March 4th - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Dr Gordon C. Shaw will be presenting "The Story of Canadian Pacific's British Columbia Coastal Steamship Service in Transition".
April 1st - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. A Double-Feature. Barry Andersen will show slides of scrap tows in the Welland Canal and of the building of CANADIAN OLYMPIC. Jack Heintz will present photos he has taken at the Hook of Holland, the New Waterway, and on the Kiel Canal.
The Editor's Notebook
Our January meeting was a theme slide night on the subject of ferries. The members responded in fine order and we saw a good variety of shots of such vessels from all over the world. We even saw a "land ferry"! We extend thanks to all those who contributed to the evening's programme.
Speaking of contributions, we should like to express our great appreciation to all those who have sent us lay-up listings and either questions or answers for our Reader Enquiry section. The response has been overwhelming and we have virtually been deluged by correspondence. If your item does not appear this issue, please be patient; we just did not have space for all the items we received. We'll also try to answer all your letters personally in due course. We'll try....
Remember to hold the evening of May 6th open for our annual dinner meeting. We'll have full details for you in our next issue.
In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to John Duffy of Valley Stream, New York, and to W. A. Dillon of Cardinal, Ontario.
What is the one thing that everybody has been talking about this winter? The weather, that's what! They've been speaking of the snowdrifts clogging the streets of most cities in the Great Lakes area and the icy winds that have been making life outside miserable. And if you think it has been bad ashore, just be glad that you weren't working aboard one of the lakers which was playing the winter navigation game. The ice cover on the lakes this winter is one of the heaviest and most extensive on record. Lake Erie is completely frozen over and even mighty Lake Superior is expected to be 100% ice covered very shortly, the first time this has happened since 1963. The Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers ALEXANDER HENRY, MONTMORENCY and GRIFFON together with the big U.S.C.G. icebreakers MACKINAW and WESTWIND and a fleet of smaller U.S.C.G. units have been putting up a valiant fight to keep the winter fleet sailing, but it has been a losing battle as problems have been encountered in ice-clogged channels everywhere. As might be expected, the main problem spot has been the St. Mary's River and the list of difficulties encountered there is too long for us to even begin to describe. Suffice it to say that every ship running in those waters found itself in trouble at some time during late December or January and needed assistance. By mid-January, U.S. Steel's Great Lakes Fleet was virtually the only line operating through the Soo with the exception of a few tankers which also got into trouble. Most operators decided that discretion was the better part of valour and that keeping their boats in one piece was more desirable than the profits gained from winter navigation. And by January 20th, even U.S. Steel found it impossible to continue and on that day their last vessel passed down through the Soo Locks, the company having given up on winter navigation and the Coast Guard having been unable to keep the channels open. This is, of course, quite a change from the last two years, both of which brought winters which were fairly mild. The fact that U.S. Steel has not been able to operate throughout the winter may result in more of their vessels operating during the summer of 1977 than during 1976, the winter fleet having been unable to build up stockpiles at the mills during the winter months. And so, after a couple of easy winters, the lakes again have shown their stuff to those who have been pushing for a year-round navigation season. It seems that the proponents of such plans have failed to consider what a few weeks of unusually cold weather can do to the lakes. Now they know.
Business is still booming for the Bay Shipbuilding Company of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, which has received a contract to build a 630-foot self-unloader for the Columbia Transportation Division of Oglebay Norton and Company. The new boat is scheduled to be delivered in November 1979 as she must wait her turn in the graving dock behind a number of other self-unloaders which Bay Shipbuilding has already contracted to construct. The ship will be somewhat smaller than the average boat being built these days and presumably will be similar to the American Steamship Company's SAM LAUD which came from Sturgeon Bay in 1975.
While things may be booming at Sturgeon Bay and also at AmShip's Lorain and Toledo yards, this rosy picture has not included all shipyards. Thomas Defoe, president of the Defoe Shipbuilding Company of Bay City, Michigan, announced on December 31, 1976 that the company was closing down its operations and was going out of business. The 71-year-old firm produced many warships of various types during the Second War and in the years since has built many specialty ships as well as taking on several major rebuilding and repowering jobs, amongst the latter being the conversion of HERBERT C. JACKSON and the dieselization of NICOLET and RICHARD J. REISS. But orders have not been flooding into Defoe recently and one reason for this is that the location of the yard on the Saginaw River has prevented Defoe from building large carriers such as those churned out by AmShip and Bay Shipbuilding. Not only has the Saginaw River not yet been dredged to a depth adequate to permit the movement of such ships but the river is obstructed by several bridges too narrow to pass today's supercarriers. In addition, the rebuilding of the Defoe plant to build such large boats would be costly indeed. Accordingly, the yard has decided to throw in the towel and to leave to other firms the task of keeping pace with the needs of the lake shipping industry.
The three salt water vessels recently purchased by the Hall Corporation have not yet been delivered to their new owner but already they have been renamed. The ships, owned previously by West German interests and chartered ever since their construction to U.S. Steel's Navios Corp. fleet, will not be handed over to Halco until the autumn of 1977 but in the meantime EMS ORE, RHINE ORE and RUHR ORE have been renamed MONTCLIFFE HALL, STEELCLIFFE HALL and CARTIERCLIFFE HALL respectively. Readers will recall that Halco has been negotiating with Davie Shipbuilding for the rebuilding of the boats once Hall has taken delivery of them and we have learned that this will be a full conversion for lake service, much similar to the one presently being done on the new LAKE NIPIGON (for Nipigon Transports) which arrived on November 14 at Singapore.
The Conneaut area has been buzzing recently with the news that the United States Steel Corporation has plans to build a $3.5-billion steel mill on the Pennsylvania - Ohio state line just east of Conneaut. The trouble is that plans have so far been kept secret and nobody in the area really seems to know exactly what the company's intentions are. Local municipal and state representatives appear to favour the building of the plant in their area in that it will provide a substantial boost to the local economy but the residents, many of whom are cottagers or farmers, are watching with mixed emotions. They have seen the land along the state line gradually being bought by U.S. Steel and the houses demolished. A detailed announcement of the corporation's plans is expected to be made shortly.
It seems that almost every news broadcast we have heard for the last few months has begun with the words "Another Liberian tanker...." but not only Liberian tankers have been involved in the many accidents which have recently been reported. On January 10, the small American motortanker CHESTER A. POLING broke in two and sank in the Atlantic off Massachusetts and at the time of this writing an investigation is underway in an attempt to ascertain why the ship foundered.
CHESTER A. POLING was a frequent visitor to the Great Lakes under her two earlier names, (a) PLATTSBURGH SOCONY and (b) MOBIL ALBANY. The Erie Canal type tanker was built by United Dry Docks Inc. at Mariners Harbor, New York, in 1934 and was enrolled as U.S.233334. She was lengthened in 1956 by the Avondale Marine Ways Inc. at Avondale, Louisiana, and thereafter she measured 281.4 x 40.0 x 17.1, Gross 1546 and Net 1033. She last operated on the lakes for the Socony-Mobil Oil Company Inc. of New York and was sold in 1968 to Motor Vessel Poling Brothers No. 1 Inc., New York. As far as we know, she had not returned to the lakes since and had been used on the east coast.
Last month we devoted considerable space in these pages to the plight of the former Detroit firetug JOHN KENDALL which was sold in November to the Panoceanic Engineering Corporation of Alpena, Michigan. JOHN KENDALL left her home at Detroit on December 2nd in tow of the tug BARBARA ANN bound for Alpena and her conversion to a diesel-powered salvage tug.
Those of our readers who may have observed the veteran Upper Lakes Shipping steamer MEAFORD in winter quarters on the north side of the Cousins Terminal at Toronto may have noticed that she is missing her starboard anchor. We were wondering where she lost it and now we have found out. The anchor was lost on the evening of December 22nd in the harbour at Sault Ste. Marie as MEAFORD was preparing to depart her anchorage and proceed downbound.
The St. Lawrence Seaway Authority has been urged to consider the closing of the Canadian Soo Lock as a method of reducing the Authority's operating expenses. The suggestion was made by the Dominion Marine Association which has been opposing federal proposals to levy tolls on vessels using the Welland and St. Lawrence Canals instead of charging a fee per lock transitted as is done now. This latter proposal has also been opposed by U.S. authorities. The S.L.S.A. has gone so far as to set up a study group to consider the implications of closing the Soo Lock which caters mainly to the passage of pleasure craft and "ice cream boats" (lock tour excursion vessels) but does handle the overflow from the American canal, particularly package freighters and tankers. Many smaller Canadian lakers use the lock regularly.
We did not devote too much space last month to the account of the grounding of CLIFFS VICTORY in the St. Mary's River. This was not an attempt to minimize the seriousness of the accident but rather to cover as many of the season's accidents as possible in limited space. Indeed, CLIFFS VICTORY's accident was a very serious matter, as Cleveland-Cliffs has since found out. It seems that the VICTORY chewed up 650 feet of her bottom in the process and she will be spending a good deal of time in the AmShip yard at South Chicago this winter while the damage is repaired. In fact, we understand that Cliffs took a good hard look at the estimated cost of repair compared with the value of the ship before deciding to go ahead with the job, so expensive will it be.
As far as the accident itself is concerned, we now learn that the grounding occurred nearer to Everens Point than Johnson Point, although it is probable that it was at the latter location that the ship lost her rudder and that this is what eventually caused the grounding further down the channel into Lake Munuscong. In fact, the loss of the rudder was not noticed until after the ship had been freed and was manoeuvring in preparation for proceeding down the river. The pressure of the ice made steering so difficult and held the ship so firmly in the travelled steamer track through the icefield that the loss of the rudder was not immediately apparent.
Another victim of late-season navigation has been the tanker AMOCO INDIANA. The steamer was en route to Traverse City, Michigan, when on January 10 she became stuck in ice off the mouth of Grand Traverse Bay in Lake Michigan. As the ice drifted shoreward the tanker was pushed into shoal water where she grounded. Amoco Oil Company sent AMOCO WISCONSIN from Milwaukee and she lightered the fuel oil and gasoline cargo from the grounded vessel. AMOCO INDIANA was floated free on January 12 and both ships were then taken to Traverse City. Damage to the INDIANA was not believed to be serious. Quite frankly, we were rather surprised to learn that either boat was operating so late in the season considering the severe ice conditions. AMOCO INDIANA is now 40 years old while AMOCO WISCONSIN is a veteran of 47 years.
The most alarming piece of new we have heard recently concerns the Straits of Mackinac steam carferry CHIEF WAWATAM. The Michigan Public Transportation Council has made it known that at its February 14 meeting it will recommend that the 66-year-old ferry be reduced to a barge and that a tug be chartered to push her back and forth between Mackinaw City and St. Ignace. The Michigan Department of Highways and Transportation would also have to approve before any action could be taken on the proposal. The press has quoted public officials as saying that they appreciate the historic and aesthetic value of CHIEF WAWATAM but they appear to appreciate even more the thought of the savings that might be achieved by cutting the ferry down even if they could not come up with the actual dollar value of such savings. In the meantime, CHIEF WAWATAM is busier than usual. The boat, which normally makes but one round-trip crossing per week, is presently making five round-trips per week and will do so through February 11 to accommodate a special coal shipment. If the State of Michigan is anything like the municipal, provincial and federal authorities with which we are acquainted on this side of the border, we are certain that it spends millions over the years in restoring and maintaining various historical artifacts, not to mention other millions simply wasted. Surely CHIEF WAWATAM is an artifact worth preserving intact and if the officials are so impressed with her beauty and stateliness, we would suggest that they should cease mouthing useless platitudes and do something about keeping the ship in operation under her own power. The savings to be achieved by cutting her down can't be all that great. Surely the almighty dollar does not control everything we do in this life. Or does it?
Several issues ago we mentioned the withdrawal from service of the Kinsman steamer CHICAGO TRADER and the fact that she had been put on drydock for inspection. We voiced a hope that the TRADER, effectively retired a couple of years ago and brought back to life when recommissioned this spring, would pass her survey and be available for further operation. Would that it were so. CHICAGO TRADER was found to be in need of extremely extensive deck repairs and in addition needs much attention to her bottom, the cost of just the deck work far exceeding the value of the boat. Accordingly, it would seem that the steamer has probably sailed her last, at least as far as Kinsman is concerned and when the ship is in need of such costly maintenance it is unlikely that any other operator would take her over. We shall miss CHICAGO TRADER not only because of her good looks but also because of her distinctive voice. We rather wonder what Kinsman will do in 1977 as the only ship with which they can replace the TRADER is the smaller PAUL L. TIETJEN which operated briefly last autumn, but which is hardly economical to run.
While on the subject of retirements, we might mention that a Canadian lake shipping operator will be losing the services of its oldest self-unloader as a result of the high cost of extensive repairs necessary, particularly in the engineroom. The steamer was the first self-unloader ever acquired by this operator and her forced retirement follows closely on the heels of a similar event which in the fall of 1975 robbed the same fleet of another veteran steamer. More on this item later.
You Asked Us
Last issue, we mentioned an enquiry from Michel Vezina of Beauport, Quebec, concerning the steamer GUIDE which was lost in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on October 15, 1926 near Godbout. We had no information on this ship ourselves and thus are very much appreciative of the efforts of members George Ayoub and Rene Beauchamp who have come to the rescue.
GUIDE (C.98982) was a steel-hulled steamer built 1891 at Dumbarton by Wm. Denny & Bros. and originally registered at Glasgow. She measured 114.3 x 21.0 x 11.4, Gross 156 and Net 82, and it appears that she was built either as a lightship or else as a lighthouse tender for service in British waters. She was later converted to a cargo carrier and in 1914 was purchased by Capt. Jos. E. Bernier of Levis, Quebec. She was used in several trips to the Arctic for which Bernier was renowned. The ship was sold in 1920 to the Gulf of St. Lawrence Shipping and Trading Company Ltd. of Quebec and at that time was placed in Canadian registry. She passed in 1924 to the North Shore Trading Company Ltd., Quebec, and they were her owners when she was lost.
In answer to an enquiry concerning the Agence Maritime motorvessel FORT GEORGE, we can advise that she was sold to the Lituana Shipping Co. Ltd. of Panama and in 1975 was renamed STROFADES.
We have an enquiry of our own, one which concerns the steam collier PATDORIS, (a) ARDGATH, (b) YORKMINSTER, which was operated onwards from 1924 in the Lake Ontario coal trade by J. F. Sowards of Kingston. She later belonged to the Maple Leaf Steamship Company Ltd. of Montreal and we have one report to the effect that she was sold for scrap in 1946 although it is not confirmed. Strangely enough, she still to this day appears in the Canadian List of Shipping, although we have no doubt that she was actually broken up many years ago. Can anyone supply more specific information?
Ship of the Month No. 63 ONTARIO NO. 1 and ONTARIO NO. 2
Together with a History of THE ONTARIO CAR FERRY COMPANY LIMITED
In these days when abandonment petitions have brought the Lake Michigan railroad carferries to the attention of all lake shipping observers, we tend to forget that at one time railroad carferries also operated on Lake Erie and even on Lake Ontario. The Lake Ontario operations, however, were never particularly well known away from their own stamping grounds and have been all but forgotten in the nearly twenty-seven years that have elapsed since their termination.
It was back in 1907 that the newly-formed Ontario Car Ferry Company Ltd., Montreal, began service across Lake Ontario between Cobourg, Ontario, and a dock two and a half miles up the Genesee River at Charlotte, New York, near Rochester. The company, which received its charter in 1905, was put together by the Grand Trunk Railway, Montreal, and the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railroad to handle coal traffic originating on the latter road's lines (mainly from the Pittsburgh area) and destined to points in eastern Ontario on the Grand Trunk lines as fuel for steam locomotives. The new ferry service eliminated the long haul around the western end of Lake Ontario and expedited the delivery of bituminous coal by several days.
To inaugurate the service, the twin-funnelled, twin-screw, steel-hulled carferry ONTARIO NO. 1 (C.125983) was built for the company by the Canadian Shipbuilding Company Ltd. at Toronto. Laid down as the yard's Hull 106, she was constructed with a length of 317.0 feet, a beam of 54.2 feet and a depth of 18.7 feet, these dimensions giving her tonnage of 5146 Gross and 3229 Net. Her engines and boilers were made by her builders and four single-ended Scotch boilers measuring 14 feet by 12 feet delivered steam at 175 p.s.i. to two triple-expansion engines having cylinders of 20 1/2, 32 1/2 and 54 inches and a stroke of 36 inches. This machinery produced 350 Nominal Horsepower.
ONTARIO NO. 1 enters Cobourg harbour in this photo by James M. Kidd. The ship moored alongside the east pier is the lighthouse tender GRENVILLEThe steamer, launched in April 1907, was designed to carry 30 loaded cars on four tracks with two tracks leading across the dock apron and the turnout to the wing track on each side of the ship coming from the inside track on the opposite side. ONTARIO NO. 1 was a success from the start, not only in the coal trade but also in the carriage of passengers during the summer months. The line encouraged passenger trade across the lake by arranging for a regular boat train to be operated to Charlotte from Rochester station. This service began in 1909 and lasted through the 1942 season.
As built, ONTARIO NO. 1 did not have an overhang or shelter to cover the outside passages on the promenade deck but before long this feature was added to give passengers more deck space which was protected from the elements. Another early change for the ferry was the addition of a stern pilothouse for use in navigating the ship stern-first into her slip at either terminal port. When she came out fresh from her builders, she did not have the benefit of this convenience and had been given only a catwalk which ran down the middle of the boat deck and terminated aft in an elevated platform upon which one of the officers stood to relay signals forward to the bridge during the docking procedure.
ONTARIO NO. 1 was painted white and her two finely raked funnels, set in tandem, were buff with black tops. The steamer was to retain these colours for her entire life and they were also given to the only other ship which the Ontario Car Ferry Company Ltd. would ever operate.
By 1914, the success of ONTARIO NO. 1 and the considerable traffic which she carried across the lake, particularly on the northbound crossing, prompted the company to decide that another ferry was needed to supplement the NO. 1 on her route. Accordingly, the company let a contract to the Polson Iron Works Company Ltd. of Toronto for the construction of a near-duplicate of ONTARIO NO. 1. The new ferry was laid down as Polson's Hull 126 and she was launched on April 3rd, 1915, at which time she was christened ONTARIO NO. 2 by Mrs. Hugh Calderwood of Barrie, Ontario, the wife of the ship's designer. Thanks to a very extensive description of the new ferry extending through several issues of the monthly Canadian Railway and Marine World, we have full details of the ship and of her entry into the waters of Lake Ontario. Amongst those present at the launching ceremonies were H. G. Kelley, president of the Ontario Car Ferry Company Ltd. and a vice-president of the Grand Trunk Railway; G. A. Bowman, assistant general freight agent for the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railroad; W. H. Smith, manager of the O.C. F. Co. Ltd.; W. D. Robb, superintendent of motive power for the G.T.R., and representing Polson Iron Works were J. B. Miller, president and general manager; A. H. Jeffry, secretary and manager; H. H. Miller, vice-president, and W. H. Newman, works manager.
ONTARIO NO. 2 was assigned official number C.137978 and like her near-sister was registered at Montreal,(with the exception of the present-day INCAN SUPERIOR, they were the only two open-lake carferries ever registered in Canada). The new steamer was 307.5 feet in length, 54.0 feet in the beam and 20.2 feet in depth. Her Gross Tonnage was 5568 and her Net was 3376. A twin-stacked, twin-screw, steel-hulled vessel, she was fitted with four single-ended, coal-fired Scotch boilers measuring 14 feet by 12 feet and equipped with forced draft. They supplied steam at 180 p.s.i. to two jet-condensing, triple-expansion engines with cylinders of 20 1/2, 33 and 54 inches and a stroke of 36 inches, which operated normally at 110 r.p.m., both engines turning outward and producing 350 N.H.P. The machinery was built by Polson Iron Works.
Four tracks were laid on the main deck of ONTARIO NO. 2 giving her a capacity of 30 standard coal cars of 70 tons each. Accommodations for passengers and for the ship's officers were contained in a deckhouse on the steel shelter or promenade deck. There were twelve two-passenger staterooms at the forward end of the deckhouse on each side of a double central hallway leading forward from the large music room which extended the full width of the cabin. Aft of the music room was the boiler trunk or stack casing on the port side of which was located the ladies' cabin, purser's office and a washroom, while to starboard was the smoking room with buffet and the steward's and assistant steward's quarters. Aft of these facilities was a hallway running across the full width of the cabin and from this passageway entrance was gained to the dining saloon which extended to the sides of the deckhouse and which contained eight tables with a seating capacity of 32. The rest of the deckhouse aft of this point contained galley and pantry facilities, the crew's messes and various crew's accommodations. The quarters for the navigation officers were located in the texas cabin on the boat deck. While ONTARIO NO. 2 actually had stateroom accommodation for 48 passengers, the May 1915 issue of Canadian Railway and Marine World stated that she had accommodation for 800 first class deck passengers and 200 second class passengers. We suppose that the former would be allowed the run of the promenade and boat deck spaces, while the latter would be confined so that they could pass the crossing by admiring the scenic wonders of the car deck.
As ONTARIO NO. 2 was built, access to passenger areas from the car deck was gained by a companionway located amidships aft of the galley and it led to a small passageway which opened onto the starboard side of the promenade deck. There was also a companionway forward of the deckhouse on the promenade deck which led down to the forward end of the main or car deck where the quarters for the engine crew were located. As time passed and passenger traffic increased, especially with excursions, both steamers were fitted with open stairways right aft, these being hinged so that they could be hauled up to the level of the promenade deck and out of the way when rail cars were being moved over the stern of the ship.
ONTARIO NO. 2 came out with four lifeboats on each side of the boat deck but as passenger traffic increased she was given two more boats on each side, although the number of davits was not changed. This meant that in the event of an emergency, the boats could not all be launched at once, for two of them on each side would have to wait until the others were away and the falls cleared before they could be swung out. ONTARIO NO. 1 had the same sort of arrangement although hers was, if anything, even more complicated. The earlier ferry had come from the builders with only two boats on each side of the promenade deck. When the shelter was built out around her deckhouse, the boats were moved to the cabin top and were increased in number to four per side, an adequate number of davits being fitted. But then with the onset of the excursion service (and also as a result of the TITANIC disaster), even more boats were needed and so she was given a total of eight boats on each side of the boat deck. The additional lifeboats were simply placed on chocks on the deck in between the others and for three of the four, the davits, once cleared of their own boats, could simply be swung back to lift the second boat. But the last of the new boats on each side was set right aft out of reach of the davits and if launching should have been necessary, would have either to be left to float free on its own or else manhandled up the deck to the nearest davits. This was a peculiar arrangement, to say the least.
The car deck and interior cabin arrangements were virtually the same in each ferry. In external appearance they were quite similar with the one major difference being their pilothouses. ONTARIO NO. 1 was built with a pilothouse on the boat deck and above it an open bridge from which the ship was normally navigated in the accepted fashion of the day. ONTARIO NO. 2 never had an open bridge and was given a raised, enclosed pilothouse set atop the texas. The earlier ferry continued with her open bridge until 1924 at which time she too was given an enclosed upper wheelhouse as a result of difficulties encountered that year in a heavy winter storm.
The first master of ONTARIO NO. 1 was Captain F. D. Forrest and when the NO. 2 entered service he transferred over to the new flagship along with his chief engineer, A. Nichol. Capt Forrest died in 1925 and he was succeeded on the NO. 2 by Capt. C. E. Redfearn who had moved over from the NO. 1, being replaced on that ship by Capt. S. H. McCaig, longtime first officer of the ferries. The last master of ONTARIO NO. 2 was Capt. William Bryson.
ONTARIO NO. 2 ran her engine trials in the lake off Toronto on August 28th, 1915 and reached a speed of about 15 m.p.h., although she was designed for a speed of 13 m.p.h. on a full-loaded draft of 16.25 feet. She was then taken to Cobourg and ran a trial cross-lake round trip on September 16. She did not enter regular service until October 1st, 1915 and as soon as the new boat was commissioned, ONTARIO NO. 1 was withdrawn for a thorough refit. ONTARIO NO. 2 continued in service during the winter of 1915-1916 carrying only freight and in the spring of 1916 the finishing touches were put to her passenger quarters to ready her for the summer passenger and freight service which resumed at the end of May. At that time, ONTARIO NO. 1 was placed back in service and the two boats ran the route together.
While both ferries plied their route without major accident, both made the news on several occasions. On January 25, 1920, both ferries encountered heavy ice conditions and became stuck in the Genesee River near Charlotte Dock. Then on March 28, 1923, ONTARIO NO. 1 and ONTARIO NO. 2 were in collision during a fog and both ships were considerably damaged.
The closest scrape for either of the boats came in January 1924 and involved ONTARIO NO. 1. The ferry sailed from Charlotte on January 6th and encountered a heavy gale which was sweeping Lake Ontario. Capt Redfearn decided that it would not be prudent to try to enter Cobourg harbour in the heavy seas and he headed his ship westward toward Toronto. With the help of beacons specially lit along the shore, the beleaguered ferry finally found refuge off Port Credit, west of Toronto, where she rode out the gale the following day.
ONTARIO NO. 1 then entered Toronto Bay where she was pumped out, having taken on considerable water through her car deck, and tons of ice were chipped from her superstructure. She finally made port at Cobourg on January 8 and the townsfolk celebrated her safe arrival.
The year 1924 also brought problems for ONTARIO NO. 2. On August 5th, she was returning to Cobourg with an excursion party of 930 members of a church organization. A very thick fog had set in while the ship was on the lake and Capt. Forrest had reduced speed and was attempting to guide his boat to the pierheads with the assistance of the foghorn ashore and his leadline with which soundings were continuously taken. The ferry, however, just missed the harbour entrance and slid onto the sandy bottom so smoothly that it took several minutes for those on board to realize that the ship was no longer moving. No damage was occasioned to the steamer and her passengers were duly removed by barge and deposited upon the pier, none the worse for the surprise ending to their outing. The subsequent enquiry held by Dominion Wreck Commissioner Demers found that the ship had probably been blown a bit off course by a light southwesterly breeze which had been prevailing at the time and in addition found that the foghorn on the pier was placed in such a position that its signals could be misleading to approaching ships. The ferry's crew was exonerated of all responsibility for the grounding but Demers did recommend that the boat's standard compass be moved to a position atop the pilothouse for it to be "dependable and efficacious". A look at the subsequent photograph of ONTARIO NO. 2 reproduced on our photopage will indeed show that the binnacle had been remounted on the pilothouse roof.
It is not often that ice becomes a problem on Lake Ontario but on March 17, 1934, ONTARIO NO. 1 managed to take three days to cross the lake due to the heavy ice conditions. The crossing was normally a matter of only five hours! The same ferry made the news again later in the same year for on the night of September 8th, while the ship was on an excursion out of Rochester with a load of 550 passengers, she was caught in the trough of a very heavy sea produced by an unexpected gale. The steamer, Capt. Redfearn in command, rolled so heavily that several lifeboats were ripped from their moorings on the boat deck. According to contemporary accounts, 65 passengers required medical assistance after having been bowled over by tables, chairs, beer barrels and a portable bar that were thrown about the deck! The Coast Guard responded to the ferry's distress calls but she was able to make port on her own.
The next ship to make the headlines was ONTARIO NO. 2 when on February 26, 1936 she stranded 2 1/2 miles from Rochester in blizzard conditions. She was freed by the NO. 1 on March 6th and suffered only minor damage in the mishap.
ONTARIO NO 1 manoeuvres in Cobourg harbour while ONTARIO NO 2 lies at the wharf in this James M. Kidd photo. Notice the absence of a seagate.It should be noted that, despite the fact that Lake Ontario can on occasion kick up a very nasty swell in a strong blow, both ONTARIO NO. 1 and ONTARIO NO. 2 operated for their entire careers without a Seagate aft. Thus the car deck was completely open at the stern with but a few feet of freeboard and was vulnerable to whatever the lake saw fit to throw in. The only defence to a heavy sea was to keep the ship's head into the wind and thus protect the open stern. The only enclosure either ship ever had aft was a wooden railing erected around the fantail to keep wayward passengers from wandering into the lake.
During the life of the Ontario Car Ferry Company Ltd., the controlling interests in the line changed as amalgamations took place. The Grand Trunk operations in Canada were eventually absorbed by the government-owned Canadian National Railway Company. Similarly, the old Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railroad was merged into the Baltimore and Ohio in 1932.
The traffic patterns effecting the Ontario Car Ferry Company also changed as the years passed. Both passenger and freight traffic had increased through the teens and the twenties and the company had even started to transport the automobiles of travellers by loading them onto flatcars and rolling them on the ferries. But then came the Great Depression and during the hungry thirties both passenger and freight traffic dwindled. To keep them busy, both boats were made available for the excursion trade. They often appeared on the run between Toronto and Port Dalhousie's Lakeside Park on days when big picnics were booked and the regular Port Dalhousie boats, NORTHUMBERLAND and DALHOUSIE CITY, could not cope with the crowds. The ships visited Port Dalhousie each year while carrying Canadian National employees on their annual picnic and similarly both ferries helped out early each June when the De La Salle picnics were held at Port Dalhousie. One of the boats came to Toronto with an excursion for the Royal Visit of May 1939 and ONTARIO NO. 2 even took a C.N.R. excursion from Picton to Oswego on Wednesday, August 18, 1948.
It is evening as ONTARIO NO. 2 heads out the Toronto Eastern Gap with a load of excursionists aboard. Photo by J. M. Bascom.While this special excursion business helped to augment the passenger traffic which the ferries carried between Rochester and Cobourg in the summer months during the course of their normal operations, the outing across the lake being a pleasant summer relief for many Rochester residents, both aspects of the passenger trade began to drop off during the early forties and in addition it was becoming less economical to route locomotive coal into Canada via the ferries. Passenger traffic dropped off abruptly in 1943 after the B & O discontinued its boat train from Rochester to Charlotte.
But the company continued service through the forties. In August 1949, ONTARIO NO. 1 was laid up at Cobourg and, as it turned out, she would never again raise steam. As a result of the NORONIC disaster of September 17, 1949 at Toronto, the Canadian government adopted rigorous new standards for ship safety, regulations which would have required much rebuilding for the car ferries to be brought into conformation with the standards. As both freight and passenger traffic had taken another nosedive after World War II, the Ontario Car Ferry Company decided that it could not afford to update either of its steamers. ONTARIO NO. 1 remained in lay-up at Cobourg as she was by then out of class and could not have been reactivated without drydocking, inspection, and the refit necessary to bring her into compliance with the new regulations. ONTARIO NO. 2 remained in service and made her last lake crossing on Sunday, April 30th, 1950, the day on which her certificate expired. When she arrived at Cobourg that day, steam was let down for the last time and the Ontario Car Ferry Company's service died.
The ONTARIO NO. 1 was sold to A. Newman and Company, St. Catharines, for scrapping and Newman resold the ferry to Richard E. Dwor of Marine Salvage Ltd., Port Colborne. ONTARIO NO. 1 was towed into Humberstone on July 9. 1950 by the Toronto Towing and Salvage Company's wooden steam tug H.J.D. NO. 1 and was moored in Ramey's Bend. Dwor contracted with the E. B. Magee Company of Port Colborne to assist with the demolition, and scrapping of the vessel was completed by October 31, 1950.
On July 5th, 1950, ONTARIO NO. 2 was towed into Port Dalhousie harbour, she also having been purchased by A. Newman and Company. She was tied alongside the old N.S. & T. passenger sheds (formerly used by NORTHUMBERLAND and DALHOUSIE CITY) and there her upperworks were stripped off down to the main deck. After this operation was finished, the hull was towed to Hamilton, Ontario, for breaking up by the Steel Company of Canada Ltd. Scrapping was not completed until July 1952.
Today, nothing much remains of ONTARIO NO. 1 and ONTARIO NO. 2 except the memories of Cobourg and Rochester residents who daily saw the comings and goings of the big ferries. Fortunately, the large and ornate brass builder's plate from ONTARIO NO. 2, once displayed proudly on the front of her pilothouse, has been preserved and is now housed in the Marine Museum of Upper Canada at Toronto where it can be seen by visitors to remind them of the only lake-type carferries Lake Ontario ever had.
(Ed. Note: Special thanks to Jim Kidd and Bob Campbell for their help with this history of the car ferries.)
Lawrence A.Pomeroy, Jr.
It is with regret that we report the death of Lawrence A. Pomeroy, Jr., T.M.H.S. member number 148. Mr Pomeroy, a resident of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, passed away at Cleveland on December 28, 1976. He had long been connected with the lake shipping scene and was an assistant editor of Inland Seas, quarterly journal of the Great Lakes Historical Society. He frequently provided much-needed information for our own Marine News feature and his assistance and enthusiasm will be sadly missed. To Mr. Pomeroy's family we extend our deepest sympathy.
How did that happen?
As our readers know, we always strive for accuracy in the information, whether historical or current, that we present in these pages. Our various articles are meant to inform, not to create problems, and we take great pains to avoid the perpetuation in print of erroneous information.
It was, therefore, with considerable mortification that we recently became aware of the fact that a major error had crept unnoticed into our Ship of the Month feature in the January issue, the article dealing with the life and loss of the sandsucker SAND MERCHANT. For some strange reason, our article mentioned throughout that this steamer was lost in 1937 but, of course, the sinking actually occurred in 1936. We sincerely regret this error and would ask that all our readers make the necessary correction in their records. Meanwhile, we are still trying to figure out how this error managed to sneak past the hawkeyes of Ye Ed. and his fearless proofreader.
We are pleased to continue our listings of vessels laid up for the winter at various lake ports, a series which began with our Toronto Harbour lay-up listing which appeared om the January issue, and which will continue next issue if our readers assist by sending us the lists for their area ports. Wherever possible, we have excluded tugs, ferries and winter-operating vessels.
Hamilton: ATLAS TRAVELER, BROOKDALE, W. M. EDINGTON, ERINDALE, FORT HENRY, FRENCH RIVER, FRONTENAC, GEORGE G. HENDERSON, LAKE WINNIPEG, LEADALE, MENIHEK LAKE, JOHN E. F. MISENER, PATERSON, PINEDALE, ROYALTON, SENNEVILLE, SILVER ISLE, THORNHILL
Port Colborne: ALGORAIL, E. B. BARBER, GLENEAGLES, LABRADOC, QUETICO FRANK A. SHERMAN, TELESIS
Humberstone: AVONDALE, CANADOC, CHARLES DICK, GEORGIAN BAY, IMPERIAL LONDON, MONTREALAIS, QUEDOC, PETER ROBERTSON
Port Weller: CANADIAN CENTURY, MANITOULIN, PIERSON DAUGHTERS
Ashtabula: JAMES R. BARKER, E. G. GRACE, ELTON HOYT 2nd, HERBERT C. JACKSON
Sandusky, Ohio: JOHN R. EMERY
Huron, Ohio: PONTIAC
Erie: STEWART J. CORT, ARTHUR B. HOMER, LAKEWOOD, LEHIGH, NIAGARA, J. S. ST. JOHN, J. F. SCHOELLKOPF JR., STEELTON
Ecorse: PAUL H. CARNAHAN, LEON FALK JR., JOHN T. HUTCHINSON, GEORGE M. HUMPHREY, J. A. W. IGLEHART, JOHN A. KLING, RAYMOND H. REISS, ERNEST T. WEIR
Thunder Bay: COMEAUDOC, D. C. EVEREST, INCAN SUPERIOR, MAPLECLIFFE HALL, T. R. McLAGAN, NATIONAL TRADER, ST. LAWRENCE, STADACONA, TADOUSSAC
Ojibway (Windsor): ALGOSOO, CANADIAN MARINER, FORT YORK, H. M. GRIFFITH
Prescott: CAROL LAKE, HALLFAX, LAKE MANITOBA, LAWRENCECLIFFE HALL
Contrecoeur: GEORGE HINDMAN, MONDOC
Sarnia: AGAWA CANYON, ALGOWAY, ARCTIC TRADER, BLACK BAY, BLUEWATER BELLE, CANADIAN PROGRESS, FRANKCLIFFE HALL, FUEL MARKETER, HILDA MARJANNE, IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD, IMPERIAL SARNIA, LAKESHELL, QUEBECOIS
(Plus DOAN TRANSPORT, HUDSON TRANSPORT and IMPERIAL ST. CLAIR which are scheduled to lay up at Sarnia when winter navigation ends.)
Cleveland: C. L. AUSTIN, J. BURTON AYERS, CADILLAC, GOODTIME II, JOSEPH H. FRANTZ, LYMAN, MARINE FUEL OIL, MARINE FUEL II, MARKHAM, WILLIAM G. MATHER, POLARIS, W. C. RICHARDSON, WILLIAM A. REISS, >WILLIAM R. ROESCH, WILLIAM P. SNYDER JR., PAUL L. TIETJEN, THOMAS WILSON
Montreal: BAIE ST. PAUL, BAYSHELL, GEORGE M. CARL, CEDARBRANCH, EASTERN SHELL, IMPERIAL LACHINE, IMPERIAL VERDUN, MANTADOC, J. W. McGIFFIN, MURRAY BAY, RICHELIEU, RIMOUSKI, SIMCOE, TEXACO WARRIOR
Sorel: BAFFIN TRANSPORT, BLACK RIVER, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, ELMBRANCH, FORT KENT, LAKE TRANSPORT, LA MARJOLAINE, LOUTRE CONSOL, RALPH MISENER, SCOTT MISENER, LUCY MAUD MONTGOMERY, JAMES NORRIS, TRANS ST. LAURENT, TROIS-RIVIERES
(The listing for the port of Sorel does not include certain vessels which have lain there since the close of the North Traverse dredging operations.)
Quebec: BEAUPRE, BETSIAMITES, CASTOR CONSOL, N. A. COMEAU, FEUILLE d'ERABLE, GASPESIEN, HAVRE ST. PIERRE, LAVAL, MANISTIQUE, MENIER CONSOL, MINK, M.T.P. 130, RUPSA, ST. ROCH, SAULT AU COCHON, TECHNO-CANADA, TECHNO-QUEBEC, TECHNO-ROCHETTE, TEMERAIRE, VEMO NO. 3, VEZINA NO. 2, VILLE DE VANIER, ZULU
Lauzon: OTTERCLIFFE HALL
Louiseville (Quebec): J. F. CHARLOTTE, GOLDEN SABLE, HALFUELER, LOUIS JOLLIET
Levis: FORT GASPE
For their assistance in supplying material for this listing, our thanks go to "Scotty" McCannell, Vince Sadler, Bob MacDonald, Neil Bauman, Al Schelling, Duff Brace, Al Sweigert, Rudi Rabe, Perry Haughton, Bob Henkel, Dan McCormick, Rene Beauchamp, Michel Vezina and Milton Brown.