Friday, December 3rd - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. A special program on
the restoration of TRILLIUM will be presented by Gordon Champion, supervising engineer for the
Friday, January 7th - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Theme slide
night. The subject will be ferries and members are invited to bring up to 20 slides each
illustrating ferries ferries they have seen.
The Editor's Notebook
It is possible that some of you may be worrying about
whether you remembered to renew your membership in the Toronto Marine Historical Society. Not
to worry, for if you receive this issue, then you may be assured that you are paid up. Now for
those who do not receive this issue, it is a different story....
Speaking of memberships, we can advise that renewals this
year have gone very well. The Society is constantly growing, which is just fine except that
your editor and secretary get writer's cramp every month addressing envelopes. But we would
urge all our members to show "Scanner" to any of their friends who may not already receive it.
The more members we have, the easier it is for us to keep producing a good journal on an
up-to-date basis without the need for increasing membership rates, an unhappy prospect looming
on the horizon for each publication which is forced to rely upon the services of the post
office for delivery.
In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to
Gerald W. Hutton of Hamilton, to C. H. Maltby of Syracuse, New York, and to Rev. Raymond M.
Donahue of Dearborn, Michigan, and to Doug Bell of Hamilton.
It is not often that in these pages we devote much space to
items concerning salt water cargo vessels, but we would be remiss if we did not mention here
the recent incident involving the small Dutch motorvessel GABRIELLA. The ship, owned by Kahn
Scheepvaart A.B., Willemstad, has been an interesting visitor to Toronto on two occasions this
year, once in early August and again in mid-September. Each time she loaded a cargo of railway
locomotives for delivery to Algiers. GABRIELLA is a heavy-lift vessel and, despite her small
size, is able to stow away a good few locomotives. When loading, she is held on an even keel by
pontoons placed alongside the hull. As something of an eyecatcher, she carries the word
"Jumboship" lettered on the sides of her tiny cabin aft.
On October 19th, GABRIELLA was returning light from
Algiers, bound to Toronto for yet another load of railway engines, when she ran into heavy
weather. When she was about 60 miles south of Cape Race, her heavy-lift loading equipment,
stowed out of the way in the hold when not in use, broke loose from its moorings and punched a
hole in one of the ballast tanks. As the vessel at the time was labouring in very heavy seas,
the rupture of the tank caused the ship to take on a rather alarming list to port. Fearing for
their safety and that of GABRIELLA, the fifteen-man crew took to the lifeboats and abandoned
the ship to the elements. As it turned out, the men would have been far wiser to have stayed
A Canadian Forces rescue helicopter came upon the scene as
did the containership TRANSAMERICA which was en route to Boston. The helicopter managed to fish
out of the sea the GABRIELLA's boatswain and the containership rescued the Jumboship's captain.
All the other men found at the scene were dead of exposure. A few days later, a raft came
ashore on the coast of Newfoundland and on it were found the bodies of the remaining crewmen.
Meanwhile, two Norwegians from TRANSAMERICA were put aboard GABRIELLA and they managed to start
her engine. The two sailed the Jumboship to St. John's, Newfoundland, and there she was put on
drydock for inspection and repairs. A new crew has been brought over for her and we understand
that GABRIELLA is expected in Toronto during the first week of November to pick up her next
load of locomotives, despite the unfortunate delay and the loss of all but two of her old
C. S. BAND is shown in Goderich harbour, canted to starboard for work on her bottom, in this November 1, 1962 photo by Rev. Peter J. Van der LindenLast month we reported that the McNamara Marine barge C. S.
BAND had been towed from her jobsite at the Douglas Point nuclear hydro generating plant to the
McNamara yard at Whitby, Ontario. She did not long linger there for on October 20th she was
towed out of Whitby by the Toronto harbour tug COLINETTE. During the evening, despite
extremely inclement weather, COLINETTE and the other Waterman tug TERRY S., brought the BAND
into Toronto harbour via the eastern entrance. She was moored for the night at the Milnes Fuel
dock in the ship channel just outside the Cherry Street bridge and the next day she was taken
down to the turning basin and was placed along the south wall of the Leslie Street slip. Within
a very few days, work started on the dismantling of the old barge and we presume that she will
be scrapped right where she lies. The BAND shows much evidence of the damage inflicted upon her
by Lake Huron's waves during the time she was lying at Douglas Point and in particular she has
a very large hole in her starboard side aft. It is obvious that the tired old hull has reached
the end of its line.
The steam tanker LIQUILASSIE remains idle at Toronto and
has not turned a wheel all season. The vessel is, of course, owned by Porter Shipping Ltd. and
her operating agent is Liquilassie Shipping Ltd. of which Capt. Ronald Tackaberry is president.
Her owners would apparently be pleased to sell LIQUILASSIE but we gather that they are not
rushing in their efforts to dispose of the boat. LIQUILASSIE is at present lying across the end
of the Yonge Street wharf. She was built in 1943 at Duluth as (a) TEMBLADOR and was designed
for Venezuelan service. The Porter organization bought her and brought her to the
lakes shortly after the opening of the Seaway and she was given her present name in 1961. She
is a bit odd in that she was built for service in areas where deep water was not available and,
although her length is only 355 feet, she has an extraordinary beam of 60 feet and a depth of
At long last, the story of the sailing ship ERAWAN has been
brought to an end, one that may be a happy event for her creditors, but certainly not at all
pleasant for the ship herself. ERAWAN was a three-masted wooden sailing vessel which was built
in 1947 in Sweden. She was latterly owned and operated by Captain Phillip Esnos who registered
her in Panama and ran a charter service with the ship in the Caribbean.
ERAWAN participated in the Operation Sail '76 at New York
on July 4th and subsequently came up into the Great Lakes. Her arrival, however, was not
greeted with the enthusiasm which met CHRISTIAN RADICH, since ERAWAN was in the lakes as a
purely commercial venture and her owner tried to charge a fee of $1.00 for every person who
came aboard, and asked considerably higher fees for the privilege of riding the ship between
ports. Unfortunately, ERAWAN's captain was not quite so willing to pay his bills as he was to
collect from the public and the ship got into trouble as a result of the non-payment of an
account rendered by the Selvick Marine Towing Company in the amount of $1,800. In addition,
Selvick sought reimbursement of the sum of $2,000 for damage sustained by a tug in handling the
ERAWAN. But the cruncher came early in September when the ship was trapped in Menominee,
Wisconsin, when her pilot walked off the ship as a result of the fact that ERAWAN's owner
seemed to feel that he had no responsibility for payment of pilotage fees. The boat stayed in
Menominee for over a month but early in October the pilots were paid and so was Selvick's bill,
the towing company agreeing to abandon its claim for tug damage.
ERAWAN beat a hasty retreat from the lakes as soon as she
could get a pilot, her departure clouded by comments from her crew to the effect that the ports
she visited around the lakes should have paid her pilotage fees! In any event, the sailing ship
made good her escape from fresh water only to run aground on the evening of October 19th on
rocks in the Canso Strait between the Nova Scotian mainland and Cape Breton Island. Gale winds
then blowing kicked up a nasty sea and ERAWAN soon broke up completely and became a total loss.
The nine crew members were taken off by a Canadian Coast Guard vessel and no lives were lost in
the accident. ERAWAN was insured but it is believed that she was insured for only about 60% of
her value at the time of her loss.
With the activation in August of the Kinsman steamer MERLE
M. McCURDY, nine of the company's ten vessels were in operation. The only boat not running was
PAUL L. TIETJEN which had been idle for two years at Lorain and which was not thought to have
much chance of ever seeing further service. Much to the surprise of everyone, however, the
TIETJEN raised steam late in September and cleared Lorain at about 8:00 p.m. on September 25th.
She immediately went into service and on October 2nd arrived at Cleveland with a cargo of iron
ore for Republic Steel. Unhappily, however, the entry into service of TIETJEN was concurrent
with the withdrawal from operation of CHICAGO TRADER which on October 1st went into layup at
Toledo. We trust that the idleness of this latter steamer will be of short duration and that we
may soon again hear her melodious chime whistle, a most unusual one since it is a combination
of her steam whistle and typhon horn.
The U.S. Justice Department announced late in September
that it will not oppose plans of the American Shipbuilding Company to purchase the Erie,
Pennsylvania, shipyard of the Erie Marine Division of Litton Industries Inc. AmShip had asked
for a ruling from the Justice Department in order to see whether antitrust legislation would be
invoked against the company in the event that it decides to "investigate" the
possibilities of purchasing the facility. Incidentally, the Justice Department declined to make
a ruling three years ago when AmShip asked it the same question!
Elsewhere in these pages we have remarked upon the troubles
of the little saltie GABRIELLA. Yet another salt water carrier has been in trouble in Canadian
waters, this being the Yugoslavian bulk carrier IDRIJA which, on October 9th, was docked at
Baie Comeau, Quebec, to load a cargo of barley for overseas delivery. On that day, fire broke
out in the vessel's accommodations aft and, in order to avoid damage to any shoreside
installations, IDRIJA was moved out into the St. Lawrence River where it was hoped she could be
safely anchored while the fire was fought. Unfortunately, she dragged her anchors and it was
decided that she should be moved into open waters as soon as possible. The fire spread quickly,
however, and the boat's engines were soon idled. During the following night she was blown
across the river and in the morning her crew managed to get her safely anchored about one mile
off Metis lighthouse, the fire still raging in her cabins. Her 34-man crew was evacuated
two-at-a-time by a Quebec Provincial Police helicopter and once all were ashore, a tug arrived
to take IDRIJA to a Quebec shipyard. The fire eventually was extinguished, but not before her
bridge and cabins were totally gutted. At this time it is not known whether the ship will be
The 585-foot-long midbody for AmShip's Hull 906, sistership
to the Interlake Steamship Company's JAMES R. BARKER, was towed from Toledo, where it was
built, on September 30th and the following day arrived at Lorain where it will be joined to the
bow and stern sections of the new vessel. Lorain residents were not at all happy about the
arrival of the new midbody because it was towed through the Erie Avenue bridge right in the
middle of the morning rush-hour and resulted in a monstrous traffic jam as locals fighting
their way to work were trapped by the open bridge. The midbody, looking somewhat bare without
her sidetanks, was brought from Toledo by the G-tugs GEORGIA and OHIO. The harbour tugs
LOUISIANA, KENTUCKY and DELAWARE moved it into the drydock at Lorain on October 2nd.
The Reoch fleet continues to have trouble with its new
acquisition ERINDALE and, at the time of this writing, the self-unloader is laid up at
Hamilton, still suffering from engine problems. It will be recalled that ERINDALE was the
victim of engine troubles shortly after entering service for her new owners this summer and, in
fact, spent several days at anchor off Port Weller while efforts were made to get her operative
once again. This was accomplished by, in effect, making her engine a compound instead of
triple-expansion by taking one of the cylinders out of operation. She has run that way ever
since, but her owners estimate that this less-than-efficient method of operation has cost them
$200,000 over and above the outlay they expended on the purchase and rehabilitation of the
steamer. It is hoped that the necessary repair work can be put in hand during the coming
We are still hearing some very persistent rumours to the
effect that the Soo River Company has purchased, or is in the act of purchasing, two more bulk
carriers for its growing fleet. We thought twice during the summer that we knew which ships
were involved in such a possible deal, but each time we were proven to be wrong. It looks as if
we shall simply have to wait and see what happens.
A rather unusual visitor to Toronto harbour at the present
time is the 110-foot wooden-hulled fishing schooner PHILIP E. LAKE which arrived in port on
October 24th. The vessel (C. 178555), of 142 Gross Tons and registered at St. John's,
Newfoundland, was owned until recently by Lake and Lake Ltd. of Fortune, Nfld., and was built
in 1948 at Clarenville, Nfld. She is somewhat similar in appearance to HARRY W. ADAMS and
ROBERT J. KNICKLE, both of which had been brought to Toronto in recent years. PHILIP E. LAKE
has been purchased by a group of local men including Capt. Arthur Scott of
Waterman's Services Ltd. (the local pilot and harbour tug operator) and a gentleman named
Butchart who is associated with Empire Stevedoring. It is not known to what use the consortium
proposes to put the vessel. She is presently moored in the Yonge Street slip.
Work is progressing very slowly on the rebuilding of the
old steam tug CHRIS M. which is currently moored in the old ferry docks at the foot of York
Street, Toronto. Her current owner is Norman Rogers of Toronto's Algonquin Island and it seems
that he has purchased (but not yet installed) the Fairbanks-Morse diesel which was removed from
the ferry THOMAS RENNIE when she was repowered two years ago. That engine was never
particularly reliable and it was extremely difficult to obtain parts when needed, so we can
hardly but think that it would be unwise to make use of it in the repowering of the tug.
To make matters worse for CHRIS M., fire broke out in her
engineroom area on the afternoon of October 27th when a welding torch allegedly ignited oily
waste in the bilges. The blaze was fought by the Toronto fireboat WM. LYON McKENZIE and was
extinguished without any visible external signs of anything untoward having happened. The
firemen report, however, that damage amounting to about $10,000 was caused by the fire and that
the ship's wiring system was largely destroyed. We also understand that the blaze is under
investigation by the authorities in that it appears to have started in two different places at
Perhaps one day we may see CHRIS M. operating once again
but we don't propose to hold our breath waiting.
The Erie Sand Steamship Company has added another vessel to
its fleet. The company has recently purchased the motorvessel ATLAS TRAVELER, (a) SPINDLE-TOP,
(b) LAKE CHARLES, which is, according to the American Bureau of Shipping, a self-unloading bulk
carrier, formerly a tanker, with machinery aft. She was built at Perryville, Maryland, in 1943
as Hull 201 of the Lancaster Iron Works. She measures 213.7 x 37.1 x 14.3, Gross 938, Net 496.
She was converted in 1962 by the Southern Shipbuilding Corp. at Slidell, Louisiana, and at that
time her original Union diesel engine was replaced by a G.M. diesel. She was owned in 1958 by
National Marine Service Inc., New York, and in 1971 by the United States Steel Corporation. We
understand that ATLAS TRAVELER is to be rebuilt as a self-unloading cement carrier and will
serve as a replacement for PEERLESS on the Lake Ontario run. This latter vessel is currently
laid up and is for sale, although we rather doubt that anyone will be interested in purchasing
the aging and diminutive motorship. As yet, no new name has been announced for ATLAS
Last month we mentioned that the former NORTHCLIFFE
(NORTHCLIFFE HALL) had been renamed ROLLAND DESGAGNES by her new owners, Desgagnes Group Inc.
Unfortunately, the report that reached us contained a misspelling. The name should be recorded
as ROLAND DESGAGNES.
There are those of us who thought that the old St. Lawrence
ferry LAVIOLETTE would never make it into the lakes en route to her prospective new home at
Sarnia. But this spring she actually arrived in the lakes and, as of our last report in these
pages, she was lying at Hamilton. We are pleased to report that on September 29th LAVIOLETTE
was towed from Hamilton to Port Weller by two Evans McKeil tugs. Once at Port Weller, she was
towed into the drydock by the ferry PELEE ISLANDER which also happened to be at the yard for
inspection. We believe that LAVIOLETTE was given her inspection and that she will soon be
heading for Sarnia to take up her new duties in the excursion business.
In our last issue we mentioned that the bow section of the
new American Steamship Company self-unloader BELLE RIVER was launched at the Sturgeon Bay
yard of the Bay Shipbuilding Company on September 9th. Where we got that
information we couldn't hope to say, but the fact is that BELLE RIVER's bow section was
launched on September 30th. The keel for the stern section of the 1,000-footer was laid at
Sturgeon Bay on August 5th, the event taking place in the still-uncompleted graving dock in
which 1,000-footers will eventually be able to be built in one piece. The two sections of BELLE
RIVER are scheduled to be joined together in the new year.
Meanwhile, Bay Shipbuilding on October 8th laid the keel
for the bow section of Hull 717, a 1,000-footer under construction for the Bethlehem Steel
The September 9th issue of the Door County Advocate, the
local paper in Sturgeon Bay, contained a most interesting aerial photograph of the Bay
Shipbuilding yard. It showed the old Roen barge LILLIAN being used as a derrick barge lifting
steel for the construction of BELLE RIVER, and also showed GEORGE E. SEEDHOUSE in her new role
at the shipyard. SEEDHOUSE seems untouched forward, but aft she is missing her funnel and mast
and her stern has been chopped off square right through the cabin. Her deck has been much cut
up to fit her for her new duties in connection with the fabricating of steel sections of
vessels under construction. In the yard as well was the old Cleveland Tankers steamer MERCURY,
(a) RENOWN, (b) BEAUMONT PARKS, which is being scrapped. The tanker is stem-in at the cutting
berth and her after cabin has been removed. From her trim, it would appear that her machinery
has been dismantled and lifted out of the hull.
The Toronto sightseeing boat CAYUGA II appears to have run
into more troubles, as if her lack of success during the 1976 season was not bad enough. Her
owners recently realized that if the boat was to remain in the water during the winter months,
work would have to be done on winterizing her seacocks aft. They thought of sending her back to
her builders, but the autumn drop in water levels means that there is insufficient water near
the yard for even CAYUGA II to get to the facility. During the last week in October, the vessel
was taken down to the Polson Street slip at the east end of Toronto harbour so that the Harbour
Commission's heavy-lift crane could lift the ship up onto the dock for the necessary work to be
done. But when the Harbour Commission found out that CAYUGA II has an aluminum hull, they
refused to lift her, fearing that the lift could damage the hull. So now the vessel's owners
face a nasty quandry. How can they get her out of the water to do the necessary work? Stay
tuned for the next episode of this exciting drama!
Ever since Ye Ed. took over the task of pounding a
typewriter for this journal, we have received various enquiries from readers seeking
information about certain vessels or companies. We have tried our best to answer these
questions, with varying degrees of success, we might add, but the suggestion has been made that
we should reply to such enquiries in these pages.
We are more than willing to give this suggestion a try,
subject of course to the limitations of space which the format of "Scanner" imposes upon us. We
do not propose to print here the answer to every question we may receive, but we will try to
include the more interesting ones and we will throw open to our readers those enquiries for
which we cannot come up with a reply ourselves .
Our first such question comes from Jim Kaysen of Cedarburg,
Wisconsin, who has asked about the scrapping of the Q & O steamer OUTARDE (II) . We know
that she left Quebec on April 29. 1974 in tow of the tug FAIRPLAY X, bound, we believe, for
Spain, but we have never received a report on the date of her arrival nor at which port. Can
any of our readers supply this detail?
One Short Year Ago
A year has passed.
Many things have happened to each of us in that year. We
have all seen a good number of ships coming and going and our cameras have been busy. Life goes
But who amongst us will ever forget waking on the morning
of Tuesday, November 11, 1975 to the news. The news that none of us could believe at first. The
news that the cold waters of Lake Superior had, the night before, taken from us one of the
staunchest vessels we had known.
Yes, it has indeed been a year since the loss of the EDMUND
FITZGERALD. And a year since 29 men went to a frigid mass grave more than five hundred feet
below the surface of wind-swept Superior. Not one of them has ever come ashore.
During the year that has passed, we have heard snippits of
news from the evidence presented at the official enquiry into the sinking. We have had a chance
to see the wreckage which came ashore. And we have even seen that most remarkable piece of film
taken on the bottom of the lake and showing the remains of the FITZGERALD in their final
But are we any closer to knowing the reason for the
accident? We all have our theories and undoubtedly the enquiry will produce a finding of some
sort. Vessels that have been due for survey in the meantime seem to have been given an
unusually close examination, but we heard of the discovery of no major faults, with the
possible exception (and a questionable one at that) of the case of the poor old AVONDALE.
Will we ever know what really happened out on Superior that
night? Will we learn the details of whatever truly awesome power overcame a 729-foot steamer so
quickly that no call for help could be made? We sincerely hope so, for only in that way will we
be able to prevent a recurrence of the tragedy.
In the meantime, we must simply hope. Hope that it never
happens again. Hope that no further lives will be snuffed out in such a cruel manner.
Remembrance Day 1976 will truly be a day of remembrance for
those of us who follow the ships of the Great Lakes. We'll remember the EDMUND FITZGERALD and
her crew, but most of all we'll remember what our calm lakes of summertime can do when November
Ship of the Month No. 60 MONARCH
The months of November and December are traditionally busy
ones on the Great Lakes as vessel operators try to squeeze in as many trips for their ships as
possible before the onset of winter conditions that close the rivers and canals and send the
lakers to secure berths in port for the winter months. The steel mills need large supplies of
ore to build up their stockpiles to last through the winter and the grain elevators must be
filled to keep the flour mills and malt houses busy until spring. This late-season rush of
vessel traffic was even more pronounced in the early years of the century than it is now due to
the smaller size of the vessels then in use and the fact that year-round navigation was then
nothing but a distant dream.
But these same two months are well known to the men who
sail the lakes for the dirty weather that they are likely to throw up in the teeth of those ships running late to get in those last few trips. Blustering, chilling winds can whip
the lakes into a frenzy and visibility is frequently reduced by snow squalls and by the mist
that often develops over the cold waters. With batteries of modern electronic aids to
navigation, the carriers of today can usually cope with such conditions without much
difficulty, but the same could hardly be said for the steamers that plied the lakes around the
turn of the century.
Indeed, the forbidding weather conditions of the late
autumn were to be the undoing of many of the wooden and early steel steamers, not the least of
which was the Northern Navigation Company Limited passenger and package freight steamer
MONARCH. She met her end exactly seventy years ago this December in the cold waters of Lake
Superior and this would seem to be an appropriate time to recount the details of her loss for
those who may not be familiar with the story.
Back in 1865, James H. Beatty and Henry Beatty decided to
form a partnership for the purpose of operating vessels on the upper lakes under the Canadian
flag. They began to run steamers between Sarnia and the Lakehead and in 1870 they established
what was known as the Lake Superior Line. The service grew into a thriving concern and in 1882
the Beattys incorporated as the North West Transportation Company of Sarnia, although the
operation was familiarly known as "The Beatty Line".
The Beattys realized that in order to remain competitive
they would have to make sure they were operating with the best of equipment and so in 1882 they
contracted with the firm of Dyble and Parry for the construction of a 252-foot, wooden-hulled,
passenger and package freight propellor [sic]. She was built over the winter of 1882-1883 at a
spot near where the Imperial Oil docks are now located on the Sarnia waterfront. When she
entered service she was generally considered to be just about the finest thing then afloat on
the Canadian side of the lakes and her owners chose for her a name they thought appropriate for
her position. She was christened UNITED EMPIRE, but the men around the lakes knew her simply as
UNITED EMPIRE was a truly beautiful ship, with a graceful,
sweeping sheer to her decks, and a hull that was strengthened by arch trusses which rose to
just below the level of the boat deck. She carried a single, tall mast forward and a fairly
short but substantial funnel well aft. The funnel was surmounted by a rather unusual double
cowl. Right forward on the boat deck was a very large and imposing square pilothouse, a perfect
example of Victorian architecture with its sectioned windows and fancy work around the open
UNITED EMPIRE was an instant success and made quite a name
for herself amongst the travelling public. Seven years later, the Beattys were in need of
another vessel for their fleet and, having had so much success with "Old Betsy", they returned
to Dyble and Parry with a contract for a similar boat. The new steamer was built in 1890, again
on the shore of the St. Clair River at Sarnia. Another wooden-hulled passenger and package
freight propellor, she measured 245.0 feet in length, 35.0 feet in the beam and 15.0 feet in
depth. She was built with the usual 'tween decks and her tonnage was registered as 2017 Gross
and 1371 Net. Her hull, built of the finest white oak obtainable, was strengthened with arch
braces and gave the appearance of massive solidity.
MONARCH is seen in the Soo Canal in this early photo. It can be dated as prior to 1899 as she still carries the insignia of the North West Transportation Company.The new steamer was christened MONARCH, a name fitting to
her position as the Beatty flagship. She was placed on the Sarnia - Lakehead run with UNITED
EMPIRE and the two ships provided a regular and dependable service for many years, formidable
competition for anyone else who might have thought of operating on the same route. MONARCH,
although a few feet shorter than her older running-mate, was very similar in appearance to
UNITED EMPIRE. Her pilothouse was somewhat less ornate, her arches were not quite
so high (they rose only barely above the promenade deck rail), and her funnel, although topped
by the same double cowl, was a bit taller and thinner, but apart from these minor differences,
the two were virtual sisterships.
The two great steamers ran together on the route from
Sarnia to Fort William and Duluth and during their tenure in the service they saw the Beatty
operation grow from a small line to the largest firm operating in the passenger and package
freight trade on the Canadian upper lakes. In early 1899, the Beattys merged their North West
Transportation Company with what was commonly known as the White Line, the Great Northern
Transit Company of Collingwood, a firm operating steamers on Georgian Bay and the North
Channel. The resulting organization was known as the Northern Navigation Company of Ontario
Limited and later in 1899 this enlarged concern was itself merged with the North Shore
Navigation Company (familiarly known as the Black Line which had operated in opposition to the
Great Northern Transit Company). This last merger resulted in the formation of the Northern
Navigation Company Limited, a concern that for many years would dominate Canadian upper lakes
passenger and freight services.
For several years, the Beattys continued to operate the new
company and all the vessels of the Northern Navigation fleet were given the original Beatty
Line funnel design, red with a white band and black top. These colours, of course, are still
used by Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. of which Northern Navigation eventually became a part. That
event, however, came somewhat later than the period with which we are concerned. Of more
importance, at least as far as MONARCH was concerned, was the passing of control over Northern
Navigation from the Beattys to H. C. Hammond of Toronto in 1904.
By this time, MONARCH was no longer the pride of the fleet,
having been surpassed in size and luxury of fittings by the 321-foot steel steamer HURONIC
which had been built at Collingwood for the fleet in 1902. MONARCH was, however, still a
valuable unit and one whose services the company sorely needed to cope with increasing
business. They were not to have her for long.
On the afternoon of Thursday, December 6th, 1906, MONARCH
was lying at the freight sheds at Port Arthur, loading bagged flour which she was scheduled to
deliver to Sarnia. It was to be her last trip of the season, for the wooden steamers were
usually put into winter quarters before ice started to form on the lakes. Lake Superior was
waiting for her with a nasty wind blowing out of the northeast and bringing with it a fall of
fine snow and a layer of mist lying over the water. Loading operations were completed at about
6:00 p.m. and shortly thereafter MONARCH departed her berth en route to Sarnia. In the icy cold
darkness, Capt. "Teddy" Robertson and his men on the bridge duly sighted the Welcome Isle light
and also Thunder Cape as MONARCH steamed along towards Passage Island.
At about 10:00 p.m., the purser, Rig Beaumont, went down to
the engineroom to chat with the chief engineer, Samuel Beatty. The purser commented on the fact
that MONARCH seemed to be making very good time and wondered how this could be since she was
loaded more deeply than usual and was heading into the freshening wind. He also mentioned that
the ship was then abreast of Passage Island light, a statement with which the engineer took
exception, for MONARCH was not due off Passage Island for another twenty minutes. As the two
men continued their discussion and moved to a deadlight to take a look out into the evening
darkness, MONARCH ran straight into the perpendicular rock wall of Blake Point on the
northeastern side of Isle Royale.
The steamer hit the shore with such a wallop that Beaumont
and Beatty were both knocked off their feet. By the time they had picked themselves up off the
deck, they found that the ship was making water fast, the water pouring back into the
engineroom like a millrace. The two men made their way forward to the passenger
gangway on the main deck and there they tried to make a sounding through the port using a
heaving line with a weight on the end of it. When they found that they could get no bottom even
with ninety feet of line, they realized that they had best try to get ashore as soon as it was
possible for MONARCH was almost certain to slip back off her rocky perch.
All hands made their way up to the boat deck and efforts
were made to get the lifeboats away, but in the very cold and wet weather the falls had frozen
up and when they did manage to chop them free, they could not keep the boats from falling into
the lake. The deck crew remained above trying to find some way of getting ashore while the
engineer and his oilers went back aft to tend the machinery. Despite the inrushing water,
Beatty managed to keep the engine working ahead slow in the hope that this would keep MONARCH
from dropping off the rocks on which she had impaled herself. One of the oilers, a fellow named
Gillroy, remained in the stokehold shovelling coal until the rising water drove him from his
But before the steam failed and the lights were
extinguished, Sam Beatty managed to crawl all the way forward over the bagged flour to see if
by any chance a ladder would reach the shore from the anchor shutter in the starboard bow.
Finding the distance to be too great to get ashore that way, the engineer returned aft to find
that the water had risen so high in the engineroom that the cranks were actually throwing
water. The stern of the ship had dipped so far down that the water began coming in aft at deck
level and it soon drowned the dynamo, extinguishing the lights. Knowing that they were losing
steam with no hope of keeping the engine turning, Beatty and his oiler gave up their stations
and headed for drier ground. By this time the stern had settled so low that the only way they
could make their way through the main cabin was by pulling themselves up hand over hand on the
stateroom doorknobs, dodging the various furnishings which were tumbling down to the after end
of the cabin.
By this time, the rest of the crew had assembled on the bow
where they stood in the 20-below-zero temperature (and that's fahrenheit, not celsius) trying
to figure out how to get somebody ashore with a line. One of the men volunteered to go over the
rail on the end of a rope and he took with him the hooked ladder which was normally used for
painting the stack. The men up on deck began to swing the rope back and forth, the man dangling
at the end and reaching out on each swing in an effort to hook something on shore with the
ladder. Eventually they got him swinging so far out that he was able to hook onto a rock and he
soon managed to clamber up his ladder and reach solid ground, still holding onto the rope.
But the poor old MONARCH just couldn't stand any longer the
weight of all that water dragging her down by the stern. She waited just long enough for the
man to get ashore with his rope (but not long enough for him to secure it to anything) and then
slipped back fifteen or twenty feet. At that point, the strain proved to be just too much for
the hull and she broke apart forward of the funnel. The stern section dropped off and
immediately sank in deep water, taking with it the entire cabin aft of the pilothouse and texas
It was indeed fortunate that a man had already been put
ashore, for if he had not managed to land before MONARCH slipped back, it would have been
unlikely that any of the crew could have survived the accident. As it was, the man ashore could
do little but watch the rope pay out through his hands until it stopped just short of the point
where it would have pulled him back off the rocks into the icy water. Very fortunately, the men
left on the wreck were able to locate another rope and with this made fast to the end of the
other line, they were able to give the man ashore enough slack so that he could secure the rope
to a tree.
One by one the men left their precarious
positions on the steeply sloping and icy deck and made the journey hand over hand along the
rope across the fifty-foot gap between the ship and the shore. Even Miss MacCormack, the cabin
maid, got safely ashore this way, although she did have to be rescued half-way across when her
skirts became tangled on a hook that was attached to the line. Even so, it had been quite a
struggle to get her to attempt the crossing and the crewmen were heartily glad that the ship
was not carrying any ladies or children as passengers at the time of the accident.
The engineer meanwhile heard cries for help coming from the
water below and, with the aid of a rope which had been on the forward capstan, he slipped over
the side and landed in a lifeboat which had been jammed between the hull and the shore by
floating cabin wreckage. There were two men in the boat and one, the watchman Jacques, was in
the water hanging onto the gunwale. Before he could be pulled into the boat, he succumbed to
the numbing coldness of the lake and let go his grip. His was the only life lost in the
stranding. The men ashore dropped a line over the rocks and Beatty and the other two men in the
boat were pulled up the precipice to safety.
At long last, everyone made shore safely, with the
exception of the man who had drowned and the master of the vessel. Capt Robertson could not be
persuaded to leave MONARCH and he spent the night in his cabin which had remained intact. He
was to regret not having gone ashore.
The people who found themselves on the rocky shore of Isle
Royale were safe from the icy water of the lake but they knew that unless they sought shelter
higher up in the bush they could not survive the night. They managed to set fire to a birch
tree and by its light they were able to gather up enough wood to build a fire around whose
warmth they huddled through the night.
Friday morning dawned bitterly cold but clear, the storm
having blown itself out during the night. Those ashore realized that they would have to get the
captain off the wreck if he were not to freeze to death and they managed to get him to go over
the side on a rope and lower himself to the wreckage in the water which had frozen solid during
the night. They then pulled him up the rocks to safety. But Capt Robertson had suffered badly
from frostbite in his unheated cabin during the night and in due course this would mean the
loss of several toes. The crew built a small shelter for him and into it they also herded the
purser, the steward and the cabin maid, the intrepid Miss MacCormack. Some of the bagged flour
had floated clear of the wreck and this was rescued so that the wet dough could be cooked over
the fire to provide sustenance.
After they had eaten, some of the men hiked across Blake
Point and built a bonfire across from Passage Island lighthouse, hoping to attract the
attention of a passing steamer with its smoke. They kept the fire going all day Friday and
Saturday, but to no avail. There was still a layer of mist hanging over the water and this
probably obscured their smoke from the view of passing vessels.
About noon on Saturday, four of the men of the party were
sent on a search mission to Tobin Bay, a small community located across the island and off to
the south of where MONARCH grounded. The chief engineer had remembered having seen houses there
and the hope was that food and shelter might be available in the summer community, or even
better, that someone might still be living on the bay. The search party was warned that even if
they did locate food or shelter, they were not to return until daylight on Sunday. The reason
for this was that the survivors had heard many wolves howling in the woods at night and it was
not considered safe to be wandering about during darkness, especially when there was such a
great risk of the men losing their way in unfamiliar territory.
By late Saturday afternoon, it had become
evident that no passing ship had seen the survivors' bonfire and it was decided that an attempt
should be made to attract the attention of the Passage Island lightkeeper. The men climbed up
on a high rocky promontory on the starboard side of the remains of MONARCH from which they
could see the lighthouse over the wreck. There they built a large fire just about that time of
the afternoon when the light-keeper got his light going. The weather having cleared up
considerably by this time, the lightkeeper saw the fire and indicated with his light and
foghorn that he had seen the signal.
Sunday morning being clear and very calm, the keeper came
over to the wreck in his small boat and he took Rig Beaumont, the purser, back with him to the
lighthouse, the idea being that together they could hail a passing steamer and relay news of
the accident and the whereabouts of the wreck. The first vessel to pass downbound on Sunday
afternoon was the Mathews package freighter EDMONTON and they were able to stop her as she
passed. Beaumont was taken out to her and when he had explained their predicament to the ship's
master, EDMONTON was turned around and proceeded back to Fort William. On their arrival back at
the Lakehead, the purser got in touch with the office of the Northern Navigation Company.
MONARCH's owners lost no time in getting action underway and they arranged for the steam tugs
JAMES WHALEN and LAURA GRACE to set out for the wreck first thing on Monday morning.
This is how JAMES WHALEN looked when she rescued MONARCH's crew from Isle Royale in December 1906. The tug was built the year before by Bertram's at Toronto.The tugs arrived off Isle Royale at about 10:00 a.m. but by
this time the wind had freshened out of the northeast and the tugs could not make a landing on
the exposed shore near the wreck. Accordingly, they circled around the point towards Tobin Bay
and there pushed as far as they could go into the ice which had formed along the shoreline. The
party of survivors set out from their encampment near the wreck, thinking that they would meet
up either with the tugmen or with the search party that had been sent to Tobin Bay the day
before. On the way, they located a rowboat which had been pulled up on shore and which was
found to be loaded with foodstuffs, a rifle, a hand-operated foghorn, and other assorted
goodies which would have been of assistance to the crew. They pressed on and soon met some of
the tugmen who had set out in search of them. They then learned that their search party was
already safely aboard the tugs.
Once the survivors were all on board the tugs, they learned
that the row-boat which they had found had been left for them by the search party which had
reached the houses at Tobin Bay without difficulty. They had found all the buildings to have
been vacated for the winter, but as they were all fully stocked and there was no caretaker
about the premises, they had made themselves quite at home and had rather enjoyed their chance
to get out of the elements and into warm cabins with soft beds.
With all of the MONARCH's people aboard, JAMES WHALEN and
LAURA GRACE set out for Fort William. On the way, engineer Beatty found out that one of the men
on the tugs was Hugh Myler, a gentleman who was actually chief engineer on SARONIC, the former
UNITED EMPIRE (sistership of MONARCH), which at the time of the accident had happened to be in
port at the Lakehead. He had come along because he was concerned for the safety of his brother
David who was second engineer in MONARCH.
The tugs arrived in the Lakehead at about 7:00 p.m. Monday
evening and landed the survivors almost exactly four days to the hour from the time when
MONARCH had set out from the same port on her last voyage. With the exception of Capt.
Robertson whose frostbitten condition demanded that he be sent back to Sarnia by train, all the
MONARCH survivors were placed aboard the Northern Navigation flagship HURONIC for delivery to
The remains of MONARCH rested on the shore of Isle Royale
for two years. During 1908 the Reid Wrecking Company sent a crew to the Blake Point area and
they located the stern section of the steamer. Her engines and other machinery
were salvaged and the rest of the wreckage was left to moulder away where it lay.
MONARCH came very close to completing her sixteenth year in
service. Her crew, we are quite sure, would have wished for her last trip to be somewhat less
eventful, but a certain degree of consolation could be found in the fact that only one life had
been lost in an accident that could, but for a bit of good luck, have been much more costly in
terms of human life.
UNITED EMPIRE, by then renamed SARONIC, carried on for nine
years after the loss of her sister, although not all of these years saw her running on her
original route. She herself was damaged by fire at Sarnia on December 15, 1915, this same fire
having destroyed the Northern Navigation steamer MAJESTIC. SARONIC was cut down first to a
steam barge and then, after a 1916 stranding on Cockburn Island, to a towbarge. She lasted
until 1924 when she was abandoned in the Detroit River near Amherstburg due to her age and
(Ed. Note: The details of the actual stranding of MONARCH
and of the adventures of the survivors on Isle Royale have been adapted from an account by the
engineer, Samuel Beatty, as told to C.H.J. Snider and reproduced as "Schooner Days - DXXIV",
appearing in The Evening Telegram, Toronto, on Saturday, December 6, 1941, thirty-five years to
the day after the wreck. We thought it only fitting that the story appear in these pages now
that another thirty-five years have passed. Our apologies to the late Mr. Snider for the
liberties we have taken with his article to make Beatty's account more suitable for inclusion
in our own story of the life and death of MONARCH.)
Additional Marine News
The newest unit of the fleet of the Algoma Central Railway
was launched at Collingwood on October 29th. The vessel is a virtual sister of the C.S.L.
stemwinder self-unloaders J. W. McGIFFIN and H. M. GRIFFITH and will be followed from the
Collingwood yard by yet another such vessel built to C.S.L.'s order.
Meanwhile, Algoma's converted saltie ALGOSEA was christened
in ceremonies held at Port Colborne on October 19th. The conversion work is not as yet
completed and ALGOSEA has not entered service at the time of this writing. It is expected that
she will only be able to make one trip this fall before the close of lower-lake navigation.
It is not often that we hear of the activities of former
lakers in their new roles on salt water and we consider ourselves extremely fortunate when we
are able to obtain information of this nature. We have learned that the former Paterson
canaller SARNIADOC (II) is operating in the Gulf of Mexico area under her new name of
COLORADAS. She was reported as trading in July to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.
Another former laker now operating on salt water is the old Q & O
canaller FRANQUELIN (I) which later ran on the lakes and St. Lawrence River as (b) PRINCE
UNGAVA and (c) JEAN TALON. She went to the Caribbean as (d) SOVEREIGN OPAL and during July was
reported as trading into the Black Sea as (e) FALCON III. Some of our long-familiar lakers are
indeed travelling far from their former home waters.