Friday, December 7th - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Carl Ehrke will return to tell us more of his adventures aboard S. A. VAAL and STEFAN BATORY. This should be a most interesting evening.
Friday, January 4th - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Annual Theme Slide Night. Members are invited to bring a few slides each to illustrate various interesting ports that they have visited.
The Editor's Notebook
Our October meeting was the annual autumn slide night and proved to be a resounding success, as usual. Members in droves responded with slides illustrating their summer marine activities and the result was highly interesting, to say the least. The wide range of our members' interests never ceases to amaze us.
MEMBERSHIP FEES: Perhaps you are now wondering whether you remembered to renew for the 1979-80 season. Not to worry, for if you receive this issue, you are fully paid up and a member in good standing. If a friend should mention, however, that his November "Scanner" has not arrived, it might be well to remind him that his renewal is outstanding.
Our New Look: What do you think of our present double-sided printing? We dislike having to go this route, but it cuts costs sufficiently to avoid a hike in membership fees. Please let us have your comments.
In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to Fred Baddeley of Oak Ridges, Ontario, to Capt. T. R. Pickard of North Bay, to Peter Edwards of Toronto, and to Joseph Ames who serves aboard V. W. SCULLY.
The Editor's camera caught BLACK RIVER, since retired, downbound in the St. Mary's River near Frechette Point on the evening of July 17, 1979.Despite the fervent hopes of her many admirers, it would appear that the 84th year of operation for the 373-foot motorship (and former barge) BLACK RIVER, (a) SIR ISAAC LOTHIAN BELL (37), (b) BLANCHE H. (49), will be her last. Her certificate expired on July 17 and, as a result of a subsequent inspection at Goderich, she was granted a three-month extension until October 17. Although she is not in bad shape for a vessel of her advanced years, she does require much more work than the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company Ltd. is willing to put into her. Consequently, she made her last trip in early October, downbound for Sept-Iles, Quebec. It was thought that she would either be sold for scrap or else, as had been requested, turned over to the Seafarers' International Union for use as a training facility at Morrisburg, Ontario. As it developed, she was purchased by Marine Salvage Ltd. and she returned up the Welland Canal late on October 21 bound for Ramey's Bend. It is not known whether she will be scrapped there or resold for dismantling elsewhere.
The Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. bulk carrier ST. LAWRENCE NAVIGATOR arrived at Port Weller Dry Docks on September 21 and entered drydock on October 4 in preparation for her conversion to a maximum-sized laker. Her new forebody is being constructed at the shipyard and the old forward end has been sold to A. Newman and Company, St. Catharines, for scrapping. Some sources have indicated that the old hull section will be broken up at Port Maitland while others state that it will be towed to Hamilton for dismantling.
The C.S.L. package freighter FORT WILLIAM passed down the Welland Canal on October 2, bound for Hamilton, with her bow stove in after an altercation with, of all things, the Detroit River Light. The collision occurred the previous day during a fog. Both of her anchors were pushed back into her bows and her forepeak was open to the water. The extensive repairs required by FORT WILLIAM will be put in hand by Port Arthur Shipyards.
Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. has reconsidered its retirement of the handsome steam package freighter FORT HENRY. The package freight business on the upper lakes is sufficiently brisk, particularly after the accident involving FORT WILLIAM, that C.S.L. has reactivated FORT HENRY to assist in the movement of an unusual volume of cargo. FORT HENRY has been laid up at Kingston and, until now, prospects for her future were not good, the company having let it be known that she was for sale.
Meanwhile, yet another plan for the reactivation of FRENCH RIVER has fallen through and the vessel lies idle at Kingston. She was reactivated briefly this spring for the container run between Valleyfield and Hamilton, but this service was not successful. Poissonnerie Blanc-Sablon Inc., a subsidiary of Verreault Navigation Inc. of Les Mechins, Quebec, laid out $140,000 for an option to purchase FRENCH RIVER and convert her to a fish factory but, when the federal authorities turned thumbs down on this scheme, Verreault lost not only its option on the boat but also its money. Things are going anything but well for FRENCH RIVER these days...
As mentioned previously, the Columbia Transportation Division, Oglebay Norton Company, will embark on a comprehensive program of self-unloader conversions. COURTNEY BURTON, (a) ERNEST T. WEIR (II)(79), will get the treatment during the winter of 1980-81, ARMCO during the winter of 1981-81, and RESERVE in 1982-83. It has recently been rumoured that a conversion was planned for MIDDLETOWN, (a) MARQUETTE (43), (b) NESHANIC (47), (c) GULFOIL (6l), (d) PIONEER CHALLENGER (62), as well, and we now have confirmation that she will join ARMCO in the shipyard over the winter of 1981-82.
The port of Toronto received a surprise visit from the steam tanker SEAWAY TRADER, (a) IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD (79), on the evening of October 9, the vessel clearing again on the following day. When the 31-year-old lengthened canaller was returned to service in late summer, it was thought that her new owner would run her in the lakes for a few trips, but that she would eventually take up duties on the east coast.
The Interlake Steamship Company has encountered considerable difficulty in rounding up sufficient tonnage to handle its commitments for the haulage of Republic Steel Corporation iron ore. Interlake recently cancelled its option on a 1,000-footer from Bay Shipbuilding because of the impossibility of having the vessel completed in adequate time. Interlake then proposed to bring to the lakes the Moore-McCormack Lines "C-3" MORMACGLEN, to be rebuilt during the coming winter as an 824-foot boom-and-pilothouse-forward self-unloader. This plan, too, has been forced into abeyance because the U.S. Maritime Administration has refused to sanction the conversion pending the outcome of legal entanglements involving a salt-water operator who attempted to use another such ship in home-waters trade after she had been constructed specifically for international service. Interlake, it seems, will have no choice but to fulfill its commitments with chartered tonnage. Meanwhile, however, the company has completed plans for the conversion to a self-unloader of CHARLES M. BEEGHLY, (a) SHENANGO II (67), the work to be done over the winter of 1980-81 at a cost of nearly $13 million. ELTON HOYT 2nd will be made over into a self-unloader during the 1979-80 winter.
We mentioned last month that ROYALTON went into early-winter lay-up at Hamilton on September 10 but that she was expected to operate again in 1980. This prediction was based on earlier comments from Misener Transportation personnel. There now seems to have been an abrupt about-face, for Misener currently indicates that ROYALTON will not see further service. We do not know what will eventually happen to this 536-foot, 55-year-old steamer, but certain other operators are interested in acquiring her services should Misener decide to dispose of her.
Readers will recall our considerable regret back in 1975 when the handsome little steamer JAMES E. FERRIS, (a) ONTARIO (16), (b) F. R. HAZARD (24), went overseas for scrapping after her sale by Kinsman to Marine Salvage Ltd. As it developed, FERRIS was not immediately dismantled but rather was taken to Hamburg for use as a storage hull. We now learn that she was subsequently renamed (d) PRAM but has since met her earlier-anticipated fate. She was sold early this year to Recuperaciones Submarinas S.A. and was towed to Santander, Spain, where demolition began on April 1, 1979.
The former Boland and Cornelius self-unloader JOSEPH S. YOUNG (II), (a) WILPEN (27), (b) DAVID P. THOMPSON (69), a veteran of 72 years, departed Quebec City on September 12, 1979 in tow of the seagoing tug HANSEAT. She was scheduled to arrive at Vado, Italy, on October 6, there to be dismantled. Although only converted to a self-unloader in 1957 and repowered in 1959, the 562-foot YOUNG was considered to be in poor condition in recent years and had not operated for several seasons. Other operators had taken a look at her but had decided that her condition did not warrant the necessary expenditure.
An advertisement in the September issue of "Marine Engineering/Log" noted that the Bultema Dock and Dredge Company of Muskegon, Michigan, is seeking to dispose of certain equipment. Among the surplus items for sale are the remains of two former carferries, one of these being GRAND RAPIDS, the longtime spare boat of the Grand Trunk Milwaukee Car Ferry Company. Built in 1926 and the oldest of three sisterships (the others being MADISON and CITY OF MILWAUKEE), this vessel was sold to Bultema several years ago after a lengthy period of idleness. According to the advertisement, she has been relieved of her machinery. The second boat is the barge MAITLAND NO. 1, built in 1916 as a Lake Erie carferry and converted to a crane-barge in 1943 by the Roen Steamship Company of Sturgeon Bay. She latterly served Eder Barge and Towing Inc. of Milwaukee.
The self-propelled bunkering barge SILLERY, (a) IMPERIAL VERDUN (79), entered service at Quebec during the month of September. Her new operator is Quebec Tugs Ltd., an affiliate of Canada Steamship Lines Ltd.
The St. Lawrence Seaway Authority will conclude its testing of the prototype Welland Canal shunter units with MARINSAL at the close of the 1979 navigation season. Early in 1980, the S.L.S.A. will charter the salty FEDERAL CLYDE for a 30-day period in order to test the procedures necessary to hook the shunters up to vessels when escorting them through the canal. It is to be assumed that MARINSAL will be returned to Marine Salvage Ltd. and will wind up hack at Ramey's Bend for scrapping.
The former steam tug CHRIS M. was given back her original name of EMPIRE SANDY during the summer of 1979. Her hull, which had borne the words "Save Island Homes" in an effort to assist the campaign to preserve the residential community on the Toronto Islands, was given a coat of primer and then most (but not all) of it was painted white. The stripped-out texas and pilothouse were removed in early October. Still registered in her old home port of Thunder Bay, the tug is owned by Joyce E. Rogers of Algonquin Island, Toronto. Her husband, Norman Rogers, hopes to convert EMPIRE SANDY into some sort of excursion vessel, but such plans would appear to be somewhat optimistic, to say the least. The hull of the big tug is lying in the old ferry dock slip east of the foot of York Street, Toronto.
The purchaser of the Paterson canal motorship MONDOC (III), (b) CORAH ANN, has now been identified as Portcold Ltd., Jamaica. MONDOC, which left the lakes late last autumn, was sold from lay-up on the east coast in January.
The Chicago firetug VICTOR L. SCHLAEGER was called during September to extinguish a fire in the after cabins of the salty PHOTINIA which has been lying at Chicago since late last year awaiting the wreckers' torches. The career of the former Stag Line motorship came to an abrupt end early in 1978 when she sustained severe damage in a grounding off Milwaukee harbour.
The remains of WYCHEM 105, the former steamer SAMUEL F. B. MORSE, entered drydock at Sturgeon Bay on August 30 for a further rebuilding. The MORSE, a near-sistership of DOUGLASS HOUGHTON, was built in 1898 for the Bessemer Steamship Company and served the Pittsburgh Steamship Company for more than half a century. After almost two decades of inactivity in the Roen boneyard at Sturgeon Bay, she was cut down to a yard barge in 1975. She is now being further reduced, although the purpose of this alteration is not yet known.
Last month, we reported the loss of the Jadroplov motorvessel MAKARSKA, a frequent visitor to the Great Lakes for many years. We have since learned that the Yugoslavian freighter was in collision on July 29 with SIDNEY EXPRESS near Gibraltar, in a position 36°, 46' North by 01°, 56' West. She drifted for two days and then foundered. Three persons were reported missing but the remainder of her crew and passengers were rescued.
Another familiar salt water vessel lost recently was the 1950-ton motorship MESSINIA II, which foundered off Algiers during July after being abandoned whilst en route from Cartagena to Port Said. She was built in 1952 as MONICA SMITH and traded into the lakes for many years under the colours of the Swedish Chicago Line. Sold in 1967, she was renamed (b) MONICA S. It was after a further sale in 1976 that she took on her last name, MESSINIA II.
The former Paterson canal-sized motorvessel EL SALINERO, (a) CALGADOC (II) (77), is still operating in the Caribbean. She was observed on drydock in late September at the Algiers Drydock Company shipyard in New Orleans. She is still painted exactly as she was during her Paterson years, the only difference being that the letter appearing inside the diamonds on her bows and stack is now an 'R' instead of a 'P'.
Late reports indicate that BLACK RIVER was secured in Ramey's Bend on the afternoon of October 22 at the conclusion of her final voyage. She caused the Seaway Authority a few anxious moments during her upbound passage of the canal when, in the area of Bridge 11, she suffered mechanical difficulties. Makeshift repairs allowed her to continue on to her final resting place.
An Introduction to Scanner Marine Radios
by Larry D. Morrill of Collingwood, Ontario
How often have we been working at home but wishing we were at the Welland Canal and wondering what ships we were missing? How many times have we been at the Canal or the Soo when it seemed as if the next boat would never arrive? By tuning in the V.H.F. marine radio, we can find out what is going on without being there and, if there, have all the information on the ships that may be coming our way.
The V.H.F. marine band is just one of several bands of the electromagnetic frequency spectrum allocated for public service use. The public service bands are V.H.F.-Lo (30-50 MHz), V.H.F.-Hi (150-174 MHz) and U.H.F. (450-470 MHz). "MHz" stands for megahertz, or millions of cycles per second. "V.H.F." stands for Very High Frequency, whereas "U.H.F." designates Ultra High Frequency.
Marine communications are carried on two narrow portions (156.275-157.425 MHz and 161.000-162.025 MHz) of the V.H.F.-Hi band. At these frequencies, radio transmissions are of the F.M. (frequency modulation) type. This results in a clear signal but one with a rather limited range. Consequently, V.H.F. marine signals are only reliable over a radius of about fifty miles. Also, because of the high frequency of the transmissions, signal reception is dependent to some extent upon cloud layers and other atmospheric conditions such as rain and snow. Noise from engine ignitions and other similar sources will also affect the quality of incoming signals.
There are two basic types of receivers available for the monitoring of the V.H.F.-Hi band. The least expensive is the multi-band radio sold by many department stores. This type of radio is not, however, ideally suited to the monitoring of the marine bands. A multi-band receiver allows one to monitor only one channel or frequency at a time. In addition, the set will be difficult to tune to the desired frequency because the transmissions are usually intermittent and of short duration, and the physical length of the tuning scale limits the accuracy of preset tuning.
The only receiver which allows reception of public service bands with reliable "hands-off" tuning is the fixed-tuned set. Nearly all of the receivers of this type on the market today are capable of being fixed-tuned to more than one frequency. The scanner, as it is known, is a multi-fixed-tuned receiver which is capable of automatically sampling all of its preset frequencies in a sequential fashion.
The conventional scanner is fixed-tuned by inserting a separate crystal for each frequency to be monitored. However, modern technology has now developed the frequency-synthesized, micro-processor-controlled scanner which tunes in whichever frequencies are entered into its computer memory via a keyboard. A scanning receiver is essentially identical to any F.M. radio, such as those in most homes or cars, except that an electronic switch automatically changes the "stations".
Certain important points must be considered by anyone purchasing a scanner. First of all, one must decide what one wants to receive with the set; that is, are only marine communications desired or are local transmissions also to be monitored? Depending on how many frequencies are to be monitored at any given time, many scanner channels may be required. For instance, in the Toronto area, at least 20 different marine frequencies can be monitored. The number of channels required will dictate the type and model of scanner one should purchase.
Crystal-controlled units tend to be less expensive initially but may cost more in the long run. An eight-channel crystal-tuned set, which will allow one to monitor only eight frequencies at one time, will cost approximately $200 in Canada (less in the U.S.), but by the time the eight crystals are purchased at $9 each, the cost will have reached $272 plus tax. On the other hand, a 20-channel micro-processor-controlled scanner can he bought for about $300 and will allow the monitoring of some 16,000 frequencies.
Some other specifications should also be considered when purchasing a scanning receiver. Sensitivity is a measure of a receiver's ability to extract a radio signal from the airways. Generally, the lower the rating, the better; a radio with a specified sensitivity of 0.4 microvolts (millionths of a volt) is more sensitive than one with a sensitivity of 1.0 microvolts. Greater sensitivity means that more distant stations can be received. Selectivity is a measure of the set's ability to differentiate between signals. In this case, the greater the rating, the better, a selectivity of 60 decibels being preferable to one of 40 decibels.
When purchasing any piece of electronic equipment, be it a television set or V.H.F. scanner, it pays to shop around. For the same scanner, prices may vary by as much as $200. Also to be considered are such details as manufacturer's warranty and service availability; be certain that the set can be serviced locally or, at least, within the country. Dealing with a local distributor of mobile radios may be more advantageous when information or service is desired than dealing with larger chain stores.
It would not be remiss to mention a few tips on keeping a scanner in good working order. Always make sure that the power switch is off before plugging the set into the house current or the car's power system, and before attaching or removing antenna leads. If using the scanner in the car, mount it so that it may be removed easily. When leaving the car, remove the radio and place it in the trunk or, at least, cover it with a coat or similar object so that it is not in full view. A home insurance policy may well cover the scanner but the addition to the policy of a separate rider will ensure that it is covered against such perils as fire, theft, etc. A radio receiver will not be covered by an automobile insurance policy unless it is actually attached to the vehicle. Remember that, in the care of a scanner, a little common sense goes a long way.
To ensure good reception from a scanner at home, an outside antenna mounted high above the ground will be desirable. It can be placed on a t.v. mast above the television antenna or even affixed to the chimney. Apartment residents might clamp an antenna to a balcony railing. Mobile antennas, held in place by magnets or gutter-clips, can be readily obtained to assist in the use of the set in an automobile. Remember that, with the high frequency of V.H.F. marine signals, reception is theoretically limited to the line of sight. Consequently, those living more than 50 miles from a shipping channel, or in a valley, should not count on receiving F.M. marine broadcasts .
Persons wishing to purchase scanners would be well advised to provide for the reception of at least the following channels:
Intership Safety and Communications.
Vessel Traffic Dispatch, notably by Seaway Newcastle (Lake Ontario) and by Sarnia Traffic Control.
Vessel Traffic Dispatch by Soo Control on the St. Mary's River and by harbour authorities including Toronto and Hamilton.
Canal Traffic Dispatch, notably by U.S. (WUD31) and Canadian (VDX23) Soo Canals and by Seaway Welland.
Distress, Safety and Hailing Channel.
Coast Guard communications, including navigational bulletins and weather forecasts.
A scanner can provide the boatwatcher with many hours of listening pleasure throughout the year. It most definitely adds that extra touch to those regular pilgrimages to the Soo, the St. Clair River, or the Welland Canal.
Ship of the Month No. 87
William C. Warren
In these days of thousand-foot lakers, specialized self-unloaders, and computerized navigation, there is much interest amongst marine historians in the old canallers, those famous vessels that began to disappear two decades ago. The canallers are particularly interesting to those historians who have come on the scene since the demise of the old canals and the boats that were built to fit them, but they are also fondly remembered by those of us who saw them so often as they shuttled back and forth with their cargoes of grain, coal, or anything else that needed moving from one place to another. There was always something fascinating about the informal operation of most of the canallers; there were few rules or regulations and the steamers simply went about their tasks by whatever methods were found to be most successful at the time.
WILLIAM C. WARREN unloads at the Canada Coal Company dock at Toronto. Photo, dating from 1937, by J. H. Bascom.One of the best-known operators of canal steamers was the Eastern Steamship Company Ltd. of St. Catharines, Ontario, a corporation which was formed on December 22, 1922. Its founding fathers were Judge Louis B. Hart, John J. Rammacher, Edwin T. Douglass, John B. Richards, Norman P. Clement, G. J. Grammer, and the latter gentleman's son, Nisbet Grammer, who also was president of the Eastern Grain, Mill and Elevator Corporation of Buffalo. All were involved in the grain business and, as well, all were associated with the firm of Boland and Cornelius, Buffalo vessel managers. They formed the new company in order to operate ships that would be capable of moving to eastern ports the grain which the upper lakers were forced to unload at such ports as Buffalo and Port Colborne. This trans-shipment, of course, was necessitated by the inability of upper lake boats to transit the small locks of the old Welland and St. Lawrence Canals. Nisbet Grammer was named to the position of president of the Eastern Steamship Company and, not surprisingly, Boland and Cornelius became the operating managers.
The company's founders were grain dealers rather than vessel operators and were experienced neither in the running of steamboats nor in their construction. Accordingly, on the day that Eastern was incorporated, an arrangement was made with the well-known Hamilton entrepreneur, A. B. Mackay, to obtain the required vessels. Mackay was also named to the position of chairman of Eastern. He was charged with the job of obtaining ten new steam-powered canallers and immediately set the wheels in motion in Great Britain to do the necessary. Dealing through A. G. Jones of Messrs. H. E. Moss and Company of Liverpool, contracts were let to five British shipyards, each of which constructed two boats. All of similar design, they were built in 1923 and soon were in operation on the lakes.
Eastern's management was justifiably proud of its new steamers but soon realized that even more ships would be needed in order to take care of the large volume of grain which was moving eastward via the St. Lawrence River. Once more, the company looked to British shipyards which were becoming quite experienced in the mass construction of canallers for Canadian operators. Two contracts were let, these going to firms which had been involved in the construction of the original ten ships. The new orders called for four hulls to be built by Earle's Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd., Hull, England, and three by Napier and Miller Ltd. of Old Kilpatrick, Glasgow, Scotland. It was soon evident that more ships were required and so the contract for Earle's was increased to six vessels, while Napier and Miller were called upon to build five.
The third of the Napier and Miller boats was the yard's Hull 249 and was launched on March 30, 1925. She measured 253.1 feet in length, 43.2 feet in the beam, and 17.9 feet in depth, her tonnage being measured as 1745 Gross and 1233 Net. She was powered by a triple-expansion engine with cylinders of 17, 28 1/2 and 47 inches, and a stroke of 33 inches. Steam was provided at 180 p.s.i. by two coal-fired Scotch boilers measuring 12 feet internal diameter by 11 feet in total length. This arrangement gave the ship a maximum speed of approximately 12 miles per hour. The boilers and machinery were built for the vessel by D. Rowan and Company Ltd., Glasgow.
The new steamer was enrolled in the spring of 1925 as C. 148851 and was christened WILLIAM C. WARREN. She was named for William Candee Warren, a Buffalo financier and newspaperman, who was also a director of the Eastern Steamship Company Ltd. as a result of his interest in the Buffalo grain business. Warren was a descendant of one of the original settlers who came to America on board the MAYFLOWER.
To describe the WARREN, we can do no better than to quote from the June 1925 issue of "Canadian Railway and Marine World" which reported the commissioning of Eastern's new boats. "Arrangements are made in the (half or sunken) forecastle for the accommodation of the linesmen and officers, with the captain's accommodation and small deck saloon above (in the texas cabin), the pilothouse being built on the flying bridge above this erection. A large deckhouse is fitted aft, enclosing the machinery casings, and with accommodation for the engineers, steward, firemen, saloon, galley, pantries, etc. Five powerful steam winches are fitted for manoeuvring purposes and working the breast and stern ropes. A powerful steam windlass is fitted on the forecastle deck for working the anchors and steam snubbing winch reel for hauling in the snubbing wire. The holds are free from all obstructions and seven hatches are arranged for the rapid loading and unloading of cargo. The machinery is placed as far aft as possible to obtain the maximum length of holds (with a capacity of 133,000 cubic feet). Water ballast is carried in a cellular double bottom fitted all fore and aft; the two peaks are also arranged for water ballast. Electric lighting is fitted throughout, both in the accommodation and in the holds. The ships are built to the requirements of the British Corporation rules for steamships trading on the Canadian Great Lakes and River St. Lawrence, and in accordance with the Board of Trade requirements for cargo steamships."
WILLIAM C. WARREN carried two pole masts, one immediately abaft the pilothouse and the other located far aft, well behind the stack. The masts were given virtually no rake and, in this regard, they matched the stack which was of medium height although rather scrawny. The bunker hatch was located between the stack and mainmast. The anchors were carried in pockets placed well forward at the shelter deck level. WARREN, like all the Eastern vessels built at this time by both shipyards, differed from the company's earlier ships in that she carried a round-fronted pilothouse above a square texas cabin. The previous boats were all built with "turret" pilothouses and open navigation bridges.
The WARREN was painted in what had come to be the normal colours for Eastern Steamship Company boats, although the earlier ships had been painted differently at the time of their entry into service. WARREN's hull was black, while forecastle and deckhouses were white. The stack was black with a wide white band on which was painted a large black letter 'E'.
WARREN ran her trials and was duly accepted by her owner. Soon thereafter, she loaded a cargo of coal and sailed across the Atlantic under her own power, arriving at Montreal on May 7, 1925. She arrived five days too late to participate in a mass christening of the Eastern fleet which was held May 2 at Montreal, the boats being sponsored at the ceremonies by Nisbet Grammer. One of her sisterships was there, this being NORMAN B. MacPHERSON (Napier and Miller's Hull 247), which had sailed into Montreal on April 27, The second sister, JOHN B. RICHARDS (Hull 24l), did not arrive at Montreal until two days after the WARREN. The two additional vessels built for Eastern by Napier and Miller, CHARLES R. HUNTLEY (Hull 255) and JAMES STEWART (Hull 256), were rather later in their maiden arrivals in Canadian waters.
WILLIAM C. WARREN stopped briefly at Montreal but did not unload there. Instead, she proceeded to Toronto and unloaded her coal cargo at the old Milnes coal dock which was located near the foot of Church Street. She was then placed in full commission and served Eastern well over the following decade. We know of only one untoward incident involving WARREN during her years under the Eastern houseflag. She was downbound in Lake Ontario on May 15, 1927 with a cargo of grain consigned to Montreal. In dense fog, she wandered off course and stranded near Salmon Point. Soon refloated and returned to service, she suffered little damage in the grounding.
The Eastern fleet fell on hard times during the Great Depression and it was this reversal of business conditions that eventually led to the winding-up of the company's affairs. During the 1930s, the Eastern vessels operated only spasmodically, there being little grain to move. The boats were carefully rotated so that all saw some service and to avoid mechanical deterioration, but most of them spent long periods of idleness in Muir's Pond above old Lock One at Port Dalhousie. It was during one of her infrequent periods of operation that, on April 21, 1931, WILLIAM C. WARREN was accorded the honour of being the first vessel to pass downbound through the new Welland Canal.
Finally, in April 1936, WARREN and the entire Eastern Steamship Company fleet were sold to the Upper Lakes and St. Lawrence Transportation Company Ltd. of Toronto. The only Eastern boat not included in the sale was NISBET GRAMMER, for she had been lost by collision on Lake Ontario on May 31, 1926. Upper Lakes did not rename any of the ships but painted them in its own colours with black hulls, white cabins, and green stacks with a white band and a black smokeband at the top. In 1938, these stack colours began to be exchanged for the more familiar red and black design.
WARREN continued to serve much as she had for Eastern. In 1940, she was fitted with two kingposts equipped with cargo booms so that she might be used to carry pulpwood and newsprint, trades in which many canallers engaged at one time or another during their careers. WILLIAM C. WARREN assisted in the war effort on salt water, being painted gray for these special duties, but she managed to survive the war years without falling victim either to enemy action or to the rigours of navigation on the high seas. In this, she was rather more lucky than six of her fleetmates, for FRANK B. BAIRD, ALBERT C. FIELD, JOHN A. HOLLOWAY, WATKINS F. NISBET, ROBERT W. POMEROY and GEORGE L. TORIAN all failed to return from the war.
WILLIAM C. WARREN, like her surviving sisterships, returned to her usual trades on the lakes and St. Lawrence River after the cessation of hostilities. Her kingposts and cargo booms were removed in 1945 and she looked then much as she had before the war. But if the wartime years and the unexpected hardships had failed to get the better of the WARREN, her luck changed rather drastically once peace returned. The 1947 season proved to be her undoing and very nearly brought her career to an untimely end.
The month of November is noted for nasty weather on the Great Lakes. On November 7, 1947, WILLIAM C. WARREN was downbound on Lake Huron with a late-season cargo of grain for Montreal. She was caught in an autumn gale and snowstorm and, as a loaded canaller was not blessed with an overabundance of power even under normal circumstances, her master decided to seek shelter near Presque Isle Point. Five other lakers were sheltering there as well and did so safely, but the WARREN drifted ashore and went hard aground. Her crew was rescued without loss of life.
WILLIAM C. WARREN was, however, very seriously damaged. The Great Lakes Towing Company sent tugs and its big wrecker FAVORITE to the scene but they were unable to free the steamer. The Upper Lakes and St. Lawrence Transportation Company Ltd. accordingly decided to abandon her to the underwriters as a constructive total loss. The late-season weather conditions prevented further salvage efforts for the remainder of 1947 and so the WARREN spent the winter ashore. It is said that, once the lake surface was frozen out to where the steamer lay, the local farmers availed themselves of the opportunity to visit the ship and, in the process, to carry off portions of her grain cargo for use as feed. The remainder of the cargo was sold and, between February 20 and 27, it was blown ashore via a pipeline laid over the ice.
The WARREN was purchased by Beaconsfield Steamships Ltd., Montreal, on April 1, 1948 on an "as is, where is" basis. With the advent of improved weather conditions during the spring, salvage efforts began anew and the engineroom, which had been flooded deliberately in order to keep the wreck from pounding on the bottom in heavy seas, was pumped out. In due course, the ship was freed from Presque Isle Point and, once refloated, was towed to Collingwood, where repairs were undertaken by the Collingwood Shipbuilding Company Ltd. She was put back into operating shape according to Beaconsfield's specifications and it was probably at this time that her pilothouse was slightly enlarged, although it retained the same basic structure. In addition, she was given a new stack which, although about the same height as the original, was of considerably greater diameter.
When WARREN re-entered service, she looked much better than she ever had in Upper Lakes and St. Lawrence colours, this being principally a result of Beaconsfield's interesting paint scheme. WARREN's hull was now red, while her forecastle and deckhouses were a brownish-buff colour. The stack was the same colour as the cabins, with a black smokeband at the top. Although the mainmast was all black, the foremast was buff with a black top and, when kingposts and cargo booms were put back aboard the WARREN during the winter of 1950-51, these were painted in the same manner. The result was a vessel which not only looked extremely good but was also readily distinguishable at a distance from all of the other canallers then operating.
The date is October 22, 1958, and the WILLIAM C. WARREN is downbound above the Cedars Lock in the old Soulanges Canal. Photo by J. H. Bascom. As far as we are aware, WILLIAM C. WARREN was involved in only one major accident whilst under Beaconsfield ownership. On June 7, 1958, she was upbound in the Welland Canal with a cargo of iron ore from Contrecoeur for Ashtabula. Near Port Robinson, she was in collision with the Colonial Steamships Ltd. upper lake bulk carrier ROYALTON, and her bow was stove in. She managed to make her way up the canal to Port Colborne, where her cargo was unloaded, and she then returned to Port Weller for repairs.
Beaconsfield got a good decade of service from WILLIAM C. WARREN but the writing was already on the wall for the majority of the canallers. The construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway was progressing well and soon the trans-shipment of grain and other commodities would no longer be necessary. As well, many of the canallers were beginning to show the effects of years of none-too-gentle handling in the old canals. When at last the Seaway opened in 1959. many canallers were immediately retired; some of the fleets kept a few of their canallers in service simply because they did not have sufficient tonnage to operate without them, but even these last few stragglers found their way into permanent lay-up within a few short years.
The WARREN ran briefly after the opening of the Seaway, but she could no longer be operated economically. She was laid up at Sorel, Quebec, during 1961 and she remained at the wall there until 1963 when Beaconsfield, realizing that her economic viability was at an end forever, sold her for scrapping. She was towed to Montreal by Simard tugs on October 7, 1964 and, during the winter of 1964-65, she was broken up in the Montreal Drydock by the St. Lawrence Iron and Metal Company. Her end came exactly forty years subsequent to her construction; she had lived a good life in the service of her three owners.
Right to the end, the WARREN retained one small peculiarity which, in all probability, very few persons ever noticed. Her name was always painted on her bows with a period after the word "William". There was no logical reason for the period to be there, as the word was not abbreviated in any manner, but it was not unusual for a ship's name to be inscribed this way in bygone years. The WARREN was one of the last lakers to display this feature
Interestingly enough, one of WARREN's sisterships is still in existence, as is one of the Napier and Miller boats dating from 1926. NORMAN B. MacPHERSON, sold by Upper Lakes and later renamed LOADMASTER, serves today as the dredge ILE D'ORLEANS, owned by the J. P. Porter Company Ltd. CHARLES R. HUNTLEY, owned by Canpac Leasing Ltd. and operated by McNamara Construction, serves in a similar capacity, still under her original name. Both of these vessels, however, have since lost their steam machinery and are now pushed about by means of diesel outboard units. They are only rarely in service these days and we rather doubt that either will survive much longer. Even so, they have outlived WILLIAM C. WARREN by a decade and a half, albeit in a trade far different from that for which the Eastern Steamship Company Ltd. had them built.
(Ed Note: We wish to acknowledge with gratitude the assistance of T.M.H.S. Chief Purser James M. Kidd in the preparation of the material for this feature.)
Answers to our "Turret Pilothouse" Quiz
In the October issue, we mentioned the virtual disappearance from the Great Lakes of the long-familiar turret-style forward cabin which once was sported by so many steamers. We included a small quiz to test our readers on their knowledge of current lake fleets, asking for the names of the last six operating vessels equipped with this type of forward cabin arrangement.
We hope that all of our readers enjoyed this little exercise. To put you all out of your misery (as far as the correct answers are concerned), there follows a listing of the six boats in order of their date of construction. It will be noted that three of them are still under U.S. registry, while the remaining three now fly the Canadian flag.
LAKEWOOD, (a) CHARLES M. WARNER (28), (b) MICHIGAN (56). (U.S.127752). Erie Sand Steamship Company. Sandsucker. Built 1903 at Chicago, Illinois, by the Chicago Shipbuilding Company.
J. B. FORD, (a) EDWIN F. HOLMES (l6), (b) E. C. COLLINS (59). (U.S.200666). Huron Cement Division, National Gypsum Company. Bulk cement carrier. Built 1904 at Lorain, Ohio, by the American Shipbuilding Company.
SYLVANIA, (a) SYLVANIA (14), (b) D. M. PHILBIN (29). (U.S .201840) . Columbia Transportation Division, Oglebay Norton Company. Self-unloading bulk carrier. Built 1905 at West Bay City, Michigan, by the West Bay City Shipbuilding Company.
PIERSON INDEPENDENT, (a) J. H. SHEADLE (I)(24), (b) F. A. BAILEY (30), (c) LaSALLE (II)(66), (d) MEAFORD (III)(79). (C325783). The Soo River Company. Straight-deck bulk carrier. Built 1906 at Ecorse, Michigan, by the Great Lakes Engineering Works.
BROOKDALE (II), (a) J. S. ASHLEY (62), (b) FRED A. MANSKE (II)(76). (C.370901). Westdale Shipping Ltd. Self-unloading bulk carrier. Built 1909 at Lorain, Ohio, by the American Shipbuilding Company.
JUDITH M. PIERSON, (a) WILLIAM A. AMBERG (32), (b) ALBERT E. HEEKIN (55), (c) SILVER BAY (75). (C.369249). The Soo River Company. Straight-deck bulk carrier. Built 1917 at Lorain, Ohio, by the American Shipbuilding Company.
We had thought that this little test might stump our members, but they have proven equal to the task. Our thanks and congratulations to all who submitted correct answers.
Questions from Florida
As our long-time readers will know, we frequently answer (or attempt to answer) enquiries of a marine nature which have been directed to us by members. It may take us a while to dig up the necessary information but we always try to reply, either in the pages of "Scanner", or by personal letter.
We recently received a letter from member James H. Ramay in which he made several requests for information about lakers and former lakers. Jim was for many years a resident of the Port Huron area, an avid boatwatcher who spent many long hours at the Huron Cut observing the vessel traffic. A few years back, health considerations forced him to move south and now he and his wife reside in Sun City Centre, Florida. He keeps a weather eye peeled for marine goings-on in the warmer climes and, without fail, reports to us any news of lakers which may come his way (and it is not unusual for certain vessels with which we are familiar to find their way to that area). We might have replied to Jim's letter by way of a personal answer, but we thought it preferable to do so in the pages of "Scanner", if for no other reason than to show how much we appreciate the continued support of members who can no longer take an active part in the activities of the Great Lakes area. Their interest is no less keen than is ours.
Jim asked about the present status of four ships, namely, EUGENE J. BUFFINGTON, W. F. WHITE, SARNIADOC (II) and HAMILDOC (II). The first of these is still owned by the United States Steel Corporation Great Lakes Fleet, and is presently laid up at Superior, Wisconsin. The BUFFINGTON, a veteran of 70 years, last operated in 1974. It is expected that she will be one of six more idle tinstackers which will be sold for scrapping in the near future, so there seems to be little chance that she will ever again see service for any operator.
W. F. WHITE, a self-unloader built in 1915, served many long years in the Bradley fleet. Sent to the east coast for a few seasons in the early sixties, she subsequently returned to the lakes and operated for U.S. Steel until she was sold to Westdale Shipping Ltd. in 1976. She now serves this company, the successor to the Reoch interests, as (b) ERINDALE and her normal run is in the stone trade from Colborne, Ontario, to Clarkson, a service which keeps her far out of range of her admirers' cameras.
SARNIADOC (II), a canal-sized motorship built at Collingwood in 1956, was sold for off-lakes use in 1976. As far as we are aware, she is still in service in the Caribbean under the name (b) COLORADAS. HAMILDOC (II), built at Lauzon in 1963, was sold in 1977 to the Tharros Navigation Company Ltd. of Monrovia, Liberia. At last report, she was still sailing as (b) THARROS.
Additional Marine News
PIERSON INDEPENDENT has had more than her share of troubles since she was reactivated in August by the Soo River Company. The most serious problem, however, developed at about 1:15 a.m. on October 28 when the 73-year-old steamer truck a shoal in the Brockville Narrows of the St. Lawrence River, about six miles west of Brockville. The vessel was removed from the shoal under her own power but was intentionally beached close to shore when it was found that she was taking water in her port ballast tanks.
On October 23 at about 7:30 a.m., the Welland Canal shunter test vessel MARINSAL rammed the approach wall below Lock Two, causing heavy damage and shifting one of the shunters out of position. MARINSAL was taken to drydock at Port Weller where, on October 24, a fire occurred when a welder's torch ignited oily material on the shunter.