The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Scanner, v. 11, n. 3 (December 1978)
Scanner (Toronto, ON), Dec 1978

Bascom, John N., Editor
Media Type:
Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Rapids Queen Again; Winter Lay-up Listings; More Time For Boatwatching?
Date of Publication:
Dec 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, January 5th - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Annual Theme Slide Night. Members are invited to bring slides illustrating pre-Seaway salties and those in the lakes immediately after the Seaway opening.

Friday, February 2nd - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Our speaker will be Dr. Gordon Shaw. His subject: "Changes in Canadian Great Lakes Shipping since the Opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959".

The Editor's Notebook

In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to Brian Gamula of Niagara-on-the-Lake, to John J. Devison of Islington, and to Gordon B. Wansbrough of Scarborough. We are always pleased to receive new memberships and some of our readers might wish to consider a membership in T.M.H.S. and subscription to the "Scanner" as a seasonal gift for a friend who shares the marine interest. If so, please contact our Treasurer, Mr. James M. Kidd, 83 Humberview Road, Toronto, Ontario, M6S 1W9.

With this issue, we extend our very best wishes to member Capt. Harold Barklem, of the Toronto Island ferry service, who is presently recuperating following a recent illness. We look forward to seeing Harold back on the ferry again soon.

The 1978 navigation season has been an interesting one on the lakes and we have enjoyed keeping our members up to date on the year's developments. Soon, however, the lakers will be rushing to load their last cargoes of the season and will be heading to winter quarters. In the words of the late C. H. J. Snider, the cold lake smokes and it's time to lay up.

To all our members and their families go our very best wishes for a Merry Christmas and every happiness in the New Year.

Marine News

A serious accident occurred at Sept Iles, Quebec, in the early morning hours of Tuesday, November 14th, and resulted in the sinking of the tug POINTE MARGUERITE and the loss of two of her crew. The tug, owned by Eastern Canada Towing Ltd. of Halifax, was assisting the Italian bulk carrier CIELO BIANCO when she was struck by the new Algoma Central Marine self-unloader ALGOBAY. The tug was crushed between the two ships and immediately sank in 180 feet of water. Her master was rescued from the bitterly cold water but two crewmen were unable to get away from the tug before she foundered. Damage to CIELO BIANCO was minimal but ALGOBAY sustained a gash in her special ice-breaking bow and will be forced to go on drydock for repairs. The results of the investigation into the cause of the accident are not yet known, but it is thought that ALGOBAY may have suffered a mechanical failure immediately prior to the collision. ALGOBAY was completed earlier this year by Collingwood Shipyards and had been placed in operation during the month of October.

In recent issues of this publication, we have speculated on the possibility of the retirement of the tanker IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD at the close of the 1978 navigation season. Our prognostication has proven to be right on the mark, for Imperial Oil Limited has now made a formal announcement to the effect that the steamer will be withdrawn from service in December and that a buyer for her will be sought. Although twice lengthened since the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD and her sister, IMPERIAL LONDON, were built at Collingwood in 1947 and 1948, respectively, to canal dimensions. Her retirement removes from the Imperial fleet the last of its canallers and also leaves the company with but one tanker in regular lake service, IMPERIAL SARNIA, whose future is also in considerable doubt. It is believed that the COLLINGWOOD will be replaced by chartered tonnage.

Although by mid-November the former IMPERIAL LONDON had not yet left her berth at the Marine Salvage Ltd. scrapyard in Ramey's Bend on the Welland Canal, she had been renamed (b) TEGUCIGALPA by her Honduran owners and appeared to be just about ready for her new duties in the Caribbean and South American waters. This steam tanker must surely have been given one of the longest fit-outs ever accorded a laker after a sale!

The Branch Lines Ltd. tanker EDOUARD SIMARD, built at Sorel in 1961 and the second oldest ship currently active in the fleet, is reportedly in very bad condition due to the corrosion of her tanks. To rectify this situation, the tanker will be drydocked over the winter at the Davie shipyard at Lauzon and there she will be fitted with an entirely new hull section to replace the damaged tanks. The rebuilding will result in an eighteen-foot increase in the length of the 399-foot motorship. Branch Lines Ltd. has always been an independent carrier (that is, one not directly associated with any particular oil company) and its vessels are frequently chartered out to the other tanker fleets. In many cases, they have had to carry all sorts of nasty substances which fleets such as Imperial Oil would never dream of putting in their own boats for fear of what they might do to their tanks. This trade seems to have taken its toll on EDOUARD SIMARD which is certainly not what one could call an old ship, but her planned revitalization will mean that she will have many more years of operation ahead of her.

We understand that certain financial difficulties have been associated with the purchase of Branch Lines Ltd. by the Davie shipbuilding interests from the control of Marine Industries Ltd. These problems resulted in the sale earlier this year of both CEDARBRANCH and WILLOWBRANCH, and they have now prompted the sale of yet another Branch Lines tanker. ARSENE SIMARD is still operating for the Branch Lines fleet, but she has been sold to the Hall Corporation and will be delivered to Halco in drydock at Montreal on December 15th. ARSENE SIMARD, built in 1972 at Sorel, will be renamed by her new owner, although no decision on the new name has yet been reached.

It is expected that she will operate throughout the winter, probably in the lakes, as Halco has announced that it plans to run two tankers in the upper lake trade this winter season.

The operations of Secola Shipping Ltd., an affiliate of Ship Repairs and Supplies Ltd., Toronto, have not proven to be sufficiently successful as to merit the continuation of the service. The tanker SECOLA, (a) CEDARBRANCH (II), which the company purchased from Branch Lines Ltd. early this spring, is to be withdrawn from operation shortly. It has not yet been decided whether she will be taken to an east coast port where a buyer might be found for her, or whether she will be laid up at Toronto and eventually scrapped there. Whatever the disposition of the ship, this development is likely to spell the end for the shipping ventures of the Toronto operators; they had previously run GULF SENTINEL, CONGAR (I) and CONGAR (II) under the name of Johnstone Shipping Ltd. CEDARBRANCH was built for Branch Lines at Sorel in 1951 by Marine Industries Ltd. and was lengthened at the same yard in 1965. She was, of course, originally a canaller and was a sistership of WILLOWBRANCH. CEDARBRANCH had operated for Branch Lines through the 1977 season.

The date is July 23, 1978 as HERON BAY passes Six Mile Point, upbound in the St. Mary's River. Photo by the Editor.Last issue, we reported on the retirement from the Q & O fleet of the motorship PIC RIVER and the steamer HERON BAY (II). We have learned that HERON BAY, after discharging her last cargo (grain) at Port Cartier, proceeded under her own power to Quebec City, where she arrived on November 12th. She laid up near the Quebec Arsenal and was quickly renamed HERON B., her Q & O stack markings having been obliterated. In this, she seems to have gone through the same change as did PIC RIVER which is now lying at Hamilton as PIC R. It is likely that the names HERON BAY and PIC RIVER (as well as SHELTER BAY and BLACK RIVER) will shortly be used on other vessels of the fleet.

It was earlier reported that the passenger and auto ferry VACATIONLAND was seen during the autumn at the Canadian Vickers shipyard at Montreal. It was assumed by many who received this report, but had not seen the ship, that this was VACATIONLAND, (b) JACK DALTON, (c) PERE NOUVEL, (d) SUNSHINE COAST QUEEN, on which the State of Michigan has a purchase option for the proposed ferry route between DeTour Village and Meldrum Bay. In fact, the ship which was spotted at Montreal was the Prince Edward Island ferry VACATIONLAND which was built in 1971 at Port Weller. There have been no recent developments in respect of the possible return to the lakes of the other VACATIONLAND which has been laid up on the British Columbia coast since she was taken out of service on December 7, 1976.

With the early morning light glinting on her side, PIC RIVER is upbound in Lake Nicolet on July 17, 1978. Photo by the Editor.The hull of the partially scrapped steam tanker MERCURY, (a) RENOWN, (b) BEAUMONT PARKS, which was formerly owned by Cleveland Tankers Inc., has been sold to Roen Salvage of Sturgeon Bay where she has been lying for several years. She was towed to a new berth during October by the tugs ESCORT II and BAYSHIP and it is likely that her new owner will continue with the dismantling of the ship.

Present indications are that the "laker conversion" of ST. LAWRENCE NAVIGATOR will be done at Port Weller. It is not known exactly when the work will be started but we would anticipate that the new forebody for the ship will be laid down in the graving dock as soon as the second of the two new self-unloaders being built at the yard for Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. has been moved to the fit-out berth. It would thus seem unlikely that the conversion could be completed until sometime in 1980. Meanwhile, the conversion of ST. LAWRENCE PROSPECTOR is still scheduled for the coming winter at St. John, New Brunswick. We have also learned that, once the conversions have been done, the two ships will be renamed CANADIAN NAVIGATOR and CANADIAN PROSPECTOR.

The new U.S. Steel self-unloader EDWIN H. GOTT was christened in ceremonies held at Sturgeon Bay on October 31st. It is expected that the GOTT will be completed in time for her to enter service late this year.

The first vessel of Toronto's lay-up fleet for the coming winter arrived in port during the early morning hours of November 10th. The boat is the Misener Transportation Ltd. steam bulk carrier GEORGE M. CARL which tied up alongside harbour section 292 near the foot of Sherbourne Street. The CARL has a storage cargo, presumably soya beans for Victory Mills. The early lay-up of the ship does not indicate a scarcity of grain cargoes but would appear to reflect certain difficulties which operators have encountered in having their vessels unloaded at eastern ports. The CARL made the news this past summer when she paid an unexpected visit to the Bay Shipbuilding yard at Sturgeon Bay where she was incarcerated from August 15 to the 24th for rudder repairs. She was towed to Sturgeon Bay from Thunder Bay by the McLean tug WILFRED M. COHEN.

The former Westdale Shipping self-unloader LEADALE has now left the lakes en route to the South American port where she will be dismantled. With a cargo of scrap metal in her holds, she passed down the St. Lawrence Seaway during the night of November 12-13 in tow of the tugs ROBERT H. and TECHNO VENTURE. She was bound for Sorel where, presumably, a deep sea tug took over the tow. It is interesting to note that, although superannuated lakers have been towed overseas for scrapping on a regular basis since the early sixties, LEADALE is the first to head directly for South America.

At approximately the same time that LEADALE was sold to Mexican interests back in the spring, a sale which was not completed, her name was linked to that of the idle Halco tanker BAFFIN TRANSPORT which had been lying at Sorel for several years and which was allegedly also sold to Mexicans. It is a coincidence that, on November 11th, BAFFIN TRANSPORT passed Quebec City outbound for the sea in tow of OCEAN CROWN and YVON SIMARD. At the present time, we have no knowledge of the circumstances of her departure from Canadian waters, but we can be certain that she was bound for a scrapyard somewhere .

The idle Paterson canaller LAWRENDOC (II) was recently placed back in service after having been drydocked at Collingwood Shipyards. She was immediately sent eastwards with a cargo of barley bound for Prince Edward Island. Neither LAWRENDOC, nor her sister MONDOC (III), had been fitted out this spring. We have heard certain rumours to the effect that both ships may be sold by Paterson to another Canadian lake vessel operator but there has been no official announcement of any such development as yet.

The equipment of the salt water motorship PHOTINIA was sold at auction at Sturgeon Bay on October 7 and 8 by Selvick Marine Towing. The "open house" which was held aboard the salty was designed to sell off the ship's contents and it is likely that the hull itself will be dismantled.

The new U. S. Coast Guard tug KATMAI BAY, one of five similar vessels being built at Tacoma, Washington, is expected to be in service before the close of the 1978 navigation season. She will be based at the Soo and will replace the aging tug NAUGATUCK. The second of the new tugs will be named BRISTOL BAY but she will not make her debut in the lakes until sometime in 1979.

The ice-breaking motorship ARCTIC, which was completed at Port Weller this spring and subsequently placed in service between European ports and Baffin Island, has hardly had an auspicious first year of service. First, there was her maiden voyage argument with a bridge at Toledo, an accident which sent her back to Port Weller for the mending of a nasty gash in her hull. And now she is back at Port Weller once again, this time to have a 10-metre hole in her starboard bow fixed. The accident occurred late in October while ARCTIC was outward bound for Antwerp with a cargo of lead-zinc concentrate from the Nanisivik mine on Baffin Island. She put into Marmorilik, Greenland, where her trim was adjusted to compensate for the water she had taken on, and then sailed for Quebec City where she was lightered of part of her cargo. She was then taken up to Port Weller for repair. The damage was apparently caused by an impact with a submerged ice floe. It isanticipated that repairs to ARCTIC can be expedited so that she can leave the lakes before the Seaway closes, despite the fact that the cost of repair has been estimated to be $450,000.

In our November issue, we mentioned that the veteran Kinsman steamer PAUL L. TIETJEN had been sold to Triad Salvage Inc. of Ashtabula for scrapping. The steamer was towed from the Frog Pond at Toledo at noon on October 10 by the G-tug OHIO and the following day arrived at Ashtabula, where she was docked by the harbour tugs IDAHO and KANSAS. The TIETJEN will be broken up as soon as the torches have disposed of the last bits and pieces of CHICAGO TRADER, but we understand that her Skinner Unaflow engine will be removed intact so that it may be placed in some other as-yet-unidentified vessel.

Last month, we also reported that the United States Steel Corporation's bulk carrier WILLIAM A. McGONAGLE had been sold to Kinsman and would be placed in service this autumn. That report came to us via a very reliable source, but it has been proven to have been a bit premature. Nevertheless, negotiations for the purchase of the McGONAGLE are continuing and it is hoped that there will be definite news in this regard shortly.

We also mentioned in November that the aging KINSMAN ENTERPRISE, (a) NORMAN B. REAM, was nearing the end of her active career. We were, at that time, just dropping a small hint to the effect that the ENTERPRISE might well be on her last legs, but there is now more to be said on the subject. It is rumoured that the steamer, which is reportedly in poor condition due to her advanced age (73 years), has been offered by Kinsman to the Cargill Grain Company and has tentatively been accepted by the latter. If the deal should actually be completed, the ENTERPRISE would be delivered to her purchaser at Chicago, where she would be stripped of her superstructure. She would then be towed down the Illinois Waterway and the Mississippi River to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she would be used as a floating grain elevator. This would be a most interesting development if it were to come to fruition but, quite honestly, we would rather see KINSMAN ENTERPRISE remain in service on the Great Lakes where she belongs!

The steamer KINSMAN VOYAGER, which had been lying at Hamburg and used as a storage barge since 1975, was towed to Bilbao, Spain, for scrapping during the summer of 1978. Her companion during the years at Hamburg was another former Kinsman vessel, JAMES E. FERRIS, which made the tow across the Atlantic Ocean with her. There is no word as to whether the FERRIS has also gone to the breaker's yard.

Over the past few years, we have watched with interest as the veteran carferry CHIEF WAWATAM, which operates the route between St. Ignace and Mackinaw City, has been granted several reprieves from a retirement which seemed imminent due to her age and the extensive refurbishing which she allegedly requires. Nevertheless, her age is not the only force operating against the old ferry. She has been very busy during 1978 because of the success of the fledgling Michigan Northern Railroad but there is a distinct possibility that this situation may soon change.

During the autumn of 1977, a five percent rate increase was levied on U.S. and Canadian lumber which was shipped eastwards by rail. All of the American railroads went along with this increase except the Michigan Northern which held to the old rate. Because of the line's holdout against the increase and the fact that the Michigan Northern carried much of the lumber over its rails, the other lines were forced to accept the lower rate. An embargo against movement of such lumber by other railroads was forbidden by the Interstate Commerce Commission. Recently, however, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific announced that they considered themselves to be outside the jurisdiction of the I.C.C. and that they would not accept freight which would be routed for any part of its journey over Michigan Northern rails. Canadian Pacific, of course, owns the Soo Line Railroad which connects with the Michigan Northern. The Council of Forest Industries of British Columbia has reluctantly agreed to go along with the position adopted by C.N. and C.P. and it would thus seem that, in the very near future, there may be a marked decrease in traffic on the Michigan Northern which, in its turn, would greatly reduce the number of cars transported by CHIEF WAWATAM across the Straits of Mackinac. Michigan Northern is unwilling to relent in its refusal to increase rates and, unless some settlement of the affair is reached, it may well be considered that the cost of keeping the CHIEF in service is not warranted. In that event, a cut-off of state subsidies would seem likely.

Rapids Queen Again

If there is one thing for which we at T.M.H.S. can take credit, it is this: when we open up a can of worms, we really do a good job of it! Ye Editor, however, would not feel that he was doing justice to his responsibilities if this were not the case, for our task is not simply to report the news and give a superficial smattering of historical fact in these pages. We feel a definite sense of gratification when we venture onto new ground (or water, as the case may be), and provoke comment or argument with one of our features. Such is the case with our October "Ship of the Month", the passenger steamer COLUMBIAN, (b) BROCKVILLE, (c) RAPIDS QUEEN, (d) CD. 110.

Never before has one of our feature articles prompted such interest on the part of our readers. In fact, we have received so much correspondence on the subject that we will be kept busy with it for several months. Our particular thanks go to Rev. Edward J. Dowling, S.J., of Detroit, to George Ayoub of Ottawa, and to Gerry Girvin of Rochester for their most valuable assistance.

The early history of the steamer is in considerable doubt and we do not know whether she was actually built to the order of the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation interests or whether the Delaware River Iron Ship Building and Engine Works (please note the correct corporate title) built her on speculation. Last month, we mentioned that the 1892 American register (signal letter code section) identifies her owner in that, the year of her build, as the Morgan Iron Works of New York City. Why this should be, we do not know, but we do know that the Delaware River shipbuilding firm encountered difficulties in its latter years and went out of business about 1908. It is possible that Morgan may have given certain financial assistance to the yard or even purchased its interests and, if this should be so, it would seem to lend credence to our suggestion that the boat may have been built "on spec". It would be unusual, to say the least, for a vessel to be registered to a shipbuilder if she were actually built to the order of someone else.

The plot thickens, however, in that COLUMBIAN first appeared in Lloyds' Register in 1892 which, unlike the U.S. Merchant Vessels listing of the same year, shows her owner as the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company of Philadelphia. This is somewhat surprising as it is one of the earliest records we have of an American affiliate of R & O. Nevertheless, the entry muddies the water in connection with the question of whether R & O ordered the construction of COLUMBIAN or bought her either on the ways or after completion.

The British Naval List and Maritime Directory for 1893 and 1894, as well as Lloyds' of 1893 (the 1894 edition is not available), show her owner as one George Shea of St. John's, Newfoundland. Her port of registry was St. John's and her official number was Br.101254. The same records indicate that from 1895 through 1905, her owner was the Montreal Safe Deposit Company, Montreal, but her home port was still St. John's.

The port records for St. John's, as contained in the Public Archives at Ottawa, indicate that, on January 30, 1893, COLUMBIAN was enrolled at St. John's, her owner being George Shea, merchant, of the same city. Her dimensions were shown as 175.0 x 33.9 x 9.0, 703.9 Gross and 470 Net. It was indicated that she was a twin-screw vessel, of sloop rig, having two (yes, two) triple-expansion engines with cylinders of 12 1/2, 19 and 30 inches and a 15-inch stroke.

The St. John's port records also show that COLUMBIAN was transferred on March 13, 1895 to the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company Ltd., Montreal, and on April 9, 1895 to the Montreal Safe Deposit Company, Montreal. Strangely enough, these entries were made only ten minutes apart, at 10:30 and 10:40 a.m., respectively, on May 23, l895. We assume that the Montreal Safe Deposit Company was the mortgagee which financed the acquisition of the ship by R & O and, generally, the R & O program of updating its fleet. We do not know what Shea's connection may have been, although he was involved in the ownership of several other lake passenger boats.

The steamer first appears in the Canadian List of Shipping in 1906 under the name BROCKVILLE. She was still registered to the Montreal Safe Deposit Company but her port of registry was changed at that time to Montreal and her official number became C. 101254. It was not until 1907 that her owner was actually recorded as being the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company Ltd., Montreal. We must assume that the mortgage on the ship had been paid off. It should be noted that, although the R & O had built up an extensive shipping empire centring mainly around its St. Lawrence River services, the company was often in precarious financial straits and it was not uncommon for its boats to be mortgaged in order that working capital might be obtained.

Incidentally, the Canadian Railway and Marine World for April 1900 indicates that COLUMBIAN was that year chartered out by R & O to the Lake Ontario Navigation Company (sic) - its real name was the Lake Ontario and Bay of Quinte Steamboat Company - to run during the summer months between Charlotte, Port Hope and the Thousand Islands. The charter agreement contained a clause which stipulated that R & O retained the right to use the ship on Mondays during the period June 9 through August 27 for its route between Kingston and Montreal.

As far as the disposal of the ship by C.S.L. is concerned, it seems that RAPIDS QUEEN was not sold directly to Sincennes-McNaughton. She actually was purchased in 1929 by Toronto entrepreneur John E. Russell and it was not until 1930 that she was transferred to Sin-Mac Lines Ltd., Montreal, of which Russell was an executive officer.

We will have more to report on this most interesting steamer in our January issue. Please stay tuned and we shall advise you accordingly.

Winter Lay-up Listings

Once again this winter, we shall be presenting lay-up listings in our February and March issues for those who record such matters or who might wish to make a trip to see a particular vessel in her winter quarters. We cannot provide this service, however, without the assistance of our members and we would ask that each and every reader who lives in the vicinity of a Great Lakes port take the time to jot down the names of ships wintering in his area and send the list to us. Please do not assume that someone else will send in the information, because that someone else may be thinking exactly the same thing. Your assistance will be greatly appreciated.

Ship of the Month No. 79

Lloyd S. Porter

When marine historians of the Great Lakes discuss or write about the vessels which traded on our waters in bygone years, they most frequently mention the many beautiful passenger steamers which served the major lake ports, or some of the well-known steel-hulled freighters which operated in the bulk or package freight trades and which have since passed from the scene due to accident or the relentless advance of time. Too often, we overlook the many small wooden freighters which for so long were the backbone of water transportation in these parts, and which were the forerunners of today's modern carriers. Theirs was not a glamourous age nor one to which many of us would wish to have been witness, for the work was hard and long, and the ships themselves were primitive, operated in many cases on a "shoestring"; but these little boats served for many years and got the job done, bringing advancement and prosperity to the Great Lakes area.

The heyday of the wooden bulk carrier came during the 1870s and 1880s, this type of vessel having developed from the small combination passenger and package freight ships which had been so common on the lakes during the two previous decades. These earlier steamers had done a good job of moving people and their personal goods as well as general cargo, but they were not suitable for moving large quantities of bulk materials such as coal and iron ore. It was evident that the economical movement of raw materials in bulk was essential to the commercial development of the lakes area and a new type of vessel was needed to accomplish this task. Lake shippers and shipbuilders developed what came to be known as the "steam barge", a relatively small wooden-hulled boat with pilothouse forward, engine aft, and large cargo hold(s) amidships. The prototype of this kind of vessel is generally considered to have been the 211-foot R. J. HACKETT which was built in 1869 at Cleveland for the Vulcan Transportation Company, although no discussion of the advent of the steam barge would be complete without mention of the 233-foot V. H. KETCHUM built in 1874 at Marine City for the Toledo and Saginaw Transportation Company. Originally laid down as a schooner barge, this vessel was completed as a steamer.

But by the time the 1890s rolled around, the day of the wooden bulk carrier was drawing to a close. First iron and then steel-hulled boats had come into favour and, by the last decade of the old century, it was realized that the steel hull was here to stay. Steel lakers could be built to larger dimensions than their forebears, enabling them to carry more cargo, and could more easily withstand the rigours of operation in all kinds of weather. Be this as it may, there were still many of the wooden ships in operation and some of the smaller operators were forced to continue with this type of vessel for a few more years because they were unable to afford the cost of building steel hulls. In addition, these boats were still economically viable in certain trades, such as the carriage of lumber, which took them into some of the smaller lake ports.

LLOYD S. PORTER, in the colours of the Jenks Shipbuilding Company, is seen on the St. Clair River sometime between 1893 and 1898. Photo courtesy of the Marine Historical Socieety of Detroit.In 1893, the wooden lake freighter was still going strong and, in that year, the Jenks Shipbuilding Company constructed at its yard on the Black River at Port Huron, Michigan, a small wooden steamer which it hoped to be able to sell to some operator. Built as the yard's Hull 4, she measured 159.0 feet in length, 30.6 feet in the beam, and 10.7 feet in depth, 536 Gross tons and 412 Net. Her engine and single boiler (presumably of the firebox type), were built by a Jenks affiliate, the Phoenix Iron Works of Port Huron. The boat had but a single deck with raised forecastle and quarterdeck. In the fashion of the day, the pilothouse sat right on the forecastle forward of the texas, with an open bridge (from which most of the navigation was done) located on the monkey's island. Much of the accommodation for the crew was to be found in a large cabin positioned atop the quarterdeck. Unlike many of her contemporaries, she did not have a separate boilerhouse.

Christened LLOYD S. PORTER in honour of the infant son of John W. Porter, a local gentleman, the vessel was launched successfully at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 11, 1893. The Port Huron populace turned out in force and lined the banks of the Black River to watch as LLOYD S. PORTER slid sideways into its murky waters. As in the case of many of the wooden steamers, she was nearly complete when launched.

The Jenks interests had intended to sell the PORTER on completion, but the economy was in a depressed state in 1893 and no buyer came forward. Consequently, she was placed in service by the affiliated Jenks Steamship Company of Port Huron, and remained under its management until 1898, operating mainly in the lumber trade. By that time, however, the Spanish-American war was making heavy demands on American shipping capabilities and a number of lake vessel operators were sending ships to the east coast for salt water service. Almost any ship that could be pressed into service for the war effort was taken east and LLOYD S. PORTER was no exception, despite her wooden construction which hardly made her suitable for operation on the open ocean. In early October, 1898, the PORTER headed east, but her first venture towards salt water was not to prove to be a happy one, nor was she destined to contribute to the war effort.

On Wednesday, October 26, 1898, the Port Huron Daily Times carried the following item of marine news:

"The steamer TURRET AGE, Captain Brady, of the Black Diamond Steamship Line, which arrived at Montreal on Tuesday, October 25, 1898, reported that she had collided with the American steam barge LLOYD S. PORTER near Ste. Croix, about 40 miles above Quebec City, on Sunday night, October 23. The PORTER, which struck full across her bows, filled rapidly and sank in five minutes. Only her masts and wheel house are above water. No lives were lost. Captain Snow of the PORTER and about eleven of the crew escaped in a lifeboat and landed on the north shore a short distance above the village of Ste. Croix. The five remaining crewmen and the pilot, J. B. Labranche, climbed the masts and were rescued by a lifeboat from the TURRET AGE. The PORTER was bound from Port Huron to New York and had left Montreal on Saturday, October 22. She lies in about 60 feet of water and will probably be raised."

In point of fact, TURRET AGE was actually owned by the Turret Steam Shipping Company Ltd. (Petersen, Tate and Company), Newcastle, and was chartered to Black Diamond. She was generally similar in design to the various turret-type steamers which traded into the lakes at the turn of the century.

The same newspaper, in its edition of Saturday, November 12, 1898, reported that the Donnelly Wrecking and Salvage Company of Kingston, Ontario, had begun salvage operations. A further report in the same paper, dated September 2, 1899, stated that the PORTER had been raised. The steamer was towed to drydock after being raised and, in due course of time, was rebuilt.

As a result of the government investigation of the collision, as well as subsequent legal proceedings, the owners of the PORTER were awarded damages amounting to $45,000. The Canadian Railway and Marine World stated that the award went to A. W. Hepburn, a well-known Lake Ontario vessel operator, but this information does not seem to match the official records. The accident occurred late in 1898 but Hepburn did not become the registered owner of LLOYD S. PORTER until 1901.

In any event, the PORTER was acquired in 1901 by Arthur W. Hepburn's Ontario and Quebec Navigation Company Ltd., Picton, Ontario. She gave up her American registry (U.S.141264) and was reregistered at Picton, being placed on the Canadian books as C.94927. The Canadian official records showed her dimensions as 159.7 x 29.5 x 10.7, 489 Gross and 379 Net. For the next dozen years, she served Hepburn well, operating mainly in the coal trade between the lower lakes and Montreal.

The second major accident to befall LLOYD S. PORTER occurred on October 13, 1912. The PORTER was downbound in Lake Erie at the time and had the wooden schooner barge MARENGO in tow. This latter vessel was owned by the Pittsburgh and Erie Coal Company of Erie, Pennsylvania, and had on board a cargo of soft coal which she had loaded at Erie for delivery to Montreal. It is to be assumed that the PORTER had a similar cargo. In any event, the tow ran into trouble in a dense fog which was blanketing the eastern end of the lake, and the steamer and barge missed the entrance to Port Colborne harbour. The two vessels went hard ashore at Morgan's Point, about six miles west of Port Colborne. Efforts to free the PORTER were successful and she was refloated without damage, but salvage tugs were unable to haul the MARENGO from the beach before she went to pieces in heavy weather. There was no loss of life in the accident but barge and cargo were a total loss. The MARENGO was uninsured and was valued at approximately $6,000.

The Hepburn ownership of LLOYD S. PORTER came to an end the next year, for it was early in 1913 that control of the Ontario and Quebec Navigation Company Ltd. was acquired by a Toronto syndicate headed by Aemelius Jarvis. Then, in June of the same year, Ontario and Quebec was absorbed into the newly-formed Canada Transportation Company Ltd. which was soon rechristened Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. It was in this manner that LLOYD S. PORTER came under the C.S.L. houseflag, but she was not to fly it for long.

The old wooden steamers tended to be rather accident-prone, for as they grew older, they tended to soften up and were more susceptible to damage through the stresses of canalling and the vagaries of the weather. The little PORTER was no exception and the third major accident of her life occurred only a few months after she joined the C.S.L. fleet. On September 13th, 1913, the steamer was downbound in the Welland Canal with yet another load of coal for Montreal. Near the town of Port Robinson, the PORTER met the wooden bulk carrier FAIRFAX which was upbound light. For reasons unknown, the pass was not accomplished in the normal manner and the two boats struck head-on. FAIRFAX received severe damage to her bow but she remained afloat. The PORTER, however, was not so lucky and took on water rapidly. She soon settled to the bottom of the canal.

The Dominion government, quite naturally, was not enthusiastic over the prospect of having the PORTER remain for long on the canal bottom and wished to have her removed immediately. A salvage contract was let to the Reid Wrecking Company of Sarnia, which sent its lighter MANISTIQUE to the scene. LLOYD S. PORTER was duly raised and was taken to drydock for repair and an extensive refit. She returned to service in 1914 under the ownership of Alphonse A. Larocque of Montreal who was the operating manager of the Sincennes-McNaughton Line Ltd., Montreal. She remained in the coal trade and was operated as a part of the Sin-Mac fleet.

As may readily be imagined, fire was the scourge of the wooden lakers and many of them succumbed to this peril. On May 10th, 1917, LLOYD S. PORTER and another wooden steam barge, CONGERCOAL, were moored alongside the coal trestle at North Fairhaven, New York. The PORTER was taking on a load of coal for delivery to Montreal when fire broke out. Nothing could be done to extinguish the flames and both steamers were destroyed.

LLOYD S. PORTER had served her various owners for twenty-five years, not a short lifetime for a ship of her type. Many of the steam barges had considerably shorter careers, falling victim to a multitude of perils. That she managed to survive at least one stranding (and probably more) and two sinkings was testimony to the skill of the Jenks shipbuilders.

(Ed. Note: Considerable information for this feature was obtained from material compiled by Rev. Peter J. Van der Linden. We wish to thank him for making these records available to us.)

More Vessel Passages

Whether it is because they simply like to reminisce about the ships of yesteryear or whether it is that vessel passages appear these days in so few newspapers of the Great Lakes area, our members seem to like seeing reprints of old passages in these pages. We are more than happy to oblige.

This time around, we present an excerpt from the "Navigation News" column which appeared on Monday, October 7th, 1929 in the Toronto Globe. We must remember that, in the early autumn of 1929, business conditions were still good and vessel operators were running just about every hull they could get their hands on and which was in sufficiently good condition for active service. It was, however, less than a month later that conditions began to deteriorate and many boats headed to the wall, a good number of them never to run again. A clue of what was to come can be gleaned from the leading item of that column. There was a general uneasiness in the air but the panic had not yet set in and few observers could have guessed what was to come.

Cleveland. Oct. 6 - (Special) - Although there is a large amount of grain in store at the upper lake ports, cargoes are not coming out any more freely, as sales are small, according to reports. The demand for tonnage for all loading ports was light the last few days and not much chartering was done. Vessels of medium size are taking most of the grain to unload and two steamers of that class were placed yesterday to take cargoes at Fort William for Buffalo at two cents. Grain carriers are getting pretty good dispatch at Buffalo, but cargoes are being handled slowly at Port Colborne and Montreal and a large number of vessels are on the waiting list at the two ports.

Mackinaw City. Mich., Oct. 6, Upbound - R. L. AGASSIZ, 5:30 p.m., Friday; PHILIP MINCH, 8:80; CADILLAC, CRESCENT CITY, 9:10; JOSEPH SELLWOOD, 9:40; SULTANA, 12:40 a.m., Saturday; HENRY PHIPPS, 9:30; KEARSARGE, 11:40; JOSEPH BLOCK, 4:30 p.m.; STEEL ELECTRICIAN, 6:40; F. B. SQUIRE, 7; JAMES A. FARRELL, 8:10; ROBERT HOBSON, 9:40; CHARLES C. WEST, 10; COLONEL, 11:10; EUGENE J. BUFFINGTON, 11:30; KING, 1 a.m., Sunday; GEORGE STEPHENSON and consort, 1:40; CAPTAIN THOMAS WILSON, 4:20; W. E. FITZGERALD, 5:30; SIERRA, LYNFORD E. GEER, 6:40; CARL D. BRADLEY, 9:30; GEORGE F. BAKER, RENSSELAER, noon; O. S. McFARLAND, 2 p.m.; T. S. CHRISTIE (departed), 4:10; LAKE CHELAN, 5 p.m.

Mackinaw City. Oct. 6, Downbound - WILLIAM McLACHLAN, 6 p.m., Friday; ROBERT W. E. BUNSEN, 6:40; STEEL CHEMIST, 8; FRED W. SARGENT, 8:30; PENOBSCOT, 9; ALPENA, 10:30; JOSEPH BLOCK, 11:10; W. C. RICHARDSON, VEGA, 11:15; STEPHEN M. CLEMENT, midnight; SAUC0N, 1:10 a.m., Saturday; JOHN McCARTNEY KENNEDY, 2:10; JOHN W. GATES and consort, 4:40; F. A. BAILEY, 5:30; MARTHA E. ALLEN, 6:40; THOMAS LYNCH, 7:10; HORACE JOHNSON, 8:20; ODANAH, 1:10 p.m.; JOHN McLEAN, 3; MARTIN MULLEN, UTICA, 3:30; CARL D. BRADLEY, 4:10; JAMES E. FERRIS, 5:30; B. H. TAYLOR, 7:15; GEORGE G. CRAWFORD, 7:30; DALWARNIC, 9:10; CHARLES M. SCHWAB, 9:30; QUEEN CITY and consort, 10; JAMES J. HILL, 11:30; OTTO M. REISS, 1 a.m., Sunday; J. L. REISS, 1:30; FRANK SEITHER, 2:30; A. F. HARVEY, 3; JOHN W. BOARDMAN, 11:10; JOHN GEHM, noon; HENRY CORT, 12:40 p.m.; WILLIAM K. FIELD, 1; M. A. BRADLEY, 2; RICHARD J. REISS, 3; CHARLES S. HEBARD, 4 p.m.


Detroit. Oct. 6, Downbound - DENMARK, 8 p.m., Friday; LAKETON, 9:40; SENATOR, 11; W. G. POLLOCK, 12:30 a.m., Saturday; HEMLOCK, 1:10; JOHN S. MANUEL, 2:45; H. P. McINTOSH, 3; JAMES LAUGHLIN, 3:15; GEORGE G. BARNUM, 3:50; WILLIAM C. ATWATER, 6:10; HARRY COULBY, 7:35; J. E. GORMAN, 7:40; SULPHITE and CORDOVA, 7:50; D. B. HANNA, 8:10; FRED G. HARTWELL, 8:20; J. F. DURSTON, 10:10; ISHPEMING, 10:25; YOSEMITE, 10:30; CAYUGA, B. LYMAN SMITH, 10:55; CALCITE, J. E. SAVAGE, 12:50; CUYLER ADAMS, 2:05; OSCAR J. LINGEMAN, 2:40; COL. JAMES M. SCHOONMAKER, WILLIAM P. COWAN, 2:50; FRANK BILLINGS, 3:30; BETHLEHEM, 3:40; WM. F. FITCH, 5:50; W. F. WHITE, 6:10; S. B. WAY, 6:30; GODERICH, 7:45; SWEDEN, 8:50; SASKATOON, 9:05; MUNISING, 10:30; FRED W. SARGENT, 10:40; HARRY R. JONES, 11; CYGNUS, J. E. SAVAGE, 11:30; CHARLES HUBBARD, 12:20 a.m., Sunday; FRANK H. GOODYEAR, 1:15; BARRALTON and LAKE FRUGALITY, 1:20; SINALOA, 4:45; VEGA, 7; STEEL CHEMIST, 7:50; SUMATRA, 8:10; ALPENA, 8:45; VENUS, 9:45; WILLIAM A. PAINE, 10:30; BEECHBAY, 11:50; MARTHA E. ALLEN, noon; GUARDIAN and CONSTITUTION, 1:10; J. A, CAMPBELL, 2:20; R. R.. RICHARDSON, 3:05; PRICE McKINNEY, 3:25; EDWARD CHAMBERS, 3:45; B. F. AFFLECK, 4:45; SATURN, 5:15; UTICA, 5:30; JAMES H. REED, 6:15; J. J. TURNER, 6:50; STEPHEN M. CLEMENT, 7:10; MALIETOA, 7:45 p.m. .

One of the best known fleets operating on the lakes in 1929 was that of the Great Lakes Transit Corporation. Its beautiful package freighters, with their white hulls and cabins, green boot-top, and red and black stacks, were familiar sights from Buffalo to Chicago and Duluth, and a day seldom passed that at least one of them did not pass by any given vantage point. Seven of them are listed in these passages, namely FRED W. SARGENT, UTICA, W. J. CONNERS, J. M. DAVIS, P. E. CROWLEY, J. E. GORMAN and EDWARD CHAMBERS.

Twenty of the ships reported here met their end by accident, either during operation on the lakes or salt water, or whilst being towed overseas for scrap. These were CARL D. BRADLEY, MARTIN MULLEN (SCOTIADOC), J. L. REISS (SIDNEY E. SMITH JR.), HENRY CORT, WILLIAM B. PILKEY (FRANK E. VIGOR), W. C. FRANZ, TRISTAN (LEPUS), FAYETTE BROWN, LAKETON, SENATOR, T. S. CHRISTIE, A. F. HARVEY (CEDARVILLE), J. A. CAMPBELL (BUCKEYE MONITOR), JAMES H. REED, LAKE FRUGALITY (EASTERN LUCKY), CAYUGA (ALBA), CLAREMONT (GEORGE J. WHELAN) , KING (EVGENIA), J. J. TURNER (W. WAYNE HANCOCK) and D. B. HANNA (COLLINGDOC). The latter steamer was actually a war casualty.

By our count, thirty-two of the boats were still active on the lakes during the 1978 season, although at least three more will have been deleted from this roster by the close of navigation. This time around, instead of naming all these vessels ourselves, we would ask our readers to cast their eye closely and carefully over the list to see if they can pick out all of them. Drop us a line and let us know how many of them you have been able to find.

Additional Marine News

Elsewhere in this issue, we have commented upon the recent retirement of the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company Ltd. steamer HERON BAY (II). This lake veteran was withdrawn from service in early November and is now laid up at Quebec City awaiting her destiny. It would have been fitting for the old girl to have had an uneventful final voyage and we can just picture her sailing proudly into Quebec prior to letting down steam for the last time. Things did not work out quite that way, however, for HERON BAY suffered a failure of her steering apparatus (we do not know the exact details of the problem) during her last voyage and had to be assisted by a tug from Port Cartier back to Quebec City. What a way for her 73rd and final year of service to end!

A late report indicates that the former Straits of Mackinac passenger and auto ferry VACATIONLAND will not be returning to the lakes for the proposed ferry service between DeTour Village and Meldrum Bay. The Michigan State Highway Commission had taken an option on the purchase of the boat, which is now lying idle on the British Columbia coast, but the Commission has apparently decided that the expected level of patronage for the new route could not justify the cost of purchase, repair and operation of the 26-year-old ferry. The Commission's announcement made no mention of whether the authorities might consider buying a smaller vessel for the proposed run or whether, in fact, the whole project may have been dropped. The cancellation of the return of VACATIONLAND is good news for fans of the steam railroad carferry CHIEF WAWATAM. State officials had proposed laying tracks on the main deck of VACATIONLAND and using her to replace the CHIEF during periods when she was not needed on the passenger route to Manitoulin Island.

More Time For Boatwatching?

Our President, Bruce Smith, will be retiring on December 15th! No, no; he won't be giving up his duties with T.M.H.S., but he will be taking his leave from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for which he has laboured for thirty-one consecutive years.

Ever since 1947, the voice of Bruce Smith has been a familiar one to many Torontonians who have heard it daily over C.B.C. Radio. For 23 years, he hosted an early-morning show which accompanied thousands of city denizens as they munched their breakfast and hurried off to work. Since 1971, he has held court over a late-afternoon show featuring music, comment, interviews, etc.

Bruce, who was raised in Sault Ste. Marie, has long been enamoured of ships and shipping and his radio shows have frequently included mention of things marine, particularly those relevant to Toronto harbour. He has been able to interest numerous listeners in boatwatching and many of them have since become T.M.H.S. members.

Bruce Smith has brought to his most important job, that of President of T.M.H.S. (!), many of the skills which he acquired in his years as a radio host. A founding member of our Society, he will, no doubt, have even more time in the future to devote to his marine interest. We are certain, however, that he will not be idle but rather will take up some other challenge subsequent to his departure from the C.B.C.

We extend to Bruce, from the entire membership of this Society, our sincere best wishes for a long and happy retirement and for many more years of pleasant association with T.M.H.S.

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. 3 (December 1978)

Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Rapids Queen Again; Winter Lay-up Listings; More Time For Boatwatching?