Friday, April 4 - The Annual Dinner Meeting, 7:00 p.m. at the Ship Inn. Details below.
Friday, May 2 - Mr. C. A. Lorriman will present an illustrated program on deep-sea passenger vessels including a number of famous ships that have been retired.
The Editor's Notebook
Our February meeting was an illustrated talk on the subject of riverboats and covered a wide variety of the craft operated (and operating) on the rivers of the Mississippi system as well as the various types of locks and dams which provide slackwater on the system. Bill Wilson and ye Ed. both hope that all those present enjoyed the evening. It was very pleasing to your Executive to see so many new members in attendance.
The Dinner Meeting. For those who may have overlooked the details in these pages last month, we repeat the details here. The meeting will be held in the Ship Inn, a restaurant located in the basement of the Marine Museum. For those who may be coming from out of town and who may not have been to the museum before, it is located in the old Stanley Barracks building at the south-east end of the Canadian National Exhibition grounds.
Dinner will be served at 7:00 or shortly thereafter and the bar will be open early for those who might enjoy a restorative before the meal. The evening's address will be given by Mr. John O. Greenwood. Cost of the dinner will be $6.75 per person and although by the time this appears we will have passed the deadline for ticket sales, those interested might contact the Treasurer, Mr. James M. Kidd, 83 Humberview Road, Toronto, Ontario, M6S 1W9, to see if there is any available space. The capacity of the restaurant is limited. See you there.
In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to Peter Gardy of Port McNicoll and to Greg Gormick and Michael Salomaa, both of Toronto.
Nothing startling has yet been announced regarding the disposal of further units of the Kinsman Marine Transit Company's fleet but a number of U. S. companies are reportedly interested in acquiring some of the ships. In addition, we have heard that two Canadian operators have been casting covetous eyes on certain vessels. Bearing in mind that the shipping season for 1975 is not far off, news should begin to break on the Kinsman situation shortly.
Scrapping operations on the retired U.S. Steel bulk carriers have now begun and we have received a report that cutting is progressing quickly on HENRY H. ROGERS at Duluth. Next in line for the torch after the ROGERS is gone will be GEORGE G. CRAWFORD. It looks as if quite a few of the older Tinstack steamers may feel the torch before this purge is completed.
Local observers were somewhat surprised when Halco's coastal tanker RIVER TRANSPORT made a trip into the lakes late last autumn. This 309-foot wartime-built motorship ran into the lakes regularly during the early and mid-sixties but in later years has kept mostly to the St. Lawrence and the east coast. She is presently laid up for the winter at Hamilton and on a recent visit to the port your Editor noted that the port of registry on RIVER TRANSPORT's stern had been freshly changed from Montreal to Nassau. This could mean a transfer of ownership to Halco's Bahamian subsidiary, the Algonquin Corporation, but we suspect instead that a sale to foreign interests has been completed and that RIVER TRANSPORT will be forsaking Canadian waters for the warmer climes of the Caribbean.
Scrapping of the tugs A.M. GERMAN and STRATHMORE has been completed at Strathearne Terminals in Hamilton but the hull of the big tug FRANK DIXON, another former Canadian Dredge & Dock unit, is still lying at the back of the Wellington Street slip. It is to be assumed that she will follow under the torch in the spring. Meanwhile, the only vessel lying at the Strathearne yard at present is the steam tug CHRIS M. She has been stripped out pretty well but has not yet been moved into the scrapping berth.
The hovercraft TORYOUNG II, damaged in an accident last autumn and seized by the Toronto Harbour Commission for salvage costs, is still lying on the dock at the foot of Parliament Street at Toronto and as yet no move has been made to repair the tear in her starboard quarter. Her owner, Can-Am Hover Express, went out of business last October and we rather doubt that anyone will wish to take over the Toronto-Niagara service. Who's for running a steamboat on the route?
Two of the Canada Steamship Lines bulk carriers laid up at Montreal this winter have very unusual storage cargoes. It would be normal to assume that they would have loads of grain, but this is not the case. BAIE ST. PAUL and RICHELIEU called at Pointe Noire, Quebec, on December 24th and 27th respectively and each loaded iron ore pellets from Wabush Mines. The cargoes are being held in transit at Montreal for the winter months and when the canals reopen the two vessels will proceed to Hamilton. The ore is consigned to the Steel Company of Canada Ltd.
Much to the surprise of residents of the Port Robinson area, Canadian Minister of Transport Jean Marchand announced on February 3rd that no replacement will be built for the former Bridge 12 over the Welland Canal. Earlier speculation was to the effect that either a new bridge would be built or else a tunnel dug under the canal somewhere between Port Robinson and Allanburg. The federal government has apparently studied the situation and feels that the volume of traffic to which the facility would cater does not warrant the great expense involved in constructing a new crossing. Needless to say, the provincial authorities are likewise not interested in becoming involved in such a project. Since the announcement by Mr. Marchand, there has been an extremely hostile reaction from the Thorold town council and from the local regional municipality and it appears that the residents will continue their fight for a bridge or tunnel. While we really must agree with certain comments concerning the size of the town of Port Robinson and the fact that the transportation needs of its few residents could hardly warrant such a huge outlay of taxpayers' money, we do feel that Bridge 12 was an important canal crossing and the construction of an alternative route should not be dismissed so abruptly. Anyone who ever waited in the resulting line of traffic whenever the bridge was raised can vouch for the large number of motorists who regularly used the bridge.
We understand that the new Paterson motorship currently under construction at Collingwood will bear the name ONTADOC when she enters service this spring. launched in January., the vessel will be very similar to PRINDOC (III) and LABRADOC (II) which were built in 1966 at Lauzon. We are pleased to note that the ship will be reviving a most historic Paterson name. The original ONTADOC, retired in 1970 and subsequently sold overseas for scrapping, will be remembered as the last conventional steamer in the company's fleet.
For those of our members who may be rolling in extra cash, we should report that the U.S. Maritime Administration has approved the sale of the idle 23-year old passenger liner UNITED STATES to a group of businessmen who have plans of turning the famous vessel into a floating condominium for the "ultra, ultra rich." We somehow doubt that these plans will ever come to fruition, despite the fact that the buyers have bid something in excess of $13-million, but there is a certain attraction to the idea of having a home that travels from one city to another by sea. The attraction speedily departs at the slightest mention of the astronomical sums which the new owners will be asking from those seeking to buy space aboard the vessel - a single room will go for $650,000 and from there on the sky is the limit!
The mayor of the city of Cleveland has asked for $100-million from the State of Ohio to be used to reconstruct the entrance to Cleveland harbour, to provide modernized docking facilities and to develop the old river for use by maximum-sized vessels. Local authorities seem to feel that this reconstruction will be necessary if Cleveland is to survive as a port serving the operators of 1000-foot carriers.
The details of the Hamilton Harbour Commission scandal are gradually coming to light as an inquiry digs deeper into the problems involving the awarding of dredging contracts. What has been labelled as the "Hamilton Harbourgate" now appears to be a much bigger problem than was earlier expected and the name of a federal cabinet minister has even been mentioned in the probe. To make matters worse, there are now allegations of contract-fixing among a number of dredging firms including Porter, McNamara, and Canadian Dredge & Dock, and the scope of the inquiry has been broadened to investigate alleged improprieties in the handling of the North Traverse dredging project near Quebec City. This has all the earmarks of becoming a very dirty and drawn-out affair.
The fleet of Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. has gained a new vessel, but we will never see her in the lakes. On Thursday, February 27th, Leitch Transports Ltd., an Upper lakes subsidiary, took delivery at Hamburg of the Norwegian bulk carrier THORSDRAKE, formerly owned by Thor Dahls Hvalf. A/S of Sandefjord. Launched under the name AMASONE, she was built in 1967 at Haverton-Hill-on-Tees by the Furness Shipbuilding Company Ltd. She measures 700.0 x 96.2 x 53.4 and her tonnage is 29,248 Gross, 18,732 Net. The motorship is far too beamy ever to come up the Seaway and Leitch will use her on the east coast, probably in the coal trade. Purchased at a cost of approximately $13.5-million, THORSDRAKE is to be renamed CAPE BRETON HIGHLANDER for her new duties.
It is very seldom these days that we hear of large ships being stolen from their owners and being chased by the authorities. About the closest we have come was last year when the British tanker HALCYON THE GREAT was sneaked away from Canadian waters to avoid seizure over an unpaid bunkers bill, the cause of the whole escapade being the bankruptcy of her owners, the Court Line. And yet, just as we are going to press with this issue, the R.C.M.P. is trying to catch and stop a stolen 2000-ton motorship which is making its way out the Gulf of St. Lawrence towards international waters.
The story started a few years ago when a Montreal native by the name of Brian Erb refloated the 1964-built Danish freighter CLARA CLAUSEN which had been stranded near Les Escoumins on the St. Lawrence. He purchased the vessel and renamed her ATLANTEAN NO. 1. He converted her to a salvage ship and nothing much was heard about her until the winter of 1973-74. On December 26, 1973, the Liberian bulk carrier ADELFOI grounded in the St. Lawrence near Ile d'Orleans (below Quebec City) while outward bound from a late Seaway voyage. She remained aground during the winter months and in February 1974 Erb decided, without authorization from anybody, to try to salvage the ship with the assistance of a pick-up crew. He was not on the scene long, however, when the operation was stopped by federal authorities not only for attempting salvage without permission but also for working the salvage crew in unsafe conditions. Erb was tried and found guilty and meantime ATLANTEAN NO. 1 was seized for non-payment of debts totalling more than $600,000. The creditors took him to court and it was ordered that the ship be sold at auction. The vessel was sold for the sum of $28,500 to Paul-Emile Caron of Louiseville, Quebec, and was lying at dock in Quebec City under the care of security guards. Somehow Erb managed to round up a crew, sneak them past the guards, load 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel, and get the ship ready to sail. She left port on Sunday, February 23, and began her dash down the St. Lawrence to the freedom of international waters. Caron complained to the Federal Court of Canada which ordered the Coast Guard and the R.C.M.P, to intercept the vessel, by now renamed ANSWER, but neither authority has displayed much interest in becoming involved, although the R.C.M.P. has been following the ship by air and the Coast Guard finally dispatched the icebreaker SIR JOHN A. MacDONALD. If the ship manages to get safely through the gulf ice and if she does not run short of fuel, Erb is expected to try to make the port of Boston en route to Freeport, but it would seem more likely that he would choose to shelter at the French islands of St. Pierre-Miquelon. At the time of this writing, it appears that ANSWER may just make it to the safety of international waters but we shall have to wait to see what happens then. Tune in to this station same time next month to hear the conclusion of the story .....
This month we continue our report on the vessels laid up at various lake ports.
J. BURTON AYERS FRANK R. DENTON POLARIS W. C. RICHARDSON
WILLIS B. BOYER MARINE FUEL OIL P0NTIAC SYLVANIA
CHICAGO TRADER MARINE FUEL II RAYMOND H. REISS JOSEPH H.THOMPSON
AGAWA CANYON CANADIAN HUNTER CHARLES DICK JOHN E.F.MISENER
ALGOWAY CONISCLIFFE HALL GOLDEN HIND SEAWAY QUEEN
HARRY L. ALLEN EDMUND FITZGERALD SAMUEL MATHER JOHN SHERWIN
ASHLAND JOSEPH H. FRANTZ McKEE SONS SILVER BAY
C.L.AUSTIN HENNEPIN ROBERT C.NORTON GEORGE M.STEINBRENNER
CADILLAC ROBERT HOBSON CRISPIN OGLEBAY WALTER A. STERLING
CLIFFS VICTORY JOHNSTOWN WILLIAM A.REISS PAUL THAYER
ADAM E.CORNELIUS KINSMAN VOYAGER WILLIAM R. ROESCH G. A. TOMLINSON
S.T.CRAPO JOHN A. KLING GEORGE E. SEEDHOUSE CHARLES C. WEST
DETROIT EDISON ROGER M. KYES J.R.SENSIBAR THOMAS WILSON
DIAMOND ALKALI JOSEPH S. YOUNG
CHICAGO TRIBUNE IMPERIAL SARNIA
(add to previous list)
ALGORAIL IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD
CANADOC JACQUES GRAVEL GLENEAGLES GEORGIAN BAY
JAMES E. FERRIS TRILLIUM
AVONDALE FERNDALE T. R. McLAGAN RIVER TRANSPORT
BAY TRANSPORT FORT HENRY RALPH MISENER ROYALTON
BLACK BAY A.M.GERMAN NORDALE SENNEVILLE
GEORGE M. CARL H.M.GRIFFITH PEERLESS SILVER ISLE
CHRIS M. JENNY T. II PINEDALE S.M.T.B. NO. 7
FRANK DIXON LEADALE QUEDOC STRATHMORE
W. M. EDINGTON MAPLECLIFFE HALL TADOUSSAC
Great Lakes Crossword
In our last issue, we presented a Crossword Puzzle made specifically for SCANNER by
member Bob Ireland. We hope that all our members enjoyed working the puzzle and that they may have learned a bit about some of the ships mentioned in it. Perhaps
we could arrange to bring you another such puzzle sometime in the future if there is sufficient response from our readers. If you are interested, let's hear from you.
For those of you who may have been stumped by some of the clues in the February crossword, here is the correct solution.
1. Bannockburn 14. Ace 25. Steam 33. Welland
10. Alberta 16. India 27. Glenmohr 34. Whale
11. Argus 18. Hoyt 29. Fore 35. Red
12. Burton 19. Doc 32. Nor 36.Misener
13. Glen 22. Anderson
6. Regina 17. Donnelly 25. Spokane
2. Arbor 7. Cambria 20. Ore 26. Agawa
3. Norgoma 8. Asia 21. Emperor 28. Hud
4. Coal 9. Corey 23. Elmdale 30. E.N.E.
5. Bradley 15. Chas. 24. N. W. 31. R.W.
Rowley Walter Murphy
Readers of the "Scanner" will recall that on several occasions (as late as last month - see LUELLA) we have reproduced photographs taken by the camera of Rowley Murphy. We regret to report that this fine gentleman passed away on February 2nd, 1975, at the age of 83, only a few days after the death of his wife "Tommy."
Rowley was a life-long resident of Toronto. At an early age he was taken down to the waterfront by his father and there he watched the comings and goings of the numerous schooners and passenger steamers. He soon began to record on film what he saw and he displayed great talent in sketching harbour scenes. His summers were spent on Toronto Island and at Port Dalhousie, both excellent spots from which to view the marine scene. On the Welland Canal he sketched many of the vessels of the early 1900's as they passed through the locks and fortunately his sketch books have been preserved along with many of his glass plate and film negatives.
As time passed, Rowley's interest in art became predominant. He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy at Philadelphia and also in Italy. He became an illustrator for a number of magazines and in due course was appointed to a position as teacher of art at the Ontario College of Art. During World War II he was commissioned by the Royal Canadian Navy as an officer on special assignment as a war artist. In this capacity he sketched and painted many fine scenes of the Navy and Merchant Navy at war. Quite recently he was elected a member of the Royal Canadian Academy. A salon held at Toronto last autumn featured some of his many works and was highly successful.
Those of us who possess examples of his work and those who have seen any of his paintings, sketches or photographs are indeed fortunate, as are those who may have known Rowley Murphy personally.
Wo do not like to have errors appear in "Scanner" as we do not wish to be a party to the perpetuation of erroneous information. It is for this reason that we appreciate the assistance of our readers in bringing to our attention errors that somehow may creep into these pages.
Two months ago in our January issue, we presented the fleet list and corporate history of the Oakes fleets. One of the vessels mentioned therein was the steamer B.F.BERRY, later known as (b) BERRYTON, (c) VISCOUNT BENNETT and(d) C.A.BENNETT. For some unexplained reason, we reported that she had been built as Hull 357 of the American Shipbuilding Company of Cleveland. Our thanks go those readers who have pointed out the error of our ways and we apologize for our oversight. B. F. BERRY was, of course, built by American Shipbuilding at their Lorain yard. Her Hull No. was correctly recorded as 357.
Ship of the Month No.
It is now more than sixty years since the passenger steamer CHICORA made her last run from Toronto to the Niagara River and it seems almost inconceivable that such a long time could have passed since this famous vessel was in operation. Perhaps we find this fact so hard to believe because CHICORA's name was for so long synonymous with the Niagara River line and because she was the sole boat operated by the Niagara Navigation Company Ltd. for an entire decade after she made her debut on Lake Ontario.
The graceful CHICORA looked like this from 1878 to 1904. The photo was taken at Toronto's Eastern Gap c.1903 by the late Rowley Murphy.It was 111 years ago that CHICORA began her life at the yard of William C. Miller & Son, shipbuilders of Birkenhead, England. She was not designed as a passenger vessel but rather had been built as a freighter to the order of the Chicora Import & Export Company of Charleston, South Carolina. At the time of her build, the Civil War was raging in the United States and the Union was attempting to bring the Confederacy to its knees by blockading its seaports, thus preventing the inflow of much-needed supplies and the export of the South's one major product, cotton. CHICORA, built under the direction of one Henry Lafone, a Confederate agent, was only one of a whole fleet of sidewheel racers designed to run the blockade of Union vessels.
CHICORA was launched into the Mersey River in February 1864 and was hurriedly prepared to enter service. She had a length of 221.0 feet, a beam of 26.0 feet and a depth of 10.9 feet. Her tonnage was registered as 740. Her iron hull was divided into six watertight compartments and she was given a long turtle-backed forecastle, A prime necessity for a blockade runner was a good turn of speed and to this end CHICORA was fitted with an oscillating, condensing, two-cylinder steam engine which had cylinders of 52" each and a stroke of 48". This engine, built by Faucett & Prescott of Liverpool, developed 180 h.p. and drove her large Clyde River-type sidewheels. With her extraordinarily narrow hull offering very little resistance to the water, she proved to be a very speedy vessel. In a 28-mile speed test on the Mersey with her sistership BADGER on March 26, 1864, she managed a speed of something in excess of 19 knots.
In keeping with the nature of her intended trade, CHICORA was built with as little above decks as possible. She carried no superstructure on deck at all except for the paddleboxes and her guards were of the short English type. Her two very tall and slender funnels were set in tandem, one forward and one aft of the paddlewheels. The funnels were very heavily raked as were the two masts on which auxiliary sail was carried.
The Union forces were on the watch for blockade runners and so to disguise her real identity CHICORA was given the temporary (and apparently unofficial) name of LET HER B prior to her speed trials. The spelling of this name has been a subject of dispute for many years and it is not inconceivable that her name might have been LET HER BE as there were other similar blockade runners with similar names. On the other hand, there were those who claimed to have seen the name LETTER B etched into her brass bell in later years. All things considered, LET HER B is the best-documented of the three spellings.
Three days after her trials, LET HER B was entered to load at Liverpool for Nassau, Bahamas, her agents being Frazer, Trenholm & Company, Liverpool. It was shown at the time that Henry Lafone was her owner but there is no doubt about the fact that the Chicora Company was still her registered owner. She had been fitted with two twelve-pounder guns and carriages mounted in such a way that they could easily be moved on deck in the event of Union harassment.
CHICORA, or rather LET HER B, did not load for Nassau, however, and instead was cleared in ballast for Hamilton, Bermuda, under the command of Capt. John Rains. Before she got away from the Mersey, the steamer had a bit of an altercation with a dock and she was taken back to her berth for repairs. She did not actually clear until April 12, 1864. Her speed can be judged by the fact that on April 20 she was reported due at Hamilton, the report being made by C.M.Allen, U. S. Consul at Bermuda.
LET HER B loaded at Hamilton for Wilmington, North Carolina, and from that point on she resumed her original official name of CHICORA, for it was under this name that she was taken up the Cape Fear River by Wilmington pilot J. T. Burruss. Her arrival at Wilmington was logged in the name of CHICORA. Incidentally, she ran the blockade without incident.
Her second trip was not so peaceful. This voyage took her to Charleston, the ship being under the command of Capt. George B. Boynton. On this occasion she was accosted by Union gunboats and only barely escaped destruction. After the encounter, she managed to limp to the safety of Charleston harbour, her mainmast lost and five of her crew dead.
CHICORA's usual run was from Hamilton to either Wilmington or Charleston, the two main Confederate seaports on the east coast, and she made many such trips through the remainder of l864 and the first month of 1865. In late January she made a trip south to Nassau and loaded for Charleston. She sailed from Nassau on February 1st and a few days later arrived at her destination. Much to his surprise, her captain found the city being evacuated in the face of the attack by Sherman's Union forces. CHICORA was forced to depart quickly and run out past the blockade, which she did in safety, arriving back at Nassau several days later. It is said that CHICORA was the last blockade runner to escape from Charleston prior to its capture on February 7th.
The steamer's career in the service of the Confederacy came to an end very soon after her escape, for her services were no longer needed to support the collapsing South. She had come through the hostilities without being involved in any serious incidents other than her early tangle with the gunboats off Charleston on her second trip. The war ended, CHICORA was taken north to Halifax where she was laid up under the watchful eye of Thomas Gilchrist Rudd, Halifax agent for the Chicora Company. On February 1st, 1866 CHICORA was brought into Canadian registry and was enrolled at Halifax under official number 53588. Her owner was shown as Benjamin Wier, merchant, but it appears that control of the vessel still rested with the Chicora Company or whatever was left of this firm. It is interesting to note that for the rest of her life, CHICORA showed Halifax as her official port of registry (although there is evidence that for a certain period she may have had the name of another port painted on her stern).
In 1867, the year of Canadian Confederation, Great Lakes money began to be invested in CHICORA as she lay at Halifax. Donald Milloy, a member of a renowned Toronto shipping family, purchased a 17/64 interest in the ship on October 28,1867, and on September 14, 1868, the remainder of the vessel's 64 shares were sold to Nicol Milloy, Toronto, to Donald Robertson of Queenston, and to Thomas Burk of Niagara Falls, their interests being 17, 15 and 15 shares respectively. Thomas Rudd took back a $7,000 mortgage and a further mortgage in the amount of $11,000 to Her Majesty the Queen was arranged.
CHICORA was brought as far as Quebec City in 1867 and there she was put in drydock and cut into two sections for the passage up the canals. The two sections were wintered at Sorel and the following spring they were towed up to Buffalo where they were rejoined and the ship converted for overnight passenger service. Her short English-style guards were extended the full length of the ship and cabins were built on the main deck. A "bird-cage" pilothouse was built forward of the foremast on the upper deck. This work completed, CHICORA sailed under her own power for Collingwood, arriving there on September 7, 1868. There the joiners went to work on her interior. Before they could finish, however, CHICORA made a special trip up to Lake Superior, calling at way ports on the North Channel, and the carpenters were taken along, struggling to get the passenger accommodation ready during the course of the trip.
By the spring of 1869, CHICORA was ready to enter her intended service. The main deck cabin extended the full length of the deck and on the upper deck there was a shorter cabin, truncated abaft the after funnel, running back from the pilothouse. CHICORA still sported her original funnels but she now had only the foremast standing. Her interior work all completed, the steamer set off on what was to be her regular run from Collingwood to Fort William with calls along the way at ports along the North Channel, at Sault Ste. Marie, and at way ports on the north shore of Lake Superior. The federal government in Ottawa provided a handsome subsidy to encourage the vessel's operators to open up the route and to carry Her Majesty's mails.
In 1870 the Canadian government faced a serious problem in that the Metis were rising up in revolt in what is now the province of Manitoba. Col. Garnet Wolseley was dispatched with an expeditionary force destined for Fort Garry (now known as Winnipeg) and it was arranged that CHICORA would carry the forces westbound from Collingwood to Fort William. She cleared Collingwood on May 21, 1870, with the first contingent of men and supplies and was accompanied on the trip by the brand new wooden steamer L. SCHICKLUNA towing the schooners ORION and PANDORA. CHICORA was under the command of a Capt. McGean.
At the Soo, CHICORA encountered problems. The only canal then extant was the old State Canal on the U. S. side of the river and as she was carrying a foreign army and its supplies, the ship was refused passage by the U.S. authorities. Finally CHICORA went to the Canadian shore and unloaded Wolseley's troops and their goods. She was then allowed to proceed up the State Canal and she subsequently reloaded her passengers at Point aux Pins. It was when the ship reached the shores of Thunder Bay that Col. Wolseley decreed that the landing there should be known as Prince Arthur's Landing in honour of the Duke of Connaught. The town which grew around the landing was named Port Arthur in 1885.
CHICORA made several trips up the lakes ferrying Wolseley's troops and then brought them back again once the Northwest Rebellion had been quelled. The steamer then went back into her regular trade to Fort William and the route was even extended as far as Duluth. About this time, her upper deck cabin was extended right aft and the pilothouse was lifted up to the hurricane deck. In 1873 CHICORA was sold to the Hon. Frank Smith and Noah Barnhart and they ran her on the same route through that year. Business, however, was faltering and at the close of the season CHICORA went to the wall at Collingwood.
During July and August of 1874, CHICORA was chartered for use as the vice-regal yacht for Governor General Lord Dufferin who was planning a western tour. She was completely refurbished under the direction of Fred W. Cumberland, general manager of the Northern Railway, and was fitted out specially for her honoured passenger. She carried Lord Dufferin across Lakes Huron and Superior and even down Lake Michigan as far as Chicago. But this job finished, there being no work available for her on her normal run, she was once again laid up at Collingwood. It is from this point that she became one of the "Niagara boats" and it is proper at this stage for us to digress for a moment from CHICORA to describe conditions on Lake Ontario's most famous passenger route.
SOUTHERN BELLE, (a) ROTHESAY CASTLE, was a former blockade runner and for a while ran the Niagara Route. She was scrapped at Toronto in 1891.Boats had operated off and on to Niagara for a good many years but by the mid-seventies the Niagara Peninsula was proving to be very popular as an attraction for excursionists from Toronto. The route by road was impossible and the only practical method of getting to Niagara was by boat across the lake. In 1875 and 1876 two boats were kept busy running from Toronto to Niagara-on-the-Lake and Queenston, these being the wooden-hulled CITY OF TORONTO and the iron-hulled former blockade runner SOUTHERN BELLE, (a) ROTHESAY CASTLE, both being controlled by the Milloy family. The latter vessel, built on the Clyde in 1864, was considerably smaller than CHICORA although built for the same purpose and when brought to the lakes had been given only the most minimal of rebuilds prior to entering passenger service. She had kicked around Lake Ontario and the east coast on a number of routes but for the latter part of 1875 and all of 1876 she ran first in opposition to and later in conjunction with CITY OF TORONTO. In 1877 the latter steamer had the route to herself again, as she had for many years prior to the arrival on the scene of the BELLE.
In April 1877 the Hon. Frank Smith was seeking to buy out the interest of the heirs of the now-deceased Noah Barnhart, his partner in the operation of CHICORA.. He found the necessary support in the person of Barlow Cumberland and the two, together with John Foy, set about making plans for operating the steamer on Lake Ontario. The Niagara Navigation Company Ltd. was formed with Smith, Cumberland and Foy acting as president, vice-president and secretary respectively.
CHICORA's upperworks were removed at Collingwood and on August 5, 1877 she cleared that port for Buffalo in tow of the big wooden tug W. T. ROBB. Once at Buffalo, CHICORA was placed on drydock and cut apart for the trip down the Welland Canal. Prior to cutting the hull apart in two sections, the paddleboxes were removed and the guards on either side were lopped off and lowered onto barges, thus reducing the hull to a width suitable for the small locks of the second Welland Canal. In tow of the ROBB, the two pieces of CHICORA left Buffalo on October 17th and together with the accompanying barges they passed down the Canal shortly thereafter. Their destination was Muir's Drydock located at Port Dalhousie in the pond above the canal's Lock One.
In the space of about a month's time, CHICORA's hull was put back together at Muir's, but the guards could not yet be fitted to her sides and that was because one obstacle stood in the way of CHICORA being towed to Toronto where the work was to be completed. Muir's Drydock was located above Lock One and this lock would have to be negotiated before CHICORA was on the level of the lake. But how was a 221-foot steamer to be taken down in a lock that was only 200 feet long?
The answer was surprisingly simple but was possible only because of the construction of the lock chamber. Most modern locks have a high sill under the gates at the upper end, a sill that shows out of water when the lock is drained to its lower level. But Lock One at Port Dalhousie had upper gates which extended down just as far as the lower gates and hence at low water level the only obstruction at the upper end was the gates themselves. CHICORA was placed stern-first in the lock with the upper gates open and the bow of the ship extending out the upper end of the lock. The canal had been closed for the winter and so when the dewatering process began on December 5th, 1877, the whole level up Martindale Pond to St. Catharines could be drained. On December 20th, the level having been lowered as far as possible, the lower gates were opened and the hull of CHICORA was flushed out into the lower harbour. Here her guards were reinstalled and on December 24 she was taken in tow by W. T. ROBB for the last section of the long voyage to Toronto.
At Toronto, CHICORA was completely rebuilt as a day excursion steamer and when she emerged she had tonnages of 931 Gross, 540 Net. She came out of the transformation as one of the most handsome and graceful vessels ever seen on the lake before or since. In the course of all her rebuilds she had acquired a sweeping sheer to her decks that she never had as a blockade runner. Now in addition she had lost the rather cumbersome upper cabin which she had carried in her upper lakes days and she now had on the upper deck only a small and rather ornate cabin amidships, enough only to give the necessary shelter to excursionists in inclement weather. The bow area was completely open for use as an observation area. There was no overhang of the hurricane deck around the cabin but aft there was a full-width deck overhead to shelter passengers, although it was left open at the sides so that passengers could enjoy the refreshing lake breezes.
CHICORA was fitted with much smaller paddleboxes than before and this did much to give her a more refined appearance, as did the rather heavier but still finely raked funnels she was given. In their rake, the funnels were matched by the one tall fidded mast which was carried well forward. The fancy octagonal pilothouse was carried well forward on the hurricane deck.
CHICORA made her first trip on May 24, 1878, the Queen's birthday and a holiday for the populace. Under the command of Capt. Thomas Harbottle, with J. Ellis as first officer, George Moore as chief engineer and Alexander Leach as purser, the steamer left Toronto's Yonge Street slip at 7:00 a.m. with a special excursion for Hamilton. She entered regular service a week later, leaving Toronto at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 1st for the Niagara River. She was an instant success, becoming very popular with the travelling public.
For the first few years, CHICORA faced some heavy competition as other operators kept throwing steamers on the route against her, resenting the intrusion of the upstart Niagara Navigation Company. But by the close of the 1884 season, the last of the competitors dropped from the scene as the Milloys finally abandoned their efforts to compete with the ship that they themselves had brought to the lakes back in 1868. From 1885 onward, CHICORA was completely alone in the Niagara trade and, at last unharassed, she was able to turn a handsome profit for her owners.
The N. N. Co. chartered another steamer, the 142-foot HASTINGS, in 1887 and she assisted CHICORA on the run for it had become obvious that the company needed another vessel to carry the crowds. HASTINGS was only a stop-gap and plans were made to build a new steamer which would be a fitting running-mate for the speedy CHICORA. The new ship was christened CIBOLA and she appeared on the run in 1888, having been built by Rathbun at Deseronto, Ontario. She and CHICORA proved to be a winning combination and the popularity of the service grew by leaps and bounds. The small steamer KATHLEEN, and later the ONGIARA, was placed on a ferry run from Lewiston, New York, to Queenston to feed the cross-lake steamers. But by far the greatest expansionary step the company ever made came in 1893 when the N. N. Co. took delivery of the largest vessel it would ever operate, the 308-foot beam-engined CHIPPEWA which had been built at Hamilton.
With two newer and larger ships operating in the fleet, CHICORA was no longer the pride and joy of the Niagara River line, although she was still an important unit to the company. She gained in importance in 1895 when CIBOLA was destroyed by fire at Lewiston and she and CHIPPEWA had to carry on alone. This state of affairs was not to last for long, however, for in 1896 there appeared the 270-foot sidewheeler CORONA which had been built to replace the burned steamer and was powered by CIBOLA's huge inclined compound engine.
CHICORA, CORONA and CHIPPEWA carried on into the new century, handling the throngs of lake travellers quite nicely, but by this time the years were beginning to show on CHICORA. Since her transformation to a day-boat in 1878, the only major updating given to the vessel had been in 1890 when she was reboilered and generally spruced up a bit. N. N. Co. vessels were always beautifully maintained but by 1904 CHICORA was badly in need of modernization. Her appearance by this time was less classy than downright old-fashioned and so she was taken to the yard of the Kingston Shipbuilding Company Ltd. where at a cost of $37,000 her hull was replated and her upperworks rebuilt. A full-width canopy was built over the upper deck by extending the hurricane deck out to the sides of the ship. At the same time it was also extended forward a bit and on it was built a modern pilothouse similar to those fitted on the Kirby-designed CHIPPEWA and CORONA. Her heavy foremast was removed and a pole foremast was stopped abaft the pilothouse. A mainmast was added aft of the second funnel.
When CHICORA went back into service, she had a profile roughly similar to that of CHIPPEWA and CORONA, and with her graceful sheer, her raked funnels and masts, her cut-away forefoot and her delicate counter stern she was indeed a very good-looking vessel. The profile presented by these three ships of the fleet was one of the most handsome ever seen on the lakes and, in your writer's opinion, no more successful design was ever used in the construction of an excursion vessel.
In 1907 the company commissioned what was to be its last ship, the twin-screw steamer CAYUGA built at Toronto by the Canadian Shipbuilding Company Ltd. CAYUGA, a 305-footer, was destined to be the last steam-powered passenger vessel ever to serve the Toronto-Niagara route. Her advent brought the fleet to such a strength that it was more than capable of handling the flow of passengers crossing the lake and more and more was CHICORA, by now nearing her half century, relegated to the status of spare boat.
CHICORA's last few years of service were years of great change for the fleet of the Niagara Navigation Company. In 1911 the firm bought out the operations of the Hamilton Steamboat Company and also the (Hamilton) Turbinia Steamship Company, thus adding to the N. N. Co. fleet the steamers MACASSA, MODJESKA and TURBINIA. In August 1912 the entire Niagara Navigation organization with its vessels and shoreside properties was merged into the Richelieu & Ontario Navigation Company Ltd. but there was no noticeable change in the Niagara operations except that R. & O. passengers could now travel through on the line's steamers all the way from Queenston to salt water (hence the company's motto - "Niagara to the Sea"). Through the merger the Niagara boats kept their distinctive funnel marking, red with a black smokeband.
Then in June 1913 came the famous merger which saw the formation of Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal. Richelieu & Ontario was one of the companies involved and the cross-lake service became known as the Niagara Navigation Division. C.S.L. kept CHICORA on her usual route through 1913 but in 1914 she was placed on the run from Toronto to Olcott Beach, New York. The service was not successful and CHICORA made her last trip on Labour Day, September 7th, going into lay-up at Toronto once she had unloaded what were to be her last passengers.
CHICORA, nearing the end of her passenger service, is seen in winter quarters at Toronto's Yonge Street slip c.1910.With the Olcott Beach run branded as a loser and the Niagara River line adequately served by CAYUGA, CHIPPEWA and CORONA, the aging CHICORA was left at the wall for the next five years. Sometime during this period she was moved away from her regular berth and tied up in a slip at the eastern end of Toronto harbour. There on October 27, 1919 she sprang a leak and settled to the bottom in 24 feet of water. The years had finally caught up with the old lady but her owners refused to let her rest in peace. She was raised during the month of November but it was obvious that she was of no use to Canada Steamship Lines and she was never refitted for the passenger trade. CHICORA's documentation was closed on January 1st, 1920.
During the following year the old steamer was stripped of her cabins and machinery and in 1921 her hull was sold to the Warren Transportation Company of Toronto. Converted to a barge, she was renamed WARRENKO and was given a small cabin aft and fitted with a small donkey boiler. She was put into service carrying coal and construction materials but her capacity was severely restricted by her beam of only 26 feet. When carrying anthracite coal, she could load only about 750 tons and even at that she was loaded to the rails. Her net tonnage during this stage of her life was only 278.
WARRENKO was used sparingly by Warren Transportation and she spent much of her time laid up in the Princess Street slip at Toronto, By 1923 she had passed to the ownership of the Quinte Coal & Towage Company and was used in the coal trade almost exclusively. By. about 1926 she was owned by the Pyke Salvage Company Ltd. of Kingston and for them she served mostly in the coal trade between Oswego and Kingston, although on occasion she did venture down into the St. Lawrence. She ran through the thirties and finally met her end when, on September 19, 1938, while under tow of the Pyke tug SALVAGE PRINCE in Kingston harbour, she was rammed and sunk by the Tree Line package freighter SPRUCEBAY. A cofferdam was built around the sunken barge and she was eventually raised but she was never put back into service. WARRENKO was finally hauled ashore at the upper end of Howe Island and there she was dismantled.
During the course of her thirty-six years of service on the Niagara run, CHICORA had been commanded by almost all of the famous N. N. Co. skippers. As mentioned earlier, her first master was Capt. Thomas Harbottle. He was succeeded by, in order, Capt. T. Leach, Capt. J. McCorquodale, Capt. J. McGiffin and Capt. W. H. Solmes. In 1893 the command of CHICORA passed to Capt. James Harbottle, the son of the man who had been appointed master fifteen years previously. There followed many well-known Lake Ontario mariners including Capt. Robert Clapp, Capt. C. J. Smith, Capt. Henry King, Capt. B. A. Bongard and Capt. T. Allen.
If CHICORA's masters were well known for having sailed such a famous vessel, her engineers were noted for the many hours of hard labour they had to put in. In fact, CHICORA had a reputation for being a real workhouse in the engine department. You see, the fact is that CHICORA had the only set of oscillating engines ever installed in a Great Lakes steamer. It was an old-fashioned rig, but one that caused very little trouble over the years. An oscillating engine had no cross-heads or guides and the pistons applied their power direct to the cranks on the paddleshaft. The cylinders and steam chests oscillated, or rocked, on trunions and the valve gear was so complicated that three men were required to answer telegraph commands.
When the vessel was in the process of docking, the chief engineer would sit in a "pulpit" in direct view of the passengers and would handle the six levers that confronted him. There were two throttles, while two other levers controlled the hooking in of the valves and the last pair controlled the condensers. While the chief handled these, the second and third engineers were in charge of the reverse gear wheels and quadrants. A lot of work it may have been, but to Norman Griffin, the last chief engineer CHICORA ever had, no engine was ever so efficient or reliable as the rocking power plant that CHICORA brought with her to the lakes.
Aside from the men that trained on her and then went on to sail other ships of the fleet, CHICORA left one other legacy to her running-mates and that was her name which started for Niagara Navigation a tradition that all of its cross-lake steamers followed. "Chicora" was an Indian word meaning "Land of Flowers" and it was used to describe that area of the southern United States lying from Florida in the east to Louisiana in the west, the heart of the Confederacy. The name was appropriate for a blockade runner and when she came to the lakes none of her owners ever saw fit to change it, perhaps because of its euphonious sound. Messrs Smith and Cumberland liked the name and they decided that all their major steamers should have similar names, all beginning with "C", ending with "A", and having an Indian origin. In fact, when CAYUGA was built a public contest was held to choose a fitting name for the ship and these specifications were laid down to govern the names submitted.
Yes, CHICORA was a ship that served many varying trades and many different people over her seventy-four year lifetime. But she never meant quite so much to anyone as she did to the thousands of Torontonians for whom she held the promise of an escape from the summer heat of the city to the cool breezes of the lake, the fun of being aboard ship, and the relaxed enjoyment of an outing to Niagara.
(Ed. Note: As a result of the early activities of CHICORA being somewhat embarrassing to certain authorities, and in addition the fact that she came to the lakes so very many years ago, many of the details of the early years of this steamer will never be known.
We have tried to present the story of CHICORA as accurately as possible and, amongst the many sources from which information was obtained, we would give particular credit to the various writings of C. H. J. Snider, Capt. Frank E. Hamilton, and Erik Heyl.)
Late Marine News
In the week that has passed since we went to press with the rest of this issue, the story of the wayward salvage vessel ANSWER (or perhaps more correctly ATLANTEAN NO. 1) has continued to unfold on the icy Gulf of St. Lawrence. In our report elsewhere in this issue, we left ANSWER under the command of her former owner Brian Erb who still claims to be the ship's rightful owner despite a debtor's auction sale. At that time, ANSWER was being pursued, albeit somewhat lethargically, by the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker SIR JOHN A. MacDONALD. The ANSWER, beset by heavy ice, had safely reached the 12-mile limit and was supposedly safe from capture in international waters. The MacDONALD, however, chased ANSWER into international waters and on Sunday, March 2nd, four R.C.M.P. officers were airlifted from the icebreaker and "took control" of the runaway ship. She was turned around and headed back towards Sept Iles, Quebec, and the Coast Guard put aboard a supply of diesel fuel to make certain ANSWER did not run short before reaching port. The following day, Erb somehow got back in command and turned ANSWER once again towards the French colonial islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon where she would be safe from capture. On Tuesday, March 4th, the R.C.M.P. officers were taken off the vessel by helicopter and ANSWER was left free to proceed on her own course, following a track cut in the ice by two tugs towing a foreign vessel. The end was not far off, however, for on Wednesday, March 5th, more officers were dropped to the ship and the ANSWER placed in control of a Coast Guard crew. The ship was again put on a course to take her back to Sept Iles while Erb and his crew were flown to Gaspe, Quebec, en route to Quebec City where they will stand trial on various charges. It looks as though after almost two weeks ANSWER has finally reached the end of her escapade, an adventure reported daily on the front pages of newspapers across Canada.
At long last the news is starting to break on the disposal of the Kinsman fleet. Lake Log Chips reports that at the February 19th annual stockholders' meeting, George M. Steinbrenner announced that he would be stepping down shortly as chief executive officer of American Shipbuilding. At the same meeting, the firm's directors announced that they had received approval from the U.S. Justice Department to complete the sale of the subsidiary Kinsman Marine Transit Company to an as yet unidentified corporation with which is associated one Sheldon B. Guren, a friend of Steinbrenner. Funds for the purchase of the fleet have apparently been committed and the sale should be completed by April 1st. We do not know whether this deal involves the entire fleet or whether some arrangement may have been made to sell certain units to other operators as well, but it is understood that Henry G. Steinbrenner will stay on to operate the remains of the fleet for the new owners. Thus it appears that even though the official ownership of Kinsman will change, the influence of the Steinbrenner family will still be present.
(Ed. Note: We must apologize for the somewhat limited supply of marine news contained in this issue. Not only have things been relatively quiet on the shipping front, but they have also been quiet in our mailbox! Due to the latest round of labour unrest in our always-efficient post office (!) the majority of the city of Toronto has had to put up with either no mail at all or else very limited delivery for some two weeks and we have thus been prevented from hearing from a number of our correspondents.)