The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Scanner, v. 6, n. 5 (February 1974)
Scanner (Toronto, ON), Feb 1974

Bascom, John N., Editor
Media Type:
Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Winter Lay-up Listings; Ship of the Month No. 37; Great Lakes Cruises 1974; Late Marine News; Lay-up Listings
Date of Publication:
Feb 1974
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, March 1 - 8:00 p.m. at the Marine Museum, "Stonehookers of Western Lake Ontario," a program by Lorne S. Joyce.

Friday, April 5 - 7:00 p.m, at the Ship Inn, Marine Museum. Dinner: Meeting. An illustrated address by Rev. Peter J. Van der Linden on ships scrapped in the last decade "Gone But Not Forgotten." Come early as the bar will be open before the dinner!

The Editor's Notebook

Our last dinner meeting one year ago was so successful that we have decided to make our April meeting into a dinner affair. We are all the more lucky to have Rev. Peter Van der Linden as our speaker. The dinner will be at 7:00 with the meeting afterwards and the bar will be open early. The dinner will be served in the Ship Inn located in the basement of the Museum. The cost will be $6.95 per person and wives and guests will be welcome. All tickets must be sold by the day of the March meeting, so reserve right away by sending funds to Mr. James M. Kidd, 83 Humberview Road, Toronto, Ontario M6S 1W9.

Our thanks to the Program Committee for the excellent movie night in January. Anytime you want to show those films again, fellows, just go right ahead. Even just those few feet of film showing KINGSTON in operation (in colour, yet) will keep us waiting anxiously.

Don't forget that we could use your help with lay-up listings from your local ports. We still have a few to go!

In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to Wilfred Miller of St. Catharines, to Donald Burns of Mississauga, to Alan W. Sweigert of Cleveland, and to Douglas Garrett of Sarnia.

Marine News

The camera of Bill Bruce caught BUCKEYE MONITOR under tow near Lock One at Port Weller, November 27, 1973. She sank in the North Atlantic on December 19th.It always gives us great pleasure to find out that one of our old lakers sold for scrapping overseas has chosen a watery grave in the North Atlantic over the indignity of being hauled to a strange land at the end of a towline. With the foundering of UNITED STATES GYPSUM earlier in the year, the total of such sinkings since 1960 was brought to an even ten. Number eleven has just been added to the list for on December 19th, 1973, the former Kinsman Marine Transit Company steamer BUCKEYE MONITOR broke tow and sank. She had cleared Quebec on December 4th in tow of the tug SEETRANS I and was in tandem tow with ROBERT S. McNAMARA. We find it rather ironic that it was the MONITOR that sank rather than the McNAMARA since the latter steamer had coal hatches with no covers and only temporary coverings had been fitted for the trip. We do not as yet have an arrival date for the McNAMARA on the other side, but we assume that she made the voyage in safety as we have not heard otherwise. Now if only JOE S. MORROW could end her misery in the same way as BUCKEYE MONITOR.....

Speaking of vessels sold for scrapping, it will be recalled that OUTARDE was supposedly to winter at Sorel before being sent overseas. We now learn that she is instead laid up at Montreal alongside BETHLEHEM.

The American Steamship Company has run into a bit of hard luck recently with some of its vessels and it appears that the scrappers may be the ones to benefit in two of the cases, JOHN J. BOLAND lost her unloading boom over the side on December 16 while unloading at Green Bay, Wisconsin, and we hear that the boom was a total loss. The most serious of the incidents involved RICHARD J. REISS which parted her mooring cables at Stoneport on December 15 and was blown onto the breakwater. She was taken to South Chicago for repairs and damage is understood to fall in the million dollar range, as much of her bottom plating was ruined. Another incident at Stoneport involved HARRIS N. SNYDER and, although we do not have details of this accident, we understand that BoCo is considering disposing of the steamer for scrapping. One vessel that definitely has been sold for scrap is the veteran BEN W. CALVIN which apparently failed to pass inspection this fall due to boiler problems. She was officially transferred to Marine Salvage Ltd. on January 8th and presumably will be sent overseas. The CALVIN was built in 1911 at Lorain as (a) WILLIAM C. AGNEW for the Buffalo Steamship Company, Mitchell & Company, and was later known as (b) GEORGE P. RAND. She is easily recognizable by her handsome triple-deck bridge structure.

When she appears back in service next spring, the Quebec & Ontario Transportation Company's motorship CHICAGO TRIBUNE will have changed her profile somewhat. She unloaded quickly after arriving at Toronto and was then moved to the west side of the Parliament Street slip where crews are now working to lop 30 inches off the top of her trunk. It seems that the trunk was a bit too high to fit conveniently under a number of the grain elevators that the vessel must serve. Quite frankly, since the company no longer ships paper by water and the trunk is of little use in the grain trade, we wonder why they are not removing the entire structure.

We are most happy to hear that the new self-unloader building at Collingwood for the Algoma Central Railway will have her pilothouse forward, although in all other respects she is to be a sister of H.M.GRIFFITH. It will be interesting to see how the two designs are integrated in one ship. Incidentally, we also hear that there is a very good possibility that her name will be ALGOSOO.

It has been announced that the new rail ferry being built by Burrard at Vancouver for the Incan service between Superior and Thunder Bay will be christened INCAN SUPERIOR. A great deal of ingenuity has obviously been used in coming up with that name!

The tug DOLPHIN X apparently had a tough job in getting HURON and WYANDOTTE safely across the Atlantic to Santander, Spain, where they arrived on October 20th. We understand that they encountered rough weather and lost quite a bit of towline during the trip.

An advertisement in the December 2, 1973 issue of Boats and Harbors featured a photo of the steam ferry THE STRAITS OF MACKINAC which is being offered for sale by the present owners, Paterson Builders Inc., Sturgeon Bay. The asking price is $120,000. The same issue carried illustrated ads from the Lundeburg Maryland Seamanship School which is trying to sell off the steamers SOUTH AMERICAN and JOHN A. MESECK. The former is well known to lake fans and is described as "steel hull in towable condition" with machinery removed. The MESECK is a 240-foot excursion boat formerly used in the New York area.

"Operation Coal Scuttle, " the annual winter movement of coal from Toledo to the Detroit area was brought to a premature end this winter on January 14 when ice problems forced the Toledo coal docks to suspend shipments. The BoCo self-unloaders CONSUMERS POWER and HENNEPIN were stuck fast in heavy ice near the Detroit River Light in western Lake Erie and DETROIT EDISON grounded near Toledo when heavy ice caught her and carried her into shoal water where she grounded. Ore carriers have also been trapped in the ice. This must surely be one of the longest seasons ever for the veteran HENNEPIN which would, we thought, have been getting a bit ripe by now for inclusion in a service as hard as this. We wonder whether we will see this 1905-vintage steamer fit out again next spring....

A few months ago we reported that negotiations were underway for the purchase of Interlake's steamer WALTER E. WATSON by the National Steel Corporation. In fact, the sale was completed on December 21st and the WATSON now belongs to Hanna. She will, in due course, be converted to a craneship and will be operated between Detroit and Burns Harbor by the Hanna Mining Company, a subsidiary of National Steel. Is it possible that her new name might be NATIONAL TRADER?

The place in the Interlake Steamship Company's fleet vacated with the departure of WALTER E. WATSON will be filled in 1974 by COLONEL JAMES PICKANDS which has been idle for two years. The PICKANDS has been drydocked at Sturgeon Bay and is said to be in excellent condition. COLONEL JAMES, PICKANDS was built at Lorain in 1926 by the American Shipbuilding Company and measures 586.3 feet in length.

We have learned that Gulf Oil Canada Ltd. has not renewed its longterm charter of the tanker GULF SENTINEL which has operated a bunkering service on Western Lake Ontario) since 1962. The diminutive motorship is only 178.9 feet long and is owned by Johnstone Shipping Ltd. of Toronto. She is presently in winter quarters in the Turning Basin here. Without the bunker service, it seems unlikely that GULF SENTINEL will fit out next year as she is far too small to be operated economically in any long distance trade. Built by Swan Hunter at Newcastle in 1933 as a barge, she was later converted to a diesel and was a unit of the Shell fleet until 1960 when she was sold to Arthur Hill of Hamilton. Upon the windup of his somewhat misguided shipping "venture" the next year, she passed to Johnstone ownership. She was probably best known under the names with which she served Shell, PETER G. CAMPBELL and RIVERSHELL(1).

The Paterson canal motorship LACHINEDOC is wintering at Cardinal this year with a storage cargo and the word at present is that she will not be reactivated in the spring but will instead be sold, possibly for scrapping. LACHINEDOC, the second vessel of that name to serve the Paterson fleet, was built in 1956 by the Atlantic Shipbuilding Company Ltd. at Newport, Wales, and was thus only three years old when the Seaway opened and rendered ships of her type unnecessary. The Patersons found enough work for her, as well as CALGADOC and SARNIADOC together with the TROISDOC purchased later, to keep her going until now, but it seems that she has reached the end of her usefulness for her present owners. We hope that her buyer will be someone who will wish to operate her.

WESTCLIFFE HALL, the second canaller sold by Halco for operation in salt water under the British flag , cleared Kingston for Montreal on December 15. Weather conditions were not good for the trip, however, and she returned upstream to Prescott where she is presently laid up. Only NORTHCLIFFE HALL remains at Kingston and it is expected that she will leave the lakes in the spring.

The 88-foot steam tug DOLOMITE sank at her dock at Rogers City on December 27th. We have no further detail on this occurrence and would like to hear from any member who may know more. DOLOMITE owned by U. S. Steel, was built at Lorain in 1927 and originally carried the name ROGERS CITY.

Speaking of steam tugs, the famous EDNA G. of the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway Company featured prominently in a widely circulated newspaper photograph of the heavily iced PRESQUE ISLE arriving at Two Harbors, Minnesota, in December. EDNA G. looked most business-like as she gave out a lovely cloud of coal smoke. PRESQUE ISLE only made the one trip and then laid up for the winter, her owners not wishing to get involved in ice problems.

Some of the new breed of stemwinders have found themselves in trouble when ice starts to form across the broad expanse of uncabined bow. It seems that someone forgot to provide steam lines forward and there is no way to melt off the ice. We understand that other operators planning such vessels have wisely included steam lines in their designs.

As noted elsewhere in this issue, there are thirty-four vessels wintering in Toronto harbour this winter, an increase of nine over last year. This is all the more pleasing in view of the fact that the problems in shipping soya beans from U.S. ports had threatened to greatly reduce the winter just as it reduced, and for a time during the summer completely stopped, parade of lakers to Victory Soya Mills with this cargo. Of particular interest are the six maximum-sized lakers including a real stranger, C.S.L.'s bulk carrier RICHELIEU which has a transit cargo for Montreal. The last of the lay-ups arrived in port on January 3rd when WHEAT KING came in with grain for Toronto Elevators.

At the time of writing, work had begun with the re-engining of the Toronto ferry THOMAS RENNIE which is spending the winter in the Turning Basin. The contract for the work was let to Ship Repair & Supply Ltd. and this firm has now removed the funnel and a section of the boat deck to allow for the removal of the old Fairbanks-Morse diesels. She is to get Caterpillars as did SAM McBRIDE last winter, but this time the Metro Parks Department took the precaution of removing the ferry's horn before sending her off for the work. During the work on the McBRIDE last winter, the horn was damaged and all through the 1973 season she sounded rather like a goat with indigestion.

The special extension of the Welland Canal navigation season from December 31 to January 4, proved to be rather a flop as very few vessels took advantage of the opportunity to move last minute cargoes. Many vessels were attracted to late operation on the upper lakes this winter and others were already in winter quarters, the lower section of the Seaway having closed thus barring the possibility of further shipments to the Montreal area. About the only vessels to make any great use of the additional time were those carrying coal from Lake Erie ports for Lake Ontario hydro plants.

The former Kinsman steamer HENRY LALIBERTE was due to leave Montreal in tow of the tugs HELEN M. McALLISTER and ATLANTIC for Quebec on January 9 but we believe that the departure was delayed due to bad weather.

The tug TARA HALL (better known on the lakes as HERBERT A.) was spotted by one of our spies at Trois Rivieres, Quebec, on January 6th at which time she was preparing to sail for the Bahamas. She had spent the year lying at Sorel and we had begun to wonder whether she would ever make the journey south.

A late-season accident occurred on New Year's Day when the C.S.L. self-unloader QUETICO struck the Algoma Steel dock at the Canadian Sault punching a rather large hole in her bow above the waterline. Repairs have since been put in hand by the shipyard at Thunder Bay.

The little motorship MACKINAC ISLANDER, once a steam ferry at the Straits and later a "pollywog" type freighter on the upper lakes until sold a few years ago for service as a crab boat in Alaskan waters, was reported on January 8th as haying been lost with all hands, off the Aleutian Islands. We have yet to receive a confirmation of this report.

We understand that scrapping of the Goderich Elevator and Transit Company's barge F. H. DUNSFORD is virtually complete at Thunder Bay and that K. A. POWELL is waiting her turn. The scrapping is being done by the Western Iron & Metal Company.

Winter Lay-up Listings

As a service to photographers and others who may be chasing certain ships or who may wish to visit a particular port during the winter months, we present here a listing of vessels wintering at several ports, some close by and some far distant. We will have more such listings next month.











Port Weller




MURRAY BAY (At dock on New Canal)




JACK WIRT (Old Canal)

Port Colborne

























SMTB NO. 7 (Barge)




Louiseville, P.Q.


Contrecoeur, P.Q. Green Bay, Wis.


Sturgeon Bay, Wis.








For their help with these listings, our thanks go to Bill Bruce, Jim Marr, Rene Beauchamp, Oakman Mullen, Perry Haughton and John Vournakis.

Ship of the Month No. 37

Algoma, Alberta and Athabasca

Glasgow Herald, Wednesday, July 4, 1883:

Yesterday about noon (Tuesday, July 3, 1883), Messrs. Aitken & Mansel launched from their shipbuilding yard at Whiteinch the steel screw-steamer ATHABASCA, the vessel being the first of three presently building to the order of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, to form a connecting service across the great inland fresh-water seas, Lakes Huron and Superior. Miss Govan of 2 Athole Place, Glasgow, performed the usual ceremony of naming the vessel. The three vessels are built alike and are of the following dimensions: Length 270 ft., breadth 38 ft. 1 in., depth to upper deck 23 ft. 3 in., with gross tonnage of about 1750. As, however, the completion of these vessels will not be carried out until they reach the lakes, it is estimated that their actual tonnage will be about 2400 when a contemplated extensive range of houses built in the American system has been erected on the upper deck. When finished, each vessel will accommodate about 240 first class passengers and 600 emigrants.

The contract for these vessels was placed in the hands of Mr. David Rowan, engineer, Elliot Street, and they will be fitted by him with compound direct-acting screw engines, capable of working to about 1700 indicated horses, the cylinders being 35 in. and 70 in. by 4 ft. stroke, supplied with steam by two steel boilers with a working pressure of 125 lb. per square inch. To obtain strength as well as lightness of draught the hulls are constructed of Siemens-Martin steel supplied by the Steel Company of Scotland, and the bulkheads are arranged to allow of the vessels being divided into two parts to permit their passage through the limited dimensions of the locks of the Welland and other canals leading to the level of the upper lakes. The entire business and details of this contract have been concluded on the part of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company under the superintendence of Mr. Henry Beatty of Montreal, assisted by Messrs. M'Crindell, Schaw & Co., of this city.

Glasgow Herald, Friday, July 13, 1883:

Yesterday afternoon (Thursday, July 12, 1883) Messrs. Chas. Connell & Company launched from their shipbuilding yard at Scotstown the steel screw-steamer ALBERTA, one of the three vessels presently being built on the Clyde to the order of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company to form a connecting service across Lakes Huron and Superior. As she left the ways, the naming ceremony was performed by Miss M'Lellan, daughter of the Hon. William M'Lellan, First Minister of Marine of the Dominion of Canada....

Glasgow Herald, Wednesday, August 1, 1883:

Yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, July 31, 1883) Messrs. Aitken & Mansel launched from their shipbuilding yard at Kelvinhaugh the steel screw-steamer ALGOMA, this vessel being the third of three being built to the order of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company to form a connecting service across the great inland fresh-water seas, Lakes Huron and Superior. Miss Schaw, 26 Park Circus, Glasgow, performed the usual ceremony of naming the vessel....

Glasgow Herald, Friday, August 24, 1883:

Sailed from Glasgow, Aug. 23, ATHABASCA (new steamer), 1147, Capt. Thomson, for Montreal - coal.

Glasgow Herald, Thursday, August 30, 1883:

Arrived at the Tail of the Bank, Aug. 29, ATHABASCA (S), 114-8, Capt. Davidson, returned from sea to the Tail of the Bank.

Casualties: On Tuesday night the new steamer ATHABASCA, 1700 tons, Capt, Davidson, which sailed from the Tail of the Bank on Saturday for Montreal, returned from sea with boilers leaking,

Glasgow Herald,,Monday, September 3, 1883:

Sailed from Glasgow, Sept. 1, ATHABASCA (S), 1148, Capt. Davidson, for Montreal -coal,

Glasgow Herald, Tuesday, September 11, 1883:

Sailed from Glasgow, Sept. 10, ALBERTA (new steamer), 1150, for Montreal - coal.

Glasgow Herald, Tuesday, September 25, 1883:

Arrivals at Foreign Ports:

ATHABASCA (S), Capt. Davidson, from Glasgow at Montreal, Sept. 23.

Sailed from Glasgow, Sept. 24, ALGOMA (new steamer), 1153, Capt. Ross, for Montreal -general.

Glasgow Herald, Thursday, September 27, 1883:

Sailed from the Tail of the Bank, Sept. 25, ALBERTA (S), 1147, Capt. Dalgarno, from Glasgow for Montreal - coal.

Sailed from the Tail of the Bank, Sept. 25, ALGOMA. (S), 1155, Capt. Davidson, from Glasgow for Montreal - coal.

Glasgow Herald, Friday, October 12, 1883:

Arrivals at Foreign Ports:

ALGOMA (S). Capt. Davidson, from the Clyde at Quebec, Oct. 8.

ALBERTA (S), Capt. Dalgarno, from the Clyde at Quebec, Oct. 8.

And so, in the words of Glaswegian reporters of the day, began the lives of the first steamers actually built for the C.P.R. Great Lakes Service. True, the railway had operated ships on the lakes for a number of years, but these had all been wooden vessels chartered from other operators.

This rare and historic photo courtesy R. T. McCannell shows ALGOMA in the Weitzel Lock on her maiden voyage, May 12, 1884.The hulls as built measured (to be more precise than the reporters) 263.5 feet in length, 38.2 feet in the beam, and 23.3 feet in depth. Their Gross Tonnages varied only slightly: ALGOMA 1773, ALBERTA 1779, and ATHABASCA 1774.

There was one major change that took place before the new steamers were ready to sail from their birthplaces on the Clyde, and the change has been the cause of a debate which has raged ever since. Note that the newspaper reported that at the time of launch, the first vessel was named ATHABASKA. Read on, and you will see that by the time she cleared port on her delivery voyage, the "K" had been deleted and in its place appeared the more familiar "C" which she was to carry the rest of her life. Unfortunately, no photographic proof of the earlier spelling has yet been found and it seems that the controversy will not subside until a photo is produced. Suffice it to say that if the "K" ever did actually appear on the ship, it took its leave before the ship was ready to clear the builder's yard.

The steamers made their way across the Atlantic with no untoward incidents apart from the leaky boiler which troubled ATHABASCA. In due course, they arrived in Canada and all three were taken up to the Cantin Shipyard at Montreal. There, the ships were cut apart for their passage up the St. Lawrence and Welland Canals. Incidentally, their trips in the St. Lawrence Canals were, we believe, made easier by an escort of paddle tugs belonging to the Calvin Company of Garden Island. Before the closing of navigation for the 1883 season, they reached Buffalo and there were rejoined at the yard of the Union Dry Dock Company, They were subsequently taken back to Port Colborne where they were left for the winter, allowing the carpenters an opportunity to erect the vessels' superstructures.

When ATHABASCA, ALBERTA and ALGOMA left Glasgow, they had no cabins at all on the upper deck apart from a makeshift pilothouse and in this condition they must have looked a bit strange, although we had never discovered a photograph to illustrate. Once they arrived at Port Colborne, however, the joiners went to work and constructed a long cabin on the upper deck. Built of wood, it consisted of a lengthy gallery from the sides of which opened the staterooms. The passenger accommodation was all located on this deck and thus the quarters could only be described as spartan, although they were infinitely superior to the "luxuries" provided on earlier steamers. No dining saloon was provided and so tables were set in the old fashion, right in the main lounge between the rows of staterooms. The entire gallery was surmounted by a clerestory deckhead which protruded above the boat deck and formed a raised area which was used as an observation deck.

A small and unobtrusive pilothouse, four windows across its forward end, sprouted far forward on the boat deck. It was very low in profile and on top was an open bridge. The funnel, located about two-thirds of the way aft, was large and fairly tall, and its fine rake was matched by that of the two masts. The ships carried sail on each mast as a precaution against mechanical failure and the sail was used on many occasions in the early years as an assist to the engines. All in all, the three steamers had a long, low and sleek profile that was decidedly different from the cluttered appearance of passenger vessels that had been built previously for lake service. They proved to be the forerunners of many to follow.

Each ship was painted black with a high boot-top. A closed rail surrounded the upper deck promenade and just below the deck level ran a narrow white stripe the entire length of the ship. Cabins were painted white and the funnel was black with a wide red band at the midpoint of which was a very narrow white band.

ALBERTA passes up Little Rapids Cut, Sault Ste. Marie, in 1916, her first year of freight-only service.The trio was taken up the lakes to Owen Sound in the spring of 1884 as that port was the eastern terminus of the C.P.R, service. ALGOMA arrived under her own power on May 10, ALBERTA on May 11, and ATHABASCA on May 13. Once arrived, the vessels were shown off to the local populace and given the final touches in preparation for their maiden sailings. The last of the trio to be launched was the first to be placed in service and accordingly ALGOMA departed her new home port on May 11, 1884. Carrying freight and a record load of 1100 passengers (far in excess either of the builder's expectations or the capacity of her safety apparatus), she passed up the Soo Locks the next day and arrived at Port Arthur on May 13th, the same day that ALBERTA cleared Owen Sound on her maiden sailing. ATHABASCA departed on May 15th and with her sailing the three-ship service became a reality after so many years of planning.

The transcontinental railway being built by the C.P.R. was not yet completed and the travelling public thronged to the ships which represented the best available transportation from Southern Ontario to the Lakehead area. A boat train was operated from Toronto to Owen Sound on sailing and arrival days to carry passengers to and from their ship and this train was to remain in operation, albeit with a different northern terminus in later years, for eighty-two seasons. It proved to be the last such operation on the North American continent.

The first year of the new steamship service went relatively smoothly except that ALBERTA came on a bit of hard luck and was involved in no less than five collisions, four of them minor and one more serious. On July 27, 1884, three and half miles off Whitefish Point, she ran down and sank the wooden steamer J. M. OSBORNE. There was heavy fog in the area at the time but neither ship had reduced speed. The OSBORNE was towing the barges GEORGE W. DAVIS and THOMAS GAWN at the time. Three lives were lost in the incident.

Basically, however, the three-ship operation was very successful and it lasted for the better part of two years. The temporary termination of the winning combination was caused by the only major accident ever to befall the C.P.R. Great Lakes Service. The loss of the ALGOMA is a story well known to lake historians, but it is worth repeating here by way of emphasizing the C.P.R.'s excellent safety record on which this incident was the only blemish.

On Thursday, November 5, 1885, ALGOMA cleared Owen Sound for Port Arthur with a heavy load of freight but, fortunately, a very light passenger list (only eleven being booked) due undoubtedly to the lateness of the season and the inclement weather. Her Master was Capt. John Moore. She passed up the Soo Canal on November 6th and was due to arrive in Port Arthur early on the morning of Saturday, November 7th.

A strong tailwind out of the southeast prompted Capt. Moore to run with the sails set in addition to the full power the engines were churning out, but by 4:00 a.m. Saturday morning, the gale still blowing and the weather deteriorating, Capt. Moore ordered all sail but a trisail on the foremast taken in so that the ship might make the passage around Isle Royale and into the protected waters of Thunder Bay. By this time, however, visibility was obscured by a fall of snow and freezing rain and Capt. Moore began to have second thoughts about entering Thunder Bay. Deciding to wait out the storm in what he believed to be the open lake (a tragic misapprehension on his part), he ordered the helm to be put over and the steamer turned back into open Lake Superior. Just as the turn was in progress, the stern of ALGOMA struck Greenstone Rock on Isle Royale.

The vessel was caught fast on the rocky shore. The force of the storm battered her unmercifully and the hapless steamer broke in two just forward of the engineroom, the forward section dropping off into deep water. The wave action soon stripped the cabin from the after end and the surviving passengers and crew, only fourteen in all being still alive, had little to cling to but the smashed rail, the mainmast and the rigging. The Captain himself was seriously injured but managed to keep the survivors together. After a full day on the wreck, they managed to make their way to shore but it was not until Monday, November 9, that with the help of local fisherman, they attracted to the scene a rescue vessel. She turned out to be the ATHABASCA, downbound out of Port Arthur, her crew keeping a lookout for the sistership which was now two days overdue at the Lakehead. The survivors were taken safely aboard.

Salvage of the wreck was out of the question, there being so little left, but in 1886 the engines were removed from the battered stern section of ALGOMA. The machinery was refurbished and placed in the steamer MANITOBA built at Owen Sound to replace the luckless ALGOMA. She did not enter service until 1889, almost four years after the disaster.

In her last gasp of life, ALGOMA had managed to cast a horrible shadow on what was the most triumphant day for the Canadian Pacific. For on November 7, 1885, as ALGOMA was grinding herself to pieces on Greenstone Rock, the Hon. Donald Smith was driving the ceremonial last spike in the C.P.R, transcontinental line at Craigellachie, British Columbia. It truly was a day to remember.

ALBERTA and ATHABASCA finished out the season alone, but the spring of 1886 brought a return to the three-ship operation with the help of the chartered CAMPANA. (Ship of the Month No. 10, issue of October 1970) which served until MANITOBA made her appearance. The first few years of the new ship's life saw her laid up a good bit in Owen Sound as passenger traffic was dropping off with the improvement in rail facilities.

Things went well for the older pair, however, until July 14, 1891. On that morning, ATHABASCA was upbound in the Sugar Island Channel of Little Lake George, St. Mary's River. At the same time, the bulk carrier PONTIAC of the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company was downbound with a cargo of iron ore. It seems that all was not sweetness and light between Capt. James F. Foote of ATHABASCA and Capt. Lowes of PONTIAC, for Capt. Foote took exception to the way PONTIAC refused to give any ground in a passing, crowding the proud passenger steamer to the side of the channel whenever they met. On this occasion, things were not played according to the same script, Capt. Foote held his position in the channel and his vessel struck the PONTIAC a dead bow-on blow opening such a gaping hole in the freighter that she sank on the spot. There was little damage to ATHABASCA but when she arrived at the Soo, the entire foredeck from PONTIAC was balanced across her bows, the whole structure having been torn loose in the impact. Upon the insistence of the insurers, the C.P.R. was forced to dismiss Capt, Foote after the accident, but in view of his actions in upholding the honour of the ATHABASCA and the pride of her owners, he retained the goodwill of the railway and received a healthy pension from them.

Rail facilities continued to cut down on the patronage of the steamers for a few years and in 1895 the company experimented by placing ALBERTA on a new run from Windsor to the Lakehead. She made her first sailing on June 29, 1895, but the service did not last and she was returned to her regular route.

Early in the new century, the two sisters as well as MANITOBA were rebuilt forward and received turtle-backed raised forecastles. To permit a view over the new and higher bows, the vessels' pilothouses were raised so that they protruded a full deck in height above the boat deck. The ships were, however, still conned from an open bridge atop the pilothouse and C.P.R. management was most insistent that this practice should be retained. Their appearance then remained the same for almost a decade with the exception of the advent of new stack colours coincident with the appearance of two new steamers which entered service in 1908. The new stack design was buff with a black top and the two early sisters kept this design, along with their original hull colours, until their retirement. They never received the white hull or the checkerboard on the funnel that MANITOBA and the new pair of steamers later carried.

By 1906 business for the steamers had picked up to such an extent that the C.P.R, ordered two new vessels from the Govan, Glasgow, yard of the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Ltd. At the launching of the first of the new steamers, ASSINIBOIA, on June 25, 1907, Mr. Arthur Piers, manager of the C.P.R. lake steamship department, stated that ALGOMA., ALBERTA and ATHABASCA had originally been planned as makeshift units only and that it had been the intention of the railroad to scrap them as soon as the transcontinental rail line had become established. Mr. Piers admitted that things had turned out much better than had been expected and that in 1907 ALBERTA, ATHABASCA and MANITOBA were still vitally important to the fleet's operations and would not be replaced by ASSINIBOIA and KEEWATIN.

Business was so good, in fact, that in 1910 ATHABASCA was sent to Collingwood where she was taken in hand by the Collingwood Shipbuilding Company and lengthened to 298.8 feet, her tonnage being altered to 2784 Gross and 2349 Net. At this time she lost her turtle-back forecastle but her bow appeared even higher now as a result of a closed rail built atop the forecastle. The operation must have been a success for in 1911 ALBERTA was also sent round to Collingwood. She was made a little longer than her sister, for she emerged with a length of 309.7 feet and her tonnage jumped to 2829 Gross and 2377 Net.

Their old machinery must have proven inadequate for their longer hulls for in 1913 both ships were given new engines and boilers by the Western Dry Dock & Shipbuilding Company Ltd., Port Arthur. The new engines were of the compound type and had cylinders of 30" and 64" with a stroke of 48". Each ship received two Scotch boilers measuring l4 feet by 11 feet.

The year 1912 saw the eastern terminus of the lake operation changed from Owen Sound to Port McNicoll, a small port on Georgian Bay near Midland. ALBERTA, ATHABASCA, KEEWATIN and ASSINIBOIA changed their base of operation to the new port but MANITOBA continued to carry passengers out of Owen Sound until her retirement at the end of the 1949 season,

ALBERTA at this time was operating with a very unusual chimed steam whistle. It had three chambers but they were located one over another rather than side by side as was the usual fashion. It is said that the whistle came from a shoreside mill. At one stage the company tried to make another like it for the flagship ASSINIBOIA because it had such a melodious tone, but the new whistle never worked properly and eventually was discarded.

In 1916 it was finally decided that MANITOBA, KEEWATIN and ASSINIBOIA could handle the passenger trade and so the older pair was relegated to a freight-only service between Port McNicoll and the Lakehead ports of Port Arthur and Port William (the latter had been added as a port of call when the C.P.R. built docking and elevator facilities there about 1907). The appearance of ATHABASCA and ALBERTA was not altered except by the addition of a rather flimsy-looking wooden upper pilothouse. The company apparently relented on the rule about open bridges now that there would be no passengers on the ships and it was not necessary to maintain appearances. In addition, two of the lifeboats on each side of the boat deck were removed and the davits remained empty, although they too were eventually removed. The passenger cabin remained unchanged and, we presume, offered hitherto unheard-of luxury accommodation to the crewmen of the steamers who had been required, before this to content themselves with their utilitarian quarters in the bow.

ATHABASCA and ALBERTA remained in the Port McNicoll - Lakehead service carrying package freight and bagged flour and feed into the 1930's when the effects of the Depression made themselves felt and the ships operated only sporadically. However, once the shipping world recovered from its bad years, it was decided that the aging pair was no longer needed on the regular service. In an effort to place them in some useful trade, the C.P.R, introduced a new route from Port McNicoll to Milwaukee and Chicago, On this run were placed ATHABASCA and ALBERTA still, of course, in the package freight trade. By this time, the appearance of ATHABASCA was altered somewhat in that the overhang of the boat deck over the upper deck promenade was removed, this operation giving the steamer a particularly bald look, especially at the stern. It offended the sleek and graceful lines which came from her delicate counter and sweep of her hull sheer. Fortunately ALBERTA was never submitted to the same indignity.

In 1944, the pair of steamers had completed a full sixty years of service and with them, the C.P.R. originated its rule that ships be retired at age 60, The company adhered to this rule with MANITOBA, was forced to retire KEEWATIN two years early, but returned to the 60-limit with ASSINIBOIA, which ran two years in freight-only service after the end of her passenger run. ALBERTA and ATHABASCA were laid up at Port McNicoll and remained there for the next several years.

ALBERTA was the first to go. In 1946 she was sold to the American Machinery Company of Jacksonville, Florida. This firm proposed to take the vessel to the Gulf of Mexico via the Illinois Waterway and the Mississippi River, although it is not evident what use they wished to make of her. ALBERTA was towed to Chicago and there was stripped of her funnel and spars so that she could clear river bridges under tow. The project never came to fruition, however, and she lay in this rather sad state until 1947 when she was towed to Indiana Harbor and put out of her misery by the wreckers' torches.

ATHABASCA remained at "The Port" until 1947 by which time it had become obvious that nobody would be interested in buying the old ship for operation. She was accordingly sold to the Steel Company of Canada Ltd. for scrapping. In the post-war years, Stelco's wreckers were doing a land-office business in cutting up old vessels as the firm had purchased all the veteran steamers traded in to the U.S.Maritime Commission by American lake operators during the Second War. ATHABASCA joined the ghostly parade to the torches and on May 27, 1947, she made the passage down the Welland Canal in tow of the tugs HELENA, and TUPPER PORTER. The scrappers were well supplied with work just then and so it was not until well into 1948 that the last remains of ATHABASCA were finally cut up.

And so ended the lives of the two remaining vessels of this famous trio. Their original design had a great influence on passenger vessels to follow and even the tragic loss of ALGOMA, under circumstances her designers could never foresee, did not detract from the success of the remaining sisters. Their sixty-plus years belie the original label of "makeshift units" applied to them by the railway in early years, and stand as a tribute to the quality of the work of their Scottish builders.

Great Lakes Cruises 1974

In our last two issues, we mentioned that a cruise ship named GALAXY is due to spend the summer of 1974 making cruise trips between Chicago and Montreal. Until only very recently, we were rather in the dark as to what this vessel named GALAXY was as we were unable to find her in any shipping register.

At long last, the story has come out in the open. The vessel is actually registered as GALAXIAS and the name GALAXY would appear to be simply an anglicized version for the purpose of drawing English-speaking passengers. Her current owners are Hellenic Cruises S.A. which seems to be part of the Kavounides Shipping Company. She is, of course, registered in Greece and, since being bought by these owners in 1970 and converted for the cruise service, she has been trading in the Aegean.

GALAXIAS was built in 1957 by Harland and Wolff Ltd. at Belfast for the Irish Sea routes of Coast Lines Ltd. and was christened SCOTTISH COAST. Her length was 342'3" overall, with a moulded breadth of 52'8" and a depth of 19'9". Her Gross Tonnage was 3817 but since the 1970 rebuild is shown as 4858. She is a twin screw vessel powered by two 10-cylinder two-stroke Burmeister and Wain diesels.

Her first operator was the Belfast Steamship Co. for whom she ran the Liverpool-Belfast route but she was later moved over to the Glasgow-Dublin line of Burns & Laird Ltd. In 1965 she was fitted for drive-on auto service and she traded on many of her owner's routes around the Irish Sea, finishing up on the Belfast-Glasgow run where she made her last sailing on August 30, 1969. She was laid up at Birkenhead and was subsequently sold to her present owners. Her refit included the extending of the passenger accommodation aft over the well deck, the fitting of a swimming pool, and the updating of all cabins.

No matter what her flag, GALAXIAS will be a welcome addition to the lake scene in April of this year. We hope that she proves a success and that an even more ambitious program may be operated after this year's experiment.

(For their help in digging up the information on GALAXIAS, our thanks to Gordon Turner, Rene Beauchamp, Lawrence Pomeroy, John Greenwood, Carl Ehrke, and Paul Clegg, editor of "Short Sea Survey" appearing in Sea Breezes.)

Late Marine News

The sale for scrapping of the steamer CRISPIN OGLEBAY seems to have touched off a round of name changes in the fleet of the Columbia Transportation Division, Oglebay Norton & Company, The OGLEBAY name is, of course, one of some considerable importance to the firm and it was not supposed that the fleet would take long in giving the name to another of its ships. The change actually came even faster than your editor had anticipated, and we can now report that when the steamer J. H. HILLMAN JR. emerges from the yard of the American Shipbuilding Company at Toledo where she has been undergoing conversion to a self-unloader, she will be carrying the name CRISPIN OGLEBAY. In addition, the self-unloader FRANK PURNELL (a sistership of the HILLMAN) will be rechristened ROBERT C. NORTON in time for the beginning of the 1974 season. The present ROBERT C. NORTON , a self-unloader equipped with both deck cranes and a boom and the proud possessor of just about the sweetest-sounding steam whistle on the lakes, will henceforth sail under the name BUCKEYE. This name is no stranger to the company's operations as it was carried by a previous craneship owned by Columbia.

Another upcoming change of name concerns the tanker TOMMY WIBORG which was purchased by the Hall Corporation during 1973 but which has not as yet entered the Great Lakes. No official announcement has been made, but we understand that the salt-water-type tanker will bear the name UNGAVA TRANSPORT when she makes her first appearance in our area. The name makes reference to both a peninsula and a bay located in the far northern reaches of Quebec province directly across the Hudson Strait from Baffin Island. No doubt the ship will be one of those used during the summer months to ferry supplies to the Arctic area.

Lay-up Listings

By way of late arrivals, the following should be added to the lay-up listings contained elsewhere in this issue:

For the Port of Hamilton: J. W. McGIFFIN SAGUENAY

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. 5 (February 1974)

Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Winter Lay-up Listings; Ship of the Month No. 37; Great Lakes Cruises 1974; Late Marine News; Lay-up Listings