Friday, May 3rd - 8:00 p.m. at the Marine Museum. Film Night. Three films including the Tall Ships race from Plymouth to Tenerife, a cruise on Canadian National's Alaska cruise ship PRINCE GEORGE, and a film on the life of apprentices on a tanker running to Kuwait.
This will be the last meeting of the season. We will resume in October with an open slide night of members' summer shipwatching activities.
The Editor's Notebook
The March meeting featured an illustrated address by Lorne Joyce dealing with the stone hookers that were once so common on western Lake Ontario. Lorne's reminiscences of the ships and the colourful men who sailed them made for a delightful evening and we hope that Lorne will favour us with another of his fascinating talks in the near future.
Our Programme Committee is busily searching for ideas for next year's meetings, although many of the nights are already planned. To give a hand in this direction, Dyke Cobb and Bill Wilson have agreed to join our stalwarts, Gordon Turner and Scotty McCannell, on the Committee and we would ask that you let them know your preferences and suggestions regarding meetings. Volunteers to address the group would be welcomed.
Several members have requested that we devote a bit of space in these pages to publications dealing with ships and accordingly we hope shortly to give you a reading list of recommended titles for the marine historian. Book reviews will also be presented from time to time.
In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to R. T. McCullough of Corunna, Vernon Sweeting of Midland, Philip Brimacombe of Oakville, and Leeson Laing of Port Credit.
The possibility of a carferry operation between Manitoulin Island and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan appears to be improving as the State of Michigan looks into the question of financial assistance for the project. A site for the Michigan terminal of the route has not yet been chosen although facilities could be located either in the Cedarville area or at the village of DeTour at the mouth of the St. Mary's River. The eastern terminal would be located at Meldrum Bay, the port formerly used by the diminutive NORMAC in her ferry run from Blind River. It has just recently come to light that a service of this nature has been under consideration for several years but no action had been taken earlier as there was no suitable boat available. That situation has now changed. Ontario Northland will commission its new CHI-CHEEMAUN in August and thereafter NORGOMA will be excess tonnage as far as the Tobermory-South Bay Mouth route is concerned while NORISLE will be needed only as spare boat.
A new fuel dock will make its appearance on the lakes this year as a result of the fuel shortage. Windsor Harbour Commission officials have decided that, since they have access to sufficient oil supplies, they will make bunkers available to lake shipping. No doubt charges will be such as to ensure that there will be no financial loss on the part of the city! Meanwhile we learn that the price of Bunker "C" fuel is now 30c per gallon in Canada compared with 9c at this time last year, while the cost of bunker coal has risen from $21. per ton to $40. The shipping industry has been promised that vessels will be allocated all the fuel they will need for the year, but this does not ensure that it will actually be available when and where required.
Also on the subject of bunkering services, we can report that the small tanker GULF SENTINEL (whose charter to Gulf for the Lake Ontario bunker trade has not been renewed) will be chartered this year to Shell, her earlier owners. She will be taken to Sarnia, but it is not yet clear whether she will run a mobile service from the Shell dock at Corunna (which might counteract the competition from the new dock at Windsor and at the same time eliminate the long lineups of steamers in the Stag Island channel), or whether she may be destined to run a cross-river service in a move to eliminate the traffic of tank trucks through the town of Marine City and over on the ferry DALDEAN. One thing is sure - she will certainly get a new name. We might hope that her old name of RIVERSHELL might be returned to her.
An announcement was made on March 15th to the effect that the Grand Trunk Western Railroad (a subsidiary of Canadian National) has decided to discontinue the Windsor-Detroit ferry crossing. The move really comes as no surprise as rumours of this nature were prevalent several years ago when the steam ferries LANSDOWNE and HURON were cut down to barges and the tug MARGARET YORKE constructed to push them. Grand Trunk-C.N. has obtained a contract permitting it to use the Penn Central tunnel under the Detroit River and it would seem that any traffic unable to use this route would be diverted to either the tunnel or ferry at Sarnia. The Windsor-Detroit crossing will remain in operation until the summer months.
A rather humourous side effect to the troublesome protest by truckers in the United States a few weeks ago was the movement of seven trucks loaded with engine blocks across Lake Michigan to Manitowoc aboard a railroad carferry. The American Motors parts had been manufactured in Ontario and were destined for the A.M.C. plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Arrangements were made for the trucks to cross by ferry rather than face possible violence at the hands of striking truckers in southern Michigan.
The question of who is building what at which American yards has become even more confused with the report that the American Steamship Company (Boland and Cornelius) has reached agreement in principle with the Bay Shipbuilding Corp. for the construction at Sturgeon Bay of three 1000-foot self-unloading bulk carriers. BoCo also has an option on two additional carriers of the same size from the same yard. The contract for the ships is largely contingent on the construction by Bay Shipbuilding of facilities large enough to handle such hulls. Accordingly, the yard has set out to build a new graving dock 1,150 feet in length and 130 feet in width. So, in an effort to lessen the confusion, we will list here the contracts presently placed with Bay with hull numbers and delivery dates:
Hull 711 - BoCo self-unloader(H. LEE WHITE). For 1974.
Hull 712 - BoCo self-unloader, 630 feet. For 1975.
Hull 713 - Dump scow for Great lakes Dredge & Dock. For 1975.
Hull 714 - BoCo self-unloader, 770 feet. For 1976.
Hull 715 - Bulk carrier for Inland Steel, no details. For 1977.
Hull 716 - BoCo self-unloader, 770 feet. For 1977.
Hull 717 - BoCo self-unloader, 1000 feet. For 1979.
Hull 718 - BoCo self-unloader, 1000 feet. For 1979.
Hull 719 - BoCo self-unloader, 1000 feet. For 1980.
- plus two options for BoCo.
Quite frankly, we do not see how it would be possible for Bay Shipbuilding to hold to a schedule as tight as this unless the company should be able to purchase the Erie Marine yard at Erie, the only other yard on the lakes presently capable of turning out 1000-footers. Erie is not active at present although the owners, Litton, are engaged in litigation with Bethlehem Steel over two projected sisters for STEWART J. CORT. Bethlehem wants to proceed with construction, however we understand that Erie Marine is refusing to go ahead, presumably in a disagreement over the contract price.
The Hanna fleet will be somewhat smaller this year as a result of a decision not to operate MATTHEW ANDREWS in 1974. Her owners apparently feel that she is no longer economical to operate in the ore trade. In addition, NATIONAL TRADER (the former WALTER E. WATSON, recently purchased from Interlake) will remain at the wall for the season. She is eventually to be converted to a craneship.
Rather alarming news comes in the form of word of the approval by the U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd) of an Interim Capital Construction Fund to be established by the Bob-Lo Company of Detroit. What is so horrible about this? Well, the stated objective of the company is to replace its venerable passenger steamers (yes, steamers!) COLUMBIA and STE. CLAIRE with four 1,000-passenger day boats to be built during the period 1974-84, and to purchase in 1974 an "existing vessel" with a capacity of 980 persons. Cost of the project is estimated at somewhere near $8.2 million. The thought of COLUMBIA and STE. CLAIRE (1902 and 1910 respectively) being retired is absolutely revolting and, while we have no desire to see a company forced into abandoning plans for expansion and the updating of its facilities, we hope that some way-can be found to keep these famed Detroit institutions operating.
While on the subject of Bob-Lo, we should report that the city of Wyandotte has expressed approval of the plans for construction of a new dock for the Bob-Lo steamers, the site chosen being located on property owned by the BASF Chemical Corp. The present wharf, judged to be inadequate for present requirements, is located in Bishop Park at Wyandotte.
When the Toledo-Detroit coal shuttle starts up after its short annual winter lull, it is a sign that spring is not far off no matter how nasty the weather is. The straightdecker BENSON FORD went into operation on March 4th while the BoCo self-unloader CONSUMERS POWER sailed from Ecorse on March 6th, Not far behind were HENNEPIN and J.R.SENSIBAR. HENNEPIN also managed to officially open Cleveland harbour for the year, arriving on March 20th to load salt for Toledo. With the reappearance of HENNEPIN, many shipwatchers will heave a great sigh of relief as the old girl had run late into the winter until forced into lay-up by ice conditions, and it had been rumoured that she would not fit out this spring.
First ship of the year into Toronto was IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD which arrived from Port Weller on March 25th to load gasoline for Kingston. The first ship in port to get steam up for the coming year was GODERICH which was seen emitting copious clouds of smoke from her funnel on March 19th. Trouble is that these days there are so few steamers around, and you just can't tell what is going inside the engineroom of a motorship. Anyway, GODERICH didn't get anything for her achievement, but Captain Angus Graham of IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD was awarded the traditional harbourmaster's topper for his feat.
It begins to look as though shipping may get off to a very slow start this year on the Canadian side of the lakes, this despite a planned early opening of the St.Lawrence canals. The cause of it all is the Seafarers International Union which pulled its members out on strike against the shipping companies on March 15th, effectively blocking the plans of a number of fleets to get fit-out crews working early. At the time of writing this, we had heard nothing further and certainly no word of any negotiations. Officials of the union seem to be bragging about the possibilities of a lengthy strike.
If a few years ago it looked as if the 1970's were to be the years of the ascendency of the Steinbrenner empire together with the Kinsman Marine Transit Company, it now looks as if exactly the opposite may be true. Kinsman las sold the steamers BEN MOREELL and A. T. LAWSON in compliance with the divestiture ordered by the courts, but the buyers are as yet unidentified. It is suspected that they may be the same parties who last year purchased Great Lakes Towing from American Shipbuilding and, if this is true, the two bulk carriers may still operate this year in Kinsman livery. More alarming is the persistent rumour that Kinsman will sell almost every ship in its fleet if the offer is right. It is known that the fleet will not operate KINSMAN VOYAGER, HARRY L. ALLEN or SILVER BAY and this trio is likely to go for scrapping soon. We have also heard that Kinsman may sell as many as seven ships to another U.S. self-unloader operator (not BoCo) including, believe it or not, PAUL THAYER, WILLIAM R. ROESCH, J. BURTON AYERS (presently being converted to a self-unloader) and THOMAS WILSON (the latter badly in need of tank top replacement). Only time will tell, but suffice it to say that, at the moment, the Kinsman star is not at the zenith!
Studies are underway into the feasibility of operating some sort of waterborne commuter service between New Baltimore, Michigan, located on Lake St. Clair, and Ecorse which is situated downstream from Detroit. No details on the type of service intended have been released, but it is known that a hydrofoil operation is under consideration.
Seems to us that not long ago we were hearing rumbles about the U.S. Coast Guard retiring its larger lake buoy tenders in favour of newer, smaller vessels. Any thought of this coming to pass, at least for the next few years, can now be discounted as the U.S.C.G. has announced plans to rebuild five ships over the next five years. First to be taken to the C.G. yard at Curtis Bay, Maryland, will be BRAMBLE which is currently stationed at Detroit. She will leave station during August and her place will be filled by MARIPOSA which will be brought up from the coast. Upon her return, ACACIA will head east and one by one thereafter will follow MESQUITE, WOODRUSH and SUNDEW. The work will include installation of a bowthruster (in a ship so small?), the overhauling of engines, refurbishing and enlarging of crew quarters, and the fitting of a new cargo handling gear. The plans for the sending of the ships east and replacing each as she goes are so complicated that we won't even bother with repeating them. They could only have been dreamed up by government.
The State of Wisconsin is anxious to obtain federal funds to improve the Lake Michigan carferry service of the Ann Arbor Railroad, this despite the many indications that the Ann Arbor wants out of the carferry business altogether. Funds, if forthcoming, would be directed for use in repairing ARTHUR K. ATKINSON, which is out of service and suffering from a fractured crankshaft, and to build a new 450-foot 35-car ferry and reconstruct docks to fit her.
Recent reports indicate that McAllister Towing has changed its mind about junking the big tug DANIEL McALLISTER which is now lying at Kingston with engine troubles. Her owners had been looking around for a used tug and pricing the construction of a new one to replace her, but found that used tugs are at a premium at the moment and the cost of a new unit would be prohibitive. DANIEL McALLISTER will now be repaired and returned to service.
What with all the conversions and lengthenings announced during the last year, it is not surprising that we hear suggestions that Cleveland Cliffs may be going to lengthen its EDWARD B. GREENE. A 629-footer, the GREENE was built in 1952. In addition, we hear that something may be in the works for Interlake's HERBERT C. JACKSON ....
In previous issues, we had mentioned the strong possibility that either PIC RIVER or BLACK RIVER (or even both) might not operate in 1974. PIC wintered this year at Port Weller Drydocks where she was to be inspected to determine the cost of repairing extensive bottom damage. Happily, the projected repair bill is not as high as originally expected and we have received confirmation that repairs will now be effected and that PIC RIVER will operate in 1974. BLACK RIVER wintered at Hamilton and her future is still up in the air, although we understand that Q.& O. has been keeping its options open by telling crews that they may be needed if BLACK RIVER should be put into service. Guess we will simply have to wait and see.
Last issue, we told of the work done on CHICAGO TRIBUNE this winter to reduce the height of her trunk and we wondered why they did not remove it altogether. Well, if you ask a good question in these pages, you usually get an answer from somebody and we are happy to report that we now know why the trunk has not disappeared completely. It seem that the TRIBUNE was built to carry the trunk and has exceptionally large (for her size) holds. The bracing that could be built into her hull is, therefore, limited and the framework of the trunk gives her the additional strength necessary to keep her in one piece. Next question, please.
Scrapping operations are progressing at Kewaunee on the remains of the canal tanker TAURUS and on the Roen barge SOLVEIG. In addition, work has commenced on the dismantling of the former C.S.L. package freight canaller SASKATOON.
A recent visit to Kingston gave your editor an opportunity of seeing the former Halco canaller NORTHCLIFFE HALL lying alongside the La Salle Causeway, the new registry port of Nassau having been inscribed on her stern in a somewhat less than professional paint job. Her Canadian registry was closed on December 7, while that of WESTCLIFFE HALL (which managed to get as far as Prescott on her way to salt water last fall) was closed on December 4th. Knowing the reputation of being a poor sea boat which was picked up by NORTHCLIFFE HALL during her years of lake operation subsequent to her lengthening, we would not wish to sail her on the open ocean ....
Speaking of Kingston, now might be a good time to report on the current roster of derelicts in the Canadian Dredge & Dock junkyard there. The dredges LELAND and MIDLAND are present and accounted for but in terrible condition. The former has not operated for almost a decade and the latter has been idle for almost fifteen years. The dredge PRIMROSE is also there but she is still in operating condition and looking quite respectable. The tugs LOTBINIERE and J.A. CORNETT are both out of commission and looking quite rundown, while with them is the WORKBOAT NO. 11, a little stemwinder which might better be remembered as CHARLES D., for she lay alongside Magee's Drydock at Humberstone when BELVOIR was built there in 1954. Tug TRAVELLER is moored at Kingston as well, but she is still on the C.D.D. active list. Bringing up the and of the list and looking the most forlorn of all is that ugly of uglies, JACQUES GRAVEL, a ship used during the Seaway construction but whose physical appearance defies description. Built as an auxiliary aircraft carrier during the second war (if flyers had trouble landing on the big carriers, how did they ever get back to her?), she later served on the east coast for the Anticosti Shipping Company,
Marine Industries Ltd. has been changing a few names in its fleet recently and these changes should be recorded. The tank barge BALSAMBRANCH is now M. I. L. BALSAM while the tug FOUNDATION VENTURE has been renamed M. I. L. VENTURE. The derrick barge FOUNDATION SCARBORO is now M. I. L. SCARBORO and the bunkering barge HALFUELER. better known on the lakes as TRANSLAKE and latterly used at Halifax after being cut down to a barge, has not been scrapped at Sorel as expected but rather has reappeared as M. I. L. FUELER.
Another Foundation tug, FOUNDATION VIGILANT, has been sold, passing to John S. Latsis of Greece, and renamed ENNEA.
The salty ADELFOI which grounded in the St. Lawrence on the Isle of Orleans late last year will apparently remain there for some time to come. She has cracked and her holds are flooded. The salvage vessel ATLANTEAN 1, as reported last month, went out to attempt salvage but on February 10 was impounded by the Department of Transport as a result of alleged safety violations at the site. She is currently lying at Quebec.
The tug TARA HALL (formerly known on the lakes as HERBERT A.) has encountered difficulties in effecting her flight from the lakes to warmer climes in the south. She suffered rudder damage off the St. Simeon River in the St. Lawrence on January 18, and had to be fetched by the Davie tug LEONARD W. which is stationed at Quebec City.
The coastal motorship MAURICE DESGAGNES suffered fire damage while lying at her dock at Montreal in the late evening hours of February 25th. She has since been taken to Canadian Vickers Ltd. for repairs.
The floating theatre L'ESCALE, formerly the ferry ARTHUR CARDIN, will be put to new use this year having been sold to new owners. She will operate from St. Marc-on-Richelieu and will run excursions on the Richelieu River.
Trouble appears to be brewing on the St. Lawrence over projected ferry services planned by three companies. Last year two companies, namely Maritime Agency Ltd. (owned by Logistec) and the Societe de Gestion de Matane (SOGEMA), applied to the Quebec government for permission to run a train ferry service across the St.Lawrence from Matane to carry newsprint. Quebec took no action on the applications and now Canadian Pacific has signed a contract with the North Shore Paper Company to run a carferry from Baie Comeau to Quebec City. They have even gone so far as to order from Burrard's at Vancouver a ship designed as a sister to INCAN SUPERIOR which is due to enter the Thunder Bay-Superior service in 1974. Quite naturally, the people of Matane are screaming bloody murder about the revenue that C.P. will divert from their area and even more so since C.P. did not request the approval of the provincial government before making their plans. Matters are made more interesting with the revelation that SOGEMA has an option to purchase a carferry currently laid up at Grand Rapids, Michigan, and by our calculations that vessel could only be the Grand Trunk steamer GRAND RAPIDS. We shall have to keep our eyes open for developments on this front, but our guess is that the politicians will not care to oppose the "National Dream"!
Reports emanating from Sorel indicate that the job of stripping the former Chesapeake and Ohio carferry PERE MARQUETTE 22 is well in hand. We presume that 1974 will see her departure for the Caribbean and the moving of PERE MARQUETTE 21 to Sorel for a similar job.
Despite predictions that Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. would soon be dropping entirely its lake package freight run, we learn that appointments have been made for all vessels except FRENCH RIVER which spent last year in ordinary at Hamilton. It should be remembered, however, that a few of the package freighters will probably be out on charter to other operators and we will be lucky to see any more than three ships on the lake run.
We have learned that the buyers of U. S. Steel's craneship CLIFFORD F. HOOD are A. Ziff & Sons who operate under the name of Union Pipe & Machinery Ltd. They are the same firm that purchased MICHIPICOTEN before she went down the river for scrap. It is to be hoped that the HOOD may find the same fate as MICHIPICOTEN. At the time of her sale, HOOD was the oldest ship in the Tinstack fleet, having been built at West Bay City in 1902.
Two more old vessel will be making their way to Strathearne Terminals at Hamilton for scrapping in 1974. One is the Halco tanker INLAND TRANSPORT currently laid up at Sarnia, inactive since a grounding in the fall of 1972. The other is the barge IRONWOOD, once a unit of the Nicholson Transit fleet and more recently cut down to the deck and used in the Port Huron area.
The fleet of Hannah Inland Waterways is growing. The company now has the former Escanaba Towing tug LEE REUBEN and has renamed her MARY A. HANNAH. In addition, the Bultema Dock & Dredge tug MUSKEGON has been purchased. Hannah is also building on the gulf coast two barges of 16,000 and 24,000 tons for 1976 delivery. The smaller barge will operate out of Tawas City for the National Gypsum Company.
We left this item to the end of the Marine News section in the hopes that it might not be so easily seen. You see, we did get egg on our faces over the ORION cruises. It seems that ORION is not coming into the lakes after all, but now we are supposed to be getting a boat named STELLA MARIS. This ship is not to be confused with a small passenger vessel of the same name that visited the lakes about a decade ago - she burned! In any event, we are not, positively not, going out on a limb to dig up and publish all the dope on the STELLA MARIS scheduled to run on the lakes, until we have some sort of proof that she actually is coming. No way are we getting caught for a third time.
More About the Ship with the Golden Rivets
In our last issue we gave the story of CAPTAIN C. D. SECORD and we mentioned that the ship was given her last name in honour of one of the officers of the Mohawk Navigation Company Ltd. Not only was Capt. Carleton Dace Secord an associate of Robert A. Campbell, the founder of Mohawk and several other companies, but by coincidence he had also been the master of the SECORD when she entered service back in 1900 as CHARLES R. VAN HISE for the Bessemer Steamship Company.
In addition, we mentioned that SECORD suffered engine troubles back in the early sixties and, thanks to the digging of Jim Kidd, we can now present further details. On December 2nd, 1961, CAPT. C. D. SECORD was upbound in the St. Mary's River when she damaged her propeller and suffered an engine breakdown. Another Mohawk steamer, SIR THOMAS SHAUGHNESSY, happened to be upbound in the same area at the time and she took the SECORD in tow, hoping to get her to Port Arthur where repairs could be put in hand.
The two ships were making their way westward across Lake Superior on December 4th when they were caught in a strong northwesterly gale which soon whipped up the lake. In the heavy seas, the towline broke and for 24 hours the SECORD wallowed helplessly in the trough of the waves. The SHAUGHNESSY, herself 55 years old and not the most powerful of ships, was unable to get a line aboard the helpless freighter and was suffering considerable damage from the pounding she was taking.
In due course another Mohawk vessel, GOLDEN HIND, passed on her way downbound from the Lakehead and she was called to assist. GOLDEN HIND stood by the SECORD and this permitted the SHAUGHNESSY to make her way on to Port Arthur for repairs. On December 6th the SECORD was taken in tow by the U.S.C.G. WOODRUSH and was brought safely to Houghton, Michigan. On December 7th she proceeded under tow to Port Arthur shipyard where she was laid up and her engine removed for rebuilding. In fact, the work was so extensive that the vessel did not re-enter service until June 20, 1962.
Charles E. Matt
It is with deep regret that we report the death at Sandusky, Ohio, of fellow-member Charles E. Matt on February 13, 1974.
Mr. Matt, who was 71 at the time of his passing, resided at Huron, Ohio, and had been a member of the Toronto Marine Historical Society since 1969. He was an avid follower of the lake shipping scene and had served briefly as interim curator of the Great Lakes Historical Society's museum at Vermillion.
Ship of the Month No. 39
One of the great entrepreneurs of Great Lakes shipping was the famous James Playfair of Midland. Born in Scotland in 1861, he came to Canada at an early age and went on to become one of the most colourful and versatile figures ever seen around the lakes. In fact, as students of lake history will know, there were very few Canadian shipping companies which did not at some time come under the influence of James Playfair.
Photographed four days after her stranding, the ice-shrouded wreck of LAMBTON rests on Ile Parisienne. Bascom collection.Just one of the many associates of James Playfair over the years was Albert Ernest Mathews of Toronto, although their association in business was not particularly long lived. Mathews owned his own fleet of vessels, the Mathews Steamship Company Ltd., and it was during the early 1920's that he and Playfair went into a joint venture known as the Glen Transportation Company Ltd. This company should not be confused with the Glen Line Ltd. and Glen Steamships Ltd., two other firms founded by Playfair with the backing of the Valley Camp Coal Company, and in fact it was only one of more than two dozen companies controlled by Playfair during his career.
In any event, the Glen Transportation Company Ltd. was owned half by Mathews and half by Playfair. In 1921 the firm ordered from the Port Arthur Shipbuilding Company Ltd. a steam-powered bulk canaller. As built she measured 252.0 feet in length, 42.6 feet in the beam and 21.0 feet in depth, while her Gross Tonnage was 1910. Given official number C. 150234, she was christened GLENAFTON. The name is curious in that it contains the "Glen" prefix normally used by Playfair on his vessels and also the "ton" suffix common to the ships of the Mathews fleet.
GLENAFTON was a typical canal-sized bulk carrier, although she looked rather more substantial than the mass-produced canallers turned out over the next few years by British shipyards. She very much resembled GLENCLOVA which was built at Midland, also in 1921, for the same owners. GLENAFTON had the usual step in her deck one hatch forward of the boilerhouse and on her foremast and main she carried cargo booms.
GLENAFTON operated mainly in the grain trade down the lakes and St. Lawrence canals to Montreal. Her joint ownership, however, did not last long as there occurred a falling-out between Mathews and Playfair. In 1925 she was officially transferred to the Mathews Steamship Company Ltd., Toronto, and although she continued in basically the same trade as before, Mathews immediately renamed her (b) LAMBTON.
LAMBTON was not destined to linger long in the Mathews fleet for on December 8, 1927, while downbound with her last cargo of grain for the season, she encountered very heavy weather out on Lake Superior. This was the same storm that saw ALTADOC wrecked on the Keweenaw Peninsula, KAMLOOPS on Isle Royale, and AGAWA on Manitoulin Island, an early winter disturbance of unusual intensity. LAMBTON managed to run foul of Ile Parisienne in Whitefish Bay, only a few miles from the safety and shelter of the St. Mary's River, She took a tremendous beating from the heavy seas once she stranded and soon was enveloped in a virtual mountain of ice. Before her crew could be rescued some days later, two men had died.
An investigation of the accident was conducted by the much-feared Capt. L. A. Demers, Dominion Wreck Commissioner. The LAMBTON's skipper, Capt. Livingstone, and the other officers were exonerated from blame in the deaths of the two crewmen but, as might be expected, the Commissioner found fault with someone for the stranding and this time it fell to the mate, C. E. Poster, to receive a reprimand from Demers.
Meanwhile, the wreck had been declared a constructive total loss and was abandoned to the underwriters. The steamer was refloated in 1928 by the Reid Wrecking Company and was subsequently sold to Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal. Her new owners removed her engines and boilers and fitted them in the new canal-sized package freighter FERNIE which was built at Midland in 1929. The hull of LAMBTON was purchased by the Burke Towing & Salvage Company Ltd., Midland. She was stripped to the deck forward and her pilothouse placed atop the after cabin. A locomotive crane was installed on deck and so equipped, under the name (c) SALVUS, she was used as a lightering barge and pulpwood carrier. Her tonnage as a barge was shown as 1749 Net.
SALVUS, operated for a little over a decade for Burke Towing, coming out whenever pulpwood was to be moved or a wreck required her services. She was usually towed by either the tug STRATHBOGIE or the canal-sized bulk carrier ARLINGTON, the latter being another cast-off from the Mathews fleet. ARLINGTON was not purchased by Burke until 1936 and she foundered on Lake Superior in 1940, so her service in the fleet was short. STRATHBOGIE was really the main source of motive power for SALVUS and, in fact, both were sold out of the company the same year.
In 1941, SALVUS was purchased by the Dominion Coal Company Ltd., Sydney, Nova Scotia, and she was taken to the east coast for use as a coaling barge. She proved her value during the war years and even stayed on the job for several years after its conclusion. But eventually her usefulness came to an end and, being an unpowered hull, there would not have been much of a demand for her services. In 1952 she was sold for scrapping and was dismantled at St. John's, Newfoundland.
Had it not been for LAMBTON's tragic encounter with the rocks of Parisienne in 1927, her life might well have been much longer and she might easily have survived as a steamer until the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway which rendered ships of her size uneconomical to operate.
The Northern Navigation Company Limited
In the years before the construction of the transcontinental railroad by the Canadian Pacific, there was a great need for a route of travel between Southern Ontario and the northern and western areas of the province. It was inconvenient and, in some cases, impossible to travel by road and for those who did not wish to head south of the border and then west, the obvious route was up the Great Lakes.
Spring fit-out at Collingwood, April 20, 1909. Group includes HAMONIC, CITY OF MIDLAND, GERMANIC, DORIC and IONIC. Courtesy of R. T. McCannell.To help fill the need for water transportation, Thomas and John J. Long in 1876, formed the Georgian Bay Navigation Company which operated steamers around Georgian Bay and up to Sault Ste. Marie, In 1880, they reorganized as the Great Northern Transit Company and this new concern absorbed the vessels and operations of the older firm. The company did well, despite the tragic loss of several vessels: WAUBUNO foundered on Georgian Bay on November 22, 1879, with the loss of thirty lives; SIMCOE sank on Lake Huron on November 24, 1880, with twelve lives lost; NORTHERN BELLE burned at Byng Inlet in 1898, and MANITOULIN burned on Manitowaning Bay on May 18, 1882, with the loss of twenty lives.
About 1890, the company received some competition in the form of the North Shore Navigation Company which began serving various Georgian Bay ports as well as the Soo. The company was formed by M. Burton of Barrie and W. J. Sheppard of Waubaushene. The locals came to call this fleet of steamers the "Black Line" to distinguish the ships from those of the Great Northern which was termed the "White Line", these two names being taken from the colours of the ships' hulls. Competition between the two companies soon became very hot and travellers reaped the benefits of fare-cutting and overly ambitious schedules. The "Black Line" named all its vessels after cities (or towns) of Southern Ontario, although some of the municipalities so honoured were just as diminutive as were the steamers.
Meanwhile, a third operator, older than both of these firms, was running ships on the lengthy route from Sarnia to the Canadian Lakehead. In 1865, James H. and Henry Beatty formed a partnership to operate vessels and in 1870 they established the Lake Superior Line. They incorporated as the North West Transportation Company of Sarnia in 1882, although the operation was familiarly known as the "Beatty Line." The two most famous ships of this company were the large steamers MONARCH and UNITED EMPIRE.
Early in 1899 the Beattys merged the North West Transportation Company with the Great Northern Transit Company (the White Line) to form what was known as the Northern Navigation Company of Ontario Ltd. Later in the same year, the combined companies were merged with the North Shore Navigation Company (Black Line). The result was the formation of the Norther Navigation Company Ltd., the largest firm operating in the passenger and package freight trade on the Canadian upper lakes.
For several years, the Beattys continued to operate the new company and, in fact, the firm's steamers were given the original Beatty funnel design, red with white band and black top. Control of the company passed to H. C. Hammond of Toronto by 1904. On January 31, 1911, an offer to purchase the company for the sum of $1,250,000 was advanced by James Playfair and his associates. Playfair was a vessel operator and wheeler-dealer on the grand scale. The shareholders of Northern Navigation rejected his approach but at the annual meeting on March 25, 1911, he managed to get himself elected President of the company.
No sooner had he gained control of Northern Navigation than Playfair along with G. A. Barnard of Montreal, Edmund Bristol of Toronto, and J. R. Binning of Furness Withy & Company, began negotiations to consolidate Northern Navigation and Inland Lines Ltd. (a fleet Playfair acquired in 1910 from the McKays of Hamilton) with the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company Ltd., a major operator of passenger and freight services on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. In February 1913, these efforts met with success and the merger paved the way for further amalgamations which, later in 1913, resulted in the formation of Canada Steamship Lines Ltd.
Northern Navigation was retained as a division of C.S.L. and its name continued to appear on the forecastles of its vessels until the close of the 1949 season when its last vessel, HURONIC, was withdrawn from service and sold for scrapping. With that move, C.S.L. retired from the Upper lakes passenger trade, although it continued to operate package freighters in the area and still does to this day, albeit on a much reduced basis.
The following steamers were all owned by the Northern Navigation Company (or Division) in the half century between its founding in 1899 and its liquidation in 1949. Vessels operated solely by predecessor companies are not included.
ATLANTIC, (a) MANITOULIN (83). (C. 85491). Wooden passenger and package freight propeller built 1880 at Owen Sound for Great Northern Transit Co. 147.0 x 30.0 x 11.0. Gross 706. Burned May 18,1882 on Manitowaning Bay, 20 lives lost. Rebuilt 1882-3 at Owen Sound by Melancthon Simpson. Gross 683, Net 442. To Northern Navigation 1899. Destroyed by fire in Georgian Bay off Pancake Islands, October 11, 1903.
BRITANNIC, (a) ROCKET (99). (C. 100188). Iron sidewheel beam-engined tug built 1866 at Glasgow, Scotland, for the Allan Line for service on the St. Lawrence between Quebec and Montreal. Appears to have been brought out in pieces, assembled at Sorel, and completed at Cantin's yard, Montreal. 150.0 x 25.0 x 13.0. Gross 590. Converted to a private yacht 1892 for Oliver Gillespie, Cornwall. 150.8 x 25.6 x 9.2. Gross 428, Net 228. Rebuilt 1895 as a passenger and freight steamer, still sidewheel, although one engine removed and placed in WHITE STAR. Purchased by Great Northern Transit Co. about 1895. To Northern Navigation 1899. Sold 1908 to Montreal & Cornwall Navigation Co. Ltd. for service between Montreal and the upper St. Lawrence. Retired at end of 1937 season and scrapped at Kingston.
CITY OF COLLINGWOOD prepares to dock at Midland c. 1902. She burned at her namesake town in 1905. Bascom collection.CITY OF COLLINGWOOD (C. 94766). Wooden passenger and package freight propeller built 1893 at Owen Sound by Melancthon Simpson for North Shore Navigation Co. 213.0 x 34.0 x 12.6. Gross 1387, Net 893. To Northern Navigation 1899. Destroyed by fire at Collingwood, June 19, 1905.
CITY OF LONDON, (a)KATHLEEN (95). (C. 92390). Wooden passenger and package freight propeller built 1888 at Kingston by Martin Clayton. 120.0 x 27.0 x 7.8. Gross 386. Rebuilt at Kingston 1892. Gross 516, Net 296. Purchased c.1892 by North Shore Navigation Co. To Northern Navigation 1899. Sold 1901 to Montreal & Cornwall Navigation Co. Ltd. Sold prior to 1914 to Achille Bernier, St. Joseph de Levis, Quebec. Dismantled 1920-21.
CITY OF MIDLAND, (C. 97111). Wooden passenger and package freight propeller built 1895 at Owen Sound by Melancthon Simpson for North Shore Navigation Co. 176.4 x 28.3 x 10.7. Gross 974, Net 662. To Northern Navigation 1899. Destroyed by fire at Collingwood, March 17, 1916.
CITY OF PARRY SOUND, (a) FAVOURITE (95). (C. 95762). Wooden passenger and package freight propeller built 1889 at Meaford for Charles A. Farrar, Meaford. 130.0 x 25.0 x 10.0. Gross 491, Net 334. Purchased 1894 by North Shore Navigation Co. To Northern Navigation 1899. Destroyed by fire at Collingwood, October 9, 1900.
CITY OF TORONTO (C. 94769). Wooden sidewheel beam-engined passenger steamer built 1895 at Owen Sound by Melancthon Simpson for North Shore Navigation Co. 150.0 x 24.0 x 9.2. Gross 782, Net 492. Appears to have been built using parts (including engine) from earlier Black Line steamer MANITOU (a) F.B. MAXWELL (90) built 1877 and dismantled at Owen Sound 1895. To Northern Navigation 1899. Sold 1908 to A. Viau, Cornwall, and operated on St. Lawrence by Montreal & Cornwall Navigation Co. Ltd. Sank at Cornwall 1914 and apparently abandoned.
DORIC (a) TADOUSAC (07). (C. 116263). Steel package freight propeller built 1903 at Toronto by Bertram Engine Works Co, Ltd. 260.0 x 43.2 x 25,2. Gross 2359, Net 1452. Apparently owned originally by Waldie & Wright (Waldie Lumber Co.) of Toronto but operated by the Hamilton and Fort William Steamship Co. (the McKays of Hamilton) under management of James Playfair. Purchased by Northern Navigation 1907. Requisitioned for salt water service 1916. Returned to C.S.L. after war but remained on salt water. Sold to French interests 1921. No record thereafter.
GERMANIC. (C. 107164). Wooden passenger and package freight propeller built 1899 at Collingwood by the Collingwood Dry Dock Co. for Great Northern Transit Co. 184.0 x 32.0 x 12.1. Gross 1014, Net 676. To Northern Navigation 1899. Destroyed by fire at Collingwood, March 30, 1917. Hull raised and lay in West Harbour for several years, then towed towards Wasaga Beach and grounded. Broken up for firewood during 1930's.
HAMONIC, (C. 122553). Steel passenger and package freight propeller built 1908-09 at Collingwood by the Collingwood Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. (Hull 22) for Northern Navigation. 349.7 x 50.0 x 32.0 Gross 5265, Net 3295. Launched November 26, 1908. Named for H. C. Hammond, President of Northern Navigation at the time of her construction. Burned at Point Edward, July 17, 1945, in fire originating on pier. No lives lost. Hull sold September to Romeo Roy, Windsor, and resold June 1946 to Steel Company of Canada Ltd. Scrapped at Hamilton 1946.
The camera of A. E. Young caught this scenic view of HURONIC on the St. Mary's River in 1916.HURONIC. (C. 107168). Steel passenger and package freight propeller built 1902 at Collingwood by the Collingwood Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. Hull l) for Northern Navigation. 321.0 x 43.0 x 23.4. Gross 3330 Net 2211. Stranded August 6, 1928 on Lucille Island, Lake Superior, in most spectacular fashion as a good portion of her hull was completely out of water. Refloated ten days later and subsequently repaired. Relegated to freight-only service in late 1930's. Upper deck of passenger cabins removed 1944. Retired at end of 1949 season and sold to Steel Company of Canada Ltd. proceeded under own power to Hamilton, December 1949 and scrapped there 1950.
IONIC (20), (a) CUBA (06), (c) MAPLEBRANCH (I). (U.S. 125028 , C. 116954). Iron passenger and package freight propeller (twin screw) built 1872 at Buffalo by King Iron Works (Gibson & Craig, subcontractors) for the Commercial Line (Holt & Ensign), Buffalo. 231.7 x 35.7 x 13.3. Gross 1526, Net 1359. Sold 1884 to John Donaldson, Buffalo, and operated by the Red Star Line, Drake & Maytham managers. Sold 1906 to Northern Navigation and stripped of passenger cabins for freight-only service. 238.2 x 35.6 x 12.6. Gross 1708, Not 1030. Sank in Williamsburg Canal, St. Lawrence River, November 8, 1919. Salvaged and repaired 1920. Sold 1928 to St. Lawrence Tankers Ltd. and rebuilt as tanker at Montreal, Gross 1014, Net 634. Rammed and sunk at Montreal August 13, 1934, by H.M.S. DRAGON. Raised and rebuilt at Sorel 1935 by Les Chantiers Manseau Ltee. (later Marine Industries Ltd.) and operated by Branch Lines Ltd. until retired 1946. Lay idle at Sorel until scrapped in early 1950's.
The date is April 23, 1895 and the crowd has just witnessed the launch of MAJESTIC at Collingwood.MAJESTIC. (C. 100950). Wooden passenger and package freight propeller built 1895 at Collingwood by Collingwood Dry Dock Co. for Great Northern Transit Co. 209.0 x 35.0 x 12.6. Gross 1578, Net 1073. Launched April 23, 1895. With 800 passenger aboard, she took part in ceremonies at opening of Canadian Soo Canal, September 7, 1895. To Northern Navigation 1899. Latterly operated in Georgian Bay -Mackinac Island route. Destroyed by fire at Sarnia, Dec. 15, 1915.
MONARCH. (C. 96843). Wooden passenger and package freight propeller built 1890 at Sarnia by Dyble and Parry for North West Transportation Co. 245.0 x 35.0 x 15.0. Gross 2017, Net 1371. To Northern Navigation 1899. Stranded on Blake Point, Isle Royale, Lake Superior, December 6, 1906. Hull broke in two and stern dropped off into deep water. One life lost.
NORONIC. (C. 134014). Steel passenger and package freight propeller built 1913 at Port Arthur by Western Dry Dock & Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. (Hull 6) for Northern Navigation. 362.0 x 52.0 x 24.8. Gross 6905, Net 3935. Interior fittings installed at Sarnia, winter 1913-14. Finished with 5 decks rather than 4 originally planned. Entered service 1914 but during that summer took sudden and severe list while bunkering at Point Edward. Finished season but over winter 1914-15 hull was "blistered" at Detroit by Detroit Dry Dock Co. after which she had no further stability problems. Burned at Toronto in early morning hours of September 17, 1949, while on post-season excursion. 139 lives lost. Hull abandoned to underwriters as total loss. Hull raised and sold to Steel Company of Canada Ltd. Left Toronto under tow October 29, 1949, for Hamilton where scrapped.
UNITED EMPIRE (05), (b) SARONIC (17), (c) W. L. KENNEDY. (C. 80776, U.S. 215206). Wooden passenger and package freight propeller built 1882-83 at Sarnia by Dyble and Parry for North West Transportation Co. 252.8 x 36.0 x 15.0. Gross 1961, Net 1296. To Northern Navigation 1899. Familiarly known as "Old Betsy." Featured in illustration on face of 1902 Canadian $4.00 bill. Normally operating Sarnia-Lakehead, she ran briefly Montreal-Lakehead in package freight service 1913 and briefly in 1914 on Quebec-North Shore-Gulf of St. Lawrence route. Damaged at Sarnia December 15, 1915, in fire that destroyed MAJESTIC. Rebuilt 1916 as a steam barge and operated by C.S.L. in freight trade. Stranded August 20, 1916, on Cockburn Island, Lake Huron, and damaged amidships by fire which broke out after grounding. Abandoned to underwriters as total loss. Hull sold 1917 to U. S. interests and rebuilt as tow barge registered at Marquette, Michigan. Gross 1014, Net 1014. Used to carry pulpwood for Detroit Sulphite Co. Abandoned 1924 in Detroit River near Amherstburg.
A rare photo of WAUBIC shows her negotiating a narrow Georgian Bay channel. Courtesy Don McCartney.WAUBIC (38), (b) ERIE ISLE (43), (c) PRINCE NOVA. (C. 122555). Steel passenger propeller (twin screw) built 1909 at Collingwood by Collingwood Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. for Northern Navigation. 134.1 x 25.0 x 9.5. Gross 504, Net 244. Designed as day-boat for Georgian Bay service and built with wood-sheathed hull for protection of plating in shallow waters with rocky bottom. Usually operated Midland-Parry Sound. Sold 1922 to Rockport Navigation Co. Ltd., Kingston, and operated in Thousand Islands excursion trade. Sold 1934 to A.R. and V.C. Irvine, Port Arthur, and operated between Port Arthur and Silver Islet. Sold 1937 to Capt. J. Earl McQueen, Amherstburg, and operated Kingsville-Leamington-Pelee Island on Lake Erie, Damaged by fire at Kingsville, January 18, 1938. Rebuilt 1938 at Muir Bros. Drydock, Port Dalhousie, and repowered with Fairbanks-Morse diesels. 135.3 x 25.0 x 8.2. Gross 451, Net 297. Sold 1943 to Northumberland Ferries Ltd., Charlottetown, and taken to east coast for ferry service to Prince Edward Island. Destroyed by fire at Pictou, Nova Scotia, July 6, 1959.
In addition to the vessels already listed, the following steamers are known to have been operated by Northern Navigation in various services over the years:
BROCKVILLE, (b) NORA H. (C. 107421). While owned by C.S.L. was apparently operated in Northern Navigation Division for Georgian Bay service.
CITY OF WINDSOR (II) (11), (a) E. K. ROBERTS (90), (0) MICHIPICOTEN. (C.94843) Chartered by Northern Navigation 1906 for Georgian Bay service.
LOUIS PHILIPPE, (b) JOSEPH DUBRULE. (C. 134491). Ferry owned by C.S.L. Operated by Northern Navigation for several years from 1923 in Port Huron-Sarnia ferry service.
MAPLEBORO (23), (a) SEGUIN (20), (c) CITY OF MONTREAL (II) (26), (d) ARVIDA. (c. 94763). Owned by C.S.L., was used in Northern Navigation freight service Sarnia-Lakehead during early 1920's.
RAPIDS KING. (C. 122407). Taken from C.S.L. fleet for operation on Northern Navigation route Detroit-Wallaceburg during 1920's.
ROCHESTER (20), (b) CAPE ETERNITY (35), (c) GEORGIAN (41), (d) AVALON II (45) (e) GEORGIAN (46), (f) HASIN. (U. S. 207073, C. 141863). Taken briefly from C.S.L. fleet prior to 1920.
THOUSAND ISLANDER. (U. S. 209906, C. 141756). Taken from C.S.L. fleet for operation on Northern Navigation route Detroit-Wallaceburg, 1918-1927.
When Northern Navigation was formed in 1899, it operated two basic services, the run to the Lakehead from Sarnia (maintained by the Beatty boats MONARCH and UNITED EMPIRE) and the multitude of runs from Collingwood to other Georgian Bay and North Shore ports, Manitoulin Island, Mackinac Island, and Sault Ste. Marie, these chores being handled by the smaller ships of the fleet. Business at Collingwood soon decreased sufficiently that in 1909 the head office of the company was moved to Sarnia and from then on the Sarnia-Lakehead route was the main concern, only incidental services (such as the Parry Sound day route) being maintained in Georgian Bay. The Georgian Bay operations were finally closed out in 1922 with the sale of WAUBIC. Meanwhile, the upper lakes passenger and freight service had been extended at either end of the Sarnia-Lakehead run with the addition of calls at Windsor and Duluth. The big three, HURONIC, HAMONIC and NORONIC, were to maintain this same route until the end of their days.
As a postscript to the history of the Northern Navigation Company, it is interesting to note the great number of ships in the fleet that met violent ends. Of the 17 steamers owned by the company over a half century, one (MONARCH) met a violent death by stranding, while nine went out by the "fire route". In the case of the older wooden vessels, destruction by fire was not entirely unexpected, although the scourge of fire seemed to hit Northern Navigation vessels with alarming frequency. But the loss of the company's two largest and finest steamers, HAMONIC and NORONIC, by this peril has proven to be one of the most tragic chapters in the story of Canadian lake navigation.
We are indeed fortunate to be able to illustrate so many Northern Navigation vessels in one photo, but thanks to Scotty McCannell we have the use of the Collingwood harbour view reproduced on this month's photo page. It is especially valuable in that it shows HAMONIC fitting out for her first year of service. The photo is dated April 20, 1909 and HAMONIC did not make her first voyage until June 23, 1909.
In the bottom left corner of the photo can be seen the deck and funnel of J. A. McKEE while across from her on the north (close) side of the Grand Trunk pier is DORIC. On the south side of the G. T. wharf are CITY OF MIDLAND (farthest left), GERMANIC and MANITOU (Moored outside GERMANIC with only funnel and pilothouse showing). In the foreground across the end of the G. T. wharf is WEXFORD,
On the drydock pier at the far right are (left to right) dredge KINGSFORD, tug R.G.A. WEAVER, dredge TOGO, and steamers TURRET CROWN and IONIC.
In the background, moored across the face of the drydock property are (left to right ) HAMONIC, CANADIAN NEEBING (I), MEAFORD (I), DUNELM and DUNDEE (the latter canted to starboard). In the drydock itself, directly ahead of DUNDEE and partially hidden by smoke, are REGINA (closest) and TURRET CHIEF.
Five Northern Navigation steamers are included in the photo.