The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Scanner, v. 11, n. 5 (February 1979)
Scanner (Toronto, ON), Feb 1979

Bascom, John N., Editor
Media Type:
Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Winter Lay-up Listings; You Asked Us and We Asked You; Ship of the Month No. 81
Date of Publication:
Feb 1979
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Toronto Marine Historical Society
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Friday, March 2nd - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Capt. John Leonard will speak of his experiences aboard CHARLES DICK and other vessels. Please Note: This will be a very informal meeting and members are requested to dress casually on this occasion.

Friday, April 6th - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Lorne Joyce will present an illustrated history of the Lloyd Tankers fleet.

Saturday, May 5 - Annual Dinner Meeting. Details to be Announced.

The Editor's Notebook

Annual Dinner Meeting: By popular request, the Dinner has been moved to a Saturday this year so as better to accommodate those who might otherwise be unable to attend due to distance or work schedules. The Toronto Blue Jays have kindly co-operated by not having a home ballgame on Saturday, May 5, and so we will be able to use the Ship Inn located in the cellar of the Marine Museum. Please set this date aside and plan to attend. Full details of cost, menu and programme will appear in the March issue.

We wish to thank all those who have heeded our request for lay-up lists and have written or phoned with the necessary information. Such a good response from our readers is most encouraging, and we hope to hear from more of you in the near future. Please remember that items of marine news are also most welcome at any time.

In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to Don McAdam of Goderich and to Howard F. Andrews of Cleveland. Mr Andrews will soon have a Soo River Company steamer named in his honour.

Marine News

When TEGUCIGALPA heads southwards for the Caribbean this spring, she will have company. Imperial Oil Ltd., Toronto, has sold IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD to Fletamar S.A. of Honduras, the same firm which earlier bought IMPERIAL LONDON from Marine Salvage Ltd. It is anticipated that COLLINGWOOD's preparations for departure from the lakes will be less involved than those of her sister, for while LONDON spent several years of idleness at Ramey's Bend after her retirement by Imperial, COLLINGWOOD ran right through the 1978 season. There is no word yet on a new name for IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD.

On November 16 at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, the Bay Shipbuilding Corp. launched its Hull 722, a 630-foot self-unloader built to the order of the Columbia Transportation Division, Oglebay Norton Company. The ship, rather small by today's standards but designed to service smaller ports and wharves regularly visited by Columbia boats, will be christened FRED R. WHITE JR. in honour of the retired vice-chairman of the Oglebay Norton board. The ship is due to be commissioned in the spring.

The strike against the American Shipbuilding Company, which began back in August, continues and not only AmShip but the whole U.S. lake shipping industry is feeling its effects. For example, the Interlake Steamship Company has had to postpone the conversion to a self-unloader of its ELTON HOYT 2nd and the Cleveland Cliffs Steamship Company has had to put off a similar conversion for EDWARD B. GREENE. Both conversions had been scheduled for this winter at AmShip's Lorain yard. There are no prospects for an early settlement of the labour dispute.

For some five years now, the cement-carrying barge SEA CASTLE, owned by Penn Dixie Industries Inc., Petoskey, Michigan, has been lying idle at Milwaukee, her condition deteriorating rapidly. It seemed unlikely that she would ever again operate but, happily, things are looking up for the barge. SEA CASTLE has been moved to the shipyard at Sturgeon Bay and will there be refitted for her re-entry into service. SEA CASTLE was built in 1909 at Newcastle-on-Tyne as (a) KAMINISTIQUIA (16), and later sailed as (b) WESTOIL (23), (c) J. B. JOHN (I)(51), and (d) JOHN L. A. GALSTER (69). She was converted to a cement carrier in 1929 at Manitowoc and in 1969 she was cut down from a steamer to a barge.

The new United States Steel Corp. Great Lakes Fleet self-unloader EDWIN H. GOTT was hurriedly pulled from the Bay Shipbuilding yard on January 13 so that she would not be trapped for the duration of the winter by the heavy ice forming in the area. GOTT made her way through ice in excess of 18 inches in thickness while leaving Sturgeon Bay and arrived safely at Milwaukee on January 14. She will continue fitting out at Milwaukee and will not likely be placed in regular service until early February. At the time of this writing, U.S. Steel was operating its usual contingent of vessels in the winter navigation programme.

Last month, we mentioned that several tinstackers are expected to be retired from service with the advent of EDWIN H. GOTT. One of those mentioned was the beautiful WILLIAM A. IRVIN which, with her triple-deck bridge structure, her tall stack, and the cloud of dense coal smoke which habitually followed her everywhere, has been one of the most picturesque lake steamers, particularly since the retirement several years ago of her sistership, GOVERNOR MILLER. We understand that the IRVIN grounded on her last trip down to Lake Erie in December and that she did a job on her bottom which will ensure her retirement. We will miss her but will continue to hope that some other operators may purchase both IRVIN and MILLER.

The 1978 navigation season for the port of Toronto came to a close rather late, for it was not until January 9, 1979, that the last vessel arrived for lay-up. The last arrival was the Westdale Shipping Ltd. self-unloader NORDALE, (a) STADACONA (II)(69), which had been kept on the Colborne to Clarkson stone run later than normal in order to catch up on tonnage commitments.

The keel was laid at Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd. on November 1, 1978 for Hull 65, the self-unloader ordered by Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. as a sistership of CANADIAN TRANSPORT (II). The latter vessel is currently at the fit-out wall being readied for her spring debut.

Upper Lakes, meanwhile, has solved the question of where ST. LAWRENCE NAVIGATOR will receive her new bow and midbody. The new hull section will be built at Port Weller as Hull 66, the work to begin in August once Hull 65 has been removed from the graving dock. The conversion is expected to be completed in time for the 1980 opening of navigation. ST. LAWRENCE NAVIGATOR is presently operating on salt water. Her sister, ST. LAWRENCE PROSPECTOR, is in the shipyard at St. John, New Brunswick, where she also is undergoing her lengthening to full Seaway size. She will emerge later in 1979 as (c) CANADIAN PROSPECTOR. The conversion of CAPE BRETON HIGHLANDER to a self-unloader should also be under way at St. John, the vessel having been towed there from her lay-up berth at Tampa, Florida.

The question of whether the new ore dock for the Republic Steel Corporation would be located in Cleveland or elsewhere has been resolved and the solution is one which seems satisfactory to all parties except the city of Cleveland itself. Due not only to the actions of Cleveland municipal officials but also to the amount of work and time needed to create at Cleveland a dock for taconite capable of handling 1,000-footers, it was decided to locate the new facility at Lorain, a city elated at the decision. A deal was worked out with the Chessie System for the use of a wharf which will be quite adequate for the purposes and which has deep-water access without costly dredging. The Lorain dock should be in operation by 1980, a considerable improvement over the projected date had Cleveland been selected.

By the time the new dock is in use, the Republic ore shipping contract will have been taken over from Cleveland Cliffs by the Interlake Steamship Company. While the Cleveland dock site was under consideration, it was suggested by certain observers that the so-called "Red Tomatoes" of the Cliffs fleet, TOM M. GIRDLER, CHARLES M. WHITE and THOMAS F. PATTON, all C-4 conversions, might be cut down to barges and used to haul pellets from a lake-front unloading dock up the Cuyahoga River to the Republic mills. In view of the selection of Lorain as the dock site, it seems likely that the C-4s will remain with Cliffs in their present shape and that a new vessel will be built for the Lorain - Cleveland shuttle; probably a ship of fairly light construction (her open lake exposure will be minimal), with open hatches a la ROBERT S. McNAMARA, she will almost certainly be self-propelled rather than a tug-barge combination.

While Republic goes ahead with its Lorain project, we understand that Hanna Mining Company and Conrail are considering the building of an ore-receiving facility at Cleveland on Whiskey Island. To be capable of handling 1,000-footers, the dock might be located near what is now the C & P dock. It will be interesting to see what may develop in this regard.

The Ford Motor Company's WILLIAM CLAY FORD arrived at Fraser Shipyards, Superior, on January 9 and will reportedly be lengthened by approximately 120 feet during her visit. The 629-foot steamer was built in 1953 at River Rouge, Michigan, and although we have been hearing rumours of such a lengthening for several years, Ford has maintained silence concerning the project.

The December 22 accident involving the Interlake Steamship Company bulk carrier CHARLES M. BEEGHLY was much more serious than early reports indicated. BEEGHLY was outbound at the Duluth harbour entrance when she somehow managed to run foul of an underwater section of the inner pier. An eyewitness reported that she hit the obstruction with such force that she stopped dead in the water! The steamer was backed out of the entrance and into the harbour where she settled, was pumped out, and settled a second time. It is hoped that repairs can be completed by Fraser Shipyards, but its drydock is already overloaded with work, a situation due in part to the AmShip strike.

The new name GASPE TRANSPORT was painted on the former ARSENE SIMARD during late December upon completion of the transfer to Hall Corporation from Branch Lines Ltd. GASPE TRANSPORT is presently sporting Halco's new stack design; the lower portion of the stack below the wishbone is now a bluish colour instead of the red that had been anticipated and which was tried on one tanker. The new design will appear on all Halco boats during 1979.

Speaking of stack colours, it seems likely that Misener Transportation Ltd. will repaint RALPH MISENER with the traditional black-and-silver-bands design which has been carried by Mathews and Misener vessels for so many years. Gone will be the blue stack with the modernistic logo which has adorned the ship since her building and which surely has represented an all-time low in the history of "corporate graphics".

Groupe Desgagnes of Pointe-au-Pic, Quebec, allegedly will build a series of eight vessels of approximately 8,000 tons each. The company would have liked to let the contract to a local shipyard but budgetary considerations have dictated that the orders go to Korean builders. Desgagnes has operated coasters for many years and some of them have traded into the lakes.

Scrapping has begun at Ashtabula on PAUL L. TIETJEN. PHoto by Barry Andersen dated November 10, 1978, shows her resting in Triad Salvage yard.The scrapping of the former Kinsman steamer PAUL L. TIETJEN is under way at the Ashtabula yard of Triad Salvage Inc., work having started late in 1978. Her Skinner Unaflow engine (vintage 1954) was removed from the ship and is to be installed in another laker, although the identity of the recipient has not been revealed. TIETJEN herself was built in 1907 and has sailed previously as (a) MATTHEW ANDREWS (I)(33) and (b) HARRY L. FINDLAY (65).

While controversy rages in response to the "renaming" of the Algoma Central Marine bulk carrier V. W. SCULLY in December for the filming of certain scenes for the proposed film "November Gale", the real EDMUND FITZGERALD has again been in the news. An outfit going by the name of Canadian Submersibles of Halifax has purchased a sophisticated submersible from Deep Diving Systems of Thunder Bay and is presently testing it on the east coast. The company claims to have had discussions with Oglebay Norton with reference to using the machine to explore closely the wreck of the "FITZ" in the hope of locating further clues to the reason for the loss of the ship.

Contrary to earlier reports, the former Westdale Shipping Ltd. self-unloader LEADALE did not leave North American waters last autumn for scrapping in Colombia. She got only as far as Quebec City and is now wintering there at a berth in the St. Charles River. We understand that her owner is one L. Richardson, but we are none the wiser for having said so. We have no idea who this L. Richardson may be nor what he or she may be going to do with the steamer. If LEADALE is to head south after all, it may well be that the new owner considered the spring to be a safer time than late fall to take LEADALE on her final voyage at the end of a towline.

Canada Steamship Lines' self-unloader STADACONA (III), (a) THUNDER BAY (II) (69), suffered fire damage on December 1st while sheltering behind Keweenaw Point. Two of the ship's crew suffered smoke inhalation while fighting the blaze and were removed by helicopter to Houghton, Michigan. STADACONA suffered damage in the crew's quarters and repairs will be put in hand by the shipyard at Thunder Bay during the winter.

The Quebec government has had to bail Marine Industries Ltd. (and its parent firm) out of the financial difficulties which beset the firm after the failure of M. A. Karageorgis to accept delivery of six "Marindus"-type vessels built at the Sorel shipyard. A new company will be formed to operate the ships (presumably under Canadian registry) but, as they are too large for coastal service, it is likely that they will run to the Mediterranean.

A brief news item dated December 27 indicated that a large section of the hull of a wooden vessel had washed up on the Lake Michigan shore near Leland the previous day. We have received no further reports either on the identity of the vessel or the reason why the wreckage has suddenly come ashore.

The Canadian Transport Minister, Otto Lang, has announced that there will be an enquiry into the November 14th accident in which the tug POINTE MARGUERITE was sunk at Sept-Iles, Quebec. The tug sank when crushed between the Algoma Central Marine self-unloader ALGOBAY and the salt water bulk carrier CIELO BIANCO.

The early part of the winter navigation season went quite smoothly this year but, by mid-January, a spell of extremely cold weather caused a sudden turn for the worse. Problems were encountered in the St. Mary's River and Saginaw Bay but the worst difficulties occurred in the Detroit River. BENSON FORD was stuck in the Livingstone Channel from January 9 until the 13th and even the powerful ROGER BLOUGH became trapped when she grounded on the slush ice which Coast Guard officials believed was piled all the way to the floor of the channel. BLOUGH was used by the U.S.C.G. to try to open a path through the Livingstone but, even with the assistance of tugs, she was unable to do so and and came very near to being pushed ashore stern-first. The blockage was finally eased and the trapped boats freed on January 13 when the icebreaker WESTWIND, brought from the Straits of Mackinac for the job, succeeded in breaking through. BENSON FORD was immediately taken out of service (no wonder after all that) and was laid up at Dearborn.

C.S.L. is attempting to maintain service throughout the winter between Marquette, Michigan, and the Algoma Steel plant at the Canadian Sault. What is surprising is that the ship being used for this ore run is not LOUIS R. DESMARAIS which was built with a bow designed to facilitate movement in ice, but which did not prove to be very successful during the winter of 1977-78. Instead, C.S.L. has placed JEAN PARISIEN on the route. PARISIEN has a rounded bow but, during early January while the ship was at the Algoma plant, workmen from Purvis Marine Ltd. placed a series of fins on her bow. These devices run from the 13-foot draught mark to the 26-foot mark at a 45-degree angle. Designers of the fins believe they will cut a path through the ice somewhat wider than the ship's hull itself would normally make, thus reducing pressure on the hull and allowing PARISIEN to turn more easily in the ice. It will be interesting to see whether this system is effective in actual service conditions.

More is now known concerning the schedule for replacing the old U.S. Coast Guard Great Lakes tugs with boats more suitable to the needs of winter navigation. KATMAI BAY, of course, is already on the lakes and on duty at Sault Ste. Marie. The second new tug, BRISTOL BAY, is due to arrive on the lakes in April and will be stationed at Detroit. The third, MOBILE BAY, should be ready for duty during the summer and she will be based at Sturgeon Bay. The fourth tug, only recently christened BISCAYNE BAY, should come from the Tacoma, Washington, shipyard during the autumn of 1979 and will operate out of St. Ignace. The fifth tug (and apparently a sixth, as well) will probably be in the lakes sometime during 1980. The old tugs will not yet be scrapped but will be relegated to less strenuous duties where they will not be in constant danger in the ice. NAUGATUCK will remain on duty with KATMAI BAY at the Soo during the winter and will then be sent to the east coast. KAW and OJIBWA will follow suit when their replacements arrive. RARITAN, however, will be reassigned to Cleveland and ARUNDEL to Buffalo.

In an effort to capture part of the lucrative trade of dispensing bunkers to lake vessels, the Windsor Harbour Commission has joined forces with Sterling Fuels Ltd. to improve docking facilities at the latter's property on the Detroit River and to provide adequate pumping equipment so that even 1,000-footers can be fueled there. The Sterling dock is presently used only for the discharging of furnace oil, etc., for local use.

The Stag Line salty PHOTINIA, stranded early in 1978 near Milwaukee and subsequently salvaged by the Selvick interests, was towed during December from Sturgeon Bay to Chicago for scrapping. Selvick had originally hoped to sell PHOTINIA for service but she was too badly damaged in the grounding.

The former C.N.R. river carferry LANSDOWNE may yet be rescued from a future that would, almost certainly, have meant the scrappers' torches. LANSDOWNE, which has fallen into a sorry state of disrepair in recent years, was last used by the Windsor Detroit Barge Company in river service, hut three Detroit-area men intend to purchase the former paddler and convert her into a restaurant to he moored on the Detroit riverfront. The scheme, which will include restoration of much of LANSDOWNE's cut away and/or fallen down superstructure, her paddlewheels, and one of her engines, will cost about $800,000 and work is to begin shortly. Many Detroiters are upset over the federal government's allotment of a $175,000 Urban Development Action Grant for the project which is, basically a private enterprise.

Winter Lay-up Listings

In our January issue, we gave preliminary lists of ships wintering at Toronto and Niagara area ports. Since our report was prepared at the New Year, to accommodate our publishing deadline, it is not surprising that there have been a few additions. Accordingly, we now present a complete listing for Toronto and certain other lake ports. As usual, we do not show tugs, scows, small ferries, dredges, etc., except under special circumstances.




































Humberstone Port Weller Port Colborne























Collingwood Midland Thunder Bay





















Ojibway Tiffin Huron





Welland Windsor


Duluth Montreal Quebec






























































Superior Cleveland Port McNicoll








































Soo, Michigan


















Soo, Ontario


For their assistance in making up this listing, our thanks go to Barry Andersen, Neil Bauman, Rene Beauchamp, Donald Dube, E. H. Johnstone, James Konkol, Ronald Konkol, John Lefaive, Marvin McInnis, Larry Morrill, Laurence Scott, Alan Sweigert, Alan Sykes, Andy Sykora, Michel Vezina, John Vournakis and George Zock.

More lay-up listings will appear in the March issue and we shall look forward to hearing from members at ports for which we have not yet received a report. The fact that a certain port does not appear in this issue may mean that we have received no listing at all or that we have received only a partial list. Please write or telephone us (416-921-8436) with the necessary information as soon as possible.

The Midland Navigation Company Limited

A Short Corporate History and Vessel Listing

During the early years of the twentieth century, there were very few Canadian lake vessel operations which were not touched in some manner by the influence of James Playfair. This gentleman was one of the most colourful and versatile operators ever to appear on the Canadian lumbering or shipping scene but, at the same time, he was also a very controversial figure whose dealings were frequently considered to be new items.

James Playfair was born in Scotland in 1861 and as a youth he made his way to Canada, taking up residence in Toronto. At the age of 19, he was hired by the Toronto Lumber Company which had timber holdings in Simcoe County and mills at Collingwood. Playfair moved to Midland, Ontario, in 1883 and, in 1888, formed a partnership with D. L. White, Jr., of Midland. The original interest of this partnership was in lumbering.

In 1896, Playfair broadened the scope of his operations and entered the lake grain trade. He acquired the small wooden freight steamer W. B. HALL, which had been built in 1885, had her lengthened at the Polson Shipyard at Owen Sound, renamed her (b) ST. ANDREW, and placed her in the grain trade between Fort William and Goderich. His partners in this enterprise were John Waldie of Toronto, and Captain Featherstonhaugh who was master of ST. ANDREW. She served Playfair for five seasons but, on September 20, 1900, she stranded on Blanchard Island in Lake Superior and became a total loss.

Playfair did not long remain away from lake shipping, however; in 1901, he and White, his earlier partner, combined to incorporate the Midland Navigation Company Ltd., Midland, Ontario. The new company had a canaller built to its order in 1901, and then added upper lakers in 1903 and 1907 and two more canallers in 1907 and 1908. The Midland Navigation Company Ltd. remained active until 1910. Playfair had gradually become involved with the MacKays of Hamilton and their Inland Navigation Company Ltd., and in 1910 he acquired complete control of this firm, merging it with his own Midland Navigation Company Ltd. to form Inland Lines Ltd., Midland.

It should be noted that two of the vessels owned by the Midland Navigation Company Ltd. were actually registered for several years to a subsidiary concern, the Empress Transportation Company Ltd. of Midland.

In any event, over the subsequent years, Playfair and his various associates went on to control or at least have substantial interest in Northern Navigation Company Ltd., Midland Towing and Wrecking Company Ltd., Canadian Towing and Wrecking Company Ltd., Sin-Mac Lines Ltd., Consolidated Oka Sand and Gravel Company Ltd., Canada Cuba Line, Georgian Bay Tourist Company of Midland, Muskoka Lakes Navigation and Hotel Company Ltd., Glen Line Ltd., Glen Steamships Ltd., Glen Transportation Company Ltd., Great Lakes Transportation Company Ltd., Great Lakes Navigation Company Ltd., Great Lakes Transit Corporation Ltd., Midland Steamships Ltd., Northwest Transportation Company Ltd., Midland Coal and Dock Company, Fort William Coal and Dock Company, various grain elevators at Midland, Toronto Elevators Ltd., Midland Drydock Company Ltd., Midland Shipbuilding Company Ltd., Canadian Vickers Ltd., and the St. Lawrence Marine Repair Dock Corporation Inc.

James Playfair died on May 25, 1937, but he left a lasting legacy in the ships that he had built and operated and the companies that he had formed or revitalized in times of difficulty. Many fleets currently active on the Canadian side of the lakes owe their existence to the efforts of James Playfair and, had it not been for his activities, the Canadian lake shipping industry might have developed in an entirely different manner.

There follows a detailed history of each vessel known to have been owned and/or operated by the Midland Navigation Company Ltd. It is possible that other steamers may have been chartered by the company for brief periods of service prior to the merger with Inland Navigation Company Ltd. in 1910.

EMPRESS OF MIDLAND, a wartime loss, unloads at Midland c. 1908. Photo by J. W. Bald, Midland.EMPRESS OF MIDLAND, (Br. & C.125428). Steel bulk carrier built 1907 at Wallsend-on-Tyne by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd. 252.0 x 42.5 x 23.2, 2224 Gross. Built for Midland Navigation Co. Ltd. but soon transferred to Empress Transportation Co. Ltd., Midland. Arrived Montreal Oct. 2, 1907 after calling at Halifax on delivery trip. Absorbed 1910 into Inland Lines Ltd., Midland, and 1913 into Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal. Chartered Mar. 10, 1915 to Nova Scotia Steel & Coal Co. for wartime service on salt water. Operated 1915 hauling coal from Sydney, N.S., to Montreal. Mined and sunk in the English Channel, Mar. 27, 1916.

MIDLAND KING, (C.116661). Steel bulk carrier built 1903 at Collingwood by Collingwood Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., Hull 4. Launched Aug. 19, 1903. 366.5 x 48.0 x 28.0, 3965 Gross, 2450 Net. Built for Midland Navigation Co. Ltd. Absorbed 1910 into Inland Lines Ltd., Midland, and 1913 into Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal. 1914 Canadian register shows owner as James Playfair, Midland, an apparent error. Bound light from Port McNicoll to Fort William, Capt. A. T. Pyette, collided May 18, 1922 with GLENFINNAN in position southeast of Passage Island, Lake Superior. Sustained damage of approx. $20,000. Operated by C.S.L. until onset of Great Depression. After lengthy period of inactivity at Toronto, sold 1937 to Steel Company of Canada Ltd. and towed to Hamilton. Steering gear removed and placed in ROBERT P. DURHAM. Dismantled 1938 at Hamilton.

MIDLAND PRINCE, (C.H6669). Steel bulk carrier built 1906-07 at Collingwood by Collingwood Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., Hull 9. Launched Dec. 5, 1906. 474.0 x 55.0 x 28.0, 6133 Gross, 4560 Net. Built for Midland Navigation Co. Ltd. Absorbed 1910 into Inland Lines Ltd., Midland, and 1913 into Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal. 1914 Canadian register shows owner as Midland Nav. Co. Ltd., an apparent error. Fractured crank shaft May 17, 1910 while on Saginaw Bay; repaired at Detroit. Bound loaded Fort William to Midland, Nov. 4, 1916, collided with tanker IMPERIAL (I) in position east of Passage Island, Lake Superior; damage relatively minor to each ship. While being towed light from Port Colborne, Dec. 6, 1924, was swept on reef at outer entrance, crushing and sinking tugs JOSEPH H. and HOME RULE. Freed Dec. 7 but both tugs abandoned as total losses. Downbound with grain, May 11, 1925, found to be afire off Dunkirk, N.Y. Assistance rendered by THEODORE H. WICKWIRE and two Buffalo fireboats; fire controlled early next morning. Rebuilt winter 1928-29 at Midland by Midland Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. and converted to conveyor-type self-unloader, 6339 Gross, 4244 Net. Reboilered 1966 at Collingwood with boilers built 1941. Retired at end of 1967 season and laid up at Kingston. Sold 1968 to Marine Salvage Ltd., Port Colborne, and resold through Jacques Pierot Jr. & Sons to Disguaces y Recuperaciones del Sur (Emilio Alonso Castrillo), Spain. Towed from Quebec with C. A. BENNETT by tug ROTESAND, June 7, 1969 and arrived late June at Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain. Dismantling begun July 31, 1969.

MIDLAND QUEEN, (Br. & C.110991). Steel bulk carrier built 1901 at Dundee, Scotland. 249.0 x 42.7 x 20.5, 1993 Gross, 1349 Net. Built for Midland Navigation Co. Ltd. Early in career, spent a year chartered to Dominion government for use as a lighthouse tender. Absorbed 1910 into Inland Lines Ltd., Midland, and 1913 into Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal. 1914 Canadian register shows owner as Midland Nav. Co. Ltd., an apparent error. Chartered Mar. 10, 1915 to Nova Scotia Steel & Coal Co. for wartime service on salt water, and later to Dominion Iron & Steel Co. Ltd. While en route to Newport, Monmouthshire, England, Aug. 4, 1915, torpedoed and sunk off Fastnet, England. She was the first laker lost to enemy action during World War I.

MOUNT STEPHEN (10), (b) EMPRESS OF FORT WILLIAM, (Br. & C.125443). Steel bulk carrier built 1908 at Wallsend-on-Tyne by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd. 250.0 x 43.0 x 20.0, 2181 Gross, 1382 Net. Built for Midland Navigation Co. Ltd. but soon transferred to Empress Transportation Co. Ltd., Midland. Absorbed 1910 into Inland Lines Ltd., Midland, and 1913 into Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal. Chartered Mar. 10, 1915 to Nova Scotia Steel & Coal Co. for wartime service on salt water. Operated 1915 hauling coal from Sydney, N.S., to Montreal. Damaged by ice near Glace Bay, N.S., May 6, 1915. While en route South Shields to Dunkirk, Capt. W. D. Shepherd, mined and sunk in the English Channel off Dover, Feb. 27, 1916.

We can but guess at the colours worn by the Midland Navigation ships prior to 1910. The hulls appear to have been black in the later years but there is reason to suspect that this may not necessarily always have been so. MIDLAND QUEEN appears in a very early photo with a narrow stripe, possibly red in colour, around her hull. Cabins were generally white, although MIDLAND QUEEN originally had her after cabin, deckhouse, and texas painted a dark colour, perhaps red or brown. The stack colours are not known, but the design did include a band on which was carried a flag bearing a diamond and the letters 'M.N.Co.'. The two Empress Transportation canallers carried the same flag and diamond insignia but on a white band separated from a black smokeband and a buff lower stack by what appear to have been two very narrow red bands.

You Asked Us and We Asked You

Tom Wilson of Bath, Ont., has written to ask about the tug LAURA GRACE. In its "Looking Back" feature, the Kingston paper recently carried the following news item dating from 1918:

"The tug LAURA GRACE, under the command of Capt. William Murphy, with a crew of nine men and one woman, was driven ashore during a severe storm at Grandview Beach, off the port of Rochester, N.Y. With the exception of one man who remained aboard the tug, the rest of the crew reached shore in a small boat. A United States Coast Guard boat rescued the sole occupant of the tug the following morning."

LAURA GRACE was a wooden steam tug (C.107171) built 1901 at Collingwood for the Pidgeon River Lumber Co., Port Arthur. She measured 76.0 x l6.6 x 11.0, 86 Gross Tons and 58 Net. By 1902, she had passed to the Lake Superior Tug Co. Ltd., an enterprise of the famous James Whalen. She ran at the Lakehead for a decade and a half. In 1917, Whalen sold his Canadian Northwest Steamship Co. Ltd. (originally formed by Thomas Marks & Co.) to the Montreal Transportation Co. Ltd. Some of Whalen's tugs seem also to have gone along in the deal, LAURA GRACE included. Control of M.T.Co. had been acquired in 1916 by Roy M. Wolvin and so, even though M.T.Co. was a separate entity until 1920, management rested at least in part with Canada Steamship Lines, of which Wolvin was one of the founders.

We have no record of the final disposition of LAURA GRACE and must assume that she ended her days on Grandview Beach in 1918 under M.T.Co. colours.

Randy Johnson of the Canadian Sault wrote in December to ask us about the steamer AURANIA which foundered in 1909 in Whitefish Bay. AURANIA was a steel barge built in 1895 at Chicago by the Chicago Shipbuilding Co., 352.0 x 44.2 x 21.9, 3113 Gross, 2999 Net. Her ownership remained with the shipyard but she was operated by the Corrigan fleet of Cleveland. About 1903, she was purchased from the builder by Capt. James Corrigan, but meanwhile, in 1899, she had been rebuilt as a steamer, 3218 Gross and 2889 Net.

AURANIA sailed for Corrigan until she was lost in a freak accident in the spring of 1909. On April 25, 1909, she found herself in Whitefish Bay on an early-season trip. She was beset in heavy ice and for the better part of a week, she bucked her way through the icefield towards open water. She never made it. On April 30, while still trapped in heavy ice, her weakened plates opened up and she sank off Parisienne Island.

AURANIA was not the only Corrigan barge converted to a steamer. AMAZON, AUSTRALIA (b) S. B. COOLIDGE, and POLYNESIA (b) A. D. MacBETH, all built in 1897 and similar in design and dimensions, were treated in a like manner, receiving engines removed from wooden steam barges of the fleet. MacBETH was scrapped at Hamilton in 1940, COOLIDGE at Buffalo in 1948, and AMAZON at Buffalo in 1954.

We should like to thank Skip Gillham, Brian Gamula and Tom Wilson for answering our enquiry concerning the escapade of the lightering barge MAPLEHEATH on Lake Ontario this past autumn.

On November 23, the Turkish bulk carrier C. MEHMET, (a) FEDERAL SCHELDE, ran aground in the St. Lawrence near Fisher's Landing. The McAllister Towing Co. sent MAPLEHEATH in tow of DANIEL McALLISTER to remove part of her ore cargo. The job done, MAPLEHEATH and her tug set off for the Dofasco plant at Hamilton where she was to unload the ore. While the tow was upbound in Lake Ontario on November 27, both tug and barge encountered problems in high winds and heavy seas. When the towline parted with the strain, the tug stood by and radioed for assistance. The barge was ordered to anchor and the tug went to Port Weller for shelter, it being impossible to remove the seven crewmen from the barge.

MAPLEHEATH was tossed about, but her anchors held about ten miles off the Niagara Bar. Her crew was removed by helicopter. MAPLEHEATH herself was showing lights during her difficulties and was in no immediate danger. She was recovered by DANIEL McALLISTER when the storm abated and arrived safely at Hamilton on November 30th.

Ship of the Month No. 81


Elsewhere in this issue, we have mentioned the Midland Navigation Company Ltd. and have spoken briefly of the lake shipping operations of James Playfair. To tell the entire story of Playfair's ventures on the Great Lakes would take far more space than we have available now, but it seems appropriate to feature another of Playfair's boats as our Ship of the Month. The vessel we have chosen was not one of the better-known ships of Playfair's fleet and, in fact, served as such for but two years. Indeed, her entire career was neither particularly long nor, except at the beginning, overly successful.

In order to set the stage for the construction of this vessel, we must go back to the 1880s, a period during which the transportation of iron ore by water was developing very quickly. A group of gentlemen, including Charlemagne Tower, Jr., Colonel James Pickands, Samuel Mather and Jay C. Morse, had joined forces to form the Minnesota Iron Mining Company to develop the Vermilion Iron Range of Minnesota. The holdings of the company were later extended to include the Mesabi Range.

Minnesota organized a subsidiary to carry its ore by water to the mills and, on September 3, 1889, the Minnesota Steamship Company was formed, its incorporators being James H. Hoyt, C. A. Neff, H. S. Sherman, A. C. Dustin and J. M. Shallenberger. The company's first board of directors was composed of Jay C. Morse, C. P. Coffin, C. W. Hillard, Col. James Pickands, J. H. Chandler, H. H. Porter and William R. Stirling. In 1890, the operation and management of the Minnesota Steamship Company was assumed by Pickands Mather and Company, Cleveland.

This is how MATOA looked after she returned to the lakes in Playfair colours as GLENRIG. Young photo at Little Rapids Cut dates from 1924.Almost immediately, Minnesota let contracts for the construction of four steel-hulled bulk carriers. The contracts went to the Globe Iron Works of Cleveland which built the steamers in 1890 as its Hulls 31, 32, 33 and 34, these ships being named MARISKA, MANOLA, MARUBA and MATOA, respectively.

They were the first ships actually owned by the Minnesota Steamship Company and they set the pattern for the naming of its boats which was to continue until the fleet was acquired by other interests. All Minnesota vessels, steamers and barges alike, bore names beginning with 'MA' and ending with 'A'. Many of the names originated in the Pacific islands.

MATOA, as built, was 290.6 feet in length, 40.3 feet in the beam and 21.1 feet in depth, these dimensions giving her tonnage of 2311 Gross and 1836 Net. She was powered by a triple-expansion engine with cylinders of 24, 38 and 6l inches and a stroke of 42 inches. Steam was provided by two coal-fired Scotch boilers measuring 14' x 12'6". MATOA was enrolled at Cleveland as U.S.99204.

MATOA was typical of the early steel lakers, built at a time when the appearance of a ship meant as much to her owner as did her cargo capacity, and accordingly she looked very racy. MATOA was given a great sweeping sheer and she carried her bow very high, especially when running light. She had a full forecastle on which were carried her two large anchors, their chains running up from hawsepipes just below the shelter deck and their stocks protruding from the short section of enclosed forecastle rail on either side of her steering pole.

The steamer's bridge structure was carried on deck, one hatch intervening between it and the forecastle. A large, square texas was surmounted by the master's quarters and also by the pilothouse, the latter being set a half-deck above the texas. The pilothouse, as might be expected, was topped by an open bridge. Aft was a large cabin containing accommodations, and at its forward end was an indented boilerhouse. The stack was unusually squat and thick for the day and its top was cut parallel to the water. This funnel was heavily raked as was the single mast located immediately behind the pilothouse.

Another feature contributing to MATOA's striking appearance was the closed rail which ran completely around the shelter deck and which was matched by the parallel strakes which followed the line of the sheer down each side. There were also squared timber fenders which hung downwards from the deck and which, when she ran at speed whilst loaded, dragged in the water to kick up bursts of spray. These fenders were more commonly used on passenger steamers than on freighters but their use on MATOA and her sisters indicated the degree of care lavished on these boats by the Minnesota management. MATOA was painted in the usual Minnesota colours with black hull and rail, white cabins and upper forecastle, and black stack with a white triangle on which appeared the letter 'M' in red.

MATOA and her sisters operated very successfully for Minnesota, although as the expertise of both shippers and shipbuilders improved, several series of more modern steamers and barges were added to the fleet. This process of modernization reached its zenith with the addition in 1899 of the steamers MAUNALOA, PENNSYLVANIA (b) MATAAFA and TEXAS (b) MALIETOA, and in 1899 and 1900 of the large barges MANILA, MADEIRA and MARSALA.

Major changes were coming, however, for J. Pierpont Morgan and associates were in the process of assembling a gigantic corporate entity which for many years would dominate the steel business in the United States. It was in 1900 that Morgan's Federal Steel Company absorbed the Minnesota Iron Mining Company and, the following year, Federal itself was involved in the larger consolidation which formed the United States Steel Corporation. In 1901, the Minnesota Steamship Company was taken over by the Pittsburgh Steamship Company, the lake shipping arm of U.S. Steel, and its boats took on the colours of the larger firm, namely green hull, straw-coloured cabins, and all-silver stack. By 1905, the stack had developed a black smokeband, the hull had become red and the cabins white. At the time of the merger in 1901, MATOA and her Minnesota mates exchanged their registry port of Cleveland for that of Duluth.

MATOA put in more than a dozen good years with the "Steel Trust" but, by the beginning of the second decade of the new century, she had been far surpassed in capacity and appointments by the 500 and 600-foot steamers which had come to dominate the ore trade. Most of the ships of MATOA's vintage were sold off to other operators, some to be sent to salt water during the war, and a few destined never to return to the lakes.

It was not to be, however, that MATOA would remain with the fleet long enough to be sold off in such a manner. On Sunday, November 9. 1913, MATOA was upbound in Lake Huron with a cargo of coal. Suddenly, she found herself in the middle of the cyclonic fury which has since come to be known as The Great Storm. Fortunately for MATOA and her crew, she was not swallowed up without trace on the open lake but instead suffered the indignity of being blown hard ashore at Pointe aux Barques. Abandoned as a total loss, the steamer herself was uninsured and was valued at the time at $117,900. The cargo of 3,104 gross tons of coal was insured for $12,000.

MATOA was abandoned by her owners and the job of salving the remains was undertaken by the indomitable Tom Reid and his Reid Wrecking Company of Sarnia and Port Huron. Reid, it is alleged, purchased the wreck and cargo for $2,500 when it became evident that no other salvor was interested in the apparently hopeless task of removing her from the rocks on which she was pinned. MATOA was successfully refloated in 1914 and was taken to the Port Huron shipyard of the Reid and Sons Dry Dock Company where she was rebuilt. It was at this time that MATOA was given an after mast, a fairly tall pole which was set forward of the stack but which was much less raked than was the stack itself. It was also at this time that a portion of the after cabin was closed in by means of an extension of the bulwark up to the level of the boat deck. The closed bulwark down the sides of the deck (except for the sections running around the after cabin and from the break of the forecastle back to the bridge) had been removed. It is likely that this rail had disappeared some years previously, as it was not suitable for an ore boat to have her deck enclosed by such a rail which would make the cleaning of the deck into a major task.

The Reid organization, however, was a wrecking firm, not a shipping company, and a buyer was sought for MATOA once she was back in operable condition. In 1915, there being considerable demand for additional tonnage on the east coast during the war years, MATOA was purchased by the Warren Transportation Company (George Warren and Company Inc.) of Boston, Massachusetts. Warren was engaged in the coal trade and he wanted MATOA to haul coal on the coast for him. Warren paid $75,000 for the ship and Reid contracted to get her out of the lakes. She was cut in two at the Reid drydock in Port Huron for the trip down the canals. The stern section departing first (complete with steam raised to operate the pumps), and with the bow following closely behind in tow of the big tug S. M. FISCHER, the two halves travelled in convoy, a most unusual sight as photographs of the event clearly indicate. The sections were rejoined at the Montreal yard of Canadian Vickers Ltd. and MATOA, with no change of name, set off for Boston and her new duties.

MATOA operated through the war years and managed to withstand the rigours of enemy action as well as the nasty weather and sea conditions usual to the North Atlantic. While on the coast, she was given a new stack, taller and thinner than the old and with less rake to it. She also acquired a new square pilothouse and officers' cabin behind it. The new wheelhouse had but three windows in its face and was set off in a rather unusual manner by its prominent bridgewings which joined in a catwalk running across in front of the cabin.

Warren continued to operate MATOA after the close of the war and it was not until 1923 that she was sold. As luck would have it, James Playfair was at that time actively engaged in lake shipping and was seeking extra tonnage for his fleet. He located MATOA on the east coast and purchased her for his Great Lakes Transportation Company Ltd., Midland. She was taken up the coast and the St. Lawrence and was once again put in the Vickers drydock, this time to be cut apart for the return to the lakes. The two halves were taken up the canals and then to the yard of the Collingwood Shipbuilding Company, the stern section being towed by the tug STRATHBOGIE and the bow by SARNIA CITY.

MATOA was placed in drydock at Collingwood in 1923 and rejoined, an extra piece being added in the process so that her length was increased to 326 feet and her tonnage to 2723 Gross and 1538 Net. Her mainmast was moved to a position abaft the stack and a large wooden rail was built around the bunker hatch atop the boilerhouse. She was repainted in Playfair's usual (and very attractive) colours, featuring a grey hull, white forecastle and cabins, and crimson stack with a black smokeband. Reregistered at Midland as C.151587, she was renamed (b) GLENRIG. James Playfair had a penchant for naming his vessels after places in his native Scotland.

The Great Lakes Transportation Company Ltd. operated GLENRIG and the many other Playfair steamers during 1924 but changes came in 1925 for the firm which, we might mention, was principally backed by the Valley Camp Coal Company. During 1925, the fleet's canallers were transferred to the George Hall Coal and Shipping Corporation of Montreal, while the Great Lakes Navigation Company Ltd. was formed to operate GLENRIG and the other upper lakers. The fleet colours remained the same and there was no outward change in the appearance of the boats or their style of operation.

Things were not to remain static for long, however, for on April 16, 1926, the Great Lakes Navigation Company Ltd. was absorbed by Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal. Of course, this was not the first time that a Playfair fleet had been absorbed into C.S.L. In any event, GLENRIG, after having worn Playfair colours for only two years, was given the usual C.S.L. livery and was renamed (c) HUGUENOT. It is something of a mystery why the steamer was given this odd name. The reference is to the term applied to the Protestants of France during the lengthy religious struggles of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but what connection there was with the ship can now be nothing but conjecture on our part. Even during the years of the First World War MATOA, as she was then known, was busy on the east coast coal run and it is unlikely that she ever strayed much from that service, much less cross the Atlantic to France from whence such a name might come.

HUGUENOT operated only slightly longer for C.S.L. than she had for Playfair. During her fourth year of C.S.L. service, the Great Depression set in and it was not long until she and many other vessels of the fleet were sent to the wall where they were to rest for many years to come. HUGUENOT was no longer young and she was anything but a modern ship. In addition, even though she had been lengthened, she was inefficient to operate considering her small capacity. Accordingly, she remained idle all through the Depression years, whereas some of the more modern upper lakers did see at least minimal service from time to time.

Through the Depression, HUGUENOT, along with PORTSMOUTH, VALCARTIER, SASKATCHEWAN and BRENTWOOD, lay at the old shipyard in Midland harbour. None of these steamers would ever operate again and, in the early spring of 1937, they and seventeen other obsolete C.S.L. boats were sold for scrapping. HUGUENOT was sold to an Ontario buyer who subsequently resold her to breakers in Wisconsin. She was towed to Sturgeon Bay by the wrecking steamer MAPLECOURT and there she was broken up along with some of her superannuated mates.

The builders at the Globe Iron Works in Cleveland back in 1890 had done a good job when they built MATOA, but neither they nor the vessel operators of the day could have been expected to foresee the rapid developments in ship design that would make a boat such as MATOA/GLENRIG/HUGUENOT obsolete in such a very few years.

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Scanner, v. 11, n. 5 (February 1979)

Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Winter Lay-up Listings; You Asked Us and We Asked You; Ship of the Month No. 81