The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Scanner, v. 11, n. 1 (October 1978)
Scanner (Toronto, ON), Oct 1978

Bascom, John N., Editor
Media Type:
Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Marine News; Segwun - An Update; Additional Marine News
Date of Publication:
Oct 1978
Language of Item:
Copyright Statement:
Protected by copyright: Uses other than research or private study require the permission of the rights holder(s). Responsibility for obtaining permissions and for any use rests exclusively with the user.
Toronto Marine Historical Society
WWW address
Full Text


Friday, November 3rd - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. "A View from the Pilothouse." David Bull will speak of his travels aboard several lakers, including IMPERIAL SARNIA and E. J. NEWBERRY.

Friday, December 1st - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Film Night. A programme of several interesting marine films

The Editor's Notebook

With this issue, we begin our eleventh volume of "Scanner", the tenth with Ye Ed. at the helm. We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of our many faithful correspondents and hope that we shall continue to receive their support. We regret that we cannot always reply personally to each letter, but we shall do our best and we certainly appreciate hearing from so many of you.

We sincerely regret the delay in getting the Mid-Summer issue out to our members. Unexpected printing problems were encountered but they will not affect future issues.

MEMBERSHIP FEES ARE NOW DUE AND PAYABLE. This will be our LAST NOTICE to all members and no further issues will be sent to those who do not renew at this time. To ensure that you continue to receive "Scanner", please dispatch your remittance of $10.00 to our Purser, Mr. James M. Kidd, 83 Humberview Road, Toronto, Ontario, M6S 1W9.

In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to George Zock of Port McNicoll, Ontario.

Marine News

GEORGE M. STEINBRENNER (II), in tow of McLean's tug WILFRED M. COHEN, arrived at Port Colborne on the evening of August 24 and, the following day, with the assistance of PRINCESS NO. 1, was deposited in the Marine Salvage scrapping berth at Ramey's Bend where she was laid to rest alongside IMPERIAL LONDON. Bearing in mind the present depressed state of the overseas scrap market, it seems likely that STEINBRENNER will be broken up where she lies. IMPERIAL LONDON, meanwhile, should soon be leaving the lakes to serve in the Caribbean. AVONDALE (II) still lies in the old canal below Humberstone, much the worse for the severe vandalism which has been committed upon her. Most recently, her pilothouse was burned out.

Meanwhile, another veteran Kinsman steamer has bitten the dust. PAUL L. TIETJEN, which made her last trip in July, 1977, and has since lain in the Frog Pond at Toledo, has now been stripped and is expected to be towed to Humberstone shortly for addition to the scrapyard fleet of Marine Salvage Ltd. Out of class since she was laid up, TIETJEN, a veteran of 1910, was an expensive boat to operate due to her coal firing and the fact that her cubic capacity was severely restricted when she was operating at anything but mid-summer draft.

Ever since C.S.L. began to cut back its Great Lakes package freight service earlier this decade, there have been fears for the future of the steamer FORT HENRY. This beautiful little vessel, which has always been known as a racer and has frequently been photographed at speed with a tremendous bone in her teeth, was built at Collingwood for the upper lakes package freight trade. We can recall visiting her when "open house" was held aboard while she was docked in Toronto's Yonge Street slip on her maiden voyage. FORT HENRY, which is much given to developing a rather awe-inspiring hog in her deck when running light, has recently been the first of the line's package freighters to go to the wall when business has been slack. Nevertheless, despite the fact that she was the oldest of the boats on the route, she remained in the fleet and, indeed, fitted out this spring as usual. With the return to the lakes of FORT CHAMBLY after several years' absence, however, FORT HENRY has become surplus to her owner's requirements. She has been laid up at Kingston and, since Kingston is the sort of port where operators will put a boat which has little if any useful future, we must assume that C.S.L. has no intention of operating FORT HENRY again. It will be interesting to see if the ship can be sold for further service.

The latest addition to the fleet of Cleveland Tankers Inc., the motortanker GEMINI, has finally made her debut on the Great Lakes. GEMINI passed up the Welland Canal during the evening of September 8 with a cargo of black oil bound from Houston, Texas, to Detroit. Measuring 429 x 65, 6700 Gross Tons, GEMINI was built as Hull 745 of the Gulfport Shipbuilding Division, Levingston Corporation, at Port Arthur, Texas. Her keel was laid on November 1, 1977. It had earlier been reported that GEMINI would be a more traditional vessel in design than either JUPITER or SATURN of the same fleet. While it is true that she is better looking than the two overgrown canal barges, she still leaves something to be desired in the aesthetics department even if she is undoubtedly an economical vessel to operate.

At long last, the idle Hall Corporation steam tanker LAKE TRANSPORT has been put out of her misery. The tall-stacked canaller, which had earlier sailed as (a) CYCLO WARRIOR and (b) TEXACO WARRIOR (I), served the Hall fleet for only a short period of time and had spent many years laid up at Sorel. At one stage, it was thought that she was to be scrapped in Spain, but that eventuality never materialized and the vessel has now been broken up at the same port where she had languished for so long.

Ever since it was founded back in the thirties, the fleet which has come to be known as Branch Lines Limited has operated as a subsidiary of the firm which has run the shipyard at Sorel, P.Q., namely Les Chantiers Manseau Ltee. or, as it is now known, Marine Industries Ltd. As such, the tanker fleet has been under the control of various members of the Simard family and, to a certain extent, of the Quebec government. But now there has been a change, for Branch Lines Ltd. has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Davie Shipbuilding Ltd., Lauzon, P.Q. The present staff will continue to manage the fleet and it will remain a separate entity, apart from the other Davie interests. Although no such suggestion has been voiced by the management, we wonder whether the "Simard" names might disappear from the tankers and be replaced by the more pleasant "Branch" names which were once so common amongst the fleet's ships and of which only one (MAPLEBRANCH) remains in use today.

In our last issue, we mentioned that the small bunkering tankers MARINE FUEL II and WM. H. BENNETT had been displaced from their positions at Duluth with the commissioning in early June of the Blount-built REISS MARINE. The two older tankers had been taken to Cleveland late in July but it was not then known what was to become of them. We were not long in finding out, for both boats were back in service during August to serve as bilge pumpers for U.S.S. DAVIS, U.S.S. WILLIAM C. LAWE and U.S.S. ROBERT A. OWENS, destroyers from the U.S. Atlantic Fleet which were touring various lake ports. The BENNETT did the necessary during the inbound portion of the destroyers' visit, while MARINE FUEL II handled the chores while the warships sailed downbound. Her unusual peregrinations even brought MARINE FUEL II to Toronto, where she did her thing on September 8 and 9 while the warships entertained visitors. Needless to say, this was the first visit of the strange little tanker to Toronto Harbour. It is not presently known what the two boats will do subsequent to the departure of the destroyers from the lakes.

The strike of workers at the Lorain yard of the American Shipbuilding Company caused an exodus of vessels from that facility. The National Steel Corporation grabbed its new 1,000-foot self-unloader GEORGE A. STINSON from Lorain at the last moment and had her towed to Detroit. She was christened in ceremonies at Cobo Hall on August 21 and was then towed to Nicholson's Dock at Ecorse where she is to be completed. The other job on which AmShip was working at the time of the strike was the conversion to a self-unloader of WALTER A. STERLING of the Cleveland Cliffs Steamship Company. She was pulled from the Lorain yard and sent 'round to Toledo where she is to be completed so that, hopefully, she may re-enter service during 1978. The STERLING has an aft-mounted boom which droops downwards from a raised deck area and the elevating machinery completely hides the stack from view. Her machinery appears to be much similar to that installed several years ago on the Inland Steel steamer WILFRED SYKES.

Last issue, we mentioned that two Canadian shipyards were seeking to expand their facilities. The first to take the initiative in this regard was Collingwood Shipyards, a division of Canadian Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd., which has suggested to the authorities that to serve better the shipping industry, it must be able to drydock large vessels and to build 1,000-footers; it can do neither at the present. Despite the rather cramped space available to the Collingwood yard, it envisages a 1,300-foot working area, a drydock capable of handling 730-footers being separated by a dividing gate from a graving dock which could accommodate 1,000-foot hulls. The yard is asking $12 million in assistance from federal and provincial authorities. Meanwhile, Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd., which would like to build 1,000-footers for the growing coal trade (and particularly to serve the needs of its parent, Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd.), has plans to build a $30 million shipyard at Nanticoke. It is hoped to build 1,000-foot vessels in sections at Port Weller, the sections to be floated up the Welland Canal and assembled at Nanticoke. The yard would feature a drydock with an elevating platform instead of a drainable chamber, a novelty in lake shipyards. There has been no word as to whether government officials will back the plans.

As mentioned previously, the operators of the steam excursion vessel BLUEWATER BELLE, (a) LA VIOLETTE, have not had an easy time of it in attempting to put the boat in service out of Sarnia. After spending considerable moneyin bringing the steamer to the lakes two years ago and preparing her for her new service, the work including the glassing-in of the main deck forward, her owner, Capt. A. Avery of Mooretown, has been completely frustrated by the actions of the Sarnia civic authorities. They have refused to allow the boat to dock at the ready-made facilities in the area of Ferry Dock Hill and have insisted that she sail from the inner end of the slip between the government wharf and Sarnia Elevator. Anyone seeking to board her there would be forced to clamber over rocks and rubble and to wade through a sea of mud, conditions hardly calculated to win the approval of excursionists. It now seems that Avery has given up on Sarnia and has decided to try his luck in the Toronto excursion trade. If BLUEWATER BELLE does make her way to Toronto (at last report, she had reached Windsor), the city will be blessed with two passenger steamboats, TRILLIUM being the other. We doubt that the arrival of BLUEWATER BELLE would have much effect on the operations of TRILLIUM, but she might well lure away some of the business presently handled by MARIPOSA BELLE, CAYUGA II and the Simpson tour boats. We have even heard that BLUEWATER BELLE might be placed on the Niagara run. Let us hope so, for we have longed to see an acceptable steamboat appear on the scene to revive this popular service.

Amongst the first Yugoslavian vessels to enter the lakes following the opening of the Seaway were three near-sisterships, LUKA BOTIC, MARKO MARULIC and NATKO NODILO. These motorships served the "Jadroplov" well for many seasons but had been superceded by more modern boats. Nevertheless, much to the surprise of many observers, MARKO MARULIC ventured back into the lakes this summer, still in her old colours. Her owners, however, are probably regretting sending the ship back to her old stamping grounds. Downbound on August 18 near Nine Mile Point in Lake Nicolet on the St. Mary's River, she lost her way in a severe thunderstorm and found the bottom. The Soo tugs STE. MARIE I, STE. MARIE II, ROD McLEAN and MISEFORD were sent to her aid but they were unable to free her. In due course, McLean sent lightering equipment which removed much of her cargo of rapeseed, whereupon she was pulled free by three tugs during the afternoon of August 22. The bottom being sandy in the area, it is unlikely that any serious damage was suffered.

The 1978 season has seen many changes in the various coastal vessels operating on the St. Lawrence River. The changes are too numerous for us to review here and we are not sure about the accuracy of all of our information, so we shall not become too deeply involved with these news items. Nevertheless, we must comment upon the fact that 1978 seems to be the year in which the end is finally written to the era of the last operating wooden goelettes (or pollywogs, as lake observers commonly knew them). Back in the early spring, a Florida company purchased the steel coasters GILANI, DELAVOYE, HAVRE ST. PIERRE and CONRAD MARIE (II), and it was subsequently announced that the same firm had acquired the goelettes GOERGES HEBERT, NOTRE DAME DES MERS and L'ETOILE DE L'ILE. The goelette NORD DE L'ILE also was sold to Florida buyers. It is not known what the Floridians intend to do with the little goelettes, but their acquisition of the boats effectively brought to a close the era of the goelette on the St. Lawrence. With the other three not due to operate in 1978 anyway, L'ETOILE DE L'ILE would have been the only goelette in service this year had not she, too, been sold.

Another St. Lawrence River item worthy of mention is the acquisition of the English passenger and auto ferry OSBORNE CASTLE for the ferry service between Trois-Pistoles and Les Escoumains. Renamed LE GOBELET D'ARGENT (II) for her new duties, the ferry was taken in hand by Talbot Hunter Engineering to raise her superstructure in order better to accommodate vehicular traffic.

Late last fall, the former Halco steam tanker CAPE TRANSPORT was hurriedly stripped of her superstructure at Toronto in order that she might be taken down the New York State Barge Canal en route to the Caribbean where she is eventually to be used as a water carrier. COVE TRANSPORT and ELMBRANCH, also acquired by the same interests, were moved south via the east coast but encountered serious problems due to the nasty weather which frequents those parts in late autumn. CAPE TRANSPORT was towed across Lake Ontario to Sodus Bay, where she was tucked away at Sill's Marina pending the results of efforts by Oceanic Operations Corp., agents for the owners, to clear the way for her canal passage. Such a transit would be frought with problems because of the size of the hull. In any event, the necessary arrangements have not yet been made and CAPE TRANSPORT continues to lie in Sodus Bay, evoking complaints from residents and yacht owners who resent her presence.

Work is slowly progressing on the conversion of LIQUILASSIE to a barge at Windsor. Presently owned by Allied Tug and Barge Services Inc., she has had most of her superstructure removed and a notch has been cut into her stern so that she may be pushed by a tug. At last report, she had not yet entered service; plans are a bit indefinite as to exactly what trade she will be serving when she is finally put into operation.

For two summers now, the Tate and Lyle (Redpath Sugar) sailing barge ETHEL has been barnstorming her way around the lakes, showing off her interesting profile and giving rides to invited guests of the company. Last winter was spent in the more comfortable climate of Florida. Her owner's original plan was to keep ETHEL on the lakes for one more year and then to return her (on the deck of a salt water cargo vessel) to her home waters of the Thames estuary. Redpath, however, has shied away from the cost of shipping ETHEL home and has instead sold her to a Toronto stevedoring company executive for $35,000. We sincerely hope that, if this report is true, the vessel's career in Lake Ontario waters will be more successful than other sailing vessels brought there. British fans of the historic old Thames sailing barges will, we are sure, be most unhappy to hear that ETHEL will not be coming home as expected.

Montreal has recently played host to two KUNGSHOLMs, even if only one of them actually bore that name at the time of her visit. We report these events here as neither ship is a frequent visitor to these parts and one of them is unlikely ever to be seen again in Canadian waters.

The present KUNGSHOLM, a beautiful twin-stacked vessel of 18,147 tons built in 1966 for the Swedish America Line, and operated in recent years by Flagship Cruises Ltd. under the Liberian flag, has been sold to the P & O Steam Navigation Company which will operate her in Australian waters to replace ARCADIA. Handed over to P & O at New York on August 2k, she will be completely rebuilt for the cruise service and the "Kungsholm Image", which Flagship Cruises tried valiantly to maintain, will be irrevocably lost. KUNGSHOLM called at Montreal for two days on the final leg of her last voyage, sailing downriver on August 19. She thus became the largest passenger ship ever to call at Montreal, as she is some ten feet longer than the former EMPRESS OF CANADA (II) which sailed regularly to Montreal in her years of service for Canadian Pacific.

Due to visit Montreal during September was the Hapag-Lloyd passenger ship EUROPA which, of course, had previously sailed for Swedish America as KUNGSHOLM before the construction of the last ship of this name. EUROPA sailed September 9 from Bremerhaven on a 43-day North American cruise which is taking her to Southampton, St. John's, Gaspe, Montreal, Quebec, La Baie, Ingonish, Sydney, Halifax, New York, Boston, Norfolk, Baltimore, Cape Canaveral, Miami, Hamilton (Bermuda), Ponta Delgada and Lisbon. It was originally hoped that EUROPA would be able to venture into the Great Lakes, and indeed some early conjecture on the part of her operators was that she would go all the way to Chicago, but any such ideas were abandoned when it was realized that EUROPA is at least a foot too wide to transit the locks of the Seaway system.

While still on the subject of deep-sea passenger tonnage, we have some good lews for those who, like your Editor, have been saddened by the recent withdrawal from service of so many Italian vessels which, over the years, had become familiar sights in ports such as New York. Gone are MICHELANGELO, RAFFAELO, and even the beautiful LEONARDO DA VINCI which had been briefly reactivated in the cruise trade after her retirement from the North Atlantic service. But take heart, for during December, Italian Line Cruises International will bring its handsome steamer GUGLIELMO MARCONI to New York for a series of seventeen consecutive cruises to the Caribbean islands. The first sailing is scheduled for December 18 after festivities to mark the beginning of the new service. The MARCONI is very traditional in appearance, both internally and externally, and will be a welcome addition to the rapidly dwindling fleet of major passenger boats sailing from New York. As far as we are aware, she has never before called there.

Vessel Passages

This November will mark the 65th anniversary of the worst disaster ever to befall Great Lakes shipping, the Great Storm of 1913. Enough has been said about this catastrophe that further discussion of it in these pages at this time is unwarranted. Nevertheless, by way of commemoration, we think that our readers might like to share with us the daily vessel passages as recorded in the Toronto Globe on November 14, 1913. That issue was filled with the grisly tales of the storm and its aftermath and we must understand that many of the ships mentioned here had just fought tremendous battles for their own lives and those of their crews.

Port Colborne. Nov. 13, Upbound - H. M. PELLATT, Montreal to Fort William, general cargo, 11 p.m.; TOILER, Montreal to Pt. Colborne, light, 1 a.m.; ROBERT R. RHODES, Montreal to Pt. Colborne, light, 1:30; A. E. AMES, Montreal to Ft. William, general cargo, 3:30; PORT COLBORNE, Sydney to Ft. William, steel rails, 4; W. H. DWYER, Sept-Iles to Tonawanda, pulpwood, 10; JOHN CRERAR, Oswego to Chicago, coal, 3 p.m.; CARLETON, Quebec to Niagara Falls, pulpwood, 4:30; BENJ. NOBLE, Kingston to Buffalo, light, 4:30.

Port Colborne. Nov. 13, Downbound - BENNINGTON, Chicago to Ogdensburg, general cargo, 9:30 p.m.; CADILLAC, Erie to Montreal, coal, 10; KEYPORT, Pt. Colborne to Montreal, wheat, 1 a.m.; TOILER, Pt. Colborne to Montreal, flax and wheat, 5:30.

Sault Ste. Marie. Nov. 13, Upbound - ODANAH, 9 p.m., Wednesday; NEEBING, 12:30 a.m., Thursday; MOSES TAYLOR, 5; GEORGE B. LEONARD, 5:30; MAJOR, 8; HOOVER AND MASON, 8:30; PRESQUE ISLE, RENOWN and oil barge, 10; GETTYSBURG, ED. McWILLIAMS, MELBOURNE, 11; COLLINGWOOD, noon; ST. CLAIR, 1:30 p.m.; ATHABASCA, 3.

Sault Ste. Marie. Nov. 13, Downbound - GERMAN, J. J. SULLIVAN, 8:30 p.m., Wednesday; YOSEMITE, 9; B. F. JONES, 10; E. H. UTLEY, midnight; MIDLAND PRINCE, 1 a.m., Thursday; FORDONIAN, 7; SIERRA, HAMONIC, 7:30; CORUNNA, 8; VERONA, 10; GEORGE STEPHENSON, 11:30; WM. F. FITCH & MAITLAND, J. Q. RIDDLE, 1 p.m.; MECOSTA, SINALOA, E. D. CARTER, 2; BUFFALO, 2:30; MINNETONKA, HENRY CORT, 3; PAIPOONGE, DORIC, 4:30; SULTANA, 5; PENOBSCOT, 6.

Detroit. Nov. 13, Upbound - JUPITER, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday; HURON, 9:45; MIAMI, MIKE COREY, 10; C. W. WATSON, JOHN B. COWLE, 10:10; JAMES W. FOLLETTE, JAMES NORRIS, 10:45; MARION W. PAGE, NELLIE REDINGTON, midnight; CANISTEO, 12:30 a.m., Thursday; EDWARD Y. TOWNSEND, 8:30; ALLEGHENY, 8:35; JAMES H. HOYT, 9:20; YORKTON, 11:30; NORTHERN LIGHT, noon; MILWAUKEE, 1:10 p.m.; CALCITE, 1:40; C. W. CADWELL, 2:10; AMERICA, 2:45; RUTLAND, HELENA (arrived), 3; MARY C. ELPHICKE, 3:10; WILLIAM C. AGNEW, 3:30; LUZON, 3:40; JAMES E. DAVIDSON, 6:30; VENUS, 6:45; THOMAS BARLUM, 8.


These names summon nostalgic thoughts for all of us. Almost all of our readers will remember some of these boats, and some of us remember a whole passel of them. (We're dating ourselves!) And those who fit in neither category will at least have heard of some of them and may be glad to see them mentioned here. How many of these boats are still in service, or at least extant on the lakes? Let us see...

Only three are still operative. PRESQUE ISLE, which was already fifteen years old at the time, still serves as Huron Cement's E. M. FORD, while HUGH KENNEDY, a Mitchell boat, operates for Erie Sand as J. F. SCHOELLKOPF JR. WILLIAM G. MATHER (I) is presently the BoCo self-unloader NICOLET. Still extant on the lakes but not operating are: J. J. SULLIVAN, which is lying idle at Milwaukee as CLARENCE B. RANDALL (II); E. D. CARTER, now PINEDALE and a breakwater on Lake Huron; JOHN B. COWLE (II) which, as HARRY L. ALLEN, is awaiting scrapping at Duluth; C. W. CADWELL, idle for many years at Toronto; J. P. MORGAN JR., one of the inactive tinstackers at Duluth; RENOWN, which as MERCURY is being (or has been) broken up at Sturgeon Bay; and G. A. TOMLINSON (I) and THOMAS LYNCH, which as HENRY R. PLATT JR. (II) and WIARTON form part of the Stelco dock wall at Hamilton.

A number of the ships were lost in accidents and some still lie where they met their demise. Amongst the best known of these are: CHICAGO, which was stranded in 1929 on Michipicoten Island; ANDASTE, resting somewhere on the bottom of Lake Michigan after her disappearance in 1929; CADILLAC, later MAPLEHURST, grounded in 1922 near the entrance to the Portage Canal; BENJ. NOBLE, which disappeared in Lake Superior off Duluth in 19l5; and the big CHESTER A. CONGDON which, from 1918 to this day, has lain in two pieces amongst the various wrecks strewn about the floor of Lake Superior near Isle Royale's Canoe Rocks.

Segwun - An Update

Many historians have been wondering what has been accomplished with the restoration of the veteran Muskoka Lakes passenger steamer SEGWUN since our last report. SEGWUN is a 124-foot iron-hulled propellor which was built back in 1887 as the sidewheeler NIPISSING. She last operated during the summer of 1958 and has since languished at Gravenhurst, part of her time spent housing museum exhibits. She is currently owned by the Muskoka Steamship and Historical Society, and with the help of funds provided by the Ontario government and the Ontario Roadbuilders' Association, work has been progressing on the readying of SEGWUN for an eventual return to service.

As of mid-August, the necessary engine refurbishing was progressing well and the major work on the interior of the superstructure was scheduled to start early in September. The required hull work had been completed several years ago. The entire restoration is being done in such a manner as to keep SEGWUN as traditional as possible, and for this reason, she has been granted the necessary official dispensation to allow her to remain a hand-fired coal-burner.

Present plans call for SEGWUN to be ready for steam trials during the summer of 1979, and if all goes well, she should be able to make a few preliminary trips late that season. She will begin full operation in 1980. Much of her time will be spent running short day cruises, presumably from Gravenhurst, but it is hoped that she will be able to operate two and three-day post-season trips which would take her all over the Muskoka Lakes system, overnight stops being made at various hotels. Studies have indicated that most of the municipal and hotel wharves, formerly used by the Muskoka steamers, are still in good condition, so no docking problems are expected.

We wish SEGWUN and her operators every success. We will keep our readers up to date as her reactivation approaches, as we are anxious once again to hear the echoes of her whistle along the Indian River.

Ship of the Month No. 77

Rapids Queen

In the Marine News section of our last issue, we mentioned that the cut-down remains of the once-famous passenger steamer RAPIDS QUEEN had finally returned to Toronto after an absence of forty-three years. Since it appears evident that this long-lived hull has taken up permanent residence in Toronto Harbour and will remain here as a breakwater for the foreseeable future, the time seems right to review the details of her career which has spanned the last eight-and-a-half decades.

It is with a certain amount of trepidation that we again mention the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company Ltd., for the name of this famous company seems to have crept into almost every issue of this newsletter. This is probably as it should be, however, for it is unlikely that any other vessel operator could be considered to have contributed as much as did the R & O to the economic development of the lower lakes and St. Lawrence River areas. Founded well before the Confederation of Canada and active until it was swallowed up by Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. in 1913, the R & O not only operated above and below the rapids of the St. Lawrence River but, indeed, right through them. The "Rapids Line", which connected at Prescott (and at Ogdensburg) with the Lake Ontario nightboats, took passengers down the rapids to Montreal, returning upbound through the old canals.

In 1892, the R & O took delivery of a new passenger steamer which had been built the same year at Chester, Pennsylvania, Hull 214 of the Delaware River Company. A steel-hulled, twin-screw vessel, she measured 175 feet in length, 34 feet in breadth, and 9 feet in depth, her original Gross Tonnage being registered as 884. The hull was sheathed in rock elm to protect her plating from the rigours of rapids-running. Her twin screws were driven by a triple-expansion engine with cylinders of 12 1/2, 19 and 30 inches diameter and a 15-inch stroke. Steam was provided by two coal-fired "gunboat" boilers which measured 8'1" by 19'6".

COLUMBIAN runs the Lachine Rapids in 1898. Notman photo. Examination of this print shows that most of the persons on deck and much of the wave action near the ship have been dubbed into the photo, a common Notman touch.The new vessel was christened COLUMBIAN and was assigned official number U.S.126860. These two facts pose for us a bit of a problem. COLUMBIAN appeared on the St. Lawrence in 1892 and was operating for R & O at that time. The company acquired the ship for the rapids service and, as such, she would normally have operated between Prescott and Montreal, two decidedly Canadian ports. Why then was she placed in U.S. registry and given a name with strong American connotations? There would seem to be two possible answers, the first of which is that the R & O may actually have intended to operate the ship from Ogdensburg instead of Prescott. If this were the case, we still cannot see why she would be placed in U.S. registry, as she would not have stopped in U.S. waters between Ogdensburg and Montreal. In addition, R & O did not form an American operating subsidiary until about 1910.

The second possibility is that COLUMBIAN was not actually built for the R & O at all but rather was built on speculation by the shipyard in the hope that a buyer would be found for her on completion or while she was on the ways. Vessels were quite often built in this manner in bygone years, as it kept the shipyard crews busy during slack periods between orders. Needless to say, the practice died out as shipbuilding costs escalated in North American yards and as hulls became more specialized, the builders not wishing to be stuck with boats which could not be sold.

Whatever the answer, the R & O did take delivery of COLUMBIAN and brought her to the St. Lawrence River rapids route on which she ran along with the older steamer BOHEMIAN. COLUMBIAN had an enclosed main deck, with the usual exception of the open area around the dining room aft. The promenade deck was open for observation of the exciting rapids scenery and was equipped with a day cabin for those favouring protected seating arrangements. Some of the rapids boats, perhaps including COLUMBIAN, also provided limited stateroom accommodation, as the upbound trek through the old canals was often a long and tedious affair, for the canals were frequently jammed with traffic. The downbound run through the rapids was a matter of day travel only but passengers often had to remain aboard overnight whilst the ships were upbound. We say that COLUMBIAN was "perhaps" included, because early photos of her do not seem to show any stateroom accommodations.

COLUMBIAN carried her rather large pilothouse on the boat deck, forward of the officers' cabins and the shade deck. She was originally fitted with but one stack, set amidships, which was not visibly raked. Neither did her single mast display any rake whatever. In fact, COLUMBIAN was not a particularly stylish boat for her day; she looked rather stubby, too short for the size of her superstructure. While her hull did lift a bit at the bow, she had minimal sheer and her lines were not the sort to fill observers with ecstasy .

COLUMBIAN served Richelieu and Ontario well and in 1901 was sent to the shipyard at Sorel where she was rebuilt. At this time, her stack was moved considerably aft of its original location. Overnight accommodations were added and the 'midships section of the promenade deck cabin was extended outwards towards the sides of the ship. Photos would tend to suggest that she might have been lengthened in this rebuild, but the official record indicates no such alteration to the hull. By the time of this reconstruction, she had been brought into Canadian registry and enrolled as C.101254. She sailed under her original name until 1905 and then was renamed (b) BROCKVILLE in honour of the town located on the Canadian shore of the upper St. Lawrence River.

The same ship, under the name BROCKVILLE, runs the same stretch of the Lachine Rapids sometime between 1901 and 1909. This Notman photo has not been retouched.In 1909, BROCKVILLE was again taken to Sorel and this time underwent a major rebuild to bring her more in line with the needs of an increasingly-demanding travelling public. She was lengthened, and when she emerged from the yard, she measured 194.4 feet in length, her beam being 33.5 feet and her depth 8.8 feet. Her new tonnage was 1607 Gross, 770 Net. A large day cabin was added to the boat deck abaft the pilothouse and the boat deck was extended somewhat at its forward end. The most striking change in the steamer, however, was that she now sported two tall, heavy, and virtually perpendicular stacks. Set in tandem, they were very close together, the forward funnel being carried immediately behind the pilothouse. The promenade deck rail forward was closed in and adorned with magnificent golden trailboards featuring fierce-looking dragons.

We might mention that it has been suggested that the lengthening of BROCKVILLE was carried out in 1912 at Kingston rather than in 1909 at Sorel. To date, we can find no support for this theory.

In any event, when BROCKVILLE re-entered service after her reconstruction, she did so under the name (c) RAPIDS QUEEN. This change was to accommodate a new naming scheme that R & O was developing for its rapids service. The older boats were being retired from service on this important line and the rebuilding of RAPIDS QUEEN was a major step in updating the company's facilities. The much larger RAPIDS KING (which was really too big for the route) had been built in 1907 and the most successful and best-known rapids boat of all, RAPIDS PRINCE, followed in 1910. These new steamers, together with their rebuilt older mate, could better take care of the passenger traffic delivered to Prescott by the Lake Ontario nightboats than could their predecessors.

RAPIDS QUEEN served the R & O faithfully in her new guise and, in 1913, when the company was absorbed into the newly-formed Canada Transportation Company Ltd. (soon renamed Canada Steamship Lines Ltd.), RAPIDS QUEEN went along with the rest of the fleet. C.S.L. made few changes in her operation and she ran basically as before, a major connection between Lake Ontario and the lower St. Lawrence steamers of the line. Many people will have fond memories of a trip through the rapids aboard RAPIDS QUEEN or RAPIDS PRINCE.

We have already mentioned that RAPIDS KING had been built for the Prescott-Montreal service in 1907. Unfortunately, R & O found to its chagrin that it had been a bit unwise when choosing a design for this boat. RAPIDS KING was just too big and deep for the route and spent much of her time, especially in later years when under the C.S.L. flag, laid up or assigned to other service, as she could only navigate the rapids when the water was high. As a result, RAPIDS QUEEN and RAPIDS PRINCE were the mainstays of the route. In 1929, RAPIDS KING was rebuilt at Lauzon, her upper deck being removed and other improvements made in the hope that she might do better on the rapids line. Even if this optimism proved to be unfounded (RAPIDS KING was laid up in 1931 and never turned a wheel until she was scrapped in 1949), C.S.L. took the opportunity to divest itself of the aging RAPIDS QUEEN.

The 38-year-old steamer was retired in 1929 and was sold to Sincennes McNaughton Tugs Ltd., Montreal. We do not know what she did for "Sin-Mac" in the intervening years, but in 1933 she was chartered out for service on Lake Superior between Fort William and Isle Royale. This route could hardly have been called a success, for she made but three trips and was then laid up at Fort William. As far as we can ascertain, she did not operate in 1934 but when navigation opened for the 1935 season, it seemed that RAPIDS QUEEN might have a promising career ahead of her.

The date is July 18, 1935 as RAPIDS QUEEN enters Toronto via the Eastern Gap for the first time, answering a salute from tug RIVAL. The two stacks and pilothouse seen over her foredeck belong to the idle railferry CHARLES LYON. Photo by J. H. Bascom.Early in 1935, Messrs Crawford and Doty of Toronto formed a company known as Ontario and Quebec Lines Ltd., their intention being to run a passenger and freight service between Toronto and Montreal in opposition to Canada Steamship Lines. They cast about for a suitable boat and chartered RAPIDS QUEEN from Sincennes McNaughton for the season. Her hull painted green, her cabins white, and her stacks red with black tops, she arrived at Toronto on the afternoon of July 18, 1935 amid considerable fanfare; salutes were given to her by Sin-Mac equipment busily engaged near the Eastern Gap in attempting to right the overturned oil barge BRUCE HUDSON.

RAPIDS QUEEN was scheduled to leave Toronto each Monday at noon for a five-day return trip to Montreal. She was back in Toronto in time to run a weekend cruise to the Bay of Quinte and the Thousand Islands. Bookings were, at first, good and RAPIDS QUEEN seemed to be doing well, but after the novelty of the new service wore off, Ontario and Quebec Lines found that they were losing passengers back to the established C.S.L. operation, the travelling public being reluctant to forsake the opulence of the splendid KINGSTON and TORONTO. In a move to promote business, the new firm, although announcing publicly that it was loathe to take advantage of its permit to do so, began to serve beer and wine aboard the ship. It also cut ticket prices and, in due course, wound up battling C.S.L. in a fare war. It was patently obvious who the winner would be, and although RAPIDS QUEEN continued her sailings from Toronto's Terminal Warehouse through the summer season, the service was discontinued with the coming of autumn and RAPIDS QUEEN was laid up at Portsmouth. The charter was not renewed for the following year.

In 1936, RAPIDS QUEEN embarked on a project which certainly could be called unusual. She was chartered to Doctor Locke's Clinic and was taken to the town of Morrisburg, Ontario, on the St. Lawrence, where she served as a hotel for the clinic's patients. She served in this capacity all through 1936 and during 1937 as well, but by 1938, she was back at Kingston, laid up.

Late in 1938, RAPIDS QUEEN was sold to the Canadian Dredge and Dock Company Ltd., a major Canadian marine contractor. The old boat was moved to the C. D.D. yard at Kingston and there, on December 13, 1938, work began on the removal of her superstructure and machinery. Stripped to the main deck, she was converted to an oil bunkering barge and was given the unimpressive name (d) C.D. 110. Subsequent to the conversion, her Gross and Net tonnages were both registered as 412.

The work was completed by the following May and, on June 3, 1939. CD. 110 was taken in tow by one of the company's tugs. Her destination was Deschaillons, Quebec, on the south shore of the river between Trois-Rivieres and Quebec, from whence her bunkers service would be operated. She must have proven to be satisfactory in this trade, for she served in the same capacity at various locations until the completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959. C D&D was heavily involved in the Seaway construction and other major projects during the fifties, but when the new canal opened, it found itself the proud possessor of assorted steam tugs, dredges, barges, etc., for which it had no use. The bulk of this equipment was laid to rest at the company's yard beyond the LaSalle Causeway in Kingston Harbour. CD. 110 became a member of the boneyard fleet, having been towed back from the Seaway.

The people of Kingston, however, having some years previously succeeded in getting rid of the numerous sunken and rotting hulls abandoned in Portsmouth Harbour, did not take particularly kindly to the growing eyesore into which the C D&D premises were developing as the disused boats fell into grievous states of disrepair and unsightliness. Finally, during the 1970s, the company disposed of most of the old hulls for scrap, the "fleet" being decimated in fairly short order. CD. 110, however, had settled by the stern and was left where she lay, it being thought, apparently, that the cost of raising her was not warranted. She mouldered away at Kingston until 1978.

The Toronto area is well provided with facilities for yachtsmen, three of the major yacht clubs being located on the Toronto Islands. One, the Queen City Yacht Club, is established on the eastern end of Algonquin Island, immediately to the southwest and just across the lagoon from the Ward's Island ferry docks. In recent years, the Q.C.Y.C. has grown substantially in membership and additional mooring space has been made available in the lagoon. Access to the club from the west via the lagoon which swings in behind the island is restricted by a fixed bridge, and so most yachts must enter direct from the Bay between the clubhouse and the ferry docks. Unfortunately, the lagoon entrance silts up regularly and this leaves only a very narrow channel of navigable depth.

The Q.C.Y.C, for reasons of economics, decided to protect the channel with a breakwater, feeling that an old hull might be sunk in the relatively shallow water to the west of the channel to end the silting problems. The club shelled out the princely sum of $7,000 to Canadian Dredge and Dock in early 1978 and received in return the rusting, decrepit remains of CD. 110. The old hull was towed to Toronto on June 11 and was moored on the westerly side of the inner west pier of the Eastern Gap.

The Toronto Harbour Commission and the Metropolitan Toronto Parks Department, however, were not satisfied that, at some future date, the old hull might not rupture and permit the escape into the Bay of some noxious substance which could foul the island park's shoreline. Assurances were required that the hull be cleaned or some other arrangement made and, although we have no details, we understand that an agreement has been reached. Markers have been placed where CD. 110 will be laid to rest and her bulwarks have been painted royal blue to match the trim on the clubhouse. We understand that the placing of the hull will be made early next spring.

And so, RAPIDS QUEEN has come "home" at last for what will undoubtedly be a lengthy stay. Why do we call Toronto home for a boat which operated from this port for only one of her 86 years? We do so because for so long she provided the important connection with the Lake Ontario nightboats which permitted Toronto residents to travel comfortably by boat to and from Montreal and points east. We are pleased to have this historic hull so near at hand, but we would prefer to see her the way she looked back on that sunny afternoon in 1935 when she first sailed into Toronto Harbour.

Proposal For A Slide Pool

Each October, T.M.H.S. begins its season with an open slide night. Many of our members bring slides to illustrate their summer shipwatching but, all too often, the slides seen on such occasions are subsequently filed away by their owners, never again to see the light of a projector. Perhaps a collective swapping of slides would benefit more members and enhance more collections faster than would normal trading on a one-to-one basis. I am therefore submitting the following proposal for the careful consideration of all T.M.H.S. members.

I propose that members interested in a slide pool submit to the pool five slides of good quality. After a certain date, entry would be closed in order that trading might begin. Then, at a regular T.M.H.S. meeting, the names of all those joining the pool would be placed in a hat and drawn to determine slide selection order. As each member's turn to draw from the pool would come up, he could draw up to a maximum of ten slides but would have to add to the kitty from his own collection a number of slides equal to that drawn. Each slide placed in the pool would be labelled with the name of the photographer and, where possible, the date of the photo. Only views of lakers would be accepted (at least at the beginning of the pool), and the accent would be on older tonnage.

This is ONLY a proposal and is published here in order to seek the thoughts of T.M.H.S. members on the subject. Comments and suggestions concerning the proposal should be submitted to the undersigned, or to the Editor.

Alan Sykes, 16 Thomson Road, Welland, Ontario. L3C 3M9.

Additional Marine News

For the first time of which we are aware, a pilot has walked off a salt water vessel in Toronto Harbour. On the evening of September 30, the pilot assigned to navigate the bulk carrier APJ KARAN out of the harbour from her berth at the Redpath Sugar plant, encountered difficulties in dealing with the salty's officers. In the face of much adversity, he was able to put the boat to anchor in the Bay and departed the ship via the tug TERRY S. Due to the reluctance of the master to put down a ladder so that the pilot might leave, the Harbour Police were summoned to the scene. In due course, his debarcation was arranged and the vessel cleared the following morning, her agents having arranged for the attendance of another pilot.

We have heard that Hull 64, presently under construction at Port Weller for Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd., may be named CANADIAN PIONEER.

The former Straits of Mackinac carferry VACATIONLAND (b) JACK DALTON, (c) PERE NOUVEL, (d) SUNSHINE COAST QUEEN, which has recently been used as a ferry on the Canadian west coast, appeared during September at the yard of Canadian Vickers Ltd. in Montreal. This would appear to indicate that, in fact, the vessel has been purchased for use on the proposed ferry service between Meldrum Bay and DeTour Village.

The 67-year-old steam carferry CHIEF WAWATAM has gained yet another extension to her operating life. Michigan state authorities have extended until March 31, 1979 the contract for the operation of the ferry by the Straits Car Ferry Service Corporation and thus CHIEF WAWATAM is guaranteed an additional period of active service. The extension is due primarily to the flourishing rail business of the Michigan Northern Railroad which has, unlike other lines, refused to increase its freight rates despite approval to do so granted by the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

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

Scanner, v. 11, n. 1 (October 1978)

Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Marine News; Segwun - An Update; Additional Marine News