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 "Twilight of an Era". This is the spectacular National Geographic Society film that was shown on television last spring. It features much historic footage.
Friday, January 9th - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Theme Slide Night. Members are invited to bring up to 20 slides each, illustrating "Ships in Tow". Please note carefully the date (2nd Friday of the month).
The Editor's Notebook
Perhaps you have been wondering whether you remembered to pay your fees for the 1980-81 T.M.H.S. season. Not to worry, for if you receive this issue, then you are fully paid-up and a member in good standing. Should any of your friends not receive this issue, however, please remind them to remit their fees to our Chief Purser as soon as possible.
The October Slide Night was, as usual, a resounding success. We thank all those members, many from out-of-town, who came with such interesting examples of their marine photography. Now is the time to begin selecting suitable slides to bring to the January Theme Slide Night.
In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to Gerald R. Kennedy of Prescott, to Morley Erratt of Cardinal, to Robert F. Connelly of San Diego, California, to Alex Stolarow Jr. of Jenks, Oklahoma, to John J. Carrick of Scarborough, to Frederic Van Wesep of Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Richard V. Cordo of South Euclid, Ohio, to Captain D'Alton Hudson of Midland, and to Ronald L. Rostoni of Jeddo, Michigan.
Photo by Al Schelling shows C. H. McCULLOUGH JR. (left), THOMAS F. COLE (right) and D. M. CLEMSON (rear) at Thunder Bay, as seen from COLE's bridge.When we left the saga of the U.S. Steel scrap tows in the October issue, THOMAS F. COLE and D. M. CLEMSON were already at Thunder Bay for dismantling there, EUGENE J. BUFFINGTON and J. P. MORGAN JR. were at Montreal, ALVA C. DINKEY was at Buffalo, GOVERNOR MILLER was at Port Huron, and D. G. KERR was preparing to leave Duluth. We now resume the narrative, for there have been further developments.
The Malcolm tug BARBARA ANN cleared Montreal on September 11 with BUFFINGTON in tow, bound for Quebec. As far as we are aware, MORGAN is still at Montreal. GOVERNOR MILLER passed down the Welland Canal on September 30 in tow of TUG MALCOLM, STORMONT and ARGUE MARTIN. She made it safely down the canal and, at last report, was secured at Montreal. ALVA C. DINKEY was eventually hauled out of Buffalo and made the passage down the Welland on October 8, assisted by BARBARA ANN, STORMONT and JAMES E. McGRATH. We believe that she, also, is lying at Montreal.
Photo by J. H. Bascom shows ALVA C. DINKEY downbound above Welland Canal Lock 2 on Oct. 8, 1980, in tow of BARBARA ANN, JAMES E. McGRATH and STORMONT.By far the most eventful downbound trip, however, was that of D. G. KERR. She was collected at Duluth on September 23 by the Toronto tug TUSKER but, in clearing Duluth, KERR struck the piers, inflicting damage to her port bow and rather considerable damage to the pier. TUSKER may also have struck the breakwater, for she was later reported to have taken some water. TUSKER finally brought KERR down the Welland on September 30 (the same day that MILLER was in the canal) with an assist from JAMES E. McGRATH and the Sarnia tug GLENADA. Allegedly as a result of the handling of the tow, TUSKER's skipper became embroiled in a dispute with the towmaster whilst KERR was in Lock 5; the tug's master was subsequently relieved of his duties. The tow eventually set off down Lake Ontario but KERR was anchored briefly in the lake whilst TUSKER put into Kingston for mechanical repairs. The tow was bound for Montreal but, as a result of a change in orders relayed from the broker in New York, TUSKER took D. G. KERR all the way to Sydney, Nova Scotia. TUSKER underwent further mechanical repair at Sydney and returned to her Toronto berth on October 19.
Collingwood Shipyards' Hull 219 was launched as scheduled on October 7 and was christened ALGOWOOD (despite problems in getting not one but two bottles of champagne to break on her bow). The name honours the town of Collingwood, where so many Algoma Central ships have been built. For a while, it seemed that the launch might have to be delayed, for a fire occurred on the evening of October 3 in the ways under the boat's stern. Damage to the timbers was heavy but ALGOWOOD suffered only the indignity of some scorched paint. Repairs were completed without difficulty prior to the launch date.
The next American Steamship Company vessel to emerge from the Bay Shipbuilding Corporation at Sturgeon Bay will, as previously reported, be a boat specially designed to shuttle taconite from Lorain to Cleveland. Boland and Cornelius will operate the ship under a long-term agreement with the Republic Steel Corporation, whose ore she will haul. Hull 724, as she is yet known, will have cabins designed to permit passage through Cleveland's bridges, and she will be equipped with special flanking rudders to facilitate navigation of the tortuous Cuyahoga River. Some sources have indicated that the self-unloader would be named CUYAHOGA, but this will not be the case. Instead, she will be christened AMERICAN REPUBLIC, a most appropriate name.
As reported last issue, Westdale Shipping's boomless self-unloader BROOKDALE (II) was sold in late September to A. Newman and Company of St. Catharines. She will be dismantled at Port Maitland, Ontario. BROOKDALE cleared Toronto at 1:30 a.m. on October 10 in tow of GLENADA, assisted through the Eastern Gap by TERRY S., across the lake by BAGOTVILLE, and up the Welland Canal by JAMES E. McGRATH. The tow laid over at Port Colborne for several days because of heavy weather on Lake Erie. Ye Ed. watched sadly as BROOKDALE left Toronto for the last time, a most impressive sight indeed. The 71-year-old steamer had a generator operating and virtually every light aboard her was glowing. Even the floodlights on her stack were turned on for the occasion.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that the American Steamship Company may retire its self-unloader JOHN A. KLING at the close of the current season. KLING spent part of the autumn in lay-up but was then reactivated and even made a trip down to Hamilton during mid-October. The diminutive KLING was built for the Reiss Steamship Company (which technically still owns her) at Manitowoc in 1922, was lengthened in 1940, and was repowered with a diesel engine in 1966. She is a good enough vessel yet that other operators may be interested in her if, in fact, BoCo actually does intend to withdraw her from service.
We have received conflicting reports on the future of the idle Q & O steamer MARLHILL. At first, we were informed that she had been purchased by Newman for scrapping at Port Maitland. We then heard that she had been sold through a New York broker for dismantling overseas, and that she was to go to Port Maitland only to load scrap as a cargo for the Atlantic tow. By late October, however, MARLHILL was still lying in the Leslie Street slip at the east end of the Toronto turning basin.
The veteran bunkering tanker MARINE FUEL has been sold to Triad Salvage Inc. for dismantling at Ashtabula. MARINE FUEL was built in 1911 and, in recent years, minus her pilothouse, she has served as a waste storage facility at Cleveland.
Al Seigert was on the bridge of GEORGE M. HUMPHREY on Sept. 26, 1980, when he took this view of IRVIN L. CLYMER upbound on Lake Superior under tow, en route to Superior for refitting.The long-idle U.S. Steel self-unloader IRVIN L. CLYMER cleared Rogers City on September 23, as scheduled. She was taken to Superior by the G-tug OHIO, with an assist through the Soo Locks by SAINTE MARIE II. She will be completely refitted by Fraser Shipyards for reactivation in 1981.
The "Steel Trust's" newest boat, the 1,000-foot self-unloader EDGAR B. SPEER, is now in service. After completing trials in Lake Erie off Lorain in mid-September, she set off up the lakes and passed up at the Soo on her maiden voyage on September 22. With business conditions remaining poor, the advent of SPEER has prompted U.S. Steel to take a number of its older carriers out of service. The "Supers" (LEON FRASER, et al.) were scheduled to lay up in late October or early November and the possibility exists that some of the steamers of that class may load winter storage grain to be delivered down the Seaway come spring. The self-unloaders ROGERS CITY and T. W. ROBINSON also were sent to the wall early. At last report, the SPEER was suffering from bowthruster problems which threatened to take her out of service and bring CASON J. CALLAWAY and PHILIP R. CLARKE back into operation.
ROLAND DESGAGNES was upbound in the St. Lawrence River in the early morning hours of October 18 when she suddenly veered to port, crossed between St. Helena Island and St. Lawrence Park, and went hard aground about one mile below the Thousand Islands Bridge. DANIEL A. McALLISTER and ROBINSON BAY were sent to the scene, along with U.S.C.G. POINT STEELE, and the Seaway was closed. DESGAGNES was freed on the 19th and, accompanied by the tugs and listing to port, she proceeded to Kingston for temporary repairs.
The C.S.L. steamer NIPIGON BAY has been yet another victim of accident in the Brockville area of the St. Lawrence. Upbound on October 15 with ore for Hamilton, she strayed to the south side of the river near Crossover Island and then swung back to the north shore. She was able to proceed, unloaded her cargo, and then sailed for Thunder Bay where she arrived on October 24. She is now in the shipyard and the cost of necessary repairs is estimated to be in the area of $500,000.
Reports indicate that a Torontonian named Fox has purchased from the Minister of Transport, Ottawa, the 205-foot passenger vessel NONIA, 1174 Gross, 575 Net, which was built in 1956 at Aberdeen, Scotland. NONIA has been idle recently but was previously used to service the east coast outports. Once she has managed to clear her Coast Guard safety inspection, NONIA will sail for Toronto, but we have no idea what she will do when she gets here. She has berths for 60 passengers.
The Muskoka Lakes passenger steamer SEGWUN ran sea trials on October 7 and 8 under the command of T.M.H.S. member Capt. Richard Farley. She performed well, despite minor mechanical difficulties, and an early start will be made next spring on getting the 93-year-old boat ready for her first passenger-carrying season since her retirement in 1958. We have received glowing reports on the success achieved in refurbishing her interior woodwork, and recent photos indicate that her exterior is even more impressive now than it was back when she was in regular service.
More detail is now available concerning the serious accident which befell RALPH MISENER during the summer. It occurred on August 12, while the ship was six miles out of Port Alfred, Quebec, with a cargo of 28,000 tons of petroleum coke. As a result of the failure of a locking device on an under-piston bolt, the crank case of her main diesel exploded and set off a second explosion outside the engine. Five crewmen were injured and two later died, chief engineer Peter Allan and a mechanical assistant. RALPH MISENER was towed to Port Alfred for unloading, and then to the Canadian Vickers Ltd. yard at Montreal for repairs. She returned to service during October, but with her gold stack bands replaced by the traditional silver ones.
Columbia Transportation's COURTNEY BURTON, (a) ERNEST T. WEIR (II)(79), arrived at Sturgeon Bay on August 25 and laid up in preparation for her upcoming self-unloader conversion. An early start on the work is possible as a result of the current depressed conditions in the lake shipping industry.
The Interlake Steamship Company's ELTON HOYT 2nd, converted to a self-unloader at AmShip's Toledo yard, is at last in service. She passed up the St. Clair River on her first trip on October 19th.
CANADIAN ENTERPRISE many look much like her earlier near-sister, CANADIAN TRANSPORT (II), but the similarity ends there. Significant design changes were made in the hull form and propulsion machinery of ENTERPRISE and these have paid off handsomely for Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. The improvements incorporated in the ENTERPRISE have resulted in a saving of at least 10% on fuel costs, a most important consideration in these days of ever-increasing fuel prices. Meanwhile, the next Upper Lakes self-unloader is already taking shape on the "shelf" at Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd. She will be christened CANADIAN PIONEER when she enters service during 1981.
Back in June, the Michigan Transportation Commission authorized a subsidy of $700,000 in an effort to maintain Chessie's carferry service between Ludington and Milwaukee. However, the Commission balked at requests that it renew the subsidy past September 30, citing fiscal problems which, it claimed, prevented expenditure of the vast sums necessary to preserve the Milwaukee service. The last trip on the route was scheduled for early October. Chessie must continue its Kewaunee and Manitowoc services at least until the summer of 1981, but there is no guarantee that the routes will be maintained thereafter, despite the wishes of both Wisconsin and Michigan that this be the case. The non-renewal of the Chessie subsidy also meant that the M.T.C. was no longer able to enforce its "hold" order against the proposed sale of the idle ferry SPARTAN by the railroad. Nevertheless, there is no indication of any great flock of prospective purchasers rallying 'round to snap up SPARTAN.
JOHN O. McKELLAR, upbound light for grain, suffered severe storm damage on Lake Superior on October 17. She suffered numerous cracks in her shell plating, tanktops, etc., and was making considerable water. She entered the shipyard at Thunder Bay on October 19 for repair.
The Paterson steamer QUEDOC passed up the upper St. Lawrence River on October 19 with considerable collision damage evident on her starboard bow, dodger rail and pilothouse visor. The damage was apparently caused in a collision with the salty GEORGE L., but no other details are yet available.
Back in the summer, when she was sent into early lay-up, there were fears that the Inland Steel steamer E. J. BLOCK had run her last. Fans of the 72-year-old vessel will, however, be glad to hear that she is now back in service.
The former tinstacker PETER A. B. WIDENER, recently purchased by the American Seaway Grain Company (an affiliate of Seaway Towing) for use as a storage barge, has recently forsaken her long-time Duluth home. She passed downbound at the Soo on October 4 behind the G-tug OHIO, bound for Saginaw where she loaded grain. On October 30, she was in the Welland Canal with the tugs SAINTE MARIE II, SOUTH CAROLINA and OHIO, en route to Sorel with her cargo. Once her cargo is delivered, she will return back up the lakes under tow for Duluth and, if weather permits, she will take a winter storage cargo to Buffalo. We originally thought that WIDENER would be used only for storage at Duluth, but it now seems that Seaway Towing has more ambitious plans for her. In fact, we have even heard reports that she may have her stern notched and a bowthruster installed so that she may be active in the grain trade.
The stripped-down hull of the former Halco tanker CAPE TRANSPORT continues to moulder away alongside the LaSalle Causeway at Kingston. For two years now, the canaller has been "en route" to the Caribbean for service as a water tanker, but her departure from the lakes has been, to say the least, protracted, and there there is no indication when she will depart. In contrast to her sister COVE TRANSPORT, which made her exit from the lakes via the east coast, complete with her superstructure, it was originally intended that CAPE TRANSPORT be taken down the New York State Barge Canal to the Hudson River.
The findings of the official enquiry into the fire aboard CARTIERCLIFFE HALL in June, 1979, have now been made public. According to press reports, Mr. Justice Kenneth MacKay, of the Quebec Superior Court, was extremely critical of Halco and of the ship's officers. The S.I.U. was also censured for not providing better basic training for seamen. It was also ordered that Halco pay enquiry costs in the amount of $150,000.
LAURENTIAN FOREST and AVON FOREST were 16380 Gross Ton "Ro-Ro" specialty carriers built in 1972 at Port Weller for the Burnett Steamship Company Ltd. of Newcastle-on-Tyne. Many members will recall these two red hulls lying at the Port Weller fit-out berth. Now comes word that, after only a handful of years in her intended service, LAURENTIAN FOREST has been sold to the Blackwall Shipping Company of Panama. She has been renamed (b) GRAND ENCOUNTER for her new duties.
The Ford Motor Company's steamer ERNEST R. BREECH, laid up at Dearborn as a result of business conditions, was towed in early October to Toledo where she loaded a rare (for her) storage cargo of soya beans. There are reports that other Ford boats may also have storage cargoes this winter.
The self-unloading barge BUCKEYE and tug OLIVE L. MOORE made a surprise visit to Toronto on October 23 with a load of salt. Upbound in the Welland Canal on the 24th, BUCKEYE stopped at Port Colborne to load a cargo of pig iron at the R & P coal dock. The tow returned to Toronto on November 3.
A group in Sandusky, Ohio, is attempting to raise money to build a full-scale replica of the double-ended sidewheel ferry G. A. BOECKLING which operated on Sandusky Bay until some thirty years ago. The original BOECKLING later became a stationary work facility for Peterson Builders at Sturgeon Bay. If the fund-raising campaign is successful, it is hoped that the new BOECKLING would be operative sometime in 1982, although this seems to be wishful thinking for such an ambitious project.
HOCHELAGA arrived at the Thunder Bay shipyard on October 14 for survey and inspection, and also for the installation of her new unloading boom, a replacement for the one she lost overboard at Windsor in the spring.
The salty MOUNT OTHRYS suffered a severe fire in her electrical system on August 28 whilst loading steel coils at Hamilton. The blaze was extinguished without harm to the boat's accommodations or cargo, but much damage was done to her main and auxiliary generators.
The Bultema Dock and Dredge Company has sold its crane barge MAITLAND NO. 1 for use in the Florida area, and she will be leaving the lakes in early November in tow of the tug JOHN ROEN V. MAITLAND NO. 1 was, of course, built as a carferry for Lake Erie service, but she is probably best known for her many years of service in the pulpwood trade under the colours of the Roen Steamship Company. JOHN ROEN V will return to the lakes after the long tow.
The tug TUSKER cleared Toronto on October 27 en route to Windsor to take in tow the tank barge LIQUILASSIE and bring her to Toronto. The pair will be used to carry liquid asphalt for McAsphalt Industries, the owner of the tug. During the winter, TUSKER will be on salt water and one of her tasks will be to go to New Orleans to collect two large tank barges which will be used in the asphalt trade on the lakes during 1981.
The Russian salty STANISLAVSKIY arrived at Toronto on October 3 and was promptly arrested on a court order obtained by Wallace Edwards, who has been attempting, since 1967, to collect from the Russian government the sum of $26,000 for a printing job he did for Expo '67. The York County sheriff had earlier balked at a demand that a Russian airliner be held for payment of the debt. STANISLAVSKIY was freed on October 10 after the ship's agents posted a bond to cover claim and costs plus a further amount as protection for other Canadians who might have a claim against the U.S.S.R. The ship cleared port on the 15th after loading was completed. Edwards then attempted to enforce his 1973 Ontario Supreme Court judgment against the Murmansk Shipping Company's $100,000 payment into a court trust account. Efforts were made to seize the bank account of the Russian embassy in Ottawa and, eventually, Edwards and the U.S.S.R. reached an out-of-court settlement.
Jacques Cousteau's oceanographic research vessel CALYPSO appeared on the lakes during the late summer and early autumn. She travelled widely in the area and her crew made some interesting dives, particularly those involving GUNILDA and EDMUND FITZGERALD on Lake Superior. Unfortunately, one of CALYPSO's crew died on September 3 whilst diving near Picton, Ontario.
We understand that the American Shipbuilding Company and the Bay Shipbuilding Corp. will both bid against an unidentified east coast shipyard in an attempt to secure the contract to build a coal-fired self-unloader designed for service between Newport News, Virginia, and other U.S. east coast ports. No further details are presently available.
We report in these pages major developments concerning deep-sea passenger vessels, for many of our members are greatly interested in such matters. Unfortunately, we must now comment upon the worst disaster to befall such a ship in recent years. The 1973-built Holland America Line cruise vessel PRINSENDAM was en route from Vancouver to the Far East when, in the early morning of October 4, she suffered an engineroom fire. The flames rapidly spread to the passenger accommodations and the entire complement of passengers and crew took to the lifeboats. During the night and following morning, all of those in the boats were picked up by Coast Guard helicopters and by the nearby tanker WILLIAMSBURG. Eventually, as a result of the largest marine rescue in modern times, all 519 persons were safely landed at Alaskan ports. PRINSENDAM was totally gutted by the fire and, although efforts were made to take her in tow, her hull suffered mortal damage and, on October 11, exactly one week after the fire broke out, she suddenly listed to starboard and quickly sank beneath the waters of the Gulf of Alaska. The wreck lies in 9,000 feet of water some 79 miles southwest of Sitka, Alaska. The loss of PRINSENDAM, albeit unaccompanied by any loss of life, is all the more tragic in view of the excellent safety record which has been maintained over the years by the Holland America Line.
The film shot aboard BROOKDALE in late August was an episode of "The Littlest Hobo" series which was aired in the Toronto area on October 23. The program was uninspired but did contain some good interior views of BROOKDALE's cabins.
"Scanner" Back Issues
The T.M.H.S. Archives (a cluttered corner in Ye Ed's cellar) still contain numerous back issues of "Scanner" which are available to our members. We would like to clear out most of these valuable items to make more storage space for future issues. If interested, please address the Editor and state clearly which issues you require. We are unable to supply straight runs of "Scanner", as many of the older issues are long since out of print, but we may just have the ones for which you are looking.
Please note, however, that increased postage costs and the severely depleted T.M.H.S. treasury have forced us to increase the price of back issues to $1.50 each postpaid. We feel that this price is still most reasonable considering the quality of our publication and the effort that goes into producing it.
Re the October Issue of "Scanner"
As you are all aware, we do our best to maintain the appearance and format of "Scanner" each month, despite the problems of spacing and the quantity of material to be presented. We do this in an effort to please all of our members, but particularly those who have their copies specially bound.
We must, therefore, apologize for the fact that, when preparing the October issue, our printer somehow reproduced pages 8 and 9 on green stock instead of page 14 as requested. We will do our best to ensure that this does not occur again.
Ship of the Month No. 96
We have frequently featured in these pages the early Canadian canallers, those which were built close to the turn of the century. Indeed, it may seem as if we have devoted excessive attention to these steamers over the years, perhaps ignoring some of the more familiar vessels of the upper lakes. There is, however, a modicum of sense in our madness; these canallers were a great step forward from the small wooden vessels which they superceded and many of them enjoyed extremely long lives, longer, perhaps, than was originally intended when they were built. Of more importance to us, though, is the fact that, while many of the upper lakers have had the details of their careers preserved in print in the various marine historical journals, few of these old canallers have been as fortunate. As the canallers were indigenous to the area which the Toronto Marine Historical Society calls home, we consider it part of our duty to preserve in print their stories, particularly those which have not been featured under other circumstances.
WAHCONDAH, with her original forward cabins and flush forecaste, was caught on the St. Clair River by the camera of Pesha, c. 1911.It is not infrequently that the names of R. O. and A. B. Mackay creep into these features, for they were Hamilton entrepreneurs who were deeply involved in the Canadian shipping scene during the early years of the twentieth century. These gentlemen had their fingers into many pies and few were the major Canadian lake fleets that were not touched in some manner by the Mackay influence.
It was probably late in 1902 that the Mackays let to Russell and Company of Port Glasgow, Scotland, a contract for the construction of a steel-hulled package freighter of canal dimensions. Built as the yard's Hull 509. she was a little smaller than the usual canallers of later years, measuring 230.4 feet in length, 37.1 feet in the beam and 21.8 feet in depth. Her tonnage was registered as 1575 Gross and 976 Net. She was powered by a triple expansion engine built for her by J. G. Kincaid and Company, Greenock, with cylinders of 18, 28 and 47 inches, and a stroke of 33 inches. Steam was provided by two coal-fired Scotch boilers built for the ship. They measured 12'6" by 10'6".
The hull was launched on March 13, 1903, and was, in due course, enrolled as Br.102577 with a port of registry of Glasgow, Scotland. Like many of the British-built canallers, she was originally registered in Great Britain, a practice which continued to be in vogue until the 1920s. It was, of course, no great problem to transfer such boats to Canadian registry at a later date and most eventually made the change, particularly those which managed to survive the First World War or were built subsequent to the conflict. As the British and Canadian registries were closely allied, a change from one to the other did not result in any change in official number.
The new steamer was given the name WAHCONDAH, a rather unusual name but one which bore certain similarities to the name NEEPAWAH which was given to her near-sister, built the same year for the Mackays. "Wahcondah" appears to be a variant of the Sioux word meaning "creator" or "great mystic spirit". It is not known why the Mackays chose this particular name for their new boat, but it appears to have suited her and she kept it throughout her half-century of lake service.
Most of the early canallers built in British shipyards were designed along the lines of seagoing ships of their period, with the bridge set back off the forecastle. NEEPAWAH was of this type. By contrast, WAHCONDAH had her square texas and likewise square pilothouse, with open bridge atop, set directly above a completely flush forecastle. Period photographs, showing her forward end completely encased with ice after late-season trips, vouch for the fact that this arrangement caused her to be an extremely "wet" ship. She carried two masts, one abaft the first hatch and the main about two-thirds aft, each mast carrying cargo booms slung both fore and aft.
WAHCONDAH must have been launched in a nearly-completed state, for it was less than a month later that she sailed from the shipyard. She cleared the United Kingdom on her delivery voyage en route to the Great Lakes on April 11, 1903. She arrived in Canada during May but soon had the misfortune of being involved in an accident. Upbound in the St. Lawrence canals with a cargo of firebrick and drawing 14 feet of water, she stranded at Farran's Point and subsequently settled in a spot in the canal where the river was 17 feet deep. The ship was soon raised and quickly repaired.
Although she had been designed and built for the package freight service, WAHCONDAH spent a considerable period of time after her arrival on the lakes carrying iron ore from Michipicoten to Point Edward. The Mackays had contracted in May of 1903 to deliver 150,000 tons of ore during that navigation season to the Hamilton Steel Company (later known as the Steel Company of Canada Ltd.). WAHCONDAH carried her ore only as far as Point Edward, from which port it was sent by rail to Hamilton. Also used in this service were the canallers DONNACONA (I) and STRATHCONA, which were managed by R. O. and A. B. Mackay for the Hamilton Steel Company.
Upon the termination of the Michipicoten ore contract, WAHCONDAH joined NEEPAWAH in the package freight trade between Montreal and Fort William, operating under the management of the Montreal-Lake Superior Line. This arrangement remained in effect during the 1904, 1905 and 1906 seasons and, during 1906, the other steamers used on the service were the three sisterships A. E. AMES, H. M. PELLATT and J. H. PLUMMER, as well as the iron-hulled veteran ARABIAN. For the 1906 season, the New Ontario Steamship Company was formed by the Mackays to operate both WAHCONDAH and NEEPAWAH.
At the close of navigation in 1906, however, the Montreal-Lake Superior Line was dissolved. In 1907, the Brothers Mackay became managers of the newly-formed Merchants Montreal-Lake Superior Line in association with G. E. Jaques and Company of Montreal. That year, the vessels used in the package freight service between Montreal and the Lakehead were Mackays' WAHCONDAH, NEEPAWAH and ROSEDALE, Jaques' BICKERDIKE, the Montreal Transportation Company's ADVANCE, and the Mathews Steamship Company's sisterships EDMONTON and HADDINGTON.
It was in June, 1907, that the Wahcondah Steamship Company was formed with a capital of $100,000 in order to take over ownership of WAHCONDAH. The directors of the new company were R. O. Mackay, W. G. Walton, F. A. Magee, F. H. Whitton, J. Milne, J. P. Steedman and C. E. Doolittle. Be all this as it may, the New Ontario Steamship Company appears to have continued to manage WAHCONDAH within the Merchants Montreal consortium.
In May, 1908, the Inland Navigation Company Ltd. was incorporated by the Mackays under the Dominion Companies Act with a capital of $2,000,000. The new firm took over not only the ten Mackay steamers, including WAHCONDAH, but also the wharfinger, cartage, warehousing and coal business of R. O. and A. B. Mackay at Hamilton, the shed and wharf privileges at Montreal, and the business and property of the Mackay-affiliated New Ontario Dock and Coal Company Ltd. at Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. With this reorganization, R. O. Mackay withdrew from active participation in the family's shipping affairs, but A. B. Mackay continued to represent their interests as vice-president of the new company.
It was in 1909 that the registry of WAHCONDAH was patriated from the U.K. to Canada. The name of the port of Glasgow was removed from her counter stern and, in its place, appeared that of Hamilton, Ontario, the city in which the Mackay Brothers resided. It was not long, however, before the ownership of WAHCONDAH again changed.
In March, 1910, James Playfair of Midland, Ontario, gained control of the Inland Navigation Company Ltd. by purchasing a large block of shares, including the 27,000 owned by the Mackays. Playfair then reorganized the company as Inland Lines Ltd., bringing together into one fleet the former Mackay boats and those previously operated by the Playfair interests. At this time, A. B. Mackay retired from management of the fleet which his family had built up, but he did not leave the shipping scene, for he then became an active vessel broker. The departure of the Mackays did not, however, mean that the Inland fleet was without a driving force whose name was one with which to be reckoned. James Playfair, himself, was a major shipping entrepreneur whose empire was to grow considerably throughout the following three decades. The majority of the large Canadian fleets which today are engaged in the moving of solid bulk cargoes cannot but admit that, in some stage of their development or that of their predecessors, they came under the influence of James Playfair. In point of fact, it is difficult to imagine what the state of the Canadian lake shipping industry might be today were it not for the influence of the Mackays and of James Playfair during the first four decades of this century.
WAHCONDAH operated for Inland Lines Ltd. for three full seasons but a major change came in 1913. That spring, there occurred the totally unprecedented amalgamation of Canadian lake shipping firms which resulted in the formation of what was first and briefly called the Canada Transportation Company Ltd. but was soon rechristened Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal. The main proponents of this merger were Roy M. Wolvin and Capt. J. W. Norcross, and the story of how they dealt to create the largest fleet ever to operate under the Canadian flag on the Great Lakes is one which would fill many pages. Their methods may have been "questionable" at times, but there is no doubt that they were able to build a strong organization, one which continues to function as a corporate conglomerate almost seven decades later.
WAHCONDAH remained in lake trade under C.S.L. colours until 1915, at which time, due to the demand for tonnage created by the First World War, she was taken to salt water for service. Before leaving the lakes, however, she was involved in a most serious collision on Lake Huron. She was downbound in the early morning of July 12, 1915, with wheat from Fort William for Montreal, when she was beset by a dense fog. Whilst off Presque Isle, she collided with the "monitor" type straight-deck bulk carrier CHOCTAW of the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company. (The "monitors", CHOCTAW, YUMA and ANDASTE, were the unsuccessful product of a blend of the whaleback and straight-back designs.) CHOCTAW was upbound light and was struck between the first and second hatches; the wound was mortal and she sank within a matter of minutes. WAHCONDAH's bow was badly crumpled but, after rescuing CHOCTAW's crew, she was able to proceed down Lake Huron under her own power for inspection at Sarnia.
A formal investigation was instituted by the Dominion Wreck Commissioner, the acerbic and much-feared Capt. L. A. Demers. He convened an official hearing at Kingston and, on July 28, 1915, the court of enquiry found that the captain and first mate of WAHCONDAH, Capt. Cornelius Dineen and David Chambers, respectively, had each contributed to the casualty. The master was held at fault for not being at his post during thick weather and for allowing his vessel to proceed at full speed during a fog. The mate was faulted for not stopping WAHCONDAH when he heard a warning signal from CHOCTAW, and for not calling the master to the bridge earlier. Both of WAHCONDAH's officers suffered the indignity of having their respective certificates suspended for the period of one year.
After she was repaired from her collision damage and returned to service, WAHCONDAH was sent to salt water to aid the war effort. In 1916, C.S.L. sold her to the Seatonia Steamship Company Ltd. of West Hartlepool, England, of which Hessler and Company was manager. She reverted to British registry at this time and her home port was changed from Hamilton to West Hartlepool. She operated under the British flag for the remainder of the war. On August 27, 1917, WAHCONDAH was badly damaged in a 60 m.p.h. gale off Scully Island, whilst en route to Swansea, Wales. One member of her crew lost his life in this encounter with the sort of seas which the steamer was never designed to withstand. But WAHCONDAH survived the storm and she remained under the management of Hessler and Company until 1920, when she was sold to Williams Brothers of Cardiff, Wales, operators of the St. Mary Steamship Company.
On October 26, 1922, WAHCONDAH was repurchased by one of her original owners, A. B. Mackay, who, as a result of "difficulties" in Canada, had become a resident of London, England, and the Isle of Wight. He returned her to the lakes and sold her to Capt. James B. Foote, who acted in the sale for the Union Transit Company Ltd. of Toronto (the Toronto Insurance and Vessel Agency Ltd.).
When WAHCONDAH came back from her deep sea service, she sported a raised forecastle, much as did most other canallers by that time. It is not known exactly when she gained this benefit, but one can hardly imagine her operating in ocean service with a flush forecastle, a combination which would have led to much damage in her forward quarters. It seems reasonable to assume that the raised bow was given to her when she was repaired after the CHOCTAW collision, but it is possible that it might not have been done until after she crossed the ocean. After all, she did make her delivery voyage from Glasgow with a flush forward end and emerged none the worse for that experience.
One other strange point is worth noting. As built for the package freight trade, WAHCONDAH had sideports for the loading of general cargo. She used these regularly until she left to go to war but, when she came back, she no longer had the sideports. One might have thought that they would simply have been welded closed or plated over, but no, her entire sides had been replated in such a manner that it was impossible to tell where her cargo doors had been. Such a rebuilding was extremely unusual.
The Union Transit Company Ltd. ran WAHCONDAH until 1925, when she was sold to the Wahcondah Navigation Company Ltd., a subsidiary of the Spanish River Pulp and Paper Company Ltd. of Iroquois Falls, Ontario. This company was absorbed in 1930 by the Abitibi Power and Paper Company Ltd. Its vessel-owning subsidiary, the Abitibi Navigation Company Ltd., took control of WAHCONDAH and, on May 6, 1930, her registry was changed to Toronto. From 1930 onwards, WAHCONDAH operated in the pulp and paper trade and, for this purpose, she was fitted with two chain hoists which were positioned over the first and third hatches in order to handle cargo. It was during this period that she was also given a new pilothouse with a slightly rounded front. She was at Toronto on several occasions with paper cargoes and, when she first came here, she did not have the new cabin. It is likely that she gained this new appendage during the late 1920s.
As a result of the poor business conditions during the Great Depression, WAHCONDAH saw little service during the early 1930s. She was laid up from 1933 until 1936 in Martindale Pond above old Lock One at Port Dalhousie. Her companions for much of this period were the old Mathews steamer MALTON and the barge TURRET CAPE, these being joined at various times by assorted vessels of the Eastern Steamship Company Ltd.
She was refitted in 1936, however, and at this time her two original masts were replaced by poles fore and aft. She was returned to service by Abitibi Navigation, for whom she served for the next two decades. During this period, she was given small enclosed wings on each side of her pilothouse (which itself had received a new rounded front); they somewhat resembled the wings added to the pilothouses of the early Boland and Cornelius self-unloaders. We do not know for sure why WAHCONDAH was given these wings, but we suspect that it had something to do with providing an enclosed position of visibility for her officers during loading and unloading work.
Outbound from Toronto during her last few years of Abitibi service, WAHCONDAH was phtographed by James M. Kidd from the Cherry Beach pier of the Eastern Gap.It was, perhaps, during her Abitibi years that WAHCONDAH was best known to shipping observers. She stayed mainly on the upper lakes, carrying paper to Chicago from Espanola, Ontario, but she did stray down the canals occasionally. She appeared infrequently at Toronto but did bring the odd load of soya beans to Victory Mills. She looked rather peculiar in her later years, with her unusual pilothouse, her full forecastle which broke straight downwards to the deck without curved flashing, her odd deck gear, and her stubby foremast. The main was a thin pole, nicely raked, which rose abaft the stack. Her funnel, however, was not raked and looked all the more odd in that it rose from a boilerhouse whose bunker rail was not cut level with the deck but rather sloped downwards as it ran past the bunker hatch and the stack to the forward boilerhouse bulkhead. If WAHCONDAH was a bit peculiar in design, however, she made up for it with her colours. Her hull was an attractive shade of dark green, while her forecastle and cabins were white. The stack was red with a black smokeband white triangle, on which was superimposed a green pine tree. In earlier years, the triangle and tree were carried on a white band.
WAHCONDAH, by this time more than fifty years old, had outlived her usefulness to Abitibi by 1955 and she was then retired from service. She was sold on August 11, 1955, to Benjamin Newman of St. Catharines, the proprietor of a scrap metal firm which dismantled many canallers at Port Dalhousie and which is still active today in the marine scrap business. It seemed apparent that WAHCONDAH's career was over and that she would shortly be scrapped.
Proudly displaying Ahern colours, WAHCONDAH was upbound above Welland Canal Lock 1 when captured by the camera of James M. Kidd early in 1956.The veteran steamer, however, received a reprieve from the torches when she was purchased in September, 1955, by Ahern Shipping Ltd., Montreal, the coastal shipping enterprise of the well-known Capt. Steve Ahern. WAHCONDAH was drydocked at Port Dalhousie and was given a thorough refit in preparation for her new duties. She was painted black with white forward cabins and forecastle rail, and a brown after cabin. Her stack was buff with a black top, Ahern's usual colours for his mismatched collection of floating museum pieces which passed for a fleet. It was reported that the boat would be renamed (b) AHERN COASTER, but this change never took place and, when she cleared for Montreal on her first trip, she still proudly carried the name WAHCONDAH.
On June 29, 1956, William Forest Dods of Montreal was appointed manager for WAHCONDAH's operations and, on July 23, she was reregistered at Montreal. She traded on the St. Lawrence River, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the east coast, and the only major change made to her during this time was that she was fitted with a rather ungainly kingpost equipped with four long booms.
The rather rag-tag Ahern fleet ceased operations in the early 1960s and the fleet was dispersed. WAHCONDAH was sold in 1963 to Aceitera y Transportadora Continental de Puerto Mexico, S.A., of Vera Cruz, Mexico. She was taken to the warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico and was renamed (b) ALALC by her new owner. She apparently was not particularly suitable for service in Mexican waters, perhaps because of her steam machinery, and by 1964 she was laid up at New Orleans, swinging at anchor in the Mississippi River.
Whether ALALC ever operated again is not known, but we suspect that she did not. It was reported that she was dismantled in Mexico in May of 1969. Her life ended far from the waters of the Great Lakes which she had sailed for so many years, but she left behind fond memories for those who had seen the peculiar little steamer with the odd name as she bustled about the lakes.
(For his assistance in researching the history of WAHCONDAH, we are indebted to our Chief Purser, James M. Kidd.)
A Sunday Ferry Case
Sunday is generally the best day of the week for excursion boats, for that is the day on which the majority of people seek rest and relaxation on the water. This was not always the case, however, for there was a time when people were expected to divide their Sundays between church and meditation at home. Streetcars did not run on Sunday and neither did the excursion boats.
That is, most of them did not. It would seem, however, that the pretty little steamer ONGIARA of the Niagara Navigation Company Ltd. did run between Lewiston, N.Y., and Queenston, Ontario, on Sundays during the summer of 1899, and that the zealous protectors of "The Lord's Day" took violent objection to her services being provided on such "inappropriate" occasions. The report that follows appeared in the August, 1899, issue of "The Railway and Shipping World".
"In the charge against Capt. McIntyre, of the steamer ONGIARA, for Sabbath profanation, brought at Niagara recently, judgment was reserved. The defence put in a number of pleas, but it is held that the magistrate has no jurisdiction. The remedy, if any, is a civil one by action only. The Provincial Legislature can make a crime of it or amend the Lord's Day Act, which was in force at Confederation. It is claimed that the Legislature has no jurisdiction in respect to the Niagara River, as it is an international highway, and that the Dominion Parliament alone has jurisdiction. The Niagara Navigation Co. has a Dominion charter, and when a corporation is not liable, its servant is not liable."
The matter was obviously one of great local interest, for the same journal carried a rather more detailed report of the court's findings in its issue of September, 1899.
"On June 22, W.H.J. Evans, J.P. for Lincoln, Ontario, issued a summons against Capt. McIntyre, charging him with 'unlawfully carrying on the business or work of his ordinary calling on the Lord's Day, by being the captain of the steamer ONGIARA, engaged on the said Lord's Day in Sunday excursions, and having for their only or principal object the carriage of Sunday passengers, for amusement or pleasure only, and to go and return on the same day by the same boat'. The ONGIARA, owned by the Niagara Navigation Company, plies between Queenston and Lewiston as a ferry boat, and evidence was taken at Niagara-on-the-Lake on July 12, the County Attorney appearing for the prosecution and J.J. Foy, Q.C., for the defence.
"Several witnesses were examined and the magistrate reserved judgment. It was contended for the defence, among other things, that the Provincial Legislature, which introduced in 1882 the legislation as to Sunday excursions has no jurisdiction to pass any such law, inasmuch as it purports to create a criminal offence not previously existing, and that the Dominion Parliament alone has such jurisdiction. At the time of Confederation, a Lord's Day Act was in force, and it was contended that the Ontario Legislation cannot vary that law, so far, at all events, as to make anything criminal that was not previously so. The case of Regina v. The Dominion Electric Tram Co., decided by the full Bench in Nova Scotia, was cited as authority for this proposition. It was further contended that the local Legislature has no jurisdiction in respect of boats navigating the Niagara River, which is an international highway. The Dominion Parliament alone has jurisdiction in respect of navigation and shipping and navigable waters, and more especially those forming the boundary of any of the provinces. It was also contended that the running of the ONGIARA between Niagara and Lewiston was not for the carrying of passengers for amusement or pleasure only, but to carry travellers, and that the carrying of travellers is not a violation of the Lord's Day Act.
"The magistrate, on August 11, delivered judgment for the defendant, without stating the particular grounds on which he agreed with the contention of the defence. It is, however, understood that he conferred with the Attorney-General's Department in Toronto before giving his decision."
Despite the fact that the Niagara Navigation Company Ltd. had the reputation of being a very staid and proper company, and did not even operate its large cross-lake steamers between Toronto and Niagara on Sundays until well into the second decade of the new century, the little ONGIARA seemed destined to be a continual annoyance to the local authorities. She provided a most valuable cross-river service, but was frequently cited for infractions of one sort or another, real or imagined.
ONGIARA, (a) QUEEN CITY (88), (C.90562), was a wooden, double-deck, propellor driven steam ferry built in 1885 at Toronto by Melancthon Simpson. She was 90.0 x 18.4 x 5'4, 98 Gross and 64 Net, and was powered by a high-pressure non-condensing engine, 14" x 16", built at Toronto by the Doty Engine Company. Doty also built her 5' x 10' firebox boiler. She was bought by the Niagara Navigation Company Ltd. in 1888 for the river ferry service and was renamed at that time. She was also used to carry Niagara-grown fruit to Toronto each autumn. In 1912, ONGIARA was purchased by Capt. Pat. McSherry of Toronto who used her for towing in and around Toronto Bay. She foundered in Lake Ontario off Bowmanville on October 17, 1918.
One More Time For Turret Cape
In the October issue, we featured the steamer/barge/dredge/motorvessel TURRET CAPE, (b) SUN CHIEF, (c) WALTER INKSTER. Paul Sherlock of Fonthill, Ontario, has added the information that INKSTER, while operating for Misener, carried screenings from Fort William to Duluth. We mentioned that, after her sale to A. Newman and Company of St. Catharines for scrapping at Port Dalhousie, it was rumoured that she might be purchased by Capt. Steve Ahern for further service. Thanks to Kevin Griffin of Westmount, Quebec, we now have further documentation of this proposed reactivation of the retired turret.
It seems that, early in 1957, the Clarke Steamship Company Ltd. was casting about for a ship to use in the bulk cement trade from Montreal and Quebec City to Forestville. Clarke eyed both the idle WALTER INKSTER and the saltwater vessel EASTIDE, the latter being in the service of the Reoch Steamship Company Ltd. under charter at the time. On February 27, 1957, Clarke's Paul Preville conducted a detailed inspection of the INKSTER at Port Dalhousie in company with Jack Downey who represented A. Newman and Company. Unfortunately, WALTER INKSTER was showing her age and the ravages of much hard use. It was apparently concluded that she would not be the most suitable vessel for the cement trade and, accordingly, she remained in lay-up pending her dismantling. As Clarke often chartered boats from Steve Ahern during the 1950s, we can only assume that the plan was for Ahern to purchase INKSTER and then charter her out to Clarke. This plan never came to fruition, probably as a result of the report on her inspection.
Instead, Clarke arranged to charter the diesel canaller FARRANDOC (II) from N. M. Paterson and Sons Ltd. This boat made 77 trips in the cement trade for Clarke, 25 in 1957, 42 in 1958, and 10 in 1959. It was for this reason that FARRANDOC was seldom seen in lake trade during the 1957 and 1958 seasons and the spring of 1959.
Avalon Voyager Is Lost
Until she was sold for use in Kincardine several years ago, the wooden-hulled, powered fishing schooner AVALON VOYAGER II, built on the east coast, was a familiar sight in Toronto Harbour. Recently acquired by Hank Buitendyk for use as a floating restaurant at Owen Sound, she cleared Kincardine under her own power on October 29. On the 30th, she encountered problems with a water pump and lost all engine power. In heavy seas, she struck Cape Hurd Reef and, her anchor not holding, she drifted into Hay Bay. The fishtug W.A. SPEARS came to the scene and rigged a towline but it soon parted and AVALON VOYAGER grounded beam-on to the seas. A rescue dinghy overturned in the waves and one of the tug's men had to swim across with a line to get the owner and five-man crew off the VOYAGER. All were rescued safely but, on October 31, the wind changed direction and the 34-year-old vessel began to break up. There is little doubt that the boat is a total loss.