The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Scanner, v. 8, n. 2 (November 1975)
Scanner (Toronto, ON), Nov 1975

Bascom, John N., Editor
Media Type:
Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; The Port Colborne and St. Lawrence Navigation Company Limited; Ship of the Month No. 52; Some Thoughts Ten Years Later; Late Marine News
Date of Publication:
Nov 1975
Language of Item:
Copyright Statement:
Protected by copyright: Uses other than research or private study require the permission of the rights holder(s). Responsibility for obtaining permissions and for any use rests exclusively with the user.
Toronto Marine Historical Society
WWW address
Full Text


Friday, December 5 - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Film Night with a selection of films of marine interest obtained by Gordon Turner.

Friday, January 9 - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Jim Kidd will present an illustrated program dealing with a trip through the Seaway on a lake freighter. Please note the date of this meeting.

The Editor's Notebook

If you receive this issue in good time, it will mean two things. The first is that you have renewed your membership and are a member in good standing. Second, it will mean that a miracle has occurred and things are back on an even keel in the Canadian Post Office. As we go to press, the Post Office is completely shut down by labour problems and it looks as if the strike could be a long one. At present we have no idea how this issue will be distributed to our out-of-town members but we will do our best and will hope that it reaches you without too much delay. Unfortunately the lack of mail has cut off some of our best correspondents and you'll find the marine news section a bit skimpy this month.

Our meetings for the coming year have all been arranged and programs worked out but we still have a few openings for the 1976-77 season. It may seem that we are planning a long way in advance but we know the anxious moments that arise when a meeting date draws near with no speaker available. If you have ideas for a program or if you would like to address one of our meetings, please contact Gordon Turner.

In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to Dr. Paul Lavallee of Boucherville, Quebec, to Vince Sadler of Waterdown, Ontario, to William Hoey of Grosse Ile, Michigan, to Frank Crevier of Algonac, Michigan, and to Peter McIntosh and Capt. Bert Harris of Toronto.

Marine News

Work has progressed well on the Toronto sidewheel ferry TRILLIUM and by the time this report appears in print she should be back in her home port. At the time of this writing, she was scheduled to come home during the first week of November. The only disappointment lies in the fact that the Metropolitan Toronto Parks Department has decided to have TRILLIUM towed all the way on her delivery voyage. While we can understand the reasoning in having her towed down the Welland Canal, we fail to comprehend the Parks Department's wish that her arrival at Toronto be quiet and unannounced. It would seem to us that the best publicity they could ever get for the ship would be to have her steamed triumphantly into port with all the fanfare they could muster, including the traditional salute by the fireboat. Having the ship towed across the bay could not, we imagine, elicit anything but negative comment in the press, particularly when so much money has been spent restoring TRILLIUM to her original condition. Be all this as it may, the vessel is a real joy to behold and we compliment all those who have been involved in the work. We have been aboard TRILLIUM and are amazed at the quality of the reproduction achieved in the aluminum superstructure. The only changes from the original plans of the vessel are those necessitated by government regulations or by the forced installation of modern navigational equipment, but these changes are hardly noticeable, especially to those not familiar with the way the steamer looked in her early years. No matter how TRILLIUM makes her entrance into Toronto Harbour, the reappearance of a ship so long idle and the fact that she is one of a kind in these parts will undoubtedly put Toronto on the map as far as operating marine history is concerned.

The purge of the older American lake tankers continues. Last issue we reported the sale for scrapping of Cleveland Tankers' motorvessel VENUS and it is now our sad duty to report the sale of the same company's steamer MERCURY which has gone to the Sturgeon Bay Iron and Metal Company of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. The tanker is currently lying at the yard of the Bay Shipbuilding Corp. at the same Lake Michigan port. MERCURY is a 390-footer built in 1912 at Lorain by the American Shipbuilding Company for the Standard Oil fleet. Originally named RENOWN, she became (b) BEAUMONT PARKS in 1930 and took on her present name in 1957 when she was acquired by Cleveland Tankers. MERCURY is a particularly good-looking ship with a graceful sheer and a very tall funnel. Her retirement brings to six the number of vessels that the fleet has cast off in recent years, the other five being METEOR (1896), COMET (1913), ROCKET (1913), TAURUS (1924) and VENUS (1928). In addition, ORION (1931) and PLEIADES (1921) were cast aside during the mid-sixties. This depletion of tonnage leaves Cleveland Tankers with only four vessels, the converted L.S.T. now known as POLARIS, the barge PHOENIX, and the two self-propelled barges SATURN and JUPITER, the latter not yet delivered from her builders.

The widely circulated story that the Chesapeake and Ohio had ended passenger service on its Lake Michigan carferries BADGER, SPARTAN and CITY OF MIDLAND 41 appears to have been a bit of an exaggeration, although whether the problem originated with the press reporting or with the company is not known. True, the company went onto its winter schedule with reduced sailings and somewhat curtailed passenger services, but the fact remains that passengers are still being carried, as are their autos. Nevertheless, we cannot avoid thinking that since the railway is most vocal in its expression of the desire to be out of the carferry business, this whole thing may just have been a bit of a trial balloon sent up to test the current atmosphere on the subject of abandonment and perhaps also to discourage the travelling public from considering crossing the lake by boat so that when the application for discontinuance is finally heard, the line can show a decrease in traffic and a resultant lowering in the profits of the ferries.

The Inland Steel Company is apparently considering the conversion of EDWARD L. RYERSON to a self-unloader, the work being tentatively scheduled for the winter of 1976-77. Final plans, however, are being held up until such time as the company can straighten out the many problems they have encountered with WILFRED SYKES. The 730-foot RYERSON was built in 1960 at Manitowoc and, while her appearance is certainly not of the same class as that of SYKES before her conversion, we do hope that her lines will not be ruined by the fitting of such a large elevating box or such a droopy (for want of a better word) boom as those that have forever destroyed the lines of the SYKES.

Defoe Shipyards at Bay City, Michigan, will have a big winter job on their hands this year. The firm has won a contract to dieselize the Reiss Steamship Company (Boland and Cornelius) self-unloader RICHARD J. REISS. The vessel will be fitted with a 2800 h.p., 20-cylinder G.M. Electro-Motive diesel power plant. RICHARD J. REISS was one of the many steamers built for the U.S. Maritime Commission during the second war and emerged from the River Rouge plant of the Great Lake Engineering Works in 1943 as ADIRONDACK. She took on her present name the same year and was converted to a self-unloader in 1964 when still in the colours of the actual Reiss fleet. She passed to BoCo management when that firm absorbed Reiss in 1969 although ownership has been continued in the Reiss name. Although many of the Maritime Commission class vessels have been converted to self-unloaders, RICHARD J. REISS is the first to be fitted with new power and her conversion serves to reinforce the commonly held opinion that although these ships are now more than thirty years old, they are among the staunchest lake vessels ever built and should be with us for a good many years to come.

Speaking of the Defoe yard at Bay City, we understand that the firm had a contract with the Columbia Transportation Division, Oglebay Norton Company, to rebuild the cargo holds of WILLIAM A. REISS and to convert the coalburner to oil fuel. The contract has, however, been cancelled since the acquisition on charter by Columbia (Pringle Transit Company) of WILLIAM R. ROESCH and PAUL THAYER. WILLIAM A. REISS will thus continue to be held in reserve by Columbia until such time as she is needed or is ripe for a conversion of some kind. The vessel was acquired from Kinsman late in 1974 but has proven to be a bit of a liability to her new owners since she is an ungainly thing as a result of the deepening of her hull in 1963 by Reiss. She is so high that the shoreside unloading rigs have difficulty in getting down to her tanktops when she is riding high in the water and we understand that not only have some of the rigs been damaged in trying to unload her but also that her hatch coamings have taken quite a beating. Even so, WILLIAM A. REISS is a good enough ship that we are sure she will eventually be returned to active service.

The BoCo self-unloader CONSUMERS POWER, currently laid up at Ecorse, is due to be converted to oil fuel over the coming winter at Nicholson's. We hear that any damage resulting from her grounding earlier in the year is minimal and that she has been idle merely because of poor business conditions .

Incidentally, another idle self-unloader, Columbia's veteran steamer SYLVANIA, re-entered service in mid-October. She had considerable work done on her during her period of inactivity.The Upper Lakes Shipping straightdecker THORNHILL recently had a very close escape from disaster. After unloading at Toronto Elevators, she cleared Toronto on the evening of October 17, passing up the Welland Canal during the night. The following day she headed up Lake Erie and got caught in a nasty fall gale, one of the many manifestations of a huge low pressure area which hovered over the lower lakes for several days. The steamer seems to have run into trouble of some kind and took a considerable amount of water in her engineroom before she could be turned around and brought safely into Port Colborne. She is said to have sprung several plates in her escapade.

The former Kinsman steamer GEORGE E. SEEDHOUSE did arrive at Humberstone as expected in October but she did not linger there and has apparently escaped the one-way trip to a European scrapyard. SEEDHOUSE was taken out of Toledo on September 29 by the G-tugs TENNESSEE and PENNSYLVANIA and was towed down Lake Erie by OHIO, her arrival at Port Colborne being delayed by inclement weather conditions. She was taken down Lock 8 by OHIO and OKLAHOMA on October 2nd and was moored in the old canal between Humberstone and Dain City alongside PETER ROBERTSON which had been towed in during the previous month. It was assumed that Marine Salvage Ltd. would dispose of the two ships to overseas breakers but this is not the case. On October 23 the tugs JOHN PURVES and G. W. ROGERS hooked onto SEEDHOUSE and took her back up through Lock 8. We have heard two versions of the reason for her departure, one being that she was headed for Lake Michigan for undisclosed purposes and the other that she was going to Bay City for use as a floating machine shop. We shall await details with interest.

A recent issue of the monthly Canadian Shipping contained an item advertising for sale a vessel described as a 147-foot steam-powered coastal freighter built in 1947 and currently lying at Parry Sound. This item had us puzzled for a while until we remembered that after she was retired a few years ago, the Canadian Coast Guard tender C. P. EDWARDS dropped out of sight. We had wondered where she had gone and now we know. The 1974 Canadian register shows her owner as the Kilbear Construction Company Ltd. of Toronto and this is the firm that placed the ad in the magazine. C. P. EDWARDS was a two-hatch coastal freighter built in 1946 at Collingwood as (a) OTTAWA MAYHILL. She measured 144.3 x 27.1 x 8.0, Gross 338, Net 124. The steamer later was purchased by the Canadian government and was converted for use as a lighthouse and buoy tender, in which duty she was assigned to the Parry Sound base covering Georgian Bay. We find it hard to believe that anyone could be interested in purchasing the little steamer now after a period of idleness in which her condition can hardly have improved, and further in view of the cost of dieselizing her, a move that would almost have to be made by anyone purchasing the ship and wishing to operate her.

Work on rebuilding the steam tug CHRIS M. is proceeding at Toronto. The vessel has lost much of her original machinery and is riding quite high in the water aft. The tug's new owner, Norman Rogers, intends to install diesel machinery and, we presume, has found someone to back him financially. As yet we have heard nothing firm on the use to which CHRIS M. will be put once the conversion is completed.

The job of dismantling HENNEPIN is progressing quickly at Ramey's Bend. The forward end of the steamer is rapidly disappearing as is the unloading equipment.

The camera of Bill Bruce caught Porter's steam dredge LOCKEPORT as she headed upbound into Lock One of the Welland Canal during August 1975.An interesting visitor to the lakes area this fall has been the steam dredge LOCKEPORT which belongs to the J. P. Porter Company Ltd. and is registered at Halifax, Nova Scotia. LOCKEPORT was called in to handle a contract for deepening the harbour at Goderich and she entered the lakes in late August. Although LOCKEPORT is anything but a frequent visitor to these parts, it is not the first time that she has done dredging in the lakes. A few years ago, Porter brought her up to Hamilton to work on the digging out of the eastern end of the harbour there.

The Lake Erie gas drilling rigs normally winter at Port Colborne on the west wall of the old canal just below Bridges 20 and 21. Even the old NORDRILL (SIMCOE) lay along that wall when idle. But TELESIS, the former Halco canaller CONISCLIFFE HALL, will spend the coming winter along the West Street wharf. And the reason? Her drilling equipment is so high that she can't get under the vertical lift bridges!

Closing dates for the various Canadian canals have been announced by the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority. The lock at Sault Ste. Marie will be shut down at noon on December 12th, while the St. Lawrence Canals will close on December 18. The Welland Canal will, as usual, remain open longer and is not scheduled to close until December 30. It is to be assumed that if the weather is kind and traffic conditions warrant, the closing dates for the St. Lawrence and Welland Canals may be put back somewhat, although the date of December 18 for the lower canals is the latest on record and judging by the past few years we should be due for a long cold winter this time around and the early formation of heavy ice could cause much trouble in this section of the Seaway.

The steamer PIERSON DAUGHTERS, formerly CHARLES M. SCHWAB, is the perfect illustration of the change in appearance that a bit of paint can make. In Interlake colours she always looked the part of the misfit, as physically she was with the bow of a twenties laker and the stern of a T-2 tanker. The all-red hull did nothing to hide her atrocious lines. But now that she is in Pierson colours, complete with the name "Soo River Company" on her bows, you would hardly know that she is the same ship. The white band around her raised stern and the silver and black funnel colours tend to cover up her failings as does the white forecastle and she looks much better for it. In addition, the shamrock on her funnel is of somewhat better design than that on JUDITH M. PIERSON and is more recognisable as something other than a huge blot of ink on a piece of paper. Incidentally, we still have no firm word about the acquisition by Pierson of further ships.

The Interlake steamer HERBERT C. JACKSON entered service in September after her conversion to a self-unloader, but her recommissioning proved to be something less than a complete success. On her second trip after being placed back in service, she lost all power while on Lake Superior, this happening on September 23. She was taken in tow by the now-venerable (1916) United States Steel Corp. steamer D. G. KERR which brought the JACKSON in to anchor behind Whitefish Point. There she was met by the U.S. Coast Guard tug NAUGATUCK from the Soo which assisted JACKSON to the point where she could continue on her own. Hardly an auspicious start for the JACKSON! Incidentally, although the JACKSON has her new boom hinged aft, she looks considerably better than WILFRED SYKES and despite the fact that the boom hangs down a bit, it is not nearly so noticeable as that on SYKES. The elevating device, while rather ugly and sprouting from a new deckhouse, is not so massive as to hide her funnel from sight.

The vessels of the Great Lakes fleet of the U.S. Steel Corp. continue to trade down the Seaway with grain. LEON FRASER, BENJAMIN F. FAIRLESS, IRVING S. OLDS and ENDERS M. VOORHEES have all made trips down the river and are continuing to do so. Of course, the former Seaway visitors ARTHUR M. ANDERSON, PHILIP R. CLARKE and CASON J. CALLAWAY are now too large to fit the locks of the lower canals.

We are given to understand that the Steinbrenner interests have formed yet another affiliated company to which have been transferred the steamers HARRY L. ALLEN, CHICAGO TRADER and KINSMAN ENTERPRISE. It thus appears that these three veterans will remain available for service for the foreseeable future instead of having the shadow of the cutting torch hanging over them. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing we are not entirely certain of the correct name of the new company and we shall therefore not report on same until we have received confirmation.

The Port Colborne and St. Lawrence Navigation Company Limited

There are probably quite a few of the "minor" Great Lakes shipping companies about which most observers would draw a complete blank if they were asked to describe the firm or even to name just one of the ships it operated. We would venture to say that this would probably be true of the Port Colborne and St. Lawrence Navigation Company Ltd., a Toronto-based concern that was active in lake shipping during the second, third and fourth decades of this century.

Port Colborne and St. Lawrence was formed in the years just preceding the first world war and was the lake shipping subsidiary of the Maple Leaf Milling Company. The parent firm operated a grain elevator and flour mill at Port Colborne and this structure, although much rebuilt as a result of a disastrous explosion and fire occurring on October 7, 1960, still stands at the end of the West Street wharf. In addition to the grain that was brought to the mill by steamer for processing there, much grain was trans-shipped from the larger upper lake carriers to the small canallers that would take it down the Welland and St. Lawrence canals to Montreal. Maple Leaf Milling Company was later absorbed into the Norris - Leitch group of companies and it became known as Maple Leaf Mills Ltd., being for some years affiliated with the well-known Upper Lakes and St. Lawrence Transportation Company Ltd. of Toronto, now known as Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. Maple Leaf Mills was, just a very few years ago, the principal object of a bitter power struggle within the Norris and Leitch interests.

One of the principals of the Maple Leaf Milling Company (and hence of Port Colborne and St. Lawrence) was Toronto financier Cawthra Mulock. This gentleman was also connected with the National Iron Company Ltd., Toronto, and its affiliated National Steamship Company which, during the period 1913 to 1916, operated the canaller NATIRONCO (C.133741), (a) PIONEER (I)(U.S.150589). This vessel had formerly been owned by the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company, Cleveland, Ohio.

The first vessel actually owned by Port Colborne and St. Lawrence was the steel canaller ALGONQUIN (C.95051) which had been built in 1888 at Yoker, Glasgow, by Napier Shanks and Bell Ltd. She measured 245.0 x 40.1 x 20.6 and her tonnage was 1806 Gross, 1172 Net. She was originally owned by the Canadian Northwest Steamship Company but soon after coming to the lakes she was transferred to the St. Lawrence and Chicago Steam Navigation Company Ltd. of Toronto. The Port Colborne and St. Lawrence Navigation Company Ltd. acquired ALGONQUIN about 1912 and operated her in the grain trade until December 29, 1915 when she was sold to A. B. McKay of Hamilton. She was taken to salt water in 1916 and the following year was transferred to U.S. ownership. She kept her name and was assigned official number U.S.214637. Lost by enemy action off the Scilly Isles, Cornwall, England, on March 12, 1917, ALGONQUIN was the first U.S. flag vessel to fall victim to the enemy in World War I.

Another vessel operated by Port Colborne and St. Lawrence was CATARACT (C.77698). She was a composite package freighter and bulk carrier built in 1882 at Hamilton for Myles and Company of that city. Christened MYLES, she measured 175.0 x 33.6 x 14.6. Tonnage was 957 Gross, 598 Net. During her early years, she was involved in several strandings and collisions which necessitated extensive salvage operations. She was owned in 1904 by Williamson of Hamilton but before 1910 her registered owner was the Myles Transportation Company of Niagara Falls, New York. She was badly damaged by fire at Brockville while fitting out for the season on March 26, 1910, her owner at that time being the Cataract Ice Company of Niagara Falls, Ontario. Her name had been changed to (b) CATARACT in 1906.

By 1914 CATARACT had passed to the Port Colborne and St. Lawrence Navigation Company Ltd. but she did not stay long in their ownership. She was cut down to a barge in 1916 for the Touzin Sand Company Ltd., Montreal. The hull was sold in 1918 to the Montreal Transportation Company Ltd., Montreal, and was rebuilt as a steam-powered bulk carrier by the installation of engines built in 1904 and boilers dating back to 1890. With the rebuild her tonnage became 839 Gross and 451 Net. Along with the rest of the M.T.Co. fleet she passed to Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal, in 1920. About 1927 C.S.L. disposed of her after she was in collision with the steel canaller DONALD STEWART in the St. Lawrence canal system. Ownership passed to the Sorel Sand Company Ltd. and once again she was reduced to a barge. She was later owned by Sorel Harbour Tugs Ltd. as (c) THERESE T. and in 1942 she was registered in the name of John F. Sowards of Kingston. Eventually she was laid away in the boneyard at Kingston beyond the causeway and there her last remains rotted away.

And so, after 1916, Port Colborne and St. Lawrence was left without a vessel to carry Maple Leaf Milling's grain. For the next five years it appears that chartered tonnage was used and until 1920 it seems probable that grain was carried in M.T.Co. bottoms.

Our scene now shifts to the Ecorse yard of the Great Lakes Engineering Works where in 1914 the firm completed its Hull 135, a steel canaller measuring 250.1 x 43.0 x 17.1, Gross 1728, Net 1074. When commissioned, the steamer entered service as INTERNATIONAL (I)(U.S.212420) under the ownership of the Atlantic Coast Steamship Company of New York. This concern seems to have been an outgrowth of the old J. L. Crosthwaite fleet which carried pulpwood from upper lakes ports to the plant of the Niagara Falls Paper Company which was located on the Niagara River about two miles above the Falls. Soon after entering service, INTERNATIONAL (I) was sold in 1915 to the Societe Nationale d'Affretements of Rouen, France. She was transferred to French coastal waters as (b) S.N.A. 1.

Perhaps we should digress at this point and mention that the Ecorse yard of Great Lakes Engineering Works laid down a sister hull of similar dimenions in 1915. Built as Hull 146, she was christened INTERNATIONAL (II) (U.S.213738). Her name was soon changed to (b) CLINCHFIELD but she too ran for only a very short time in the service of the Atlantic Coast Steamship Company. As had her sister before her, she passed to the ownership of the Societe Nationale d'Affretements and she was renamed (c) S.N.A. 3. Her life was short for in 1917 she was lost by enemy action.

To return to the first INTERNATIONAL, she was in service through the war and about 1921 she returned to lake trade under the ownership of the Port Colborne and St. Lawrence Navigation Company Ltd. which had emerged as a vessel owner once again. For her new duties she was given the name (c) BENMAPLE and she was placed in the grain trade, mainly between Port Colborne and the St. Lawrence River ports. She was a frequent caller at Toronto Elevators Ltd. and could often be seen there during the thirties.

BENMAPLE looked like this for the better part of her short life on the lakes when owned by the Port Colborne and St. Lawrence Navigation Co. Ltd.BENMAPLE was quite a good looking canaller, although of the older style. She carried a heavy foremast and sprouting from the deck were two other masts, each equipped with cargo booms. The steamer's hull was painted black and her cabins white, the funnel being black with two narrow white bands surrounding a dark red band.

BENMAPLE served Port Colborne and St. Lawrence well for fifteen years and undoubtedly would have operated for many more had not her career been brought to a premature end in a tragic accident. On September 1st, 1936 BENMAPLE was downbound in the St. Lawrence River below Quebec City. A dense fog hung over the river and visibility was extremely poor. The little canaller was just off Father Point when she was run down by the French liner LAFAYETTE, inbound from an Atlantic crossing. BENMAPLE foundered almost immediately and salvage operations were quite out of the question because of the depth of the water in which she sank.

Thus ended the life of a canal steamer which would have continued to serve Maple Leaf Mills for many years to come. Undoubtedly if she had continued in service she would have become part of the fleet of Upper Lakes and St. Lawrence Transportation Company Ltd. which was then in its formative years and, barring the chance of being lost on salt water during the second war (a fate that befell many canallers), the possibilities are good that she would still have been in the fleet up until the time Upper Lakes began casting off its canallers after the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. But as it was, BENMAPLE was not to last that long and neither was the firm that owned her. Finding itself once again without a vessel, the Port Colborne and St. Lawrence Navigation Company Ltd. was wound up and thereafter the Maple Leaf Milling grain was carried by Upper Lakes and St. Lawrence vessels.

Ship of the Month No. 52

White Star

Some of the lake passenger steamers of the late nineteenth century proved to have extraordinarily long lives, many of them lasting, albeit not in their original condition, well into the second half of the present century. One of these was the famous little steamer WHITE STAR whose active career on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River spanned a period in excess of seventy years.

This is WHITE STAR as she appeared in C.S.L. colours during her last decade as a passenger vessel. Note the beautifully decorated paddleboxes.WHITE STAR (C.103961) was an iron-hulled, beam-engined passenger vessel built in 1897 at Montreal by W. C. White whose shipyard was located on the Lachine Canal above the St. Gabriel Lock. The new steamer was 167.2 feet in length, 25.3 feet in the beam (hull only) and 8.2 feet in depth. We do not have a record of her beam over the guards. Gross tonnage was 451. Her engine came from the Allan Line tug ROCKET which had originally been fitted with two beam engines. In 1892 ROCKET was rebuilt as the passenger steamer BRITANNIC and at that time one of her engines was removed. It was held for five years until its installation in WHITE STAR.

The first owner of WHITE STAR was W. W. Paterson of Oakville, Ontario, who operated the Oakville Navigation Company. Her original route was from Toronto to Oakville and then on to Hamilton. During 1901 she operated under charter to the Pan American Exposition at Buffalo, New York, while her place on Lake Ontario was taken by the former Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company steamer RICHELIEU (C.33476). The fair at Buffalo over, WHITE STAR returned to her original service in 1902.

The date of July 11, 1903 was a bad one for WHITE STAR. She was seriously damaged in a "very suspicious" fire while moored at her dock at the foot of Bay Street in Toronto. Hedley Shaw of Toronto and St. Catharines held a large interest in the ship at the time. While WHITE STAR was insured, it is said that the underwriters refused to settle the claim and the hull was abandoned.

WHITE STAR was later purchased by Charles Mignault of Montreal and the St. Lawrence and Ontario Navigation Company. She was towed to Cornwall, Ontario, and was rebuilt there in 1905 by Oliver Gillespie. She emerged from the reconstruction with revised dimensions of 158.1 x 25.3 x 8.2, her Gross Tonnage being reduced in the process to 308. The rebuilt WHITE STAR was quite a handsome little steamer. Sporting a single tall funnel and mast, she had a long cabin on the promenade deck but, of course, no overnight accommodation as she was a dayboat only. Her paddleboxes were very elaborately decorated and her pilothouse was a masterpiece of Victorian architecture in wood. A six-sided affair with the front corners chopped off, it carried an ornate nameboard not under the windows but rather mounted on the railing above the pilothouse.

In 1908 WHITE STAR was owned by the St. Lawrence Canadian Navigation Company Ltd. of Montreal, of which Alexandre Desmarteaux was the manager. She was placed on the Montreal - Quebec run with IMPERIAL (C.121945) which had earlier served as SOVEREIGN (C.94887), and the two operated in opposition to the long-established service of the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company Ltd. By 1910 WHITE STAR was in service for Desmarteaux's King Edward Park Company, operating from Montreal to King Edward Park which was located on an island a few miles down the St. Lawrence from the city. It is interesting to note that the same firm also operated on this route the former Lake Ontario steamer GARDEN CITY which was purchased in 1918 and ran to the park into the twenties.

In 1915 WHITE STAR was acquired by Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal, in an exchange involving the ferry BOUCHERVILLE (C.90546), (a) HOCHELAGA (I). C.S.L. placed her on the service from Toronto to Lorne Park, Hamilton, and Jordan Harbour. She later operated for C.S.L. between Hamilton and Wabasso Park, a short run across Hamilton Bay.

But once again WHITE STAR fell victim to the scourge of fire which struck while she was in winter quarters at Hamilton on March 1st, 1926. The vessel was virtually destroyed in the conflagration. The burned out hull was purchased in 1927 by Kingston coal dealer and vessel operator John F. Sowards who cut her down and had her registered as a barge of 224 tons for use in the Lake Ontario coal trade. She was finally abandoned in 1940 and her registry was closed, the hull being laid away in the inlet back of the De Wattville Island range lights.

But this was not the end of WHITE STAR. In 1949 her remains were purchased by the Simpson Sand Company Ltd. of Brockville, Ontario. Towed to the Brockville yard of her new owner, she was rebuilt as a stemwinder and was fitted with diesel power in 1950, the intention being to use her as a sandsucker. She was reregistered as (b) S. M. DOUGLAS, her dimensions now officially revised to 160.6 x 25.4 x 8.1. Her new tonnages were listed as 286 Gross, 230 Net. The DOUGLAS served the Simpson firm well for almost two decades and was to become a familiar sight as she went about her new duties in eastern Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River.

S. M. DOUGLAS was sold in 1968 to Black Douglas Contractors Ltd., Ivy Lea, Ontario, and she operated five years under this ownership. She remained idle at Brockville during 1973 and, her 77 years telling on her, was dropped from the Canadian register in 1974. It is reported that the iron hull of the ageing vessel became a breakwater at Kingston during 1975.

And so ended the active life of a small steamer which for many years served the travelling public of the Lake Ontario region. Already cast aside once, she was treated to a new lease on life when well into her second half-century. Her tired bones deserve a bit of rest now.

(Ed. Note: Our thanks to Jim Kidd and to Ivan S. Brookes for their assistance in tracing the early history of this rather elusive steamboat.)

Some Thoughts Ten Years Later

This past Thanksgiving weekend, Ye Ed. enjoyed a few days at Sarnia and Port Huron observing and photographing the ships passing on the St. Clair River. Vessel traffic being rather light in this year of poor business conditions, we had quite a bit of time to pass between ships and it was only natural that our thoughts wandered back to dwell a while on previous Thanksgivings . One in particular came to mind and refused to be pushed aside for other remembrances. Perhaps our readers might like to hear about it.

It was ten years ago (can it really be so long?) that we participated in the kind of Thanksgiving that can never be forgotten. For, you see, it was spent aboard the C.P.R. steamer KEEWATIN and under circumstances that were far from usual for a Thanksgiving holiday. Ye Ed. and your Secretary had driven to the Soo on the Saturday of that weekend in October 1965 specifically to catch KEEWATIN and ride her back to Port McNicoll. We drove up because it was long after the end of the normal passenger season for the ships and the company could not guarantee the usual scheduled meeting of the upbound ASSINIBOIA and the downbound KEEWATIN at the Soo on the Sunday. In fact, the ships did meet that day, but another gentleman (now a member of this society) who rode up on ASSINIBOIA had to disembark in the Canadian Lock, no mean feat when it is considered that he had his car with him!

In any event, there were all of six passengers aboard for the short run of the "KEE" from the Soo to the "Port" and we passed a most memorable day on board. We were all there for one reason only and that was to enjoy our last trip on KEEWATIN. It was only a month earlier that the C.P.R. had announced the abandonment of the service in the face of strict new fire safety regulations introduced by the federal government. These regulations were upheld despite considerable public displeasure over the legislation and arguments that the withdrawal of the various Canadian nightboats would adversely effect tourism for the then-upcoming Expo '67.

Perhaps we could have waited and caught the very last trip of KEEWATIN in late November but somehow Thanksgiving seemed more appropriate. And it was. Knowing that his ship was in her last days, Chief Steward Bill Graham laid out a Thanksgiving meal (on Sunday, since the ship would be in dock on the holiday itself) the like of which we have never seen before or since.

But everything was tinged with an underlying note of sadness as we realized that all the little things we did aboard ship we would never do there again. After so many years, our love affair with the lady KEEWATIN was coming to an end. And the worst moment of the whole time came after we had disembarked at the "Port" and were getting ready to drive back to Toronto. Our waiter from the dining room came up to our sad-faced group and pleaded with us to do something to prevent the retirement of his ship. But miracles were a bit out of our line.

Ten years passing have dulled a bit the poignancy of the moment but we shall never forget either the ship or the unfortunate actions of the wise men in Ottawa who saw fit to bring her active service to an end. Their legislation has not encouraged lake operators to build or purchase passenger vessels which will comply with regulations but has had the opposite effect of making them throw their hands up in the air and forget the whole thing. WORLD DISCOVERER (and STELLA MARIS II before her) is a start, but it is not good enough to convince us that the cruise (or even nightboat) business can ever again have a future on either side of the border. And in ten years the travelling public has forgotten the passenger ships to the point that a whole program of re-education would be necessary to make any such regular service work as anything other than a novelty.

That is, most have forgotten. But we remember...

Late Marine News

The mystery of the destination of GEORGE E. SEEDHOUSE when she left Humberstone on October 23 has been solved. She did not go to Bay City, Michigan, but rather to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, where she is to be used as a floating steel storage warehouse by the Bay Shipbuilding Corp.

During the 1975 navigation season there have been many rumours circulating concerning the plans of Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. for the stemwinder bulk carrier WHEAT KING. The 527-foot motorvessel was formerly the British tanker LLANDAFF, built in 1953 at Glasgow, and was converted to her present form in 1961 by Port Weller Drydocks Ltd. During the coming winter the lower section of the Welland Canal will be drained for maintenance work and during this period WHEAT KING will be incarcerated in the Port Weller drydock where she will be fitted with a new 173.5-foot midbody, a bowthruster, and a variable-pitch propeller. No self-unloader conversion is planned at this time. As a result of her lengthening, WHEAT KING will emerge with a length of almost maximum Seaway proportions and from then on she will be used solely on the lakes. In the past the vessel has made frequent trips to the east coast and has even crossed the Atlantic on occasion.

Recent visitors to the Port Weller drydock have included the cement-carrying canaller DAY PECKINPAUGH and the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker ALEXANDER HENRY, the latter being on the dock as this issue goes to press.

Several members of this Society were aboard TRILLIUM on November 1st to assist in getting the vessel ready for service by cleaning and polishing the engineroom brightwork. We had an opportunity to watch the engine being put through its paces and were very pleased with its performance, as smooth and sure as the day it was built. The departure of the vessel for Toronto has been delayed a bit and she will probably come home during the second week of November. Meanwhile, the Metro Parks Dept. has announced that the charter rate for TRILLIUM when in excursion service will be $250 per hour.

Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.

Scanner, v. 8, n. 2 (November 1975)

Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; The Port Colborne and St. Lawrence Navigation Company Limited; Ship of the Month No. 52; Some Thoughts Ten Years Later; Late Marine News