Tenth Anniversary Issue
Those of you who have followed Ye Ed's comments through the present volume of "Scanner" will realize that the Toronto Marine Historical Society is now celebrating its tenth anniversary. This may not seem like anything particularly special in view of the fact that there are many eminent marine historical societies which are much older than ours. But we feel that this anniversary is something special for a small group such as ours and we are most anxious that all our members realize our pride and sense of accomplishment on the attainment of such an auspicious milestone.
T.M.H.S. began back in the early sixties, not as an organized society but rather as a small group of Toronto shipping observers who met regularly in each others' homes for evenings of enjoyable talk and "steamboating". The group grew in numbers until in early 1968 it was thought that we should form a more solid basis for our operations. Under the guidance of the late Fred Sankoff, our first president, the Toronto Marine Historical Society was brought into being and, with Fred as Editor, "Scanner" first appeared in April 1968 as a newsletter for our members.
The first volume of "Scanner" consisted of ten issues and ran from April 1968 to May 1969. Fred retired as Editor after the completion of the first volume of our publication, whereupon Yours Truly stepped in and has been pegged in the job ever since. We have enjoyed bringing "Scanner" to you each month and hope that the publication has grown into the kind of journal that our readers may find both interesting and informative.
We have chosen May as our Tenth Anniversary simply because it is the month of our Annual Dinner Meeting and provides a good opportunity for us to bring a special commemorative issue your way. Readers will notice our special cover for this issue which has been provided as a part of our celebrations. Its colours are indeed special and are being used for this issue only, so no one need fear that "Scanner" is losing its usual, distinctive appearance .
In addition, those present at our May Dinner Meeting will receive a special bonus, namely a complimentary copy of the now-rare "Hall Corporation Shipping Limited 1927-1977" fiftieth anniversary booklet, a fine publication graphically describing in words and photos the operations of the Hall fleet since its formation. These booklets have been provided through the courtesy of Mr. Richard E. McAllaster of The Augsbury Corporation of Ogdensburg, New York.
We have insufficient space in these pages to thank formally all those who have contributed over the years to the success of our Society but we must not forget all those members who have helped in our drive to recruit those enthusiasts who have swelled our membership rolls. We also thank those who have volunteered to serve on the Executive Committee and who have given so freely of their time and effort to promote the development of T.M.H.S.
But we would be remiss if at this point we did not propose a special vote of thanks to Mr. Alan Howard and to the Toronto Historical Board which has so graciously permitted us the use of the Marine Museum of Upper Canada for our regular meetings during the past decade. Without the assistance of the Board, T.M.H.S. would probably still be meeting in members' homes and would not be the respected organization that it is now considered to be.
Ye Ed, along with all of the members of the Executive Committee of the Toronto Marine Historical Society, would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our members and friends for their support over the last ten years. With your help and guidance, we hope to keep T.M.H.S. and its publication, the "Scanner", in the vanguard of Great Lakes marine organizations, a voice of authority and integrity in the shipping world.
In our April issue, we mentioned that once again this year, the rumours were flying concerning a possible sale of the C.S.L. self-unloader GLENEAGLES to Westdale Shipping Limited. Such a transfer has now become a reality after many years of speculation and with the removal of GLENEAGLES from the C.S.L. fleet, the company has lost its last vessel powered by reciprocating engines. GLENEAGLES has been acquired in order to service the needs of the Ontario Stone Company of Cleveland for whom she has operated in the stone trade for many years. The Century Stone Dock at Humberstone is included in the deal. She has been registered in the name of Dale Transports Limited and will be operated by Westdale. By the time these words appear in print, she will have entered service under the name (b) SILVERDALE after undergoing stem repairs at Port Colborne.
Measuring 582.0 x 60.2 x 28.3, 8582 Gross and 4739 Net, GLENEAGLES was constructed in 1925 as Hull 14 of the Midland Shipbuilding Company Limited at Midland, Ontario. She was built to the order of James Playfair's Great Lakes Transportation Company Limited, Midland, and was absorbed into the C. S. L. fleet in 1926. Converted to a self-unloader in 1963, she was transferred to the C.S.L. affiliate Ocean Lines Limited, Hamilton, Bermuda, in 1964 and in 1973 she was placed under the ownership of a Canadian subsidiary, Pipeline Tankers Limited. GLENEAGLES has long been a personal favourite of ours and we wish for her many years of successful operation in her new colours.
The removal of certain pieces of navigation equipment from LEADALE makes it obvious that Westdale Shipping does not intend to operate this 68-year-old steamer in 1978 or thereafter. She is presently lying at the foot of Yonge Street in Toronto where she spent the winter with a storage cargo of soya beans for Victory Mills.
During the winter months, much was made of the speculation that the Q & O steamer SHELTER BAY (II) might not operate in 1978, primarily due to severe boiler problems which she encountered during 1977. Her retirement now appears to have become a sad reality and she continues to lie in the Toronto ship channel near the mouth of the turning basin. We have heard that she may be sent to Goderich for use as a storage barge by the Goderich Elevator and Transit Company Limited.
Another Canadian steamer which seems to have fallen on hard times is the Scott Misener Steamships Limited bulk carrier ROYALTON. This vessel, a 536.5-footer built at Collingwood in 1924 for the Mathews interests, has in recent years operated in the grain trade during the spring and fall, her summers being devoted to the ore trade between Thunder Bay and Indiana Harbor for the Inland Steel Company. She spent the past winter at Toronto and on the morning of April 4th, she was taken in tow by the tug BAGOTVILLE and removed to Hamilton where she is presently lying. We understand that her owner intends to hold her in reserve at the moment but that she may fit out for the grain trade this autumn. The fact that she is not being used in the ore trade this summer is probably due not only to the recent addition of JOSEPH L. BLOCK to the Inland Steel fleet but also to the planned cessation of ore mining activities at Steep Rock, from whence most ore shipped via Thunder Bay has originated.
The wooden east coast fishing vessel AVALON VOYAGER II spent last summer grinding herself away against the inner end of the Ward's Island pier of Toronto's Eastern Gap and somehow she made it through the winter without falling victim to the pressure of ice in the bay. The 124-foot boat has lain idle at Toronto for a good few years and at one time was used as a floating office for Waterman's Services (Scott) Limited, the firm which operates the Toronto pilot tugs. We now learn that she has been sold for use at Kincardine, Ontario, in connection with catering for a construction operation. She is expected to leave Toronto for her new home in the not-too-distant future.
Scrapping operations have begun at Strathearne Terminals, Hamilton, on the motortanker CONGAR (II) which latterly was operated by Johnstone Shipping Ltd., Toronto. As of mid-April, her stack and a large portion of her after cabin had been removed. CONGAR, of course, served Imperial Oil for many years on the east coast as IMPERIAL HALIFAX.
Several issues ago, we mentioned that Johnstone Shipping Ltd. was attempting to procure the Branch Lines tanker CEDARBRANCH (II) as a replacement for its retired CONGAR (II) which is presently being scrapped at Hamilton. This arrangement has now become a reality and CEDARBRANCH is now trading as (b) SECOLA under the ownership of Secola Shipping Limited, Toronto, an affiliate of Ship Repairs and Supplies Limited and Johnstone Shipping Ltd. Her name is taken from the words "Sea, Coast, Lakes", an indication of the varied service in which she will operate. CEDARBRANCH was built as a canaller in 1951 by Marine Industries Limited of Sorel, Quebec, and was lengthened to 284.6 feet in 1965 by her builders. A near-sister of WILLOWBRANCH (II) which was built the previous year at the same yard, she has been operated ever since by Branch Lines Limited. We wish her every success in her new career and hope that we shall see her often in her new colours.
The newest unit of the fleet of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Great Lakes Steamship Division, the 1,000-foot self-unloader LEWIS WILSON FOY, was christened on April 23rd at the Sturgeon Bay yard of Bay Shipbuilding. Due to enter service later in the 1978 navigation season, the FOY was originally to be named BURNS HARBOR in honour of the ore-receiving port on Lake Michigan but plans were changed before the ship was far along in construction.
Another Bethlehem boat much in the news of late has been the steamer SPARROWS POINT whose future was in considerable doubt as a result of the extensive damage which she suffered in an accident in the St. Lawrence Seaway late in the 1977 season. We are now pleased to report that, at the time of this writing, SPARROWS POINT is on the AmShip drydock at Lorain where full repairs are being put in hand. It seems, therefore, that SPARROWS POINT will remain in the Bethlehem fleet and will not be sold to another operator.
Following the sale of RICHARD V. LINDABURY to the S. & E Shipping Corporation, Kinsman Lines, for whom she will operate as KINSMAN INDEPENDENT (II), many observers have been speculating as to whether the U.S. Steel Great Lakes Fleet would reactivate another vessel to serve as a replacement. Unfortunately, we must report that this will not be the case. During the 1978 navigation season, the "steel trust" will operate all the vessels which ran in 1977 with the exception, of course, of LINDABURY and of the 1923-built near-sister JOSHUA A. HATFIELD which will not fit out. Of the "Bradley" self-unloaders, all will run with the exception of the perennially-idle IRVIN L. CLYMER which still lies at Rogers City. Observers, therefore, need not look for the reactivation of any idle tinstackers, most of which will never again see operation, especially considering the new boats which the company will soon be adding to the fleet.
The on-again-off-again sale of the steam tanker IMPERIAL LONDON is definitely on as we go to press with this issue and a crew should shortly be arriving at Ramey's Bend to fit out the vessel for Caribbean service. Readers will recall that a similar sale of the boat during 1977 fell through after she had been taken all the way to Whitby for drydocking. It seems that the Honduran purchasers have now coughed up sufficient funds to persuade Marine Salvage Ltd. to part with IMPERIAL LONDON.
We understand that the American Steamship Company does not plan to fit out its steamer JOSEPH S. YOUNG (II) this season. The 554-foot YOUNG, (a) WILPEN (27), (b) DAVID P. THOMPSON (69), was built in 1907 at Ecorse and was converted to a self-unloader in 1957 while a unit of the fleet of the Pioneer Steamship Company. She was repowered in 1959 with a Unaflow engine.
Ship of the Month No, 75
In this particular section of "Scanner", we have over the last decade featured many famous lake vessels. Readers will be aware, however, that we have leaned strongly to the passenger ships of the lower lakes and particularly to those which frequented the Toronto area. We have done so not only because these boats hold a special place in the hearts of our Toronto members, but because they have only infrequently been mentioned (and then with only minimal detail; in other marine publications. As our February issue featured the Niagara Navigation Company's big paddler CHIPPEWA, it is only fitting that this 75th Ship of the Month, appearing in our Tenth Anniversary issue, should be the popular steamer DALHOUSIE CITY which for almost forty years carried untold thousands of excursionists between Toronto and Port Dalhousie.
In order to trace properly the events leading up to the advent of DALHOUSIE CITY on Lake Ontario, it is necessary for us to go back to 1899. That year, the St. Catharines area of Ontario's Niagara Peninsula witnessed an event which proved to be a very important step in the development of the region, namely the incorporation of the Niagara, St. Catharines and Toronto Railway Company. This concern, controlled by the owners of the Hudson Valley Railway, took over the assets of the St. Catharines and Niagara Central Railway and began active development of electric railway operations in the Peninsula, the city of St. Catharines being the core for its services. Already the company felt the influence of certain gentlemen connected with the Mackenzie and Mann interests of Toronto who shortly would gain full control of the fledgling electric line. The company grew rapidly and in due course of time was operating not only local electric cars within St. Catharines but also interurban or "radial" services to Port Dalhousie, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Falls and Port Colborne.
At the turn of the century, the Niagara Peninsula was not only growing as an important residential and fruit-growing area, but was also developing as a tourist region, particularly as it encompassed Niagara Falls. For many years, there had been passenger service across Lake Ontario not only to Niagara-on-the-Lake and Queenston on the Niagara River from Toronto but also from the latter city to Port Dalhousie which then was the northerly terminus of the Welland Canal and the port for St. Catharines. In 1899, the Port Dalhousie service was held down by the 121-foot wooden propellor LAKESIDE built in 1888 at Windsor, and by the 177.9-foot steel sidewheeler GARDEN CITY which was built at Toronto in 1892. At times, GARDEN CITY was sent to the route between Buffalo and Crystal Beach, Ontario, during which periods she was replaced by the small steamer LINCOLN. These vessels were operated in a pooling arrangement by the Lakeside Navigation Company and by the St. Catharines, Grimsby and Toronto Navigation Company.
In 1900, these operators were bought out by Toronto entrepreneurs J. H. Plummer, J. W. Flavelle and Z. A. Lash who also were involved with the Niagara, St. Catharines and Toronto Railway Company. Indeed, the last-named gentleman was soon appointed chairman of the Board of the N. S. & T. The shipping firm was shortly renamed the Niagara, St. Catharines and Toronto Navigation Company and in 1902 it became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the railway. During this time, it was under the influence of Mackenzie, Mann and Company Limited of Toronto.
This is DALHOUSIE CITY as she looked immediately after her launching at Collingwood in 1911. Like the Niagara Navigation Company Ltd. which ran to the Niagara River, the N. S. & T. Navigation Co. experienced a rapid growth in patronage during the early years of the century. Many denizens of Toronto were taking to the lake waters as an escape from the summer heat of the city and were finding a trip to Niagara to be the ideal diversion for themselves and for their families. The Port Dalhousie route had the added attraction of bringing Toronto residents closer to St. Catharines, as well as to within a short overland trip to the Falls, and in addition provided a handy route for St. Catharines residents and businessmen who wished to visit the "big City".
The trade soon outgrew LAKESIDE and GARDEN CITY and the N. S. & T. began to consider how it might modernize its fleet in order to keep pace with the increasing demand for its services. It was not difficult for the company to come to the decision that a new boat must be built and it then set about designing a vessel that would be suitable for her intended route. The services of George Owen, the designer of many famous yachts, were retained for the preparation of the plans for the new steamer. While the result was a sturdy and dependable ship, it is likely that the N. S. & T. looked with a great deal of envy at the boats designed for the Niagara Navigation Company by Frank E. Kirby and Arendt Angstrom, for the products of their drawing boards proved to be far more successful and less worrisome than did Owen's design.
The plans having been completed, the company in late 1910 let a contract for the construction of its new steamer to the Collingwood Shipbuilding Company Limited which then set about assembling its Hull 30. The steel hull measured 199.8 feet in length, 37.0 feet in the beam and 20.7 feet in depth. Her tonnage was registered as 1256 Gross and 752 Net, and she was enrolled at Toronto as C.130312. It was originally planned that she be named DALHOUSIE, but when she slid into the waters of Collingwood harbour, she did so with the name DALHOUSIE CITY painted on her bows, this name being formally given to her in christening ceremonies on June 24, 1911. Her sponsor for the event was Miss Mary Hanna, daughter of Toronto financier D. B. Hanna of the Canadian Northern Railway, another Mackenzie and Mann enterprise.
The change in name appears not to have been made with the thought in mind that the town of Port Dalhousie was ever to become a thriving metropolis, although it might have done so had not the lower portion of the Welland Canal been moved eastwards in later years to terminate at Port Weller. Rather, the somewhat high-blown name was likely chosen to match the name of the older sidewheeler GARDEN CITY which, of course, was named after St. Catharines. As it turned out, Port Dalhousie declined in importance after the closing of the third Welland Canal and later it was absorbed into St. Catharines itself, for which it now serves as a quiet residential suburb.
Prior to the launch of DALHOUSIE CITY, the N. S. & T. formed a special company to own her. Incorporated early in 1911 was the Dalhousie Navigation Company Limited, Toronto, which boasted a capital of $50,000 and which indicated to the Dominion government that it intended "to purchase, lease, charter or otherwise acquire and operate steamships or other vessels propelled by any other motive power or device, to own piers, wharves, docks, dry docks, terminals, warehouses, etc.". The incorporators of the new concern were G. F. Macdonnell, R. H. M. Temple, A. J. Mitchell and J. B. Robertson, all of whom were somehow connected with the Canadian Northern Railway. It was for the Dalhousie Navigation Co, Ltd. that DALHOUSIE CITY was built and commissioned, and it was to this company that the ship was registered for almost her entire career on Lake Ontario, although for a short time during World War I, the Dominion List of Shipping indicated that her owner was Mackenzie, Mann and Company Limited, Toronto. DALHOUSIE CITY was never registered to the Niagara, St. Catharines and Toronto Navigation Co. or to any other successors or affiliates as was NORTHUMBERLAND which came on the scene almost a decade later.
DALHOUSIE CITY was powered by a triple-expansion engine built by Collingwood Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. With cylinders of 18, 29 and 48 inches and a stroke of 30 inches, it produced 115 h.p. Steam was provided by two Scotch boilers measuring 13 feet 7 5/16 inches by 11 feet, the working pressure being 180 p.s.i. Each coal-fired boiler was fitted with three corrugated furnaces with grates six feet in length. The engine turned a 9 3/4-inch tailshaft and a cast iron propellor measuring nine feet in diameter. While it was variously reported in advance of her commissioning that she would be able to achieve speeds of 15 or even 19 miles per hour, her boilers proved to be inadequate for their task and she was hard-pressed to make even 12 m.p.h. once she was in regular service. She was always known as a bit of a plodder but the fitting of a new propellor in the early 1920s did achieve a modest increase in the speed that she could manage, although she was never in a class with her later running-mate, the graceful NORTHUMBERLAND.
DALHOUSIE CITY's speed was not her only failing. She was only 37 feet wide and, not being a sidewheeler, she tended to roll heavily in rough seas and made herself somewhat unpopular amongst members of the travelling public who were possessed of queasy stomachs. Her owners did their best to rectify this nasty problem and shortly after she was commissioned, she was taken to the shipyard for the fitting of bilge keels. These succeeded in reducing her propensity to roll.
Another hull problem was evident once DALHOUSIE CITY was in service. As built, she carried her anchors suspended from hawsepipes mounted quite close to the waterline near the bow. As a result of this arrangement, she tended to be very wet forward in even a moderate sea, for every time she dipped into a wave, the anchors would send fountains of spray up over the rails. After the first season of operation, her "hooks" were repositioned just above the level of the main deck and this solved the problem.
DALHOUSIE CITY was a good-looking, although rather traditional, three-deck steamer. Her main deck was completely enclosed, while the promenade and bridge or boat decks were equipped with cabins but were open around the sides of the ship. Passengers were not permitted access to the hurricane deck. The lower deck provided accommodations for the crew forward, while right aft was the "luncheon room" for passengers, situated immediately abaft the engine. In later years, snack bar facilities were provided in the promenade deck cabin.
The forward portion of the main deck was devoted to the carriage of freight and this space would often be used for the movement of produce from the Niagara orchards to Toronto markets. The passenger gangway led to the entrance hall from which the main stairway, built of red oak, gave access to the upper decks. Aft of the entrance hall were the purser's and stewardesses' rooms and beyond them was the ladies' saloon which was finished in red oak panelled wainscoting, red oak pilasters with compo-board panels, and interlocking rubber-tiled flooring. Immediately aft of the saloon were the ladies' lavatory and retiring rooms. Also located near the entrance hall were the engineroom itself, the men's lavatory and the purser's office.
On the promenade deck was located the observation cabin. Finished in white enamel and natural wood, it was furnished with easy chairs and lounges but also featured reversible trolley-car seats which could accommodate about seventy passengers. These were a most unusual fixture in a lake steamer but were undoubtedly suitable in that they could be turned to allow groups of four passengers to sit together and converse as a group instead of having to shout over those seated ahead of them. Also contained in the promenade deck cabin were six private staterooms which could be engaged for a crossing by those seeking privacy and quiet away from the crowds on the open deck and in the public cabins.
The handsome main stairway led upwards from the observation cabin to the boat deck where it opened into the sun parlour, a cabin furnished with settees and lounges done in close-woven cane. Immediately forward of this room was the smoking room which was panelled in oak and upholstered in leather, a rather traditional approach to such a space. Forward of the smoking room were the officers' quarters and then the pilothouse. That portion of the boat (or gallery) deck situated aft of the mainmast was originally an open observation area but about 1930 it was made into a covered dance deck by the installation of a domed shade deck above. This area was equipped with canvas awnings which could be dropped to prevent the dancers being bothered by inclemencies of the weather or by the cool night breezes upon the lake.
DALHOUSIE CITY was not the most handsome lake dayboat ever built but neither was she by any means an ugly vessel. She possessed only a hint of sheer to her decks whereas more finely-cut lines might have given her a more graceful appearance. To make up for this, however, her two tall masts were well raked and midway between the masts was mounted a tall but substantial stack whose rake matched that of the spars. Well forward on the boat deck, she carried a rather large pilothouse whose corners were rounded off to soften its lines. This house sported open bridge wings and an open navigation bridge on the monkey's island. In the early years, the ship's name was carried in large block letters on the front of the pilothouse below the windows but as time passed, the name was reworked in script.
The new steamer was painted in such a manner that her colours matched those of GARDEN CITY which, for a few years at least, was to be her mate on the route. DALHOUSIE CITY was given a red hull as far as the waterline while the rest of the hull, including the closed rail around the main deck, was a light slate colour. The rails and strakes were green, while the cabins above the main deck rail were a light buff. The stack was buff with a black smokeband. These colours were to remain with the ship for her entire life on Lake Ontario, although from time to time there appeared different variations in the shades of the colours used.
It had originally been hoped that DALHOUSIE CITY would be ready to enter service on her intended route by June 26, 1911 in time for virtually the entire summer season. This was not to be, however, as she was only christened on June 26, Work progressed quickly and on August 14, 1911, DALHOUSIE CITY cleared Collingwood on her delivery voyage. She arrived at Toronto on her first regular run on August 21st.
DALHOUSIE CITY's debut on the Port Dalhousie - Toronto service rendered the little LAKESIDE surplus to the company's requirements and the wooden steamer was laid up in Muir's Pond above Lock One at Port Dalhousie. She was sold later the same year for use in hauling construction materials and eventually wound up as the tug JOSEPH L. RUSSELL. She foundered in Lake Ontario off Point Petre on November 15, 1929. The full story of this steamer can be found in our Ship of the Month No. 42 feature which appeared in the October 1974 issue of "Scanner".
DALHOUSIE CITY ran opposite the paddler GARDEN CITY through the 1917 season but then the older boat was dropped from the sailing schedule. Passenger revenue was adversely affected by the continuation of the Great War and the hostilities had resulted in a coal shortage which forced the N. S. & T. to make do with only its newest boat. Revenue picked up again after the war but GARDEN CITY by then was considered to be unsuitable for further service on her old route. She lay idle and in May 1922 was sold to Montreal operators. She lasted until 1936 when she was scrapped at Sorel.
GARDEN CITY's place opposite DALHOUSIE CITY was taken in 1920 by the yachtlike steamer NORTHUMBERLAND which was chartered and eventually purchased outright from the Charlottetown Steam Navigation Company for whom she had operated a ferry service between Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and Pictou, Nova Scotia. NORTHUMBERLAND was placed on the route "as was" and over the years was altered in many ways to make her more suitable for the Lake Ontario excursion trade. She proved to be a tremendously popular ship and ran opposite DALHOUSIE CITY through the 1948 season. She would undoubtedly have operated even longer had not she been destroyed by fire at Port Dalhousie on June 2, 1949 while fitting out for the new season. She had been scheduled to enter service the very next day but the damage was so severe that repair could not he justified and she was soon broken up for scrap at the shipyard in Port Weller.
Unlike her mate NORTHUMBERLAND, DALHOUSIE CITY was a fairly lucky boat and she was not involved in any particularly serious accidents over the years. She did encounter a few arguments with the pierheads at Port Dalhousie at various times but damage was never severe and repairs were put in hand. The steamer was dependable and made her 2 1/2-hour crossings of the lake with admirable consistency even if she was hardly compatible with NORTHUMBERLAND in the speed she could attain. DALHOUSIE CITY was licenced for the carriage of 1,050 passengers and on numerous occasions she carried capacity loads, particularly during the heyday of Lakeside Park, a small amusement park located beside the west pier of Port Dalhousie harbour.
DALHOUSIE CITY and her running mate operated from the foot of Yonge Street in Toronto through the 1926 season but due to harbour improvements involving a major landfill project undertaken by the Toronto Harbour Commission, they ran from 1927 onwards from the York Street slip where they moored beside the Terminal Warehouse. At the Port Dalhousie end of the route, the boats normally docked first on the west side of the harbour where they disembarked passengers for Lakeside Park and for connections on the electric line to St. Catharines. They would then move over to the east side of the harbour where they connected with the electric cars for Niagara Falls. The boats would lie at Port Dalhousie East until shortly before their scheduled departure time and would then move back to the west pier to load homeward bound passengers from the park.
DALHOUSIE CITY had a particularly loud and piercing but deep whistle. It was not unusual that when she was leaving Toronto on an August morning on the first trip of the day, the bay would be shrouded by fog. This did not deter DALHOUSIE CITY from leaving at the appointed time and she would make her way across the bay to the Eastern Gap at almost regular speed, sounding fog signals at short intervals and causing no end of worry to passengers on the various Toronto Island ferries which were carrying the morning commuters from the Island to work at reduced speed. The particularly strident blasts of DALHOUSIE CITY's whistle often gave the impression that she was headed straight for the ferry and would collide with it at any minute. Luckily for all concerned, such a confrontation never took place.
Photographs of DALHOUSIE CITY showing her moving tend to belie her lack of speed. As a result of her hull form, DALHOUSIE CITY always would squat in the water when under way at normal speed. This often made her seem to be travelling faster than was actually the case. No doubt Capt. George Blanchard and Capt. George C. Childs, two of her long-time masters, wished that this illusion of speed could have become a reality.
As far as the company itself was concerned, the N. S. & T. Railway Co. in 1904 came under control of Toronto parties as a result of financial difficulties encountered by the New York owners. Full control of the N. S. & T. including the Navigation Company was acquired in 1908 by the Canadian Northern Railway and thus it became an affiliate of Mackenzie, Mann and Co. Ltd., some of whose people had been associated with the N. S. & T. prior to the actual acquisition of a controlling interest.
The N. S. & T. continued as a subsidiary of the Canadian Northern until in 1917 the parent railway succumbed to the financial embarrassment which had plagued it for a number of years. The Canadian government bailed out the railway empire but only on the condition that the government have a controlling interest. Thus, late in 1918, Mackenzie and Mann wended their way from the scene and the Canadian National Railway Company was formed with the Niagara, St. Catharines and Toronto Railway Co. and the Niagara, St. Catharines and Toronto Navigation Co. as two of its many subsidiaries. From this time onward, the Port Dalhousie steamboats operated under the management of what was known as "Canadian National Steamers" and for a while, DALHOUSIE CITY even carried this name on her promenade deck rail forward, although she continued to be owned by the Dalhousie Navigation Co. Ltd.
DALHOUSIE CITY is seen crossin Toronto Bay towards the Eastern Gap in 1949, her last year of Lake Ontario service. Photo by J. H. Bascom. The years of the Great Depression were reasonably kind to the Port Dalhousie boats. Probably because of their connections with the extensive N. S. & T. electric railway network at the southerly end of the route, patronage maintained a good level through the difficult times and both DALHOUSIE CITY and NORTHUMBERLAND were kept busy. They were somewhat cheaper to operate that the larger C.S.L. Niagara Navigation Division boats to the Niagara River and hence they were able to run despite the adverse conditions. The N. S. & T. boats even handled special charter parties, many of which called for the ships to run from Hamilton to Port Dalhousie and back. One of the big attractions of the steamer line was that it provided easy access to Lakeside Park which was a going concern throughout these years. The park, incidentally, was owned and developed by the steamboat line.
The navigation division of the railroad did, however, encounter deficits in both 1939 and 1940 and, since the line could not divest itself of either boat and still maintain a reasonable service, it sought instead to rid itself of Lakeside Park together with both steamers. Offers were solicited in 1941 and again in 1943 but no sale was ever consummated. The steamboat line returned to a profitable position during the Second World War when highway travel was difficult but in 1946 the deficit returned and never again disappeared.
The spring of 1949 found the steamer line in the red as far as the ledgers were concerned but passenger traffic was still sufficient to warrant continued service. Both DALHOUSIE CITY and NORTHUMBERLAND were fitted out as usual but the disastrous fire aboard the latter vessel the day before she was to enter service for the season spelled the beginning of the end for the line. DALHOUSIE CITY was placed in service without her running mate but the schedule had to be altered because it was the slower of the ships that had survived. DALHOUSIE CITY was able to handle two round trips on weekdays and, with a bit of pushing, three on Saturdays and Sundays, but special excursions had to be left either to the C.S.L. Niagara steamboat CAYUGA or to C.N.R. rail routes.
The loss of NORTHUMBERLAND did not really harm the steamer line and, in fact, the deficit decreased in 1949, but the reduced schedule of sailings caused a reduction in the number of persons using the connecting electric lines and attending Lakeside Park. These considerations, together with the prospect of having to expend considerable money to bring DALHOUSIE CITY into compliance with tougher fire safety regulations, led the company to a reluctant decision to abandon the boat service.
The date was October 21, 1958 when the camera of J. H. Bascom caught ISLAND KING II in winter quarters at Lachine, Quebec. DALHOUSIE CITY was accordingly sold early in 1950 and on April 21st she cleared Port Dalhousie for the last time, sailing out under her own steam. Surprisingly, her destiny was not the scrapyard but rather another decade of service, albeit in strange waters. The vessel's purchaser was Lake Shore Lines Limited of Lachine, Quebec, who took her to Montreal. Refurbished and painted in her new owner's colours but not otherwise changed much in appearance, she ran excursion service during the summer months from Victoria Pier. For her new duties, she was renamed (b) ISLAND KING II.
The steamer continued her regular sailings through the 1960 season, at the close of which she was laid up as usual in the Lachine Canal. During the night of November 13-14. 1960, she was totally gutted by a fire whose origin was suspect, to say the least, and which seemed to be related to underworld activities in the Montreal area. The burned-out hull, which had sunk in the Lachine Canal, was purchased by Buckport Shipping Limited, Montreal, and raised. Plans to convert the vessel, which was renamed (c) BUCKNOR, into a barge were never implemented and the hull was dismantled at Montreal in 1961.
DALHOUSIE CITY had fifty good years in the passenger trade, thirty-eight of them on her original route. Her career must be considered a success and it is only unfortunate that she could not have spent longer on her home waters of Lake Ontario, serving the passengers who knew her so well.
(Ed Note: Much of the description of DALHOUSIE CITY's interior was taken from issues of "The Railway and Marine, World" appearing at the time of her commissioning. Those wishing to read more on the history of the N. S. & T. Railway Co. are referred to Niagara. St. Catharines & Toronto by John M. Mills, published in 1967. Its chapter on the steamer line is regrettably short.)
The First Turbinia - Primrose Collision
Back in March 1973, we featured in these pages the story of the two famous double-ended sidewheel Toronto Island ferries MAYFLOWER and PRIMROSE which graced the waters of Toronto Bay from 1890 until 1938. Both of these popular steamers came into close contact with the Toronto - Hamilton passenger boat TURBINIA at various times during their lives and whereas this contact saved MAYFLOWER from destruction by fire in 1907, PRIMROSE's meetings with TURBINIA very nearly proved to be the end of the ferry steamer.
The fire episode involving MAYFLOWER occurred on August 6, 1907 when fire destroyed the old double-ended ferry SHAMROCK (I) at the Bay Street ferry docks and spread to the one-year-old terminal building. MAYFLOWER was moored nearby and would have been destroyed as well had not TURBINIA, which had just arrived in port an hour before, manoeuvred alongside and pulled the ferry to safety, her crew extinguishing the fire which was beginning to attack the ferry's wooden superstructure.
In our earlier article, we mentioned a collision which occurred on August 13, 1916 between PRIMROSE, which was heading for the Bay Street docks from the Island, and TURBINIA, which was leaving her dock to proceed to the coaling wharf. Capt. B. W. Bongard of TURBINIA and Capt. Alex Brown of PRIMROSE both drew severe criticism from Dominion Wreck Commissioner, Capt. L. A. Demers, for their actions, but the collision resulted in no serious damage.
We had been aware of the fact that PRIMROSE and TURBINIA had met on an earlier occasion as well but we had been unable to comment in any detail as a description of the incident was not available. We are most grateful to member Robert J. MacDonald of Erie, Pennsylvania, who has made available to us a page from "The Marine Review" of October 19, 1905 containing the results of the enquiry into the accident which was conducted by Commander O. G. V. Spain, Dominion Wreck Commissioner. His report follows.
"The TURBINIA and the PRIMROSE were lying at their respective wharves in Toronto on August 12, 1905; TURBINIA stern out and PRIMROSE bow out. In accordance with her usual custom, TURBINIA backed well out into the bay, somewhere in the vicinity of 1,000 yards, far enough as the captain considered to make his turn and proceed through the Western Channel. PRIMROSE left her wharf and ported her helm when she was clear, and proceeded on her course to her destination at the Island. After getting out far enough and just as she started ahead, TURBINIA signalled a steamer, presumably KATHLEEN (another Toronto Ferry Company boat), which vessel got out of her way. The helm of TURBINIA was then put hard a-starboard and at this time there were some 1,500 yards between PRIMROSE and TURBINIA. At this point, there is conflicting evidence in regard to some small boats in the vicinity of TURBINIA; however, there is no doubt that it did not require much manoeuvring on the part of TURBINIA to clear these boats as her helm was kept hard a-starboard the whole time.
"When within 500 or 600 yards of PRIMROSE, it apparently occurred to Capt. Bongard of TURBINIA that PRIMROSE might possibly be in his way, and at this distance he signalled with two blasts of his whistle; this signal was taken no notice of (sic.) by the master of PRIMROSE and from the many witnesses examined there appears every reason to believe that the signal was not heard on board the latter ship, more especially when it is taken into consideration that the master of PRIMROSE was in full view of the master of TURBINIA and no action was observed on the part of PRIMROSE after the two blasts were given, and this fact should have been evident to the master of TURBINIA. The master of TURBINIA did not repeat the signal and still held to his course, giving the danger signal when within about 300 yards of PRIMROSE and reversing his engines. Capt. Murphy of the LUELLA (yet another Toronto Ferry Company steamer) stated that he was about 200 yards to the southward and westward of the two vessels at the time of the collision and previous to it he thought TURBINIA was going under the stern of PRIMROSE, and he could not understand when he heard the two whistles why TURBINIA apparently intended to cross the bows of PRIMROSE, as there was ample room between PRIMROSE and the shore (with no obstacle in the way) for TURBINIA to pass.
"The court is of the opinion that the engines of TURBINIA should have been stopped when the two blasts were given and no notice taken of this signal by PRIMROSE, which vessel, as already stated, at that time was some 500 to 600 yards distant. The master of TURBINIA appears to have been aware from the time he started to make his turn, after backing out from the dock, of the position of PRIMROSE, that is to say when she was some 1,500 yards away, and secondly, when she was 50 or 600 yards distant from him. There is no doubt that both vessels were in fault in regard to speed, as laid down by the regulations of the Toronto Harbour Board, PRIMROSE slightly in fault, and TURBINIA considerably so.
"Taking all facts into consideration, the court considers that it ought to have been brought to the mind of the master of TURBINIA that the courses upon which the vessels were approaching, and attending circumstances, involved risk of collision, and as TURBINIA was the overtaking vessel, with PRIMROSE on her starboard side, the onus is thrown upon the master of TURBINIA in not doing that which the rule prescribes, that is, to keep clear of the overtaken vessel.
"It seems to the court that it showed lack of judgment on the part of the master of TURBINIA that, having a vessel fitted with every modern appliance under his command, with an experienced wheelsman at the helm, and with steam steering gear with which, as the nautical expert retained by the Turbine Steamship Co. so aptly put it, she can be steered accurately with one finger, he should have been unable within a distance of 1,500 yards to avoid a collision which he himself apparently considered a possibility. From the evidence adduced there is no doubt that, had it not been for the action of the master of PRIMROSE in porting his helm when a collision was imminent, TURBINIA would have struck his vessel stem on, as her helm at the moment of striking was still hard a-starboard.
"The court cannot favourably comment on the action of the master of TURBINIA after the collision occurred. From the evidence, it appears that TURBINIA proceeded on her course after the collision without making any inquiries as to what damage had been done or whether PRIMROSE was in need of assistance. The court can well see that it is possibly not so material in this case to ascertain what damage had been done as it would have been had the casualty occurred on the open lake, but considers that the well-known rule of 'standing by' should have been observed in this case, as it is a recognized fact that a ship should obey this rule, even at some risk to herself, and although the other appears to be in no danger.
"Taking all these facts into consideration, the court considers that Capt. Bongard showed a very grave lack of judgment, thus endangering the lives of hundreds of passengers on both vessels, and therefore suspends his certificate for nine months from August 12, the date of the collision,
"The court wishes to bring to the attention of the Harbour Commissioners of Toronto that the second paragraph of section 8, by-law 11, of the bylaws and regulations of the harbour, seems to be entirely a dead letter, it being proved by all the witnesses at the investigation who were questioned on the subject, that not only is the law in regard to the speed of four miles an hour not carried out, but that it is impossible to carry it out. This being the case, the court would suggest that this by-law be amended to more fully meet the requirements of the increasing trade of the port of Toronto. It is understood that these by-laws came into operation nearly twenty years ago.
"The court also desires to point put to the Toronto Ferry Company that the system of not having a proper look-out on board the ferry boats, and the captain more or less enclosed in the pilothouse, is not a good one, although the court is fully aware that the same practice is followed elsewhere ."
After reading the judgment, Com'd'r. Spain read the following statement: "The master of PRIMROSE holds a service certificate as master of a passenger steamer in inland waters. The master of TURBINIA holds a certificate of service as master of a fore-and-aft-rigged sailing ship in inland waters, which certificate is endorsed to act as master of steamers also. The certificate of Capt. Bongard did not entitle him to command a passenger steamship, but he is exonerated from any wilful desire to act in a wrong capacity as he might have misunderstood the limitations of his permit."
In consequence of the suspension of Capt. Bongard's certificate, James Mann, first officer of TURBINIA and who in 1904 was mate on the Niagara Navigation Company's steamer CHIPPEWA, was placed in command of TURBINIA.
Readers are reminded that the May Dinner Meeting will be the last regular meeting of the 1977-78 season. The first meeting of the 1978-79 season of T.M.H.S. will be held on Friday, October 6th, at 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. It will be an open slide night and members are invited to bring a few slides each to illustrate their summer shipwatching activities.
Additional Marine News
The last Paterson canaller, the motorship TROISDOC (III), met with a serious accident in the Welland Canal when, on April 27. downbound with a load of corn for Cardinal, she rammed the upper end of the tie-up wall above Lock Two. Her bow was mashed back to beyond the anchor pockets and, with the aid of the tug PRINCESS NO. 1, TROISDOC was taken back to Port Colborne where she was unloaded. Repairs were put in hand by E. G. Marsh Ltd.
A few issues ago, we speculated that PETER ROBERTSON (II) would be the boat used to test the new Welland Canal shunters. It seems that we guessed right, for we now hear that the ROBERTSON will be taken to Port Weller during the first week of May for the necessary alterations to prepare her for her new role.
Observers will have noticed how much better JUDITH M. PIERSON looks since she was on the dock at Port Weller this spring. She now sports a high silver boot-top and the Soo River Company name painted down her sides.