The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Scanner, v. 6, n. 8 (May 1974)
Publication:
Scanner (Toronto, ON), May 1974


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Bascom, John N., Editor
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Website
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Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Ship of the Month No. 40 ; Where Are They Going?
Date of Publication:
May 1974
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English
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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.
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Meetings

Friday, October 4th - 8:00 p.m. at the Marine Museum. Open slide night.

Members may each bring a few slides of summer shipwatching activities.

The Editor's Notebook

Our Dinner Meeting on April 5th was a resounding success and those present enjoyed a very pleasant meal served at the Ship Inn at the Museum. The program presented by Rev. Peter Van der Linden was the high point of the evening and the excellent slides of departed steamers held us spellbound. Our thanks go to Father Van der Linden for coming from Detroit (or rather Harsen's Island) to talk to us. Just don't mention the return trip by train! We were very pleased to see so many of our Detroit members in attendance.

By the time this reaches you, our May movie night will be past and there will be no meeting until October. Even though we do not have regular meetings during the summer months, we would be open to suggestions of possible summer activities for the Society. Let us know if you have an idea.

As announced at the Dinner, Bruce Smith has agreed to accept the position of Chairman and your Committee feels that Bruce is the best person we could ever hope to find for the position. We know he will do a great job.

This will be the last monthly issue of SCANNER until October, but don't forget that we will have a mid-summer issue appearing in August (as plans go now). Keep the news flowing in so we can recap it all at that time. Meanwhile, we should like to wish everybody a very happy summer season of boat watching, photography and artifact scrounging.

In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to Ken Michelson of Marine City, Michigan.

Marine News

Despite the effects of the short-lived S.I.U. strike which kept many vessels in winter quarters long past their projected sailing dates, navigation got off to an early start in the Lake Ontario region thanks to Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. whose ships are manned by crews belonging to a different union. CANADIAN HUNTER was the first ship out of Toronto and she left March 25th, proceeding down the lake and making the first downbound passage when the Seaway opened. First ship up the Welland Canal was the venerable MEAFORD which entered Lock One on the morning of March 29th. Her skipper, Capt. Ted Courtemanche received the usual top hat in a traditional ceremony. MEAFORD was followed by a convoy of ten ships, nine from the Upper Lakes Shipping fleet plus the tanker CONGAR, and the upbound parade was joined by ONTARIO POWER which had emerged from Port Weller Dry Docks. The first downbound vessel to make the canal was SEAWAY QUEEN, also on March 29th. One of the Upper Lakes ships in the opening day convoy also managed to open the Soo Locks. R. BRUCE ANGUS passed up the Soo on April 2nd bound for Thunder Bay.

American lake shipyards should be minting money shortly from the raft of orders now placed with various yards. Last month we reviewed the situation at Sturgeon Bay but this month attention focuses on the American Shipbuilding Company's yard at Lorain which now has an order for a 1000-foot self-unloading bulk carrier for the National Steel Corp. Costing about $35-million, the vessel will be a stemwinder with capacity of 59,000 gross tons of iron ore, and she will be twin screw, the propulsion being two 8,000 h.p. diesels. She will follow the two self-unloaders already ordered by Interlake and she should be ready for delivery in 1978.

It has now been announced that the buyers of the Kinsman Marine Transit Company's steamers BEN MOREELL and A. T. LAWSON are a group of investors operating under the name of S & E Shipping Corporation, Wilmington, Delaware. The sale of the two vessels brings Kinsman into technical compliance with the divestiture order obtained by the U. S. Justice Department after the purchase by Kinsman of the Wilson fleet in 1972. The only problem is that, as suspected, the new buyers have several similarities in personnel with the group that in 1973 purchased the Great Lakes Towing Company from AmShip (Kinsman's parent) and it is to be expected that LAWSON and MOREELL will be chartered back to Kinsman if the Justice Department does not again intervene. As a matter of fact, as we go to press we hear that both ships now have funnel designs only slightly different than before - gone is the "S" from the stack, and the green band is now blue while the silver bands are now white. Other colours are the same and the crews are the same as last year. There are rumours making the rounds to the effect that S & E may eventually wind up with more Kinsman boats in their fleet but this is, of course, simply speculation.

In our last issue, we reported that KINSMAN VOYAGER, HARRY L. ALLEN and SILVER BAY would definitely not operate this year, but once again it seems that there are conflicting reports. One observer has seen VOYAGER all painted up at Toledo and this may mean she will see service. VOYAGER operated only the early part of the 1973 season and laid up in late May. Appointments have also been announced for SILVER BAY, so she also may be operated, although we would tend to doubt the probability of this. KINSMAN INDEPENDENT will not operate, however, and is to be sold for scrapping. Not only did she damage herself in an incident in the Neebish Rock Cut last August, but she apparently needs reboilering. Nevertheless, there is one good piece of news. JAMES E. FERRIS is alive and kicking and will be her usual photogenic self around the lakes in 1974.

Speaking of the Steinbrenner empire, we should perhaps note that George M.Steinbrenner himself is in more hot water than simply the cupful that was poured on him in the antitrust action. Indeed, he is in the hot water up to his eyeballs as a result of an illegal contribution of $25,000 allegedly made by American Shipbuilding to the Nixon re-election campaign in 1972 together with subsequent efforts to cover up the contribution. John Melcher, executive vice-president of AmShip, has already pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact in the cover-up and Steinbrenner himself was indicted on numerous counts on April 5th, his arraignment being scheduled for April 19th. It rather looks to your editor as though Steinbrenner is being made a whipping boy in this case, possibly to divert the "heat" from an administration which is running scared, and it will be interesting to see the effect of this on the Steinbrenner shipping interests.

The first scrap tow of the season was the former BoCo self-unloader BEN W. CALVIN which was brought down the Welland on April 12 by G. W. ROGERS and SALVAGE MONARCH. We understand that she is to go across the Atlantic in tandem tow with JACK WIRT. In addition, indications are that BoCo may also dispose of HARRIS N. SNYDER for scrapping.

While on the subject of scrap tows, we can confirm that GEORGE W. FINK passed Gibraltar in tow of the tug HANSA on December 2, 1973, and arrived at Gandia, Spain, prior to December 7th.

A staff reduction by the Corps of Engineers at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, will mean a loss of 38 jobs around the American locks. Some of the eliminated duties will now be let out to private firms but the town is crying the blues since an increase in unemployment is hardly what the doctor ordered. More to the point as far as we are concerned is the removal from the payroll of 13 men who recorded the passages of ships through the locks. As a result, vessel passages from the Soo will no longer be available to newspapers (although only two papers that we know of were carrying them anyway) and the only passages readily available in the press will now be those from Detroit.

A short labour dispute involving six Bradley (or now more correctly U.S. Steel, if you want to be formal) self-unloaders erupted on March 16 at Rogers City, Michigan. It seems that crewmen were objecting to plans to introduce pre-prepared food aboard ship, a move which would allow a reduction in galley crews. The wildcat walkout was ended in less than a week by court order.

The diminutive bulk cement carrier PEERLESS which has been idle for several years at Cleveland will soon be making an appearance on Lake Ontario. The Erie Navigation Company, owners of the vessel, have contracted with the Rochester Portland Cement Company for the use of the carrier on the cement run from Picton to Rochester. Another vessel of the same fleet, the Erie Canal motorship DAY PECKINPAUGH, was operating on the route early this spring but she moved down the barge canal once it opened for the season. PEERLESS moved under her own power on April 26 to Port Weller where she will be refurbished prior to taking up her new duties.

A rather strange visitor to the Welland Canal this spring has been the Bethlehem bulk carrier JOHNSTOWN which passed down the canal on April 11th en route to Picton for ore. She was back up the canal again on April 13th. Her trip gave lower lake observers a chance to see the new Bethlehem stack colours. The design centres on the I-beam insignia between two very narrow white bands on the usual buff funnel. The black smokeband has, however, been made so narrow that it makes the whole design seem unbalanced and on JOHNSTOWN the total effect is not pleasing.

Another Bethlehem steamer to appear in the canal so far this year is STEELTON (minus the new stack insignia) which passed down a few days after JOHNSTOWN. Upbound on the evening of April 18th with a cargo of ore from Picton, STEELTON was approaching the double jack-knife bridge at Homer (Bridge 4) when the structure experienced a mechanical failure. The bridge began to lift but apparently only one of the leaves opened fully and STEELTON was forced to make an emergency stop. She dropped her anchor but continued ahead and although she managed to avoid contact with the bridge itself, her hook snagged the submarine electrical cable in the draw between the bridge piers. The controls of the bridge were knocked out of service. STEELTON continued on her way undamaged but the bridge was out of operation for about a week while repairs were undertaken.

The first major accident of the season occurred at about 8:15 p.m. on April 15th when the tanker IMPERIAL SARNIA, downbound with a cargo of crude for Montreal, grounded on Whaleback Shoal about five miles west of Brockville in the upper St. Lawrence River. Although there were indications that the ship may have been slightly off course at the time, very little detail was available at the time of writing. Three of the SARNIA's starboard tanks ruptured on contact with the rocky bottom and for some nine hours crude escaped into the river. The spill, however, appears to have been controlled fairly easily and no ill effects were suffered either by public water systems or by wildlife of the area. SARNIA was lightered by BAY TRANSPORT and by April 19th was alongside the pier at Imperial's Ashbridge's Bay terminal at Toronto. It is believed that the ship will be taken to the yard of Canadian Vickers at Montreal for repairs.

ENGLISH RIVER was to be ready for delivery about the middle of April after her conversion to a cement carrier at Port Arthur Shipyards but as of this writing she had not appeared on Lake Ontario. CEMENTKARRIER, however, has long since begun her 1974 season. Depending on how things go after the new addition to the fleet is commissioned, this just might be the last year for CEMENTKARRIER. We hope not, though, because not only is CEMENTKARRIER a rather pretty ship herself and a familiar feature of Toronto harbour, but she is always kept in absolutely immaculate condition, a far cry from the normal state of maintenance in the C.S.L. fleet of which ENGLISH RIVER is a unit.

On March 30th, the tugs LAUREN CASTLE and JOHN M. SELVICK (ex JOHN ROEN III) went to the aid of the Huron Cement steamer S. T. CRAPO which was disabled in Northern Lake Michigan, the intention being to take CRAPO to Sturgeon Bay for repairs. Trouble was encountered and the towline caught LAUREN CASTLE, pulling her over on her beam ends. Fortunately the line snapped and the tug righted herself, but in the process two crewmen were lost overboard. One was the 23-year old son of the tug's captain, but the other was one Melvin William Selvick, age 18, who not only was the son of the tug's owner but was also the person for whom the cement barge MEL WILLIAM SELVICK (the former steamer SAMUEL MITCHELL) was named.

One of our snoops observed SEGWUN up on the blocks at Pawlett's Marina in Gravenhurst on April 25th and reports that the job of replating the hull is progressing nicely. It is hoped that the ship will be back in the water on June 1st and thereafter work will start on the refurbishing of the wooden upperworks. The Muskoka lakes steamer is a veteran of 1887 and last operated in 1958, being used as a museum at Gravenhurst since. It is hoped that she will be put into service again once the current maintenance work is completed. The work is being financed as a historical project of the Ontario Roadbuilders' Association.

Current word on the future of the C.G.T. passenger liner FRANCE is at least more encouraging than other reports of the last few months. The ship's deficits had been covered by French government subsidy in other years but government officials took exception to the large payouts they had to make to keep the liner running and for a while it looked as if she would be taken out of service in April. It now seems that her operation is assured at least until the end of the year, but what the future has in store in the long run is anybody's guess.

Another passenger ship in the news is the long-familiar HOMERIC of Home Lines. Laid up at Genoa after a serious galley fire occurring last July on a cruise from New York, she was originally to have been repaired but in November was sold for scrapping and in December sailed under her own power to Taiwan. HOMERIC dated from 1931 and was originally the Matson Line's MARIPOSA. An extremely handsome ship, she will be missed and, although your editor had been aboard this ship on a number of occasions, we are glad to have been able to see her shortly after the fire, just before she was taken to Genoa.

Yet another well known liner has made the trip to the scrappers and this time it is P & O's ORSOVA which sailed from Southampton to Kaohsiung in December. Though she was not a particularly handsome ship, the passing of ORSOVA is regrettable in that she was only nineteen years old at the time of her sale. It appears that her end came about as a result of her trading places with CANBERRA which was the vessel P & O had earlier intended to drop from active service.

Even more regrettable yet is the fact that by now Taiwan cutting torches will have attacked the "Darling of the Dutch," the Holland America Line veteran NIEW AMSTERDAM which made her final revenue voyage from Port Everglades on December 7th. She lay idle for a short period upon her return from her farewell cruise and when no other purchasers came forward she was sold for demolition and left for Taiwan under her own power.

Ship of the Month No. 40

Starbuck

On Friday, August 16, 1957, a tug made her way up the Kaministiquia River at Fort William with her tow behind her. A common, every-day occurrence, perhaps, but in this case there was one small difference. The object at the end of the towline was an iron-hulled, 'tween decked freighter with a tall thin funnel, two strikingly raked masts, a triple deck bridge structure set one hatch back from a turtle-backed forecastle, and a set of engines and boilers that had been serving her for exactly seventy years.

STARBUCK passes up Little Rapids Cut on August 18, 1956 in her last year of operation. J. H. Bascom photo.Yes, it was a sad day that the old Powell Transports Ltd. steamer STARBUCK was towed up the Kam to the scrapper's yard. For, you see, she was a floating museum piece, a relic of a bygone era that had somehow lived on into an age that did not know her like. Indeed, during her last few years of active service, STARBUCK looked far more out of place than do today those steamers built during the first decade of this century, yet their comparative age is the same.

The story of this famous little steamer began back in 1887 when Drake and Maytham, famous Buffalo vessel operators, ordered an iron package freighter from the Cleveland Shipbuilding Company. Built as this yard's Hull 2, she was completed in 1888, being christened SCRANTON and given official number U.S. 116235. Just a bit too large to fit the Welland and St. Lawrence Canals of the day, she measured 268.0 feet in length, 38.2 feet in the beam and 21.6 feet in depth. Her tonnage was registered as 2015 Gross, 1595 Net. Cleveland Shipbuilding made for her a triple expansion engine with cylinders of 19", 30", 52" and a stroke of 40", steam being supplied by two coal-fired Scotch boilers measuring 11'6 x 11'0".

She entered service in 1888 for the Lackawanna Railroad, Drake and Maytham operating her in their Lackawanna Transportation Company which was commonly known during the 1890's as the Red Star Line. She carried package freight from Lake Erie ports to Lake Michigan and it was to facilitate this trade that she had been given a 'tween deck. During the early 1900's, she was chartered for a short period to the Canada Atlantic Transit Company and operated between Depot Harbour, Milwaukee and Chicago. By 1905 she was back on her regular run, but this time for the Lake Transit Company, another Buffalo firm that was at this time under the control of Drake and Maytham. By 1911 she had passed to the Buffalo Transit Company which was managed by Brown & Company.

In 1913 SCRANTON was sold to the River Transit Company of Marine City, Michigan, one of the many interest of Mr. Sidney C. McLouth, a famous St. Clair County entrepreneur. He used her to carry bagged cement for the Huron Cement Company which had plants located around the Great Lakes. It was not until several years later that Huron began to assemble its own fleet and so McLouth carried the cement in bags in a rather rag-tag collection of mismatched steamers of which SCRANTON was apparently the best. Even after Huron bought SAMUEL MITCHELL in 1915 and converted her to run her themselves in the bulk cement trade, McLouth still operated SCRANTON for them and it was not until the building of Huron's JOHN W. BOARDMAN in 1923 that SCRANTON became surplus to their needs.

During 1924 SCRANTON was chartered by McLouth to the Minnesota-Atlantic Transit Company, a firm operating package freighters between the American Lakehead (Duluth) and Buffalo. One of the founders of this firm had been Alexander McDougall of whaleback fame. The charter was continued after the close of the 1924 season and actually was renewed until 1927 when Minnesota-Atlantic purchased SCRANTON outright. At the time of the purchase she was renamed (b) TEN to bring her into line with the other units of what was known around the lakes as the "Poker Fleet". The company owned four World War I "Laker" type vessels named ACE, KING, QUEEN and JACK. Eventually in 1934 another old "Laker" was added to the fleet and she became TEN (II). As might be expected, Minnesota-Atlantic did not wish to break the sequence of the names and so TEN (I) was renamed (c) NINE. During most of her years with the Poker Fleet, NINE was commanded by Capt. Louis Guyette who was destined to lose his life when the Nicholson Transit steamer PENOBSCOT rammed the oil barge MORANIA 130 in Buffalo harbour in October of 1951. The entire forward end of PENOBSCOT was gutted by fire after the collision.

NINE continued on her regular run for the Poker Fleet until 1941 which was the last year of the Minnesota-Atlantic service. The vessels of the fleet had begun to be sold off or requisitioned for war service on salt water and the company was wound up in 1942. NINE was getting old and about the only improvement she had ever received (or would ever receive) was the addition of an upper pilothouse. She did not seem to be suitable for any other service and so late in 1941 she was sold to the Steel Company of Canada Ltd. and was taken under tow to Hamilton for breaking up. She escaped from the torches, however, and is to our knowledge the only vessel ever taken to Stelco at Hamilton that won her freedom from the scrappers.

The salvation for NINE was her purchase by Powell Transports Ltd., Winnipeg, a firm managed by Kenneth A. Powell and associated with grain dealers Hallet and Carey. She was Powell's first vessel and was renamed (d) STARBUCK in honour of her manager's Manitoba hometown. Reregistered at Toronto, she was given official number C. 173515 and her tonnage was shown as 2025 Gross and 1466 Net at the time of the transfer.

Powell had the old steamer refurbished and gave her his own colours, black with white cabins. Her stack was black with two thin but widely spaced silver bands between which was a silver star. It runs in your editor's mind that at one time the section between the bands was a very dark purple colour, but we can locate no photographic proof of this.

Once Powell got STARBUCK running again, he placed her in the grain trade from the Lakehead to the Bay Ports and Goderich. She did not frequently stray from this run, but on several occasions she did bring grain all the way to Toronto. In 1953 she was joined by a running mate, STARBELLE, the former tanker IMPERIAL COBOURG which had been converted to a stemwinder bulk carrier at Port Dalhousie.

In 1957, however, STARBUCK had reached the end of her rope. Her seventy years were telling on her as she had never received a major rebuild of any description and still had her original engine and boilers. She was sold to the Western Iron and Metal Company Ltd., Fort William, and the job of supervising her tow to the breaker's yard fell to Capt. Jerry Blevins who had commanded STARBUCK for her first decade under Powell Transports ownership and who had then moved over to STARBELLE.

STARBUCK proved her strength to the wreckers for it was found that her iron hull was resistive to dismantling efforts. She could not escape as she had done fifteen years earlier, however, and in 1958 her remains were towed around to Duluth where she was finally cut up.

Where Are They Going?

As shipwatchers and photographers, many of us spend a good part of the navigation season at vantage points around the lakes observing the passing of the many lake vessels. But how often do we stop to think about what they are carrying or where they may be heading?

With this thought in mind, we present a summary of the 47 trips made during the 1954 season by the steamer CANADOC of N. M. Paterson & Sons Ltd. This veteran bulk carrier was later renamed PORTADOC and was scrapped in Europe in 1970. The information reproduced here is taken directly from CANADOC's Scrap Log Book for 1954. In reading, it should be remembered that a trip is usually considered to begin as soon as the ship is light from its previous trip.

Trip # Sailing Date From........To Cargo

1 April 19 Goderich to Sandusky Light

April 19 Sandusky to Hamilton Coal (6593 tons)

2 April 22 Hamilton to Lorain Light

April 23 Lorain to Midland Coal (7303 tons)

3 April 26 Midland to Fort William Light

April 28 Fort William to Goderich Grain (mixed)

4 May 4 Goderich to Toledo Light

May 5 Toledo to Midland Coal (7214 tons)

5 May 8 Midland to Toledo Light

May 9 Toledo to Hamilton Coal (6687 tons)

6 May 12 Hamilton to Toledo Light

May 14 Toledo to Hamilton Coal (6325 tons)

7 May 17 Hamilton to Fairport Light

May 18 Fairport to Hamilton Coal (7064 tons)

8 May 20 Hamilton to Toledo Light

May 22 Toledo to Hamilton Coal (6518 tons)

9 May 24 Hamilton to Erie Light

May 25 Erie to Little Current Coal (6847 tons)

10 May 28 Little Current to Ft. William Light

May 31 Fort William to Humberstone Wheat (254,273 bu.)

11 June 5 Humberstone to Fairport Light

June 6 Fairport to Red Rock Coal (6910 tons)

12 June 10 Red Rock to Fort William Light

June 14 Fort William to Erie Pulpwood (2808 cords)

13 June 21 Erie to Sandusky Light

June 22 Sandusky to Hamilton Coal (6909 tons)

14 June 24 Hamilton to Fairport Light

June 25 Fairport to Hamilton Coal (6417 tons)

15 June 28 Hamilton to Sandusky Light

June 29 Sandusky to Hamilton Coal (6649 tons)

16 July 2 Hamilton to Sandusky Light

July 3 Sandusky to Fort William Stoker Coal (5895 tons)

17 July 9 Fort William to Cleveland Ore (7120 tons)

18 July 12 Cleveland to Toledo Light

July 14 Toledo to Hamilton Coal (6650 tons)

19 July 17 Hamilton to Toledo Light

July 18 Toledo to Hamilton Coal (6749 tons)

20 July 21 Hamilton to Fairport Light

July 22 Fairport to Hamilton Coal (7221 tons)

21 July 24 Hamilton to Toledo Light

July 26 Toledo to Hamilton Coal (6828 tons)

22 July 28 Hamilton to Fairport Light

July 29 Fairport to Hamilton Coal (7068 tons)

23 Aug 1 Hamilton to Sandusky Light

Aug 2 Sandusky to Hamilton Coal (6364 tons)

24 Aug 5 Hamilton to Toledo Light

Aug 7 Toledo to Hamilton Coal (6856 tons)

25 Aug 9 Hamilton to Fairport Light

Aug 11 Fairport to Hamilton Coal (7456 tons)

26 Aug 13 Hamilton to Sandusky Light

Aug 14 Sandusky to Hamilton Coal (6816 tons)

27 Aug 17 Hamilton to Lorain Light

Aug 18 Lorain to Little Current Coal (6681 tons)

28 Aug 23 Little Current to Toledo Light

Aug 24 Toledo to Hamilton Coal (7072 tons)

29 Aug 27 Hamilton to Sandusky Light

Aug 28 Sandusky to Hamilton Coal (6896 tons)

30 Aug 31 Hamilton to Sandusky Light

Sept 2 Sandusky to Little Current Coal (6950 tons)

31 Sept 5 Little Current to Ft. William Light

Sept 7 Fort William to Huron Ore (7126 tons)

32 Sept 11 Huron to Lorain light

Sept 11 Lorain to Little Current Coal (6873 tons)

33 Sept 14 Little Current to Chicago Light

Sept 16 Chicago to Marathon Coal (6901 tons)

34 Sept 20 Marathon to Port Arthur Light

Sept 20 Port Arthur to Huron Ore (6985 tons)

35 Sept 24 Huron to Toledo Light

Sept 24 Toledo to Hamilton Coal (6756 tons)

36 Sept 27 Hamilton to Fairport Light

Sept 28 Fairport to Hamilton Coal (6488 tons)

37 Sept 30 Hamilton to Toledo Light

Oct 2 Toledo to Port Arthur Coal (6531 tons)

38 Oct 7 Port Arthur to Huron Ore (6601 tons)

39 Oct 10 Huron to Fort William Light

Oct 15 Fort William to Buffalo Grain (mixed)

40 Oct 20 Buffalo to Port Arthur Light

Oct 24 Port Arthur to Detroit Ore (6766 tons)

41 Oct 28 Detroit to Toledo Light

Oct 28 Toledo to Port Arthur Coal (6433 tons)

42 Nov 2 Port Arthur to Goderich Wheat (230,000 bu.)

43 Nov 7 Goderich to Port Arthur Light

Nov 10 Port Arthur to Trenton Ore (6314 tons)

44 Nov 16 Trenton to Fort William Light

Nov 19 Fort William to Buffalo Barley (265,980 bu.)

45 Nov 24 Buffalo to Sandusky Light

Nov 25 Sandusky to Fort William Coal (6035 tons)

46 Nov 29 Port William to Goderich Grain (mixed)

47 Dec 10 Goderich to Fort William Light to lay-up

Dec 14 Ship laid up and crew paid off.

Steamboat To Hamilton

The proximity of Hamilton and Toronto at the western end of Lake Ontario has led many operators over the years to try their hand at running a service by ship between the two ports. Indeed, vessels were running between the two cities almost as soon as steamboats appeared on Lake Ontario. In the days before alternate routes of transportation became available, such steamer routes enjoyed a fair degree of success, but as time passed and the road and railways became more convenient, the steamboat route began to die until eventually there remained only the odd excursion vessel and then nothing at all.

The two most famous companies to operate the Toronto-Hamilton service were the Hamilton Steamboat Company Ltd. and the Hamilton Turbine Steamship Company Ltd. The former was formed in 1887 by members of the Tuckett and Griffith families and prominently connected with the firm was also Philip J. Peer. The first president of the H.S.B.Co. was T. B. Griffith who served until his death in 1893 at which time he was succeeded by M. Leggatt. First managing director was J. B. Griffith. while G.T. Tuckett was secretary and treasurer.

In its first year, the Hamilton Steamboat Company set out to operate the little steamer MAZEPPA, a former Toronto Island ferry, on the run from Hamilton to Burlington Beach, a short hop across Hamilton Bay. MAZEPPA remained on the route for fourteen years, but the company aspired to greater things. In 1888 the H.S.B. Co. launched its Hamilton-Toronto passenger run with the new steel steamer MACASSA which was built at Glasgow and brought across the Atlantic under her own power by Capt. Charles P. Hardy who stayed in her a year on Lake Ontario. MACASSA arrived at Hamilton on her maiden voyage from the builders on the morning of June 7, 1888. Over the years to come, Capt. Hardy was succeeded by Capts. John Irving, Crawford, Maddicks, Robert Cooney, Henderson, Goodwin, Staunton, William Zealand, Parkinson, and of course the well known Capt. Corson who was in her for many years and stayed with the ship until the end of her Lake Ontario service.

MACASSA was originally 155 feet in length and was proclaimed to be a good sea boat, but in 1905 she was lengthened at Collingwood by over twenty feet and from then on she was known to roll heavily in even moderate seas, much to the distress of any passenger unfortunate enough to be aboard at the time. MACASSA was a rather narrow ship and was never meant to be lengthened as this move ruined her proportions. The tendency to roll may well have been a factor in her ultimate loss forty years after her appearance on the lakes. From the point of view of appearance, MACASSA was a rather well designed day steamer but she had no private staterooms at all and only minimal enclosed cabin space on the upper deck. Bad weather was therefore something one simply had to bear if travelling to Hamilton by water.

MODJESKA backs from the Yonge St. slip at Toronto on May 24, 1910, a good crowd aboard for the holiday.MACASSA was successful enough that in 1889 the company took delivery of another Glasgow-built steamer, the somewhat larger MODJESKA. She was delivered across the Atlantic by Capt. Malcolmson who stayed with her the rest of the year and was then succeeded by Capt. Adam Middleton Sharp. If the H.S.B.Co. had returned to the same builders that produced MACASSA, they might have had another successful ship on their hands, but instead they changed to another firm. While MACASSA was a "flyer" known for her fast passages, MODJESKA was slow and lumbering and she stumbled from accident to accident throughout her early years. While MACASSA had fine lines and a graceful appearance, MODJESKA was heavy and box-like and was anything but a pretty ship, having almost no sheer. In addition, she almost always rode with a list and this did not help her looks.

These two mismatched steamers ran the route together for almost thirty years and the only major development in the early years was the sale of MAZEPPA in 1900 for service on Georgian Bay. The service itself did not change much over the years, although in the very early seasons a stop was made at Oakville and the occasional call was made to Grimsby on the south side of the lake to pick up fruit. Although occasional variations were made, the steamers were normally painted black with white cabins, the funnel design adopted by the company being white with a black smokeband at the top.

The year is about 1910 as TURBINIA stops alongside the pier at Burlington. To the right is MACASSA outbound through the canal for Toronto.In 1904 the company for the first time experienced serious competition. The year 1903 had seen the formation of the Hamilton Turbine Steamship Company Ltd. of which William Hyslop and James Turnbull of Toronto were directors and John Moodie was president. The company ordered from the Tyne a steamer of maximum canal length and she was destined to be the first turbine-powered vessel on the lakes. Christened, naturally, TURBINIA, she was twin screw and had one high pressure turbine amidships with a smaller turbine on each side. The gearing must have been very interesting! Her 4000 HP produced a speed of 30 mph and she could outdistance very easily any other steamer on Lake Ontario. Her appearance was very imposing - she had graceful lines, a fine counter stern, and two distinctive (although a trifle too heavy) tall funnels which were painted red with a narrow white band and black top. The weight of her funnels appears to have made her a bit top-heavy and this caused her to roll badly in heavy weather with the result that she did not have a reputation as a particularly good sea boat.

TURBINIA cleared Newcastle-on-Tyne on June 1, 1904, having been completed at a total cost of $175,000. She crossed the Atlantic in six days and stopped at St. Johns, Sydney and Montreal before going into drydock at Kingston for inspection. She left Kingston for Hamilton on Sunday, June 19th and arrived late the same day under the command of Capt. A. Crawford. On Wednesday, June 29, 1904, she made a special cruise to Toronto and the following day she entered regular service, providing two round trips to Toronto each day leaving Hamilton at 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

The appearance of TURBINIA started a round of direct and stormy competition between the rival companies, a state of affairs that was to last until 1911. Until that time, the only important change for TURBINIA was that several years after the vessel came to Lake Ontario, the name of her owner appears to have been changed from the Hamilton Turbine Steamship Company to the shorter Turbine Steamship Company. It is not known whether this change was official, but the letters T.S.S.Co, appeared on her bows.

The year 1911 saw many changes in the control of the major Canadian lake shipping companies, changes that were eventually to lead to the formation of the giant Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. That year, both the Hamilton Steamship Company and the Turbine Steamship Company were bought out by the Niagara Navigation Company Ltd. but the vessels were continued on their regular run without, however, the cut-throat competition. In 1912 Niagara Navigation itself was merged into the larger Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company Ltd. and on June 11, 1913, the R&O together with all its divisions was merged into the yet larger C.S.L, All three Hamilton vessels stayed on their original route but adopted the familiar C.S.L. colours.

The trio was finally broken apart during the first war as TURBINIA was requisitioned and sent overseas for service in British waters as a troop carrier and hospital ship. She was towed back across the Atlantic in 1922 and it was in October of the same year that she arrived in tow of the tug SARNIA CITY at Toronto where she was reconditioned. C.S.L. placed her back on her old run in 1923.

The following year, 1924, was a particularly unfortunate one for the hardluck MODJESKA. First, under the command of Capt. Henderson, she managed to run aground on the breakwater off Toronto's Exhibition Park and then, only a short time later on July 5th, she was involved in a serious collision with the big sidewheeler TORONTO. It seems that TORONTO was backing from her slip to proceed to the coal dock for bunkers while MODJESKA was departing for Hamilton, the accident occurring only a short distance from the Toronto passenger wharves. MODJESKA was held at fault for the collision since a malfunction of her whistle made her intentions unclear to the other vessel. TORONTO was out of service about a month for repairs. MODJESKA was laid up at Toronto and did not turn a wheel until 1926 when she was sold to the Owen Sound Transportation Company Ltd. She operated during 1926 as a day boat but during the following winter was rebuilt as an overnight passenger and freight vessel for the run to the Soo. She was renamed MANITOULIN at this time.

TURBINIA operated until 1926 but by then she was no longer needed and was laid up in August of that year. In 1927 C.S.L. placed her on the Montreal to Quebec City day line but this service only lasted a very short time and she was soon laid up, in which state she remained until scrapped in 1937.

MACASSA carried on alone on the Hamilton route in 1927 and was used that summer as the official boat for the Wrigley Marathon Swim. At the close of the season, she too was withdrawn from service and was sold to the Owen Sound Transportation Company Ltd. She was taken to Owen Sound after conversion over the winter at Toronto for use as an overnight boat on the run to the Soo. Renamed MANASOO, she left on her first trip on April 22, 1928, but she did not serve long for on September 15, 1928, she capsized in a heavy gale on Georgian Bay with the loss of sixteen lives.

The sale of MACASSA spelled the end of the regular Toronto-Hamilton service and the only vessels to carry passengers between the two cities thereafter were the odd excursion ship making occasional calls such as LADY HAMILTON in the mid-fifties. It should be noted that C.S.L. did operate the Niagara sidewheeler CORONA on the Toronto-Hamilton route for a short period in the early twenties although she had never been a unit of either of the two companies featured in this history.

Hamilton Steamboat Company Ltd.

MACASSA (28), (b) MANASOO. C.93932. Steel twin-screw passenger steamer built 1888 at Glasgow by Wm. Hamilton & Co. for H.S.B.Co. 155.0 x 24.1 x 16.3. Gross 574, Net 459 (as per 1900 A.B.C.). Engines by Kemp of Glasgow. Lengthened to 178.4 at Collingwood 1905. Gross 529, Net 234 (as per 1914 Canadian List of Shipping and 1915 Lloyds). To Niagara Navigation Company Ltd.,1911. To Richelieu & Ontario Navigation Company Ltd., 1912. To C.S.L., 1913. Sold 1927 to Owen Sound Transportation Company Ltd. Rebuilt for overnight passenger and freight operation 1927-8 at Toronto. Taken to Owen Sound early 1928. Foundered on Georgian Bay September 15, 1928.

MAZEPPA. C.85521. Wooden double-deck single-screw steamer built 1884 at Toronto by Melancthon Simpson for Toronto Island ferry service. 101.0 x 20.0 x 5.7. Gross 146, Net 87. Severely damaged by fire in Toronto's Esplanade Conflagration August 3, 1885. Rebuilt and purchased 1887 by H.S.B.Co. for Burlington Beach run. Sold 1900 to J.H.Mclaughlin and taken to Owen Sound for Georgian Bay service. Damaged by fire and subsequently sold 1904 to H. Oldfield, Owen Sound. Sold c. 1905 to Lawrence Solman of the Toronto Ferry Company Ltd. but doubtful if ever returned to Lake Ontario. Passed out c. 1910 although still in List of Shipping as late as 1918.

MODJESKA (27), (b) MANITOULIN. C. 96058. Steel twin-screw passenger steamer built 1889 at Yoker (Glasgow) by Napier Shanks & Bell for H.S.B.Co. 178.0 x 31.1 x 12.3. Gross 678, Net 461. Two triple expansion engines 15", 24", 40" x 27" by Dunsmuir & Jackson, Glasgow. Three coal-fired Navy boilers 7' x 16'. To Niagara Navigation Company Ltd. 1911. To Richelieu & Ontario Navigation Company Ltd., 1912. To C.S.L., 1913. Sold 1926 to Owen Sound Transportation Company Ltd. Operated as day boat 1926. Rebuilt 1926-7 at Owen Sound for overnight passenger and freight operation. Retired at end of 1949 season due to fire regulations. Stripped of wooden cabins 1951 at Port Dalhousie. Hull scrapped in Port Weller Dry Docks 1952.

Hamilton Turbine Steamship Company Ltd.

TURBINIA. C. 112201. Steel twin-screw passenger steamer built 1904 at Hebburn-on-Tyne, England, for H.T.S.S.Co. 250.0 x 33.2 x 12.6. Gross 1064, Net 603. Three turbines 34", 42" x 42". Two coal-fired Scotch boilers 17'6" x 10'6". To Niagara Navigation Company Ltd., 1911. To Richelieu & Ontario Navigation Company Ltd., 1912. To C.S.L., 1913. Requisitioned for salt water service during war. Returned to lakes 1922. Last on Hamilton service 1926. Transferred 1927 to Montreal-Quebec day line but soon laid up. Sold 1937 to Les Chantiers Manseau Ltee, and scrapped at Sorel.

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Scanner, v. 6, n. 8 (May 1974)


Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Ship of the Month No. 40 ; Where Are They Going?