The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Scanner, v. 7, n. 8 (May 1975)
Publication:
Scanner (Toronto, ON), May 1975


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Creator:
Bascom, John N., Editor
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Website
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Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Lake Shipyard ; Report on April Dinner Meeting; A Laker's Log by Skip Gillham; Ship of the Month No. 49; Port Huron Marine Show; Some Late Marine News; William Woodger
Date of Publication:
May 1975
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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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Toronto Marine Historical Society
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Full Text

Meetings

Friday, October 3 - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Open Slide Night. Members are invited to bring a few slides each to illustrate their summer ship-watching activities.

The Editor's Notebook

Readers will no doubt notice that this issue looks a bit different from our normal format. The reason for this is that our faithful typist of seven years, Mrs. Tanaka, is no longer able to carry on with the task nor are our usual reproduction facilities available to us. As a result, we are trying an entirely different method and, while things may look a. bit raggy for a few issues (until ye Ed. improves his typing skills), we would ask that you bear with us and give us time to get used to the new system. We hope that the end result will be even more pleasing than before and that we can also reduce the time lag between the preparation of the news and the time it reaches your hands. Our sincere thanks go to Mrs. Tanaka for her invaluable assistance with this journal in the formative years of our Society.

Our Dinner Meeting held on April 4 was very successful and a full report appears elsewhere in this issue. Members should note that the May meeting will be our last regular gathering until autumn, although we will no doubt see each other in the usual ship-watching spots such as the Welland Canal, Point Edward and Sault Ste. Marie. This will be our last "Scanner" of the spring season but another issue will be out in July to keep you abreast of developments during the summer months.

In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to Capt. H.C. Inches of Vermilion, Ohio, and to Alex W. Ormston, curator of the St. Catharines Historical Museum. Also to Don Lee of Port Lambton, Ontario.

Marine News

The camera of Jim Kidd caught TEXACO-BRAVE outbound at Toronto's Cherry STreet bridge in tow of G. W. ROGERS and BAGOTVILLE, April 7 1975As reported last issue, TEXACO-BRAVE was scheduled to be towed out of Toronto Harbour by G. W. ROGERS and BAGOTVILLE on April 3rd. The weatherman, however, chose that day to subject the southern Ontario area to the second worst April snowstorm on record and Canadian Dredge and Dock decided not to run the risk of losing the BRAVE on the trip across Lake Ontario which was running heavy seas in the high winds accompanying the storm. The old canaller spent four more days at her dock just inside the Cherry Street bridge and, on the morning of April 7, the tugs came for her. It was about 8:30 a. m. when the proud little tanker was taken out the Eastern Gap, leaving behind her home port of so many years, en route to the Ramey's Bend scrapyard.

It is now apparent that the Columbia takeover of the Kinsman self-unloaders PAUL THAYER and WILLIAM R. ROESCH will not come to fruition, at least not for the present. The dispute over which union would represent the ships' crews has presented such insurmountable problems that the deal has been shelved and the two motorships will remain in their old fleet. It is to be expected, however, that eventually a sale for the pair will be concluded.

Jim Kidd's photograph of TEXACO-BRAVE and BAGOTVILLE, April 7 1975We suspected it all along, but now it is out in the open. The firm negotiating for the purchase of the vessels of the Kinsman Marine Transit Company is S & E Shipping Corporation. And you'll never guess who is now in the process of acquiring a majority interest in S & E. If you guessed George M. Steinbrenner III, then you are absolutely right, but if you didn't guess him, then you deserve ten lashes with the wet noodle for not figuring out that King George had to be behind this thing somehow. It appears that the same operating arrangements will apply as were in force during 1974 when Kinsman personnel operated A. T. LAWSON and BEN MOREELL which had earlier been sold to S & E. But as far as operations in 1975 are concerned, the picture is still clouded. PETER ROBERTSON and KINSMAN VOYAGER will be going for scrap, this much we know. It appears that HARRY L. ALLEN, C. L. AUSTIN, CHICAGO TRADER, FRANK R. DENTON, GEORGE D. GOBLE, KINSMAN ENTERPRISE, WILLIAM R. ROESCH, HENRY STEINBRENNER and PAUL THAYER will operate. It is also evident that GEORGE M. STEINBRENNER will not. But somewhat up in the air are MERLE M. McCURDY, GEORGE E. SEEDHOUSE and PAUL L. TIETJEN. The April 5, 1975 issue of Skillings' Mining Review gives appointments for this latter trio but an article appearing on April 12 in the Cleveland Plain Dealer indicates that they will remain at the wall. As usual with questions concerning this fleet, we will simply have to wait and see what happens.

On her last voyage under her old name, SILVER BAY enters the Toronto Western Gap, March 29, 1975. Photo by the EditorWhen we went to press with the April issue, we were aware of the fact that the retired passenger steamer SOUTH AMERICAN had been rescued from a Camden, N.J., scrapyard and was to be brought back to the lakes, but we had not learned the identity of her purchaser. It now develops that the new owner of the ship is Mellus Flagship Associates, a firm headed by former newspaper publisher William S. Mellus of Grosse Ile, Michigan. Mr. Mellus, whose only association with boats in the past seems to be his ownership of a small cabin cruiser, plans to bring the SOUTH back to the lakes this summer, "refit" her and moor her at Mackinac Island to serve as a floating hotel and tourist centre. The sale was closed on March 16 and $200,000 changed hands, although it is estimated that a further sum of $1,500,000 will be necessary to ready the old ship for her new duties. We don't like to be a wet blanket on what is really an admirably imaginative scheme, but we'll believe this whole thing when we see the finished product and we won't be holding our breath waiting ...

According to a notice appearing in the Toronto Globe and Mail on April 3rd, the steamer JUDITH M. PIERSON (formerly SILVER BAY) is now owned by a firm calling itself the Soo River Company. The concern is privately owned and is controlled by Robert Pierson Holdings Ltd. During the 1975 season the vessel will be managed by Westdale Shipping Ltd., Port Credit.

While unloading at Victory Soya Mills, SILVERBAY became JUDITH M. PIERSON as seen in this photo by Jim Kidd. April 1st, 1975.One of the best news items to come our way in many a moon concerns the veteran Huron Cement steamer E. M. FORD. This bulk cement carrier had seemingly been living on borrowed time for the last few years as she has been in and out of lay-up, never operating continuously for very long. In addition, the FORD was a hand-fired coal-burner and she had to be kept on Lake Michigan most of the time because her appearance on the lower lakes always managed to arouse the ire of local smoke-abatement officials, Her age and size (only 406 feet) also appeared to doom her to imminent retirement. It is therefore with great pleasure that we can report that during the winter the FORD was taken in hand by work crews at Nicholson's Dock, Ecorse, and given automated oil burners. No doubt the considerable expenditure required for a conversion of this nature will guarantee the future of E. M. FORD for quite a few years to come and it may well mean that we shall see more of her on the lower lakes, a development which would prove most pleasing to photographers who have long considered her to be a particularly elusive creature. Not only is the FORD notable because of her age (she was built at Cleveland in 1898 as PRESQUE ISLE and is now the second-oldest active self-propelled laker) but in addition she is the last operating lake steamer powered by a quadruple-expansion engine.

Last issue we reported the cessation of Canadian National Railways' carferry service across the Detroit River, the last trip being made by LANSDOWNE in tow of MARGARET YORKE on March 14th. We commented that the future did not look bright for either LANSDOWNE or her centenarian running mate HURON but are now pleased to learn that both have been purchased by the Detroit-Windsor Barge Company and will be used to haul containers across the river. As such, they will join the former C.P.R. tug PRESCOTONT and carfloat OGDENSBURG in this service.

For the first time since 1968, the Great Lakes are being served in 1975 by American salt-water cargo liners. The move to operate a lake service has been made by Lykes Bros. Steamship Company, New Orleans, whose subsidiary Lykes Great Lakes Line will operate a route between various lake ports and the Mediterranean and Black Seas. The line will provide monthly sailings by three company-owned vessels, the first to call in the lakes being MARJORIE LYKES, a combination container and break-bulk carrier which made her first trip up the Welland Canal on April 23rd. The second ship to come to our area will be MAYO LYKES, while the third ship has not yet been identified. Lykes' service will be subject to financial assistance through a Maritime Administration operating subsidy.

The steam ferry LAVIOLETTE has in fact been sold to Albert Russell Avery of Mooretown, Ontario, and on March 3rd was reregistered at Toronto. The former St. Lawrence River ferry, measuring 168 x 66 x 14 (887 Gross, 399 Net), was built in 1947 at Sorel for the Trois-Rivieres service. It will be recalled that the last report we had on the ferry was that she was lying at Norfolk, Virginia, and despite Capt. Avery's plans to use her as an excursion vessel out of Sarnia, it looked as if she would instead be sold to operators on the Gulf of Mexico. It now appears that Capt. Avery's efforts have met with success and we assume that we will shortly see the steamer brought up to her new home.

Texaco Canada Limited's newest acquisition, TEXACO WARRIOR (II), was brought into Canadian registry on March 3 and was enrolled at Toronto, being given official number 337356. Formerly (a) THUNTANK 6 and (b) ANTERIORITY, this is the motorship that will replace TEXACO-BRAVE.

It is quite evident that the "battle of the carferries" is on again and the preliminary skirmishes indicate that the fighting will get hot and heavy as the year progresses. All four companies presently operating open-water railroad carferry services in the Lake Michigan area have filed for abandonment and if the petitions are approved, the Ann Arbor, Chesapeake and Ohio, Grand Trunk, and Mackinac Transportation Company lines will vanish. There is, however, considerable opposition to the planned abandonments, particularly in connection with the intended cessation of the CHIEF WAWATAM's service across the Straits of Mackinac for this latter withdrawal would mean the end of railroad service in Michigan's upper peninsula.

This is DEMETERTON, now named ST. LAWRENCE NAVIGATOR, as she looked passing Vercheres on November 23, 1974. P{hoto by Rene Beauchamp.According to a report which appeared in the Toronto Globe and Mail on April 10, the British bulk carriers CARLTON and DEMETERTON have not actually been purchased by Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. but rather have been obtained by Upper Lakes subsidiary Leitch Transports Ltd. on a long-term charter basis. CARLTON has been renamed ST. LAWRENCE PROSPECTOR and will be used principally on the titanium run between Havre St. Pierre and Sorel, although she will trade into the lakes occasionally. DEMETERTON is now named ST. LAWRENCE NAVIGATOR and is registered at Toronto. She entered Port Weller Dry Docks on April 23 and after a complete refit will be placed in regular lake service.

Another vessel which has been on the "shelf" at Port Weller Dry Docks recently is CONISCLIFFE HALL which is now undergoing her long-awaited conversion for use as a gas-drilling rig. She is now painted blue and white as are other units of the fleet of Underwater Gas Developers Ltd. and it is believed that she will be renamed (b) PELESIS for her new role.

The city of Owen Sound has decided that it does not wish to have the retired Manitoulin Island ferry steamer NORISLE for use as a combination restaurant and museum as was originally planned. The Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, owner of the vessel and successor to the Owen Sound Transportation Company Ltd., had offered the ship to the city fathers for the sum of one dollar and the refusal of the municipality to proceed with the scheme leaves the future of the 29-year-old hand-fired coal-burner in considerable doubt. It is unlikely that any other operator would be interested in purchasing the steamer.

A firm known as Societe Havre Champlain, an affiliate of Misener Enterprises Ltd., St. Catharines, has submitted to the Quebec government proposals for the development of a new deepwater port at Gros Cacouna, a spot on the south shore of the St. Lawrence about 110 miles downstream from Quebec City. The plan has received the support of the government of Premier Robert Bourassa, no doubt because the company would bear the full cost of developing the facility.

A driving snowstorm with wind gusts up to 55 m.p.h. drove the Canada. Steamship Lines self-unloading stemwinder J. W. McGIFFIN aground on the east bank of the Welland Canal south of Bridge 10 at Thorold shortly after noon on April 3rd. The ship's crew put lines ashore after the grounding as it was found that the vessel was taking on water and developing a nasty list to starboard. Two of her tanks had been holed but the McGIFFIN was pumped out sufficiently to allow her to move down to the dock behind the Beaver Wood Fibre Company where she was examined by divers. Early on the afternoon of the 4th, the ship left Thorold and proceeded to Hamilton where her coal cargo was unloaded. She then was taken back to Port Weller where she was placed on drydock. It has since been found that the ship damaged some 600 feet of her bottom on the starboard side and repairs are thus very costly. As far as we can ascertain, the McGIFFIN was the only major casualty of the wind and snowstorm which swept the lower lakes from April 2nd through the 4th.

The newest addition to the fleet of N. M. Paterson and Sons Ltd., Thunder Bay, was christened ONTADOC in ceremonies at Collingwood on April 15. The vessel, generally similar to LABRADOC and PRINDOC, is expected to enter service shortly.

Several months ago we reported that RIVER TRANSPORT was no longer registered in Canada and we surmised that she had been sold to foreign owners. While we still do not know who the purchasers are, it appears that they are based in South America.

The U.S. Steel bulk carrier CASON J. CALLAWAY was a casualty of early spring navigation. In convoy with JOHN G. MUNSON, the ship was caught in heavy ice near Lansing Shoal in upper Lake Michigan on March 21 and was unable to extricate herself before the pressure of the ice forced her onto the shoal. En route to South Chicago with taconite from Lake Superior, the CALLAWAY holed herself on the starboard side but was in no particular danger although an aerial photo of the grounded ship showed her to be lying directly alongside the shoal's lighthouse. The ship (was freed without much delay and continued on her trip. Once unloaded, she was taken to Fraser Shipyards at Superior for permanent repairs.

The big steam tug CHRIS M. which has been lying at the scrapping berth of Strathearne Terminals in Hamilton since early 1974 arrived in Toronto on April 10 in tow of ARGUE MARTIN and was put on the south side of the Lake Ontario Cement pier. Observers were hard pressed to find out why she had been brought here, particularly since she had long ago been stripped of most of her fittings. However, some diggings by one of our harbour spies has unearthed the fact that CHRIS M. has been purchased for $30,000 by one Norman F. Rogers, a resident of Toronto's Algonquin Island. Rogers is the operator of several small boats which he uses sporadically as water taxis. To describe the operation as reliable would be stretching a point and it is further interesting to note that Rogers has previously been in trouble not only with municipal officials for trying to run a ferry service in competition with the Parks Department but also with the federal authorities for failing to carry sufficient lifesaving apparatus on his boats. We can't imagine what he plans for CHRIS M. and we can hardly but think that she would be better off if she were still in the scrapyard.

The deal involving the sale of the Canada Steamship Lines package freighter FRENCH RIVER to the Compagnie de Gestion de Matane may well be reversed if the new owners have their way. The ship was to have been used in a service across the St. Lawrence River from Matane but it appears that the cost of conversion for her new duties would be prohibitive. In addition, we suspect that certain political pressures may be at work. This appears to be a case of "caveat emptor" and we hope that C.S.L. got their money before the purchasers decided to back out.

The wooden tour boat OLYMPIA III owned by the Kingston and Thousand Islands Boat Line Ltd. sank in the Gananoque River at Gananoque on March 20, apparently the victim of a spring freshet. At last report the hull had not been raised and it is doubtful that she will ever see any further service. The elderly vessel made her debut in the Kingston area last year and had a relatively successful season but her owners had planned to replace her with a new ship. OLYMPIA III was built in 1943 at Toronto as a fairmile designed for wartime use on the east coast. She is best known for the years she spent as an excursion boat operating out of Midland under the names PENETAND EIGHTY-EIGHT and MIDLAND-PENETANG EIGHTY-EIGHT.

There is more bad news for lovers of deep-sea passenger vessels. The long-rumoured mass retirement of Italian liners is now a reality and in three years' time fifteen ships will have been cut from the operating roster of the government-run Italian Line and associated companies. First to go is the 46,000-ton MICHELANGELO, a ten year veteran of the North Atlantic service, which is to be removed from service in April. Her sistership RAFFAELLO will run through until July when she too will be retired. It is understood that only five government-operated passenger vessels will survive the purge.

Citing increased operating costs and the age of its sole vessel, Canadian National Steamship Company Ltd. has served notice that its Alaska cruise service will be terminated at the close of the 1975 season. This abandonment means the retirement of PRINCE GEORGE, the 350-foot steamer built for C.N. in 1948 by Yarrows Ltd. at Esquimalt, B.C. Unfortunately, there would seem to be little future for PRINCE GEORGE under Canadian registry unless the British Columbia Ferry System (the provincial government) should decide to operate the Alaska route.

Staying on the west coast but moving on to a much happier news item, it is with much pleasure that we can report that the British Columbia government has taken over from Canadian Pacific the Victoria-Seattle ferry service which C.P. discontinued last autumn. But the best news of all is that the government acquisition not only includes property on the Victoria, waterfront but also the steam turbine ferry PRINCESS MARGUERITE, the entire cost of the purchase being $2.5 million. PRINCESS MARGUERITE is a 356-foot, 5911-ton vessel built in 1949 by the Fairfield Company Ltd. at Glasgow and whereas the previously-mentioned PRINCE GEORGE is a relatively modern vessel in appearance, the MARGUERITE is very much the traditonal C. P. west coast steamer. She is a very handsome vessel and should look stunning in the B.C. ferry system colours of blue and white.

Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. now has two McGIFFIN-GRIFFITHS type self-unloaders on order. One of the 31,000-ton vessels has been ordered from Collingwood Shipyards and is to be delivered in 1977 after the completion of a similar vessel for the Algoma Central Railway. The other is to come from the yard of Davie Shipbuilding Ltd. at Lauzon, Quebec, and is scheduled for delivery in 1976. It is interesting to note that the new carriers will cost $30 million and $32.5 million respectively, this being a most remarkable increase over the 1972 cost of $12.8 million for J. W. McGIFFIN.

It appears that three small tankers which spent last winter at Toronto will not be fitting out for the 1975 navigation season. CAPE TRANSPORT and COVE TRANSPORT, formerly NORTHCLIFFE HALL (I) and LEECLIFFE HALL (I) respectively, are 1947-vintage veterans of the Hall Corporation fleet. The steamers were converted to tankers in 1957 and this no doubt prolonged their lives. Now, however, they are nearing the end of their economic viability (their canal size does not help matters) and over the past few years have operated irregularly. They are presently laid up in the northwest corner of Toronto's turning basin. The third idle tanker is the diminutive motorship RIVERSHELL owned by Johnstone Shipping Ltd., Toronto. She operated last year under charter to Shell for a bunkering service on the St. Clair River but this trade was somewhat less than successful and it is unlikely that the ship will operate again unless some service such as her successful Lake Ontario bunkering business of a few years ago (she ran as GULF SENTINEL) can be found for her. She is currently laid up alongside the two Hall tankers.

The overseas scrap tows for 1975 have begun. On April 22 the McAllister tugs SALVAGE MONARCH and HELEN M. McALLISTER brought KINSMAN VOYAGER into Port Colborne from Toledo and moored her below Lock 8 at the Law stone dock. They then moved down the canal and picked up JAMES E. FERRIS which had lain in the old canal above Dain City, heading for Quebec City with her. Once the FERRIS is delivered to Quebec, the tugs will return to Toledo where they will pick up HENNEPIN. She will be brought to Port Colborne and will be nosed into Ramey's Bend for dismantling there. Then the tugs will cross the canal and pick up KINSMAN VOYAGER, heading for Quebec. It is to be assumed that JAMES E. FERRIS and KINSMAN VOYAGER will cross the Atlantic in tandem tow.

Lake Shipyard Orderbooks Full

In order to keep our readers abreast of new construction at the various lake shipyards (it has been a bit hard recently to keep track of what is coming from where), we present here a list prepared by Mr. John O. Greenwood containing all orders on the books at the end of March involving lake ships of any size. The list will no doubt be subject to early amendment as several operators may place additional contracts, notably the Algoma Central Railway which is seeking to build a replacement for the lost ROY A. JODREY.

Delivery Hull # Yard Overall Size Owner

1976 905 AmShip-Lorain 1,000 x 105 Interlake

1976 211 Collingwood 730 x 75 Algoma Central

1976 714 Sturgeon Bay 770 x 92 Boland & Cornelius

1976 715 Sturgeon Bay 728 x 78 Inland Steel

1976 60 Port Weller 730 x 75 Upper Lakes

1976 684 Davie-Lauzon 730 x 75 C.S.L.

1977 906 AmShip-Lorain 1,000 x 105 Interlake

1977 716 Sturgeon Bay 1,000 x 105 Boland & Cornelius

1977 212 Collingwood 730 x 75 C.S.L.

1978 907 AmShip-Lorain 1,000 x 105 Hanna

1978 717 Sturgeon Bay 1,000 x 105 Bethlehem

1978 718 Sturgeon Bay 1,000 x 105 U.S. Steel

1979 719 Sturgeon Bay 1,000 x 105 Boland & Cornelius

1980 720 Sturgeon Bay 1,000 x 105 Bethlehem

1981 721 Sturgeon Bay 1,000 x 105 Boland & Cornelius

1982 722 Sturgeon Bay 1,000 x 105 Boland & Cornelius

Report on April Dinner Meeting

We thought that the weather was bad for our March meeting, but March had nothing on April in the Toronto area! Friday, April 4th, found Toronto caught in the grip of a three-day blizzard and icestorm and as a result several of our out-of-town members found it absolutely impossible to get transportation to Toronto. Ask Peter Worden how he and his family got here from Northville, Michigan ...

But considering the weather, the meeting was very well attended (all the tickets were sold) and all present enjoyed pleasant refreshment and an excellent meal in the Ship Inn. We then adjourned to our usual meeting room and were treated to a most interesting address by Mr. John O. Greenwood who brought his charming wife Jane with him from Cleveland for the occasion.

Mr. Greenwood's address was entitled "Great Lakes Shipping - Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" and he started by showing the Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company's film on the reconstruction and bringing to the lakes of CLIFFS VICTORY in 1951. This event was used as the beginning of the modern era of lake shipping and from there our speaker went on to describe the present health of the shipping industry and what we may expect to see over the next half-century. It was noted that over the last few years the number of lake carriers in operation has dropped drastically and yet the carrying capacity per ship has increased. Through to the end of this century a continuation of the same trend is seen, but on a much-accelerated basis. Then, much to our surprise, Mr. Greenwood suggested that the first few years of the new century will actually see a considerable increase in the number of vessels operating, together with the distinct possibility that ships will be built to sizes unthought of at present. It is strange to think that today's maximum Seaway size carriers may be the "canallers" of the future.

Our speaker concluded his remarks by suggesting that we had better appreciate the old traditional steamers with which we are now familiar and get lots of photos while we can, because the "transitional momentum to the modern diesel or turbine-powered high capacity vessel is accelerating at a pace not even dreamed of ten years ago" and our old favourites won't be with us long.

Our thanks go to Mr. Greenwood for coming to address the meeting and to our members who showed such fine support for the event.

A Laker's Log by Skip Gillham

A few months ago we presented in these pages some excerpts from the scrap log of the Paterson steamer CANADOC (I) for the year 1954. In the hope that the details of what a ship actually does and where she goes during a season may be of interest, we have prepared a review of the activities of the Kinsman steamer R. E. WEBSTER for the 1966 season as taken from her logbook, together with a sketch of the vessel's life.

R. E. WEBSTER, (a) ELBERT H. GARY (64). (U.S. 202014). Steel bulk carrier built 1905 at Chicago by the Chicago Shipbuilding Company, Hull 66. 557.8 x 56.0 x 26.5. Gross 6584, Net 5155. Built for the Pittsburgh Steamship Company and served the U.S. Steel Corp. until 1963. In her first year, established a record cargo of 12,003 gross tons iron ore. In 1928 set another record by loading 9,366 net tons bituminous coal at Duluth, Mesabi & Northern Dock, Duluth, in 6 hrs., 5 mins. Reboilered 1936. Badly holed by ice on Lake Superior in April 1957 but rescued by U.S.C.G. MACKINAW. Lay idle at Duluth 1958 and again 1961-63. Sold 1963 to Kinsman Marine Transit Company, Cleveland, and returned to service 1964. Laid up 1972 with boiler problems and sold 1973 to Marine Salvage Ltd. Towed down Welland Canal June 9, 1973 by SALVAGE MONARCH and HELEN M. McALLISTER. Cleared Quebec June 15, 1973 in tandem tow of tug JANTAR with A. E. NETTLETON. Arrived Santander, Spain, July 5, 1973 for scrapping.

1966 Season - Cleared Buffalo, N.Y., April 20th.

- Laid up at Buffalo, N.Y., December 15th.

Cargoes - Coal ---- 15; Grain ---- 12; Ore -- 7.

Loading Ports Discharge Ports

Duluth-Superior 17 (6 mixed grain,6 ore, 5 wheat) Buffalo 12 (7 mixed grain,

Toledo 10 1/2 (coal) Duluth-Superior 7 (coal)

Ashtabula 3 (coal) Cleveland 5 (ore)

Conneaut 1 (coal) Harriet 4- (coal)

Two Harbors 1 (ore) Milwaukee 2 (coal)

South Chicago 1 (mixed grain) Washburn 1 (coal)

Sandusky 1/2 (coal) Sheboygan 1 (coal)

Conneaut 1 (ore)

Lorain 1 (ore)

Ship of the Month No. 49

Alexandria

It is difficult today to imagine travelling to our nation's capital by steamboat but back about the time of Confederation things were much different and the Ottawa River supported a thriving shipping industry. The most famous of the vessel operators was the Ottawa Steamers Company which in 1864 was incorporated as the Ottawa River Navigation Company. This firm operated a passenger and freight service through from Montreal to Ottawa using combination passenger and package freight sidewheelers together with barges towed by steam towboats.

ALEXANDRIA is upbound in the St. Lawrence canals in this photo taken very near the end of her active life. Bascom collection.The route was divided into two sections, the lower portion of the trip taking travellers from Montreal up the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers to Carillon while the upper section covered the stretch on the Ottawa from Grenville to Ottawa. To facilitate the detour around the intervening rapids on the Ottawa, the company acquired control of the Carillon and Grenville Railway whose tracks bypassed not only the Long Sault Rapids but also the small Carillon and Grenville Canal which could not accommodate the large steamers.

To assist in the towing of several barges which the company used in the freight trade on the lower route, it ordered a towboat from the Cantin Shipyard at Montreal in 1866. She was a wooden-hulled vessel and she measured 161.7 feet in length, 25.2 feet in the beam (under the guards) and 8.1 feet in depth. Her tonnage was registered as 940 Gross. Power was provided by a single overhead beam engine which she inherited from the passenger steamer PHOENIX which had been built in 1849 and dismantled in 1866. PHOENIX herself got the engine second-hand for it had originally been installed in the small steamer SPEED which operated on the upper Ottawa from 1846 until she burned in 1848.

The Ottawa River Navigation Company made a practice of naming its vessels after royalty or with names indicative of royal positions. Accordingly, the new vessel was named ALEXANDRA in honour of the Princess of Wales who was destined to become Queen Alexandra when in 1901 her husband, Albert Edward, ascended the throne as King Edward VII. As with all ships built in the Province of Quebec prior to the acceptance of a unified Dominion shipping registry in 1874, ALEXANDRA did not receive an official number.

The company owned two freight barges, the ALPHA and BETA which were built in 1866 at Lachine and in 1871 at Quebec respectively. They were used primarily to carry potash to the glass factories at Como and Hudson, and were towed by ALEXANDRA and by MAUDE, the latter being another sidewheel towboat built in 1871 by Cantin.

In 1873 the Ottawa River Navigation Company sold ALEXANDRA to the Ontario and Quebec Navigation Company Ltd. of Picton, a firm operated by the Hepburn Brothers. The Hepburns were well known in the Picton area and operated a large number of passenger and freight steamers on the Bay of Quinte. It appears that ALEXANDRA was used by them as a towboat for the first decade of their ownership but then she passed on to bigger and better things.

By the advent of the eighties, A. W. Hepburn saw that another passenger steamer was needed for the company's service to the St. Lawrence and accordingly ALEXANDRA was despatched to the Cantin yard in 1883. There she was lengthened to 173.7 feet, broadened to 31.0 feet and deepened to 8.4 feet, her tonnage being altered to 863 Gross and 508 Net in the process. She was rebuilt as a combination passenger and package freight carrier and was reregistered as a new vessel because of the extensive rebuild she had received, her new official number being 85768. In addition, she was renamed (b) ALEXANDRIA, the new name being more suitable since it honoured the town of Alexandria Bay which is located on the upper St. Lawrence River.

ALEXANDRIA was now a two-decked nightboat and was quite modern in appearance for her time. She was placed on Hepburn's service from Rochester and Picton to Montreal and Quebec, a five-day round trip costing the grand sum of $16.00. She was scheduled to sail from Picton every Monday at 1:00 p.m. In the fall, when passenger traffic dwindled, she often carried apples and cheese from Brighton to Montreal. Her winters were spent at the Hepburn shipyard on Picton harbour.

ALEXANDRIA served Hepburn on this route for three full decades and became a regular fixture of Picton harbour. Then in 1913 there came the last of a long series of amalgamations amongst Canadian vessel operators that resulted in the formation of Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal. Hepburn's Ontario and Quebec Navigation Company Ltd. was one of the eight companies which on June 11, 1913 were merged with the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company Ltd. and from this merger appeared the giant C.S.L.

As might be expected, the merger resulted in the new company inheriting not only a superfluity of elderly vessels but also a number of routes whose economic viability was open to question. The C.S.L. management embarked upon a ruthless process of "rationalization" and the result was that many of the older wooden vessels began to fall by the wayside. One of these was ALEXANDRIA which by now was becoming a bit of an anachronism amongst the modern steel steamers. She was relegated to the status of spare boat and saw very little use over the next two years.

But in 1915 ALEXANDRIA was pressed into service to fill in on the Montreal-Toronto package freight route. It would probably have been better had she stayed in lay-up, the way things turned out, but out she came, just in time to hit one of those dirty southeasterly blows that from time to time rear their ugly heads to plague Lake Ontario sailors.

On August 3rd, 1915, a Tuesday, ALEXANDRIA was upbound for Toronto and once out on the open lake she ran into just such a storm. Capt. Bloomfield decided to push on for Toronto in the hope that ALEXANDRIA would hold together long enough to make her destination in safety, but it was not to be. With only 300 tons of cargo aboard, she was riding high in the water and was easy prey for the raging wind and the heavy seas. Her 50 horsepower was simply not enough to hold her on her course and she was pushed further and further towards the lee shore. With the light of Toronto's Eastern Gap in sight, she finally lost her battle and the tired old "Alex" came in on the sands close underneath the Scarborough Bluffs, the high shoreline east of the city.

It wasn't long before those aboard the steamer and the many spectators that lined the Bluffs realized that ALEXANDRIA was doomed. The seas rolling in to shore soon began to dismantle the vessel and once she started to go she wasn't long about it. The hull began to break up about 8:00 p.m. when about 50 feet of the bow broke off. The crew then took to the boats and although these were quickly swamped, all the men reached shore by midnight with the assistance of lifelines rigged from the beach. Just about the time the last man reached shore, the stern section of the ship separated away from the wreck and broke up.

The following morning, only the midship section of the steamer was still visible, the rest having been dispersed along the shoreline as wreckage. ALEXANDRIA had been pushed very close inshore during the night and now she lay facing in a westerly direction and listing over on her port side. The cabin had been badly smashed by the waves and the top section of the funnel had disappeared over the side. Her cargo of pickles and canned vegetables had been washed away and it is said that residents along the shore as far west as Ward's Island stocked their shelves for the winter with supplies that came ashore from the stricken steamer. No doubt a few opportunists used her planking to build new sheds.

Succeeding storms soon broke up what was left of ALEXANDRIA's woodwork and all that remained above water was the walking beam and the upper portion of the boiler, these being quite visible, especially at times of low water. For over twenty years these relics were a feature of the eastern shoreline and many were the east-end children who used the walking beam as a diving platform. But in due course, with the high water and the erosion of the shoreline, the last visible remains of ALEXANDRIA disappeared from sight and local residents were left with their memories of the stormy night that "Alex" came ashore.

But the death of ALEXANDRIA brought life to yet another of the retired C.S.L. steamers. BELLEVILLE was an iron-hulled passenger and freight vessel which had been built back in 1865 as SPARTAN. She too had been laid up after the 1913 merger and had even been stripped in preparation for dismantling. But with the loss of ALEXANDRIA she was refitted and brought back to service for the Montreal-Toronto run and, in fact, managed to last for another eight years of operation.

And still ALEXANDRIA had not come to the end of her useful existence. In 1922 the Western Reserve Navigation Company was refitting the old sidewheeler HURON, (a) DARIUS COLE, which they renamed (c) COLONIAL for their cross-Lake Erie service. She needed new wheels and her owners set out to search for a pair of feathering wheels which might be suitable. They found them in Lake Ontario off the Scarborough Bluffs and an expedition under the leadership of the late Capt. Frank E. Hamilton was despatched to Toronto. In due course the ALEXANDRIA's wheels (which some years before had been redesigned by James Fennell of Cherry Valley, Prince Edward County) were brought to the surface. After reconditioning, they were placed aboard COLONIAL and there they served until September 1st, 1926 when the 41-year-old vessel was destroyed by fire on Lake Erie off Barcelona, New York.

Forty-nine years was a good long life for a. wooden steamer like ALEXANDRIA, but the old lady must have set some kind of a record by giving life to another vessel seven years after her own demise.

Port Huron Marine Show

Once again this summer, the Port Huron Museum of Arts and History will present a special marine show in its Marine Room. The presentation was very well received last year and all shipping enthusiasts are invited to return this year for another look. The museum will be open from 1:00 to 4:30, Wednesday through Sunday, during the months of July and August. There is no charge for admission.

Some Late Marine News

In addition to the HENNEPIN which has been sold for scrap, three other units of the American Steamship Company are not in operation at present. CHARLES C. WEST is not scheduled to run in 1975 and although appointments were made for FRED A. MANSKE, it has apparently been decided that she is not to operate. CONSUMERS POWER started out the year but ran into boiler problems in April and is presently at the Bay City shipyard where repairs are expected to take about a month.

Our prediction that U.S. Steel would not run either AUGUST ZIESING or HORACE JOHNSON has proven half right. The ZIESING is still laid up but JOHNSON is operating. In addition to the straightdeckers that will not turn in '75, we should mention that the self-unloaders W. F. WHITE and IRVIN L. CLYMER are not scheduled to appear in service.

Paddle steamer fans will be pleased to hear that the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society through its Waverley Steam Navigation Company Ltd. will be operating the sea-going paddler WAVERLEY (the last such vessel in the British Isles) on the Clyde this summer. The steamer will start her excursion schedule on May 22.

Three vessels of the fleet of the Columbia Transportation Division, Oglebay Norton and Company, will not operate in 1975. THOMAS WILSON and WILLIAM A. REISS, recently purchased from Kinsman Marine Transit Company, will be held in reserve. In addition, W. C. RICHARDSON, the company's veteran craneship, will remain in idleness and, as she is due for survey at the end of the year, it is doubtful that she will ever turn again.

The Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company's bulk carrier THOMAS F. PATTON, a former "red tomato" and the bearer of J. E. UPSON's beautiful chime steam whistle, will not be operative this season. The vessel is in need of shaft repairs.

William Woodger

It is with deep regret that we must report the recent passing of Mr. William Woodger of Willowdale, Ontario. Mr. Woodger, an avid passenger ship fan, had been a member of our Society since its formation and will be sadly missed by our local members.

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Scanner, v. 7, n. 8 (May 1975)


Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Lake Shipyard ; Report on April Dinner Meeting; A Laker's Log by Skip Gillham; Ship of the Month No. 49; Port Huron Marine Show; Some Late Marine News; William Woodger