Friday, October 7th - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Open Slide Night.
Members are invited to bring a few slides each to illustrate their summer shipwatching
The Editor's Notebook
The May meeting was a resounding success with a full complement of members assembled to enjoy together some pleasant refreshment, a delicious meal and the most interesting address given by Peter Worden of Northville, Michigan. If you were not there, then you missed a great evening. Our thanks go not only to Pete for coming such a long distance for the occasion but also to Gordon Turner and to Bill Wilson of the program committee for their efforts in arranging the dinner meeting.
Membership Fees are now due and payable. Your Executive
Committee has reviewed the fee structure and despite recent costly increases in postage rates,
it has been decided that we can operate for a further year with no increase in membership fees.
Accordingly, fees of $10.00 per member are now due and should be forwarded as soon as possible
to the Treasurer, Mr. James M. Kidd, 83 Humberview Road, Toronto, Ontario, M6S 1W9.
This being the last issue of the current volume of our
publication, we should like to thank all those who have sent articles to us and who have kept
us supplied with news items. Without your assistance we could not produce this newsletter and
we trust that we shall have your continuing support.
In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to
Kevin Kocarik of Welland and to Gordon Hunt of Ward's Island, Toronto.
The newest addition to the fleet of the American Steamship
Company, the self-unloading stemwinder BELLE RIVER, was christened at the Sturgeon Bay yard of
the Bay Shipbuilding Corp. on July 12th by Mrs. William G. Meese, wife of the chairman and
chief executive officer of the Detroit Edison Company for which the new ship will operate. The
keel of BELLE RIVER had been laid on March 11, 1976 and she was launched on September 30th,
1976. She is 1,000 feet in length and has a beam of 105 feet and a molded depth of 56 feet
which will give her a draft on the midsummer marks of 34 feet. BELLE RIVER is named for the
newest Detroit Edison power generating plant to which the carrier will deliver low-sulphur
Montana coal at a rate of 67,000 tons per trip. The plant is scheduled for completion in the
mid-1980's. Trials for the vessel were held about a week subsequent to the christening
ceremonies but BELLE RIVER got herself off to a rather inauspicious start. A machinery
malfunction occurred during the trials and the boat had to be towed back to the shipyard.
During the tow, BELLE RIVER grounded and the extensive repairs needed are expected to keep her
out of operation until late August or early September.
Work is progressing at Lauzon and at Collingwood on the
most recent self-unloaders being built for Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. The Lauzon boat, Davie
Shipbuilding's Hull 684, was launched on July 7th and was named JEAN PARISIEN. Although we have
yet to see a photo of the vessel, we are given to understand that she will be similar in
appearance to the Collingwood-built H. M. GRIFFITH and J. W. McGIFFIN.
The other self-unloader, Collingwood's Hull 212, has not
yet (at the time of this writing) been launched. It is expected that she will be christened
LOUIS R. DESMARAIS in honour of the recently-retired C.S.L. board chairman. The DESMARAIS will
be unusual in that although she will be another of the McGIFFIN type, she will not have a
rounded bow. She will be given a sharp, ice-breaking bow to enable her to engage in winter
Following completion of LOUIS R. DESMARAIS, Collingwood
Shipyards will begin work on Hull 215, a similar self-unloader ordered by Algoma Central. She
will sport the same type of ice-breaking bow.
The Kinsman Lines steamer BEN MOREELL was officially
rechristened ALASTAIR GUTHRIE in ceremonies held at Duluth on July 14th. Sponsor of the boat
was Mrs. Alastair Guthrie. The ship has been named for the 84-year-old head of Guthrie-Hubner
Inc., a Duluth grain brokerage firm.
Kinsman's reactivated steamer GEORGE M. STEINBRENNER did
not long remain in service. All spruced up for her return to operation this spring, she laid up
in the Frog Pond at Toledo on June 15th awaiting an improvement in business conditions. As of
the final week of July, Kinsman's PAUL L. TIETJEN was still in service but running on borrowed
time. She was due for her five-year inspection in early July but was not drydocked at that
Kinsman's GEORGE D. GOBLE made an unusual trip down the
Welland Canal on July 16 with a part-cargo of barley consigned to Oswego. The remainder of her
cargo was unloaded at the Lake & Rail Elevator in Buffalo. As far as we can recall, this
was the GOBLE's first transit of the Welland Canal.
The passenger steamer MILWAUKEE CLIPPER, (a) JUNIATA, was
drydocked at Sturgeon Bay in June in preparation for her entry into the excursion service for
which a Chicago group purchased her from the Wisconsin and Michigan Steamship Company. She is
intended to run short daytrips out of Chicago for her new owners and will operate under the
name CLIPPER. Unfortunately, difficulties have been encountered and as of mid-August the ship
was still at the shipyard. Considering her age (71 years) and the fact that she has lain at
Muskegon without turning a wheel since 1970, the expected reactivation of the steamer is a most
welcome surprise and we wish her every success. Late reports, however, indicate that a dispute
has arisen between Great Lakes Transit Company and the Coast Guard which may make operation
At long last, the Scott Misener Steamships Ltd.
bulk carrier RALPH MISENER has got the monkey off her back! The ugly bucket-type unloading rig
which graced (?) the ship's deck since she was built has finally been removed, much to the
satisfaction of most observers who now note that the boat is not really so bad-looking after
all. The unloader had never operated according to specifications and during the last few years
was used very infrequently. Its removal has considerably increased RALPH MISENER's carrying
Now that TEXACO BRAVE (II) has arrived on the lakes, Texaco
Canada Ltd. has taken the opportunity to refit both TEXACO CHIEF (II) and TEXACO WARRIOR (II).
The latter two boats have been laid up in turn at Toronto to have their tanks cleaned and lined
with a protective coating.
In our last issue, we mentioned that the Quebec and Ontario
Transportation Company Ltd. was in the course of purchasing a salt water vessel to add to its
fleet. The ship has turned out to be the Spanish motorship MONTE ALMANZOR which was brought
into fresh water in late May. She has since been refitted at Port Colborne and renamed BAIE
COMEAU II. It is said that the company had originally intended to rename her MANICOUAGAN (III)
but that certain parties had disapproved of the proposed name due to their inability to
A major grounding occurred on June 3rd when BLANCHE HINDMAN
found the bottom of the St. Clair River just off St. Clair, Michigan. The steamer sustained no
serious damage but she was held fast until the afternoon of June 7. She was finally freed by
the combined efforts of the tugs BARBARA ANN, MARY E. HANNAH, KINSALE, MAINE, MARYLAND, WILFRED
M. COHEN and G. W. ROGERS. Also helping were ATOMIC, BAGOTVILLE and PAUL E. Incidentally, since
the accident, BLANCHE HINDMAN has finally been given a white forecastle.
A more serious grounding occurred on June 21 when IRVING S.
OLDS missed the turn at Mission Point on the St. Mary's River and wound up on the rocks of
Mouse Island. The OLDS was lightered of part of her ore cargo and was released with the help of
tugs. She was then sent off to the shipyard where, we understand, extensive repairs were to be
made to her hull plating.
The Interlake Steamship Company's newest vessel, MESABI
MINER, entered service in late spring and was upbound in the St. Clair River on her maiden
voyage on June 7th. Christening ceremonies were held at Duluth on her arrival and the ship's
sponsor was Mrs. Hubert H. Humphrey. The boat has operated regularly ever since, apparently
without any major difficulties.
MESABI MINER'S sistership JAMES R. BARKER, however,
recently found herself in a rather delicate situation. In the early-morning hours of July 19,
the BARKER was downbound in the St. Mary's River whilst MESABI MINER was upbound. When both
ships were in the vicinity of Six Mile Point, below the Soo, a dense fog descended on the river
reducing visibility to nearly zero. Both went to anchor in the upper end of Lake Nicolet and in
the morning, when the fog lifted, they and several other anchored vessels prepared to get
underway. The BARKER, however, soon encountered difficulty in raising her stern hook. The tugs
NIBROC and RAY DUROCHER were sent to the scene and the larger JOHN ROEN V was also summoned.
When divers went down under the BARKER'S fantail, it was found that the anchor chain had been
wrapped twice around the port wheel and that the anchor itself was only some eight inches from
the starboard screw. With only thirty inches clearance between the bottom of the boat and the
riverbed, the divers cut the chain and freed the wheel, allowing the BARKER to resume her trip
late on July 20th.
GEORGIA tows POLARIS out of Cleveland harbour en route to Ashtabula for scrapping on May 25, 1977. Photo by Alan W. Sweigert.The Acme Scrap Metal Company has taken delivery of both
CHICAGO TRADER and POLARIS for scrapping at Ashtabula. The G-tug GEORGIA fetched the TRADER
from her resting place in Toledo's Frog Pond on May 23rd and the following day arrived safely
with her charge at Ashtabula. GEORGIA then proceeded to Cleveland where on May 25th
she took a line on POLARIS and hauled her down the lake. It seems that POLARIS will be the
first of the two to feel the torch.
An enexpected visitor to the lakes on several trips since
May has been the ROLAND DESGAGNES, the former Halco motorship NORTHCLIFFE HALL. She has been
running from the St. Lawrence to the Algoma Steel plant at the Canadian Soo. Meanwhile, the
Desgagnes Group has also sent into the lakes its JACQUES DESGAGNES, the former pulpwood carrier
The newest vessel of the fleet of Nipigon Transports Ltd.
is now in service. Looking little different from a typical works-aft salt water bulker, which
is exactly what she used to be, LAKE NIPIGON passed up the Welland Canal on her delivery voyage
from Singapore (via the Suez Canal) on May 19. She was then berthed at the Law Stone dock at
Humberstone where she was given the final touches, including removal of special strengthening
members which had been placed in her for the delivery trip. Registered at Winnipeg as C.341240,
she entered regular service for her owners in mid-June. Now full Seaway size, LAKE NIPIGON was
built in 1971 at Govan, Scotland, as the 527-foot TEMPLE BAR. She has a bulbous bow and from
photos we have seen, the only major work that was done to convert her for lake use (apart from
the lengthening) was the rebuilding of her deck and hatches.
FERBEC, the ship purchased by Canada Steamship Lines Ltd.
for use in the St. Lawrence River titanium trade, has entered service after a refit at the
Davie shipyard at Lauzon. FERBEC will remain a stranger to those of us who confine our
shipwatching activities to the waters of the lakes as she is too large to transit the St.
Meanwhile, the boats which FERBEC replaced on the route,
namely Upper Lakes Shipping's CANADIAN TRANSPORT and CAPE BRETON HIGHLANDER, have both been put
into mothballs in Florida waters. The former went to the wall in April while the HIGHLANDER
retreated southwards in mid-August.
ATLAS TRAVELER, the small motorship which was brought into
the lakes last year by the Erie Sand Steamship Company for the Lake Ontario cement trade, has
now been renamed LOC BAY for her new service.
A few years ago, the entire lake shipping community was
buzzing over the North Traverse dredging project in the St. Lawrence River near the Ile
d'Orleans. Readers will recall that a number of former lake vessels were used as dredges and
spoil-scows in the project. In the meantime, the newly-deepened channel has quietly been
silting up to the point where a new dredging project must be undertaken to keep the channel in
navigable condition. It is our understanding that the majority of the boats used in the earlier
job, and which have since been lying idle at Sorel, will be reactivated for the current project
and if this is true, many of our former lake friends (such as BULKARIER, CREEK TRANSPORT,
HUTCHCLIFFE HALL and NORMAN B. MacPHERSON) may yet see some further service.
We understand that the Huron Cement Company has called for
bids on the construction of a 600-foot bulk cement carrier and that one of the bidders is
Fraser Shipyards of Superior, Wisconsin, a yard that has recently concentrated more on
rebuilding and repairs than on new hull construction. It is to be assumed that the advent of a
new cement carrier in the Huron fleet would spell the end for such picturesque oldtimers as J.
B. FORD and E. M. FORD.
The Welland Canal witnessed an unusual passage on June 14th
when the tug JAMIE A. BAXTER passed downbound en route to New Orleans. The vessel, built at
Sturgeon Bay by Peterson Builders, was delivered to her owners on June 9 and arrived at
Montreal on June 16. She is rather like the tug-half of PRESQUE ISLE and is destined to operate
as the pusher unit for a similar tug-and-barge combination which will operate on salt
Another delivery from Peterson's Sturgeon Bay
yard was AURORA, another ferry built for the Alaskan service. She cleared Sturgeon Bay on May
26th en route to her new home via the Panama Canal.
Speaking of PRESQUE ISLE, the tug-half of the 1,000-footer
passed down the Welland Canal on August 20th on the way to Port Weller Dry Docks. Her operators
were apparently taking advantage of a lull in the ore trade (due to the miners' strike) to get
the tug onto the dock for inspection and repairs.
One of the most handsome boats running the lakes this year,
and at the same time one of the oldest, is the Soo River Company's steamer H. C. HEIMBECKER.
The former WESTDALE, transferred to Soo River from Westdale Shipping Ltd. earlier in the year
as part of a corporate reorganization, is now resplendent in her new colours, showing off a
white forecastle and a fancy white stripe running from the bow back to beyond the break of the
forecastle. The real eye-grabber, however, is her tall white stack complete with narrow black
band, wide black smokeband and black outline of a shamrock. Apart from PIERSON DAUGHTERS which,
of course, has the full white stripe and the company's name down the sides, the only other Soo
River boat to display the hull stripe is E. J. NEWBERRY. We presume that the others will soon
be painted in the same manner.
In our May issue, we mentioned that the Hall tanker
FROBISHER TRANSPORT had been sold to Shell Canada Ltd. We are now beginning to wonder whether
this is, in fact, the case. FROBISHER TRANSPORT has been observed in the lakes on several
occasions during the summer and in each case she has still been in full Halco colours. We do
know that Hall has been trying to peddle the tanker to other operators but it is possible that
as yet no sale has been consummated.
Halco has, however, disposed of another of its units. The
small tanker SEA TRANSPORT (II) has been sold to Danish interests. Ever since she entered the
Hall fleet several years ago, the ship has been one of the company's smaller units and recently
she has proved to be excess tonnage.
Speaking of the Hall fleet, some of our members may have
observed a change in the company's houseflag. The flag still sports the "wishbone" and 'H' but
the upper field (above the wishbone) is now black whilst the lower field is a bright red.
During the earlier months of the 1977 navigation season,
observers have been watching with great interest the rebirth of LAVIOLETTE as Avery Cruise Line
Limited's excursion steamer BLUEWATER BELLE. Berthed at Sarnia for the last stages of her
refurbishing, she has been painted a bright blue and white and her stack has been made white
with a blue smokeband on which appears a large old-English-type letter 'A'. The forward car
deck has been glassed in and the boat deck has been fitted with large orange lifefloats. The
former ferry's old deep steam whistle has been replaced by a chimed whistle but it now appears
that we may not hear its tones echoing across the water after all. The Mooretown-based firm was
expecting to operate BLUEWATER BELLE in the excursion trade out of Sarnia but if she has
operated at all this summer, it has been on a very limited basis. There recently appeared a
notice in one of the Toronto newspapers showing a photo of the steamer and advertising her for
sale. We must therefore assume that Avery has either spent all its money on the rebuilding and
has none left for operation, or else that the market for such an operation at Sarnia did not
prove to be as great as expected. We somehow doubt that the latter would be the case.
The advent of lake cruising by Midwest Cruises' steamer
LOWELL THOMAS EXPLORER has been considerably delayed by a complicated labour dispute involving
the crew and its representation. As of mid-August, the boat was still at Montreal and Midwest
was hoping that things would be straightened out in time for the ship to finish out the season
with a series of four-day cruises, presumably to be run out of Windsor. It appears that this is
not to be.
Despite earlier rumours to the effect that her
condition was sufficiently deteriorated as to make further operation after this year very
unlikely, the Hindman Transportation Company's steamer PARKER EVANS was sent to Port Weller Dry
Docks in early August for her four-year inspection. Considerable repair work was done on the
boat and she has since re-entered service, her continued operation, at least in the foreseeable
future, now assured.
For two seasons now, the steam tanker LIQUILASSIE has lain
idle at Toronto, her usefulness on the lakes apparently at an end. Observers have rather
doubted that a buyer could be found for her in view of the fact that she was originally built
on the lakes for service on Lake Maracaibo and hence is of unusually shallow draft.
Nevertheless, LIQUILASSIE's owners were recently approached by interests from the Caribbean who
wished to buy the tanker for service down south. The potential purchasers apparently were
unwilling to offer more than the scrap value of the ship and thus the sale has not been
finalized. Meanwhile, LIQUILASSIE continues to lie across the end of the Terminal Warehouse
pier awaiting whatever the future may hold for her.
We earlier commented upon the proposed sale of IMPERIAL
LONDON by Marine Salvage Ltd. for Caribbean operation. Honduran interests have been negotiating
for the purchase of the tanker but we have heard that as yet they have been unable to show the
colour of sufficient money to persuade the scrap firm to part with possession of the ship. It
is for this reason that IMPERIAL LONDON has not yet been taken off to drydock at either Port
Weller or Whitby as was earlier expected.
The Paterson motorvessel HAMILDOC (III), which was this
spring sold for off-lakes use, is now operating under the name THARROS. She was sold by
Paterson to the Tharros Navigation Company, a Greek concern, and is now flying the Liberian
During the latter part of July, there appeared in the
drydock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, the rather elderly diesel tug SEAWAY NO. 1 which was
undergoing hull repairs as well as sandblasting and painting. Although we have as yet no
confirmation of the facts, we are led to believe that the tug has been purchased by the Great
Lakes Pilots Association for use at the Soo, not only as a tender for ferrying pilots to ships
but also to render assistance to salties as they transit the locks. This should help to reduce
the number of accidents which have plagued salties at the Soo, ocean vessels often having
insufficient ballast capacity to make them manageable in high or changeable wind conditions. No
doubt we shall hear more of SEAWAY NO. 1 shortly.
The question of whether or not VACATIONLAND will be
returning to the lakes for service on the Meldrum Bay - DeTour Village ferry service as well as
the Straits of Mackinac carferry run is still very much up in the air. At its meeting on June
23, the Michigan State Highway Commission abeyanced for three months a decision on the proposed
purchase of the vessel by the Eastern Upper Peninsula Transportation Authority, the delay
period to be utilized for a further analysis of the proposal (at a cost to Michigan taxpayers
of $100,000). Meanwhile, the British Columbia provincial government has approved the E.U.P.T.A.
bid of $1,587,000 for the boat, the finalization of the deal to be contingent upon the ability
of E.U.P.T.A. to come up with greenbacks in sufficient quantity.
Meanwhile, the Michigan State Highway Commission on June 29 made the decision to purchase the Straits carferry CHIEF WAWATAM for the scrap price of $102,000 and thus remove her operation from the hands of what was left of the Mackinac Transportation Company, her life-long owner. This seems to have been a wise move since the Michigan taxpayers were already paying for the operation of the veteran ferry. The CHIEF herself left her station at the Straits on July 21 and steamed down to Sturgeon Bay where she was scheduled to go on the drydock for her five-year inspection and survey.
It seems that seldom in recent years have we
been able to get through a navigation season without labour disputes interrupting either the
operation of the boats or the availability of cargoes. It seems that 1977 will be no exception.
The shipment of grain from the port of Superior, Wisconsin, was interrupted by a strike of
inspectors employed by the Wisconsin Bureau of Grain Regulation, members of the Wisconsin State
Employees' Union, who walked off the job on July 3 as a result of a wage dispute. Several salt
water vessels scheduled to load at the port left without cargoes while others, as well as
numerous lakers, were diverted to Duluth and to Thunder Bay where grain cargoes were
available. The workers were still off work at last word.
To make matters worse, the contracts of U.S. ore miners,
members of the United Steelworkers' Union, expired on August 1st and lake shippers were
anticipating the early depletion of supplies of iron ore and taconite ready to be shipped from
northern ports. As cargoes have dried up, most firms have sent a large proportion of their
boats into layup until the dispute should be settled and as early as the last week of July, a
good number of the smaller carriers had already received layup orders. For instance, the U.S.
Steel Great Lakes Fleet, which commissioned this spring 22 vessels, laid up 11 at the onset of
the strike, including all of its coal-burners. Its four operative "supers" (LEON FRASER,
BENJAMIN F. FAIRLESS, ENDERS M. VOORHEES and A. H. FERBERT) were sent down the Seaway and the
other seven boats running will try to keep themselves busy on the upper lakes until things
return to normal. There has been no resolution of the dispute as of this writing.
The tinstacker ENDERS M. VOORHEES was on July 17 involved
in an accident which could have had tragic results but which fortunately ended happily. The ore
carrier was westbound in the Portage Canal when a small boat occupied by five persons cut in
front of the steamer. The motorboat's engine malfunctioned and before the VOORHEES could be
stopped, she struck the boat whose occupants took to the water. They were fished out by a
nearby boat but the VOORHEES in all the confusion veered against a mudbank. She was able to
free herself without damage.
As if it were not bad enough that SILVER ISLE punctured
herself rather nastily in a spring collision with a Seaway lockwall, Mohawk's other stemwinder
SENNEVILLE struck a rock in Thunder Bay harbour on June 3 while attempting to clear port with a
grain cargo. The grounding was attributed to low water levels which have made access to the
various Lakehead elevator slips something of a problem. SENNEVILLE was lightered and floated
free the following day, the only damage being a cracked plate which was subsequently
Another summer accident involved the Algoma self-unloader
AGAWA CANYON which, on July 18, had an argument with the west abutment of Bridge 11 on the
Welland Canal at Allanburg. The accident was caused by a steering failure and, although no
damage was caused to the bridge and only minor damage to the abutment, the ship herself
received a rather nasty 30-foot gash in her port bow. She was diverted to Toronto where her
salt cargo, originally consigned to Kingston, was unloaded. The ship was then repaired at Port
Weller Dry Docks Ltd. and soon returned to active service.
During 1976, Toronto harbour was graced by the presence of
the Thames sailing barge MAY which had been brought across the Atlantic by the Redpath Sugar
Company as a promotional stunt. MAY returned to her home waters last fall but this year Redpath
has brought over yet another sailing barge, this time the ETHEL. This pretty vessel is
currently operating out of Toronto and will be barnstorming around the lakes for the next three
years, sailing to Florida each winter. She arrived on the deck of the Finnish salty PUHOS.
The Columbia Transportation Division steam craneship W. C.
RICHARDSON has been welded up at Cleveland in preparation for an overseas tow. The boat has
apparently been sold to foreign buyers who did not really want the RICHARDSON herself but only
her cranes. It seems that Columbia threw the boat into the deal as a means of
transporting the cranes to their new owners.
The fleet of Techno-Maritime, a Quebec-based operation, has
increased the scope of its services with the recent purchase of a goodly number of assorted
tugs and scows. Amongst recent acquisitions have been M.I.L. VENTURE, ZULU, M.I.L. 211, M.I.L.
214, U.T.S. NO. 1, NADINE G. and CAPITAINE SIMARD.
During 1976, many American lakers sported Bicentennial
colours emblazoned on pilothouses, texas cabins, bridge rails, bunker hatch rails, stacks and
even hull sides. Not to be outdone in the decoration department is the 71-year-old steamer
GODERICH of Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. which during 1977 has been showing off the fact that this
year the town of Goderich, Ontario, has been celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding.
The crest adopted by the town for the occasion has appeared on the ship's bows while the dates
1827 and 1977 appear on either bridge rail. In addition, the ship's name has once again
appeared, complete with fancy red shading, on the dodger. It was painted there when Upper Lakes
first bought the boat but in recent years has been conspicuous by its absence. Unfortunately,
GODERICH missed the actual celebrations at which she was to be the star feature; she was
delayed in Toronto and arrived at Goderich a day late.
The east coast fishing schooner PHILIP E. LAKE, which was
brought to Toronto last fall by a group of local buyers, left Toronto in June. She was sold for
off-lakes use, having never really been used whilst here, and made the trip out through the
Seaway under her own power.
Another former east coast fishing boat, the AVALON VOYAGER
which for a while after the departure of the tug QUEEN CITY served as the base for the Toronto
pilot tugs, is currently lying at the inner end of the Ward's Island pier of the Eastern Gap,
looking very much the worse for wear. She is up for sale, although no great rush of buyers has
Along about this point in time, we rather suspect that the
officials of Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. are wishing that they could somehow forget about the
1977 navigation season which has been one fraught with trouble for their ships. CANADIAN
OLYMPIC and WHEAT KING have both been involved in serious groundings while HILDA MARJANNE was
the victim in a relatively minor one. GODERICH required urgent hull and rudder repairs early in
the season and both CAPE BRETON MINER and ONTARIO POWER have needed extensive refits which have
immobilized them during the summer. MEAFORD was involved in a collision which opened up a nice
gash down her port side and POINTE NOIRE has been the victim not only of a June collision on
the Detroit River with the tanker SATURN but also of an August 4th grounding in the West
Neebish Channel. Upper Lakes people could be forgiven for thinking that somebody up there
doesn't like them!
The U.S. equivalent of Upper Lakes in 1977 would appear to
be the Columbia Transportation Division, Oglebay Norton and Company, which also has had more
than its fair share of misery. W. W. HOLLOWAY was the victim of a shipyard fire while J. R.
SENSIBAR was de-boomed at Trenton. SYLVANIA and G. A. TOMLINSON have both been out of service
for repairs following mechanical failures and several other Columbia boats have also been the
victims of other assorted minor mishaps.
You Asked Us
Readers will recall that our May issue mentioned the
retirement of PINEDALE at which time we gave a short sketch of the life of this veteran
In particular we noted that PINEDALE had been converted to
a self-unloader in 1932 and at that time was also lengthened. One of our readers has taken us
up on the latter point, stating that the ship was never lengthened. As a result, we felt that
we had best explain this point so as to avoid future confusion.
A check of the various shipping registers for
the years around 1932 will indicate that WILLIAM T. ROBERTS (as PINEDALE was then known) did
increase her length by 6.5 feet at the time of her conversion and although this change is not a
large one, it is not consistent with a simple remeasuring of the boat, particularly when
similar changes show up in the records of a few other vessels converted to self-unloaders about
that time. It must be remembered that early conversions from straight-deckers to self-unloaders
bore almost no resemblance to the modern conversions of, say, WILFRED SYKES or HENRY FORD
It appears that when WILLIAM T. ROBERTS was converted, she
had a piece put in her, a small piece which either contained or was to contain sections of her
unloading machinery. Undoubtedly this method reduced the loss of cubic capacity which is the
unfortunate but inevitable result of the fitting of unloading equipment in a vessel.
The Wisdom Of Experience?
Some of the pilots who handle the salties during their
visits to the lakes must indeed have some rather strange memories of a few of the boats they
have sailed. One of the pilots operating in the Toronto area is noted for the caustic comments
which he sometimes makes over the air. Recently this particular pilot was bringing the Indian
salty STATE OF HIMACHAL PRADESH into Toronto harbour via the Eastern Gap. After several radio
conversations with the local port control, the pilot was heard to give his "Security Call" and
to identify his ship therein as the STATE OF CONFUSION!
It is with deep regret that we report the passing on June
21st, 1977 of member Hal Jackson of Dearborn, Michigan. Hal had not been in the best of health
during the last few years but his interest in ships, and particularly in lake tugs, remained
undaunted. A member of T.M.H.S. for many years, Hal presented a program on tugs at one of our
meetings several years ago. He was a staunch supporter of our Society as well as of other
similar organizations around the Great Lakes.
To Hal's family, we extend our most sincere sympathy. The
fraternity of marine historians will be much the poorer for his loss and we ourselves shall
miss a personal friend.
The Fitzgerald Enquiry
The U.S. Coast Guard committee which was conducting the
enquiry into the November 10, 1975 loss of EDMUND FITZGERALD announced its findings on August
2nd. The committee found that normal wear and tear on the hatches of the steamer had not been
repaired and that the hatchcovers and dogs were insufficiently strong to keep the ship's holds
dry in such severe weather. It is the investigators' opinion that the covers or fastenings
failed in the storm and that water was admitted, causing the FITZ to ride lower and lower in
the water until she finally plunged into one wave and did not come up.
While we have read only press reports of the findings and
not the committee's report itself, and while we are really in no position to be a judge of the
matter, it would have been our considered opinion that the end of EDMUND
FITZGERALD came much more quickly than indicated by the committee. Not only were her engines
still running when she hit the bottom, but her Captain had no time even to grab the radio
handset to call for help. Whatever came upon the FITZ that night did so with unbelievable
Enquiries may come and enquiries may go but we doubt that
we shall ever know exactly what sank the EDMUND FITZGERALD.
Ship of the Month No. 67 TURBINIA
In our May issue, we presented the story of one of the best known passenger steamers ever to sail the waters of Lake Ontario, the sidewheel nightboat KINGSTON. This month we have chosen yet another Lake Ontario passenger boat but if KINGSTON's career of nearly half a century could be described as a remarkable success, then the rather shorter career of our midsummer ship of the month would have to verge on being exactly the opposite.
A few years ago, we printed in this publication an article entitled "Steamboat to Hamilton" which briefly outlined the operations of four steamers which ran the day line between Toronto and Hamilton. One of the boats which was featured in that article was TURBINIA and since we have in the interim learned a good deal more about this unusual vessel, the time now seems ripe that she should be featured individually in these pages.
The city of Hamilton in 1903 saw the formation of the Turbine Steamship Company Ltd., a firm formed specifically to operate a turbine-powered passenger ship on the run between the neighbouring cities of Toronto and Hamilton. The president of the new concern was John Moodie, Jr., and its directors were William Hyslop and James Turnbull. The company immediately placed with Hawthorne, Leslie and Company of Hebburn-on-Tyne, England, an order for the construction of a turbine-driven dayboat of maximum canal size.
This rare photo is believed to show TURBINIA during her trials on the River Tyne in May 1904. Note the profusion of paddle tugs. Hawthorne, Leslie & Co. photo supplied through the courtesy of Robert L. Campbell.Built in 1904 at a cost of $175,000, the new boat was the
shipyard's Hull 393. She measured 250.0 feet in length, 33.2 feet in the beam and 12. 6 feet in
depth. Her Gross Tonnage was 1065 and her Net was 603. She was given triple screws, the centre
shaft being turned by a high-pressure turbine while the two wing screws were powered by
low-pressure turbines. The engines were built by the Parsons Steam Turbine Company and
developed 4,000 h.p. which enabled the boat to reach a speed of 30 m.p.h. on trials.
Appropriately christened TURBINIA in recognition of her position as the first turbine-powered
steamboat on the Great Lakes, she was enrolled as C. 112201, work on the ship being completed
in May 1904.
Few lake passenger propellors had more graceful hulls than
did TURBINIA. She was given a sweeping sheer and her bow was distinctively flared. Her
beautiful counter stern was so much undercut that the fender strakes running down each side of
the boat at the main deck level had to be extended considerably beyond the hull plating on the
curve of the stern in order to protect the wing screws from being damaged in contact with
TURBINIA had an enclosed main deck which was open only at
the fantail aft of the dining saloon but her promenade deck was almost completely open for the
benefit of those seeking respite from the summer heat amongst the cool lake breezes.
Originally, only a small cabin was fitted around the stack casings but in later days a rather
larger cabin was built on the promenade deck. The boat deck above extended right to the sides
of the ship and ran from the break of the forecastle rail all the way aft to the fantail.
The boat or hurricane deck featured at its forward end a
large rounded pilothouse complete with bridge wings and an open bridge above. A small texas
cabin was located aft of the pilothouse but other than this structure, there was no shelter on
this deck from the elements. Three lifeboats were carried on each side and aft of
the pilothouse was TURBINIA's one tall, raked mast. (A second mast was later added abaft the
stacks.) But dominating the boat's profile were her two tall and heavy funnels, raked and with
the tops cut parallel to the water. The stacks may have been typical of ships of her era but they were so large that they tended to destroy the
symmetry of TURBINIA's lines and to give her a top-heavy appearance.
TURBINIA had a black hull with a red boot-top and a narrow
white band just above the waterline. The uppermost section of the hull, including the bow rail,
was white as were the cabins. The stacks were red with a very narrow white band and a black
smokeband. This same design appeared briefly on the stacks of CAYUGA fifty years later just
before she entered service for the Cayuga Steamship Company Ltd. but was changed before the old
steamer actually went back into operation.
TURBINIA passed her trials on the Tyne and on Wednesday,
June 1st, 1904 she cleared Newcastle for Canada, the North Atlantic crossing taking six days.
Once this side of the pond, she made stops at St. John's, Newfoundland, at Sydney, Nova Scotia,
and at Montreal, after which she proceeded to the drydock at Kingston for inspection and the
addition of the finishing touches. She left KINGSTON on Sunday, June 19th and late the same
evening she arrived at her new home port of Hamilton.
The new steamboat was placed under the command of Capt. A.
Crawford who on Wednesday, June 29th, 1904 took TURBINIA on a special maiden cruise to Toronto.
She entered regular service on June 30, providing two round trips per day between the two
cities. Departures from Hamilton were scheduled for 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. She was not alone on the
run, however, for she faced direct and often stormy competition from the steamers MACASSA and
MODJESKA of the Hamilton Steamboat Company which had been incorporated in 1887 and which was by
this time well established. TURBINIA held her own despite the competition.
After her first summer of service, TURBINIA headed
off-lakes and she spent the winter of 1904-05 operating in the West Indies. She returned to her
Hamilton - Toronto route in the summer of 1905 but the following winter again headed south
where she operated a day service between Kingston, Jamaica, and Santiago, Cuba, under charter
to the Canada - Jamaica Steamship Company. Her operations during the 1905-06 winter were far
from successful and resulted in a loss on the year's operations of some $18,000. It was
announced that TURBINIA would leave Kingston, Jamaica, for the lakes on March 29, 1906 and on
May 1 she arrived at Kingston, Ontario, for drydocking. She had been so badly battered during
the winter months that extensive repairs were necessary. Never again was the steamer sent to
the Caribbean for winter service.
At the annual meeting of the Turbine Steamship Company Ltd.
held early in 1906, the following were elected to office: president, J. Moodie, Jr.;
vice-president, C. A. Birge; secretary-treasurer, G. Hope; directors, Timothy Eaton, C.
Marshall, W. C. Hawkins and Col. J. A. Davidson. At a special meeting in April 1906, however,
the firm was reorganized with a large portion of the stock being purchased by shareholders of
the T. Eaton Company Ltd., the operator of a large downtown-Toronto department store. John
Moodie, Jr., stepped down from the presidency to the vice-presidency while John C. Eaton became
president. J. Vaughan became secretary-treasurer while Harry Magee joined the board of
directors. It was at this time that the head office of the Turbine Steamship Company was moved
from Hamilton to Toronto.
In August of 1906, TURBINIA was "chartered" to make one
trip per week from Toronto to points east, namely Whitby, Oshawa, Bowmanville and Newcastle,
and in addition to sail from Toronto on Thursdays for Port Hope and Cobourg, two ports even
further down the lake, these arrangement to last until the close of the season. The details of
these "charters" are not known but at appears a possibility that these trips were really only
special runs operated by her owner.
Then, in early 1907, the Turbine Steamship
Company Ltd. announced that its steamer would make two trips a day between Toronto and Hamilton
and in addition a weekly trip on Saturdays to Charlotte, New York, the boat returning on Monday
morning. However, this schedule was only tentative for on May 20, 1907 the T.S.S.Co. made public the following revised daily
schedule: 7:00 a.m. Depart Hamilton for Toronto; 9:20 a.m. - Depart Toronto for
Niagara-on-the-Lake and Lewiston; 11:40 a.m. - Depart Lewiston for Niagara-on-the-Lake and
Toronto; 2:00 p.m. - Depart Toronto for Niagara-on-the-Lake and Lewiston; 5:30 p.m. - Depart
Lewiston for Niagara-on-the-Lake and Toronto; 7:50 p.m. -Depart Toronto for Hamilton. The
company also chartered NIAGARA from Hepburn's Lake Ontario and Quebec Navigation Company to run
between Hamilton, Oakville and Toronto, leaving Hamilton at 8:00 a.m. and Toronto on the return
trip at 5:30 p.m. The Toronto - Hamilton portion of TURBINIA's schedule was abandoned on July
15th and thereafter she confined herself for the remainder of the season to the Niagara
TURBINIA's 1907 season was, therefore, a rather confused
affair. As well, the boat managed to get herself, aground in the Niagara River near Lewiston,
New York, as she was departing on the Toronto run at 5:30 p.m. on June 15th. Fortunately, she
managed to free herself at about 9:30 p.m. the same evening.
The 1907 season was probably not particularly successful
for at the annual meeting of the company on February 8, 1908 it was proposed that TURBINIA
confine herself to two round trips a day between Toronto and Hamilton. At the same meeting, the
following executives took office: John C. Eaton, president; John Moodie, Jr., vice-president;
J. Knox, A. Leitch, C. R. Simpson, Harry Magee and J. J. Vaughan, directors. TURBINIA's 1908
season was more successful than her previous one and she stayed on the route for which she had
been built instead of wandering about the lake. Her mechanical performance was also much
improved due to the fitting of a whole new set of screws.
Considering that to date TURBINIA had not been as
successful as might have been hoped, the press reports which appeared early in 1908 were quite
a surprise. They stated that the Turbine Steamship Company Ltd. proposed the construction of
another turbine steamer for the Toronto - Hamilton route and that the order would be placed
with a Canadian shipyard, the turbines to be imported from Great Britain. It was said that
tenders had been submitted to the firm for the building of a ship generally similar to TURBINIA
but about 65 feet shorter and 8 feet less in width and which could accommodate 1,000
passengers. It was proposed that she be named EATONIA. Estimated cost of construction was
EATONIA was, however, never built, for on January 15, 1909
the Eaton interests acquired control of the Hamilton Steamboat Company, thereby ending the
years of competition between the two lines. Surprisingly, the two firms were not merged and
TURBINIA continued to operate in "opposition" to MACASSA and MODJESKA, at least as far as
appearances were concerned. Mergers came hot and heavy thereafter for in 1911 both the
T.S.S.Co. and the H.S.B.Co. were taken over by the Niagara Navigation Company Ltd., the firm
which had proven to be the leader in operating dayboats between Toronto and Niagara River
ports. Then in 1912 Niagara Navigation itself was swallowed by the larger Richelieu and Ontario
Navigation Company Ltd. and on June 11, 1913 the R & O was the major participant in the
amalgamation which formed the Canada Transportation Company Ltd., Montreal. This concern was
almost immediately renamed and thus appeared the familiar Canada Steamship Lines Ltd.
TURBINIA, MACASSA and MODJESKA were all given C.S.L.
colours after the merger and all three continued on the Toronto - Hamilton route although
TURBINIA did stray around the lake from time to time and particularly into the Niagara River.
This state of affairs continued through the first three years of the war but 1917 was not kind
to TURBINIA. Under the command of Capt. A. Jeffreys, she managed to run aground three times in
six days; she hit bottom in the Niagara River off Queenston on June 30, stranded
on Gibraltar Point, Toronto Island, on July 1st, and did the same thing inside Toronto harbour
on July 5. One enquiry was held to cover all three accidents and the Canadian Railway and
Marine World of September 1917 reported on it as follows:
"Capt. L. A. Demers, Dominion Wreck Commissioner, assisted
by Capts. J. B. Foote and Jas. McMaugh as nautical assessors, held an enquiry at Toronto
recently into the causes which led to the stranding of Canada Steamship Lines' TURBINIA in the
Niagara River, June 30, on Centre Island, Toronto, July 1, and in Toronto harbour, July 5. The
court found that the grounding in the Niagara River between Queenston and Lewiston was due to
an error of judgment on the part of the master, A. Jeffreys, in miscalculating the force of the
current and wind but that it was not of a culpable nature. Regarding the second grounding, the
court considered that the master did not apply his judgment in the proper channel; he had
expressed his doubts as to the correctness of the compass but did not take means to ascertain
its deviation; he was running at too great a speed during fog and did not use the lead as he
should have done. He bears a good reputation as an officer and for this reason the court dealt
leniently with him and suspended his certificate for one month from July 20. The court absolved
the mate, M. J. Lawless, from blame for the stranding but remarked that his conduct indicated
"With respect to the third grounding, the evidence was not
very clear, as the master stated that a number of small boats were almost blocking the channel
and in endeavouring to clear them he grounded. The wheelsman and second officer said that they
saw no boats. The court found that he was not in fault in this case but warned him to be more
careful in future and not to lose sight of his responsibilities as master."
TURBINIA survived her accident-fraught summer of '17 but
that was the last season she was to spend on the lakes for half a decade. At the close of the
season she was requisitioned for war service, presumably because of her capability for speed.
She saw service in British waters as a troop carrier and hospital ship and busied herself in
this manner until the close of hostilities, at which time she was laid up at Southampton. She
was advertised for sale at public auction on June 17, 1919 but was withdrawn from the sale.
TURBINIA looked like this during her short career on the Montreal - Quebec day line. Note the extended promenade deck cabin. Photo was probably taken in 1926.TURBINIA remained idle until 1922 when her owners decided
to take her back. C.S.L. had her towed across the Atlantic and she arrived back at Toronto in
October 1922 in tow of the tug SARNIA CITY. She was given a thorough refit and was placed back
in the Hamilton-Toronto service in 1923, complete with an all-white hull. She saw only three
more years of service on her old route, however, for by 1925 her services were becoming
expendable. She was withdrawn from operation early in August 1925 and was laid up at
The following year saw TURBINIA reactivated and reassigned
to the C.S.L. day line between Montreal and Quebec City. She did not last long on this route,
however, and she soon found herself back in ordinary, this time at Sorel. There she remained,
her hull showing the ravages of the passing years in great streaks of rust, until 1937 when she
was sold for scrapping to Les Chantiers Manseau Ltee., the firm which was later to become
Marine Industries Ltd. She was cut up for scrap at the Sorel shipyard.
TURBINIA was a noble and daring experiment on the part of her owners
and it was unfortunate that she did not prove to be quite the success that she might have been.
Instead, she was the first of the three running mates on the Hamilton service to be retired and
was outlasted by steamers fifteen and sixteen years her seniors.