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.
Friday, February 1st - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Movie Night. Program Chairman, Gordon Turner, has obtained for us several interesting marine films. More details in the January issue.
The Editor's Notebook
Those present for our November Meeting, and it was a good crowd, were treated to an excellent address and slide show by Alan Sykes. Al spoke of a number of trips he has taken aboard various lake freighters. We shall look forward to hearing more from him in the future!
In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to Helen Bridges of Toronto, to W. K. Matthews of Camlachie, to Terry Wood of Richmond, to Christopher Black, Edward Sallows and William E. Young, all of Goderich, to Scott McLellan of the Canadian Sault, to Roger Chapman of Hamilton, to Paul Jagenow of Detroit, to Archie Bradbury of Scarborough, and to Capt. Jack Sinnott of Thunder Bay.
While welcoming our new members, we would be remiss if we failed to mention the efforts of Member 283, Ronald Graham of Goderich, who has worked tirelessly to round up new members for the Society, and has signed up more recruits than we could have imagined possible. The Executive Committee of the Toronto Marine Historical Society wishes to extend to Ron its sincere appreciation for the work which he has done on our behalf.
Greetings of the Season
The 1979 navigation season has been an interesting one on the Great Lakes and we are pleased to have been a part of it by being able to report the various developments to our readers. There have been a number of serious accidents, some interesting sales and renamings of familiar vessels, and a few humourous incidents. We of the Toronto Marine Historical Society have enjoyed a good season of boatwatching and, although our job of observing the passing vessels is considerably easier than the task of owning or operating them, we feel that we have contributed our share in preserving a written and photographic record of what has taken place. Our only wish would be that we might have reversed the clock so that we could have accomplished the same task with the ships that were in operation a number of years ago, and for which the records are not as complete as we might have wished.
In any event, a great deal of credit is due our various members. Some of them are involved in the actual operation of lake vessels, either in the offices of various fleets or else aboard the ships themselves. Others have assisted us in the observation or photography of the boats, and still more have been regular correspondents of the Society, gathering news items for us and sending them in for inclusion in the pages of "Scanner".
We sincerely hope that, in 1980 and the years that follow, we will still be able to rely on the same invaluable support and contribution from our members. It is only through the combined co-operation of all that we are able to document the happenings, past and present, that make up the sometimes tenuous fabric of marine history.
But now, as the old year wanes and the ships scurry about with their last few cargoes of the season, our thoughts turn to winter and to the frozen expanses that our lake waters will become. The boats fight their way through abominable weather conditions to supply the stockpiles necessary for the steel mills and grain elevators to continue their operations during the winter months. The mists of winter gather over the cold waters and it is time to head for winter quarters.
It is impossible for us to send individual greetings to each and every member of our ever-growing group of friends and fellow historians. Accordingly, Your Editor and the entire Executive Committee of the Toronto Marine Historical Society would like to take this opportunity to wish each of you, together with your loved ones, a Merry and Blessed Christmas and all Happiness and Success in the New Year. May 1980 bring to all of us only the Best in all that we may do.
The career of the Soo River Company's newly-acquired PIERSON INDEPENDENT, the former MEAFORD, has come to an unexpected end. The Pierson interests reactivated the 73-year-old steamer during August, but she got off to a less than auspicious start and had more than her share of troubles in the two months that she operated.
Early on the morning of October 28, PIERSON INDEPENDENT rubbed bottom in the St. Lawrence River near the eastern end of Cornwall Island after inexplicably wandering out of the buoyed channel. She took water immediately in Number Six ballast tank on the port side aft and was intentionally beached close inshore at Long Beach, Ontario, a few miles west of Brockville. Several McAllister tugs attended at the scene immediately, including the big DANIEL McALLISTER. The barge MAPLEHEATH was summoned and she lightered a portion of the steamer's cargo of 11,500 tons of corn into E. J. NEWBERRY, this part of the cargo being then taken to Prescott. Finally, on the morning of October 31, PIERSON INDEPENDENT was freed and then towed a short distance upriver so that temporary repairs might be made. The INDEPENDENT then continued downriver en route to her original destination of Trois-Rivieres, Quebec.
Unfortunately, however, her troubles were not yet at an end, for she suffered a fire in her third cargo hold while in the Snell Lock of the Seaway. The fire is believed to have been of electrical origin but may have been accelerated by wetness in the corn cargo. Corn can be very dangerous if it gets damp, for then it heats up very quickly and spontaneous combustion can take place. As electrical communications with the forward end of the steamer were knocked out by the fire, she was towed downriver and finally arrived at Trois-Rivieres. Once the unloading operation was begun, however, it was ascertained that water had indeed entered the cargo holds and most of the corn was ruined. PIERSON INDEPENDENT then headed back upriver under her own power to Montreal and there the remainder of the cargo was unloaded for use as feed. PIERSON INDEPENDENT arrived at Port Weller under her own steam on November 11 and, the following day, was put on drydock in the shipyard. As the water level in the drydock dropped, it could immediately be seen how severely the old steamer was damaged.
It was ascertained that there was extensive injury not only to the bottom of the vessel but also to the port side plating and the gash was so deep that it penetrated right through into her holds. Steam was immediately dropped and her crew paid off. The tug G. W. ROGERS arrived at Port Weller on November 14 and towed PIERSON INDEPENDENT to Hamilton. She has not yet been sold but it is anticipated that she will probably be dismantled at Strathearne Terminals. Thus endeth the brief return to service of one of the most handsome vessels on the Great Lakes.
The Canada Steamship Lines self-unloader J. W. McGIFFIN paid a rare visit to Toronto Harbour on November 12, discharging a cargo of coal at the Richard L. Hearn generating plant. This Hydro facility was converted to burn gas a few years ago and now keeps a stockpile of coal for standby purposes only. The McGIFFIN was not originally scheduled to unload here, but rather at the Lakeview generating plant. Downbound in the Welland Canal on November 10, McGIFFIN sustained considerable damage when she sheered over into the west bank of the canal above Thorold after Bridge 10 suffered a power failure and failed to open for her. She ruptured her Number Five sidetank and took on sufficient water that her crew had a difficult time getting her down the canal, her draft being too great for the lock sills with that much water in her. She made it safely down the canal and set out on a course for Lakeview but had to be diverted to Toronto as a result of the unexpected closure of the Lakeview plant. The big Hydro generating facility lies on the southern edge of the City of Mississauga and, as most of North America will be aware, virtually the entire city was evacuated for the better part of a week because of the November 10 derailment and explosion of a train of railroad cars loaded with all sorts of noxious chemicals. McGIFFIN was drydocked at Port Weller for repairs after unloading her cargo at the Hearn plant.
This has not been a particularly good year for the vessels of Jadroplov, the Yugoslavian fleet which operates scheduled line service into the Great Lakes. Its motorvessel MAKARSKA was lost in a summer collision on salt water, and one of her sisters, SPLIT, has managed to get herself into trouble right in Toronto Harbour. On the evening of November 2nd, SPLIT departed her berth at Toronto's Pier 51, near the Eastern Gap, and headed down the ship channel for bunkers. She was assisted in this manoeuvre by the Waterman's Services tug TERRY S. Although the evening was not particularly windy, SPLIT took a sheer just as she was passing under the Cherry Street lift bridge and struck the span a glancing blow with her high flared bow. There was some damage to the ship but the old bridge got the worst of the deal; a sizable chunk was chopped out of its west railing and sidewalk, and one of the main beams was damaged. The bridge was left in the open position after the accident, for it was feared that it might not be possible to raise it again if it were brought down. Repairs were expected to take at least five weeks and all road traffic during that period was forced to take the long way around via the east end of the turning basin.
The small Shell Canada Ltd. tanker ARCTIC TRADER grounded on November 1st in the North Channel of Lake Huron near Strawberry Point, about three miles east of the town of Little Current. Tugs were sent to the scene to pull the ship free and oil-spill equipment was readied as a precaution. Fortunately, however, there was no escape of ARCTIC TRADER's cargo and the damage was not serious. No explanation of the stranding has been given.
We are now able to report further on the October 23 accident which brought the Welland Canal shunter test program to an abrupt end for the 1979 season. Upbound with her two shunters, MARINSAL struck the east wall below Lock Two, damaging herself and the bow shunter. The entire unit was taken to the shipyard at Port Weller for drydocking to remove the leaking forward shunter. On October 24, a welder's torch set fire to an oily rag on the deck of the shunter; the rag was thrown overboard and promptly ignited oil floating on top of the water in the bottom of the drydock. A rather nasty fire ensued but it was extinguished without damage either to MARINSAL or to the shunter.
In the November issue, we mentioned that the shunter test program would incorporate, during 1980, the use of a much larger vessel than MARINSAL in order to work out the details of how the shunters might be attached to the bow and stern of ships being escorted through the canal. The efforts of the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority to charter the large salty FEDERAL CLYDE for this purpose have not met with success and the S.L.S.A. is now arranging to charter a certain large laker instead. We hope that we will be able to report more on these arrangements in the near future.
The last trip of BLACK RIVER, mentioned in these pages last month, was not without excitement. On October 22, upbound in the Welland Canal and midway between Bridges 10 (Thorold South) and 11 (Allanburg), the venerable motorship suffered a loss of power in her main engine. The Seaway Authority alerted and held back all nearby traffic as a precaution against collision. Some two minutes later, BLACK RIVER was able to continue at half speed. Full speed was regained when the ship was in the area of Bridge 11 after a piece of rope had been secured to her camshaft! This makeshift repair held long enough that BLACK RIVER could report herself secured in the Marine Salvage Ltd. scrapyard at Ramey's Bend at 1535 hours on October 22, 1979, her career apparently at an end.
BLACK RIVER's new owner wasted little time in coming to the conclusion that the hull was fit for further service, even considering its advanced age. In very short order, the 1896-built former barge was sold to the Cayman Shipping Corporation, P.O. Box 309, Georgetown, Grand Cayman, and was re-registered in Panama under the name (d) TUXPANCLIFFE. A crew arrived on November 11 to begin fitting out the ship and it is to be assumed that the piece of rope on the camshaft was replaced by a more orthodox repair. It was hoped that TUXPANCLIFFE would be able to get under way before the end of that week, but she did not clear her fit-out berth at the old Law Stone dock in Humberstone until November 22. We are indeed pleased to know that BLACK RIVER has a few more years of life ahead of her, although we would have been happier to see her remain in operation on the lakes. Watching her leave for a new career in the Caribbean is, however, infinitely preferable to seeing her dismantled at Ramey's Bend.
All summer long, the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company Ltd. steamer HELEN EVANS lay on the south side of the Leslie Street slip in the Toronto turning basin, her operating life apparently at an end. Scrap bids were called for her in September and it was anticipated that she would shortly be hauled off for dismantling, probably at Hamilton. Instead, on November 1, HELEN EVANS was towed around to Victory Mills and loaded with a storage cargo of soya beans. The loading was completed over the following weekend and, early on November 5, EVANS was moved to a position across the end of Polson Street, it being evident that she will spend the winter there. Meanwhile, there have been suggestions that Victory Soya Mills Ltd. would like to purchase a lake freighter for storage purposes, the company's facilities at the foot of Parliament Street being incapable of handling all of the soya beans which are shipped to the elevator by boat and by truck. It is entirely possible that HELEN EVANS may be just what Victory Mills is looking for, and that she may find a permanent home here at Toronto.
In the November issue, we mentioned that SEAWAY TRADER, (a) IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD (79), had made a surprise visit to Toronto. Since then, she has been trading regularly on Lake Ontario, hauling many cargoes of furnace oil between Toronto and Kingston. It seems that her new owner may have reconsidered its earlier intention to operate the steam tanker on the east coast. For the benefit of those who keep records of such information, we should mention that SEAWAY TRADER is being operated by Shediac Bulk Shipping Ltd. of Moncton, New Brunswick, a firm managed by one Alonzo Landry.
SEAWAY TRADER's sistership, TEGUCIGALPA, (a) IMPERIAL LONDON (78), has also been much in the news recently. It will be recalled that this vessel was purchased by Honduran operators and, after much delay, she began fitting out during the latter part of 1978 for service in the Caribbean area. The Hondurans, however, seemed perpetually to be labouring under a severe shortage of folding green (or whatever colour Honduras banknotes are) and it became evident during 1979 that TEGUCIGALPA was going nowhere fast. It was feared that she would wind up on the scrap pile after she was repossessed by Marine Salvage Ltd. but, happily, this will not now be the case. She has been purchased by an affiliate of Ship Repairs and Supplies Ltd., Toronto, which presently is operating SECOLA, and will be refurbished for further service. She was towed into Toronto on November 14 by STORMONT and ARGUE MARTIN and is presently lying on the west wall of the turning basin. It was originally suggested that the steam tanker would operate during the coming winter on the Canadian east coast, but this would now appear to be unlikely. We have no word on a new name for TEGUCIGALPA.
The old forward end of ST. LAWRENCE NAVIGATOR was floated out of the drydock at Port Weller on October 21 and was secured alongside CANADIAN ENTERPRISE at the fit-out berth. Owned by the Newman Steel interests of St. Catharines, the severed bow section, known locally as "NEWMAN HULL", was towed up the Welland Canal on November 12 by the McKeil tugs STORMONT, ARGUE MARTIN and GLENSIDE. Its destination was Port Maitland, where it will be dismantled. ST. LAWRENCE NAVIGATOR will be refashioned this winter into a maximum-sized laker and will emerge from the yard in the spring as (c) CANADIAN NAVIGATOR.
As work progresses on the completion of Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd. Hull 65, the new self-unloader CANADIAN ENTERPRISE, and on HULL 66, the rebuilding of ST. LAWRENCE NAVIGATOR, word comes that the shipyard has yet another contract from Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. The yard's Hull 67 will be a self-unloader designed for deep-sea service, built to maximum canal dimensions, and scheduled for delivery in September 1981. She is to feature the same hull shape aft as CANADIAN ENTERPRISE, a configuration of the bottom intended to obtain greater thrust from a smaller engine than might otherwise be required to push such a large vessel.
The 1,000-foot self-unloader INDIANA HARBOR, owned by the American Steamship Company and operating for the Inland Steel Company since her commissioning in August, passed down through the Soo Canal early on October 16 and then anchored in the lower harbour for ballast adjustments. Somehow, she managed to run over one of her own bow anchors and punched a hole, two feet by three, in her bottom about twelve feet back from the bow. She was moved to an anchorage in Lake Nicolet, lightered, and then proceeded under her own power to her destination, Indiana Harbor, where she unloaded her cargo of taconite pellets.
In our last issue, we mentioned that the remains of WYCHEM 105, the former SAMUEL F. B. MORSE, had entered drydock at Sturgeon Bay for a further rebuilding. We have since learned that her hull has now been cut into two 72-foot barges by Bay Shipbuilding, although we do not know what will be done with these pieces of equipment. Although she will still be serving a useful purpose (of sorts), this is a sad comedown for the MORSE, once one of the most majestic freighters on the lakes. Built in 1898 by F. W. Wheeler and Company at West Bay City, Michigan (see the quiz elsewhere in this issue), she was a near-sister of DOUGLASS HOUGHTON and originally carried two tall stacks in tandem. Built for the Bessemer Steamship Company, she sailed for the Pittsburgh Steamship Company (United States Steel) through the 1953 season and was then sold to the Wyandotte Transportation Company for use as a barge. She saw little use and then languished for many years in the Roen boneyard at Sturgeon Bay. Her triple-deck forward cabin lay for many years in the Roen yard and may, in fact, still be there.
FORT HENRY has been operating regularly since her unexpected reactivation this autumn. Placed back in service to aid in the movement of unusually heavy package freight shipments and to assist during the absence of FORT WILLIAM, which was sent to the shipyard at Thunder Bay after her collision with the Detroit River Light, FORT HENRY departed her lay-up berth at Kingston on October 22 and was upbound in the Welland Canal on October 24.
It has been suggested that Bay Shipbuilding Corporation's Hull 723 may be christened CHICAGO by the American Steamship Company (Boland and Cornelius). Apart from boats with compound names, such as CHICAGO TRADER, CHICAGO TRIBUNE and CHICAGO SOCONY, there has not been a major lake vessel bearing the name of the Lake Michigan city itself since the Great Lakes Transit Corporation's package freighter CHICAGO was lost by stranding back in 1929.
With the loss of PIERSON INDEPENDENT, the Soo River Company has been seeking replacement tonnage. Despite other rumours (which may themselves be more truth than fiction), it now seems evident that Pierson is in the act of completing a deal with Kinsman for the purchase of GEORGE D. GOBLE, a vessel which was, earlier this year, said to be nearing the end of her career in Steinbrenner colours. We understand that GOBLE will soon be making her way to an unspecified Canadian port for winter lay-up and for certain much-needed work. GOBLE, a 588-foot, 1924-built product of the Toledo Shipbuilding Company, should look very good in Soo River colours.
It was only a bit more than two weeks after the accident to PIERSON INDEPENDENT that another laker got into trouble in the same stretch of the St. Lawrence River. At 6:33 p.m. on Tuesday, November 13. the Paterson bulk carrier VANDOC (II), (a) SIR DENYS LOWSON (79), en route from Port Colborne to Baie Comeau with 13,000 tons of grain, ran hard aground on Harvey Island in the Brockville Narrows, some six kilometres west of Brockville. VANDOC did not obstruct the shipping channel but, although she was about 500 feet out from shore, her stem was lodged squarely against the rocky edge of the island. She punched two holes in her bow during the accident and, as she was making water forward, her engine was kept turning over slowly to hold her solidly aground. Tugs were dispatched to the scene and the old lighter MAPLEHEATH was called upon to remove part of VANDOC's cargo. The ship was still aground on November 15 but it was expected that she would be refloated shortly. VANDOC, of course, was only purchased by N. M. Paterson and Sons Ltd., Thunder Bay, from Algoma Central Marine in July of this year.
- Another T.M.H.S. Quiz -
Together with an Adventure in Marine History and Trivia
HENRY A HAWGOOD seen in W. A. & A.H. Hawgood's Acme Transit Co. colours in a 1909 photo by A. E. Young, is mentioned in our December quiz. What is her involvement?Our October quiz on the subject of turret pilothouses was obviously far too easy for all of our knowledgeable readers, for we were inundated with correct answers. In an effort to make T.M.H.S. members work a bit harder for their laurels, Alan W. Sweigert of Cleveland has come up with something a trifle more interesting. We present it here, along with a few additions of our own, in the hope that our readers will enjoy working out the answers.
We delve this time into the history of Great Lakes shipbuilders and, in particular, some of the shipyards which have long since ceased to operate but whose art is still represented by a last few remaining examples. In most cases, we are looking for the names of vessels which saw active service during 1979. although there are a few exceptions and these are all specially noted accordingly. We have not included any ships which remained idle through the 1979 season awaiting scrapping, nor tugs, nor hulls which have been reduced to scows, breakwaters, dock facings, etc.
1. One of the best-known lake shipyards in the years immediately prior to the turn of the century was that of F. W. Wheeler and Company of West Bay City, Michigan. Two Wheeler boats were still in service in 1979 and one of them was also the last operating survivor of the company which originally owned her, the Bessemer Steamship Company. Name her.
2. Identify the motorvessel, registered in the United States, which is the other remaining example of F. W. Wheeler's work.
3. F. W. Wheeler and Company became insolvent in 1898, due to a strike of its workers, and was unable to complete construction of several vessels which had been ordered by Rockefeller's Bessemer Steamship Company. Rockefeller advanced a considerable amount of money to Wheeler in order to finance the purchase of engines for the ships so that the order could be completed. The American Shipbuilding Company was formed in March of 1898 and, in June of the same year, the Wheeler yard cast its lot in with AmShip. The result was the formation of the West Bay City Shipbuilding Company which was operated as a subsidiary of AmShip. Two steamers built by West Bay City are still in operation, both for American fleets. Can you name them? If so, how about another which has served as a storage barge for sixteen years?
4. The American Shipbuilding Company, which still operates shipyards at Lorain, Toledo and South Chicago, built many hulls at Cleveland during the early years of this century. The yard was reactivated for the construction of the Maritime Class (L6-S-A1) steamers BELLE ISLE (now CHAMPLAIN) and JOHN T. HUTCHINSON in 1942 and 1943. We would like the names of the last two self-propelled freighters surviving from the earlier years of AmShip's Cleveland yard. If you can identify them, try for the names of three other boats, one now operating as a major cargo barge and two being used as grain storage hulls at a Canadian port. And if you can name this trio, reach for the name of a passenger steamer, now idle, but for which there have been certain as-yet-unsuccessful plans of reactivation.
5. Another old shipyard is still represented by two operating reminders of its work, this being the Cleveland Shipbuilding Company. One of its survivors is the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway's steam tug EDNA G., built in 1896 and still in service at Two Harbors, Minnesota. Name the other vessel which, incidentally, is powered by the last active triple-expansion engine on the Great Lakes.
6. The Chicago Shipbuilding Company constructed many fine steamers but only one is still in active service. Name her, if you can, and then see if you can identify another example of the company's work, a boat which is presently in use as a storage hull at an American port.
7. During 1979, there remained in service only one vessel built at Superior, Wisconsin, by the Superior Shipbuilding Company. Now a member of one of the newer Canadian fleets, she was one of four nearly-identical ships, all built at different yards, which were the largest on the lakes at the time of their construction. Identify her and then give us the name of another of the yard's hulls, a smaller boat which did not run in 1979, nor for the past several years, but which is presently being rebuilt for a return to service in 1980.
8. The Detroit Shipbuilding Company operated a very busy shipyard at Wyandotte, Michigan, for many years. Two steamers which were built on its ways are now amongst the oldest vessels operating under the Canadian flag. Which are they? One further Wyandotte-built steamer "operated" in 1979 with other than her own power and using compressed air to run her winches and blow her steam whistle. Who is she and what was she doing?
9. Only two ships were built at Erie, Pennsylvania, by Erie Marine Inc. before the yard was closed. Both survive in U.S. fleets. Name these boats and tell us which parts of them were built at Erie.
This little test should give our fellow historians something to exercise their memories and their capabilities as detectives. Perhaps, also, it will keep them busy during the coming holiday season. Look for the answers in the January issue, and for further brain-teasers of this type in future issues.
We extend our special thanks to Al. Sweigert for his consideration and special effort in making up this quiz for us.
Ship of the Month No. 88
Some few years ago, we featured in these pages an article entitled "Steamboat to Hamilton". In it, we recounted the history of the Hamilton Steamboat Company Ltd. and the Turbine Steamship Company Ltd., the two major operators of passenger services between Toronto and Hamilton. In view of the passage of time since that history appeared in "Scanner", and the availability of certain additional information, we felt that the time was right for us to feature the life of one of the most famous passenger vessels ever to sail the waters of Lake Ontario. What follows is the result, and we hope that our readers will enjoy the narrative.
The Hamilton Steamboat Company Ltd. was formed in 1887 at Hamilton, its purpose being to operate passenger services on the bay which forms Hamilton Harbour. The principals in the formation of the company were members of the Tuckett and Griffith families, with whom Philip J. Peer was also associated. The first president of the company was T.B. Griffith, who served in this capacity until his death in 1893. He was succeeded by M. Leggatt, who was president for many years. The original managing director was J.B. Griffith, and G.T. Tuckett served as secretary and treasurer.
The first vessel owned by the H.S.B.Co. was the wooden 101-foot double-deck propellor MAZEPPA, which had been built at Toronto in 1884 by Melancthon Simpson for the Toronto Island ferry service. MAZEPPA was severely damaged by fire in Toronto's Esplanade Conflagration of August 3, 1885, but she was later rebuilt and, in 1887, was purchased by the Hamilton Steamboat Company for use as a ferry between Hamilton and Burlington Beach, the strand which separates the bay from Lake Ontario. Today, Burlington Beach is primarily a residential area, but at one time it was a noted bathing and amusement area to which Hamiltonians fled during the hot days of summer. The Hamilton Bay ferry service was of longer duration than might have been expected, for it continued into the 1950s despite the availability of access by roadway.
Along with the barge ARK, "rabbit" CLINTON, and the larger ACADIA, MACASSA reposes in Muir's pond, Port Dalhousie. Photo by Traill was taken prior to 1896.MAZEPPA ran at Hamilton until she was sold in 1900, but she had scarcely begun service when her owners began to aspire to bigger and better things, eyeing the lucrative passenger trade between Toronto and Hamilton. As Scottish shipbuilders were known for the quality of their products, it is not surprising that the H.S.B.Co. turned to a Clyde shipyard for the vessel with which they would enter Lake Ontario trade. The order for the steel-hulled, screw-driven steamer was given to William Hamilton and Company of Glasgow and, in due course, construction of the vessel was begun.
The new steamer was 155.0 feet in length, 24.1 feet in the beam, and 16.3 feet in depth, her tonnage (and we will comment more on this later) being 574 Gross, 459 Net. Her twin screws were driven by two triple-expansion engines, built by Kemp of Glasgow, with cylinders of 11, 18 and 29 inches and a stroke of 22 inches, steam being provided by one coal-fired Scotch boiler, 12.6 feet by 10.9 feet. She ran her trials on the Clyde and, in due course, was accepted by H.S.B.Co. Registered at Hamilton and enrolled as C.93932, she was christened MACASSA. This was to become a very famous name on Lake Ontario in the following years, but we have absolutely no idea why the name was chosen for the steamer nor what its significance may have been. It may have had some particular meaning for the Griffiths and the Tucketts or, perhaps, it may simply have been chosen for its resemblance to the name of the company's other boat; the name MAZEPPA, of course, was not of the company's choosing but came with her when she was acquired. As it developed, the only three ships H.S.B.Co. ever owned all bore names beginning with the letter 'M' and ending with 'A'.
In any event, MACASSA sailed from Glasgow and crossed the Atlantic under her own power. She was commanded for the trip by Captain Charles B. Hardy, who brought her into Hamilton on the morning of June 7, 1888. He was to remain in MACASSA for her first year of service and, thereafter, the ship was commanded by a succession of famous Lake Ontario skippers, among them being Captains John Irving, Crawford, Maddicks, Robert Cooney, Henderson, Goodwin, Staunton, William Zealand, Parkinson and, of course, Captain George J. Corson who was in her for many years and stayed until her Lake Ontario service came to an end.
MACASSA proved to be a very suitable ship for her route, and a good-looking one in the bargain. She had very fine lines and a pleasing sheer, her hull being remarkably slender and boasting a graceful counter stern. Her main deck was entirely enclosed but the promenade deck was almost completely open, there being only a small cabin which provided little shelter. The pilothouse, a quaint but beautiful structure with angled sides and large round-topped windows, was carried forward on the boat deck, but there were originally no quarters for the officers in this area. Her one tall mast, which emerged from the promenade deck forward of the pilothouse, was well raked, as was the tall and slender smokestack. In those days, of course, it was virtually unknown for a ship to carry a liner inside the stack and it was not uncommon for the heat of the funnel to set fire to the upper decks. A gentleman, who served in MACASSA during her early years, later recalled that he was frequently set to work playing a stream of water from a hose onto the stack in order to prevent the ignition of the surrounding woodwork.
MACASSA was so successful that, in 1889, the company took delivery of yet another Glasgow-built steamer, the somewhat larger MODJESKA. If the order had gone to William Hamilton and Company, the H.S.B.Co. might have found itself with a ship as suitable as MACASSA. Instead, however, the contract was let to another shipbuilder. While MACASSA was a flyer, known for her fast passages, MODJESKA was slow and lumbering, a boat that stumbled from accident to accident throughout her Lake Ontario years. Heavy, box-like, and anything but a graceful or pretty ship, MODJESKA had almost no sheer and continually rode with a pronounced list.
As mismatched as the two boats were, they ran together between Toronto and Hamilton for many years. At first, MACASSA and MODJESKA called at Lorne Park, Oakville, and Burlington Beach en route, but these stops were later dropped from the schedule. The steamers were readily recognizable by their colours, their hulls being black to the level of the main deck, cabins white, and stacks white with a black smokeband. There were minor variations in these colours, but they remained basically the same until corporate changes began to take effect in the new century.
Things changed for the Hamilton Steamboat Company in 1904, for that was the year that the newly-formed Turbine Steamship Company Ltd. placed in service its big turbine-powered dayboat TURBINIA. The two lines were soon locked in a desperate battle for the patronage of potential passengers and, as a result, it was decided to make MACASSA more of a match for the modern TURBINIA. In 1905, MACASSA was lengthened to 178.4 feet at Collingwood by the Collingwood Shipbuilding Company Ltd., the new piece being inserted in the vessel between the pilothouse and the stack, forward of the machinery. Increased cabin space was provided on the promenade deck and officers' quarters were constructed on the boat deck behind the pilothouse. A new mainmast was added aft, and the foremast was relocated between the pilothouse and the stack, a much more modern arrangement.
After the lengthening, both the Canadian List of Shipping and Lloyds Register showed her tonnage as 529 Gross and 234 Net. We have no idea how MACASSA's tonnage could have decreased when she was lengthened by 23 feet, but these statistics serve only to show that "official" records can often confuse the historian. We suspect that the original tonnage measurements are not correct, for although the American Bureau of Shipping (1900) indicated her Gross Tonnage to be 574, the 1892 Lloyds reported it as 363 "New Tons".
MACASSA's lengthening may have increased her carrying capacity and given her a more impressive appearance, but it did nothing to improve her qualities as a sea boat. She had never been blessed with an overabundance of beam and now her ratio of width to length was considerably reduced. As a result, MACASSA developed the nasty habit of rolling heavily in even a moderate sea, a characteristic which did not endear her to passengers over the following years. Indeed, her tendency to roll may well have been a factor in the ultimate loss of the steamer twenty-three years later.
The H.S.B.Co. held its own in the cut-throat competition with TURBINIA until January 15, 1909, at which time control of the company passed to the Eaton family interests. The Eatons were, and still are, the proprietors of one of Toronto's largest and most distinguished department stores and, interestingly enough, also controlled the Turbine Steamship Company. Despite the common ownership, the Eatons made no attempt to amalgamate the operations of the two steamship companies.
In 1911, the H.S.B.Co. and the T.S.S.Co. were both swallowed up by the Niagara Navigation Company Ltd. which operated passenger services between Toronto and the Niagara River ports. MODJESKA, MACASSA and TURBINIA all continued to operate as before, however, the new management making no changes in the Hamilton service. During 1912, Niagara Navigation itself was merged into the larger Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company Ltd. and, on June 11, 1913, the R & O, together will all of its divisions, was merged into the newly-formed Canada Transportation Company Ltd., Montreal. The name of the new company was soon changed to Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. All three of the Hamilton boats stayed on their original routes but adopted the now-familiar C.S.L. colours.
The only change in operation for MACASSA during this period was that, late in the summer of 1912, she ran a special service from Cobourg, Port Hope, Bowmanville, and Oshawa to Toronto in order to ferry passengers to and from Toronto's Canadian National Exhibition. Then, when C. S.L. acquired the picnic park at Grimsby, a town located on the south shore of Lake Ontario between Hamilton and Port Dalhousie, MACASSA was the regular boat running to Grimsby from Toronto. When C.S.L. eventually disposed of MACASSA, the Toronto-Hamilton-Grimsby service was totally abandoned. Incidentally, Grimsby always provided a source of cargo revenue, even during the years before the formation of C.S.L. The town lies right in the middle of the Niagara fruit-growing district, and MACASSA frequently called there to pick up shipments of the produce of the Niagara orchards and vineyards.
MACASSA was a reliable steamer and became very well known around the western end of the lake. In fact, she was often the first boat out in the spring, frequently vying with DALHOUSIE CITY for the honour of being the first ship to arrive at Toronto, the winner carrying off the Harbourmaster's ceremonial top hat. Two examples of her early arrivals at Toronto were recorded on March 6, 1919 and March 30, 1925, both under the command of Captain Corson. As a matter of interest, we might note that the "interim return fare" in effect for MACASSA's first trip of the 1925 season was the princely sum of fifty cents.
MACASSA and MODJESKA ran together in C.S.L. colours through the 1924 season, but that year was a particularly unfortunate one for the hapless MODJESKA. She suffered two serious accidents and was laid up before the season had reached its mid-point. MODJESKA lay idle until 1926 and was then sold to the Owen Sound Transportation Company Ltd. which ran her as a dayboat on Georgian Bay in 1926 and then converted her to an overnight passenger and freight boat for the service between Owen Sound and Sault Ste. Marie. Her appearance was greatly changed in the rebuild and, renamed MANITOULIN, she managed to cast aside the reputation which she had built for herself on Lake Ontario.
MACASSA prepares to land at the foot of Yonge Street, Toronto. Photo, courtesy of Robert L. Campbell, appears to date from 1927, her last year of Lake Ontario service.MACASSA ran the Toronto-Hamilton route alone in 1927 but the patronage of the service was dropping rapidly, primarily because of the road link between the two cities. MACASSA was used briefly as the official boat for the Wrigley Marathon Swim off the C.N.E. grounds at Toronto late in the summer and then returned to her usual route. At the close of the 1927 season, MACASSA was laid up on the west side of the Bay Street slip, Toronto, and the Hamilton service came to a close. During the winter, she, too, was sold to the Owen Sound Transportation Company Ltd. and, while in winter quarters, was converted into a nightboat in much the same manner as had been MODJESKA before her.
When she emerged from her transformation and headed northwards to take on her new duties, MACASSA was greatly changed. She had been given passenger cabins which extended out to the sides of the ship on the promenade deck and her quaint old pilothouse had disappeared, replaced by a much larger round-fronted structure. She also sported two new masts.
Renamed (b) MANASOO, the forty-year-old steamer commenced her first trip under the colours of the Owen Sound Transportation Company on April 22, 1928. She operated mainly between Owen Sound and Sault Ste. Marie via the "Turkey Trail", the route through the North Channel between the upper shore of Lake Huron and Manitoulin Island. She carried many passengers but she was particularly useful for the carriage of supplies to and from the small ports she visited. As well, her freight deck was usually well filled with the produce of the area farms and one of her principal cargoes was local cattle being shipped to market. Nevertheless, while MANITOULIN was to have a long and distinguished career for her new owner, MANASOO was to have no such luck. In fact, she was to operate for less than five months before her tragic loss.
On September 14, 1928, MANASOO cleared the small port of Manitowaning, on Manitoulin Island, bound for her home port of Owen Sound with a crew of twenty, two passengers, and 116 head of cattle. The tourist season, such as it was back then, was long since over and the passengers were likely local residents rather than sightseers. During the night, a considerable sea developed and, by this time, MANASOO was out of the North Channel and onto open water. At about 2:00 a.m. on September 15th, the steamer began to list to port, apparently because of the movement of the cattle on the freight deck. Although efforts were made to adjust the ship's trim, the list increased and the rest of the cattle and other freight began to shift over to the low port side. Finally, before daybreak, while MANASOO was off Griffiths Island in Georgian Bay, the list became so great that her starboard bilge lifted clear out of the water. MANASOO began to take on water through the freight doors and other openings on the port side, lay over on her beam ends, and finally foundered.
One passenger, together with five of the crew, including the master and the chief engineer, escaped from the sinking MANASOO and took refuge on a life raft. With the exception of the engineer, who died from exposure, all were rescued some thirteen hours later by the C.P.R. steamer MANITOBA which, diverted from her course, steamed back and forth through the wreckage searching for survivors. Others from MANASOO's crew, believed to have left the sinking ship in lifeboats, were lost, victims of the autumn gale and the cold waters.
The loss of MANASOO was the most lamentable disaster of the 1928 navigation season. Seventeen persons lost their lives, 116 good head of cattle perished, much freight was scattered about the surface of Georgian Bay, and a good steamer, in only her fifth month of service for her owner, was lost. The sinking of MANASOO was all the more regrettable in that it was probably due in great part to the heat of the competition between the Hamilton Steamboat Company and the Turbine Steamship Company back in 1904 and 1905. That competition had forced the H.S.B.Co. to lengthen a boat which could not take the extra length on her narrow beam, and which might best have been left as she was when she came from her builder's yard on the River Clyde back in 1888.
William C. Warren Revisited
We have had tremendous response to our feature on the canaller WILLIAM C. WARREN which appeared in the November issue. We had always considered the WARREN to be our "favourite" canal steamer and, indeed, Ye Ed. remembers with considerable pleasure the number of times he watched this handsome boat as she made her way up and down the Welland Canal. Little did we realize that so many of our readers who knew the WARREN felt the same way. This is pure nostalgia at its heartfelt best!
One of our readers wrote as follows: " To my eye, she was always the best-looking of the postwar 'Eastern' fleet. The way her cargo booms were angled, fore and aft shallow, midship deep, was unique. She was always much cleaner than the Upper Lakes canallers. I cannot remember the number of times that I have thrown a heaving line down to her deck to pull a mooring line up to the lock wall, or taken a line from a mate as she entered Lock One downbound, or put up the bridges at Locks One and Eight for her to pass underneath."
Another member has written to say that his father was chief engineer on the WARREN for her entire time with the Beaconsfield fleet. He goes on to say that, when she sailed from Collingwood in the autumn of 1948 after being repaired from her grounding, she was painted in the colours of the Mohawk Navigation Company Ltd., another of the fleets managed by Robert A. Campbell of Montreal. He states that the new stack was placed on WARREN at Portsmouth during the winter of 1948-49 and that it was at this time that she was painted in Beaconsfield colours. He should know, because he was aboard her as she fitted out for the 1949 season. Interestingly enough, he mentions that her crew always referred to the WARREN as "the Jersey Cow", presumably because of her colours whilst in Beaconsfield service.
We are always pleased when one of our articles stimulates such a response. It is good to know that others think of some of the old steamboats in the same manner as do we.
Additional Marine News
Another major accident of the fall season occurred on November 22nd, when the 56-year-old Cleveland-Cliffs steamer FRONTENAC, bound for the Reserve Mining Company dock for a load of taconite, missed the channel at the entrance to the harbour at Silver Bay. In heavy weather, and with a marker light extinguished, FRONTENAC went hard aground on a rocky shoal near Pellet Island, just inside the breakwater. The pounding caused cracks to open in the ship's bottom and side plating and she took on considerable water. Part of her crew was removed but later was allowed to return. FRONTENAC was refloated on November 24 and was taken to the dock at Silver Bay for inspection and temporary repair. She sailed for Duluth on November 29, making the trip under her own power but accompanied by her sistership PONTIAC and the tug PENINSULA. Once at Superior, she was examined by Fraser Shipyards crews and was found to be damaged beyond economical repair. It is to be assumed that she will be scrapped, but we understand that her engine may be removed for further use.
The high winds which struck the lakes during November played particular havoc with the large fleet of salties anchored off Port Weller, awaiting upbound passage through the Welland Canal. The Italian ANDORA was blown aground on November 16 but was soon released with little damage. Less fortunate was the Greek SARONIC SEA, which dragged her hook on November 16 and wound up hard aground on a shale ledge some 400 feet off the foot of Geneva Street, St. Catharines. She was in such shallow water that tugs were having difficulties getting close enough to attempt salvage, and this situation was worsened when the ship's own misguided efforts to free herself resulted in her being pushed even further towards shore. She was still hard aground on December 2, with ground tackle being rigged in a last-ditch effort to free the boat in time for her to leave the lakes before the closing of the canals. Some of her crew had been sent home after certain unpleasantness aboard required the attendance of the constabulary. We rather suspect that SARONIC SEA will be spending the winter ashore.
The autumn of 1979 has not been kind to the Soo River Company. Not only did PIERSON INDEPENDENT come to grief in the St. Lawrence, but PIERSON DAUGHTERS and the Yugoslav freighter JABLANICA collided on the river near Alexandria Bay, N.Y., on November 25. The DAUGHTERS suffered minor bow damage, but the salty was more seriously wounded and was grounded on Broadway Shoal, blocking traffic in the process. JABLANICA lost some fuel in the accident and a boom was placed around her. None of the persons aboard either ship sustained injury.
An unusual visitor to Wallaceburg was the Q & O motorship FRANQUELIN (II), which arrived on November 15 to load corn for Prescott. The needs of the St. Clair Grain and Feed terminal are normally served by the Paterson canaller TROISDOC (III), but a backlog of corn to be shipped and the need to find out how much dredging will be necessary to keep open the channel to Wallaceburg, prompted FRANQUELIN's call. She was assisted up and down the river by the Sandrin Bros. tug GLENADA out of Sarnia. The local press described FRANQUELIN as the largest boat ever to visit Wallaceburg, but this is not so. It is thought that this record properly belongs to the late Columbia Transportation self-unloader BEN E. TATE.
On November 1, the upperworks of the Great Lakes Towing Company's tug AMERICA were destroyed by fire whilst the tug lay at Detroit. AMERICA has since been taken to the company's Cleveland yard, but there are no immediate plans to refit her. AMERICA is older than many observers realize, for she was built back in 1897. She took on her present appearance in a 1950 reconstruction.
The hull of the 1897-built sandsucker and former passenger boat S. M. DOUGLAS, (a) WHITE STAR (49) , last operated by the Simpson Sand Company Ltd., has recently been used as a breakwater by the yacht club at Brockville, Ontario. During the autumn, the hull was raised, having been purchased by an R. Mcintosh. Early on November 13, she was taken in tow by two local tugs and was moved to Ivy Lea. It is not yet clear whether she will be broken up or, perhaps, used as a breakwater in the Kingston area. The hull is said to be in very good condition despite its advanced age.
Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. has ordered from Collingwood Shipyards a 730-foot self-unloader with full deep-sea capabilities and special ice-navigation equipment. The keel of the $34-million vessel will be laid in October of 1980 and she is to be delivered to C.S.L. late in 1981.
Late information indicates that GEORGE D. GOBLE is to arrive at Hamilton on December 12 for the winter, laying up without storage cargo. Much work is to be done on her during the winter. There are, however, no immediate plans to convert her to oil fuel and she will, therefore, be the only coal-fired laker operating under the Canadian flag in 1980.
The end has come for the 3179-ton passenger and freight motorship FEDERAL PALM which was built in 1961 by Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd. Along with her Vickers-built sistership, FEDERAL MAPLE, the PALM was presented by the Canadian government to the British West Indies Federation for Caribbean service. In 1972, she was sold to the Nauru government and was renamed CENPAC ROUNDER for South Pacific service. During the night of March 27-28, she was caught in Cyclone Meli and was driven ashore on Votualailai reef near Western Samoa. She was refloated on April 27 but was damaged beyond economical repair. Accordingly, she was sold to the Yuham Sangsa Company for scrapping; clearing Nauru on May 16, she was scheduled to arrive at Busan on June 6.
Scrapping of the U.S. Steel steamer WILLIAM P. PALMER had progressed to the mid-point at the Hyman-Michaels yard, Duluth, by mid-November. Next in line to be scrapped is the venerable but beautiful JAMES A. FARRELL, once flagship of the Pittsburgh Steamship Company. Other tinstackers being dismantled are WILLIAM B. SCHILLER, RICHARD TRIMBLE and PERCIVAL ROBERTS JR.