month No. 35
T. J. Clark
For many years the name of Clark was prominent on Toronto Bay in the business of carrying freight to and from the Toronto Islands. It was back in 1890 that Tom (T. J.) Clark, in partnership with a brother, took delivery of a wooden screw ferry which was built at Toronto specifically for the Clark freight operations. Not surprisingly named CLARK BROS., this vessel (C. 94984) measured 80 x 16 x 5. 5 and was a single-deck steamer. Later sold to the Toronto Ferry Company, she was rebuilt as a double-deck passenger ferry and remained in service through the 1929 season.
On a morning run in July 1958, T. J. CLARK approaches Ward's Island dock. Photo by the Editor.The next Clark steamer appears to have been the ELSIE (C. 12207l), likewise a wooden single-deck screw freight boat. She was built at Trenton, Ontario, in 1906 and was named in honour of a daughter of Tom Clark. This vessel apparently carried passengers as well on occasion, but she did not linger on the Bay for many years. She was taken to Georgian Bay where she served as a tug.
Over the years the Clark family business prospered and in due course was incorporated as Clark Limited. In 1911 a composite twin-screw freight steamer was built by and for the firm at the Clark's dock property at the foot of Yonge Street. Given registry number C. 126838, she was christened T. J. CLARK, although throughout her life she was familiarly referred to by all and sundry simply as "the T. J." Measuring 69 feet in length, 20 feet in the beam and 6 feet in depth, her tonnage was shown as 75 Gross and 51 Net. As the term "composite" implies, her frames were of steel while the hull planking was wood. Her decks, bulwarks, pilothouse and boilerhouse were of steel.
T. J. CLARK's twin screws were driven by individual compound engines built by the Polson Iron Works, Toronto, but she was equipped with only one rudder. The engines were non-condensing and exhausted through one "puffer" mounted beside the stack. Thus when operating at full speed, the individual engines produced a loud and distinctive beat, but one that was only sometimes rhythmic due to the fact that the engines were not synchronized.
"T. J." was fitted with fire fighting equipment and she served, in addition to her regular duties, as harbour and island fireboat until 1923 when the Toronto Fire Department took delivery of its own vessel, the wooden pumper CITY OF TORONTO T. F. D., soon renamed CHARLES A. REED. Even in later years, long after the CLARK had ceased functioning as a fireboat, she still carried her pumping gear although all external equipment had been removed,
In the early years of her service, "T. J." had no passenger cabins at all and her looks could only he described as utilitarian. The foredeck was completely open and the after deck was covered only by a flimsy steel canopy. A small steel cabin situated aft on the starboard side looked for all the world like a rural outhouse and actually did service to the same purpose.
For many years Clark Limited and T. J. CLARK were managed by Tom Clark himself, but upon his death active management was carried on by his widow Margaret, Mrs. Clark was certainly not afraid of hard work and on occasion could be seen helping to clean out the "T. J.'s" boilers at fit-out time. She always stood out in a crowd by reason of her flaming red hair.
Two trips a day were made to the Islands, the freight consisting, to a large extent, of the personal effects of residents moving to or from their summer homes on the Islands. All manner of other goods were carried for delivery to island addresses by Toronto's two big department stores, Eatons and Simpsons, and in addition the CLARK took all the groceries, meat, bread, and dairy products for the account of island merchants. All the freight handled directly by Clark Limited was taken to the Manitou Road wharf located at the eastern end of Long Pond at Centre Island, but goods for many other accounts were landed either at Ward's Island dock or at Stevenson's Landing, a dock inside the lagoon at Hanlan's Point.
On the morning trip over to the Island, the delivery men, island merchants returning from market, and some of the crew usually indulged in a few hands of poker played on a packing case or any other flat object available. It is interesting to note that in those days vehicles travelling to the Island were not simply controlled as they are today. Up until the Second War, no motor or horse driven vehicles were permitted on the Island at all (except for garbage collection) and therefore all freight brought over on the CLARK had to be distributed on hand-drawn wagons and carts.
Mrs. Clark continued to operate the business until 1926. On April 3rd of that year, Clark Limited and T. J. CLARK passed to the management of R. G. Dibble, a Toronto coal dealer. This new management lasted only one year, however, as the Register indicates that T. J. CIARK was acquired by the Corporation of the City of Toronto on May 6, 1927. As in the case of all other Island ferries owned by the City, her operation was placed in the hands of the Toronto Transportation Commission. This body actually assumed full ownership in 1948.
In the spring of 1930, "T. J." was converted for passenger service to replace the worn-out veteran CLARK BROS. which was burned at the stake at Sunnyside Park later in the year. As a matter of fact, the reconstruction was done in the east slip of the Bay Street ferry docks while "T. J." lay alongside the older vessel. Many pieces of equipment were transferred to "T. J." from CLARK BROS. as the work progressed. T. J. was given an enclosed passenger cabin amidships but the stern remained open at the sides providing an "observation" deck fitted with canvas curtains which could be dropped to close in the area during damp weather or on cool spring and fall days. The reconstruction altered the CLARK's tonnage to 87 Gross and 59 Net.
T. J. CLARK kept the same name throughout her life but, although few people are aware of the fact, it was proposed to rename her TORONTO ISLANDER at the time of her conversion to passenger service. Her ringbuoys and other pieces of equipment were relettered with the new name, but no official change was ever made and the name did not appear on her hull. The rumour was that the re-registration charges were too steep, but perhaps the T. T. C. simply realized that the familiar old name would probably have stuck with her daily riders whether it was actually changed or not.
Despite the addition of the new after cabin, the CLARK entered service with a completely open foredeck. Passengers were quick to complain that the voluminous quantities of soot mixed with condensing steam from the exhaust puffer caused considerable inconvenience to anyone forced to ride up forward during the crowded rush hour periods. She was soon fitted with a canvas canopy in an effort to cut down on cleaning bills for passengers' soiled clothing, but the canvas was only temporary and proved to be most unsatisfactory. It was replaced by a permanent steel canopy into which were cut two holes, partly covered by a hood, in order that the skipper might be able to see the bow of the ship while docking, a view otherwise obstructed by the upward lift of the canopy near the forward end of its length.
As the years passed by, the speed of the "T. J." gradually decreased and in spite of the composite construction, her hull flattened out and showed evidence of sagging aft. In 1952 she reverted to her original role of a freight carrier although she retained her mid-ship cabin in modified form. Whether the heavy freight loads she was carrying once again disagreed with her, or whether the old girl objected to the practice of some crews of stopping her at the dock by throwing the rope onto the dock mooring post rather than by reversing the engines, she soon showed even more evidence of age. By the way, this docking technique played havoc with the docks as well as the ship and led to the partial collapse of the west pier of the old dock at Ward's Island and the complete destruction of the dock at Stevenson's Landing which fell into the lagoon as a result of the CLARK pulling on it.
The CLARK's certificate was finally withdrawn at the end of the 1959 season and she was offered for sale. She spent the summer of 1960 peacefully dozing in the sun in the west slip of the Bay Street docks but her condition was by then so bad that no takers came forward and, in order to dispose of her, she was sold in December 1960 for the magnificent sum of one dollar to the Toronto Drydock Company Ltd. She was soon taken to their yard at the extreme eastern end of the Keating Channel and was lifted out onto the dock. By the end of April 1961 she had been reduced to a pile of rubble on the pier.
The memory of "T. J." occupies a very special place in the minds of Islanders past and present and all those who saw her in the course of her daily duties around the harbour. As mentioned previously, her double exhaust sound was unique and it stands out in memory as her very own trademark. Perhaps it was most noticeable when she was turning on a springline around the end of the Manitou Road freight dock. The other "voice" of the "T. J." also is well remembered. She originally carried a very large brass whistle, the strident tone of which was most disturbing and unpleasant. After she was put into passenger service, she fell heir to the high melodious chime whistle which came from LUELLA when that steamer was retired in 1935. The whistle had served until 1929 on JOHN HANLAN.
Longtime Islanders will find that they cannot think about the CLARK without remembering her crews over the years. Up until the 1930's, she had very few captains. One of her earliest masters was the famous Captain Benedict. He was succeeded by the wiry Joe Grace who was descended from French Canadian and Canadian Indian stock. Joe was a past master when it came to handling and docking the "T. J." and he used her twin screws to great advantage. Strangely enough, he shunned her steering wheel, always preferring to use the joystick also mounted in the pilothouse.
Later on when she was in passenger service with shift crews in charge, several captains simply could not get the hang of the twin screw method of docking (steering with the engines) and sought other employment rather than trying to master the technique. Her last skipper was Capt. Eric Foote who was an expert at handling the little steamer. After her retirement, he went on to the larger ferries and stayed with the ferry service until 1972.
Memories are fine, but we would have liked to have seen the whole of the CLARK preserved. Unfortunately, this was not possible bearing in mind the old girl's condition, but it is gratifying to know that the "T. J. 's" Dake Steam Steering Gear has been preserved and is presently in storage at the Marine Museum of Upper Canada awaiting suitable display space. A little bit of T. J. CLARK will live on always in the hearts of all who knew this unprepossessing little steamer as she puffed her way across the bay each day.
When Belle Sheridan's Luck Ran Out
Each autumn, when the gale winds blow around the Great Lakes, minds turn to thoughts of such famous fall storms as the 1905 Blow, the Black Friday disaster of 1916, and of course the Armistice Day Storm of 1940 and the Great Storm of November 1913. Of a less destructive nature but none the less horrible to those involved was a gale that hit Lake Ontario in November 1880. We present here that story as told in excerpts from an item by C. H. J. Snider ("Schooner Days" DCCLXX) appearing in the Toronto Evening Telegram on November 16, 1946. It is all the more appropriate in view of our mention two issues ago of Capt. Pat McSherry (of the JOHN HANLAN) who lost four relatives in the disaster.
Came into Consecon (Ontario) last week-end and there was a hale old gentleman of 87 nailing up the storm shutters around the porch of his neat white home. He was Walter B. Locie and he had lived in Consecon most of his life, and was the last survivor of the improvised lifeboat that went to the rescue of the BELLE SHERIDAN crew sixty-six years ago on that windy Sunday with its piercing westerly blasts.
Never a November gale comes or goes but the fate of the BELLE SHERIDAN in the Great Gale of 1880 is recalled by lake men. She was but one of a score of vessels wrecked or disabled in those two fatal days, November 6th and 7th, but she was a "family ship" with a father, the Captain and owner, and his four sons (the McSherrys) with him in the crew, and of the seven on board only a boy was saved. Her tragedy made a deep impression.
And here, miraculously as it seemed on the 66th anniversary, was the only surviving actor in the drama, busily putting up storm shutters, while a younger brother not quite eighty yet handed him the nails. His recollection, caught between hammer strokes, was thus:
Guess we saw her spars weaving back and forth above the treetops from the farm as she dragged into the breakers. You see, she was more than an hour dragging across from Presqu'isle, where she tried to get in and let go her anchors. She came over sideways, six miles, one chain parted, the other holding across her bows so she struck the beach broadside on, headed north. She was deep, drawing ten feet with her load of coal, and the shore was shoal. The seas looked to be a mile long and they'd run up the beach hundreds of yards and suck back, taking sand and gravel with them.
It was about noon when we got to the beach. It was lined with people, for they'd driven from Trenton and the Carrying Place and all over.
Never saw such a wind. There was a schooner had got safe into Weller's Bay and was riding it out to her anchors. Capt. Corson's NELLIE SHERWOOD, I think it was. That sheltered bay was one lather of whitecaps covered with a regular mist of spindrift six feet high. Dolph Corson, the old man's son, tried to scull across the bay to the lake in the small boat and so did the men from the schooner C. GEARING, but they couldn't make headway and were glad to get back on the schooner. Their main gaff-topsail had been done up in the usual way with three round turns and two half hitches but the wind burst the gaskets and it blew out like a balloon. The captain sent two men to strap it down but they couldn't get up the rigging it was blowing so hand, and rather than have them thrown into the bay, he told them to come down and let the sail go. It soon flogged itself to bits no bigger than your hand. They found pieces on the fence rails miles away.
Outside Weller's Bay, the BELLE SHERIDAN lay grinding on the sand, with seas breaking on her as high as her mastheads. The crowd had helped Robert Rogers take the masts and sails out of his fish boat and dragged her up the beach to a place where there seemed some chance to get her out to the wreck. The cabin was gone and she (the SHERIDAN) was all under water when the seas broke, but her bow was little higher than the rest and there we could see the crew huddled when the spray let us.
I was only a farmer, twenty-one and young and strong from work on my father's farm. There were plenty of volunteers for the boat but they took me because I was husky, I suppose, and not too heavy, and could pull with the rest of them (There was) William Andrew Young, and Frank Bonter, Stephen Clarke the fisherman and another Clarke, a young fellow who taught school in Consecon just that year. Yes, and me. The others are all gone.
They pushed us out, wading up to their necks in the water to give us a good start in the backwash, and then we shot from the shore like a bullet. Within thirty feet of the wreck three seas, one after the other, rolled over her (the BELLE SHERIDAN) and on to us. That stood the big fishboat right up on end and spilled us all out, with the boat falling over backwards over us, bottom side up.
No, the water wasn't cold; at least, it was warmer than the air, and we all clawed our way up onto her bottom, digging our fingers into the edges of her lapstreak planking. Then she rolled over gunwales up and we crawled into her again, but she was full of water and the seas broke over as fast as we could bail. There was a strong current down the shore and that set us away from the wreck, so we had to let the boat wash in on the shore and try again. The crowd waded out and dragged her up the beach farther than before for another try. I've lost track of how many times the boat was pushed off and forced back. I would say at least six.
The sun was getting low and the schooner's mainmast began to sway back and forth as though the shrouds and chainplates had parted. She was breaking up aft.
As we pushed off for one more try, we saw a single figure, black against the western sky, work his way aft along the rail, pick up a broken plank almost as big as himself and leap overboard as the next sea struck. We were too busy bailing and keeping her head to the sea for the next few minutes to see what became of him, but all at once we saw a head in the water between arms stretched out on a broken plank like a surfboard.
We grabbed for him and while we were getting him in, a sea burst and tossed us boat and all on to the beach. Men ran down neck deep and dragged us. The young fellow was still hanging on to his plank. His arms were damped on it as though frozen. They weren't, but the water that filled his long hip boots was freezing them to him in the cold wind blowing.
We stripped him in a fish shed and rubbed him to life, wrapped him in buffalo robes and hurried him to John Howes' farm kitchen. He was young Jimmy McSherry of Toronto, nineteen I think he said."Little Eddie kept crying for Ma until he died in my arms and a sea washed him away. Dad died before that, Tom and Johnny were too numbed to hold him up. Jack Hamilton says he's through - never sail again. Sam Boyd's club feet are frozen under him."
He was talking of his father and brothers. Hamilton was the mate and the club-footed man was the second and cook too. We got his body afterwards. Hamilton must have been crushed when the foremast fell. Eddie was the youngest brother, only thirteen. He was washed up afterwards and Jimmy, the one that was saved, came down from Toronto with Mr. Gooderham, from the Gooderham grain elevator, and took him home to St. Michael's Cemetery.
The mainmast fell just after Jimmy jumped overboard. The foremast swayed for a while longer, then down it came, topmast and all, lying across the wreck for a while. The fishboat made some more tries before dark, but when the foremast fell and we could see nobody left, we gave up and lighted a bonfire on the beach. I went home.
And Walter Locie vigourously resumed nailing his storm shutters.
Shortly before he died last year, Capt. Richard Goldring of Port Whitby gave the writer (Snider) a light thin horseshoe such as racers might wear. It was just an ornament as one used to see nailed to the paulpost afore the windlass in every schooner on the lakes, a good luck token.
"Sixty-five years ago after the Great Gale," said he, "We were becalmed in the MAPLE LEAF off Consecon. It was thick fog and we were in closer towards Weller's Bay than we knew. We had ridden out the gale at Black River Bluff in South Bay on the other side of Prince Edward County, with the windblown trees crashing down the banks and a South Bay schooner scow driven high and dry ashore the other side of the bay. We were making our way home. I saw a black square post sticking up about a foot above water and I lowered our yawlboat and rowed to it. It was a schooner's paulpost and this horseshoe was just showing. I took it off. That was all that was left of the BELLE SHERIDAN above water when the gale went down."
It is an old Irish belief that the horseshoe should be nailed with the points up to keep the luck from running out. The BELLE SHERIDAN's was nailed just the opposite way, like most lake schooners' horseshoes, with the toe-caulk uppermost.
BELLE SHERIDAN was a Oswego vessel built there in 1852, and had been prosperous, so Capt. McSherry left the horseshoe as he found it. He bought the SHERIDAN in 1879 when she was lying sunk in Church Street slip, Toronto. Being an experienced ship carpenter, he and his boys, the eldest being 21, made extensive repairs during the winter and the resuscitated schooner classed high enough to be allowed to carry grain.
The McSherrys had the misfortune to lose the WEST WIND at Cobourg the year before. They felt that their luck had turned when they got for the rebuilt BELLE SHERIDAN a cargo of grain for Charlotte from Adamson's elevator at the foot of old West Market Street, Toronto, and made a fast run down the lake with it this first week in November. The BELLE SHERIDAN loaded coal for Toronto for the return trip and was well on her way home with this double freight when the gale burst upon her in furious squalls at midnight on November 6th. When within ten miles of Toronto, she lost her mainsail, gaff, and boom in the first onset. Thus disabled, she could only run before the wind under the peak of her foresail. Off Port Hope she lost her yawlboat and the maintopmast was rolled out of her. Hounded by the gale, she tried to luff into Presqu'isle, the nearest port of refuge, but without after-sail she could not head up and was swept past Presqu'isle Point. Both anchors were let go in the hope of holding the partial lee, but they could not bring her head to wind. Fishermen put out to help but could not reach her. One chain cable parted and she dragged the other anchor with her all the six miles across to Weller's Bay.
Her luck had run out.
Federal attorneys have recommended that the U. S. Government accept, as compensation for the cost of raising the sunken SIDNEY E. SMITH JR. in 1972, an offer made in U. S. District Court at Detroit by the owners of the ships involved in the collision. Erie Sand Steamship Company would contribute $3,218,084.68 while the Hindman Transportation Company Ltd., owners of the PARKER EVANS, would pay in $318,084.67. It seems that it would take some four years for the government to prove to the court the exact cost of salvage operations, estimated to be in excess of $5 million, and so it was thought to be cheaper in the long run to accept the present offer!
In our Marine News Section, we mentioned the fact that the U. S. Steel fleet would probably be fitting out three more vessels next year. By way of contrast, we bring you. this news item dated March 25, 1933:
The Pittsburgh Steamship Co., the vessel division of the U. S. Steel . Corp., will fit out 15 of its coarse cargo steamers beginning the first of April. The engineers have been notified to report at that time. The steamship company operated six steamers in 1932 and the movement of ore began July 1.
Well, maybe 1933 was an improvement over 1932, but the figures don't look very good when we remember that there were 87 vessels in the fleet at the time!
Late Marine News
Rather than wintering at Cleveland as expected, the Kinsman Marine Transit Company steamer JOE S. MORROW was towed down the Welland Canal on December 4 by the tugs C. O. PARADIS and OKLAHOMA. We understand that the tugs will be returning to Buffalo to pick up another Kinsman steamer, HENRY LALIBERTE, which will also make the trip down the St. Lawrence Seaway this season.