The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Scanner, v. 11, n. 6 (March 1979)
Scanner (Toronto, ON), Mar 1979

Bascom, John N., Editor
Media Type:
Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Winter Lay-up Listings; You Asked Us; You Asked Us; A Reminder
Date of Publication:
Mar 1979
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Toronto Marine Historical Society
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Friday, April 6th - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Lorne Joyce will present an illustrated history of the Lloyd Tankers fleet.

Saturday, May 5th - Annual Dinner Meeting. See details below.

The Editor's Notebook

ANNUAL DINNER MEETING: By popular request, the Dinner Meeting will be held on Saturday, May 5th. Dinner will be served at 7:00 p.m. at the Ship Inn (located in the cellar of the Marine Museum of Upper Canada) and the bar will be open earlier for those who might enjoy a pre-dinner restorative. Our speaker will be Mr. Alan Howard whose subject will be "All Aboard For Niagara: Recollections of Summer Days in the Ships that Sailed from Toronto". This promises to be a very special evening.

The capacity of the Ship Inn is limited and those wishing to attend should immediately address Mr. James M. Kidd, 83 Humberview Road, Toronto, Ontario, M6S 1W9, enclosing the necessary remittance. The cost will be $10.75 per person (no change from last year) and guests will be welcomed. Please reserve your tickets as soon as possible.

Our thanks are due to Dr. Gordon Shaw for his most interesting address at the February meeting. He gave us a graphic description of what has happened to the Canadian lake fleet since the opening of the Seaway.

In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to Rob. Hartley of St. Catharines, to Rick Jackson of Toronto, to Phillip Dewsnap of Toronto, to W. George Williams of Cote St. Luc, Quebec, and to Glenn G. Warner of Thunder Bay.

Marine News

Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. has announced that Hull 65, presently under construction in the graving dock at Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd., will be christened CANADIAN ENTERPRISE. She will he similar in design to Hull 64, CANADIAN TRANSPORT (II), except that she will have a larger propeller and her bottom aft will be built in tunnel fashion. These changes will permit a decrease in engine horsepower from 10,000 to 8,750 and a considerable saving in fuel costs will be realized even though the ship will be capable of the same speed (14.25 m.p.h.) as her earlier sister.

We understand that Upper Lakes Shipping will soon be faced with the major expenditure required to re-engine the self-unloader CANADIAN PROGRESS. It seems strange that a vessel built as recently as 1968 should already be in need of new machinery, but this appears to be the case. CANADIAN PROGRESS was built as Hull 48 of Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd.

HULL NO. 3, formerly Bethlehem's STEELTON, waits at Erie for her conversion to a self-unloader. Photo 1978 by Robert J. MacDonald.The Medusa Cement Company Division of Medusa Corporation will shortly be having its HULL NO. 3 converted to a self-unloader. Strangely enough, she will not be just a bulk cement carrier as is MEDUSA CHALLENGER. The $13-million conversion will involve the fitting of a standard self-unloading boom and bucket elevators and will allow the ship to carry not only cement but also other bulk cargoes such as coal and stone. HULL NO. 3, currently laid up at Erie, was bought by Medusa from the Bethlehem Steel Corporation during the summer of 1978. She is one of ten vessels of Class L6-S-B1 built for the United States Maritime Commission during World War II. Hull 293 of the River Rouge yard of the Great Lakes Engineering Works, she was launched on May 8, 1943 as McINTYRE. She sailed for the Interlake Steamship Company as FRANK PURNELL (I) until 1966 at which time she was traded to Bethlehem in return for her sistership STEELTON (II) which Interlake then concerted to a self-unloader and renamed FRANK PURNELL (II). Meanwhile, PURNELL (I) was renamed STEELTON (III) by Bethlehem. The temporary name HULL NO. 3 was given to the steamer by Medusa during 1978 but she will undoubtedly be renamed when she re-enters service.

The conversion of HULL NO. 3 would seem to put an end to any hopes that Medusa might rebuild its veteran steamer C. H. McCULLOUGH JR. Medusa purchased the 1907-built McCULLOUGH from the Interlake Steamship Company in 1971 and operated her for several years. Latterly, however, she remained idle awaiting an expected conversion to a cement carrier. It was with this intention that Medusa originally acquired her, but her age and size have caused the company to have second thoughts. It is anticipated that she will eventually be sold for scrapping.

Westdale Shipping Ltd. has continued the purge of its fleet and has now disposed of the last of the original set of self-unloaders purchased by Reoch from the American Steamship Company during the early 1960s. Word was recently received that Westdale has sold FERNDALE (II) to Marine Salvage Ltd. for scrapping, the sale having been closed in early February. FERNDALE, currently wintering at Toronto, is a 511-foot steamer built in 1912 as Hull 95 of the Great Lakes Engineering Works, Ashtabula, for Boland and Cornelius, Buffalo. Converted to a self-unloader in 1932 at Lorain and sold to Reoch in 1963, she sailed previously as (a) LOUIS R. DAVIDSON (32), (b) DIAMOND ALKALI (I)(39), and (c) DOW CHEMICAL (II)(64). FERNDALE was given the dust-catching equipment formerly carried on PINEDALE to reduce the effects of cement clinker cargoes but her years of hard use have taken their toll and Westdale could not economically justify her continued operation.

The fifth and sixth tugs being built at Tacoma, Washington, for the U.S. Coast Guard will be named NEAH BAY and MORRO BAY respectively. Tentative delivery dates are July and October 1980, but we have not as yet heard where they will be stationed after their arrival in the lakes. It seems possible that they might be based at Cleveland and Buffalo to replace the aging tugs RARITAN and ARUNDEL which will be relegated to duty at those ports when replaced by new tugs at their current stations.

The town of Collingwood has been increasingly worried of late concerning the economic prospects for the area should further shipbuilding contracts not be secured by Collingwood Shipyards Ltd. Although the yard has been kept fairly busy with repair work, it had no more contracts for new hulls after the self-unloader which is currently being built for Algoma Central Marine. This vessel is only 658 feet in length and will be launched during the coming spring.

The town received good news recently, however, when Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. announced that it had authorized the shipyard (a C.S.L. affiliate) to build a 730-foot self-unloader of the "Nova Scotia" class. We presume that this means that she will be similar to Algoma's ALGOBAY which was commissioned in October 1978. She will be specially strengthened for operation in ice and her construction will cost approximately $34,000,000.

During 1978, rumours circulated to the effect that Imperial Oil Ltd. was seeking to dispose of its Montreal bunkering "barge" IMPERIAL VERDUN, there being insufficient demand to keep two bunkering vessels active at that port. While we have no knowledge of any sale to date, we have learned that IMPERIAL VERDUN was taken from Montreal to Sorel under her own power during December and is currently laid up there. VERDUN and her sistership, IMPERIAL LACHINE, were built in 1963 at Port Weller. VERDUN has been held in reserve since 1976 and LACHINE has carried on alone.

The veteran Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker N. B. McLEAN was officially decommissioned at Quebec City on February 7th. The 260-foot steamer was built in 1930 at Halifax and, although she has been held in reserve recently, it appears that, at the time of her retirement, she was the oldest icebreaker in commission anywhere in the world. It will be recalled that the McLEAN made quite an impression on local observers several years ago when she was brought into the lakes to help with the spring ice problems in Lake Erie. There is a movement afoot to secure N. B. McLEAN for use as a marine museum at Quebec City and we sincerely hope that the plan meets with success.

It was back in December that the Ann Arbor Railroad, now operated by the Michigan Interstate Railway Company, announced that not only was it intending to stay in the carferry business, but that it had chartered CITY OF MILWAUKEE from Grand Trunk and would refurbish ARTHUR K. ATKINSON which had been idle since 1973 with mechanical woes. At the same time, Ann Arbor stated that it would reinstate service between Frankfort (Elberta, to be precise) and Manitowoc, a route which had been dropped in 1973 when ATKINSON was withdrawn. The Manitowoc service was to begin during the summer of 1979 but Ann Arbor, demonstrating its enthusiasm for carferry operations, jumped the gun and began sailings on January 29. This was possible with the acquisition of CITY OF MILWAUKEE and the return from drydock of the company's regular ferry VIKING which normally serves the Frankfort - Kewaunee route. The Manitowoc route will see one round trip sailing per day until it can be determined what sort of patronage it attracts and whether more frequent service can be justified.

In our February issue, we reported that the Ford Motor Company's steamer WILLIAM CLAY FORD would be lengthened by approximately 120 feet during the winter at Fraser Shipyards of Superior, Wisconsin. We now know that not only will FORD be lengthened but she will also be receiving a sternthruster. She will be one of only a handful of lakers to be so fitted.

We previously reported that the conversion of CAPE BRETON HIGHLANDER to a self-unloader by Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. would be handled by the shipyard at St. John, New Brunswick. It was mentioned that she had been towed to St. John from Tampa, Florida, and that work would be under way shortly. We have a spy in Tampa, however, who has advised that, as of February 9, CAPE BRETON HIGHLANDER was still in ordinary there. It is possible that her owner does not wish to risk the long tow during the winter months when the weather conditions off the east coast can be, to say the least, terrible.

We regret to report that, although Triad Salvage Inc. had hoped to sell the Skinner Unaflow engine removed from PAUL L. TIETJEN, a buyer was not forthcoming and the powerful engine has now been scrapped. TIETJEN herself is now about half dismantled at the Ashtabula scrapyard.

To say that the lake shipping fraternity has reacted violently to the use of V. W. SCULLY for the proposed film "November Gale", and to the temporary renaming of the ship so that she might pose as EDMUND FITZGERALD, would be the understatement of the year. With many shipping companies, particularly those in the United States, up in arms over the incident, and with Canadian taxpayers wondering why ALEXANDER HENRY was diverted (at their expense) for a full day of filming out on Lake Superior while numerous ships in Thunder Bay were in need of the assistance of the icebreaker to escape the port on their last trips of the season, SCULLY is wintering at Port McNicoll with the "Fitz" name still boldly displayed on her bow and iron deckhand. It is no wonder that certain observers have begun to refer to the ship as "The Spook".

The government in Ottawa has approved the transfer of the operation of the Canadian Canal at Sault Ste. Marie from the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority to Parks Canada, the changeover to take effect on April 1st. Sanction for the transfer was granted by the Treasury Board on January 17. According to the regional director of Parks Canada, "there will be no visible changes at the canal this year but interpretive work on the historical aspects of the facility will be conducted, as well as discussions with Great Lakes Power Corp. Ltd. which is building a power generating plant in the river". As is typical of most of the statements made in Ottawa these days, we find it difficult to understand exactly what this person is trying to tell us! Many observers are afraid that Parks Canada will allow the Canadian Lock to degenerate (it really doesn't have far to go) into a facility for pleasure craft only and that it may eventually be closed altogether when the need for expensive repairs and modernization becomes a pressing reality.

Winter is traditionally a time when shipowners take advantage of the opportunity to refurbish their vessels and undertake major repairs. No exception during the current winter is the Soo River Company which is doing major work on several of its steamers. PIERSON DAUGHTERS, wintering at Hamilton, is having her boilers retubed, while E. J. NEWBERRY is undergoing certain engine repairs at her Toronto berth. Also at Toronto, GEORGE G. HENDERSON is undergoing a refitting of her accommodations to update their standards. Perhaps the best news of all is that the 74-year-old H. C. HEIMBECKER is having a new galley fitted whilst in winter quarters at Midland. The expenditure of serious money on a vessel of her age almost certainly ensures her continued operation for the foreseeable future.

Although winter navigation was progressing without too many problems at the end of January, the extremely cold weather which invaded the Great Lakes area during the first three weeks of February brought shipping movements to a virtual standstill and sent many lakers to winter quarters. As we go to press, only a handful of vessels remain in service and it is very questionable whether they will be able to manage for much longer. We have insufficient space here to describe all the difficulties encountered, but there have been some interesting incidents.

On the morning of February 1, ARTHUR M. ANDERSON rear-ended the icebreaker WESTWIND in Lake Erie about 12 miles west of Ashtabula, buckling her bow plating badly and dropping her towing bridle and fairlead roller onto WESTWIND's fantail. Both headed for Conneaut and ANDERSON was later sent to Milwaukee for repairs. EDWIN H. GOTT set out on her official maiden voyage from Milwaukee in mid-February and promptly got herself totally mired in the ice of the St. Mary's River. JEAN PARISIEN went into lay-up at the Canadian Soo at the end of January despite the fins which had been fitted on her bow to enable her to operate more easily in heavy ice.

The most frustrating incident of all involved ROGER BLOUGH which, from February 7 until the 16th, was hung up on a pressure ridge off Conneaut. The ridge was thought to extend right down to the bottom of the lake and WESTWIND could do nothing to extricate BLOUGH until a wind change caused the ice to shift. It was necessary for the breaker to ferry supplies and bunkers to the BLOUGH during her incarceration in the ice.

By mid-February, Lakes Superior, Huron and Erie, as well as Georgian Bay, were completely ice-covered, a most unusual circumstance. Lake Ontario had an extraordinary 75%-plus ice cover and Lake Michigan about the same. The spring break-up ought to be fun this year!

CAPE BRETON MINER has been undergoing extensive hull repairs whilst in winter quarters on the east wall of Toronto's turning basin. Much steelwork has been done on each side near the bow and at one stage there was so much of the plating removed that it was possible to look right into her hold and out the other side.

Winter Lay-up Listings

With this issue, we continue our record of the vessels laid up for the winter at the various lake ports. As usual, we do not include scows, tugs, local ferries, dredges, etc., except under unusual circumstances.


















































































(partial listing?)





















From Previous List,










Soo, Ontario

Add to Previous List



Add to Previous List


We gratefully acknowledge the efforts of Rene Beauchamp, Duff Brace, David Bull, Frank Bunker, Perry Haughton, George Lee, Bob MacDonald, Vince Sadler, Laurence Scott, Alan Sweigert, and Andy Sykora in the preparation of this instalment of lay-up listings.

To those who did not respond to our request for information, and whose own ports are either not represented at all or else with an incomplete list, we can only say that we would be happy to change places with them for a month so that they might see the amount of work necessary to find and prepare items which we think will be interesting to our readers. We do not produce "Scanner" simply for our members' entertainment, but also for their edification and for the preservation of the historical record of the years passing before us. We expect that each member who is able and who has access to such information will contribute his or her bit to the effort. Surely that is not asking too much...

You Asked Us

Tom Wilson, of Bath, Ontario, has written with a request for information about the tug JOHN PRATT. This poses a most interesting problem as there actually were two tugs which carried this name.

The first JOHN PRATT (C.70290) was a wooden tug built in 1874 at Montreal by Auger. She measured 96.0 x 19.2 x 7.3, 70 Gross and 21 Net. Although she was fairly large, she seems to have been used as a harbour tug. In 1900, she was owned by the Montreal Harbour Commission. We have no idea what eventually became of her, although it is evident that she was out of service by at least 1911.

The second JOHN PRATT (C.130521) was a steel tug built at Sorel in 1911 by and for Sincennes-McNaughton Line Ltd., Montreal. She measured 80.5 x 22.1 x 11.4, 166 Gross, 78 Net. This tug spent her entire active lifetime in the service of the Sin-Mac interests and was witness to the many corporate changes and reorganizations which the management of the line underwent over the years, perhaps the most important being the acquisition of the entire Sin-Mac tug fleet by McAllister Towing Company Ltd. in 1959.

JOHN PRATT kept her original name until 1957, at which time she was renamed (b) YOUVILLE. She was primarily used for harbour towing in Montreal and for odd jobs on the St. Lawrence River, operating from Montreal. She occasionally ventured onto Lake Ontario but rarely made it past the Welland Canal. We last saw YOUVILLE in Toronto on October 24, 1961 when she arrived on the stern of the Interlake Steamship Company's ARCTURUS which was to be towed overseas for scrap but stopped in Toronto to load a part cargo of scrap.

YOUVILLE was out of service by 1967 and was subsequently scrapped. She was out of documentation by 1970. It is interesting to note that YOUVILLE, MATHILDA (subsequently taken to New York where she is preserved, although not presently open to the public), and YVON DUPRE JR. (scrapped at Humberstone in 1974) were the last three steam tugs in the Sin-Mac/McAllister fleet to see service and lasted long past the time when the day of the steam tug was considered to have passed.

The Farrar Transportation Company Limited, Collingwood

A Brief Corporate History and Vessel Listing

Charles A. Farrar, of the Georgian Bay town of Meaford, Ontario, first entered the shipping business in 1889 when the small wooden passenger and package freight steamer FAVOURITE was built for him at Meaford. Farrar operated FAVOURITE for five years and then sold her in 1894. For the next decade, he was not involved in the ownership of vessels, although he may well have acted in a managerial capacity for one of the many local shipping concerns.

Farrar's MEAFORD is downbound in the St. Clair River in this photo by Pesha.Farrar rejoined the ranks of lake vessel owners in 1903 when he purchased the canal-sized bulk carrier NEWMOUNT which had been built at Wallsend for the Montreal Transportation Company Ltd., but which had been refused by M. T. Co. as "unacceptable" and returned to her builder. Some three years after her purchase, Farrar renamed the steamer in honour of his home town.

To operate NEWMOUNT, (b) MEAFORD, Farrar formed the Farrar Transportation Company Ltd. of Collingwood. His principal associates in this venture were Captains F. Scott, F. A. Bassett and G. B. Pearsall, together with W. R. Rowland, G. E. Fair, E. R. Wayland, T. I. Thompson and others. Captains Scott and Bassett served as masters of the company vessels for many years.

The Farrar Transportation Company Ltd. doubled the size of its fleet in 1907 when it took delivery of the steamer COLLINGWOOD which was built for the company by the Collingwood Shipbuilding Company Ltd. COLLINGWOOD was not large when compared with the 600-foot bulk carriers which were then becoming the order of the day, but she was large enough for a fleet which does not appear to have had major financial backing of any sort.

During the early part of 1912, the Farrar operation came under the scrutiny of James Playfair of Midland, Ontario. Playfair had only two years previously achieved the merger of several fleets to form Inland Lines Ltd. and, in 1911, he had acquired control of the Northern Navigation Company Ltd. Playfair was seeking to enlarge his shipping empire and turned his eyes on the small Farrar fleet. Nevertheless, Playfair's efforts in this direction met with a singular lack of success and Farrar carried on as before.

The February 1913 issue of "Canadian Railway and Marine World" gave the following report on the company's rather pleasing financial position: "The Farrar Transportation Co., operating the steamers COLLINGWOOD and MEAFORD in the bulk freight trade, has declared a dividend of 10% for the past year with a bonus of 5%. The annual report shows earnings of $173,181 and net profits of $73,338. There is paid-up capital of $250,000."

The fact that the fleet was doing well is reflected in the fact that its Head Office was moved in 1914 from Collingwood to Toronto, where it established its home at 107 Mail Building, the edifice occupied by one of the city's morning newspapers. It should be noted that Charles A. Farrar was apparently no longer associated with the firm by this time. He last appeared on the list of directors in 1909.

In July of 1914, "Canadian Railway and Marine World" reported on the formation at Toronto of a new company which, it was said, would be named Gulf and Lake Navigation Company Ltd. and would acquire an elevator at Kingston and a dock at Oswego, N.Y., as well as the property and operations of the Farrar Transportation Company Ltd. It was suggested that Capt. J. W. Norcross, one of the founders of Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. and then its managing director, was involved in this matter together with certain U.S. interests. Norcross immediately denied any involvement in the affair and stated that the new company would have no connection, either direct or indirect, with C.S.L.

Be all this as it may, the whole matter cooled out very quickly and Farrar carried on as in the past. A company named Gulf and Lake Navigation Company Ltd., Montreal, eventually came to be a reality, but not until more than twenty years later and there does not seem to have been any connection between the two. At this late date, we can only guess as to what actually happened back in 1914 and speculate on what might have transpired had it not been made public that the Farrar shareholders had received a very specific offer for their holdings, a fact that those involved would, no doubt, have preferred to keep quiet.

Farrar continued to operate for four more years, but it was a very small concern in a shipping world which, to an increasing extent, was being controlled by the larger companies. Farrar lost its canaller MEAFORD early in 1918 when she fell victim to enemy action on salt water and, on September 10th, 1918, the company finally gave in and sold COLLINGWOOD, its only remaining vessel, to Canada Steamship Lines.

We do not know what colours FAVOURITE carried during the years that she was owned by Charles Farrar. COLLINGWOOD and MEAFORD both had all-black hulls and white cabins. Their stacks were black with a single band, possibly a brownish-yellow or red colour.

There follows a detailed history of each vessel owned by Charles A. Farrar and/or the Farrar Transportation Company Ltd. The company is not known to have chartered or operated any other tonnage.

COLLINGWOOD, (C.117089). Steel bulk carrier built 1907 at Collingwood by Collingwood Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., Hull 17. Launched October 5, 1907. 386.0 x 50.0 x 23.0, 4529 Gross, 3480 Net. Triple-expansion engine, 21", 33 1/2", 57" x 42" by Collingwood Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., 1907. Two single-end Scotch boilers 14' x 12'. Built for Farrar Transportation Co. Ltd., Collingwood. Originally appeared with three masts, all equipped with cargo booms. By 1916, mizzen and all booms removed and new mainmast fitted aft of stack. Drydocked at Collingwood July 6, 1909 for repair of bottom damage suffered in stranding at Michipicoten harbour. Upbound, Capt. F. A. Bassett, with 7,000 tons coal for Fort William, was rammed amidships by GEORGE L. CRAIG on Detroit River near Windsor, August 24, 1909, due to misunderstanding of whistle signals. Sank in 40' water, 100 yards off shore. Underwriters awarded salvage contract to U.S. firm despite lower Canadian bid of $13,800 and Farrar protest. Raised October 2, 1909 and repaired at Detroit. Recommissioned November 9, 1909. Farrar awarded damages of $20,000 in civil litigation following accident.

Downbound with grain for Port Colborne, stranded April 27, 1915 near Corsica Shoal, Lake Erie. Downbound with grain, Fort William for Port McNicoll, Capt. John Ewart, stranded April 23, 1916 in Whitefish Bay due to ice and fog. Released by dredging April 25. Continued in service but later drydocked at Collingwood for repair. Recommissioned November 17, 1916. Carried 8,000 tons iron ore, Allouez to Ashtabula, in July 1917, the first Canadian ship to carry U.S. ore between U.S. ports under revised wartime coasting regulations.

Sold September 10, 1918 to Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal. Stood by May 1, 1940 and rescued 16 of 17 crew from ARLINGTON which foundered near Superior Shoals, Lake Superior. Converted to 'tween-deck package freighter 1950, 4545 Gross, 3496 Net. Retired from service 1966 and laid up at Kingston, partially stripped. Reactivated 1967 but again retired at close of 1967 season and laid up at Kingston. Sold 1968 to Steel Factors Ltd., Montreal, and resold to Spanish breakers. Towed from Kingston by GRAEME STEWART and JAMES BATTLE, September 17, 1968, and taken to Quebec. Arrived with HAGARTY at Santander, Spain, October 28, 1968, and subsequently dismantled.

FAVOURITE (95), (b) CITY OF PARRY SOUND, (C.95762). Wooden passenger and freight propellor built 1889 at Meaford, Ontario, by Chisholm. 130.0 x 25.0 x 10.0, 491 Gross, 334 Net. Fore-and-aft compound engine, 18" and 36" x 26", by Doty Engine Works, Toronto, 1889. One Scotch boiler 11' x 11'. Built for Charles A. Farrar, Meaford. Sold 1894 to North Shore Navigation Co. Ltd., Collingwood, "The Black Line". When this company merged 1899 with Great Northern Transit Co. Ltd., Collingwood, "The White Line", she became part of newly-formed Northern Navigation Co. of Ontario Ltd., Collingwood. Later in 1899, this company merged with the North West Transportation Co. Ltd., Sarnia, "The Beatty Line", to form Northern Navigation Co. Ltd. Destroyed by fire at town wharf, Collingwood, October 9, 1900.

Allegedly rebuilt at Collingwood by Robert J. Morrill as wooden tug A. F. BOWMAN (C.116385). 76.O x 22.0 x 12.0, 113 Gross, 77 Net. Powered by same machinery as earlier vessel. Documented at Port Arthur, October 24, 1906, by Canadian Towing and Wrecking Co. Ltd., Port Arthur. Transferred January 8, 1929 to Dominion Towing and Wrecking Co. Ltd., later known as United Towing and Wrecking Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Sincennes-McNaughton Line Ltd., Montreal. Registry closed May 3, 1941, vessel dismantled.

NEWMOUNT (06), (b) MEAFORD (I), (Br. & C.118615). Steel bulk carrier built 1903 at Wallsend-on-Tyne, England, by Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson Ltd. 248.0 x 42.0 x 20.6, 1889 Gross. Originally built for Montreal Transportation Co. Ltd., Montreal, being somewhat similar to its FAIRMOUNT (I) and WESTMOUNT (I). Returned by M.T.Co. to builder as "unacceptable" and then purchased by Farrar Transportation Co. Ltd., Collingwood. Chartered March 10, 1915 to Nova Scotia Steel and Coal Co. Ltd. and used in coal trade between Sydney, N.S., and Montreal. Returned to lakes Autumn 1915 to assist with movement of 1915 grain harvest. Returned to wartime service on salt water 1916 and later chartered to French government for Mediterranean service. Whilst in Mediterranean on June 12, 1917, en route from Swansea, encountered a German submarine near Sicily and sank it with third shell fired. Dominion Naval Service Dept. awarded her crew a prize of $500 for the feat. Lost by enemy action March 27, 1918 whilst en route Gibraltar to Belfast.

You Asked Us

New member Glenn Warner of Thunder Bay has written to ask us about the big wooden steamer RAPPAHANNOCK. It seems that he has dived on her wreck in Lake Superior and he reports that when the wreck was discovered in September 1978, it was found to be in exceptionally good condition despite its 67 years underwater.

One of the most successful builders of wooden ships on the lakes was James Davidson of West Bay City, Michigan. He built numerous steamers and schooner barges, many of which he operated himself under the ownership of the Davidson Steamship Company. His three largest wooden steamers were the bulk carriers SHENANDOAH, SACRAMENTO and RAPPAHANNOCK, the first of which was launched at Bay City on May 16, 1894, and the other two following in a dual launching staged on June 15, 1895. The three were virtual sisterships.

RAPPAHANNOCK (U.S.111083) measured 308.1 x 42.5 x 21.2, 2381 Gross and 1911 Net, rather larger than the average wooden laker. She was powered by a triple expansion engine 20-33-54 x 42" and steam was provided by two Scotch boilers measuring 12'3" x 12'. She operated for Davidson until July 25, 1911, when she foundered in Jackfish Bay, Lake Superior, near Terrace Bay, Ontario. Her remains today lie in about 85 feet of water.

Both of her sisters lived longer lives than did RAPPAHANNOCK. The last of them to see service was SACRAMENTO which ran for Davidson right up until the onset of the Depression. She saw little service after 1930 and, in 1939, was abandoned at Bay City.

Ship of the Month No. 82

Wolfe Islander

When the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and Communications had a new passenger and auto ferry built in 1975 for the service between Kingston and Wolfe Island, it named the new boat WOLFE ISLANDER III. While the authorities probably thought that they were not only carrying on an historic name but also were acknowledging the years of service contributed by two other ferries named WOLFE ISLANDER in earlier times, they were mistaken. For, you see, there have actually been four vessels named WOLFE ISLANDER on this ferry route, although the first may never have been registered and we suppose that Queen's Park can be forgiven for overlooking her.

As a result, the sidewheel ferry which served the route for forty-two years and endeared herself to Wolfe Islanders and Kingston area residents in the process, should really not be called WOLFE ISLANDER (I) as she usually is, but rather WOLFE ISLANDER (II).

WOLFE ISLANDER is outbound from Kingston en route to Wolfe Island in this photo obtained for us by the late Nels Wilson.Now that we have our readers thoroughly confused, we should recount a bit of the history of the Wolfe Island ferry service so that we can place the long career of this most interesting little paddler in the proper perspective. Wolfe Island, by the way, is a rather large island lying between Kingston and Cape Vincent, New York, at the point where Lake Ontario flows into the St. Lawrence River.

It appears that the first ferry service to and from Wolfe Island was established by one Sam Hitchcock in 1802. The vessel which he used for the run was a craft built of pine cut on the island, her timbers held together with wooden spikes. She carried sail but also boasted six oars on each side. At that time, the trip to Kingston took a traveller all of two days, for most of the settlers had to walk through the woods from their cabins in order to reach the ferry. A charter to operate the ferry was granted to Hitchcock in 1809 and he then leased the service to Alvah Bennett for three years. In 1812, Hitchcock again took over the service himself and operated several small flat-bottomed bateaux powered by oars. This type of vessel seems to have been the mainstay of the service for many years.

Hitchcock built a dock at Wolfe Island in 1832 and, in 1841, he constructed a two-masted sailing vessel which he called THE STRAWBERRY. Sam Hitchcock departed this life shortly thereafter and the operation of the ferry was then taken over by his stepson, Thomas Davis. The latter gentleman built in 1843 a clinker-type boat which was to hold down the service until 1850. It was this boat that was named WOLFE ISLANDER. Davis introduced steam power to the ferry route in 1850, but it is not known what vessel he used.

In 1851, the Wolfe Island Railway and Canal Company was formed for the purpose of digging a canal to divide Wolfe Island into two sections. Work on this ambitious project was begun immediately and the canal was completed in 1857. The canal which, of course, required no locks, ran from Barrett's Bay on the island's north shore to Bayfield Bay on the south shore. The canal's principal purpose was to provide a short route which boats might take en route between Kingston and Cape Vincent so as not to have to sail all the way around the island.

In 1857, the first licence for the operation of a ferry to Wolfe Island was granted by Her Majesty Queen Victoria to one Coleman Hinckley. He built a new steam ferry, PIERREPONT (I), with island timber and placed her on the route. PIERREPONT was the first ferry to run through the canal from Kingston to Cape Vincent when she made the passage in 1858. She continued to operate as the island ferry until 1864 when she was succeeded by GAZELLE. The latter vessel ran until 1870 and was replaced by WATERTOWN, which had been built at Kingston in 1864.

The St. Lawrence Steamboat Company Ltd., Kingston, managed by the Folger Brothers, bought out the Hinckley interests in 1872 and placed on the ferry service the 123-foot sidewheeler PIERREPONT (II) which had been built the previous year at Kingston. PIERREPONT served the route well for 32 years and only relinquished the run in 1904 when a new boat was built. The iron-hulled PIERREPONT was taken down the river then and served various owners. Her hull, cut down to a barge, was still afloat as late as 1944.

By 1903, there was a considerable community of residents on Wolfe Island and they were not entirely satisfied with the outside operation of a ferry whose purpose, after all, was to provide access to their homes from the mainland. In a vote taken that year, the residents indicated quite clearly that they wanted to have control of the ferry service and to operate it themselves. A contract was immediately let to the Bertram Engine Works of Toronto for the construction of the necessary steamer and she was ready for service during the summer of 1904.

The new steamer, TOM FAWCETT, was built at Bertram's yard near the foot of Bathurst Street, Toronto. We believe that she may have been the yard's Hull 42, but this cannot be confirmed. Her hull was built of wood and measured 118.6 feet in length, 17.7 feet in the beam, and 6.8 feet in depth. Her tonnage was 224 Gross and 98 Net. She was a sidewheeler but we know nothing about the details of her engine or boiler. TOM FAWCETT was enrolled at Toronto as C.116763 and her registered owner was the Corporation of the Township of Wolfe Island, Ontario.

TOM FAWCETT was a typical ferry of her day. She had wide guards and this gave her a broad open area on the main deck forward which could be used to carry goods, livestock, horses and wagons, and latterly automobiles. She had a fully enclosed cabin on the main deck and she carried small enclosed paddleboxes which were devoid of decoration. Right aft on the main deck was the ladies' cabin which was fitted with large sectioned windows. The upper deck was generally open as a promenade area although the officers' quarters were located abaft the pilothouse. The pilothouse itself was a small rounded cabin which was elevated above deck level. A wooden lifeboat was carried on each side of the upper deck immediately over the paddlebox.

TOM FAWCETT carried a rather tall but thin stack immediately behind the pilothouse. It was well raked but not at the same angle as was the light and short mast which was stepped about half way between the stack and the stern. She carried only the one mast, but she did have a tall raked jackstaff aft and a tall steering pole at the bow.

The new steamer was put through her paces and was found to be acceptable. She was brought down from Toronto to Kingston in June 1904 and made her first regular trip in the ferry service on July 1, 1904 under the command of Capt. James Crawford. Her crew on that auspicious occasion included Michael O'Shea, mate; Lloyd Card, purser; Robert Tetro, engineer, and David Stevenson, fireman. Some of those who were aboard for the maiden voyage of TOM FAWCETT on that Dominion Day would also be present for her final trip which was made on another Dominion Day, 42 years later.

TOM FAWCETT spent only one year in her intended service with her original name. It was in 1905 that the more suitable name of WOLFE ISLANDER was given to the ship. It must have suited both the ferry and her passengers, for she kept it until the end of her days. The only other major change to affect the steamer was the eventual transfer of her ownership to the provincial government. Governments are great believers in the continual changing of the names of the various ministries and Ontario is certainly no exception. The ferry was placed under the auspices of the Department of Highways (or whatever else it may have been called at various times) and ever since then the Wolfe Island ferry service has been operated by that ministry of the provincial government responsible for highway development and maintenance .

When the new steamer first was placed in service, her schedule called for departures from Wolfe Island at 7 a.m., 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., the last trip of the day leaving Kingston at 4:30 p.m., except for Sundays when the crew was given a three-hour rest during the afternoon. One trip per week was made during the summer months to Howe Island, which is located just downstream from Wolfe Island. The ferry left the Wolfe Island wharf at 6 p.m. each Wednesday and went down to Brakey's Bay at the foot of the island where she spent the night. Early in the morning, she would cross to Howe Island, leaving there at 8 a.m. and calling back at the Wolfe Island wharf at 9:30 a.m. to pick up passengers for Kingston. On the return trip, she left Wolfe Island again at 3:30 p.m. for Howe Island, landing back at Kingston around 7:30 p.m. and leaving again for Wolfe Island at 8 p.m. One Wolfe Island resident recalls from childhood the free trip to Hogan's coal dock on Wednesday evening. The ferry would go there to take on bunkers before setting out on her long trip to Howe Island.

The January 1911 issue of "The Railway and Marine World" advised that the receipts from the Wolfe Island ferry service for the season from March to November 1910 had amounted to $9,377.35. It also reported that, at a meeting of the Wolfe Island Township Council held on December 9, 1910, a decision had been made to enlarge the capacity of WOLFE ISLANDER by lengthening her by fifteen feet and adding "false sides". It was also intended to install electric lighting and a searchlight, the total cost of the alterations to approximate $7,000. The electric lighting may well have been fitted at that time, but nowhere in the records can we find any evidence that WOLFE ISLANDER was lengthened at any time during her lifetime.

As the years passed, the schedule was amended to provide for more trips as the traffic warranted. For instance, in later years, a special trip was scheduled for Saturday evenings so that the islanders might do some shopping or visit a movie theatre. WOLFE ISLANDER sailed from the village on the island at 7 p.m. and returned from Kingston at 11:30 p.m. In those days, the Kingston stores stayed open until 9:30 on Saturdays. WOLFE ISLANDER was also available for charter; she catered to clubs and groups for moonlight excursions or Sunday picnics to Brophy's Point. The cost of such a charter amounted to the princely sum of $20.00. Regular adult fares on normal ferry trips were 25 cents, while high school students could ride for only 15 cents and those under twelve were carried free. If a special trip were required during the week as a result of illness or accident, a charge of $5.00 was levied.

WOLFE ISLANDER had plenty of open space on her bow to carry freight, but other arrangements were made with small parcels being delivered to island residents. Kingston merchants, from whom items had been ordered by islanders, would deliver the parcels to the ferry and they would be placed on a large round table which was located in the ladies' cabin aft. There they would be collected by the consignees. The purser was occasionally asked by an islander to run an errand in connection with such parcels and, on one occasion, at least, it very nearly landed him in hot water. It seems that a woman riding on the ferry stole a package containing a pair of corsets. She then went to the purser and asked that he take them back to the store from which they had been bought. In the meantime, the person for whom they had originally been intended found that they had been filched from the ferry and reported the theft. When the purser arrived at the store to exchange the goods on behalf of the woman who had approached him, he had considerable explaining to do and thereafter displayed a marked reluctance to run errands for people.

It was about 1920 that a rather pleasant new waiting room was constructed at the ferry dock on Wolfe Island. The cost of this much-appreciated structure was all of $400.00. It contained a natural fireplace behind which was a small locker in which the local constable was accustomed to keep his supply of wine. Most of the islanders knew of his stash but his wife did not, and when the officer would try to put the pinch on an islander for a misdemeanor, he would quite often be confronted with a threat to inform his wife about the wine. The waiting room was eventually sold for use as a restaurant and the new owner had it carted off to his property.

On at least two occasions, WOLFE ISLANDER took unexpected trips with no one at the wheel. The first such escapade took place during the 1920s when the ferry made a special trip to carry the islanders to the mainland to attend the Kingston Agricultural Fair. More passengers were waiting on the wharf than the ferry could accommodate and a number were left behind when she sailed. Those left were understandably vexed and had to hire a launch to take them to Kingston. When they arrived, they went to where WOLFE ISLANDER was berthed and they slipped her mooring lines. It was not long before Capt. Ferguson, who had gone ashore, realized that his steamer was adrift in the harbour. He had to chase after her in a launch and the wayward ferry was then towed back to her dock by the steamer WAUBIC which, at that time, was owned by the Rockport Navigation Company Ltd., Kingston, and operated on the run between Kingston and Cape Vincent.

The second such event occurred in 1939. For all WOLFE ISLANDER's years in service, it had been the custom of her crew to moor her at the foot of Brock Street in Kingston on Saturday evenings while the crew went ashore for shopping or the theatre. On this particular occasion, persons unknown set the steamer adrift and it was not until about an hour later that the deed was discovered by two Queen's students who saw her out in the harbour. She was soon towed back to the dock but not until she had caused considerable consternation for the officers of an inbound tanker who had suddenly found the helpless ferry in their path. A collision was averted and Capt. George Bates was reunited with his vessel.

WOLFE ISLANDER led a charmed life and very seldom got into major difficulties. On at least one occasion, however, she did run aground. She was on an excursion to Clayton, N.Y., with a young people's group aboard. During the return trip, the mate relieved the captain at the wheel and managed to run the steamer hard on the island shore. She was so close in that the women and children made their way ashore via the gangplank and were taken back to the island village by a farmer with his buggy. Meanwhile, two men aboard the boat got into a scuffle as a result of having imbibed too freely of the spirits during the shore stop at Clayton. The disturbance was finally quelled by the master with the help of a gun which he kept in his cabin. One culprit was locked in the purser's room and the other in the mate's cabin. Once order was restored, the crew set about freeing the boat. They eventually lowered a lifeboat in which they took out the anchor and a length of cable. The anchor was set astern of the ferry and the cable was made fast to one of her paddle buckets. Her engine was turned over slowly and she winched herself off the shore as the cable wound around the wheel, although how this was managed without stripping the buckets from the wheel is difficult to imagine. Boat and crew made it back to the wharf at 4 a.m.

The passengers aboard WOLFE ISLANDER were usually accustomed to enjoy a peaceful and comfortable trip, but this was not always the case. On one occasion, some farmers were taking cattle across on the ferry. The lake was running a good sea at the time and the cattle did not appreciate the motion of the boat as she rolled. The animals broke loose and ran back from the bow towards the passenger cabins. The passengers who were caught on the main deck tried to make their way to the safety of the upper deck, but in the resulting confusion, several passengers either were pushed or else jumped overboard. All were rescued and no major injuries were suffered.

WOLFE ISLANDER enjoyed a long career for a wooden steamer of her type, but as she got older, she needed more and more tender loving care to keep her operative. During the latter part of 1940, she was out of service for several days after she broke a paddle shaft which had become weakened during the steamer's battles with early winter ice. The Pyke Salvage tug SALVAGE PRINCE substituted for WOLFE ISLANDER until repairs could be made.

A more serious accident occurred shortly before the old ferry was finally taken out of service. The engineer and a deckhand were working in the engineroom and they released the safety valve on the boiler. Unfortunately, there was still steam pressure inside and both men were severely scalded by the escaping steam. They were given immediate medical treatment but both died a few days after the accident.

WOLFE ISLANDER ran on into the 1946 season but she was not getting any younger. She failed her inspection in 1946, was condemned, and made her last ferry run on Dominion Day, July 1st, 42 years to the day from her commissioning. She was sold to a Wolfe Island resident, Oscar McCready, who had her taken around to his property on the south shore of the island. As she left under tow on this last trip, a large number of Wolfe Islanders gathered on the dock and at other vantage points along the island shore to bid farewell to the ferry which had served them so well for so many years. It is likely that some of those watching her go had been born on her decks, for it was not unusual for island ladies to lose their race with the stork whilst en route by ferry to the mainland hospital.

McCready originally intended to preserve WOLFE ISLANDER as a tourist attraction but those backing the plan were discouraged by the high water of 1947 which caused damage to the boat's hull. She filled frequently and the decision was finally made to dismantle her. The machinery and other steel aboard were cut up and sold, while the cabins and wooden hull were burned. The steamer's deep whistle, which had been donated to her by Rev. Spratt, local parish priest, was saved and placed on the vessel which took over the route, although it was later removed.

From July 1 until November 18, 1946, the ferry service was held down by two wartime landing barges which were hastily secured to replace the condemned steamer. Then, on November 18th, a new ferry was commissioned. Also named WOLFE ISLANDER, this vessel had been constructed at Collingwood for service in Chinese waters under the name OTTAWA MAYBROOK. Hurriedly rebuilt as a ferry at Collingwood, she served the Wolfe Island route until the present WOLFE ISLANDER III was built in 1975.

(Ed. Note: For many years, we had been hoping to be able to put together a feature on this famous little steamboat, but the material necessary was simply not available to us. We owe a great debt of gratitude to member Tom Wilson of Bath, Ontario, and to his late brother, Nels Wilson, a long-time member of T.M.H.S. for their assistance. It was Nels who first suggested that WOLFE ISLANDER would make a good Ship of the Month. We would, however, be remiss if we did not make special mention of the assistance rendered by Miss Carmel Cosgrove, a lifetime resident of Wolfe Island, who has a special place in her heart for the old ferry and who did much research of local sources for us. Her uncle was purser in the ferry service for 47 years.)

A Reminder

Now that you have finished reading our March issue (and we hope that you enjoyed it), please remember to get out the ol' cheque book and send off to our Chief Purser, Jim Kidd, your remittance so that we may reserve your tickets for the ANNUAL DINNER MEETING. The cost is only $10.75 per person.

Remember the date - Saturday, May 5th - and plan to attend.

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Scanner, v. 11, n. 6 (March 1979)

Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Winter Lay-up Listings; You Asked Us; You Asked Us; A Reminder