The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Scanner, v. 9, n. 6 (March 1977)
Scanner (Toronto, ON), Mar 1977

Bascom, John N., Editor
Media Type:
Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Lloyd Tankers Night; You Asked Us; Lay-up Listings; Winds Over Lake Huron; Late Marine News
Date of Publication:
Mar 1977
Language of Item:
Copyright Statement:
Protected by copyright: Uses other than research or private study require the permission of the rights holder(s). Responsibility for obtaining permissions and for any use rests exclusively with the user.
Toronto Marine Historical Society
WWW address
Full Text


Friday, April 1st - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. A Double-Feature. Barry Andersen will illustrate Welland Canal scrap tows and the building of CANADIAN OLYMPIC. Jack Heintz will present photos he has taken at the Hook of Holland, the New Waterway and the Kiel Canal.

Friday, May 13th - Annual Dinner Meeting. Note the Date. Details below.

The Editor's Notebook

Our February meeting was a resounding success with an excellent program presented by Bruce Smith. He showed slides of a trip down the Rhine and also took us on a trip along the Erie Canal, a most interesting voyage indeed. Our thanks to Bruce for a most enjoyable evening.

The Annual Dinner Meeting will be held on Friday, May 13th. Please note the change in date necessitated by the restaurant's schedule. We will be sharing a delicious roast beef dinner in the cozy surroundings of the Ship Inn (located in the cellar of the museum) and afterwards will enjoy a program by Peter Worden who will come from Detroit specially for the occasion. Dinner will be served at 7:00 p.m. and the bar will be open earlier for those who might enjoy a pre-dinner restorative.

The capacity of the Ship Inn is limited and we must receive your reservation, accompanied by payment, by the date of the April meeting. The cost will be $10.75 per person and guests will be welcome. All those planning to attend should immediately notify Mr. James M. Kidd, 83 Humberview Road, Toronto, Ontario, M6S 1W9, enclosing the necessary remittance.

In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to John Lang of Toronto and to Eugene Onchulenko of Thunder Bay.

Marine News

The American Shipbuilding Company's Hull 906, now under construction at Lorain for the Interlake Steamship Company as a sistership of the 1,000-foot self-unloader JAMES R. BARKER, will be christened MESABI MINER prior to her entry into service later this year. The name, of course, refers to the famous Mesabi iron range in the state of Minnesota, from which much of the iron ore shipped down the lakes originates. We are pleased that Interlake has chosen a colourful name such as MESABI MINER for its new vessel instead of giving her the name of a company executive.

One of the most interesting and unexpected pieces of news to come our way in a long time concerns the sale of the veteran Canadian steamer WESTDALE. But never fear, dear reader, for WESTDALE will not be heading to the breaker's yard and, in fact, appears to have a good future ahead of her in the grain trade. The reason for the sale is that Westdale Shipping Ltd. and The Soo River Company (for whom Westdale is operating and managing agent) are reorganizing their respective fleets, the idea being that the self-unloaders should be grouped together under the Westdale flag whilst the straight-deck bulk carriers should operate in Soo River colours. Accordingly, WESTDALE has been sold to The Soo River Company and will sail in 1977 in Soo River colours under the name (c) H. C. HEIMBECKER, her new name honouring Herbert C. Heimbecker, senior member of Parrish and Heimbecker, Toronto grain brokers. The 72-year-old WESTDALE, which shares with MARTHA HINDMAN the honour of being the oldest lake vessel operating under the Canadian flag, was built at Superior, Wisconsin, in 1905 and sailed until 1964 as (a) GEORGE W. PERKINS for the United States Steel Corporation. She came Canadian in that year for the Reoch interests of which Westdale Shipping Ltd. is the successor. Despite the fact that her new name is, perhaps, not so colourful as her old and does not roll so easily from the tongue, we look forward to seeing the steamer in her new colours and we wish her many more years of service.

Work on the scrapping of the barge C. S. BAND is proceeding very slowly at Toronto where the ship is moored on the south side of the Leslie Street slip. During the late autumn, cutting was going ahead at a great rate but has slowed considerably since the onset of the cold winter weather. The after half of the hull is cut down to within a few feet of the water (ice) but the bow section has not yet been touched. It is obvious that the cutting will not be finished in March as was originally planned.

A few years ago, the lakes were buzzing with news of the plans to provide a ferry service between Manitoulin Island and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. We had not heard much on the subject in the interim and had thought that the idea had died a natural death but news items recently have indicated that the project is very much alive and, in fact, has a target completion date of 1978. A survey of economic benefits to the areas directly involved should be finished in April and a study of market potential will be done during the coming summer tourist season. The Ontario provincial government will finance the various studies while the federal government will pay for the necessary dock reconstruction at Meldrum Bay on the Island. The state of Michigan and the U.S. federal administration will finance the purchase of the vessel to be used on the route and will provide docking facilities on the Michigan side, presumably at DeTour Village.

The Eastern Upper Peninsula Transportation Authority will have the job of finding a ship suitable for the daily run between Meldrum Bay and DeTour and which also might replace CHIEF WAWATAM as needed on the Mackinaw City to St. Ignace rail ferry crossing. They say that they are looking for an existing ship rather than having a new boat built and it would seem evident that the choice will probably be an idle Lake Michigan carferry. We shall await further developments with great interest.

Last issue we mentioned the names for the Hall Corporation's newly-acquired trio of salt water vessels. It was thought that the boats would not be going to the shipyard until later in the year, but we now learn that CARTIERCLIFFE HALL is already at the Davie Shipyard at Lauzon where work on her conversion is under way. Meanwhile, STEELCLIFFE HALL and MONTCLIFFE HALL are temporarily in the Halco yard at Shelburne, Nova Scotia. CARTIERCLIFFE HALL will be ready for service in September, while MONTCLIFFE HALL will follow in November and STEELCLIFFE HALL in April 1978. The ships are being lengthened to maximum Seaway size and will have almost entirely new forward ends on them when they emerge from the shipyard.

Thousand-foot lake bulk carriers will soon be a thing of the past and 1,100-foot lakers will be the order of the day. The U.S. Corps of Engineers has now given its approval to the operation of the longer vessels through the St. Mary's Falls Canal's Poe Lock. It would seem that the first of the longer carriers will be the new U.S. Steel bulk carrier for which a contract was let last year to the Bay Shipbuilding Corporation. The ship, scheduled for 1978 delivery, was to be built to a length of 1,000 feet but U.S. Steel had an option to increase her length by 100 feet should the Corps see fit to revise its regulations for the Soo Locks. There has been no public reaction from the steel company yet but we imagine that it will shortly announce its intentions to build to the maximum permissible length.

After a year's absence, Midwest Cruises Inc. of Indianapolis will be back in the lake cruise business during 1977 with the steam (yes, steam!) passenger vessel LOWELL THOMAS EXPLORER, a vessel built in Sweden and operated previously on the Baltic Sea by Finnish interests. The ship was originally scheduled to enter the lakes in 1976 but she was trapped in Finland last summer by a strike of local seamen. A rather more traditional ship in appearance than either WORLD DISCOVERER or STELLA MARIS II, the two previous cruise boats sent to the lakes by Midwest, the EXPLORER (and we truly hope that her name will be so shortened) will run five week-long cruises from Windsor to Mackinac Island, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay and Duluth commencing on May 28th. She will also make six four-day trips from Windsor to Mackinac Island and Georgian Bay, two seven-day trips from Montreal to the Gaspe, and numerous shorter trips from Windsor to Niagara and from Montreal to the Saguenay.

Last issue we mentioned that the end to winter navigation on the upper lakes came on January 20th with the downbound passage of the Soo Locks by the last of the U.S. Steel bulk carriers. Well, that was the way it was supposed to happen, but old man winter intervened again and the inclement weather kept the last of the boats in the St. Mary's near the locks until January 22nd. ROGER BLOUGH, CASON J. CALLAWAY and PHILIP R. CLARKE, together with the Halco tanker DOAN TRANSPORT, were delayed because on the evening of January 20, heavy ice in the channel parted the ice boom above Little Rapids Cut and the four ships had to wait until the U.S. Coast Guard could retrieve the wayward boom and its anchor cables. The break occurred just as the BLOUGH was downbound at the Bayfield Turn above Mission Point and the vessel had to be backed upstream to an anchorage in the lower Poe Lock approach. She, CALLAWAY and DOAN TRANSPORT spent the night below the locks while CLARKE locked down on the 21st. All four left the Soo on the evening of January 22 and with the assistance of icebreakers the tinstackers made their way to Lake Michigan and the tanker to Lake Huron bound for Sarnia. After unloading her last cargo, the BLOUGH proceeded down the lakes to Lorain where she arrived on February 4th in preparation for winter drydocking.

But no sooner had the winter navigation season ended than it started up again. The cities of Sault Ste. Marie (Ontario) and Thunder Bay were beginning to run short of heating oil due to the extremely cold conditions prevalent this winter and the lakehead paper mills were short of chemicals. No sooner had DOAN TRANSPORT arrived back in Sarnia than she and HUDSON TRANSPORT loaded fuel oil for delivery to the Soo. With the help of C.C.G.S. GRIFFON and U.S.C.G. MACKINAW, the tankers reached the Soo on January 30. They unloaded and on February 4th departed downbound, the delay being caused by the absence of MACKINAW which had damaged herself in the ice. The tankers cleared port when WESTWIND arrived to assist.

DOAN and HUDSON TRANSPORT returned to Sarnia and there were joined by IMPERIAL ST. CLAIR which came off the drydock at Toledo on February 3rd. The three motorships loaded and set off northwards again, HUDSON TRANSPORT bound for the Soo with fuel oil and the ST. CLAIR and DOAN TRANSPORT for Thunder Bay, the former with fuel oil and the latter with caustic soda for Dow Chemical. Assisted by the icebreakers GRIFFON and WESTWIND, the three fought heavy ice most of the way and finally arrived at the Soo on February 13, the HUDSON TRANSPORT being dropped off there to unload and await the return of the other two tankers downbound.

DOAN and ST. CLAIR together with their escorts passed up the American canal and then came to the worst part of their trip, the trek through the thick ice of Whitefish Bay through whose ridges they were sometimes able to cover only a mile each five hours. Once past Caribou Island, the going was easier but Lake Superior is about 80% ice-covered and even the mid-part of the lake caused problems. The trip from Whitefish was made without WESTWIND and the relatively puny GRIFFON frequently became stuck herself and only managed to get free by swinging her heavy boom from side to side. The convoy reached the lakehead on February 18th and the two tankers were escorted into the Kaministiquia River to unload, large crowds of local residents having turned out to witness the unusual event. IMPERIAL ST. CLAIR and DOAN TRANSPORT left Thunder Bay again on February 21st, with GRIFFON serving again as escort, en route back to Sarnia. It is possible that another trip may be attempted in the near future but as of this writing neither Imperial nor Halco has any definite plans in this regard.

Despite the revival, albeit limited in scope, of winter navigation on the lakes during February, icebreaking operations have been severely limited as a result of the forced lay-up of two major icebreakers. ALEXANDER HENRY, stationed at Thunder Bay, was sidelined with engine problems which have kept her inactive, while MACKINAW spent most of February in drydock at Lorain for the repair of propellor and shaft damage suffered in the St. Mary's River on February 3rd. This has left only WESTWIND and GRIFFON available for service.

One of the great wonders of the current winter season is that three of the oldest tankers on the lakes are in operation. The Amoco Oil Company has kept AMOCO ILLINOIS, AMOCO WISCONSIN and AMOCO INDIANA in service on Lake Michigan despite the fact that all three have encountered difficulties in bucking the heavy ice conditions. Readers will recall that the INDIANA got into trouble near Traverse City earlier in the winter and now comes word that WISCONSIN spilled a quantity of oil onto the ice while moored on February 2nd at the Standard Oil terminal at Escanaba, apparently as a result of the fracturing of rivets in the hull due to ice pressure. We hope that this problem is not too severe or else the authorities may well force the retirement of this beautiful steamer as they did in the case of Cleveland Tankers' ROCKET several years ago. AMOCO INDIANA, AMOCO WISCONSIN and AMOCO ILLINOIS are 40, 47 and 59 years old respectively and, to be quite honest, we cannot but feel that to operate such elderly ships in heavy ice is foolhardy, to say the least.

Not only have tankers and late-operating bulk carriers been the victims of the unusually heavy ice of the current winter, but the Lake Michigan carferries have also been affected. VIKING, bound for Frankfort from Kewaunee on January 29th, became trapped in ice not far from her destination. The U.S. Coast Guard tug RARITAN fought her way to the scene and on February 1st, after the ferry had spent three days stuck in the ice, the tug finally managed to get her free. VIKING made it safely to Frankfort harbour, loaded again for Kewaunee and departed, only to become stuck again in almost the same location as before. This time RARITAN was waiting for her and the Ann Arbor ferry was freed with little difficulty.

Capt. H. C. Inches

It is with deep regret that we report the death at Vermilion, Ohio, on Saturday, February 5th, of Captain H. Chesley Inches at age 95. Funeral services were held at Vermilion on February 9th and burial was at Algonac, Michigan, where Capt. Inches lived for most of his early years.

Capt. Inches was born at Port Huron and first sailed the lakes in 1901 as a deckhand. He retired from active service as master of the steamer FRANK ARMSTRONG of the Interlake Steamship Company in 1947 but continued to serve as a relief captain for the next 11 years.

Capt. Inches was a noted marine historian and author and served from 1958 until 1970 as curator of the Great Lakes Historical Society Museum at Vermilion. He was honoured in 1976 as the Marine Historian of the Year by the Marine Historical Society of Detroit. He was member no. 217 of T.M.H.S. and on many occasions had assisted us in the obtaining of information on various lake ships.

To the family of the late Capt. Inches, we express our deepest sympathy. Our Society, and indeed the entire lake shipping fraternity will be the poorer for his passing.

Lloyd Tankers Night

T.M.H.S. members will recall the Lloyd Tankers Ltd. fleet list which was published in these pages back in 1973. The material which we presented then is being augmented by the Mississauga South Historical Society with photos and the reminiscences of men who sailed in the various ships of the fleet.

Members of T.M.H.S. are invited to be the guests of the Port Credit Texaco Refinery at a Lloyd Tankers Night slide presentation which will be held on Tuesday, March 15th at 8:00 p.m. The showing will be held in the first building south of Lakeshore Road on the west side of Mississauga Road in Port Credit and parking will be available nearby.

For further information, please phone member Lorne Joyce at 278-8590.

You Asked Us

John Vournakis of the Michigan Soo has asked us about the tug MANICOUAGAN, (a) FEDERAL BEAVER, which was operated at Port Cartier by the Quebec Cartier Mining Company. She had been built in 1962 at Owen Sound, an 87-footer. In 1973 her place was taken by the new tugs BROCHU and VACHON and MANICOUAGAN was sold to the Northland Navigation Company Ltd. of Vancouver who took her to the west coast and in 1974 renamed her (c) OCEAN PRINCE II.

Lay-up Listings

We bring our winter fleet feature to a close with this issue. Unfortunately, we have received few additional listings for the various lake ports and are somewhat disappointed that we received no information on several major upper lake harbours. In any event, we do have a few notes to add to the material presented in these pages during the last two months and we sincerely thank all those who took the time and effort to send us lay-up information.

Ashtabula. Ohio: Add to previous listing HARRY COULBY.

Beauharnois, Quebec: BLANCHE HINDMAN wintering in canal below Lock 3.

Montreal. Quebec: Add to previous listing MONT ST. MARTIN.

TEXACO WARRIOR back in operation by early February.

Winds Over Lake Huron

As most of our readers will know, it is the practice of your Editor to review in these pages the various literary efforts of our talented and knowledgeable members as they appear in print. You folks haven't been keeping us very busy lately but this situation was remedied the other day when we received in the mail a package with the unlikely postal cancellation of Hicksville, New York, on it. Not knowing anybody in Hicksville, New York, who would be likely to send us a book in the mail, ye Ed. eagerly finished removing the wrapper, a procedure which the efficient hands of the post office had already begun for us, and soon beheld a 147-page hardcover entitled Winds Over Lake Huron: Chronicles in the Life of a Great Lakes Mariner. We haven't been able to put it down since.

Winds Over Lake Huron has been written by Capt. Robert A. Sinclair of Lakewood, Ohio, who has been a T.M.H.S. member for several years. If only we had known that he was such an accomplished author, we would long ago have corralled his services to assist with "Scanner". For Winds Over Lake Huron is without a doubt the most refreshing book written about the lakes, their men and their ships, in a good many years.

Capt. Sinclair writes of the coming of his family to the Great Lakes area, of the days of his own childhood in the town of Goderich, and of his many and varied experiences aboard lake freighters during the second and third decades of this century. His pen flows with a fluid and easy style and he speaks to us in a way that lets all understand his most intimate feelings about those days now long past. His tongue is frequently in cheek and he never shies away from the humour inherent in some of the situations in which he found himself while a young man exploring the weird and wonderful world of lake shipping. But best of all, Capt. Sinclair writes with an honest and infectious enthusiasm for his subject, something almost totally lacking from most other lake volumes but which makes Winds Over Lake Huron affect us in much the same exhilarating way as do the real bluewater breezes blowing off the lake.

Winds Over Lake Huron contains photographs and a bibliography and is fully indexed for those seeking out the mention of any particular ship (and many steamers are mentioned). In addition, the author has very thoughtfully placed at the bottom of the page on which each vessel is introduced a thumbnail history of the ship and he certainly meets our own personal requirements for accuracy.

Winds Over Lake Huron has a publication date of February 28th, 1977 and no doubt will soon be available in local bookstores. The volume is published by Exposition Press Inc., 900 South Oyster Bay Road, Hicksville, New York 11801, and the price is a most reasonable $7.50. We hesitate not a bit in recommending it highly.

The only trouble with the book is that Capt. Sinclair leaves us hanging in that he ends his account with the 1928 bankruptcy of the Forest City Steamship Company. As he did not retire from lake vessels until 1963, we sincerely hope that we can expect a further volume of his experiences. If so, we shall wait with eager, although somewhat impatient, anticipation.

Ship of the Month No. 64 REGINA, TAGONA and KENORA

To those who may not have known them well, the steam canallers of the first six decades of this century must seem pretty much alike, those dumpy, bluff-bowed little steamers that shuttled back and forth carrying their cargoes through the diminutive locks of the old canals. To the trained eye, however, they were all different. Not only that, but they fell into distinct classes according to the year of build and the yard from which they came. Indeed, those who got to know the canallers well could easily identify the builder by a quick look at the lines of a boat's hull (or lack of them), the configuration of her cabins and the cut of her counter.

This time around, we'll take a look at a group of three canallers which made their appearance on the lakes not long after the turn of the century and marked an important step in the transition from wooden hulls to steel along the canals. One of the ships lasted but seven seasons on the lakes, another served for just a decade, but the third traded up and down the lakes for 52 years, a life far longer than that of the average canaller.

Two of the most famous names in Canadian lake shipping history were those of Roy M. Wolvin of Winnipeg (and formerly of Duluth) and Captain J. W. Norcross of Port Colborne. The paths of these two eminent gentlemen crossed and in 1907 they together formed two companies for the purpose of engaging in lake transportation. One of the firms was the Mutual Steamship Company of Port Colborne, while the other was the Canadian Lake Transportation Company Ltd. of Toronto. It is with this latter firm that we shall now concern ourselves, although we shall hear again later of the Mutual Steamship Company.

The Canadian Lake Transportation Company Ltd., having been brought into being to operate ships, now needed to obtain ships which it could operate. The company, in its first year of existence, let contracts for the construction of three canal-sized steamers and, like many lake shippers of the day, went off-lakes to search for a shipbuilder. They chose the firm of A. McMillan and Sons Ltd. of Dumbarton, Scotland, and before long the keels were laid for their first three vessels.

The first of the trio to be launched was REGINA which hit the water on September 3, 1907. She was named in honour of the capitol city of the province of Saskatchewan and she was given official number 124231. She was originally registered at Glasgow but it appears that she was later reregistered at Toronto. REGINA measured 249.9 feet in length, 42.6 feet in the beam and 20.5 feet in depth, her Gross Tonnage being listed as 1,957. We do not have confirmation of her Hull Number, but we have every reason to believe that she was McMillan's Hull 419.

REGINA was a single-screw vessel and was powered by engines and boilers made especially for her by Muir and Houston Ltd. Steam at 185 p.s.i. was supplied by two coal-fired, single-ended Scotch boilers measuring 12 feet by 10 feet 10 1/4 inches. Her direct-acting, surface-condensing, triple-expansion engine had cylinders of 17, 28 and 46 inches and a stroke of 33 inches, and developed an Indicated Horsepower of 650. The boilers also supplied steam for the circulating pump, auxiliary duplex feed pump, ballast pump, etc., as well as for her steering engine, a steam capstan mounted aft and two three-ton double-cylinder steam deck winches.

REGINA and her two sisters were designed and built as package freighters. Accordingly, she was fitted with 'tween decks and had three cargo ports on each side. Her two tall masts, the foremast just aft of the forecastle and the main just forward of the boilerhouse, were each fitted with a heavy cargo boom to assist in the loading and unloading of general cargo. She had six deck hatches.

The new steamer had a raised forecastle and flush quarterdeck. On the forecastle was located the texas cabin and a small, rounded chartroom. Above the latter was the pilothouse, a small, wooden structure with five windows across the front. Painted white (as were the rest of the cabins) up to just below the level of the windows, the upper portion of the pilothouse was varnished teak as were the doors, giving the ship's forward end a somewhat unusual appearance. The pilothouse was not equipped originally with a sunvisor. A large and substantial cabin was fitted aft with a recessed boilerhouse at its forward end. It was surmounted by an impressively tall funnel and just aft of the stack was the bunker hatch.

REGINA's hull was painted black and she was given a green boot-top and a white forecastle rail. The cabins were white and the funnel was all black. REGINA and her sisters, unlike most of the canallers, had a great sweeping sheer to their hulls. When light, they lifted their bows high but when loaded deeply they tended to ride with the stern lifting noticeably.

REGINA was duly completed by her builders and sailed in ballast for Canada, arriving at Montreal during October 1907. She was immediately put into the package freight service between Montreal and the Canadian Lakehead, operating in what was familiarly known as the "Canadian Lake Line". She did not have it when she first came out, but in later years she would carry this name in white on her bows.

Even though she carries C.S.L. colours, this 1915 Young photo shows KENORA much as she appeared when built.Meanwhile, A. McMillan and Sons Ltd. had gone to work on the second of the ships and she was launched in early October 1907. She was the yard's Hull 420 and she was given official number 124235. The steamer was christened KENORA in honour of the town located in the Lake of the Woods area of Northwestern Ontario. The town's name itself had an interesting derivation, the first two letters being taken from the Territory of Keewatin, the middle two from Norman, another area settlement, and the last two from Rat Portage, the original name of the town.

KENORA was almost an exact sistership of REGINA and her basic hull measurements were the same. Her tonnages were a bit different, her Gross being listed as 1,955 and her Net as 1,275. Her machinery was the same as that fitted in her sister and was supplied by the same firm. KENORA was completed in early November and she sailed in ballast for Montreal. Upon her arrival, she loaded a cargo of sugar and on November 26, 1907 she sailed for Hamilton. Once the sugar had been unloaded at that port, she proceeded to Toronto where she was put into winter quarters. She entered regular service on the package freight route of the Canadian Lake Line in the spring of 1908.

The third boat in the series did not get across the Atlantic until the summer of 1908. Christened TAGONA, she was given official number 128188. We do not know her hull number. A bit different from REGINA and KENORA, she was 249.6 feet in length, 42.6 feet in width and 21.1 feet in depth, these measurements giving her tonnage of 2,004 Gross and 1,299 Net. As far as we know, she had exactly the same machinery. Her appearance was generally similar to that of her two sisters, but she had a rather larger pilothouse with seven windows across its front. The pilothouse was not varnished and was painted white but in typical fashion it did not have a sunvisor.

TAGONA arrived in Toronto for the first time on July 14th, 1908, her crossing of the Atlantic having been delayed by a minor grounding incident on the coast of Newfoundland. On her arrival, she joined REGINA and KENORA in normal lake service.

REGINA, KENORA and TAGONA were the only three package freighters built by McMillan's yard to their particular design. It should be noted, however, that there were several other canallers built by McMillan which were somewhat similar in appearance to our trio. GLENMOUNT (I) and STORMOUNT (I) were built in 1907 for the Montreal Transportation Company Ltd, while PRINCE RUPERT was completed in 1908 for the Kingston Shipping Company Ltd. and the C. A. JAQUES in 1909 for the Merchants Montreal Line. These four ships were, however, bulk carriers not package freighters.

For the first few years of their lives, our three steamers operated uneventfully. They were involved in no major accidents of any sort and plied their unglamourous trade up and down the St. Lawrence and Welland Canals, already looking very small on the upper lakes compared to the vessels then being built in shipyards there. But behind the scenes were happening events that were eventually to change the entire appearance of shipping on the Canadian side of the border and behind these machinations were none other than Roy Wolvin and Capt. Norcross, the principals of the Canadian Lake Transportation Company Ltd.

On May 2, 1910, Wolvin and Norcross merged their Mutual Steamship Company with the Merchants Steamship Company, Toronto, to form the Merchants Mutual Line Ltd. of Toronto. The principals of the new firm were D. B. Hanna, president; Z. A. Lash, vice-president; Sir Henry M. Pellatt, Frederick Nicholls, and W. H. Moore, directors. It so happened that these gentlemen, along with others, also controlled the Canadian Lake and Ocean Navigation Company Ltd. of Toronto.

During 1911, the Merchants Mutual Line Ltd. was merged with the Canadian Lake Transportation Company Ltd. to form the Canadian Interlake Line Ltd. This new concern had as its president M. J. Haney, as its managing director, Capt. J. W. Norcross, and as its operating superintendent Capt. H. W. Cowan. In 1912, the company was reorganized as the Canada Interlake Line Ltd. and its principals were: M. J. Haney, president; Roy M. Wolvin, vice-president; H. Munderloh, Montreal, E. H. Ambrose, Hamilton, J. F. M. Stewart, Toronto, T. Bradshaw, Toronto, and Capt. J. W. Norcross, Toronto, directors. None other than Capt. Norcross served as managing director. R. O. MacKay and A. B. MacKay of Hamilton had been the operators of both Merchants Mutual and Canadian Lake and Ocean but they withdrew from the scene when the Norcross - Wolvin interests took over in 1911.

The final step in the master plan took place on June 11, 1913 when Wolvin and Norcross consolidated the various lines over which they had gained control and, with the help of certain other interests, formed what was originally called the Canada Transportation Company Ltd., the name shortly being changed to Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal. The Canada Interlake Line Ltd. was one of the concerns merged into the new company and as a result, REGINA, TAGONA and KENORA became units of the C.S.L. fleet. Despite the merger, however, the Canada Interlake boats continued to operate under the name of the Merchants Mutual Line, the familiar name being kept for a few years, presumably in an effort to overcome opposition to the new order of things.

It took a bit of time for the many ships in the giant C.S.L. fleet to be assimilated into the new line's operations. KENORA and TAGONA would eventually be given the company's new colours but for 1913 at least, things continued pretty much as they had been. By this time, the appearance of REGINA had been modernized a bit by the addition of a sunvisor to her pilothouse and the painting of that cabin white. Even so, she still frequently boasted a large, striped awning stretched out over the forecastle in the old style.

But REGINA was to be the first of our three sisters to drop out of sight and she did so in a terrifying manner that managed to grab headlines in almost every paper in Canada and the northern United States. November 1913 is a month that will never be forgotten by lake sailors or historians, for never in the history of the lakes has there ever been another month in which so many ships and lives have been lost on Great Lakes waters. REGINA was one.

The days around what is now known as Remembrance or Armistice Day, November 11th, have for many years been known for the violent weather conditions that seem likely to occur in the Great Lakes area at that time of year. But in November 1913, there developed over the lakes a storm situation such as has never been seen before or since. The storm, consisting of unusually high and unstable wind conditions, below-normal temperatures and heavy snowfall, lashed the lakes for three days but the worst of the fury struck the lower Lake Huron area in the late afternoon and evening hours of Sunday, November 9th.

Earlier that day, REGINA had passed up the St. Clair River and out through the Huron Cut into Lake Huron. As she passed Port Huron, an employee of the local vessel reporting agency remarked that REGINA seemed to be carrying a particularly heavy deckload of sewer and gas piping. She moved out into the lake in what was probably considered to be nothing more than typically bad fall weather. Thanks to the undeveloped state of weather forecasting at that time and to the fact that this storm moved in ways that none reported had ever done before, the masters of vessels on lower Lake Huron that day had no idea of what surprises the lake had in store for them. Had Capt. E. H. McConkey of the REGINA known, he would have held his ship within the safety of the St. Clair River.

A vessel which preceeded REGINA out into the lake, the bulk carrier H. B. HAWGOOD in command of Capt. A. C. May, was the last ship whose men ever saw REGINA and lived to tell about it. The HAWGOOD had been upbound but in the face of the heavy gale, Capt. May decided to turn and run back down the lake (the ship eventually grounded just above Point Edward). Shortly after making his turn, he saw REGINA still heading uplake. At that point, she was about fifteen miles south of Harbor Beach, Michigan. Not long before, the HAWGOOD had also passed the steamer CHARLES S. PRICE and not long after she would meet the ISAAC M. SCOTT, both of these vessels also being lost in the storm. The PRICE was found a few days later floating upside down about eleven miles above the Huron Cut and the SCOTT was not seen again until the summer of 1976 when her wreck was located off Thunder Bay Island. The poor little REGINA hasn't been seen again to this day, although for a while the overturned hull of the PRICE was thought to be that of REGINA.

The REGINA would have gone down in the books as just another of the ships that disappeared in the Great Storm of 1913 were it not for some unusual discoveries made along the beach on the Canadian shore of the lake near Goderich where many of the men lost with their ships in the storm eventually came ashore. One of them was John Groundwater, chief engineer of the CHARLES S. PRICE. The problem was that he was wearing a REGINA lifebelt when found and so also were several other men from the PRICE whose bodies found their way onto the beach. This led many observers to believe that the two ships had collided in the storm and that in the confusion the men might have jumped from one ship to the other. Unfortunately, the hull of the PRICE sank before it could be completely examined by divers, but as of today there is still no confirmation that the PRICE and REGINA came together in any way on the lake that day over sixty-three years ago. The end of REGINA may never be known and there is little point in speculating as we will never know the conditions that faced her in the final hours of her existence.

KENORA and TAGONA, by now units of the largest Canadian fleet ever to sail the lakes, carried on without their lost sister and it is likely that the fleet did not suffer much as a result of her loss, having as it did many more units than it could possibly use economically. They carried on through 1914 and into 1915 at which time both ships were requisitioned by the Canadian government for salt water service during the First World War. As of August 5th, 1915, KENORA and TAGONA, together with many other canallers, were operating in deep-sea service and although many of them returned to the lakes during the winter of 1915-16, KENORA and TAGONA did not do so.

Not much can be discovered at this late date concerning the wartime exploits of our two steamers. Quite naturally, the comings and goings of the extremely vulnerable little canallers were not made widely known. The Dominion Wreck Commissioner's reports do, however, bear mention of each ship. KENORA is known to have gone aground off Flat Point, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, on August 2nd, 1915 while on passage from Montreal to Sydney in command of Capt. Burgess. It is entirely possible that this might have been her delivery voyage to the east coast. TAGONA got into trouble, but somewhat farther afield, when on November 1st, 1916 she suffered heavy weather damage off Scarweather Lightship whilst en route from Glasgow to Dunkirk. She was under the command of Capt. John Manuel at the time.

As far as we know, KENORA suffered no further ill effects from her enforced stay on salt water and she survived to sail the lakes once again. TAGONA almost made it back too, but not quite. With only a few months of hostilities remaining, she fell victim to enemy action. It was on May 16, 1918 that she was without warning torpedoed by a German submarine whilst in a position about five miles west-southwest of Trevose Head, England. She sank quickly and eight lives were lost when she went down.

And so, when hostilities ended, KENORA was the only one of the original three sisters that was still operating. She ran another year or so on salt water and then was brought back to the lakes about 1920 as C.S.L. attempted to get its lake operations back in order after having lost so many of its canallers during the war years, some the victims of enemy action and others having fallen prey to the heavy weather conditions for which they had never been designed.

But when KENORA came back to the lakes, she looked very much different from the ship she had been when she left in 1915. While she was on salt water, her bridge structure had been moved back off the forecastle to a less exposed location midway between the first and second sideports. It appears as if the original texas was moved down the deck (although it might have been a new deckhouse) and set between two new closed bulwarks. The old chartroom was discarded but the old pilothouse was set directly atop the texas and an open bridge was constructed atop the pilothouse. In addition, KENORA had gained a third mast. A stubby, heavy-set affair, it was really nothing more than a glorified kingpost and was set midway between the bridge and the boilerhouse, a cargo boom being slung forward from the new mast. The only other change was the addition of two heavy braces from the taffrail to the underside of the boat deck overhang aft. In latter years these braces seemed to serve no useful purpose but during the war years the empty space aft on the boat deck had been used as a gun placement and the supports had been installed to carry the weight of the ship's armament.

This is the KENORA as she looked in the late thirties, caught in the Detroit River by the camera of Capt. William J. Taylor.KENORA operated without major change during the twenties and thirties, although she was given an enclosed upper pilothouse, probably not long after her return to fresh water. KENORA, being a package freighter, was able to keep fairly active during the years of the Great Depression unlike the bulk carriers of the C.S.L. fleet, most of which spent considerable time in idleness. Then came the years of the Second World War and with them an increased demand for the services of the canal package freighters. KENORA had long since been surpassed in efficiency by new canal steamers but her carrying capacity was needed and about 1940 she was given a complete modernization.

The steamer's mid-deck bridge was scrapped altogether and a brand new texas and pilothouse were constructed on the forecastle. Both cabins were much larger and more commodious than their predecessors and were relatively similar in appearance to the forward cabins given the newer package freighters of the fleet when built. The pilothouse had a handsome panel of five windows set in varnished frames and it's "ears" were a pair of rather noticeable door shelters. The bridge wings were given closed rails and looked most substantial even though they were enclosed only by plywood. The removal of the bridge from the shelter deck opened up more cargo-handling space and a cargo elevator was installed where the old bridge had been. The kingpost and its boom were removed and the mainmast moved forward, the latter now sporting two booms.

KENORA operated through the forties and fifties but as time went on she was frequently relegated to the status of spare boat, as were a number of the other older C.S.L. package freight canallers. Then, as the opening of the. St. Lawrence Seaway approached, it became evident that the handwriting was on the wall for the canallers. In 1957. the company dropped CANADIAN as well as the four smaller "City" class express steamers, CITY OF HAMILTON, CITY OF KINGSTON, CITY OF MONTREAL and CITY OF TORONTO, and in 1958 the veteran EDMONTON was retired. The year 1959 saw the opening of the Seaway and with it came the last gasp of the older package freighters. KENORA, BEAVERTON and CALGARIAN were all used strictly as spare boats, running off and on as needed. But none of them would finish out the year, nor would they ever operate again.

KENORA looked like this as she neared the end of her career. Photo by J. H. Bascom shows her approaching the Humberstone bunkers dock on May 31, 1958.The aging KENORA, by now 52 years old, spent the latter part of the 1959 season laid up at Windsor, her services no longer needed. Canada Steamship Lines was beginning to weed the laid-up units from its fleet as it was obvious that they would never again be operated. One of the steamers sold was KENORA which in late autumn was purchased by the Steel Company of Canada Ltd. for scrapping at Hamilton. In due course, the McQueen tugs ATOMIC and PATRICIA McQUEEN came for the old girl and towed her from her lay-up berth, down the Detroit River, across Lake Erie and into the Welland Canal. It was a cold, blustery and snowy Sunday, November 29, 1959 on which the two tugs hauled their charge out through the piers at Port Weller and turned in the direction of Hamilton.

KENORA was cut up for scrap during the early months of 1960 and BEAVERTON and CALGARIAN followed her. CANADIAN had preceded her into the oblivion brought by the wreckers' torches. With the demise of KENORA, there disappeared from the scene not only the last of our famous trio of steamers but also the last of the canallers built in the early years of the century by A. McMillan and Sons Ltd. at Dumbarton, Scotland.

(Ed. Note: Try as we might, we have been unable to find out how TAGONA came by her name. We had thought that she was named for a town in western Canada, but we have not been able to locate any place by that name either on current maps or in older gazeteers. Can anyone help?)

Late Marine News

Michigan state officials have apparently decided to go ahead with plans to operate CHIEF WAWATAM as a barge on the Straits of Mackinac carferry service. We understand that the CHIEF will run under her own steam until about the middle of April at which time her propellor will be removed and she will be pushed back and forth by a tug. We are pleased to hear that there is no intention of cutting her down. At least for the time being, her superstructure will remain intact. Better that than a deck barge, we suppose, but we are still disappointed.

A recent issue of Lake Log Chips suggests that Bethlehem Steel's 1000-foot carrier, Hull 717 out of Sturgeon Bay, may be named BURNS HARBOR. The name would honour the port on Lake Michigan to which much ore is shipped.

Guessing Games Dept: Does the fact that U.S. Steel's self-unloader T. W. ROBINSON is laid up at Superior along with many of the company's retired vessels mean that she won't operate in 1977? We believe that she is due for survey this year and for the past year or so we have been hearing rumours that she had just about reached the end of her rope. We hope not.

Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

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

Scanner, v. 9, n. 6 (March 1977)

Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Lloyd Tankers Night; You Asked Us; Lay-up Listings; Winds Over Lake Huron; Late Marine News