Friday, April 7th - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. John H. Bascom will share
with us his "Reminiscences of the Old St. Lawrence Canals". Friday, May 5th - Annual Dinner Meeting. Note the date. Details below.
The Editor's Notebook
Our February meeting was a success, thanks to John Lang who presented four advertising films, some no longer current, dealing with major passenger vessels. They were well received by our members who seemed unable to divert their attention from some of the pictures on the screen!
The Annual Dinner Meeting will be held Friday, May 5th. Please note that although we had hoped to meet on the Saturday, a change has been necessitated by the restaurant's schedule. Dinner will be served at 7:00 p.m. at the Ship Inn (located in the cellar of the Museum) and the bar will open earlier for those who might enjoy a pre-dinner restorative. Speaker will be Mr. Daniel C. McCormick of Massena, New York, whose subject will be "The St. Lawrence in Transition - Twenty-Five Years of Change".
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 (no change from last year) and guests will be welcome. All those wishing 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 Kenneth Cooper of Kingston, to Ronald H. Taylor of Orillia, to Kenneth E. Thro of Hay-ward, Wisconsin, to Capt. Ted Hanifan of Windsor, to Paul R. Belanger of the Canadian Soo, and to Ron Konkol of Thunder Bay.
The long-rumoured retirement of the tanker IMPERIAL SARNIA may be approaching reality. It will be remembered that she was due to be replaced by IMPERIAL ST. CLAIR in 1974 but the veteran was still in sufficiently good condition that she has continued to operate. To run past the end of the 1978 season, however, she would need considerable deck reinforcement and Imperial Oil Ltd. at present has no plans to lay out funds for such work. Built at Collingwood in 1947-48, IMPERIAL SARNIA was sent to the east coast via the Mississippi River in 1953 and was completely rebuilt at Sorel in 1954. She came back to the lakes in 1965 and has stayed with us ever since.
Readers will recall that IMPERIAL SARNIA is not the only Imperial Oil tanker whose future has been in doubt. IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD also has been reported to be nearing retirement and her lengthy period of idleness in the summer of 1977 gave a bit of a fright to observers who concluded that she had turned her last. She did, however, return to service this autumn. The winter 1977 issue of "Fleet News", Imperial's marine staff quarterly, indicates that "the restricted operating plan for IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD was implemented successfully. Her profitability was increased to acceptable levels by scheduling her into selected ports, profitable outchartering and a five-week vacation lay-up in the summer. We are hopeful that this kind of operation for the vessel will continue 0" Accordingly, it seems probable that IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD will operate beyond the retirement date announced for her a few years ago.
In the "Here We Go Again Department" should be placed the news that yet another entrepreneur has plans to "save" the veteran passenger steamer SOUTH AMERICAN from the scrapyard. This time around, the plans come from one Jeff Degaynor, a Mackinac Island businessman, who has made a down payment on the ship and expects to bring her back to the lakes, even though he appears to have no concrete plans for her. According to a report in the Toledo Blade dated February 12th, he might moor her at either Mackinac Island, Sault Ste. Marie, St. Ignace, Detroit, or Holland, Michigan. Take your pick! The purchase price for the boat was apparently the princely sum of $16,000 but Degaynor is seeking additional financing to cover the cost of the restoration project. He claims that a crew will be sent to the vessel's current berth at Jersey City, New Jersey, within the next month to begin painting. They will have a monstrous job ahead of them, for we have seen photos of both the exterior and interior of the ship as she now lies and can certify that she has not aged gracefully.
We do not wish to play the spoilsport as far as SOUTH AMERICAN is concerned and indeed such a role is difficult for us to consider, for Ye Ed. was one of the faithful who joined the SOUTH for her final voyage from Detroit to Montreal back in October of 1967. Nevertheless, the SOUTH has reached such a state of decrepitude that we find it hard to imagine that she could economically be restored for any useful purpose. Her wooden cabins are in disgusting condition and her machinery was removed shortly after her arrival on the east coast. Our own personal preference would be that the South Jersey Port Authority find a buyer (if there should exist such a person or corporation) who would quickly cut SOUTH AMERICAN up for scrap before she deteriorates further. After so many years of stalwart service, she deserves a better fate than has so far developed for her and we rather wish that she could be put out of her misery before more time passes.
The Canadian tanker GULF CANADA, like so many other Canadians fleeing from the joys of a northern winter, has gone south for the duration of the season. The steamer is presently laid up at Tampa, Florida, where she is undergoing a thorough refit preparatory to returning to Canadian waters (and, we hope, to the lakes) in the spring. A full colour photo of GULF CANADA graced the front page of The Tampa Tribune on February 7th. GULF CANADA was built in 1952 at Collingwood and originally sailed as (a) B. A. PEERLESS.
Hard times have fallen on the salt water operations of Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. Whereas the company would normally have a number of its boats running on the Atlantic during the winter months, such is not now the case and all of the ships are presently in ordinary. Among them, ST. LAWRENCE NAVIGATOR and ONTARIO POWER are at Shelburne, Nova Scotia, CAPE BRETON MINER is at Halifax, and ST. LAWRENCE PROSPECTOR is at Toronto where she is undergoing extensive repairs to her starboard bow for damage sustained in an autumn accident in the Seaway. CAPE BRETON HIGHLANDER, PHOSPHORE CONVEYOR and CANADIAN TRANSPORT are all lying at Tampa, Florida. The company would like to sell the latter vessel for scrapping but with the current depressed state of the world scrap market, it seems that it would cost as much to tow the ship away as could be realized from her dismantling.
The shipyard at Port Weller has been one of the busiest such facilities anywhere in Canada for the past few years and the prospects are good that this state of affairs will continue, at least for the foreseeable future. Not all of Canada's shipyards are in such an enviable position, however, and one of the least busy has been the Halifax shipyard owned and operated by Hawker Siddeley Canada Ltd. In fact, employment at the yard has slipped to less than eighty persons recently. The situation is likely to change in the near future, for negotiations are now in progress which should lead to the acquisition of the shipyard by Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. which, of course, also owns Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd. Plans are not yet finalised, but it appears that the property may actually be purchased by the Nova Scotia government and then leased to Upper Lakes. Final arrangements are said to be imminent. The yard will presumably be used to service Upper Lakes Shipping's salt water vessels which currently must be brought into the lakes (where possible) or else sent to a shipyard operated by rival interests, such as the Halco yard at Shelburne, Nova Scotia, where two Upper Lakes boats are currently wintering.
The acquisition of the ferry SUNSHINE COAST QUEEN, (a) VACATIONLAND, (b) JACK DALTON, (c) PERE NOUVEL, by Michigan state authorities for use on a ferry service between Meldrum Bay, Ontario, and Detour Village, Michigan, as well as on the Straits of Mackinac carferry sun, has been stalled pending the results of yet another study. This latest affair, expected to cost Michigan taxpayers $100,000, will look into the feasibility of converting the double-ender for the carriage of railroad cars. By the time a final decision has been made as to whether the big ferry should be returned to the lakes, a veritable fortune will have been expended by both Ontario and Michigan officials on surveys and studies of one sort or another.
In the February issue, we mentioned that the former C.S.L. lake package freighter FORT CHAMBLY paid a visit to Montreal in December. It has since become apparent that she is spending the winter in that port and, from the present appearance of things, it is possible that she may be spending more time in Montreal than was anticipated by her owner. It seems that an arrest warrant was served on the ship on January 31 in connection with a cargo of wire rods valued at $451,456 which was to be shipped from Spain to Nigeria for a West German company. The consignor has alleged that the rods were not unloaded in Nigeria and that they are still aboard the boat. Accordingly, the firm has taken legal action to secure the delivery of the cargo and damages to compensate for the delay.
The more we hear about the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company's steamer SHELTER BAY, the less we like the chances of seeing her in operation come the spring. As time passes, each word we hear is more pessimistic. In the meantime, the steamer herself lies on the north wall of the Toronto ship channel at the entrance to the turning basin, facing inwards. This is an unusual location for her and, as far as we have been able to observe, there has been little if any work done on her during the winter.
Several issues ago, we reported that the sandsucker ESPERANCE III, a salt water vessel, was upbound in the Welland Canal in mid-December, apparently bound for Lake Erie service. We have since learned that the ship has been acquired by R. J. Au and Sons of Mansfield, Ohio, a firm engaged in marine contracting on Lake Erie. It is not known exactly where she will be used.
For those who keep statistics on new vessels for their records, we are pleased to report the following new enrollments:
CARTIERCLIFFE HALL, C. 372490, registered at Toronto, November 4, 1977. Motorvessel built 1959 at Hamburg and rebuilt 1977 at Lauzon. 716 x 76 x 36, Gross 18531, Net 12617. 8,634 H.P. Owner - Hall Corporation Shipping Ltd., Montreal.
JEAN PARISIEN, C.368347, registered at Quebec, November 25, 1977. Motorvessel built 1977 at Lauzon. 720 x 75 x 43, Gross 22772, Net 16351. 9,000 H.P. Owner - Power Corporation of Canada Ltd., Montreal.
In addition, we might note that the registry of ELMBRANCH was closed on November 1, 1977 with the notation that she was sold to Panamanian owners. Of course, she is now (c) WITSUPPLY II.
The Boland and Cornelius fleet, the American Steamship Company, has had a very strange reputation over the years, that of engaging in more changes of name amongst its vessels than any other lake operator. The massive array of boats named THUNDER BAY QUARRIES, CONSUMERS POWER, ADAM E. CORNELIUS, JOHN J. BOLAND, DETROIT EDISON, DIAMOND ALKALI, DOW CHEMICAL, etc. ad nauseum, is surely enough to inflict mental anguish on any but the most knowledgeable historians. In recent years, the habit of continually shifting names has worn off somewhat but we now understand that the company may be at it again. Readers will be aware that one of the hulls ordered by the firm is Bay Shipbuilding's Hull 721, a small self-unloader which is allegedly to be similar to SAM LAUD. We have heard that this boat is likely to be named BUFFALO in honour of the fleet's home port. To do this, it will be necessary to rename the present BUFFALO, (a) FRANK H. GOODYEAR (II)(39), (b) DIAMOND ALKALI (II)(76). The name being considered for her is (d) SAGINAW BAY. This self-unloader, although repowered a few years ago with an extremely powerful diesel engine, dates back to 1917 when she was built at Ecorse by the Great Lakes Engineering Works. Strangely enough, her first owner was the Buffalo Steamship Company, an enterprise of the famous Capt. John Mitchell, and she is one of the last two surviving Mitchell vessels.
Pitts Engineering Construction Ltd. of Toronto has let contracts for the construction of two steel barges which it intends to fit out as derrick barges. One contract, worth $1 million, has gone to the United Towing and Salvage Company Ltd. of Sorel, Quebec, while the other, valued at $1.6 million, has been let to the Collingwood yard of Canadian Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd. One of the units will be a replacement for a large derrick scow/dredge which Pitts recently lost in the St. Lawrence River.
The U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker WESTWIND, damaged earlier in the winter in a grounding near Detour Passage, has been undergoing repairs at Montreal. We suppose that a fair measure of the extent of the damage can be gained from the fact that when the icebreaker was rushed out of the lakes, she was taken to a Canadian shipyard instead of to one of the U.S. yards on the east coast.
In many cases when a new lake vessel is under construction, the name to be carried by the ship is known well in advance of her christening. This is not the case, however, with the self-unloading bulk carriers currently being built for the United States Steel Corporation. While there has as yet been no official hint as to what either Bay Shipbuilding's Hull 718 or American Shipbuilding's Lorain Hull 908 will be christened, speculation has been rampant and at least one expert observer has wondered whether they might not be named EDGAR B. SPEER and DAVID M. RODERICK respectively. One thing seems to be certain and that is that if the "Steel Trust" follows the pattern it has set over the last few decades, its new boats will be given "people names" honouring corporation executives.
INCAN ST. LAURENT is a rail ferry generally similar in size and design to INCAN SUPERIOR which operates between the Canadian and American lakeheads. The ST. LAURENT, built in 1975 at North Vancouver and operated on the lower St. Lawrence River ever since her commissioning, has recently been renamed (b) GEORGES ALEXANDRE LEBEL. Both ferries are owned by Incan Ships Ltd. of Montreal.
HARRY L. ALLEN is a sorry sight after the burning Capital No. 4 elevator at Duluth fell on her. Note the unloading leg lying on her deck. Photo by Kenneth E. Thro.We have received a report, albeit unconfirmed as yet, that the damaged Kinsman steamer HARRY L. ALLEN has been sold to the Hyman-Michaels Company for scrapping at Duluth. If true, word of such a sale is hardly surprising in view of the very extensive damage suffered by the 68-year-old bulk carrier. The photograph appearing on our photopage this month amply illustrates the fact that the vessel is damaged beyond economical repair and, with her elderly hull having been subjected to extreme heat while frozen in the harbour ice as well as to a deluge of water dumped on her by firefighters, her plating may well have weakened to the point where the ALLEN might not survive the rigours of a long tow to a distant scrapyard.
The great windstorm of January 26th which created such ghastly havoc, particularly in the Southern Ontario area, caused few problems on the lakes due to the fact that it did not occur at the height of the navigation season and those ships that were still operating were well wedged into heavy ice. One casualty, however, was the Interlake Steamship Company's CHARLES M. BEEGHLY which grounded in the Johnson Point area of the Middle Neebish Channel of the St. Mary's River. At the time of this writing, it is unclear whether her troubles were directly related to the storm, but this would seem to be likely. The BEEGHLY proceeded to South Chicago, where she unloaded her cargo, and then returned up the lakes. She was scheduled to arrive at Fraser Shipyards in Superior, Wisconsin, on February 13th.
Reports indicate that the C.S.L. steam-powered bulk carrier BLACK BAY suffered a fire in her engineroom and aft accommodations while tied up at Montreal on February 19. She has a transit cargo of iron ore bound for Hamilton. The extent of the fire damage is not yet known but the fire was of sufficient severity that the C.S.L. salty FERBEC had to be moved away from her winter berth alongside BLACK BAY.
Selling 35 m.m. colour slides of lakers and salties. All are originals; no duplicates (copies) sold. Prices are 45 cents or 55 cents each depending on subject. Will send on approval basis. Please address Rene Beauchamp, P.O. Box I76, Station 'C', Montreal, Quebec, H2L 4K1.
Readers will notice that from time to time we may publish in these pages a member's private advertisement or a review of a book. By way of explanation of our policy in this regard, we might say that we are not in the business of selling space in "Scanner" for advertisements of any kind. We are, however, prepared to publicize the literary efforts of our members or to run short notices from members. Apart from such reviews or announcements, which appear on a strictly gratuitous basis, no ads of any sort will find their way into these pages.
It is with great regret that we report the death at Vancouver, British Columbia, on Sunday, February 19th, of Fred Sankoff, one of the founding members of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.
Fred had for many years been a fan and photographer of steam railroad locomotives and as they began to fade from the scene, he embraced our mutual interest in things marine. He was the first president of this Society and served as the editor of "Scanner" for our first year of publication. He was honoured by the Society for his efforts by being allotted membership number 1. Fred had not been active in T.M.H.S. for a number of years due to health problems which forced him to relocate in Vancouver, but he kept in touch with a number of our members via the mails.
We shall miss Fred but we are thankful that he shared with us his enthusiasm for T.M.H.S. during its formative years. We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife Diana and to his sisters and brother.
EUGENE C. ROBERTS Revisited
It will be recalled that our Ship of the Month No. 70, appearing in the December issue, was EUGENE C. ROBERTS, that most elusive canaller which began life under the control of Hamilton entrepreneur A. B. Mackay but which soon wound up in the fleet of the Toronto Insurance and Vessel Agency Limited. There has been much speculation over the years as to the extent of Mackay's involvement with the ROBERTS and the manner in which she came under and later left his control. George Ayoub has come up with a few more news clippings from the Canadian Railway and Marine World which, while not clearing up the problem by any means, shed a bit more light on the early years of this steamer.
A June 1923 article indicates that EUGENE C. ROBERTS was being built for the A. B. Mackay Steamship Company, so it is evident that from the moment the contract was let for the construction of the ROBERTS, the intention was that she was to operate under Mackay's own colours and that Mackay had this company in mind as he was placing the order for the Eastern canallers. What is still not clear is whether he anticipated building the ROBERTS before he placed the Eastern order or whether the building of the ROBERTS was actually a side effect to the benefit of Mackay which resulted from the Eastern Steamship Company's order.
Later reports indicate that EUGENE C. ROBERTS was launched at Birkenhead on March 5, 1924 and that she left Swansea on April 3rd with a cargo of Welsh coal bound for Montreal. On April 20, she became trapped in the ice of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and she remained stuck for six days, sustaining some damage during her ordeal. She was in the drydock of Canadian Vickers Ltd. at Montreal for survey and repair from April 30 until May 3 and at this time, A.B. Mackay was still listed as her owner. In view of Mackay's delicate financial situation at the time, it is possible that Toronto Insurance and Vessel Agency Ltd., which may already have owned a share of the boat, might have put up the funds to cover the cost of repairing the ROBERTS and that T.I.V.A. subsequently took over complete control of the steamer.
(In the December issue, along with a photo of EUGENE C. ROBERTS, we printed
a photo of her equally-elusive sister NISBET GRAMMER. With the help of Al
Sagon-King and George Ayoub, we can pin down the GRAMMER photo as a Deno effort dated August 9th, 1925.)
You Asked Us
Michel Vezina of Beauport, Quebec, has asked us for information on a tanker named either TRONTOLITE or TORONTOLITE and we are glad to oblige with what material we have on this ship.
First of all, her name was correctly spelled TRONTOLITE. She was a unit of what at one time was a large deep sea and coastal fleet operated by Standard Oil and the affiliated Imperial Oil and the company frequently took liberties in the spelling of its ships' names, presumably to make them more pronounceable. Examples of this practice were MONTROLITE, VANCOLITE, VICTOLITE, ALBERTOLITE, CALGAROLITE, and CANADOLITE. The names might best be described as being grossly abbreviated.
TRONTOLITE (U.S.215947) was built in 1918 at Seattle, Washington, by the Skinner and Eddy Corporation. She measured 428.0 x 57.0 x 31.5, Gross 6882, Net 5267, and was powered by a 6-cylinder diesel engine of German manufacture. She was originally owned by the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey but during the 1920s she was acquired by the Imperial Oil Company Ltd. which brought her under the Canadian flag (C.141680) and registered her at Montreal. She operated under the ownership of a number of Imperial subsidiaries, of which one appears to have been Imperial Oil Shipping Company Ltd.
Like most of Imperial's salt water tankers, she operated mainly on the crude oil run from South American ports to Canada. She lasted until 1946 when she was finally broken up at Sydney, Nova Scotia. At the time of her scrapping, her tonnage was shown as 7115 Gross and 3586 Net and her owner's name by that time had been changed to the more modern Imperial Oil Limited.
You Don't Say. . .
The public press has never been noted for its accuracy when dealing with stories of a marine nature. Nevertheless, an item which recently appeared in a Great Lakes area newspaper must surely take the prize for hitting bottom. For the amusement of our readers, we reproduce the report unedited. We have omitted only the name of the paper in which it appeared".
Ships Headed for Repairs (January 6, 1978)
Windsor - One ship is laid up and another is on its way to Cleveland for repairs following a collision early Thursday on the Detroit River about 25 kilometres south of here.
The U.S. Coast Guard said two empty coal carriers, the IRVING S. OLDS and the ARMCO, were part of a downbound convoy of four ships en route to Minnesota when they collided. There were no injuries and no serious damage reported.
The IRVING S. OLDS apparently hit a solid ice ridge in the river, stopped, and was struck astern by the ARMCO, the Coast Guard said. The ships were freed after two hours of manoeuvring. The OLDS was docked at U.S. Steel in Pittsburgh for repairs while the ARMCO left for the Oglebay Norton docks in Cleveland.
It must have been an interesting trip on the OLDS from Windsor to Pittsburgh, but then nothing would appear to be impossible for a laker that can sail downbound to Minnesota! Somewhere out there is an eager reporter who could use a lesson or two in geography...
More Winter Lay-up Listings
We continue our listings of the vessels in winter quarters at various lake ports. Final lists for many ports are not available due to the number of ships operating later than usual. Wherever possible, we show only commercial
freighters and passenger vessels and do not include small ferries, tugs, dredges, scows, etc., although some of these may creep in if not properly identified by our correspondents. Exceptions are specifically noted.
Montreal:, BAIE ST. PAUL, BAYSHELL, BLACK BAY, BOLINA, EASTERN SHELL, FEDERAL RHINE, FERBEC, FORT CHAMBLY, JOHN A. FRANCE, IMPERIAL LACHINE, IMPERIAL VERDUN, INDUSTRIAL TRANSPORT, MANTADOC, J. W. McGIFFIN, T. R. McLAGAN, RALPH MISENER, NIPIGON BAY, JAMES NORRIS, NORTHERN SHELL, H.M.C.S. OTTAWA, PIERSON DAUGHTERS, RICHELIEU, ROYAL CLIPPER (sunk), ST. LAWRENCE, FRANK A. SHERMAN, SIMCOE, TADOUSSAC, U.S.C.G. WESTWIND
Midland, Tiffin and Port McNicoll:, ALGOCEN, CANADIAN LEADER, SIR JAMES DUNN, A. S. GLOSSBRENNER, LAKE MANITOBA, MAPLECLIFFE HALL, JOHN O. McKELLAR, JOHN E. F. MISENER, C.C.G.S. MONTMORENCY
Port Lambton: CANADIAN FRANCO (tug), NANCY A. LEE (tug),
Sorel: BAFFIN TRANSPORT, GEORGE M. CARL, CEDARBRANCH, G. C. FATIMA, FORT KENT, FORT LENNOX, HERON BAY, ILE AUX COUDRES, ILE D'ORLEANS, LAKE TRANSPORT, MAPLEBRANCH, MONDOC, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, PRINDOC, PUFFIN, SABLE ISLAND, SENNEVILLE, EDOUARD SIMARD, TROIS-RIVIERES, WILLOWBRANCH
Hamilton: CANADIAN CENTURY, CONGAR, W. M. EDINGTON, FORT HENRY, FRENCH RIVER, ROBERT KOCH, NORTHERN VENTURE, PINEDALE, QUETICO, RIMOUSKI
H. C. HEIMBECKER, ONTADOC, LIONEL PARSONS, K. A. POWELL, R. G. SANDERSON
Contrecoeur: CAROL LAKE, JOAN M. McCULLOUGH
Quebec: BEAVERCLIFFE HALL, CASTOR, CONSOL, C.C.G.S. EIDER, FORT LAUZON, FORT LEVIS, FRANKCLIFFE HALL, HAVRE ST-PIERRE, ISABEL-1, LOUIS JOLLIET, LAKE WINNIPEG, LAWRENCECLIFFE HALL, LIBERTAIRE, MENIER CONSOL, MINK, C.C.G.S. NICOLET, RHINE ORE (bow only), SILVER ISLE, C.C.G.S. SKUA, TRANS-ST-LAURENT
Sarnia: AGAWA CANYON, ALGOSOO, ARCTIC TRADER, E. B. BARBER, BLUEWATER BELLE, DOAN TRANSPORT, HUDSON TRANSPORT, IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD, IMPERIAL SARNIA, LAKESHELL, MONTREALAIS, OTTERCLIFFE HALL, RED WING, TEXACO WARRIOR
Lauzon: H.M.C.S. CORMORANT, MONTCLIFFE HALL, STEELCLIFFE HALL
Levis: FORT GASPE
For their help with these listings, our thanks go to Rene Beauchamp, Skip Gillham, Ron Graham, Perry Haughton, George Lee, Laurence Scott (whose name we omitted last month), Vern Sweeting, Michel Vezina and William Weighill.
This is the last lay-up list which will appear this season. By the time our April issue appears, the new navigation season will have begun and such material would not be timely. We shall attempt to bring you lay-up listings again next winter but we sincerely hope we shall receive assistance from a larger number of our members in order that the record may be more complete .
Ship of the Month No. 73WESTMOUNT (I)
Over the last few years, we have frequently featured in these pages the lives of the canal steamers which were, for so long, such a vital link in the commerce of the Great Lakes. In the opinion of many historians, however, the canallers were not the most interesting lakers, this impression no doubt being a direct result of the fact that a large number of the canal boats were built by yards which turned out similar vessels by the dozen. The overwhelming "sameness" evident amongst canallers of each class often resulted in a loss of individual character for each steamer and, for this reason, a good number of these once well-known ships have faded into the depths of relative obscurity as the years pass.
The canallers built prior to the First World War tend to stand out a bit more than their later cousins for in those tender years of canal boat design, the ships had not yet started to roll off the shipyard ways like so many sausages from a butcher's shop. Indeed, some of the early canal steamers were downright beautiful vessels and if a beauty pageant for canallers had ever been held, our March Ship of the Month and her sister would almost certainly have walked off with top honours.
WESTMOUNT (I) is upbound in the old Welland Canal near Lock Four in this photo by Rowley W. Murphy dating to about 1910. No stranger to this journal is the Montreal Transportation Company Limited, whose vessels we have often mentioned and occasionally featured. This firm traced its history back to 1867, the year of Canadian Confederation, when it was formed at Montreal by Hugh McLennan. This gentleman was born in 1825 in Glengarry County, Ontario, and first became associated with the shipping business in his early years when he served as purser on the mail steamer CANADA. He went into business on his own account in 1850 as a shipping agent and wharfinger at Kingston and, from these small beginnings, rose upwards until, seventeen years later, he formed the M.T.Co. which, by the end of the nineteenth century, was to become Canada's largest lake and river forwarding company.
The Montreal Transportation Company grew as the years slid by and eventually dominated the forwarding business from Kingston to Montreal and other St. Lawrence River ports. It was also heavily involved in carrying grain from the lakehead ports of Fort William and Port Arthur. Before the improvements to the St. Lawrence canal system were completed about 1900, the large majority of lake steamers were unable to venture down the river. The locks were smaller than those of the Welland Canal and most of the boats had to unload at Kingston. The M.T.Co. maintained an 800,000-bushel elevator at Kingston and much of the grain trans-shipped there was delivered down the river in company-owned barges. As an example, M.T.Co. supplied the needs of the Ogilvie Flour Mills Company in Montreal and the requirements of this one customer kept a considerable portion of the Montreal Transportation Company's lake and river tonnage in service all season.
The early M.T.Co. vessels were mainly of wood construction but the company began adding steel steamers to its fleet with the building of the famous, although ill-fated, BANNOCKBURN in 1893 and her near-sister R0SEM0UNT (I) in 1896. These two boats were the epitome of design for lower lake steamers in their day but three years after the turn of the century, the M.T.Co. took possession of what some observers feel were the prettiest canallers ever built. BANNOCKBURN and ROSEMOUNT were handsome vessels but were definitely traditional in design even if they were modern for canallers. On the other hand, the later pair, WESTMOUNT (I) and FAIRMOUNT (I) were anything but traditional. They were efficient and progressive and were obviously designed by a marine architect with an artistic flair. BANNOCKBURN and ROSE-MOUNT were basically salt water ships adapted for lake service, whereas WESTMOUNT and FAIRMOUNT were lakers in whose design were incorporated certain features borrowed from ocean-going carriers.
Montreal Transportation placed the order for WESTMOUNT and FAIRMOUNT with the firm of G. S. Swan and Hunter Limited of Newcastle-on-Tyne, England. They were built at the company's yard at Wallsend-on-Tyne in 1903, WESTMOUNT being the shipbuilder's Hull 289. She measured 248.7 feet in length, 42.0 feet in the beam and 20.6 feet in depth, and her original tonnage was 1875 Gross and 1171 Net. The steamer was powered by a triple expansion engine built by the North Eastern Marine Engineering Company Limited, Newcastle. It had cylinders of 21, 35 and 58 inches and a stroke of 39 inches, producing 210 N.H.P. Her boilers were fired with coal.
WESTMOUNT was registered at Montreal as C.114445. The fact that she was registered at Montreal is rather surprising because in those days it was common for canallers built at British yards to be enrolled at British ports such as Newcastle. She was named in honour of the town of Westmount, Quebec, an English-speaking district located inside the boundaries of the city of Montreal. It has long been the home of many of Montreal's anglophone business executives and it is entirely probable that Hugh McLennan himself lived in the area.
WESTMOUNT had far more sheer to her hull than did most of the canallers and her bow, instead of being bluff like most lakers, was noticeably flared. Two rather large anchors were suspended from hawsepipes just above the level of the shelter deck and well forward towards the stem. She was given a full forecastle and a closed rail ran down the deck to the bridge structure which was located abaft the first hatch. As built, she carried a rather large, rounded texas cabin on which was mounted a three-windowed pilothouse and the master's quarters, rather prominent bridgewings extending out to the sides of the ship. WESTMOUNT was normally navigated from an open bridge which was protected by awnings and a high canvas dodger. Before many years had passed, however, she was fitted with a wooden upper pilothouse and this addition greatly improved her overall appearance. Rounded across its face, it had four windows facing forward but most photos make it look as if there were only three, for she usually operated with the centre two windows lowered and the bar between them removed except for a short stump at its base.
Aft, WESTMOUNT was less modern in appearance. On first glance, it might look as if she had a raised quarterdeck but in reality it was flush with the shelter deck, the illusion being created not only by a rather high closed rail which ran around the stern but also by the dark stripe which WESTMOUNT, like other M.T.Co. boats, wore around the base of her cabins. Her boilerhouse, in the old style, was a separate portion of the after cabin, located forward of the accommodations. A large, wide coal bunker hatch was placed forward of the stack. The cabin itself was relatively short and left a large expanse of open fantail behind it. The closed rail around the fantail gave her counter stern a rather heavy look.
WESTMOUNT carried a tall and substantial funnel into whose after side ran an uptake pipe from a donkey engine (much the same as on the upper lakers SUMATRA and CRESCENT CITY). The stack was gracefully raked and was matched by her two heavy masts. The foremast, stepped immediately aft of the bridge, carried one cargo boom slung to work the hatches behind it, while the mainmast, one hatch forward of the boilerhouse, worked one boom facing forward.
WESTMOUNT and FAIRMOUNT were painted in the usual Montreal Transportation Company colours. Their hulls were all black and the cabins white, the steel deckhouses each having a dark band around them. The stacks were black and carried the letters "M.T.Co." in white about a third of the way down from the top. These colours were not altered during the years which the pair spent with the fleet.
Perhaps the best way to describe the two ships would be to say that they looked strong. Despite their graceful lines, they were heavily built and gave the impression that they could stand up to almost anything the lakes might throw at them. In this they were markedly different from many other classes of canallers which looked flimsy and insubstantial.
WESTMOUNT sailed from her builder's yard and crossed the Atlantic under her own power, arriving in Canada in time to enter service during the 1903 shipping season on the lakes. She was normally employed in the carriage of grain from the lakehead ports to Kingston and she could usually be seen towing two of the company's large wooden barges.
In mid-October 1905, WESTMOUNT cleared the Lakehead for Kingston with the barges MELROSE and MINNEDOSA in tow, all three vessels loaded with grain. MINNEDOSA, of course, was the big wooden four-masted schooner which had been built in 1890 at Kingston for the M.T.Co. and she was almost as long as WESTMOUNT herself. In the early days, MINNEDOSA was usually towed by the small steamer GLENGARRY but once WESTMOUNT appeared in the lakes, she and MINNEDOSA were virtually inseparable. MINNEDOSA by this time was only a shadow of her former glory, having been reduced to a barge by the removal of her topmasts.
In any event, on Friday, October 20th, 1905. the trio was downbound in Lake Huron, about two and a half miles off Harbor Beach, Michigan. A gale was raging at the time and MINNEDOSA was overwhelmed by the seas. She broke loose from the tow (it is said that her skipper may have ordered the towline to be cut to save the other two boats) and soon foundered in the trough of the seas with the loss of all on board. MELROSE also broke tow but WESTMOUNT succeeded in recovering her safely.
WESTMOUNT suffered no major accidents (of which we are aware) during her years with the M.T.Co. but she did see major changes in the company which were eventually to lead to the fleet becoming part of Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. Control of the M.T.Co. continued in the hands of the McLennan family during the early 1900s but some time prior to 1914 when the company acquired the Calvin Company, the Calvin family of Garden Island, Ontario, gained an interest in the Montreal Transportation Company. Not long after WESTMOUNT left the fleet late in 1915, control of M.T.Co. was acquired by Roy M. Wolvin who, of course, was one of the founding interests in C.S.L.
By late 1915. Canada was embroiled in the war effort and many of the canal boats were taken to salt water for war service. WESTMOUNT was no exception and in 1915 the Montreal Transportation Company sold her to the Inter-American Steamship Company Limited of Toronto which was actually an enterprise of the Canadian federal government. She was taken to salt water and in 1916 she was renamed (b) WETHERSFIELD. Her old name was perpetuated on the lakes in the big upper lake bulk carrier WESTMOUNT (II) which was built for the M.T.Co. at Collingwood in 1917 and sailed for fifty years.
WESTMOUNT, or rather WETHERSFIELD, made it safely through the perils of war at sea but this is more than can be said for her sister. FAIRMOUNT was requisitioned for wartime service in 1915 and was also taken to salt water. Before the year was out, however, she stranded in the Bahamas and became a total loss.
In 1918, WETHERSFIELD was apparently sold to the Canadian Maritime Company Limited, Montreal. Despite the fact that this ownership continued to be shown in both the Canadian "List of Shipping" and the "British Mercantile Naval List and Maritime Directory" up until 1922, it appears that she was actually sold in 1920 to E. J. Heinz (London) Limited of Montreal. The Heinz ownership was brief for on October 26, 1922, WETHERSFIELD was sold for $8,000 to A. B. Mackay of Hamilton. As mentioned on other occasions in these pages, Mackay was involved in numerous shipping ventures of all sorts. In the transaction involving WETHERSFIELD, he may have been acting as a broker, for on May 10, 1923, he sold her to Arnold Bernstein of Hamburg, Germany .
Bernstein renamed the steamer (c) MAX BERNSTEIN the same year he purchased her and at the time of the transaction her tonnage was shown as 1937 Gross and 1126 Net. About 1926, Bernstein again renamed her, this time giving her the name (d) FORDSON I. It seems likely that it was at this time that she was rebuilt to carry automobiles, trucks and farm tractors. As the photo accompanying this history shows, she was built up amidships and forward of the bridge structure and also was given a much larger pilothouse, although this latter feature may have been added earlier. Her new tonnage was registered as 1941 Gross and 1129 Net. After approximately one year's service in her new trade, she was again renamed, this time becoming (e) TRACTOR.
After an absence of almost thirteen years, the steamer returned to the Great Lakes and on May 11, 1928, she passed Montreal, inbound from Kiel, Germany, and bound for Detroit. At the latter port, she loaded 225 automobiles for delivery at Barcelona, Spain. On her way back to salt water, she stopped at Montreal on May 29th to take on 140 tons of bunker coal. This return to the lakes by the former WESTMOUNT was reported in the July 1928 issue of Canadian Railway and Marine World. Some records indicate that she again entered the lakes in 1932 to load Ford products at Windsor for delivery overseas but we do not have specific dates.
The date is May 1928 and TRACTOR, the former WESTMOUNT, has come to the lakes to load autos. Deno photo from the Earl D. Simzer collection, courtesy George Ayoub.TRACTOR continued to haul autos and machinery for Bernstein until 1937. when she was acquired by Egon Oldendorff of Lubeck, Germany. Her tonnage at the time of this sale was shown as 1953 Gross and 1122 Net. Her new owner renamed her (f) LUDOLF OLDENDORFF, a name carried by several vessels in this fleet over the years. Oldendorff presumably ran the steamer in coastal trades for she was, by this time, getting on in years for a ship operating on salt water and, of course, she was by no means a large boat. Nevertheless, she continued to operate and might have gone on even longer had not the hostilities of the Second World War intervened. The end for the LUDOLF OLDENDORFF came on October 9, 1944 when she was bombed and sunk by British aircraft at Egersund, Norway.
That the old WESTMOUNT finished her days far from the waters of the lakes was indeed unfortunate. Had she remained in the lakes, or at least returned after the close of the First War, she might have lasted a few years longer than she did and her fine lines might have been admired by another generation of shipwatchers. Happily for us, one of her most ardent admirers was the late marine artist Rowley W. Murphy. He captured WESTMOUNT on film in a number of striking poses and she featured in several of his paintings and drawings. These images from the past live on to remind us of the fact that not all of the canallers were the box-like, assembly-line creations that finished out the era of the old canals.
(Ed. Note: For their assistance with the history of WESTMOUNT, we are indebted to George Ayoub and to Jim Kidd. Without their help, we would have been able to say very little about the activities of the steamer subsequent to her departure from the lakes.)
Additional Lay-up Listings
Conneaut: EDWARD B. GREENE
Erie. Pa.: STEWART J. CORT, JOHNSTOWN, LAKEWOOD, LEHIGH, LOC BAY, NIAGARA, J. S. ST. JOHN, J. F. SCHOELLKOPF JR., STEELTON.
Our thanks to Robert J. MacDonald of Erie for the above items.