The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Scanner, v. 8, n. 9 (Mid-Summer 1976)
Scanner (Toronto, ON), Aug 1976

Bascom, John N., Editor
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Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Marine News; Hail To The Trillium; Late Marine News
Date of Publication:
Aug 1976
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Toronto Marine Historical Society
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Friday, October 1st - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Open Slide Night. Members are invited to bring a few slides each to illustrate their summer shipwatching activities.

Friday, November 5th - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Program to be announced.

The Editor's Notebook

Members will note a change in the appearance of this issue. The photos of KEEWATIN and CANADIAN CRUISER which have graced our masthead for the last eight volumes have done stalwart duty, but your Executive Committee felt that it was about time to exchange them for photos more in keeping with the nature of your Society. Accordingly, on the left side you will now find a view of the C.S.L. sidewheeler TORONTO taken by J. H. Bascom, while on the right appears the package freighter CITY OF TORONTO in a photo by the Editor. We hope that you will approve of our selection.

This being the last issue of Volume Eight of the "Scanner", we would like to thank all those who have taken the time to send us news over the past year and to formally acknowledge the receipt of correspondence from many of our members. We hope that we will continue to hear from you, as it is only with your help that we can continue to keep this publication current and of historical interest.

We must also remind our members that MEMBERSHIP FEES ARE NOW DUE AND PAYABLE. In order to keep our costs (and hence your fees) to the minimum, we will not be mailing individual notices, so we would ask that you sit down right now and send a cheque for $10.00 Canadian Funds (or the equivalent in United States Funds bearing in mind the rate of exchange) to our Treasurer, Mr. James M. Kidd, 83 Humberview Road, Toronto, Ontario, M6S 1W9. Your early remittance will be appreciated.

In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to James F. Glynn of Rochester, to Herbert I. Sheridan of Brockville, to Dr. Gordon C. Shaw of Toronto, to S. J. Shaffer of Thunder Bay, to James O. Sprunt of St. Catharines, to Walter Sockovie of Welland, to Walter M. Hirthe of Milwaukee and to Daniel Berube of Rimouski, Quebec.

Marine News

In the last few years, the old familiar steamers have been disappearing from the lakes at an ever-accelerating rate, these veterans being the victims of accident damage, economic conditions, or just plain old age. Perhaps the most surprising retirement of recent times is that of THORNHILL, a 70-year-old bulk carrier owned by Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. THORNHILL was, of course, the former ISHPEMING of the Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company and was built in 1906 at Ecorse by the Great Lakes Engineering Works. The vessel measured 552 feet in length overall and was repowered in 1951. ISHPEMING and her sistership LaSALLE were sold to Upper Lakes in 1966 and at that time were renamed THORNHILL and MEAFORD respectively. They were good vessels for the Upper Lakes fleet, particularly because of their new power and the fact that their small size allowed them to get into some of the smaller docks around the lakes. In fact, just a few years ago, THORNHILL was given extra bulkheads in her holds to make her more suitable for carrying split cargoes to ports such as Goderich.

The date is May 18, 1975 and THORNHILL, a part-cargo to be unloaded, is making her approach to the Sarnia Elevator. Photo by the Editor.But in the last few years, THORNHILL has been involved in a number of accidents. She has grounded on several occasions and last fall was almost lost on Lake Erie when she opened up aft and began to take on water during a severe late-season gale. She and MEAFORD were both fitted out this spring and THORNHILL ran regularly until mid-June. She was last seen in Toronto on June 15th and about 8:20 that evening ye Ed. watched from the west pier of the Eastern Gap as the steamer cleared port and headed for Port Weller. She went on drydock at Port Weller for her regular inspection and survey and it was then found that THORNHILL was in sufficiently bad condition that further operation was not economically feasible. Permission was obtained for the ship to continue to operate through the 1976 season and with this in mind certain repair work was commenced, but the work soon stopped as it was found that she was in even worse condition than was earlier thought. THORNHILL was sold to United Metals for scrap and was patched up sufficiently for her to be sailed under her own power to Strathearne Terminals at Hamilton where she arrived on Dominion Day, July 1st.

Another lake boat to be scrapped at Hamilton is the diminutive tanker RIVERSHELL which had been idle at Toronto since the cessation of her unsuccessful bunkering service at Sarnia. RIVERSHELL spent the early part of the season in her usual winter lay-up position on the west wall of Toronto's turning basin, alongside CAPE and COVE TRANSPORT, but during the second week of June she was towed to Hamilton and is currently resting at Strathearne Terminals where demolition work has begun. Her owner, Johnstone Shipping Ltd., has no ships operational during 1976. Their other ship, CONGAR (II), is presently laid up at Toronto and has been stripped of some of her navigational equipment. It appears that she, also, will soon be dismantled.

This photo by J. H. Bascom shows the now-retired CLARENCE B. RANDALL downbound in the St. Mary's River abreast of Frechette Point. The date is July 29, 1975.With the entry into service of JOSEPH L. BLOCK (she was scheduled to be in operation early in August), Inland Steel has retired its veteran steamer CLARENCE B. RANDALL, most of whose crew has gone over to the new boat. The RANDALL did operate early in the season but went to lay-up quarters at Indiana Harbor in mid-July and, barring serious accident to any of the company's other vessels, it is unlikely that she will see any further service. The RANDALL measures 552 feet overall and was built in 1907 by American Shipbuilding at Lorain. Repowered in 1950, she was bought by Inland in 1962 from the Pioneer Steamship Company (Hutchinson and Company, managers) for whom she had operated as J. J. SULLIVAN.

The U.S. Steel Great Lakes Fleet continues to divest itself of the older steamers of the fleet which were, for so many years, so familiar around the lakes. The latest to go for scrapping are HENRY PHIPPS and WILLIAM J. FILBERT, the former having been inactive since the close of the 1974 season and the latter for a somewhat longer period. Prior to their sale for scrapping, efforts were made by the Escanaba Towing Company to obtain the two ships for use as barges to haul stone from Kelley's Island to Buffalo, but negotiations to this end did not reach fruition and the two steamers will be broken up at Duluth by Hyman Michaels. They were scheduled to be towed around to the scrapping berth in late July. Meanwhile, the fleet is also taking steps to dispose of three more vessels, these being THOMAS F. COLE, ALVA C. DINKEY and PETER A. B. WIDENER. These three are at present being stripped of useful equipment which is to be sent to the warehouse at Sault Ste. Marie, whereupon the ships will be turned over to Hyman Michaels for dismantling.

Scrapping operations are proceeding at Ramey's Bend on the remains of the BoCo self-unloader HENNEPIN. The work is, however, progressing very slowly and only the stern section of the steamer is still in one piece.

Still on the subject of scrappings, readers will recall that the Cleveland Tankers Inc. motorvessel VENUS was at last report languishing in Ashtabula harbour where scrapping operations were in progress. We can report that by the Victoria Day weekend in May, when one of our spies went looking for her, the only evidence left of the ship was a few pieces of steel lying on the dock.

Both ST. LAWRENCE NAVIGATOR and ST. LAWRENCE PROSPECTOR, the stemwinder motorvessels purchased last year by Leitch Transport Ltd., have paid visits to Toronto this year. The PROSPECTOR arrived in Toronto on April 15th and laid up alongside the east wall of the turning basin where she was subsequently sandblasted from stem to stern and repainted in the normal Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. colours. The only difference in the paint scheme is that her funnel, instead of the white diamond, carries the silhouette in black of an elephant, this being the new design adopted for Leitch Transport vessels. The job completed, PROSPECTOR cleared port on Kay 18th. The NAVIGATOR, looking even rustier than had her sister earlier, arrived at Toronto on June 8 and proceeded to lay up in exactly the same spot. She got the same treatment with the exception that her cabins were half-painted a yellow colour, and she left port on June 26.

ST. LAWRENCE NAVIGATOR paid a second visit to Toronto this season, arriving in port on Civic Holiday, August 2nd, and proceeding to the east wall of the turning basin. She arrived from Lorain, Ohio, and was brought here for repairs to her bow. It was noted on her arrival that her bow plating showed evidence of a rather severe collision with something, probably a dock wall. We have heard no official explanation of how the damage occurred.

The Ocean Services Division of Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. is expanding the scope of its operations. The former FORT CHAMBLY is now being operated under the name CHAMBLY (not CHAMBLY ERA as previously reported) between New York and Nigeria carrying automobiles and trucks. In mid-July the small package freighter ESKIMO was placed on the same service, for which she was re-registered in Bermuda. In their new trade, both ships are loading and unloading through their side ports and CHAMBLY, which had previously had her side gangways welded closed for the salt water break-bulk freight service, has now had her ports opened up again. We rather doubt that we will ever again see either CHAMBLY or ESKIMO in lake service.

Meanwhile, C.S.L. has operated the lake package freight service using FORT HENRY, FORT YORK and FORT WILLIAM. The ships appear to have been running with reasonably good loads and we have heard no more nasty rumours about the discontinuation of service.

The wreck of the EDMUND FITZGERALD was located on May 20th by the CURV III submersible which had been flown in by the United States Coast Guard for the occasion. Television film footage taken by the machine and shown to the public on news broadcasts quite clearly showed the name and port of registry on the stern of the sunken hull, leaving no doubt as to its identity. The FITZGERALD is broken into three sections, the bow and midbody being upright but the stern resting upside down amidst a pile of spilled taconite pellets. The fact that the three sections are close together on the bottom would indicate that the ship broke when she hit the bottom and not while she was on the surface, else one or more of the sections would have moved farther away before sinking. This certainly means that the ship did not sink due to normal wave action alone and thus the end for the boat and her crew must have been unspeakably violent and unexpected. The damage to one of the ship's lifeboats, now on display at the Michigan Soo, seems to indicate that it was struck by the FITZGERALD'S propellor as the boat sank and if this is indeed how one end of the lifeboat came to be sliced away, then it is evident that the FITZGERALD'S engines were still running as she made the plunge to the bottom.

The official enquiry is continuing. By the way, readers will recall that shortly after the accident, some public officials were making noises to the effect that the boats from the Soo base of the U.S. Coast Guard should have been rushed to the accident scene immediately. We have learned that this would have been completely impossible as the base is located below the locks which were closed at the time of the accident due to the fact that the force of the storm had caused a rise in the water level in the upper St. Mary's River, a rise that put the water right over the pavement on Portage Avenue!

The first of two tankers under construction at Marine Industries Ltd., Sorel, for Gulf Canada Ltd. was christened GULF GATINEAU on July 10th. She is now painted a bright red colour, not unlike that of the Branch Lines tankers, and should be in service very shortly. The second tanker, which will be named GULF McKENZIE, is scheduled to be delivered in 1977.

The latest ship to be delivered from the Sturgeon Bay yard of Bay Shipbuilding (excluding JOSEPH L. BLOCK which was still in the yard at the time of this writing) is ST. CLAIR, a 770-foot self-unloading box built to the order of Boland and Cornelius. She is undoubtedly a most efficient carrier but we must say that she is the ugliest laker yet produced. She carries no raised forecastle at all and about the only curved surface observable is the fully-rounded bow. The stern is completely square and there is no sheer at all. The cabin aft is even squarer and less "shapely" than than that of CHARLES E. WILSON or H. LEE WHITE. ST. CLAIR entered service during May.

The Bay Shipbuilding Company, despite the ugliness of its products, is managing to attract enough orders for its Sturgeon Bay yard to remain busy for many years to come. The yard has received an order for another 630-foot self-unloader for the American Steamship Company, the vessel to be similar to SAM LAUD which entered service in 1975. This order is in addition to many other orders which are already on the yard's books for delivery during the next few years. The BoCo vessel will be constructed as Bay Shipbuilding Hull 721.

BoCo, meanwhile, seems to be having hard luck with its new self-unloaders, and with the little SAM LAUD in particular. Shortly after entering service last summer, the LAUD was involved in a serious grounding and spent much of the year in the Sturgeon Bay shipyard. Early in July of this year, she was involved in another grounding incident and by July 11 she was reposing in the shipyard at Lorain where she was due to undergo repairs allegedly costing about $1,000,000. Meanwhile, BoCo's H. LEE WHITE hit the dock at the Algoma Steel plant at Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, on July 10 and was sent to Sturgeon Bay for repairs.

One major renaming has recently been announced, and that by the American Steamship Company which has long been known for its propensity to shift names around its various boats. This case, however, is different, for it involves only one change. The 1917-built motorvessel DIAMOND ALKALI has been given the name BUFFALO in honour of the line's home port.

It appears now that all of the vessels of the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company Ltd. have received their new stack design and that gone forever is that horrible combination of green, white and blue which turned so many stomachs during 1975. All of the company's boats now have black funnels with two narrow blue bands between which is a wide white band. On the white band appears in blue the misshapen excuse for a spruce tree which is supposed to represent the operations of the parent Ontario Paper Company.

We are still hearing reports to the effect that a Canadian vessel operator has been looking at IRVIN L. CLYMER, the idle "Bradley" self-unloader, with a view to restoring her to service. There seems to be some question as to whether her condition warrants the expenditure required to purchase her and complete the repairs necessary to put her in fit condition for operation.

The former Chesapeake and Ohio railroad carferry PERE MARQUETTE 21 which, cut down to a barge, has been lying at Sorel, has now been renamed (b) ESGRAN and has had her registry changed from Chicago to Panama, R.P. It is not known to what use the rather sad-looking hull will now be put.

Another vessel currently lying at Sorel is the former St. Lawrence River ferry LOUIS JOLLIET which was in late spring towed from her resting place at Louiseville, Quebec, to the Marine Industries shipyard. As yet, our spies have been unable to determine the reason for this move although it does not appear that scrapping is the motive for the shift.

Lake Ontario's newest cruise ship, CAYUGA II, arrived in Toronto on June 10th, her arrival from Summerstown being delayed somewhat from earlier plans. The ship was christened at Toronto on June 14 and that day a special trip out into the lake was run for the benefit of invited guests. CAYUGA II was put in regular service on June 16, making two trips a day between Toronto and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Fare for the trip was set at $9.00. But the ship has encountered numerous problems, not the least of which is a noticeable lack of patronage. Perhaps people realized from looking at the boat that she was never really designed for service on the open waters of the lake where very rough conditions can be encountered. In addition, the boat has also suffered embarrassing engine problems and on only her third day of regular service sustained damage in a late-evening collision with the Niagara-on-the-Lake dock, an accident which caused injury to several passengers. In mid-July, a lack of customers forced the company to cut back to one sailing each way per day and in an effort to lure passengers to the boat the operators instituted evening moonlight trips around Toronto harbour. By the beginning of August, Niagara service was discontinued altogether and four sightseeing trips in Toronto Bay were operated daily. It remains to be seen whether the ship will operate through to the end of the summer season as the passengers are staying away in droves from the harbour tours.

Yet another passenger boat has been added to the fleet carrying passengers through the waters below Niagara Falls. The newest addition to the Maid of the Mist Steamboat Company Ltd. was christened (predictably) MAID OF THE MIST IV. She was launched early in June at Wheatley, Ontario, and entered service on the first weekend in June. She is much similar in appearance to the other boats of the famous line.

The camera of Bill Bruce caught BROOKDALE (II) moored alongside the hull of CHEMBARGE 2 and unloading sand in the North Slip at Point Edward on May 24, 1976.Both of the new units of the Reoch fleet are now in service. BROOKDALE (II), the former FRED A. MANSKE, entered service around the beginning of May and introduced to the fleet a new funnel marking, a white letter 'D' instead of the 'R' previously used by Reoch vessels. The 'D' reportedly stands for "dale" as in the fleet's name suffix and the change would, we imagine, be a move away from the former Reoch name and influence now that management of the line has changed considerably. All fleet units will have the new stack design shortly.

Meanwhile, the other new steamer, W. F. WHITE, was somewhat belatedly towed down the Welland Canal on Monday, May 10, arriving at Toronto the following day. Her trip down the lakes from Duluth had been delayed by inclement weather. The tugs accompanying the vessel were JOHN McLEAN, GEORGIA and OKLAHOMA. Once in Toronto, Herb Fraser and Associates commenced the job of converting the vessel to burn oil fuel and the WHITE had to be refitted at considerable length as much of her navigational equipment had been stripped out in preparation for her anticipated scrapping at Duluth. She was completely painted in Reoch colours (with the 'D') and her new name of ERINDALE was painted on her hull. A surprise move was the removal of the cowl part way up the funnel, an experiment with which the Pittsburgh Steamship Company had dabbled some years ago but which apparently was not as successful as might have been hoped in increasing funnel draft. ERINDALE cleared Toronto on June 30th and later was put on the drydock at Port Weller for inspection and survey as well as for certain repairs which were necessary. The ship experienced some engine problems shortly after entering service but these have since been cured and ERINDALE is now operating regularly on the Lake Ontario stone run.

In our last issue we speculated upon the possibility that Reoch might have traded AVONDALE for W. F. WHITE, with the former heading up the lakes to Duluth to take the place of the latter in the scrapping line at the Hyman Michaels yard. It now appears, however, that our speculation did not hit the mark. AVONDALE was sold late in April to Marine Salvage Ltd. for scrapping and, although she was pumped out (readers will recall that she had settled by the bow and had taken on a very severe list during the spring), she remains on the west side of the old canal between Humberstone and Dain City, just astern of PETER ROBERTSON. It is not known at present whether she will be scrapped at Ramey's Bend or whether she will be sent overseas.

Elsewhere in this issue, readers will find a detailed report of the entry into service of the rebuilt sidewheel ferry TRILLIUM. But TRILLIUM's near-sister BLUEBELL of 1906 has also been in the news recently. Cut down to a barge twenty years ago and having spent most of the intervening time languishing in Lighthouse Pond on Toronto Island, it had been rumoured last year that BLUEBELL would be used as a breakwater at the Bluffer's Park project now taking shape at the foot of the Scarborough Bluffs east of the city. Then earlier this year the story was making the rounds that BLUEBELL was to be used as a breakwater in the Ashbridge's Bay area. Now we understand that the current owners of the vessel, the Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, have been approached by the Harbour City Yacht Club which would like to lease the hull for at least five years, the idea being to place BLUEBELL at the Humber Bay landfill site and build upon her clubhouse and lounge facilities for the use of members of the new club. The project stands a good chance of being approved by the Authority but, in the meantime, BLUEBELL is resting in the future Aquatic Park area just inside the tip of the eastern headland. On a recent TRILLIUM charter by local and out-of-town ship fans (the S.S.H.S.A. meeting), the vessel went out the Eastern Gap and passengers were given a chance to see BLUEBELL in her present state of decrepitude. We overheard many remarks about how nice it would be to have BLUEBELL back in service as well. Now, if only there were some engines in her as a start.......

The steam ferry LAVIOLETTE, whose exploits we have been following for many months now as she wends her way into the lakes from the American east coast, has actually made it to the waters of Lake Ontario. Readers will recall that the steamer spent the winter at Sorel. She left the latter port on May l4th in tow of the Hamilton tugs ARGUE MARTIN and LAC MANITOBA. She was brought to Hamilton where, we understand, efforts will be made to ready her for lake excursion service. Needless to say, she looks somewhat down-at-the-heels at the moment and much work will be necessary to get her fit for operation. We will watch with interest to see whether she is finally taken to Sarnia for service as originally planned or whether she will remain on Lake Ontario.

Many of the U.S. vessels sailing the lakes are carrying new colours this year. A number of major American operators have decided to honour the American Bicentennial by painting patriotic designs on their ships and the result has been a photographer's paradise. Notable amongst such operators is U.S. Steel which has put red, white and blue stripes on the bows of all its boats. Most of the line's units also carry assorted blue and red stars on the forecastle and on the pilothouse dodger while some have other designs such as flags, dates and Bicentennial messages on pilothouses, after cabin rails and hatch cranes. One vessel, ARTHUR M. ANDERSON, has a ring of blue stars around the funnel while ENDERS M. VOORHEES and HOMER D. WILLIAMS both carry crossed flags on their stacks. Vessels of other lines also have assorted stars, stripes, flags, eagles and Bicentennial dates on them. Amongst the most impressively decorated are MEDUSA CHALLENGER, WILLIS B. BOYER (with decorations on all levels of her triple-deck bridge structure) and JOHNSTOWN (with, in addition to assorted stars, etc., the portraits of three famous presidents on each side of the texas cabin). Inland Steel's WILFRED SYKES and EDWARD L. RYERSON are also well decorated as is Hanna's ERNEST T. WEIR.

U.S. Steel's self-unloader JOHN G. MUNSON has gone back into service this year following her lengthening, Fraser Shipyards having done their usual excellent job. For a while it had been thought that the ship would be painted red when she was recommissioned but this is not the case. She still has the grey hull typical of the "Bradley" boats.

There is no salt-water cruise service into the Great Lakes this year. Midwest Cruises Inc. of Indianapolis was unable to secure the services of LOWELL THOMAS EXPLORER as she was trapped in Finnish waters by a seamen's strike. However, Midwest announced late in June that the firm was in the process of acquiring another vessel of approximately 3,000 tons, the idea being that the ship would be brought to the lakes late in 1976 and refurbished over the winter at a lake shipyard. She would enter service in May with a series of cruises from Montreal to Windsor and way ports, these trips to be run in May, June and October. In July and August she would make several trips from Montreal to Lake Superior and during July, August and September her regular route would be from Montreal to Windsor with a sidetrip up the Saguenay River. September and October would see a series of Saguenay trips with service as far east as St. Pierre and Miquelon. Midwest has not yet given a hint as to the identity of the boat to be used during 1977 but it is to be assumed that it will not be LOWELL THOMAS EXPLORER.

IMPERIAL LONDON has spent the 1976 season lying at the company's wharf in Sarnia and it appears evident that Imperial Oil has not reconsidered its decision to retire the tanker from active service. Meanwhile, IMPERIAL SARNIA and IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD have been taking care of the company's lake shipping needs without assistance from the fleet's salt water ships. We have heard reports that IMPERIAL LONDON has already been sold for scrapping but these reports are as yet unconfirmed.

A number of Canadian operators have sent their ships into the Arctic this summer, most of the trips having been made by small coastal carriers. But Branch Lines Ltd. have sent EDOUARD SIMARD, JOS. SIMARD, LEON SIMARD, LUDGER SIMARD and MAPLEBRANCH northwards with cargoes of diesel fuel, while Halco's FROBISHER TRANSPORT has travelled to Barrow Strait, west of Lancaster Sound, with a cargo of icebreaker fuel.

Canadian National Railways has cut down to a barge its steam carferry SCOTIA II which has been held in reserve for a number of years at Sarnia. The work, done at the old C.S.L. dock in Point Edward and at Sarnia's Government Dock, will allow the vessel to be pushed by either MARGARET YORKE or PHYLLIS YORKE. She will carry oversize railway cars as currently does ST. CLAIR. The SCOTIA II never operated at Sarnia under her own power and only on very few occasions did she operate at her previous station on the Windsor to Detroit carferry route. The sawmill-stacked vessel was the last self-propelled river carferry left on the lakes prior to her conversion.

Another vessel has been added to the fleet of Leitch Transport Ltd. The company has purchased the turbine-powered bulk carrier ORE TRANSPORT from Universe Tank Ships Inc. of New York for a figure of "something less than five million dollars". ORE TRANSPORT was built in Japan in 1954 and was registered at 70,792 tons deadweight. She has been renamed CANADIAN TRANSPORT by her new owner and will be used chiefly to carry ilmenite ore from Havre St. Pierre to Sorel and iron ore from Pointe Noire and Sept Iles to Contrecoeur and Sydney. CANADIAN TRANSPORT is, of course, too large to transit the St. Lawrence canals and we will not see her in the lakes.

When the Hall Corporation's motorship NORTHCLIFFE HALL was sold off the lakes a few years ago, very few observers would have thought that she would ever return to Canadian waters. But that is exactly what has happened. The vessel was renamed NORTHCLIFFE and has since become TRANSCARIBE for the Tara Corp. of Nassau, but in June she was bought by the Group Desgagnes Inc. of Pointe-au-Pic, Quebec, an operator of small coastal vessels, some of which have seen service into the lakes. Desgagnes has had TRANSCARIBE refitted at Houston and about $200,000 was spent to put the ship into condition for service on the east coast and Gulf of St. Lawrence as well as up to Arctic regions. There also seems to be the possibility that the ship may eventually see service on the new route between Oshawa and Newfoundland in which the Desgagnes organization is participating. NORTHCLIFFE HALL was built in 1951 at Montreal as a canaller and was originally named FRANKCLIFFE HALL (I). She was subsequently lengthened after the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The Huron Cement Division, National Gypsum Company, fitted out all of its vessels this spring with the exception of the coal-fired steamer LEWIS G. HARRIMAN. The HARRIMAN wintered at Green Bay, Wisconsin, and during June was towed by Selvick tugs to Superior where she is presently serving as a cement storage hull in much the same manner as did SAMUEL MITCHELL for a number of years. It seems unlikely that HARRIMAN will see further operation as a self-propelled unit.

The Kinsman steamer MERLE M. McCURDY has been placed back in service and her reactivation brings to nine the number of vessels which Kinsman now has in service. It was not thought that McCURDY would see any service this year but she was fitted out late in July.

William W. Stender, a Bay City, Michigan, contractor, has sold his 1949-built diesel tug WILLIAM W. STENDER to the Hannah Inland Waterways Corporation of Lemont, Illinois. We presume that the tug will be renamed but have received no word as to what her new name might be.

THOMAS F. PATTON, which did not operate during 1975 or the spring of 1976, was reactivated by the Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company in July to replace WALTER A. STERLING which went to Lorain for lengthening during the early summer. Cliffs, meanwhile, has returned to service EDWARD B. GREENE which received a new midbody during June. The GREENE encountered problems on her first trip when she suffered a crack in her hull aft, but she was returned to the shipyard where the damage was repaired and she has since re-entered service. The GREENE's new length overall is 767 feet.

Earlier this year we noted in these pages that Pickands Mather and Company was closing its DeTour coal bunkering dock, long a stopping place for vessels transitting the St. Mary's River. Early in the summer, P.M. dispatched its self-unloader HERBERT C. JACKSON to the DeTour dock and much of the coal remaining at the facility was loaded aboard the ship for delivery upriver to the Lime Island bunkering dock which continues to operate. U.S. Steel boats also used the DeTour dock and that company sent its self-unloader GEORGE A. SLOAN to DeTour to remove the remaining coal which was delivered to Rogers City.

The Gaelic Tug Boat Company of Grosse Ile, Michigan, purchased in 1975 the steam tug WM. A. WHITNEY which had lain idle at Duluth for many years. The steam machinery was removed from the tug in preparation for a conversion to diesel power but it appears that this conversion will not be completed, at least not by her present owners. In an effort to make the tug's hull sound, the company had proposed the welding of the WHITNEY's riveted seams but this process was forbidden by the American Bureau of Shipping and accordingly Gaelic has let it be known that the tug is for sale on an "as is, where is" basis.

Observers who have seen the Litton tug-barge combination PRESQUE ISLE during the summer months will have noticed that she now sports a rather strange shield mounted over the forecastle rail. Looking somewhat like the side of an umbrella protruding out over the rail, the shield was installed during an early-summer drydocking at Lorain in order to keep large quantities of ice from forming on the vessel's bow. Incidentally, when the vessel was put on the dock, it was found necessary to remove the tug from the stern of the barge so that certain repairs could be done. This was the first time that such a separation had been made since the vessel entered service. In order to clear up a popular misconception about this vessel, we might mention that in no way is PRESQUE ISLE chartered to United States Steel. Instead, she is simply on a five-year contract to carry U.S.S. ore. Operation of the ship is handled by Litton Industries direct.

Clarke Transportation Ltd. has called for tenders for the construction of a 10,000-ton vessel to carry containers and ro-ro cargo for Clarke's subsidiary Newfoundland Steamships Ltd. which operates a service from Montreal to St. John's and Corner Brook. The new vessel is to be equipped with an angled stern ramp to facilitate the movement of cargo without the aid of shore-mounted apparatus. The letting of the contract is conditional upon the completion of negotiations with the federal government for an increase in operating subsidies, but it is hoped that the new ship can be ready by the end of 1977 at which time Clarke's charter of the C.S.L. package freighter FORT ST. LOUIS will be at an end.

After almost four years of idleness at the Government Dock at Sarnia, the canal motortanker INLAND TRANSPORT has been towed to Port Dover by her present owner, Harry Gamble. The veteran tanker, which was retired at the end of the 1972 season as a result of a grounding which led to the weeping of oil through her seams, was towed from Sarnia on July 4th by the McQueen tug ATOMIC. It is not clear to what purpose INLAND TRANSPORT will be put, but it hardly seems as though she is fit for anything but scrapping. She was thoroughly vandalized while at Sarnia and is a sorry sight indeed.

The former Hanna steamer NATIONAL TRADER, which earlier was sold to Western Metals of Thunder Bay for scrapping, was towed up through the Soo Canal on July 10 en route to Thunder Bay from South Chicago. The tow was handled by the McLean tug WILFRED M. COHEN and this was her first job, having only recently emerged from her conversion for lake service. (The COHEN was originally a steam tug and served for many years on the east coast as A. T. LOWMASTER.) Problems with the tow developed in the St. Mary's River and tug and barge went to anchor for several days at the upper end of Lake Nicolet in the vicinity of Nine Mile Point. We might still hope that one of the lake vessel operators seeking additional tonnage might purchase NATIONAL TRADER for operation and save her from the wrecker's torch.

Two serious oil spills have occurred this season, one on the St. Lawrence River and one just outside Cleveland harbour. The Cleveland spill occurred on May 19 as the Gaelic Tug Boat Company's tug KINSALE and oil barge E-l7 were approaching the entrance to the Cuyahoga River. The tug began to shorten the towline when the line fouled KINSALE's propellor. KINSALE had to be aided by a nearby G-tug but before aid could be sent to the helpless barge, it drifted onto the rocky breakwater and holed itself. A good deal of oil seeped from the damaged tank and considerable damage was done to the shoreline by the No. 6 bunker oil as it came ashore.

The second accident occurred on June 23 when the barge NEPCO 140, in tow of the tug EILEEN C. and bound from Montreal to Oswego, struck a shoal just off Wellesley Island in the upper St. Lawrence above Alexandria Bay. The barge, owned by the New England Petroleum Company, was seriously holed and before precautions could be taken, a large quantity of oil had escaped, fouling shorelines for many miles downriver. Massive cleanup operations were put into effect as soon as possible, resulting in an interruption of vessel traffic in the area. It was feared that much damage had been done to local resort and wildlife areas.

The Interlake Steamship Company's 1000-foot self-unloading stemwinder JAMES R. BARKER is now in service. The vessel, built by the American Shipbuilding Company at Lorain, is typical of the modern lake bulk carrier, but her appearance is rather less objectionable than might have been expected. BARKER carries all cabins aft and her unloading boom is hinged just forward of the bridge. She has a square stern and rounded bow but an unusual feature is the outward and upward curve of the side plating around the forecastle. The ship set a new Great Lakes cargo record on her very first trip, clearing Taconite Harbor at 1:30 a.m. August 11th with 58,293 gross tons of pellets at a mean draft of 27'6 1/2". It is expected that the BARKER will be able to do even better as she becomes broken in to her duties.

Contrary to rumours which have been making the rounds recently, the second Interlake Steamship Company self-unloader which will follow JAMES R. BARKER from AmShip's Lorain yard will not be transferred to the Great Lakes Fleet of the United States Steel Corporation. Instead, AmShip will build another hull for U.S. Steel, presumably to follow the vessel which will be built for Hanna following completion of the second Interlake carrier.

Hail To The Trillium

It has finally happened! After two long decades, the steam sidewheel ferry TRILLIUM has returned to active service on the waters of Toronto Bay, bringing joy to the hearts of those who had watched her deteriorate into a rotting, sunken mess in the backwaters of Lighthouse Pond behind Gibraltar Point on Toronto Island.

The newly-restored Toronto Island ferry TRILLIUM is seen departing the dock at Hanlan's Point in this June 6, 1976 photo by the Editor.TRILLIUM, of course, was built in 1910 by Polson Iron Works at Toronto for the Toronto Ferry Company Ltd., the concern which at that time operated the ferry services to the Toronto Islands under the management of Lawrence Solman. Built, along with BLUEBELL of 1906, to service the amusement park at Hanlan's Point, TRILLIUM operated for the Toronto Ferry Company through 1926, at which time the vessels were sold to the City of Toronto. Operations were taken over in 1927 by the Toronto Transportation Commission and it was for this authority and its successor, the Toronto Transit Commission, that TRILLIUM operated until laid up at the close of the 1956 summer season.

The steamer was then sold to the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto and it was intended that she be cut down for use in hauling to the Islands the fill which was to be used in the raising of the level of the islands as the then-existing residences were razed and the land converted to full use as parkland. BLUEBELL, retired in 1954 and stripped during the winter of 1955-56, had already been so converted but was not much of a success at her new vocation. She sank on several occasions and finally was laid to rest in Lighthouse Pond. The Metro Works Department had TRILLIUM towed to the pond as well in 1957 and somehow, despite announcements in the news regarding her future "use" as a scow and who-knows-what-else over the years, she escaped such degradation. Over the next sixteen years she mouldered quietly away, stripped of all her valuable fittings. Trees fell on her and knocked away parts of her superstructure and what was not damaged in this manner simply rotted and collapsed of its own accord. From time to time, suggestions were made that TRILLIUM be returned to service and two superficial examinations of the ship were done, but nothing constructive resulted.

Finally, after much pressure from the Toronto Historical Board and a number of private individuals, Metro Toronto agreed in 1973 to study the possibility of refitting the ship. Preliminary studies indicated that the job was not beyond the realm of possibility and the cost would be far less than that of building a new ferry. On November 13. 1973, the Metro Council approved the expenditure of $950,000 to reactivate the vessel and on December 7, 1973 she was towed from her longtime resting place in Lighthouse Pond to the Metro Marine yard at the foot of Rees Street, just east of Toronto Elevators. Further inspection work was done through the following winter.

In May of 1974 TRILLIUM was towed to the Whitby yard of McNamara Marine where she was put on drydock and all necessary hull reconditioning was done. Surprisingly enough, the steel hull was in very good shape considering the fact that it was 64 years old. At the same time, the rotten wooden superstructure was stripped away, but not before a complete record was made so that parts removed could be duplicated when the ship was rebuilt.

TRILLIUM came back from Whitby with only funnel, paddleboxes and deck stanchions remaining above the main deck. She lingered only a short time in port and was then towed up the Welland Canal to Humberstone where the job of reconstruction was to be undertaken by Herb Fraser and Associates. The hull was placed in the old E. B. Magee drydock in Ramey's Bend and there over the winter of 1974-75 the ship's engines and other innards were cleaned and reconditioned.

In the spring of 1975, work began on the erection of the new aluminum superstructure. A new oil-fired boiler was installed after having been shipped all the way from England. And finally the ship began to look once again like a real, honest-to-goodness steamboat. But as the work progressed, it became apparent that she was not going to look at all the way she did when she came to the end of her earlier operational career under the control of the T.T.C. This latter organization had systematically butchered her over the years as her original woodwork had been in need of replacement. About 1940 they had completely redone her main deck cabin, eliminating the upper window sections and removing the side gangways. The officers' daycabins behind the pilothouses were also removed.

When TRILLIUM was rebuilt in 1975, she was returned as closely as possible to the way she was when completed in 1910, thanks to her original plans which were still available. Government restrictions on the amount of wood that could be used in the rebuilding caused certain alterations from the original design as did current safety requirements, but most of these problems were overcome with no undue effects upon the appearance of the ship.

For instance, radar scanners are mounted on hinged posts and when not required are hidden away inside the roofless daycabins behind each pilothouse. The reconstruction was supervised by marine engineer Gordon Champion, a member of this Society, and to him should go a great deal of credit for the success of the project. Credit should also go to the Toronto Historical Board, and in particular to Alan Howard, for making sure that the rebuilding would return the ship as closely as possible to her original condition.

On the evening of November 6, 1975, TRILLIUM departed Ramey's Bend in tow of the tugs G. W. ROGERS and BAGOTVILLE. In command of TRILLIUM for the trip to Toronto was T.M.H.S. member Capt. Charles Colenutt. TRILLIUM arrived in Toronto the following day without fanfare of any kind, although a few historians and reporters did make it to the Western Gap to see the arrival.

Over the winter, final bits of work were completed and by May of this year the boat was ready to enter service. Unfortunately, municipal budget cutbacks meant that planned daytime harbour cruises had to be abandoned, but after correction of a few problems encountered in trials on the bay in mid-May, the ship was placed in regular charter-party service on the evening of May 19th. Since then, she has been available for charter Tuesdays through Saturdays and on Sundays she normally runs the normal ferry service to Hanlan's Point. The problem is that, with the exception of those at Hanlan's, all docks now in use on the Islands were built since the retirement of TRILLIUM in 1956. At Ward's Island she could side-load, although she could not fit the slip itself, but there is no way that she could dock at the present Centre Island wharf at all. Even at Hanlan's she has a clearance of only about eighteen inches on each side when she is in the north slip.

Plans are underway to rebuild certain island dock facilities to fit TRILLIUM but with current economic conditions we can see that such improvements will not be available in the near future. As far as facilities at the city docks are concerned, she normally docks along the west side of the Yonge Street slip and side-loads, although a new dock has been made for her in the wide slip normally used by the carferry ONGIARA.

Official dedication ceremonies for TRILLIUM were planned for June 18 but had to be rescheduled for June 29. At four o'clock in the afternoon of that day, members of the Metro Council together with persons influential in the rebuilding of the ship and a number of invited guests met on board the ship and watched as the former Miss Phyllis Osler, who christened the ship in 1910, participated in ceremonies to commemorate TRILLIUM's re-entry into service. Then, as the bubbly poured freely, those present enjoyed a special trip across the bay, up Blockhouse Bay to Long Pond at Hanlan's Point (to a spot not far from where TRILLIUM rested for so many years) and then out into the lake towards Ontario Place. Ceremonies continued into the evening as a similar trip was staged by supervising engineer Gordon Champion.

And now TRILLIUM is in service. As ye Ed. is composing this article on Dominion Day, July 1st, he can see TRILLIUM out on the Bay, crossing to Hanlan's Point. He can hear the roar of her steam 'scapes and the shriek of her as-yet-untuned whistle and it is almost as if the clock had been turned back to that hot day in August 1956 when he made his last trip on TRILLIUM in her last week of service.

On behalf of the Toronto Marine Historical Society, we send our very best wishes to TRILLIUM and to her master, Capt. Richard Farley, a member of this Society. We hope that TRILLIUM (not so much a restoration as a replica of her original self) will have a long and safe career on the waters of Toronto Bay and that as many of the people of this city as possible will be able to ride aboard her to recreate the days when a ride on a paddle ferry was an everyday occurrence and not the experience of special occasions.

Ship of the Month No. 59


Most of the ships which we have featured in these pages over the past few years have been ships which were particularly famous for one reason or another. They may have been of an unusual design, or have participated in some history-making event, or perhaps even have done nothing more remarkable than to serve one particular route for such a long period of time that they became institutions to local observers. But this month's feature ship did nothing such as that. In fact, she was a particularly nondescript wooden bulk carrier and probably only the most avid and exacting Great Lakes marine historians have ever heard of her. But SARNOR, even if not famous in her own right, was involved in one of the most interesting and unbelievable legal hassles ever to occur on the lakes. Read on and you'll see what we mean.

This is SARNOR as she appeared in drydock at Buffalo on June 1st, 1917, a scant two months before the eruption of the legal battle over her ownership.SARNOR began life back in 1888 when she was built at West Bay City, Michigan, by the well-known shipbuilder James Davidson. Christened BRITANNIC and given official number U.S. 3400, she measured 219.2 feet in length, 36.2 feet in the beam and 17.0 feet in depth. Her Gross Tonnage was recorded as 1,121. For the first few years of her career, BRITANNIC was operated by Captain Davidson in his own fleet, an operation which was, over the years, to include some of the largest and most famous wooden freight steamers ever built on the lakes.

This part of BRITANNIC's career was, however, to come to an end after only six years. According to the History of the Great Lakes published in 1899 by J. H. Beers and Company, Chicago, BRITANNIC was wrecked in 1894 on Lake Michigan. This was not the end of the steamer, however, for she was salvaged and in 1896 was rebuilt at Marine City, Michigan, the vessel having been acquired by Henry McMorran of Port Huron. The reconstruction finished, she emerged with a length of 227.6 feet, a beam of 36.0 feet and a depth of 21.3 feet. Her new tonnage was registered as 1,319 Gross and 1,152 Net.

McMorran operated BRITANNIC for a good few years, primarily in the lumber trade, but in 1912 she was acquired by H. M. Morris of Cleveland and Montreal. Officially owned by the Lake Erie and Quebec Transportation Company, Ltd., Montreal, she was transferred to Canadian registry (C.133828) and was renamed (b) SARNOR. Not much is known about the Lake Erie and Quebec operations but it seems reasonable to assume that SARNOR was used mainly in the lower lakes and St. Lawrence River coal trade. The service, however, does not seem to have been successful and by 1916 SARNOR was out of service and up for sale. Her story for the next decade is one of the strangest we have ever heard and we base our narrative on details as reported in a 1926 issue of Canadian Engineering and Marine World.

SARNOR was bought at auction by A. B. MacKay of Hamilton on April 1, 1916 for the princely sum of $6,700 and was placed in service under the command of Captain F. R. Johnson. While MacKay actually owned SARNOR, he had her registered in Capt. Johnson's name, an agreement having been drawn up as to how the vessel's earnings were to be divided. Percy Bonham, who was connected with Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., was also a party to this agreement.

Although Capt. Johnson was SARNOR's first master under MacKay's ownership, he was later replaced by Capt. J. P. McLeod who was in command of the ship when she went into drydock at Ogdensburg for repairs in August 1917. At that time Capt. Johnson and Percy Bonham claimed to be equitable owners of 60% of the value of the ship. Johnson and Bonham had certain negotiations with Capt. J. W. Norcross who was Vice-President and Managing Director of Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., and a short time thereafter Norcross managed to obtain a duplicate register for SARNOR. He proceeded to take possession of the vessel on October 23, 1917. A. B. MacKay then obtained an injunction to hold up this somewhat strange transaction and it was served at Cornwall on October 27, 1917.

Meanwhile Norcross, who, strangely enough, was also director of wartime ship construction for the Canadian government, managed to obtain the release of SARNOR on the grounds that there was a shortage of coal at Montreal and that SARNOR's coal cargo was badly needed. The vessel sailed for Montreal and when she arrived there, Canada Steamship Lines arranged to have certain repairs done. The MacKay - Johnson - Bonham litigation continued but meanwhile C.S.L. succeeded in having the vessel requisitioned by the Canadian government under wartime legislation. C.S.L. then chartered the ship back for a period of ten years! The two hats of Capt. Norcross were indeed coming in very handy as far as Canada Steamship Lines was concerned and it seems that those who might have been in a position to do something about this most irregular situation were willing to turn a blind eye on what was obviously a case of conflict of interest.

It should also be borne in mind that during this period Capt. Frederick R. Johnson of Port Colborne was still shown as the registered owner of the ship and the actual owner, A. B. MacKay, could do nothing but sit back and watch all the hanky-panky taking place while his legal action had still not been heard in court.

SARNOR continued to run for Canada Steamship Lines until the early twenties. During 1923 and 1924, lake shipping was in a rather severe slump and many of the older wooden vessels were laid up, their places being taken anyway by new steel canallers being built in Canadian and British yards. SARNOR was one of the steamers which was no longer needed by C.S.L. and as such she was laid up at Kingston where she proceeded to settle to the bottom of the harbour.

The most amazing part of the whole story is that in 1924, when SARNOR was lying in a sunken condition at Kingston, Canada Steamship Lines had the colossal nerve to tender her back to MacKay. The latter gentleman, of course, was not impressed with this magnanimous action on the part of the shipping giant as he still considered himself to be the rightful owner of the vessel during the time that C.S.L. had usurped her services.

MacKay continued with his litigation and in February 1926 it was reported that Mr. Justice Latchford of the Ontario Supreme Court ruled to the effect that MacKay was the actual owner of the ship. The judgment given MacKay included an award of $15,000 in damages. This may have been a great moral victory for MacKay, but meanwhile the poor old SARNOR, in her lay-up below the LaSalle Causeway in Kingston, was in a sorry state. To make matters worse, she was badly damaged by fire on March 15th, 1926.

The damaged hull was towed around to Portsmouth Bay and was laid to rest in the boneyard along with several other worn-out wooden hulls. And there she was to lie for ten long and quiet years. In 1936, the Portsmouth boneyard, by then a notable Kingston eyesore, was cleaned up and the various hulls were cofferdammed and raised, the majority of them having lost their upperworks to a combination of rot and fire. SARNOR was dug up out of the mud and, once raised, the tired old hull was towed out into Lake Ontario where it was scuttled in deep water.

Perhaps SARNOR should have been restored as a monument to the effort expended by her rightful owner in his battle to protect his investment in the ship from those who converted her to their own purposes.

Late Marine News

-- The Michigan Highway Commission on August 3rd signed a contract with Straits Car Ferry Service Corp. that will give the firm $430,000 in state money with which to operate CHIEF WAWATAM for the next eight months.

-- On August 1 the tug WILFRED M. COHEN lost her 300-foot barge in Lake Huron off Alpena, Michigan. The barge was carrying a cargo of steel.

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Scanner, v. 8, n. 9 (Mid-Summer 1976)

Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Marine News; Hail To The Trillium; Late Marine News