The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Scanner, v. 10, n. 7 (April 1978)
Scanner (Toronto, ON), Apr 1978

Bascom, John N., Editor
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Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; You Asked Us; Namesakes 1930 - 1955; Les Goelettes de Charlevoix; Wanted; Additional Marine News
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Apr 1978
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Friday, May 5th - 7:00 p.m. at the Museum. Annual Dinner Meeting.

Please note carefully the date. Details below. This will be the last meeting of the current season. The first meeting of the 1978-79 season will be held on October 6th and will be an open slide night. Watch for details in future issues.

The Editor's Notebook

Our March meeting featured members of Provincial Marine 1812 who came with their ship models and modelling equipment. They spoke of the history of the ships they have recreated and illustrated their techniques. The evening was a great success and we thank the modellers for attending.

The Annual Dinner Meeting will be held Friday, May 5th. Dinner will be served at 7:00 p.m. at the Ship Inn (located in the cellar of the Museum) and the bar will be open earlier for those who might enjoy a pre-dinner restorative. The 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 although we may be sold out by the time you read this, those wishing to attend should immediately address Mr. James M. Kidd, 83 Humberview Road, Toronto, Ontario M6S 1W9, enclosing the necessary remittance. The cost will be $10.75 per person (no change from last year) and guests will be welcomed.

In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to R. Earl Minnis of Windsor and to Ted Popel of Toronto.

Marine News

The best news we have heard since the announcement of the rebuilding of TRILLIUM centres around renewed plans to refurbish and return to service the old Muskoka Lakes steamer SEGWUN. This iron-hulled passenger boat, built back in 1887 as the sidewheeler NIPISSING and later converted to a propellor, was retired by Gravenhurst Steamships Ltd. just before the close of the 1958 season. (SEGWUN had a hard time that year and the larger SAGAMO closed out the season alone.) She then lay at Gravenhurst, serving as a marine museum, until 1973 when the Ontario Roadbuilders' Association started in motion the drive to have the 123-foot SEGWUN placed back in service. The sum of $400,000 raised by the Association and by the Muskoka Steamship and Historical Society got the job started and much headway was made before the funds ran out about two years ago. Since then, no substantial progress has been made, but now the Ontario government has announced a matching grant of $400,000 to complete the job and place SEGWUN back in full excursion service on the Muskoka Lakes. The government estimates that she might carry as many as 60,000 passengers per season, although it has not been announced what route she might serve. The thought of seeing this real veteran backwater steamboat back in service as Ye Ed knew her twenty years ago is enough to get us very excited and we shall anxiously await the day when once again we can hear her high and melodious chimed whistle echoing amongst the hills along the Indian River.

Although there has as yet been no official announcement of which we are aware, we understand that the Columbia Transportation Division, Oglebay Norton Company, has been the successful bidder for the National Steel Corporation's bulk carrier ERNEST T. WEIR which has been on the market for several months. As a result, the future of Bethlehem Steel's SPARROWS POINT would seem to be very much in doubt, as it had been suggested that she would be going to Columbia if the WEIR did not.

The proposed sale of the vessels of the Hindman Transportation Company Ltd. to the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company Ltd. has been approved by both companies and is currently awaiting the green light from government officials in Ottawa who must also approve the deal. We understand that no changes in name for the Hindman boats are presently being considered but that in 1978 GEORGE HINDMAN, BLANCHE HINDMAN, MARTHA HINDMAN, PARKER EVANS and HELEN EVANS (if she operates) will appear in Q & O colours.

The Q & O steamer OUTARDE has spent the winter of 1977-78 at Toronto near the Parliament Street slip where she has been worked upon by a crew from Herb Fraser and Associates Ltd. Much of the work has been of an internal nature but in addition, a rather large doghouse has been erected on the boat deck immediately forward of the stack. The location of this house does not improve the boat's appearance as it tends to hide her stack which is not very tall. OUTARDE is, of course, the former ROBERT HOBSON of the Interlake Steamship Company which Q & O rescued from the scrapyard at Ramey's Bend in the autumn of 1975.

It has now been confirmed that the next self-unloader to come from the Bay Shipbuilding yard at Sturgeon Bay for the American Steamship Company will be christened BUFFALO and that to make way for this name in the fleet, the present BUFFALO will be renamed SAGINAW BAY. This development had been reported in these pages last month but at that time we had no confirmation. We have also learned that yet another small self-unloader will be built by Bay Shipbuilding for BoCo. She will be similar to SAM LAUD and BUFFALO but will, we understand, be a bit larger than either of her earlier fleetmates.

Work is progressing at Toledo on the removal of the superstructure of the former Columbia craneship W. C. RICHARDSON which was used during 1977 to unload bulk cargoes from salt water vessels. It seems that the cabins of the RICHARDSON were interfering with the operation of her cranes and this is the reason for their removal. The RICHARDSON will be used by Consolidated Dock Inc., a subsidiary of the Wills Trucking Company, until such time as the company receives permission to build a dock facing along its Toledo property.

The future of "The Mystery Ship", the two-masted schooner ALVIN CLARK, is much in doubt at the moment. The wooden hull, which was raised from the waters of Green Bay, Wisconsin, following her discovery by fishermen in 1967. is currently at Menominee where she has been on display. The boat bore no marks of identification but is generally conceded to be the CLARK which was built at Trenton, Michigan, in 1846 and which sank in heavy weather in 1864. She was raised and restored by Frank Hoffman of Menominee but he is now seeking to dispose of her because of the condition of his own health and the rather large amount of money which would be required to prevent the disintegration of the boat which has, of course, been considerably accelerated by her exposure to the air after 103 years on the bottom. She was offered to the City of Menominee for $250,000 for inclusion in a park project but the city refused the offer and neither state nor federal authorities seem interested in preserving the CLARK which is the most valuable single marine artifact of her period still in existence on the Great Lakes. It would be nothing short of scandalous for the appropriate governmental authorities not to step in to preserve this historic vessel and we join our voice to the many others crying out for the protection of ALVIN CLARK from the ravages of time and the elements.

The necessary approval was given late in January for increased operation by the Straits of Mackinac steam carferry CHIEF WAWATAM and ever since, the CHIEF has been making from seven to ten trips a week instead of her usual one in an effort to clear the monumental jam of traffic which has resulted from the flourishing operations of the Michigan Northern Railroad. Some opposition to the continued operation of the CHIEF has been generated by the increase of $324,000 in state subsidies which must be dished out to the Straits Car Ferry Service Corp. to foot the bill for CHIEF WAWATAM's extra service. Ye Ed is not a Michigan taxpayer, but if he were, you can bet that he would not grouse about a few of his tax dollars going to keep the CHIEF steaming! Meanwhile, the Michigan Northern has indicated that it wants to take over the operation of the CHIEF, which it considers to be essential for its continued success. This alternative would certainly reduce costs and hence also the state subsidies required.

The on-again-off-again purchase of SUNSHINE COAST QUEEN, (a) VACATIONLAND, (b) JACK DALTON, (c) PERE NOUVEL, by the State of Michigan for service on a proposed ferry route between DeTour Village, Michigan, and Meldrum Bay, Ontario, appears to be close to becoming reality. Recent press releases indicate that everything is set to go as soon as approval comes from the Michigan legislature, but that service could not start before 1979 due to the need to construct proper docking facilities at DeTour and Meldrum Bay. The former has no suitable wharf, while the wooden dock which served NORMAC at the latter "port" has long since fallen victim to decay. We presume that state authorities will not be waiting for the results of the study into the feasibility of installing tracks on the main deck of SUNSHINE COAST QUEEN so that she could replace CHIEF WAWATAM on the Straits carferry run as well as holding down the new passenger ferry service. We have three hopes for this new service:

1. That it may actually come to fruition, despite the fact that we do notknow who will wish to travel between DeTour and Meldrum Bay by ferry.

2. That the new boat will not do CHIEF WAWATAM out of her historic placeon the Straits carferry service.

3. That if acquired, SUNSHINE COAST QUEEN will revert to her original name of VACATIONLAND.

Anybody taking odds?

The Paterson motorship SOODOC (II) passed down the Welland Canal on December 11, 1977 en route out of the lakes for the winter. It was known at the time that she was bound for the west coast but it is only recently that we have learned the significance of her peregrinations. SOODOC carried with her on her late-season trip a cargo of some 7,000 tons of steel which she loaded at the Sault Ste. Marie plant of Algoma Steel. She cleared the Soo on December 8 and arrived at Vancouver via the Panama Canal on January 15. The purpose of the unusual trip was to assess the cost of shipping steel to western customers by water as opposed to the overland rail route and Algoma claims that, in this respect, the trip was a success. On the other hand, N. M. Paterson and Sons Ltd. has pronounced the trip a financial disaster due to problems encountered in arranging return cargoes at profitable rates and the loss to the company of early season revenue from the operation of SOODOC, the ship not being expected back in the lakes until May. The boat herself underwent a thorough refit at Vancouver during the winter and a photo which appeared in the Toronto Star on January 30 showed crewmen hard at work painting her hull.

The vessels of the fleet of the Algoma Central Railway are presently undergoing a minor change in colours. The familiar "bear" crest on their bows and stacks has been altered by the deletion of the word "Railway" and the substitution of the word "Marine". We are pleased to note that the intricate crest itself, which must be a nasty piece of business to paint, will remain. It is a happy reminder of the handsome Algoma steamers which first carried it many years ago.

The Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. steam bulk carrier GORDON C. LEITCH has been playing the part of a grain ferry this winter while laid up at Toronto. The LEITCH went into winter quarters with a storage grain cargo for Toronto Elevators (or, more correctly, Maple Leaf Mills) and once her own cargo was unloaded, she was taken back to the Cousins Terminal on Cherry Street where she received a load of grain from the self-unloader CANADIAN OLYMPIC. This cargo was then unloaded from the LEITCH back at the elevator and since then she made several more such trips across the harbour. The reason for this unusual movement is that CANADIAN OLYMPIC is too large to be unloaded in the Toronto Elevators slip.

Last July 23rd, a small group of observers watched in awe and silence from a small boat out on Lake Nicolet as the Kinsman steamer PAUL L. TIETJEN passed down the St. Mary's River en route to Buffalo on what was then considered to be her final trip. The TIETJEN was then half a year overdue for survey and inspection and almost a month past the end of the temporary extension which had been granted to her. But the forced retirement of GEORGE M. STEINBRENNER (which had been briefly reactivated in the spring of 1977) together with the loss by fire of HARRY L. ALLEN has created a gap in the Kinsman fleet that is not entirely filled by the addition of KINSMAN INDEPENDENT (II). With this in mind, it seems entirely possible that the coal-burning TIETJEN may be placed on the dock and given a further lease on life, no matter how unlikely that eventuality might in the past have been considered to be. Don't count the old girl out yet!

Sherwood Marine has let it be known that it intends to operate four round trips per day between Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, and Lewiston, New York, using the former Toronto Island ferry SHIAWASSIE which was acquired by the company during 1977. While the ride up the Niagara River has always been considered to be a most pleasant excursion, we know of no boat in which we would less want to make the trip. SHIAWASSIE was a dismal failure on Toronto Bay due to the many inadequacies of her design and we can see no way in which she could be considered suitable for her new service either. Sherwood is also the owner of CAYUGA II which was originally built for the service between Toronto and Niagara but which has recently been used only for the excursion trade around Toronto Bay and environs. Be this as it may, we hear rumours to the effect that Sherwood may again try CAYUGA II on the route between Toronto and Niagara-on-the-Lake this year in addition to her usual excursion and charter service. Bearing in mind the design of this boat, we do not envy anyone making such a trip, especially during the latter part of the summer when Lake Ontario can kick up a respectable sea in a southeaster.

In last month's issue, we mentioned that the Interlake Steamship Company's bulk carrier CHARLES M. BEEGHLY was a victim of the severe windstorm which swept the Great Lakes area on January 26th. We had, however, little detail at the time of our original report. We now learn that the BEEGHLY was downbound at the Johnson Point turn of the Middle Neebish Channel in the St. Mary's River when she scraped the bottom, apparently rupturing her first three portside ballast tanks. Despite the wind and the ice, she was able to free herself and, taking water, proceeded down into Lake Munuscong (Mud Lake) where she came to rest near the junction buoy, her bow on the bottom. She was out of the shipping channel and was not impeding the passage of other lakers. BEEGHLY was finally refloated with the aid of divers and pumps and on January 28 she was moved to DeTour where part of her cargo of taconite was removed. She subsequently went to South Chicago to unload and then to Fraser Shipyards at Superior for repairs.

Another victim of the January 26 storm was the Great Lakes Maritime Academy training vessel ALLEGHENY which capsized at her dock at Traverse City, Michigan, the day following the storm. Her sinking was the result of the high winds and the heavy coating of ice which formed on her superstructure.

In the March issue, we reported that the C.S.L. steam bulk carrier BLACK BAY had suffered a fire in her after accommodation while laid up at Montreal on February 19. While it was subsequently believed that the damage was extremely severe, we are now told that the situation was not quite so serious. Repairs have been put in hand and BLACK BAY is expected to be serviceable during April.

The first vessel movement of the new navigation season on Lake Ontario occurred on March 11th when the C.S.L. bulk carrier RIMOUSKI moved under her own power from Hamilton to Port Weller for drydocking. It will be recalled that RIMOUSKI was one of the boats caught in Lake Ontario off the entrance to Hamilton harbour when local bridge operators went on strike at the end of the 1977 navigation season. The bridgemen permitted RIMOUSKI to enter the port because she was taking water from damage sustained in an earlier accident. It is to repair this damage that she has been removed to Port Weller at such an early date.

The first vessel to raise steam in Toronto harbour this spring was the veteran JUDITH M. PIERSON which began to fit out during the week before Easter and which left port shortly after the holiday weekend. The reason for her early start was that she was due to go on the drydock at Port Weller for her regular inspection and survey.

Meanwhile, the first arrival of the season at Toronto was the C.S.L. self-unloader STADACONA which arrived from Port Weller on March 23 and took a load of taconite from SAGUENAY. The latter boat was laid up in the turning basin and was in need of lightering so that certain work could be performed on her starboard side plating.

We understand that Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. is giving consideration to having its ST. LAWRENCE PROSPECTOR, (a) CARLTON, converted to a full laker. The work, which may be done at an overseas shipyard, would involve the retention only of the after end and the machinery and the construction of an entirely new forebody. It seems that Upper Lakes has no present intention of similarly rebuilding ST. LAWRENCE NAVIGATOR.

If the distinction of operating the lakes' "museum fleet" once rested with Upper Lakes Shipping, the honours have, in recent years, passed "back across the border to roost with the Huron Cement Division of the National Gypsum Company. This fleet operates six boats, of which the two oldest were built in 1898 and 1904. We understand that J. B. FORD has passed her five-year inspection and this should ensure the continued operation of the 74-year-old steamer which began life as EDWIN P. HOLMES of the Hawgood fleet and later sailed as E. C. COLLINS for U.S. Steel and Kinsman Transit. More good news is that the steamer LEWIS G. HARRIMAN, built in 1923 as JOHN W. BOARD-MAN and used only for cement storage during the last few years, has been converted to burn oil fuel at Superior this winter. This should guarantee a return to active service of this handsome little (340.6 feet) laker.

You Asked Us

The fame of the steam tug EDNA G. has spread far and wide across the Great Lakes. Indeed, this 82-year-old, 120-foot veteran of the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway, which operates out of Two Harbors, Minnesota, has become such a focal point for tug enthusiasts that it is often overlooked that she is not the last steam tug active on the lakes. In fact, it is amazing how many of the historians amongst us have forgotten a very important steam tug which is still very much in operation.

The other steam tug still with us in 1978 is the 95-foot DOLOMITE which is operated as a harbour tug at Rogers City, Michigan, by the United States Steel Corporation. She dates back to 1927 and her coal-fired machinery develops 800 h.p. She and LIMESTONE, a 1952-built diesel of similar dimensions, handle all vessel traffic at Rogers City and they are familiar to the crews of the numerous self-unloaders that load stone there.

DOLOMITE is a single-deck tug and, lacking the triple-chime whistle which EDNA G. blows, she is not nearly as impressive a boat as the elder survivor. Nevertheless, her existence should not be overlooked and it is hoped that she may have many more years of service ahead of her.

Namesakes 1930 - 1955

Member John O. Greenwood is well-known in lake shipping circles not only for his involvement with the operation of the vessels of the Interlake Steamship Company, but also for his own literary efforts together with the numerous other books published by his firm, Freshwater Press Inc. John's major contributions have been the books of the "Namesakes" series which describe and illustrate many lake boats and give the derivation of the name of each.

John's latest effort, Namesakes 1930 - 1955, covers boats extant on the lakes as of January 1930 but scrapped, lost, or otherwise gone from the scene by December 1955. Included are 422 ships, listed by their last lake names and each illustrated by a photo, some of which are extremely rare, to say the least. The book covers a fascinating period of lake history which saw not only the advent of the modern laker (as we knew her twenty years ago) but also the last days of the wooden carriers which were shortly to disappear from the lake scene.

Namesakes 1930 - 1955 is a fully-indexed 429-page hardcover which follows the format of the earlier "Namesakes" books. It is available from Freshwater Press Inc., Room 258, The Arcade, Cleveland, Ohio 44114, U.S.A. We would recommend the book to our readers as an invaluable addition to their collections.

We Did It Again

Ye Ed, ink-stained wretch that he is, sits behind this typewriter each month, attempting to keep our readers as up-to-date as possible with accurate marine news. Generally speaking, we are not usually far off the mark with our observations but every so often we really pull a good one. This normally occurs when we are trying to write an intelligent article on a subject about which we know very little! A case in point occurred in the March issue when we commented upon the renaming of the carferry INCAN ST. LAURENT. We opened our mouth, it seems, only to change feet!

Any resemblance in appearance between INCAN ST. LAURENT and INCAN SUPERIOR is strictly imaginary, for although they are roughly of the same size, the ST. LAURENT was built with an enclosed car deck while SUPERIOR is open above the main deck. The Gross Tonnage of INCAN ST. LAURENT is 7892 while that of INCAN SUPERIOR is only 3838.

INCAN ST. LAURENT was built on the west coast in 1975 for Incan Ships Ltd., a C.P.R. affiliate, which intended to operate her on the run from Baie Comeau to Matane, Quebec, carrying railroad cars loaded with newsprint destined for New York. Unfortunately for Incan, the Quebec government looked more favourably upon the plans of Compagnie de Gestion de Matane Inc., (commonly known as Cogema), of which the C.N.R. is the major shareholder, to operate a similar service. Incan, having built INCAN ST. LAURENT, found itself with a boat but no route on which to operate her and accordingly she was used on the Alaska service by Alaska Trainship Corporation.

In the long run, Incan had little alternative but to sell the ST. LAURENT to Cogema which took delivery of the ship last autumn and named her GEORGES ALEXANDRE LEBEL in honour of the company's founder. She arrived at Matane in November 1977 and in 1978 will operate between that port and Baie Comeau, later extending her service to Port Cartier and Sept Iles.

We extend sincere thanks to Kevin Griffin and to Daniel Berube for their help in setting the record straight. We are pleased that our error should produce such an excellent response from our readers.

Les Goelettes de Charlevoix

We do not normally review books which are neither written nor published by a member but we make a rare exception this issue to bring to the attention of our readers a book which, by virtue of its very nature, is unlikely to be reviewed in other lake area publications or otherwise to become known to those hereabouts who would value it as a reference work.

Les Goelettes de Charlevoix is the work of Michel Desgagnes (yes, he is of the Desgagnes shipping family, a son of J.A.Z. Desgagnes) and describes the history and nature of the goelettes which were the particular pride of Charlevoix County, Quebec, but which could be seen all over the St. Lawrence River and, on many occasions, in the Great Lakes. The book traces the development of the goelette over the years with great emphasis on the details of construction. It features the 1952 building of MONT STE-MARIE at Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive and this will interest lake historians for this vessel was a frequent visitor to the lakes. The book lists various goelettes, giving building details and dimensions, but unfortunately it does not give subsequent names or vessel histories.

Les Goelettes de Charlevoix is recommended for the libraries of those of us who can read French, for it is not published in English. Ye Ed has read it and found the French fairly easy for those not exactly fluent in the language. A 182-page illustrated softcover, it is available at the price of $9.95 from Les Editions Lemeac Inc., 5111 Durocher, Montreal, Quebec H2V 3X7. We thank Michel Vezina for bringing this book to our attention.

Ship of the Month No. 74 THUNDER BAY (I)

The vessels of the Great Lakes, and particularly those flying the Canadian flag, have always had a propensity to change shape as the years pass. This is probably due mainly to the longevity of a steel hull which is kept in fresh water, for such hulls frequently outlive their usefulness in the trade for which they were designed and, because of their good condition, are passed on from owner to owner and from trade to trade. Such a progression has often resulted in drastic changes in appearance for the boats involved as they have been modernized and modified to suit their new duties.

Such a vessel was THUNDER BAY (I) which began life as a barge, serving the iron ore trade, and was later converted into a steamer. After this conversion, she was used first as a bulk carrier, then as a tanker, and finally as a breakwater on salt water.

This is THUNDER BAY as she appeared c.1915 when owned by James Whalen. She was little changed from her MALTA days except for the removal of the main and mizzen masts. Our Ship of the Month made her debut under the American flag as the steel schooner-rigged barge MALTA which was built for the Minnesota Steamship Company. This concern was a subsidiary of the Minnesota Iron Mining Company which had been organized back in the 1880s by Charlemagne Tower Jr., Colonel James Pickands, Samuel Mather and Jay C. Morse. Starting in 1890 with the building at Cleveland of the steamers MANOLA, MARISKA, MARUBA and MATOA, the Minnesota Steamship Company gradually built up over the next decade a fleet which was eventually to consist of an even dozen steamers and ten large barges, all twenty-two boats being built of steel and suitable for the ore trade.

In 1894, the Minnesota Steamship Company let to the Chicago Shipbuilding Company an order for the construction of two similar barges. Ready for launching at the South Chicago shipyard in 1895, the builder's Hulls 12 and 13 were christened, respectively, MARCIA and MALTA. The latter was named for the famous island in the Mediterranean and followed the Minnesota Steamship Company's practice of giving its vessels names beginning with the letter 'M' and ending with 'A', just as did its own name.

MALTA, given official number U.S.92637, was registered at Cleveland, Ohio. She measured 302.0 feet in length, 40.2 feet in width and 19.6 feet in depth. Her tonnage was registered as 2237.48 Gross and 2132.40 Net. She was a flush-decked boat, that is, she had neither raised forecastle nor quarterdeck. A small, low deckhouse was carried at the bow behind a closed rail and aft was a small pilothouse beside which rose a rather spindly stack which carried away the smoke from the boiler which provided steam for the towing winch and other equipment. MALTA was given three heavy masts which were rigged to carry sail. All of the big steel barges built around the turn of the century carried auxiliary sail even though they were normally towed by steamers.

MALTA was something of an oddity when she was built in that she was one of the first steel boats to be built with the channel system of construction which had been pioneered by the Chicago Shipbuilding Company in 1894 with the steamer KEARSARGE. This system employed channel-shaped steel in the construction of the double bottom instead of flat steel beams and angle irons. This method resulted in a saving of weight as well as labour, not only in the original construction but also in subsequent repairs, and also provided a stronger structure.

The odd part about the construction of MALTA is that the so-called "official" records disagree as to where she was built. It is clearly evident that both she and MARCIA were built at South Chicago and with MARCIA there is no problem with the records. The fact that MALTA did come from this same yard is verified by the various editions of Merchant Vessels of the United States and of the American Bureau of Shipping Record. For some strange reason, however, the Canadian List of Shipping always reported that the vessel was built at Cleveland and to compound the error, Lloyd's Register of Shipping frequently indicated that MALTA was built by the Chicago Shipbuilding Company at Cleveland and the 1941-42 issue even went so far as to show that she was built by the American Shipbuilding Company at Cleveland! This is, of course, totally absurd as American Shipbuilding was not formed until 1899. The differences do, however, point out the need for historians to check as many sources as possible and to avoid accepting any one source as the ultimate authority.

In any event, MALTA was duly completed and in 1895 entered service for the Minnesota Steamship Company whose fleet was at this time managed by the Cleveland firm of Pickands Mather and Company. MALTA was towed by the early steamers of the fleet but as the last decade of the old century passed, these early steamers were far overshadowed by the larger steamers built for the company (or purchased by it shortly after their construction) such as MAUNALOA, MALIETOA and MATAAFA. The same situation occurred amongst the barges and before many years were out, MALTA and MARCIA, which were the first two barges built for the company, were outstripped in size by such "giants" as MANILA, MARSALA and MADEIRA which were well over 100 feet longer than the original pair.

The Minnesota Steamship Company was not to last long, however, for in 1900 its parent company, Minnesota Iron, was absorbed by the Federal Steel Company which was an enterprise of the famous J. Pierpont Morgan. Federal, in turn, was involved in the larger consolidation which in 1901 saw the formation of the United States Steel Corporation. The new company, in the course of its formation, picked up a great number of lake vessels which had belonged to the amalgamated companies individually and the Pittsburgh Steamship Company, Cleveland, was organized in 1901 to operate these boats. Of course, the ships of the Minnesota Steamship Company were no exception and in 1901 their management passed from Pickands Mather to the Pittsburgh Steamship Company.

The change in ownership led to MALTA being painted in the striking green hull colour of the Pittsburgh fleet with an all-silver stack. Before many years had passed, however, her hull became red and her stack was given a black smokeband as Pittsburgh developed the basic colour scheme which is still used on U.S. Steel vessels. MALTA was to serve the Pittsburgh fleet in the ore trade until 1912, at which time it was deemed that her small size made her unsuitable for further service. It must be remembered that, by this time, the age of the 600-foot lake steamer had come and the operation of a 300-foot towbarge by a company the size of the "Steel Trust" was not economically warranted.

And so in 1912 MALTA was sold to the Western Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Company of Port Arthur. Enrolled as C.131060 at Port Arthur, she was formally registered in the name of James Whalen, the noted Lakehead entrepreneur whose name was immortalized by the famous icebreaking tug. MALTA was renamed (b) THUNDER BAY (I) in honour of the body of water on which the Lakehead ports of Fort William and Port Arthur were located. This name has since been given to the consolidation of the two neighbouring cities.

THUNDER BAY found herself in the fleet of the Canadian Northwest Steamship Company Limited of Port Arthur and Toronto, a company which, back in the 1890s, had been affiliated with Thomas Marks and Company Limited, Port Arthur. By the time that THUNDER BAY entered the fleet, however, the Marks involvement had ended and it is highly likely that James Whalen himself was the controlling interest. It appears that THUNDER BAY was never actually registered in the name of Canadian Northwest but rather that she was under its "management". The various steamers in the fleet towed her but she was usually seen behind PAIPOONGE, a veteran of 1888 which, as (a) CORONA, had been built for the Mutual Transportation Company and absorbed into the Pittsburgh Steamship Company in 1901. Like MALTA, she also made the transfer out of the tinstack fleet in 1912 but she was actually registered in the name of Canadian Northwest. PAIPOONGE was commonly known to lake sailors as "Noah's Ark". She and THUNDER BAY served principally in the grain trade, a large number of their trips taking them to the ports of Georgian Bay.

During the early years of the First World War, the Canadian lake shipping scene was dominated by two major firms, the largest being Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal, which had been formed in 1913. The other was the Montreal Transportation Company Ltd. Control of this latter organization was acquired in 1916 by Roy M. Wolvin who was one of the principals involved in the formation of C.S.L. and who eventually would bring Montreal Transportation into the C.S.L. family. In the meantime, however, Wolvin set about expanding the M.T.Co. fleet by absorbing smaller companies. Most of the steel steamers in the fleet were sold off for war service at inflated prices and this left M.T.Co. with a collection of what might best be called second-rate hulls.

One of the companies swallowed up by Montreal Transportation during the Wolvin years was the Canadian Northwest Steamship Company whose fleet at that time incorporated the steamers ATIKOKAN, GEORGE A. GRAHAM, NEEBING (I) and PAIPOONGE, along with the lone barge THUNDER BAY. The transfer of ownership to M.T.Co. was effected on April 13, 1917.

THUNDER BAY as a steamer was caught by the camera of Deno in the Galops Canal c. 1925. PAIPOONGE and THUNDER BAY were placed in M.T.Co. colours (black hull, white cabins, black stack with white 'M.T.Co.') and were operated on the lakes through the 1917 and 1918 seasons. On October 3. 1918, however, they were both sold to Cuban interests who intended to operate them in South American service. After the two boats were cut apart at Collingwood in preparation for the trip out through the canals, the Cubans defaulted on their payments and THUNDER BAY and PAIPOONGE were purchased by H. B. Smith, the president of the Collingwood Shipbuilding Company Limited. This sale was effected in 1919 and it is entirely possible that the deal was financed by Canada Steamship Lines, although this is merely an educated guess on our part.

Despite the fact that the sale to the Cuban interests was off, Smith sent the sections of THUNDER BAY and PAIPOONGE down through the canals and had them rejoined when they had safely reached the St. Lawrence, the intention no doubt being to arrange another foreign sale for the pair. This did not immediately materialize and in 1921, both vessels were actually acquired by C.S.L., PAIPOONGE being resold to Danish interests. It is to be assumed that neither had operated since their journey to the St. Lawrence in 1919.

C.S.L. had lost a number of boats to enemy action and to the ravages of ocean service during the course of the war and it was decided that THUNDER BAY might be of use in bolstering the canal fleet until such time as new tonnage might be available. Accordingly, THUNDER BAY was sent in 1921 to the Lauzon, Quebec, yard of the Davie Shipbuilding and Repairing Company Limited where she was shortened to a length of 247.6 feet to allow her to transit the old canals. This operation reduced her Gross Tonnage to 1870.

At the same time, THUNDER BAY was converted to a steamer by the installation of the engine from the wooden steamer NICARAGUA which had been built in 1894 at West Bay City, Michigan, by James Davidson and abandoned by C.S.L. in 1920 in the Kingston boneyard. The triple-expansion engine had been built in 1894 by the Frontier Iron Works of Detroit and had cylinders of 16 1/2, 25 and 42 inches and a stroke of 34 inches. Steam at 160 p.s.i. was provided by one single-ended Scotch boiler built in 1912 by the Western Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Company. It is likely that this boiler had been placed in her at the time that Whalen purchased the barge from the Pittsburgh Steamship Company, but we find it hard to believe that a boiler suitable for the operation of towing and steering gear on a barge could provide sufficient steam for a triple-expansion engine in a self-propelled vessel.

Be this as it may, THUNDER BAY in due course entered service as a steamer. Strangely enough, she was not given a raised forecastle but remained a flush-decker. A rather odd triple-deck bridge structure was placed forward and aft she was given a very boxy and bald-looking cabin which sported windows across its forward end. A tall, thin stack was fitted very far aft and it had no more rake to it than did two scrawny steel masts. The net result of the conversion was a vessel which undoubtedly proved to be an adequate stop-gap in a much depleted fleet but which looked every bit the conversion that she was.

The career of THUNDER BAY with C.S.L was as short as one might have expected it to be. She had been in the grain trade for C.S.L. for less than a decade when the results of the Great Depression began to make themselves felt in lake shipping circles. The company may have had an adequate fleet of boats to service its needs in normal times, but it had under its flag far more ships than it could put to use during a period of poor business conditions. With many newer canal-sized bulk carriers going to the wall, it was not unusual that THUNDER BAY should join them and in 1930 she was laid up in the C.S.L. reserve fleet at Kingston. The company was to resurrect from this marine cemetery a number of its vessels but THUNDER BAY was not destined to be one of them.

THUNDER BAY lay in the Kingston boneyard until 1937 at which time C.S.L. embarked upon a program of housecleaning that was to rid the fleet of many ships which had not turned a wheel since the onset of the Depression. In all, 22 boats were sold for scrapping, the majority of them being laid up at Kingston at the time. Of the 22, some fourteen were sold to Les Chantiers Manseau Limitee, Sorel, Quebec, for dismantling, and THUNDER BAY was included in this latter group. In due course, she was hauled off to Sorel where for the next few years she languished in the shipyard's reserve fleet in a backwater of the Richelieu River.

Like some of her mates, however, THUNDER BAY did not feel the wrecker's torch. By 1940, Les Chantiers Manseau Ltee. had been reorganized as Marine Industries Limited, Sorel, and the company, in addition to operating the Sorel shipyard and numerous tugs and dredges, was becoming interested in the operation of bulk carriers and tankers. A number of former C.S.L. steamers were hauled out of the reserve fleet and reactivated.

One of the lucky ones was THUNDER BAY which was taken in hand by Marine Industries' own shipyard and converted to a tanker. The rebuilding altered her tonnage to 1984 Gross and 1447 Net, her actual dimensions being shown at this time as 247.6 x 40.1 x 23.4. She was commissioned as (c) PINEBRANCH, her name attesting to her management by that section of Marine Industries which ultimately would come to be known as Branch Lines Limited. She was given a black hull and her cabins for many years were red with white trim while her stack was all black. When we say that her cabins were red, we should exclude her pilothouse which carried the same colours in reverse in that it was white with red trim! Her stack was not the same tall, thin one which she carried as THUNDER BAY, but rather a squat, heavy funnel which also was placed far aft.

Nearing the end of her active career, PINEBRANCH is inbound at Toronto Eastern Gap, July 1951. Photo by J. H. Bascom.It should be noted that the name PINEBRANCH was not given to the vessel after her reconstruction as a tanker but rather back in 1937 when she was purchased from C.S.L. In view of the fact that the majority of the other vessels saved from the morass of the C.S.L. boneyard fleet were not renamed immediately upon purchase but rather during or after rebuilding, it seems evident that Les Chantiers Manseau Ltee. and its successor had plans for PINEBRANCH right from the outset.

PINEBRANCH entered service in 1940 and her first trip took her to Toronto, a port that she was to frequent throughout her remaining active lifetime. But the Second World War had become a fact and Canada was deeply embroiled in the conflict. PINEBRANCH was requisitioned for wartime service in British waters in 1941 and was at that time renamed (d) EMPIRE STICKLEBACK for her new duties but, oddly enough, she did not actually cross the Atlantic until 1945. When she did leave her home waters, she was operated by C. Rowbotham and Sons for the British Ministry of War Transport, but her salt water service was short and in 1946 she was brought back to the lakes. On her return, she reverted to the ownership of Marine Industries Ltd. and the management of Branch Lines Ltd. and she again became (e) PINEBRANCH. She was given back her familiar colours, although for a short time she and several other vessels in the fleet were given a greyish-green hull colour which obviously was not considered to be a success as it was soon covered over with black paint.

PINEBRANCH was indeed a ship of irregularities as far as the official records were concerned. Sometime between 1946 and 1956, the Canadian shipping register indicated that her official number was changed from C.131060 to C. 173404. There is no indication of why such a change should have been made since PINEBRANCH did not undergo any major reconstruction during that period. One would have thought that if any such change were ever contemplated, it would have been back in 1921 when the hull underwent its shortening and conversion to a steamer, but no change was then recorded. In any event, the change in registry numbers was never reflected either by Lloyd's or by the American Bureau of Shipping and we might surmise that at one stage there may have been an error in the preparation of the Canadian List of Shipping, an error which might have been perpetuated as the years passed.

PINEBRANCH continued in operation, mainly on the St. Lawrence River and the lower lakes, through the 1940s and early 1950s. She underwent several changes in appearance, amongst them being that her cabins were painted white about 1950 and her stack became white with a black top, the Marine Industries diamond-shaped insignia making an appearance on the lower portion of the funnel. PINEBRANCH, of course, never lasted long enough to carry the stack colours presently used by Branch Lines tankers. In addition, her pilothouse was substantially enlarged and a closed rail was placed around the front of the texas deck. Her deck was made more typically that of a tanker by the addition of two deckhouses (probably containing pumping equipment) and catwalks, as well as other equipment.

The veteran PINEBRANCH stayed in service through her sixty-first year. Superceded by more modern vessels in the Branch Lines fleet and showing her years in her lines and her steam power, she was retired at the close of the 1955 season and was laid to rest in the extensive Marine Industries boneyard on the Richelieu River at Sorel, probably not far from where she was laid in 1937 after the tow from Kingston. She remained there, the years taking their toll and the paint peeling from her cabins, until 1960 when she was sold for use on salt water, but not in an operating capacity. PINEBRANCH was taken from Sorel to Mulgrave, Nova Scotia, where she was sunk to form a protective breakwater. As far as we are aware, her remains are still there, well into the eighth decade since the construction of the barge MALTA at South Chicago.


Photos, plans and details of Great Lakes fireboats, past and present, U.S. and Canadian. Please contact Jack Bailey, 193 Sixth Street, Toronto, Ontario, M8V 3A6.

More Winter Lay-up Listings

Last issue, we vowed that we were out of the lay-up list business for this year, but our readers have continued to send in material, so here we go again. The lists are obviously not timely at the present and we print them solely for those who maintain records of such things. Much of this information was unavailable earlier due to late sailings.




Soo. Ontario: YANKCANUCK

Soo. Michigan: RALPH H. WATSON



* - Remains Only

For their help with this report, our thanks go to Al Sweigert, Jim Kaysen, Al Schelling, Gene Onchulenko, Duff Brace and John Vournakis.

Additional Marine News

It appears that our fears for the future of the Westdale Shipping Ltd. self-unloader LEADALE may have been well founded. She has not yet fitted out for the 1978 season and whereas the new 'D' stack insignia has recently been placed on NORDALE and FERNDALE which also wintered at Toronto, there is no sign of a similar change on LEADALE. We fear the worst.

The former Reoch self-unloader PINEDALE, which late last year was sold to Pitts Construction for use as a breakwater, was towed from Hamilton to Toronto late in March. She looks extremely rough, having been stripped of almost every piece of reusable equipment including the windows from the front of her pilothouse.

As we go to press, GLENEAGLES is fitting out at Port Colborne for yet another season of service. As usual, she does so amid the usual rumours that a sale to Westdale Shipping Ltd. is imminent. The rumours seem to be of a somewhat more substantial nature this year than in the past...

The Welland Canal opened for the 1978 season on March 30. The opening was delayed for two days by the heavy ice in western Lake Erie. Meanwhile, the St. Lawrence River section of the Seaway opened during the first week of April, the first boat passing up reportedly being the French salty HERMINE bound for Chicago.

A late report, as yet unconfirmed, indicates that Q & O may indeed rename three of the former Hindman steamers but that GEORGE HINDMAN and BLANCHE HINDMAN may retain their old names, at least for a few years.

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Scanner, v. 10, n. 7 (April 1978)

Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; You Asked Us; Namesakes 1930 - 1955; Les Goelettes de Charlevoix; Wanted; Additional Marine News