Friday, November 7th - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. TRILLIUM Night. We will present a special film, "TRILLIUM - Affectionately Yours" (directed by Brian Hibb) as well as some interesting comment.
Friday, December 5th - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Film Night. We will see three films including, courtesy of member John Lang and Cunard Line, an uncut version of the spectacular "Twilight of an Era".
The Editor's Notebook
T.M.H.S. MEMBERSHIP FEES ARE NOW DUE AND PAYABLE. Fees for the 1980-81 season have been held at the $10 level, but this is the last year that such a bargain will be available. Costs are fast outstripping our resources and an increase will be unavoidable next year. As it is, the cost of printing and postage already precludes the sending of individual renewal notices. In order that we might remain solvent, we ask for your early remittance addressed to our Chief Purser, James M. Kidd, 83 Humberview Road, Toronto, Ontario, M6S 1W9. THIS IS THE LAST ISSUE THAT WILL BE SENT TO THOSE WHO DO NOT RENEW THEIR MEMBERSHIPS.
As we begin our thirteenth volume of "Scanner", we wish to extend a special word of thanks to all of our regular and faithful correspondents who keep us supplied with news and comment. Without their assistance, we could not produce this newsletter.
In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to Barry Page, to W. Chapman, to Gordon J. Kaitting, and to Malcolm Campbell, all of Goderich, to James D. Bell of Long Sault, to James White of Grimsby, to Donald Hillderbrand of Clinton, and to Rob Sharik of St. Catharines.
The three "Red Tomatoes" bid farewell to the lakes, downbound in the Welland Canal with SALVAGE MONARCH and HELEN M. McALLISTER. THOMAS F. PATTON at Allanburgh, August 14. Photo by the Editor.All three of the Republic Steel Corporation's converted C-4s have now left the lakes. First to go was THOMAS F. PATTON, which was fetched from Toledo by SALVAGE MONARCH and HELEN M. McALLISTER and passed down the Welland Canal on August 14. The same tugs returned to pick up CHARLES M. WHITE and TOM M. GIRDLER from Lorain, WHITE going down the Welland on August 25 and GIRDLER on September 4. PATTON and WHITE left Quebec in tandem tow of the tug FAIRPLAY IX on September 8 while GIRDLER cleared on September 16 behind HANSEAT and, although their official clearance report showed a destination of "Spain for Scrap", there have been persistent rumours that they may actually be destined for operation under the flag of Pakistan. If true, this would explain why all three ships left the lakes with all of their equipment intact. The only major items removed were one nameboard each from WHITE and GIRDLER and the triple-chime steam whistle from PATTON. Relief was expressed by all when it was noted that this latter relic, a veteran of many years on J. E. UPSON, had been removed and would remain in the area. We would be interested in knowing where the whistle went and whether it will be placed on display.
CHARLES M. WHITE at Port Colborne, August 25. Photo by J. H. Bascom.The gradual exodus from the lakes of the flock of tinstackers sold in 1980 for scrapping continues, whilst D. M. CLEMSON and THOMAS F. COLE await the torch at Thunder Bay. J. P. MORGAN JR. and EUGENE J. BUFFINGTON passed down the St. Mary's River on July 15 bound for Milwaukee where they were to load scrap but, by July 27, BUFFINGTON was at Port Huron, not loaded, and moored at the Malcolm tug dock. On August 5, DARRYL C. HANNAH and BARBARA ANN took ALVA C. DINKEY down the Soo Canal and she, also, went to Milwaukee. Next to go was GOVERNOR MILLER, which was down the Soo on August 14, also bound for Milwaukee. Also on August 14, during the evening, DARRYL C. HANNAH appeared off the Port Colborne piers, seeking downbound transit of the Welland Canal with the loaded MORGAN JR. in tow. The Seaway Authority denied passage to the tow because of its improper condition and MORGAN was taken around to Buffalo where she was moored pending clearance.
TOM M. GIRDLER at Bridge 5, September 4. Photo by James M. Kidd.On August 22, ALVA C. DINKEY was anchored in the St. Clair River at Recor's Point with BARBARA ANN and TUG MALCOLM in attendance. The following day, BUFFINGTON passed down the river with BARBARA ANN and PAUL E. NO. 1. Not long thereafter, DINKEY came downriver with TUG MALCOLM and BARBARA ANN. The tows were anchored near the Detroit River Light and, in due course, DINKEY was taken to Buffalo and moored there with MORGAN JR. BUFFINGTON passed down the Welland Canal during the night of August 26-27 with BARBARA ANN on the bow and STORMONT and PAUL E. NO. 1 on the stern. The latter tug returned upbound once the tow was on Lake Ontario and ARGUE MARTIN assisted to Montreal. At last report, BUFFINGTON was still at Montreal, awaiting a tow to Lauzon for a scrap cargo for overseas delivery. MORGAN JR. passed down the Welland on September 5 with BARBARA ANN, STORMONT and ARGUE MARTIN, also bound for Montreal.
Then, on September 14, GOVERNOR MILLER was observed moored at Malcolm's dock at Port Huron, light and awaiting downbound tow. She had encountered trouble downbound on Lake Huron in tow on September 9 when she began to take in water through a ruptured seacock in the engineroom. Massey Marine came to her aid the following day and pumped her out. On September 15, the tug TUSKER left her Toronto dock en route to Duluth where she was to take D. G. KERR in tow for the haul straight out through the Seaway (and perhaps all the way to Spain). KERR, the last boat involved in the scrap sale, had previously been moved from Duluth to the Northern Pacific dock at Allouez and then back to the Hyman-Michaels dock at Duluth where she loaded scrap. By the end of September, it was evident that KERR was on the move but that the other scrap tows of tinstackers had been frozen as a result of an injunction granted to Malcolm Marine for the alleged non-payment of towage fees.
EDGAR B. SPEER, the newest boat of the U.S. Steel fleet, ran sea trials on August 26 and again on September 3 and 17. It was anticipated that she would enter service in late September, at which time several of the LEON FRASER class of "Supers" might either be laid up or sent down the Seaway with grain.
Collingwood Shipyards Ltd. has been very busy in recent years with new construction. The welter of orders awarded to the yard has produced much confusion for historians and, to keep the record straight, there follows a list of hulls presently on order or recently delivered:
218 - NANTICOKE, C.S.L., self-unloader. Delivered June 1980.
219 - ALGOWOOD, Algoma Central, self-unloader. To be launched October 1980.
220 - POINTE SEPT-ILES, Eastern Canada Towing, tug. Delivered 1980.
221 - CARTIERCLIFFE HALL, Hall Corp., rebuild only. Delivered 1980.
222 - C.S.L., self-unloader. Delivery June 1982.
223 - Nipigon Transports Ltd., straight-deck bulker. Delivery July 1981.
224 - Algoma Central, self-unloader. Delivery August 1983. Bow and stern to be built at Collingwood and joined at Thunder Bay to midsection built there.
225 - C.S.L., self-unloader. Delivery September 1983.
226 - Algoma Central, straight-deck bulker. Delivery July 1982.
227 - C.S.L. straight-deck bulker. Delivery April 1984.
228 - C.S.L. self-unloader. Delivery April 1985.
The last two entries on the list are a complete surprise, especially the straight-decker. As we understand it, they are only tentative at present, confirmation of the orders being abeyanced pending word from Ottawa concerning possible changes in shipbuilding subsidies.
On October 7, Collingwood will launch the newest Algoma Central self-unloader (one of three hulls currently on order for A.C.R., two self-unloaders and one straight-decker). It was originally suggested that she be christened either ALGOSTEEL or ALGOISLE (ugh!), but it has been decided that she will be named ALGOWOOD. We do not know why this particular name was chosen but we approve.
In recent years, it has been rumoured that the famous steam tug EDNA G. of the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway, would soon be retired from her duties at Two Harbors, Minnesota. It was, accordingly, with great pleasure that we received word of the D.M.&I.R. announcement that EDNA G., a veteran of 1896 and coal-burning as well, will remain in service for at least a bit longer. Although the tug will undoubtedly face retirement "in the future years", there are no immediate plans for her withdrawal. The railway has confirmed that, when retired, EDNA G. will be displayed in Van Hoven Park, on the Two Harbors waterfront, provided that the city agrees to maintain her permanently in a style befitting her historic status.
The former Q & O steamer HELEN EVANS, which had been lying at Strathearne Terminals at Hamilton since late 1979. departed for Quebec behind DANIEL McALLISTER on August 30. The tow was met off Cape Vincent by CATHY McALLISTER which assisted in the river. DANIEL returned after completing the tow and, on September 4, cleared Hamilton with THORNHILL, CATHY McALLISTER again helping in the river. EVANS and THORNHILL cleared Quebec in tandem tow of the tug CAPT. IOANNIS S. on September 17. EVANS, (a) JAMES LAUGHLIN (65), and THORNHILL, (a) ISHPEMING (66), were both built in 1906 by the Great Lakes Engineering Works at Ecorse, Michigan.
PIERSON INDEPENDENT arrived at Santander, Spain, on June 11, 1980, and made the Atlantic crossing in single tow. Before she cleared Hamilton, her name was painted off wherever it appeared and the "Soo River Company" was removed as well, all but for the single word "Company". We had thought that this was nothing more than an oversight on the part of the painters, or an effort to avoid painting out anything that did not need to be hidden. As it developed, however, the boat was actually renamed (f) COMPANY before she left Canadian waters. There have been some odd renamings on the lakes in the past, but this is surely one of the strangest!
J. F. SCHOELLKOPF JR., which was towed down the Welland Canal on June 17 by McAllister tugs on June 17 after her month-long stay at Ramey's Bend, cleared Quebec for the Atlantic tow on June 27. We have no report as yet on her destination or arrival date.
For several years, devotees of backwater steamboating have been anxiously awaiting the return to service of the Muskoka Lakes passenger steamer SEGWUN, (a) NIPISSING (II). One of the last two of a large fleet of boats which once operated on Lakes Rosseau, Joseph and Muskoka, she last ran in 1958. She subsequently served as a marine museum at Gravenhurst, Ontario, and recently has been completely refurbished with financial support from the Ontario Roadbuilders' Association and the Ontario government. The reactivated SEGWUN is to run day excursions out of Gravenhurst as well as longer cruises which would see her dock overnight at area hotels. She was to run sea trials in early September but cracked a valve during dock trials in late August. A replacement was obtained and sea trials are now scheduled for early October. It is hoped that SEGWUN will be ready to re-enter service in 1981 and that the 93-year-old steamer's melodious chimed whistle will again be heard echoing through the hills of Muskoka.
At the time of writing, the G-tug OHIO was scheduled to depart Rogers City on September 23 with the self-unloader IRVIN L. CLYMER in tow. U.S. Steel requires CLYMER to assist with a contract for hauling salt and Fraser Shipyards will completely refurbish the long-idle steamer at Superior, Wisconsin.
A strange tug took up residence at Toronto during August. She is TUSKER, 130.0 x 33.6 x 14.9, 393 Gross, which was built in 1958 at Aberdeen, Scotland, by A. Hall for North Sea service. She has always carried the same name and, originally enrolled as Br.178473, she is powered by two British Polar diesels. By 1976, she was owned by Adelaide Steamships (Pty.) Ltd. of Port Adelaide, Australia. She has recently been purchased by McAsphalt Marine Ltd. of West Hill, Ontario, a subsidiary of McAsphalt Industries Ltd. This firm supplies paving materials and maintains dock space on the north side of the Toronto ship channel. TUSKER was acquired for general towing purposes but her high bridge would make her suitable for pushing a barge carrying McAsphalt materials. Her first major job was to tow the old tinstacker D. G. KERR all the way out of the lakes from Duluth.
The Soo River Company's pride and joy, the coal-fired ROBERT S. PIERSON, was laid up at Port Colborne in early July with mechanical problems and then went on the Port Weller drydock on August 25 for routine inspection. During mid-July, she appeared at Victory Mills, Toronto, with soya beans. While she unloaded, the smoke billowing from her stack aroused the ire of persons riding the Royal Canadian Yacht Club launch (jackets and ties, please!) which docks at the foot of Parliament Street, opposite the elevator. Not only were several formal complaints laid, but someone even went so far as to call the Fire Department! Nevertheless, with coal a more economical fuel these days than oil, we understand that Soo River has considered the purchase of additional coal-fired boats.
The Westdale self-unloader SILVERDALE has been resplendent this summer in a new coat of paint, with her name emblazoned on the front of her triple-deck forward cabin. NORDALE, however, looks shabby and is sorely in need of some paint. Both steamers are due to be drydocked this autumn. ERINDALE has been delegated to take the place of the idle and boomless BROOKDALE, now that the Westdale fleet has been reduced to three operating ships. BROOKDALE, meanwhile, lies idle at Toronto, where she has been since her withdrawal from service after the loss of her boom in a windstorm on July 16. At the time of the accident, she was loading salt at the Canadian Rock Salt Co. dock at Ojibway (not at the Ryan dock, Windsor, where HOCHELAGA had earlier lost her boom). BROOKDALE was unbuttoned forward during the week of August 25 for the shooting of a film aboard, but she was then closed up again and has since remained lifeless. As of mid-September, no decision had been made on her future, but it was evident that Westdale was seeking a replacement so as to avoid the expensive repairs required by BROOKDALE. Westdale has paid particular attention to the idle Columbia Transportation self-unloader J. R. SENSIBAR. This seems odd, for SENSIBAR, built in 1906, is three years older than BROOKDALE and is reputed to be in less than pristine condition.
Duluth scrappers continue to cut away at old U.S. Steel steamers at the Hyman-Michaels yard. By late August, JAMES A. FARRELL was three-quarters dismantled and the cut-down hulls of RICHARD TRIMBLE and PERCIVAL ROBERTS JR. had been moved back to the scrapping slip for final cutting. WILLIAM B. SCHILLER is still on the face of the dock and has not yet been touched.
As reported earlier, the tandem tow of ROYALTON and MARINSAL cleared Quebec on May 31 with HANSEAT. ROYALTON arrived safely at La Spezia on June 25, but no mention is made of MARINSAL nor is there a record of her as a casualty. We presume that MARINSAL indeed arrived at Spezia the same day.
The former Westdale self-unloader PINEDALE, which had been lying at Toronto since her return from the Pitts Construction site at the Wesleyville Hydro plant on May 27, left Toronto on August 19 in tow of STORMONT. PINEDALE was taken to Strathearne Terminals at Hamilton and, by early September, her stack and after cabin had been cut away. It is apparent that her condition was so bad that an overseas scrap tow could not be considered.
MERLE M. McCURDY, idle in Toledo's Frog Pond since early in the season, returned to service during the summer, passing upbound at the Soo on her first trip on August 14. Most observers had thought that McCURDY would never run again and are pleased to see her active. We understand that Kinsman will have several grain cargoes down the Welland to Oswego this fall; only FRANK R. DENTON, C. L. AUSTIN and ALASTAIR GUTHRIE have Welland Canal clearance, so one or more of these may appear in the canal.
The former Cleveland-Cliffs steamer FRONTENAC, sold to Fraser Shipyards after her grounding at Silver Bay late in 1979, is lying at Superior awaiting an uncertain fate but the scrapyard seems not far away. Even if FRONTENAC is dismantled, her relatively new pilothouse will survive, for it has been donated to the Great Lakes Maritime Academy at Traverse City, Michigan. As of late September, the house was still on FRONTENAC, but it had been stripped of much equipment by Cliffs before the hull was soldo
Accidents, while undesirable, are a fact of life in the operation of a major canal. The Welland Canal has a good safety record but, during August, there came a period which canal personnel will wish to forget quickly. Three major accidents occurred in as many days, a situation without equal in recent memory. On August 4, an electrical malfunction brought Bridge 19 at Humberstone down on the starboard bridgewing of SCAN CRUSADER; the span sustained extensive damage. On August 5, a crewman from JEAN PARISIEN fell into Lock 7 while boarding his ship. The lock crew immediately put blocks between the vessel's side and the wall but could not prevent the man from being killed. On August 6, FRONTENAC was downbound with ore for Hamilton when she struck the west wall above the Guard Gate at Thorold, knocking a section of the wall into the canal. An interesting side effect of the damage to Bridge 19 has been that, for the first time in many years, the public has been allowed on a Welland Canal lock wall and gate. With the bridge raised, a walkway was set up to accommodate pedestrian traffic over the lower lock gate. Photographers have thus been able to venture onto the Lock 8 wall itself for pictures. This development brings back memories of the days when the public was permitted access to all of the lock walls and when crossing on the gates was routine.
The C.S.L. package freighter FORT CHAMBLY, upbound in the St. Mary's River in the early morning of August 20, wandered out of the channel near Six-Mile Point, below Little Rapids Cut, and became stuck in the muddy bottom. Some 100 tons of fuel were offloaded but she remained fast in the mud. The U.S. Coast Guard permitted EDWARD L. RYERSON to pass close by downbound at a higher than normal speed in an effort to create sufficient wash to float FORT CHAMBLY free, but all that was accomplished was to stir up a storm of protest from locals who complained about damage to docks and shorelines. Four local tugs and U.S.C.G. KATMAI BAY finally managed to haul the boat free of the mud during the evening of August 21.
E. M. FORD, the victim of severe damage in a Christmas Eve, 1979, sinking at Milwaukee, was on the drydock at Sturgeon Bay from March 6 until May 3. A ceremony of the blessing and rededication for the FORD was held at the shipyard on July 31 and the 82-year-old steamer re-entered service on August 7. For a while last winter, it had been thought that the damage to the cement carrier was too extensive to warrant repair.
In the Mid-Summer issue, we erroneously reported that LAKE WINNIPEG was taken to the Davie Shipyard at Lauzon for repairs after her accidents at Duluth and DeTour earlier in the year. In fact, LAKE WINNIPEG was placed on drydock at Port Arthur Shipyards and spent virtually the entire summer there. She was still at the shipyard into September.
ONTARIO POWER was to go on the Port Weller drydock during the summer but the shipyard was too busy to accommodate her, with CAPE BRETON MINER occupying the dock for most of the spring and summer and IMPERIAL ST. CLAIR on the blocks for a month for a major refit. MINER finally cleared the yard on August 25. ONTARIO POWER, meanwhile, arrived on July 31 at Toronto and went to the north wall of the Leslie Street slip where work was begun; she was still there late in September. Port Weller was forced to turn away much work this year due to overcrowded facilities, but repair work was completed on the fitout wall in cases where drydocking was not required.
Canada Steamship Lines, Algoma Central Marine, and Upper Lakes Shipping all have recently voiced support for the construction of one or more Canadian shipyards above Port Colborne which would be capable of building and servicing 1,000-footers. Collingwood Shipyards and Port Weller Dry Docks could build such hulls in sections but there is no yard on the Canadian side of the upper lakes at which they might be joined or later drydocked for repair. Collingwood has been seeking federal assistance to expand its yard and Port Weller has been asking for help in building a new yard on Lake Erie.
Last issue, we had space for only a brief report of the ALGOBAY - MONTREALAIS collision. We can now give more detail of its aftermath. MONTREALAIS limped off downbound and unloaded part of her ore cargo at the R & P dock in Port Colborne. This ore was later delivered to Hamilton by GORDON C. LEITCH. Meanwhile, MONTREALAIS, lightered sufficiently for her to transit the canal, passed downbound on June 30 with the help of the shipyard tug, JAMES E. McGRATH. She unloaded at Hamilton and returned to Port Weller on July 1, laying up on the fitout wall. Within a week, all damaged steelwork was removed back to the front of the forward cabin, including bow plates on both sides from the light waterline to the forecastle rail plus the bridge rail. Reconstruction progressed slowly and was still underway during September. ALGOBAY was repaired at the Welland Dock by Herb Fraser and Associates.
The Upper Lakes Shipping steamer JAMES NORRIS arrived at Toronto on July 5 and laid up on the east wall of the turning basin. Business conditions being poor, she was idled pending a self-unloader conversion this winter at Port Weller. On September 2, she was towed out of Toronto and across the lake. She was immediately drydocked, not because of her impending conversion but rather because the tugs let her strike the wall below Lock 1, an impact which did considerable damage to her bow.
In past years, numerous lake tankers have come to Toronto for the lining of their tanks with anticorrosive material. The latest of these was TEXACO CHIEF, which lay on the south wall of the Leslie Street slip from August 16 until September 5. On her arrival, the idle MARLHILL was moved out of the way to a position alongside ONTARIO POWER on the north wall.
The Toronto excursion steamer BLUE WATER BELLE operated fairly frequently during August, although not every evening by any means. Sherwood Marine allocated to her each charter involving more than 400 persons, with a charge of $15 per person required. BLUE WATER BELLE looks very handsome on the lake with revellers dining on her forward cardeck and dancing on the upper deck. Her chimed whistle is a delight to the ear but is heard only rarely.
The necessity for channel improvement to preserve commercial navigation to Wallaceburg was again highlighted during August. On the 8th, FRANQUELIN, inbound in the Chenal Ecarte, fouled a channel marker and damaged her steering. On the evening of the 9th, she and tug GLENADA, outbound, spent the night at the Dark Bend, rather than clearing the channel, because of a swarm of mosquitoes emanating from the Walpole Island marsh. Upbound in Lake Huron bound for Midland on August 10, FRANQUELIN had to call for help because of steering problems directly attributable to her earlier encounter with the buoy. On August 13, NEW YORK NEWS was entering the Chenal Ecarte when she had to stop for fog. She swung across the channel, brushed the salty SAMARU, and stuck firmly with bow and stern wedged against opposite banks. She was eventually freed by tugs MARGARET M. HANNAH and McMAR.
The veteran sandsucker AMERICAN, which has been shunted from one Lake Michigan port to another during the past few years, has been moved again. She cleared Manistee on July 11 in tow of the tug LENNY B. and is now moored in the Calumet River at Chicago. She will be reduced to a barge by the Calumet Marine Towing Company which also owns LENNY B. Now much the worse for her many years of idleness, AMERICAN was built in 1921 at Manitowoc and was operated by the Construction Aggregates Corporation.
Marine Salvage Ltd. completed the dismantling of GEORGE M. STEINBRENNER (II) during the summer and the Ramey's Bend scrapyard is now empty. The company is looking for other boats to scrap but is not interested in any more self-unloaders, particularly ones with their nether regions filled with cement!
As business conditions continue poor, many lakers remain idle but, with vessels laying up and then coming out again, the situation is too complicated for a detailed report in these pages. One particularly interesting lay-up was the Interlake Steamship Company's HARRY COULBY. She ran steadily, often in the grain trade, until August 10, when she tied up at the old DeTour coal dock on Spring Bay in the St. Mary's River and her crew was sent home aboard another vessel. The dock, owned by Pickands Mather, has not been used for several years and COULBY is the first ship to visit it in a considerable period of time. DeTour is an extremely remote area in which to lay up a steamer as large as HARRY COULBY. Her crew reported back on board on August 27 and the ship soon re-entered service.
FORT YORK was returned to service on August 20 after lying idle at the foot of Sherbourne Street, Toronto, since July 9. During her inactivity, the only C.S.L. package freighters running on the lakes were FORT CHAMBLY and FORT WILLIAM.
CORAH ANN, the former MONDOC (III), has been operating on salt water ever since she was sold out of the Paterson fleet. She was observed during June, lying at the Napoleon Avenue wharf at New Orleans. She looks much as she did during her Paterson years, the only major difference being the addition of a leg to the 'P' on her stack to transform it into an 'R'.
Contrary to our Mid-Summer report, EDWARD B. GREENE did not head immediately for her self-unloader conversion at Toledo during mid-July. Instead, she was drydocked at Superior by Fraser Shipyards and then sailed downbound with ore. She arrived at the Toledo yard of AmShip on August 7th.
The restoration of the venerable carferry LANSDOWNE was resumed this spring and continues slowly at Detroit, the eventual goal being her use as a restaurant, complete with dining cars on deck. It was hoped that she would be ready for the July 14 opening of the Republican national convention at Detroit, but this was not to be.
Misener Holdings Ltd. began construction this summer of a bulk trans-shipment centre at Gros Cacouna, 280 miles northeast of Quebec City. The port project, expected to cost $370-million, is to be built in three stages and completed during the late 1980s.
Ship of the Month No. 95
Many years ago, in the early days of "Scanner", we featured an article entitled "Turret Steamers on our Inland Seas". It was an attempt to provide a history of those turret-type vessels which served our waters, and it was one of the first major items concerning the turrets ever to appear in a lake marine historical journal. In the interim, however, we have been able to develop so much additional information concerning these interesting freighters that our original feature requires updating in order to keep the records current. While we do not propose to revise our entire turret "fleet list" in these pages, we thought that we would choose one of the more interesting of the turrets to be the subject of an individual feature which would incorporate much of the newly-gleaned detail.
The arrival of the Duluth-built whaleback steamer CHARLES W. WETMORE at Liverpool in 1891 caused a considerable stir amongst British shipowners, most of whom had never seen a ship of such unusual design. The Liverpool firm of William Johnston and Company Limited awarded an order for a vessel of the same type to William Doxford and Sons Ltd. of Sunderland in 1892. The result was SAGAMORE, a large whaleback which never saw the waters of the Great Lakes and which spent much of her life under the Belgian flag. Doxford, a shipbuilding yard founded in 1840, then set about attempting to improve the whaleback design, realizing that it had several shortcomings, especially as far as use on salt water was concerned.
The result of Doxford's experimentation was the "turret" design, so-called not because the ships featured anything remotely resembling turrets, but because their most notable feature, a long trunk deck with curved sides, was a direct development from the turrets used to support the cabins on whaleback vessels. From the turn of the bilge to a few feet above the load line, turret ship did not differ much from the conventional hull form of cargo vessels. Above this point, the shell plating curved inward to create a narrow deck space (commonly called the "harbour deck") which was, of course, nothing more than a part of the shell plating. From the inner side of the harbour deck, the plating curved to rise perpendicularly to meet the narrow upper deck, on which was erected the bridge structure as well as the usual deck fittings, including winches, derrick posts, hatches, etc. The crew's quarters were extremely cramped as a result of the narrow deck and, as one who sailed in these ships during their lake service recalled, "if you walked into a cabin, you had to back out".
The first of the turrets built by Doxford was TURRET herself, a 280.2-foot steamer completed in 1892 for the Turret Steam Shipping Company Ltd. Subsequent turrets ranged from canal-sized boats to hulls in excess of 450 feet in length, and they were built in a variety of designs to suit the cargo requirements of their owners. Most carried their engines amidships, but a few were built with machinery aft. Some carried raised forecastles, the earliest of these being turtlebacked to keep them dry, while many also had a step in the deck. In addition to their pronounced trunks, the one feature that marked each and every turret hull was a complete lack of sheer.
The turret design provided a number of valuable features, all of which made it very popular in its day and considerably fattened Doxford's pocketbook. The stiff deck configuration gave much-needed longitudinal strength in a day when ships' lengths were increasing faster than the technology needed to design them in proper fashion. As well, cargo loaded into the trunk section of the hull tended to shift downwards during a voyage, thus filling up spaces in the cargo hold and providing a "self-trimming" feature. The curve of the harbour deck served to turn away boarding seas and the cabins on turret vessels stayed generally more dry than on other types of hulls. The turrets were very cheap to build, particularly as Doxford turned them out in great numbers over a period of two decades.
The turrets' most valuable asset, however, was the fact that they boasted a lower net tonnage per deadweight ton than did other steamers of their era. This meant that they paid considerably reduced port charges, which usually were based on net tonnage. As well, the tolls levied on the Suez Canal were based on breadth at upper deck and the narrow trunks of the turrets resulted in significant savings on each canal passage.
Their radical design, however, did not win the immediate favour of shippers or crews and it proved difficult to arrange insurance. In fact, Lloyds Classification Committee refused approval of the plans when they were originally submitted. In order to demonstrate the seaworthiness and cargo-carrying advantages of the turrets, Doxford built the first few hulls in association with Capt. William Petersen, each party sharing the cost and the risk. Capt. Petersen himself commanded TURRET on her first voyage and, based on his account of the manner in which the vessel weathered heavy seas, Bureau Veritas agreed to class the ship and the various underwriters dropped their opposition to the design.
TURRET CAPE was the twelfth turret steamer to be built by Doxford and she was completed in 1895 as the yard's Hull 234. She was a virtual sister of TURRET CROWN, built the same year as Hull 233. She measured 253.0 feet in length, 44.0 feet in the beam (approximately 22 feet across the "turret"), and 19.4 feet in depth; her tonnage was registered as 1827 Gross and 1142 Net when she was enrolled at Newcastle, England, as Br.104283. She was powered by a triple-expansion engine with cylinders of 22, 36 and 59 inches and a stroke of 39 inches, the machinery having been built by the shipyard as was the case with almost all of the turrets. Steam was provided by two coal-fired water-tube boilers, measuring 12'7" by 10'11", which had been manufactured by Babcock and Wilcox Ltd., London, England. Both TURRET CAPE and TURRET CROWN carried their machinery aft and bridge amidships.
TURRET CAPE was completed for the Turret Steam Shipping Company Ltd., the same firm that Doxford had originally formed to operate the turrets in an attempt to persuade other owners to order similar hulls. She was managed by Petersen, Tate and Company, the organization headed by Capt. William Petersen, which had been instrumental in backing Doxford against the arguments of the non-believers. During the late 1890s, ownership of TURRET CAPE was transferred to the St. Bede Trading Company Ltd., but she remained under the management of Petersen.
This spirited photo by Rowley Murphy, taken c.1906, shows TURRET CAPE backing hard in a futile attempt to avoid striking the lower east wall of Lock 3 in the Third Welland Canal.Capt. Petersen was the proud holder of a contract to carry coal from Sydney, Nova Scotia, to Montreal for the Dominion Iron and Steel Company Ltd. of Sydney. He used at least eight turrets on this route during 1900 and 1901, these being TURRET AGE, TURRET BAY, TURRET BELL, TURRET CAPE, TURRET CHIEF, TURRET COURT, TURRET CROWN and SCOTTISH HERO. This contract appears to have expired in 1901, at which time the ownership of some of the ships on the route passed to the Canadian Ocean and Inland Navigation Company Ltd. This organization was formed by the MacKenzie and Mann interests who were, perhaps, best known for their involvement in the creation of the Canadian Northern Railway. It was through Capt. James B. Foote, representing MacKenzie and Mann, that William Petersen Ltd. continued to manage the operation of the turrets in Canadian waters.
Like TURRET CAPE and TURRET CROWN, TURRET CHIEF and TURRET COURT (which differed in that their machinery was located amidships) were of dimensions which permitted them access to the Great Lakes via the old St. Lawrence and Welland canals. The other four steamers were larger and, of them, only SCOTTISH HERO was ever brought into the lakes, this passage requiring her to be cut in sections at Levis during May, 1906. TURRET AGE was sold for other service in 1901, whilst TURRET BAY and TURRET BELL were lost to the line as a result of accidents occurring in 1904 and 1906, respectively. The four canal-sized turrets were brought into the lakes for the first time in 1902 to operate in the grain trade between Port Arthur and Port Colborne. The Canadian Railway and Shipping World reported in December of 1902 that the four turret ships would all winter at Owen Sound, Ontario.
The connection between the Canadian turrets and Capt. Petersen was severed in 1904 when the Canadian Lake and Ocean Navigation Company Ltd. took over management. This firm had been created specifically for that purpose by the MacKenzie and Mann group. Canadian Lake and Ocean was reorganized in 1907, when D.B. Hanna took over as president and Zebulon A. Lash as vice-president. Directors of the company were Hugh Sutherland, F.H. Phippen, Frederick Nicholls, E.R. Wood, Sir Henry Pellatt and Noel Marshall, all of whom were either close to or were members of the MacKenzie and Mann group. The vessels of the Canadian Lake and Ocean Navigation Company Ltd. came under the management of the Canadian Interlake Line Ltd. in 1911.
November 18, 1911 was not a good day for TURRET CAPE, for it was then that she stranded on Cove Island in Lake Huron. Immediate salvage efforts were not met with success and she remained ashore throughout the following winter. During the spring of 1912, the famous Reid Wrecking Company of Sarnia and Port Huron tackled the job of salving TURRET CAPE and, in due course, managed to refloat her. Her owner attempted to abandon her to the underwriters in view of the extent of the damage but, as reported in the Railway and Marine World issue of July, 1912, the owner eventually withdrew the abandonment and accepted settlement of $35,000 from the insurers. The owner (apparently still the Canadian Ocean and Inland Navigation Co. Ltd.) resumed possession and had her taken to Collingwood where she was repaired by the Collingwood Shipbuilding Company Ltd. TURRET CAPE was able to re-enter service in June of 1912.
In 1913, the year of its formation from a number of other major Canadian lake fleets, Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal, took over the Canadian Interlake Line Ltd. and, hence, the management of TURRET CAPE. That same year saw the ship survive a brush with disaster that could easily have brought her career to an untimely end. In the infamous Great Storm of November, 1913, TURRET CAPE was caught out on Lake Huron, downbound with a grain cargo for Goderich. Rather than crossing to Goderich and exposing herself to wicked beam seas, she hugged the west shore of the lake and, somehow avoiding the fate that befell so many larger and newer boats on Lake Huron during those days of devastation, she eventually reached the shelter of the St. Clair River. There she waited until the fury of the storm had abated and Capt. D.P. (Pat) McCarthy considered it safe to head his ship back up the lake and over to the Canadian shore. TURRET CAPE arrived at Goderich some 48 hours late and, considering the harrowing circumstances and the fact that wreckage and bodies were strewn along the shore near Goderich from vessels less fortunate than TURRET CAPE, much relief was felt by all concerned when she arrived safely.
The good fortune of TURRET CAPE was all the more remarkable when contrasted with the fate of TURRET CHIEF in the same storm. Early on the morning of November 8, upbound light on Lake Superior, she was swept onto the rocks of Keweenaw Point near Copper Harbor. She was not salvaged until 1914, for the wreck was so far up on the shore that it was necessary to use hydraulic jacks to lift her up off the rocks so that she could be pulled free.
Like many of the British-built canallers, TURRET CAPE had retained her Newcastle registry but, on November 4, 1915, the Canadian Lake and Ocean Navigation Co. Ltd. (of 1 Toronto Street, Toronto, which was the head office of the Canadian Northern Railway) changed her home port to Toronto. She was still under C.S.L. management at the time, but her services were soon required on salt water to aid in the war effort. Unlike many of the Canadian canallers, she was not requisitioned for overseas service but, on December 1, 1915, her ownership was transferred to the Cape Steamship Company Ltd., Halifax, a subsidiary of the Dominion Iron and Steel Co. Ltd., Sydney, which was the firm for which TURRET CAPE operated when she first came to Canada.
TURRET CAPE ran for the duration of the war in the coastal coal trade and, in 1917, the Dominion Iron and Steel Co. took over active management of the ship from C.S.L. which had, until that time, continued to operate her even though she was no longer engaged in lake service. At the close of the war, many of the lakers which had been sent to salt water during the hostilities were returned to the lakes, but TURRET CAPE was not amongst them. She remained on the coast and, in 1926, with a change in corporate structure, the British Empire Steel Corporation Ltd. became her owner and manager.
In 1927, the Inland Waterways Navigation Company Ltd. of Montreal, controlled by Robert A. Campbell of Montreal and John E. Russell of Toronto, took over TURRET CAPE and returned her to lake service. By 1929, however, she was under the ownership of the Inland Waters Navigation Company Ltd. of Montreal, of which Mapes and Ferdon Ltd. was manager. But Mapes and Ferdon ran into severe financial difficulties during 1930, the resources of its fleet not being sufficient to withstand the pressures of the Great Depression. At the time of her owner's failure, TURRET CAPE was laid up at Port Colborne, her engine and boilers unable to pass inspection.
The Reid Towing and Wrecking Company Ltd. paid a visit to TURRET CAPE during the 1932 season and removed her boilers and engine which, presumably, had been purchased by Reid for further use. TURRET CAPE appears to have remained at the wall in Port Colborne until July 22, 1934 when she was towed down the Welland Canal by the Sin-Mac tug RIVAL. She was laid to rest at Port Dalhousie in the pond above Lock 1, moored alongside the inactive steamers MALTON and WAHCONDAH.
In 1935, TURRET CAPE was taken over by the Fort William-Montreal Navigation Company Ltd., 300 St. Sacrement Street, Montreal, which appears to have been an affiliate or subsidiary of Robin Hood Flour Mills Ltd. The company may have been connected with a Robin Hood subsidiary known as the Fort William and Ontario Navigation Company Ltd. which owned a dock at Fort William where Robin Hood flour was transferred from rail cars to lake steamers. By August 5, 1935, the Muir Bros. Drydock Company at Port Dalhousie had removed the old pilothouse and cabin structures from TURRET CAPE and had erected a small wheelhouse aft. The ship was taken from the shipyard, moved down through old Lock 1, and was moored on the east side of the lower harbour at Port Dalhousie, just above the Niagara, St. Catharines and Toronto passenger dock.
TURRET CAPE, during her short career as a barge, unloads flour at Pier 4, Toronto. Photo, probably taken in 1936, illustrates shape of a turret's harbour deck.It was on May 25, 1936, that TURRET CAPE made her first downbound passage of the New Welland Canal laden with flour from Fort William for Toronto. For the trip down the canal and across Lake Ontario, she was in tow of the canal tugs J. R. BINNING and ETHEL. After her arrival at her destination, TURRET CAPE's flour cargo was gradually unloaded, bag by bag over the side on chutes. She made several further trips between the Lakehead and Toronto during the 1936 season before laying up for the winter at Toronto with a storage cargo of flour.
By 1940, however, TURRET CAPE was again lying idle at Port Colborne, her days as a flour barge finished. In March of 1941, the strange old vessel was purchased by Saguenay Terminals Ltd. of Montreal, a subsidiary of the Aluminum Company of Canada Ltd. Towed to the Lauzon yard of Davie Shipbuilding and Repairing Ltd., she was rebuilt as a diesel-powered bulk carrier with a new pilothouse and all cabins aft atop a new raised quarterdeck which occupied the full width of the ship, not just the trunk. Her tonnage, as rebuilt, was registered as 2079 Gross and 1158 Net. The diesel engine that was placed in her was a six-cylinder Sulzer which had been built in 1938.
In October, 1941, TURRET CAPE cleared Montreal for the U.S. east coast. Saguenay intended that she operate in the bauxite ore trade between British Guiana (South America) and Port Alfred, Quebec. Some sources allege that the ship was renamed (b) SUN CHIEF during the 1941 season, but there are extant photographs of her during this period which show her displaying a TURRET CAPE nameboard on her bridge. (During the war years, when most ships were painted all-grey, names were not normally displayed on hulls, but rather on nameboards which could be hung on the sides of cabins when required.) It would seem that the official change of name from TURRET CAPE to SUN CHIEF did not actually take place until 1947, at which time her port of registry was changed to Port Alfred, Quebec. The new name followed the Saguenay custom of giving all of its vessels names beginning with the word or prefix "Sun". This custom is still in use today, although it is now more usual for Saguenay to charter ships rather than to purchase them.
TURRET CAPE made herself busy in the bauxite trade during the early years of the war but then she embarked on a rather strange assignment. A large number of vessels of assorted types and sizes were employed in the bauxite trade and it was necessary for them to negotiate the busy Demerara River in order to pick up the cargoes which were so vital to the war effort. Unfortunately, the river was fouled by obstructions and, as well, a large sandbar had formed off the port of Georgetown, British Guiana. Accordingly, TURRET CAPE was taken in hand by the firm of Sprostons Ltd. of Georgetown and was converted during 1944 to a suction dredge. She operated as a dredge until the various obstructions to the bauxite freighters had been removed, and she was then taken back to Sprostons Ltd. and reconverted to a bulk carrier. As far as we are aware, out of the 182 turret steamers built between 1892 and 1911 (176 by Doxford and six under licence by other yards), TURRET CAPE was the only one ever to serve as a dredge.
Once reconverted for bulk service, TURRET CAPE ran bauxite from the Demerara River to Trinidad, where there was an aluminum smelter as well as a large stockpile of ore for shipment abroad by larger ocean-going vessels. TURRET CAPE continued in this service even after the conclusion of World War II, the need for aluminum in industry having reached record proportions. It is not known for certain whether TURRET CAPE/SUN CHIEF was ever painted in the colours normally worn by Saguenay freighters subsequent to the war, namely a bright green hull with silver cabins. In any event, Saguenay continued to use SUN CHIEF in the bauxite run until 1948, at which time it was decided that she was too small for the service. Replaced by larger boats, SUN CHIEF was relegated to standby status and was laid up at Mobile, Alabama.
The war, however, had been extremely unkind to the fleet of canal-sized lake freighters which had been pressed into coastal and transatlantic service as well as the bauxite trade from the Caribbean. Many of the canallers had fallen victim to enemy action and to the rigours of service on the open ocean, with the result that the number of canallers available to handle grain shipments through the St. Lawrence Canals during the post-war years was not sufficient to meet the demand for tonnage. As a result, Canadian operators of canallers looked far afield in an effort to locate suitable vessels.
Eventually, the idle SUN CHIEF attracted the attention of Capt. Robert Scott Misener of Port Colborne who, in 1949, purchased her for his Sarnia Steamships Ltd. He brought her to Port Colborne and there had her refitted for lake service. It was on April 9, 1950, that she was renamed (c) WALTER INKSTER and was re-registered at Toronto. She was painted in the usual Misener colours with a black hull, white cabins, and black stack with two silver bands. The following year, 1951, brought for INKSTER a transfer to the ownership of Misener's Colonial Steamships Ltd., Port Colborne.
Photo by J. H. Bascom, taken during the summer of 1957, shows WALTER INKSTER awaiting scrapping in the upper harbour at Port Dalhousie.Despite Scott Misener's investment in WALTER INKSTER, the aging canaller, which was the oldest vessel in the Misener fleet, saw only limited service for her new owner. She remained laid up at Fort William from 1952 through 1955, and was sold in May of 1956 to Benjamin R. Newman of St. Catharines, a scrap metal dealer. She was fitted out one last time and, on June 18, 1956, loaded grain at Fort William for delivery to Port Colborne and Toronto. She unloaded this, her last cargo, at Toronto Elevators and then sailed for Port Dalhousie, where she arrived on Dominion Day, July 1, 1956. She was taken up through old Lock 1 and was laid to rest in Muir's Pond, on the west side of the west pier above the lock. There she was laid up for the last time, destined only to wait for the time when the scrappers would have need of her steel for other purposes.
WALTER INKSTER came very close to receiving a last-minute reprieve from the cutting torches. During April, 1957, it was rumoured that she would be purchased and returned to service by Capt. Steve Ahern, a veteran of the old Lloyd Tankers fleet. Ahern had become a shipowner in his own right and operated in coastal service an interesting assortment of old hulls, most of which were long past their prime. INKSTER would have fitted in well with such company, but the sale was never completed and the old turret continued to moulder away in Muir's Pond.
During May of 1959, WALTER INKSTER was moved to the west side of the pond and moored under the hill adjacent to the entrance to the Port Dalhousie drydock. By this time, her sides had been well decorated with assorted graffiti inscribed there by paddlers and oarsmen who frequented the nearby Henley regatta course. She was gradually cut down to the waterline and, during the month of August, was moved into the drydock so that the dismantling could be completed. WALTER INKSTER's register was officially closed on September 15, 1959.
And so came to an end the career of the last of the five turret steamers to sail the waters of the Great Lakes, a career which had spanned six and a half decades. The day of the turret had long since ended even on the high seas, for gone was the day when reduced upper deck area resulted in any saving in port or canal fees, and the shipbuilders of the world had developed other methods of building long ships with the necessary longitudinal strength but without the clutter of interior supporting posts beneath the turn of the harbour deck that made the turrets difficult to unload using modern machinery.
One other turret was scrapped the same year as WALTER INKSTER, this being Doxford's Hull 359 of 1906, the steamer HERMANN FRITZEN, (a) NONSUCH (13), (b) CLEARWAY (25), (c) EFSTATHIOS (25), (d) WERNER KUNSTMANN (38). She arrived at Hamburg for scrapping by Eckhardt and Company on April 24, 1959, and it is probably safe to assume that her last remains disappeared under the torches before the last bits of WALTER INKSTER were cut up at Port Dalhousie. Only one turret hull lasted longer than the INKSTER, namely Doxford's Hull 238 which was completed in the same year as was TURRET CAPE, 1895. Built as DICIEMBRE, and 340 feet in length, she spent her entire life under the Spanish flag, subsequently sailing as (b) BEGONA NO. 4 and, from 1927 onwards, as (c) NUESTRA SENORA DEL CARMEN. She met her end on January 27, 1963, when she stranded to a total loss on the Spanish coast.
As a finale to our history of the long-lived TURRET CAPE, it seems appropriate to leave our readers with a bit of a brain-teaser. TURRET CAPE and TURRET CROWN were built in 1895 with a length of 253 feet and a beam of 44 feet, just as were TURRET CHIEF and TURRET COURT in 1896. No other turret steamers were ever built to these odd dimensions, which just happened to suit perfectly the size of the locks of the old Canadian canals. (The canals were then being rebuilt to these dimensions and this work was completed in 1899.) None of these four ships even traded into Canadian waters until 1900 and it was not until 1902 that they actually entered the Great Lakes. But could Doxford and Capt. Petersen, perhaps, have originally intended to send a fleet of turrets into lake trade? We can but speculate at this late date, as the answer will never be known for certain.
(For his assistance with research, we extend thanks to our Chief Purser, James M. Kidd. A most valuable source of information on turret steamers is "The Doxford Turret Ships" by Leonard Gray and John Lingwood, published in 1975 by the World Ship Society. Also of value concerning TURRET CAPE'S wartime exploits is an article by the late Prof. Fred Landon which appeared in the Summer 1949 issue of "Inland Seas".)
The Shipwrecks of Lake Superior
We are pleased to announce the availability of this major reference work prepared by Dr. Julius F. Wolff, Jr., and published by the Lake Superior Marine Museum Association Inc. of Duluth. The book contains details of more than 1,000 shipwrecks and marine casualties on Lake Superior, ranging from minor scrapes to major disasters, and covering the period from the beginning of navigation on the lake to the present. Many of the accidents have never before been described in print and, although information may still be sketchy in some cases, Dr. Wolff's efforts have produced a most valuable record.
"The Shipwrecks of Lake Superior" is available in both paperback and hardcover. The paperback copy received by Ye Ed. is an attractive volume of 166 pages plus index. There are many photos, some of which we have never before seen, but we wish that the printer had done a better job with the photo reproduction. Dr. Wolff's research appears generally very sound, although the end product suffers from rather too many "typographical" errors and could have done with a more thorough proofreading.
The book is, however, a totally unique reference work and certainly deserves a place in the library of every serious marine historian of the lakes, for much of the information contained in it is not available to the collector from any other handy source. We recommend it highly. Please contact the Lake Superior Marine Museum Association, P.O. Box 177, Duluth, Minnesota 55802, U.S.A. All orders must contain remittance in U.S. Funds, the cost of the paperback being $12.45 including postage, while the hardcover (signed, limited edition) goes for $25.50 including postage.
Additional Marine News
- October 8 is the date scheduled for the opening of tenders for the construction of a new ferry dock at Toronto's Centre Island. The work, to be completed by spring, will provide a dock at Centre for TRILLIUM.
- The Canadian Coast Guard has taken delivery of two new tenders built at Kingston for service in Georgian Bay. COVE ISLE stopped at Toronto on her delivery voyage in early August, while GULL ISLE made a similar stop in late September.
- An unusual visitor to Toronto Harbour was RICHARD J. REISS, which arrived during the evening of September 27 with a cargo of salt. She cleared port the following day after unloading in the ship channel.
- Two unusual visitors in the Welland Canal recently were CONSUMERS POWER, which brought salt to Thorold on September 26, and BUFFALO, which passed downbound the following day with grain for Baie Comeau.
- The Ann Arbor carferry ARTHUR K. ATKINSON, idle since 1973, was recommissioned after rededication ceremonies on August 16 and 17. She and VIKING now hold down the Annie's routes, with CITY OF MILWAUKEE held in reserve.
- The Chessie System seems to have permanently retired its carferry SPARTAN. She is laid up at Ludington, at least partially stripped, and is currently for sale, allegedly as a result of mechanical problems.
- RALPH MISENER suffered a serious engineroom explosion whilst on the lower St. Lawrence on August 20. Her chief engineer was killed in the accident and three other crewmen were severely injured. The ship is still out of service for repairs.
- SOODOC has made extensive travels abroad during the summer. She carried clay from Savannah, Georgia, to the Italian ports of Savona, Civitavecchia and Ancona, and then urea from Odessa, Russia, to Cartagena, Colombia.. She also visited Bonaire and Kingston, Jamaica.
- As we go to press, two more old tinstackers are on the move in scrap tows, GOVERNOR MILLER due at Port Colborne on September 29 in tow of BARBARA ANN and TUG MALCOLM, and D. G. KERR, due in the Welland the same day with TUSKER and GLENADA.
- BROOKDALE was apparently sold in late September to Newman and Sons of St. Catharines for scrap. She was soon stripped of certain equipment.