The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Scanner, v. 13, n. 3 (December 1980)
Scanner (Toronto, ON), Dec 1980

Bascom, John N., Editor
Media Type:
Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Marine News; The Joys Of Patent ; Lay-up Listings; The Invasion Of Toronto Harbour
Date of Publication:
Dec 1980
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Toronto Marine Historical Society
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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).

Friday, February 6th - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Program to be Announced.

The Editor's Notebook

The November Meeting was a great success, a most enjoyable evening for all present. We sincerely thank Brian Hebb for lending us his film on the rebuilding of TRILLIUM, and Captains Richard Farley and Charles Colenutt for sharing with us some of their experiences aboard TRILLIUM since her return to service.

We greatly appreciate the speedy response of so many members to our recent requests for membership renewals. Many of you sent additional funds to help defray postage costs, etc., and many more wrote very kind notes concerning the quality of our publication. We could not possibly send personal replies to all who wrote, but we want you all to understand how much we value your kindness and your continued support.

In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to Richard Bockus of St. Catharines, to Jack P. Dowhy of Dollard des Ormeaux, Quebec, to Cyril F. Hudson of Sarnia, to Lawrence C. Reha of Harsens Island, Michigan, to Ronald Frantz of Marine City, Michigan, to David R. Nolan of Ashtabula, Ohio, to W. P. Dunphy of Guelph, to Capt. Ronald McDonald of Prescott, and to William J. Bauer of Elmhurst, Illinois.

Greetings of the Season

The 1980 navigation season has been an unusual one on the Great Lakes. We have seen some of the worst business conditions in recent memory, with the result that many lakers spent part if not all of the year in lay-up. With the shipyards extremely busy on new construction, it is very likely that many of the vessels idled in 1980 will never again see active service. Some very familiar boats have passed into history during the year, and many more will soon follow unless there should occur a marked reversal of present trends.

The 1980 season had its share of major accidents, but we can all derive considerable satisfaction from the fact that the number of such misfortunes was much reduced from the shocking total which was run up during 1979. We sincerely hope that all of our friends and members who sail the lakes or who are engaged in vessel management chalked up a happy and safe navigation season this year and we wish them the same for 1981. Indeed, we extend the same wish to all of our members, and to our Society itself.

But now, as the skies and waters of the lakes take on the familiar grey tint of winter, as the snows obscure the horizons, and as the haze rises from the cold waters, the ships scurry about for their last cargoes of the year before heading for the calm and safety of winter quarters. We wish them safe passage.

And to all of the many members of the Toronto Marine Historical Society, we extend our very best wishes for a Merry Christmas and for all possible Happiness in the New Year. Take care, friends, and may 1981 bring to you all a full measure of love, warmth and success.

Marine News

We have sad news to report this month, for yet another of the veterans of lake service has been retired. This time around, it is the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company Ltd. steamer LAC DES ILES, (a) LYMAN C. SMITH (66), (b) MARTHA HINDMAN (79). Built in 1905 as Hull 159 of the Detroit Shipbuilding Company at Wyandotte, Michigan, she was originally owned by the L. C. Smith Transit Company which, in 1911, was merged into the Great Lakes Steamship Company. She was the proud recipient of the stack of the Wilson steamer B. F. JONES (I), which was scrapped after a collision with CASON J. CALLAWAY on Lake Munuscong on August 21, 1955. LYMAN C. SMITH passed in 1957 to the Wilson Marine Transit Company, in 1965 to the Hindman Transportation Company of Owen Sound, and in 1978 to Q & O. She spent the winter of 1979-80 at Toronto, and fitted out early in the spring. She ran for most of the 1980 season in the grain trade and made three rare appearances at Toronto, one of these being for the strange purpose of loading Ontario grain for delivery at Port McNicoll. On November 17, she entered Port Weller drydock for her four-year inspection and survey but, within two hours of going on the dock, it was obvious that her bottom was in such poor condition that even a full inspection, much less repair, was economically unwarranted. She was refloated on November 18, proceeded to Toronto under her own power, and, at 11:40 p.m. that evening, made fast at Berth 283 near the foot of Jarvis Street. Shortly thereafter, her master radioed Toronto Harbour Communications to report that the ship was secured, and the conversation ended with the prophetic message "Good Night, Toronto - LAC DES ILES". Q & O is frantically searching for a replacement boat for its fleet, but has given LAC DES ILES a decent lay-up, instead of simply dropping steam immediately, perhaps as a precaution against the possibility of having to repair and reactivate her in the spring if a suitable replacement cannot be obtained. We assume that the tired old steamer will hold storage soya beans for the winter for Victory Mills, and be sold for scrapping next spring.

The idle Q & O steamer MARLHILL will not be making the one-way trip to the breakers until sometime in 1981. It had earlier been suggested that a scrap sale for the 72-year-old bulk carrier had already been arranged and that she would depart her Toronto berth this autumn. As it developed, however, arrangements were made for MARLHILL to spend the coming winter at Toronto with a storage cargo of soya beans for Victory Soya Mills Ltd. The vessel, whose active career was unexpectedly terminated early in 1980 as a result of boiler failure detected whilst fitting out, was hauled to Victory Mills from her Leslie Street berth on November 5, and was loaded with beans. The loading operation took about a week, following which MARLHILL was moored across the end of the Cousins Terminal at Pier 35. We understand that MARLHILL's service as a storage hull will be relatively short; she is to be unloaded during the winter and will be sold for scrap early in 1981.

The Welland firm of E. S. Fox Ltd. is seeking approval for the proposed construction of a $5,500,000 shipyard to be located on the abandoned section of the Welland Canal just above Port Robinson. It is hoped that construction can begin sometime in 1982. The company's eventual goal is to operate a marine repair yard with facilities to build canal shunters and coastal patrol boats. It will be recalled that the two prototype shunters were constructed at the present Fox fabricating plant at Niagara Falls.

Two-thirds of the present fleet of Westdale Shipping Ltd., namely the self-unloaders SILVERDALE and NORDALE, have recently been on drydock at Port Weller. Both steamers passed survey and inspection with flying colours. ERINDALE, apparently, is not due for docking this season. Although the de-boomed BROOKDALE has been sold for scrapping at Port Maitland, there is a possibility that part of her may survive; we have heard that her boilers may be removed and placed in the Q & O steamer LAC STE. ANNE. Meanwhile, in order to replace BROOKDALE and maintain cargo commitments, the American Steamship Company's JOHN A. KLING has been operating to Westdale's account since her reactivation early in October. KLING has been running mainly in the salt trade, with two trips down to Hamilton and several others to Lake Michigan ports. There are those who suggest that KLING may be purchased by Westdale at the close of 1980, but we have no confirmation of this at present .

A collision on Lake Michigan's Grand Traverse Bay on November 5 resulted in the loss of the Selvick Marine Towing Corporation's 1906-built tug LAUREN CASTLE and the death of her engineer. Earlier, the Amoco Oil Company steam tanker AMOCO WISCONSIN had become disabled with engine failure out on Lake Michigan. She was en route to Traverse City with a gasoline cargo at the time, and a Coast Guard tug towed her into Grand Traverse Bay, after which the tow was taken over by Selvick tugs. At about 1:30 a.m. on the 5th, while some l 1/2 miles northeast of Lee's Point, LAUREN CASTLE somehow collided with the disabled tanker. The tug rapidly capsized and sank in 390 feet of water, all her crew having been rescued with the exception of the engineer. AMOCO WISCONSIN received minor damage in the accident and a small amount of gasoline escaped before the cargo could be shifted to other tanks aboard the 50-year-old boat. The sinking of LAUREN CASTLE, however, caused a major spill of diesel fuel with which authorities had to contend. It is not yet known how the collision between tug and tanker occurred, although an investigation was begun by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The former steam passenger and auto ferry THE STRAITS OF MACKINAC is being dismantled at Sturgeon Bay by Peterson Builders Inc. Peterson acquired the old ferry in 1969 after she had been retired by Straits Transit Inc. which had, in turn, acquired her almost a decade earlier from the State of Michigan Highway Department. The ferry, built in 1928 at River Rouge by the Great Lakes Engineering Works, operated originally between St. Ignace and Mackinaw City. She appeared to be permanently out of a job when the Mackinac Bridge opened in 1957, but Straits Transit reactivated her in 1960 for the Mackinac Island service.

Photo by the Editor shows CHIEF WAWATAM backing away from the Mackinaw City dock on July 25, 1980. On October 27, she struck that pier and suffered considerable damage to her bow.The venerable steam carferry CHIEF WAWATAM has survived many difficult times in the past few years, but most of these have been of political origin. Now she has managed to survive yet another threat to her continued service, this time a collision. On October 27, during high winds, the CHIEF suffered some $87,500 damage when she struck the dock at Mackinaw City whilst landing there. Several bow plates were badly damaged and State of Michigan officials gave serious consideration to the question of whether the aging, coal-fired ferry was worth fixing. The Michigan Northern Railroad complained bitterly of the effects on its revenues if the CHIEF, the only direct rail link between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan, were retired, and so the decision was made early in November to repair the ferry . It was planned to do the work on CHIEF WAWATAM at her St. Ignace dock..

The much-delayed entry into service of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation's latest 1,000-footer, BURNS HARBOR, at last took place in late September. The boat, built by Bay Shipbuilding at Sturgeon Bay, passed upbound through the St. Mary's River on her maiden voyage on September 29. BURNS HARBOR was actually completed by BayShip earlier in the year, but did not enter service during the summer as previously scheduled because of various problems and the lack of demand for tonnage in this year of poor business conditions.

We had earlier believed that all of the U.S. Steel steamers sold for scrapping this summer had been towed to Montreal, with the exception of D. G. KERR, which had been taken by TUSKER all the way to Sydney, Nova Scotia. It now seems that this was not the case. ALVA C. DINKEY and GOVERNOR MILLER were taken through to Quebec City, from which port both steamers cleared on October 18 in tow of the tug CATHY B., destined for a Spanish scrapyard. To be perfectly honest, we are surprised that the scrap tows would set out across the Atlantic so late in the season, particularly in view of the number of old lakers that have been lost during the course of late-season tows across the ocean. (CATHY B. is owned by Fednav Ltd. and is registered at Halifax.)

While the U.S. Steel Great Lakes Fleet has been laying up most of its fleet during the autumn, one of its steamers has made an unexpected return to service. T. W. ROBINSON, the 1925-built "Bradley" self-unloader, had gone into winter quarters earlier in the fall, but was reactivated during November as a replacement for CALCITE II while the latter underwent repairs for mechanical problems.

The last remains of the beautiful U.S. Steel steamer JAMES A. FARRELL were cut up at the Duluth scrapyard of the Hyman-Michaels Company in early November. Work will undoubtedly now proceed on the final dismantling of the cut-down hulls of RICHARD TRIMBLE and PERCIVAL ROBERTS JR., as well as on the as-yet-untouched WILLIAM B. SCHILLER.

The American Seaway Grain Company's barge (and former steamer) PETER A. B. WIDENER did make it safely to Sorel with her grain cargo, but late-season weather conditions have conspired to cancel plans for another trip with grain to Buffalo before the close of navigation. WIDENER, along with tugs OHIO, SOUTH CAROLINA and SAINTE MARIE II, was in the Welland Canal, downbound, on October 30 but spent three days windbound at the Welland dock. It was not until November 2 that she finally passed out through the Port Weller piers into Lake Ontario. She was taken to Sorel for unloading and was subsequently brought back upbound as far as Montreal. There she was left by the tugs, which returned up the Welland Canal on November 13. We presume that WIDENER will spend the winter at Montreal and that she will not return to the lakes until next spring.

The veteran Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker N. B. McLEAN, which was retired from service several years ago and which, it had been hoped, would eventually be used as a museum at Quebec City, has now been sold for scrapping. Purchased by Marine Salvage Ltd., she was towed from Quebec to Sorel on October 8th.

Work began in mid-November on the construction of docking facilities at Toronto's Centre Island to accommodate the sidewheel ferry TRILLIUM. The job, contracted to the Dean Construction Company Ltd., involves chopping off the westerly tip of Olympic Island and adding a new slip to the east of the existing ferry dock. Commencing in 1981, TRILLIUM will be used on days of heavy passenger traffic to augment the service normally maintained by SAM McBRIDE and THOMAS RENNIE.

In the November issue, we mentioned that QUEDOC had been involved in a collision with the salty GEORGE L., but we could give no further detail. We have since learned that QUEDOC, downbound with grain for Trois-Rivieres, was struck by the salty on Lac St-Louis on October 11. QUEDOC continued downbound, unloaded her cargo, and returned up the lakes. It was believed that repairs would be completed at Thunder Bay.

The 229-foot Canadian coaster EDGAR JOURDAIN, owned by the Jourdain Navigation Ltd. of Montreal, has been wrecked at Foxe Basin, Northwest Territories, while operating in Arctic service. EDGAR JOURDAIN, (a) MONTCLAIR, (b) PIERRE RADISSON, (c) GEORGE CROSBIE, was built in 1956 at Collingwood for Montship Lines Ltd., and, along with her sister MONTROSE (I), she operated into the lakes for a short period of time prior to the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. After the new canals opened, the pair was replaced by MONTCALM and her ill-fated sistership MONTROSE (II).

During the last few years, we have seen the demise of most of the old lakers which were used for the famous North Traverse dredging project near Quebec City. One of these, however, was still active during the summer of 1980. This was the spoil carrier ILE AUX COUDRES, the former Hall Corporation canaller HUTCHCLIFFE HALL. She has been used most recently by her present owner, Sceptre Dredging Ltd. of Richmond, British Columbia.

The Montreal-Newfoundland services of Clarke Transport Canada Inc. and Chimo Container Service, a division of Chimo Shipping Ltd., are being merged into a new firm which will be known as Newfoundland Steamships Ltd. Each of the merging companies will hold a 47 1/2% interest in the new organization, the remaining 5% being held by Newfoundland businessmen. The new service will be operated regularly by four boats, CABOT and CHIMO being contributed by Clarke and A. C. CROSBIE and LADY M. A. CROSBIE by Chimo. As a result, Clarke will have no further use for FORT ST. LOUIS, which it has chartered from C.S.L. on a full-time basis since 1970. FORT ST. LOUIS will be returned to C.S.L. for its lake package freight service, apparently to replace the steam-powered FORT YORK. As it now appears, the C.S.L. package freight division in 1981 will consist of FORT CHAMBLY, FORT ST. LOUIS and FORT WILLIAM.

We have received reports to the effect that the Ford Motor Company's BENSON FORD is scheduled to load a cargo of soya beans at Toledo late this season for winter storage at Toronto. If so, this will be the first trip to Toronto for any of Ford's present vessels, and it will probably mean that BENSON FORD is in the course of being purchased by a Canadian fleet.

The Greek salty SARONIC SEA, which grounded near Port Weller late in the 1979 season and which was the subject of frantic salvage efforts in order that she might escape the Seaway before it closed for the winter, survived her stranding but has since fallen victim to the hostilities between Iraq and Iran. She was abandoned on September 25 after taking a severe pounding from shore-mounted artillery. As far as we are aware, she is the only one of the casualties in the Middle East war which had previously visited the Great Lakes.

The Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. steamer JAMES NORRIS emerged from drydock at Port Weller on October 29 after having received preliminary work prior to her self-unloader conversion. Whilst on the dock, NORRIS was painted and a bowthruster tube was installed, although the thruster machinery itself has not yet been fitted. By mid-November, the NORRIS had received part of her above-deck gear and it is evident that, contrary to recent trends, she will carry her unloading gear and boom forward rather than aft.

HELEN EVANS and THORNHILL departed Quebec for an overseas scrapyard on September 17 with the tug CAPT. IOANNIS S. We understand that the EVANS' name had been completely painted out before her departure but we do not know whether she was actually renamed for the Atlantic tow as had been PIERSON INDEPENDENT, which made the tow under the strange name COMPANY. By the way, the former Soo River steamer arrived safely at Santander, Spain, on June 11.

Toledo is well known as a port to which U.S.-flag lakers gravitate for layup during periods of business recession. As an indication of how poor conditions have been for the shipping industry of late, there follows a list of ships that were idle at Toledo during early November. PIONEER, ASHLAND, THOMAS WILSON, McKEE SONS, J. R. SENSIBAR and SYLVANIA were in the Frog Pond, CRISPIN OGLEBAY at the C & O coal dock, ARMCO at the Lakefront ore dock, WILLIAM A. REISS at the Toledo City dock, ROBERT C. NORTON at Hans Hansen Welding, and NICOLET and EDWARD B. GREENE at the AmShip yard. Incidentally, we erred when we mentioned previously that MERLE M. McCURDY had been in the Frog Pond prior to her mid-Summer reactivation; in fact, McCURDY had been lying at the Lakefront ore dock.

The Joys Of Patent Medicines

Much has been said concerning the patent medicines which once were so much a part of life in North America. While persons living in Canada and the United States in the latter part of the nineteenth century professed considerable faith in the "healing" properties of such remedies, they were not without their dangers. How does this bit of trivia relate to shipping on the Great Lakes? Read on.

"On July 20, fire broke out in the hold of the Canadian Pacific Railway steamer ATHABASCA, which was tied up at the dock at Owen Sound. It was caused by an explosion of patent medicines. Efforts to subdue the flames by steam proving futile, the hold had to be flooded with water and the damage to cargo was considerable."

This gem of an item was taken from the August, 1899, issue of "The Railway and Shipping World". One wonders exactly what was the principal ingredient of those patent medicines that would cause them to explode so readily. No doubt the Liquor Control Board of Ontario would be interested had the event occurred in more modern times!

Lay-up Listings

As usual, we plan to present detailed listings, in the January, February and March issues, of the various vessels wintering at Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River ports. We intend that such reports be as accurate and complete as possible and, to do this, we require the assistance of all of our members.

Please do not assume that someone else will send us a list for the ports in your area. As soon as the winter fleets appear to be complete, please send us a report. We shall be happy to give due credit to all who contribute, regardless of whether others have sent listings for the same area. This feature of our winter issues is a great assistance for all who keep records or wish to chase a particular boat for photographic purposes. Your assistance with the project will be greatly appreciated.

Rothesay Revisited

In the Mid-Summer issue, we featured the life of the famous passenger steamer ROTHESAY. It will be recalled that she was sunk near Prescott on September 12, 1889, after a collision with the tug MYRA, and that the wreck of ROTHESAY was dynamited in 1901 by a crew from the Royal Military College at Kingston in an effort to remove what constituted a hazard to navigation. That the wreck was, indeed, a menace to shipping in the area is borne out by the following news item culled from the August, 1899, issue of "The Railway and Shipping World".

"The wreck of the old steamer ROTHESAY is giving annoyance in the vicinity of Blalay's Point near Prescott. The iron skeleton of the wheels stands only a few inches below the surface."

As photographs taken of the wreck after the accident indicate, almost the whole of ROTHESAY's superstructure was clear of the water after she sank. It is to be assumed that the action of the winter ice and the efforts of scroungers had since carried away enough of her woodwork that little, if anything, was left above the water by the summer of 1899.

Readers will also recall that we mentioned, in the ROTHESAY feature, the rather heated animosity that developed between the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company Ltd. and Enoch Lunt and Sons as a result of repeated efforts by the Lunts to operate ROTHESAY on the upper St. Lawrence River in opposition to the boats run in that trade by the R & O. It seems that the R & O jealously guarded its upper river trade and took great offence whenever any other operator invaded its territory. The following item, taken from the July, 1898, issue of "The Railway and Shipping World", and entitled "Thousand Island Steamboat War", bears no real relevance to ROTHESAY, except that she was later operated by Folger's St. Lawrence Steamboat Company, but does indicate just how hot the competition on the river became at that time.

"On July 15, the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Co. declared war against the American Line and started competing boats to cut rates in the Thousand Island district. The R & O took the COLUMBIAN and CASPIAN from the Montreal-Kingston route and put them on the Thousand Island route, which had hitherto been left to the American Line. The cut in rates amounted to about 75 percent; for instance, the R & O put into effect a rate of 25 cents from Kingston to Alexandria Bay, calling at Gananoque, for which the American rate was 75 cents. The new service will extend from Kingston to Ogdensburg, N.Y., including all intermediate points in the Thousand Islands, and it is said that if the R & O Co. finds it necessary, it will carry passengers free. The R & O, in meeting the competition of the American Line, did not desire to cut the rate from Kingston to Montreal, as that would mean a reduction in the rate between Toronto and Montreal, on which route it has about all the business it can handle. It was decided, therefore, to go into the territory hitherto occupied almost exclusively by the Folgers, and cut the rates between Kingston, Ogdensburg, and local points in the Thousand Islands.

"The American Line was organized last year by the Folgers, of Kingston, who are said to be the principal parties behind it, although they are supposed to have some backing from the New York Central Railway. At first, there was only one boat, the AMERICA, running between Clayton and Montreal. This season, however, it was decided to extend the operations of the line and give a daily service between the points mentioned. Two boats were placed on the route, the EMPIRE STATE and the NEW YORK. The latter was formerly called the SHREWSBURY, but was rebuilt in Buffalo last winter and renamed. The American Line has a traffic connection with the New York Central, which issues through tickets via the American Line to Montreal.

"The general manager of the R & O, when asked for an explanation respecting the move, said: 'Self-protection alone has compelled us to take this step. The American company, not satisfied with its own territory, invaded ours. It attempted by every means to steal our business. The time has arrived for us to strike back. We will maintain the best service between the two points and will call at other points, including Clayton and Alexandria Bay.'

"Another director of the same company said: 'The American Line is really owned by the Folgers, the monopolistic owners of steamboats in the Kingston district. For a period, they respected our territory and we respected theirs. Last season, however, they ran boats twice a week between Alexandria Bay and Montreal. This year, the company, still further enraged by our refusal to buy two of their boats offered to us, began a daily service. Their experiment of running their boats ahead of ours proved a great failure. We make better speed and our boats reach here at a more reasonable hour. Last night, for instance, their boat carried 9 passengers to Montreal, while ours numbered 141. Our captains in the new competing territory in the Kingston district have been instructed to accept business even if at a sacrifice. The district in the summer time is one of excursions and we are bound to secure all of them even if we have to carry the passengers for nothing.'

"At the recent annual convention of the American Society of Railway Superintendents at Alexandria Bay, Mr. Folger in speaking said: 'On an occasion of this character, it is fitting that something new should be told you, and so I will announce here for the first time that a company has already been formed by the strongest men of this country to carry the shields that we bear to Quebec and the Saguenay, and to furnish a service there as we have here, to make the hearts of the tourists rejoice, and I wish it understood by this assemblage and their association that our hospitality to it will be as broad and as long as our route.'

"In reference to this, the general manager of the R & O Co. said: 'The Saguenay project of our rivals is easier said than done. Talk is cheap. To become our competitors in the lower river traffic would require an investment of at least a million dollars. The capital represented by the American Line in the Kingston-Montreal service does not exceed $30,000. The boats were bought for a song, and the only improvement has been the addition of some interior fittings. We are having a daily walk-over in the carrying of tourists from the Thousand Islands to Montreal. Yesterday, for instance, the COLUMBIAN left an hour behind our rival, the EMPIRE STATE. We overtook them before Brockville was reached, and got out of Prescott ten minutes ahead. We reached Montreal at 6:20, beating them by an hour. Our passengers all succeeded in making connections with the Quebec boat.'"

The February, 1899, issue of the same journal reported that "the steamers of the American Line, consisting of the NEW YORK, EMPIRE STATE and AMERICA, are undergoing a general overhauling, and improvements and alterations are being made to the boilers and wheels, which is expected to materially increase their speed. More staterooms are being added to the NEW YORK and EMPIRE STATE."

The differences between the Richelieu and Ontario and the American Line must have been resolved satisfactorily during the winter of 1898-99, for the following item appeared in the same publication a few months later. "There is no passenger war on the St. Lawrence this year, the R & O. N. Co. handling the through business exclusively, and the Folger boats attending to the local Thousand Island business. The Folger fleet consists of the steamers NEW YORK, EMPIRE STATE, AMERICA, ST. LAWRENCE, NEW ISLAND WANDERER, ISLANDER, and JESSIE BAIN." That the differences between the vessel operators were resolved is not surprising, for the only winners in such a rate war were the passengers who reaped the benefits of frequent service and low fares .

Farewell To A Friend

She rocks serene by the dockside,

Communing with the Fates,

"Standing By" for final orders

As scrap to forge new plates.

A rusty, battered old hull in

The dry landlubber eye,

Decks stripped of cabins and rigging,

Just junk to passers-by.

Not so to the aging lake sailor,

Relaxing on the pier,

They're "shipping mates" from the channels

Share in a long career.

The "Old Man" visions a queen there,

Beneath her cloak of grime,

Matured by years of performance,

Majestic in her prime!

Past hazy lenses meander

The gales and seas they rode,

The men and cargo she cradled,

The crippled craft she towed.

She dared the ice - gave it battle!

She tip-toed through the fog.

Historic trips up and down

Were recorded in her log.

His rugged heart cries "Avast"-

Then ere the torch descends,

The mist re-echoes "Ahoy, there!"

Greeting of passing friends!

R. Frances Hepperla

The above item, while definitely not the world's best poetry, seems to capture part of what many of us felt during 1980, the "Year of the Scrap Tow". We have all been saddened by the passing parade of old (and some not-too-old) friends making their last trips, attended only by the none-too-gentle ministrations of uncaring tugs. Most of the freighters that we once thought were "old" have now passed from the scene, and many of those that seemed relatively new but a few short years ago are now the veterans of lake service.

Yes, time passes far too quickly, a fact that is all too evident to the marine historian. If only there were some way that we could turn back the years and see again those steamers which were once so familiar to us all.

The poem is reproduced (with, excuse please, a few amendments for which Ye Ed. must take credit or blame, as the case may be) from the July-August, 1961, issue of "The Bulletin", published by the Lake Carriers' Association. We thank our good member John Connelly, of Deer Trail, Colorado, for reminding us of it.

The Invasion Of Toronto Harbour

This has been a particularly dismal year for the port of Toronto, with few salties calling here and even fewer lakers. A great influx of salties was experienced during November, however, and, amongst the visitors on one particular day were three Cuban vessels and two Russian boats!

Ship of the Month No. 97

James B. Eads

After having featured lower lake vessels in these pages for several issues, we now return to the upper lakes for a look at one of the more historic steamers to have served there. We have, however, preserved a certain sense of continuity in that this vessel was once owned by the famous James Playfair of Midland, Ontario, a gentleman whose many contributions to the Canadian lake shipping industry were mentioned in our November "Ship of the Month" feature.

One of the more renowned shipyards of the Great Lakes, long since out of business, was the Globe Iron Works of Cleveland. This shipbuilding firm was responsible for the construction of many of the early steel-hulled lake boats, and some of its products were extremely long-lived, to say the least. Globe's Hull 53 was a steel 'tween-deck package freighter, completed in 1894 which was to survive for no less than 73 years. We have some idea of the longevity expected of recently-built lakers, but we have no notion how long the early builders, such as Globe, thought their vessels might last. We rather expect, however, that the shipwrights would have been most surprised if they had been able to return in the early 1960s and find that Hull 53 was still in operation.

This is JAMES B. EADS as she looked in the colours of the Bessemer Steamship Company, circa 1900.The new steamer was built by Globe for the Globe Steamship Company, a subsidiary or affiliate of the shipbuilding firm. This may seem odd today, but it was not unusual for shipyards to build hulls to their own account during periods of depressed business conditions. It meant that the yard could keep its employees busy and would also have one or more ships that could probably be sold for a good profit when conditions improved. Such was the case with GLOBE, as she was appropriately christened, for, at the time of her construction, things were not at their best in the shipping industry and new orders for the yard were not plentiful.

GLOBE was launched on September 13, 1894. She was 330.0 feet in length, 42.3 feet in the beam, and 24.0 feet in depth, these dimensions yielding registered tonnages of 2995 Gross and 2278 Net. She was powered by a triple-expansion engine, built by the shipyard, which had cylinders of 24, 39 and 63 inches and a stroke of 42 inches. GLOBE was not a large boat by today's standards, but she was of a good size for package freighters of her day, considering the fact that the steel shipbuilding industry was in its infancy and the majority of the ships then running on the lakes were wooden-hulled and of much smaller dimensions.

GLOBE, enrolled as U.S.86307, was a typical package freighter of her day, equipped with 'tween decks for the carriage of general cargo. She was an impressive ship, built with a sweeping sheer to her deck and a beautiful flare to her bow. A flush-decker, her forecastle was level with the spar deck and her bow was enclosed only by a low wooden rail. Her large square pilothouse, four windows across its front, rose high above the rectangular texas and was surrounded by a railed walkway. The master's quarters were located in a small cabin set behind and below the level of the pilothouse.

She carried two heavily raked masts, one behind the bridge and one just forward of the boilerhouse. As was the custom of the day, additional accommodations for the crew were located in a "doghouse" set midway down the spar deck. GLOBE carried a large after cabin (originally separated from the boilerhouse), which was equipped with large windows but was unprotected from the elements by any overhang of the boat deck save for the small area beneath the two lifeboats. She had no closed rail around the stern, only a small open rail, and she kept this feature throughout her career, one of the last lakers to do so. The most prominent feature of her after end, however, was an exceptionally large stack, raked in proportion with the masts. The stack was not only tall, but also very thick, and it remained with her, albeit with the addition of a liner, for her entire lifetime.

For the 1895 season, the Globe Steamship Company itself operated GLOBE. Not much is known about her service during this period of time, but it would seem probable that she ran package freight between the upper lake ports and Cleveland and Buffalo. During 1896 and 1897, she ran under charter to a firm known as the Great Lakes Steamship Company (not to be confused with the later fleet of the same name), with Buffalo as her home port. The Great Lakes Steamship Company was managed by Gen. John Gordon and A. R. Aitken, and operated a package freight service between Buffalo, Cleveland and Manitowoc, connecting at the latter port with the Wisconsin Central Railroad. Gen. Gordon had previously been associated with the Northern Steamship Company and had been in charge of its Buffalo operations.

For reasons unknown to us, the Great Lakes Steamship Company ceased operations in 1897. GLOBE was returned to the Globe Steamship Company and ran in its service until she was sold in 1899 to Rockefeller's Bessemer Steamship Company of Cleveland. Bessemer immediately sent GLOBE back to her builder's yard for conversion to a bulk carrier for the iron ore trade. In the process, she was lengthened to 406.9 feet, and her tonnage increased to 3746 Gross and 2970 Net, in order to make her more suitable for her new duties.

It was Bessemer's custom to name all of its vessels for those men who had been leaders of industry, particularly those whose inventions had facilitated the mining and transportation of iron ore and its transformation into the steel that was building modern North America. Accordingly, GLOBE was renamed (b) JAMES B. EADS, honouring the native of the small Ohio River town of Lawrenceburg, Indiana, born in 1820, who was responsible for the invention of the diving bell and for the planning of many of the world's great harbours (including that of Toronto). Probably the most striking memorial to Eads is the bridge that he built between 1867 and 1874 to span the Mississippi River at St. Louis, a structure that still stands and bears his name to this day.

JAMES B. EADS served Bessemer well for the duration of the life of that company. It was in 1901, however, that she and the rest of Rockefeller's fleet were absorbed into the Pittsburgh Steamship Company, the lake shipping subsidiary of the United States Steel Corporation, a giant organization which had been put together by J. Pierpont Morgan and Elbert H. Gary. As a result, EADS became part of what was generally known as the "Steel Trust" or "Tinstack" fleet, and she remained in its service for a quarter of a century. The "tinstack" monicker, of course, came from the fact that the company's vessels all sported stacks which were painted silver, originally totally plain but later with a broad black smokeband at the top.

The life of JAMES B. EADS was generally uneventful, but 1915 was an important year for her. On June 7th, she was involved in a collision with the big package freighter CHICAGO on the St. Clair River. It was also in 1915 that EADS received two new watertube boilers which measured 15'4" by 11'6". Also, it was about this time, and perhaps whilst she was being repaired after the collision, that EADS received the second major rebuild of her career. She was given a raised forecastle, on which was placed a new texas cabin and, behind a fancy new closed bridge rail, a more modern pilothouse with a rounded front and exterior drop-slots for its three centre windows. As the new forecastle provided ample accommodations for the crew, her doghouse was removed from the deck, a change which also provided for less difficult loading and unloading of the boat. Some historians have suggested that EADS received this major reconstruction in 1920, but there is extant a good photograph of the ship taken by the Young Studio at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, in 1919, the date clearly visible, which shows the steamer with her new bow. It is true that EADS did go to the shipyard in 1920, but the work done at that time appears to have been limited to the reconstruction of her holds to conform to the more modern arch design.

JAMES B. EADS was a valuable unit of the Pittsburgh Steamship Company in the early years of the century, and frequently towed one of the fleet's many cargo barges. By the mid-1920s, however, she was considered to be excess tonnage as a result of the addition to the fleet of many newly-constructed steamers with far greater cargo capacity. Accordingly, she was sold in 1926 to the Nassau Dredge and Ship Company of Chicago. It might be assumed that Nassau purchased EADS with the intention of converting her to a sandsucker for use in the Chicago area, but such a conversion never took place and the company operated EADS briefly in the bulk trades.

It was in 1927, after very brief service indeed for Nassau, that JAMES B. EADS was sold to James Playfair's Great Lakes Transit Corporation Ltd. of Midland, Ontario, and transferred to Canadian registry as C.153126. She was painted in Playfair's usual colours, with a grey hull, white cabins and hull trim, and a red stack with black smokeband. She ran for Playfair in the bulk trades, primarily carrying grain, and seems to have done so quite successfully, with no serious mishaps occurring during this stage of her career.

James Playfair was a man of many interests and his influence extended into matters other than the shipping business. He was one of the founders of Toronto Elevators Ltd., the firm which built the large grain elevator that still stands just to the east of the foot of Toronto's Spadina Avenue, operated today by Maple Leaf Mills Ltd. It is not surprising, therefore, that Playfair was one of the first vessel owners to send upper lakers down the new Welland Canal when, in June of 1931, the new waterway was opened to boats larger than canallers. JAMES B. EADS made her first appearance in Toronto Harbour on June 16, 1931, with a cargo of grain, the first of many such cargoes that she was to bring to the port during a period of slightly more than three decades.

In 1935, EADS was transferred from the Great Lakes Transit Corporation Ltd. to an affiliate of Toronto Elevators Ltd. which was known as Norris Steamships Ltd., Toronto. The following year, she was again transferred, this time to the elevator company's main shipping subsidiary, Upper Lakes and St. Lawrence Transportation Company Ltd., Toronto. It was for this firm that she regularly operated in the Canadian grain trade for the remainder of the 1930s, as well as throughout the 1940s and 1950s. She could often be seen towing one of the company's barges, usually either GLENBOGIE or the whaleback 137. On those trips which took her to Toronto, she would normally bring a barge with her, leave it at Port Colborne for unloading whilst she passed down through the Welland Canal, and then pick up either the same barge or another one at Port Colborne on her way back upbound. The other upper lakers operated by the company usually ran the same type of service, most of them towing barges as well on a regular basis.

The Editor's camera caught JAMES B. EADS anchored in the Toronto Harbour during July, 1959.By the late 1950s, JAMES B, EADS, with her beautiful but antiquated lines, was rapidly nearing the end of her useful lifetime, but there were other less useful boats in the company's fleet. Its canallers had been rendered obsolete with the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway and few of them turned a wheel after that event. One of the older canallers in the fleet was PARKDALE (I), one of the original "Wolvin" canal-sized steamers that, interestingly enough, had also sailed for James Playfair when she returned to the lakes after the First World War. She operated briefly for Upper Lakes and St. Lawrence from 1955 onwards, but was soon retired from service along with her sister GROVEDALE (I). She was eventually scrapped at Port Weller and to JAMES B. EADS fell the duty of towing the old PARKDALE from Toronto to the Port Weller shipyard. It was on August 10, 1959, that EADS cleared Toronto with PARKDALE lashed along her port side.

The EADS managed to keep out of trouble for most of her years with Upper Lakes and St. Lawrence. On September 30, 1960, however, she was involved in a collision with the craneship WILLIAM H. DONNER at Toledo. EADS did suffer some damage and she proceeded to Port Weller for the necessary repairs. She was not confined to the shipyard for very long and soon was back in the grain trade.

It was not long after the opening of the Seaway that the Upper Lakes and St. Lawrence Transportation Company Ltd. was reorganized as Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. At that time, the company's red and black stack design, inherited from James Playfair's fleet, was altered by the addition of a white diamond with a black centre which was superimposed over the lower edge of the black smokeband. (EADS had originally carried a green stack with white band and black top upon entering the Upper Lakes and St. Lawrence fleet, but this design was soon abandoned in favour of the more familiar red and black colours.)

The reorganized company decided to inaugurate a package freight service between Toronto and the Lakehead in competition with Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. As EADS was growing older and did not have the cargo capacity to operate economically in the grain trade down the Seaway, she was chosen for the new service. She was converted to carry general cargo by the addition of a 'tween deck, the enlargement of two of her hatches, and the installation of cargo doors on her port side. A diesel-powered crane was mounted on deck at the beginning of the 1961 season and a second crane was added later. EADS entered the package freight trade officially on April 1, 196l, and thereafter could frequently be seen loading and unloading at Toronto's Pier 4.

Unfortunately, Upper Lakes Shipping's package freight service was not particularly successful and the aging EADS was no match for the modern boats operated by C.S.L. Consequently, EADS spent most of the 1962 season back on her old grain runs. In fact, she was never officially reclassed as a package freighter and retained her classification as a bulk carrier to the end of her days.

It was soon EADS' turn, however, to be relegated to retirement. She was withdrawn from service at the close of the 1962 season and passed down the Welland Canal on her last trip on November 25, 1962, with a cargo of winter storage grain for Toronto. She was unloaded over the winter and, in late March, 1963, she was towed across to Port Weller by the company's steamer L. A. McCORQUODALE. Strangely enough, McCORQUODALE had also come to the fleet from that of James Playfair and, as well, had briefly joined EADS on the short-lived package freight experiment. Like EADS, she had also been built originally as a package freighter.

JAMES B. EADS was laid up at the south end of the fitting-out berth above Lock One at Port Weller, and she was later sold to A. Newman and Company of St. Catharines for scrapping. During 1965 and 1966, she was gradually cut down towards the waterline, but work proceeded slowly and without any great enthusiasm. Then, in December of 1966, the last remains of the old steamer were floated into the Port Weller drydock, and there the dismantling was completed in January, 1967.

JAMES B. EADS was the first of Upper Lakes Shipping's larger steamers to be retired after the opening of the new canals, but she was soon followed by the other floating museum pieces which had comprised the fleet. Only one of the company's original upper lakers, MAUNALOA II, was still in service as the decade of the 1960s came to a close.

The EADS was an unusual boat, truly "one of a kind" as far as her appearance was concerned. Nevertheless, she had served all of her various owners well and had proved to be a credit to the skill of her builders.

Additional Marine News

The hard luck which seems to have plagued the Halco fleet in recent years appears to be continuing without respite. Not only have there been major changes in the upper echelon of the company management but, early in the week of November 24, the recently-acquired salt water tanker COASTAL TRANSPORT (the former BIRK) ran down and sank a supply launch in the Mississippi River below New Orleans. Three of the four crew members of the launch SALEE P. were still missing at last report. COASTAL TRANSPORT was taken to New Orleans for repair and a formal investigation of the accident has commenced.

On a brighter note, we understand that Halco intends to proceed with self-unloader conversions for more of its straight-deck bulk carriers. Plans are allegedly being prepared for the conversion of OTTERCLIFFE HALL but, as yet, no contract has been signed for the actual conversion. It is to be assumed that such a contract would probably go to Port Arthur Shipyards which completed a similar conversion of FRANKCLIFFE HALL earlier in 1980.

During the late autumn, the McAsphalt tug TUSKER has been busy pushing the barge LIQUILASSIE around Lake Ontario. LIQUILASSIE has been carrying petroleum products and has not been operating to McAsphalt's account. We are informed that the local company's involvement with the operation does not extend beyond the supplying of its tug as motive power for the barge.

The arrival on the lakes during October of the U.S. Coast Guard's newest tug has permitted the U.S.C.G. to proceed with plans for the reassignment of some of its tenders. The original scheme was for NEAH BAY to be stationed at Charlevoix, for SUNDEW to move from Charlevoix to Duluth, and for MESQUITE to go from Duluth to Galveston, Texas. Recent reports, however, indicate that SUNDEW simply moved to Duluth and MESQUITE to Charlevoix, with their crews switching from one ship to the other at the Soo en route.

At long last, there has been a significant step ahead in the efforts of Norman Rogers, of Toronto's Algonquin Island, to convert the old steam tug CHRIS M. into a sailing vessel. Over the past few years, the tug has gradually been cut down to the deck and her machinery removed. She has also been given back her original name, EMPIRE SANDY. Generally, however, the hull has remained little more than an eyesore as she has lain in the old ferry slip to the east of Pier 6. During the week of November 24, EMPIRE SANDY was towed off to Whitby for drydocking at the McNamara yard. We understand that she will be returned to her Toronto berth before freeze-up.

We believe now that there is much more to the story of the eastbound venture of PETER A. B. WIDENER than appears in the news item on page 4 of this issue. Unconfirmed reports include mention of a collision with a wine tanker, problems in the sale of the grain cargo, customs difficulties, and a generator failure aboard SOUTH CAROLINA. We hope to have more information in the January issue if details become available.

As the tugs OHIO and SOUTH CAROLINA (the latter in tow of the former) returned upbound from the WIDENER tow, they apparently came across the Erie sandsucker LAKEWOOD disabled off Fairport with tailshaft problems. LAKEWOOD was towed by OHIO to the G & W Welding dock at Cleveland for partial repair, and she later made her way to Port Weller for drydocking. She entered the drydock on November 21 and was able to leave under her own power on November 23. While LAKEWOOD was out of service, she was replaced on Lake Erie by NIAGARA, which was brought down from Saginaw as a temporary substitute.

As a postscript to our lead marine news item concerning LAC DES ILES, we should report that she grounded in the Detroit River below Grassy Island on October 6th. She freed herself a few hours later, but it is entirely possible that this incident caused some of the severe bottom damage which resulted the steamer's retirement a little over a month later.

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Scanner, v. 13, n. 3 (December 1980)

Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Marine News; The Joys Of Patent ; Lay-up Listings; The Invasion Of Toronto Harbour