The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Scanner, v. 13, n. 7 (April 1981)
Scanner (Toronto, ON), Apr 1981

Bascom, John N., Editor
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Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Oscar J. Gregoire; You Asked Us; Marine Photos For Sale; The Loss of the City of Detroit; Additional Marine News
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Apr 1981
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Saturday, May 2nd - Annual Dinner Meeting. Please see details below. This will be our last regular meeting until October.

The Editor's Notebook

The March meeting featured an evening of steamboating on the lower Mississippi River with Bill Wilson and Ye Ed. We trust that those present enjoyed the program as much as we enjoyed presenting it.

THE ANNUAL DINNER MEETING will be held at the Ship Inn, in the cellar of the Museum, on Saturday, May 2nd. Dinner will be served at 7:00 p.m. and the bar will be open from 6:00 for those who might enjoy a pre-dinner restorative. Our speaker, Lorne Joyce, will present some of the historic Bay of Quinte material from the collection of our late member Willis Metcalfe, courtesy of Mrs. Metcalfe. This should be a most enjoyable evening, and those who have heard Lorne Joyce address our Society in the past will have an indication of the spellbinding nature of his excursions into Lake Ontario's past. Cost will be $12.75 per person and guests will be welcome. Space is limited and most of the tickets have already been reserved, but if you wish to attend and have not yet sent your remittance, please contact our Chief Purser, James M. Kidd, 83 Humberview Road, Toronto, Ontario, M6S 1W9, as soon as possible. Tickets will be held at the door for those who have already reserved.

In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to Christopher W. Rottiers of Birch Run, Michigan, and to Vaughn E. Stecker of Livonia, Michigan.

Marine News

The first Maritime Commission wartime-built laker to fly the Canadian flag, LEHIGH, is downbound at Little Rapids in this August 15, 1957, photo by the Editor. She will now sail in Soo River Company colours. At long last, the news has broken! For the first time, a Maritime Commission class steamer will be flying the Canadian flag. This significant development is one which many of us have anticipated for years but which has been delayed in reaching fruition to the point that it became a guessing game as to which of the wartime-built bulk carriers would be the first to cross the border and for whom she would then operate. A bet on either of Columbia Transportation's ASHLAND or THOMAS WILSON would have lost, for the ship involved is actually the Bethlehem Steel Corporation's LEHIGH (U.S.244505), 603.8 x 60.2 x 30.2, 9057 Gross and 6793 Net. The next-last of the United States Maritime Commission's wartime lakers to be launched (but the last at the particular shipyard that built her), she hit the water at the River Rouge plant of the Great Lakes Engineering Works on July 24, 1943. The yard's Hull 295. she was of the L6-S-B1 class and was originally christened MESABI. She entered service on November 1, 1943, but is not known to have operated under her original name. She was renamed (b) LEHIGH (III) in 1943 and has sailed for Bethlehem ever since. To obtain LEHIGH and her sister, STEELTON (III) (66), (a) PILOT KNOB (II)(43), (c) FRANK PURNELL (II)(74), (d) ROBERT C. NORTON (II), Bethlehem traded to the Maritime Commission its old steamers LEHIGH (II) (later JOHNSTOWN), STEELTON (II) (later CORNWALL) and SAUCON, all three of these older boats having been chartered back to Bethlehem for the duration of the war and scrapped shortly after its conclusion. There are those who feel that these superceded steamers were far too good to be scrapped.

LEHIGH has now been acquired by the Soo River Company and she will be put in service under the name (c) JOSEPH X. ROBERT, this name honouring a long-time friend of Robert S. Pierson. The vessel will spend most of 1981, along with PIERSON DAUGHTERS, on the run from Burns Harbor to Contrecoeur and from Quebec back to Burns Harbor. Plans call for the preliminary fit-out to be done at Erie, where LEHIGH wintered, but for the ship to be brought to Port Colborne for final preparations for service. As much of the ship as possible will be painted there. We welcome LEHIGH to the Canadian lake fleet and we wish her many years of service under our flag.

Now that the first of the "Maritimers" has crossed the border, we would not be surprised to see several more of the L6-S-A1 or L6-S-B1 class vessels sold to Canadian operators in the near future. Veterans of almost forty seasons of service, they have been far outclassed in size by modern upper lakers and have thus become somewhat uneconomical for operation by some of their U.S. owners. They are, however, an excellent size for Seaway service, particularly in the grain trade, and we have heard that other Canadian companies have been looking them over.

To the material which we presented last issue on lakers sold for scrapping during 1980, we would add the following to keep the records accurate:

- C.N. Santa Maria was the buyer of J. F. SCHOELLKOPF JR., ROYALTON and MARINSAL. All three have been dismantled at La Spezia, Italy. ROYALTON and MARINSAL arrived there on June 25 with HANSEAT, and the scrapping of MARINSAL began on July 2. We have no arrival date for SCHOELLKOPF, although we know that she cleared Quebec on June 27. Her dismantling began on July 29.

- The tug which took J. P. MORGAN JR. and EUGENE J. BUFFINGTON across the Atlantic was HIRTENHURM. They made an extraordinarily speedy crossing, leaving Quebec on October 4 and arriving at Bilbao, Spain, on October 22. Although, as reported, MORGAN was later towed to Aviles, BUFFINGTON did not wind up at the same port. She cleared Bilbao on November 13 behind AZNAR JOSE LUIS and arrived the following day at Gijon, Spain.

The derelict hulls of the tankers HALFUELER (M.I.L. FUELER) and GOLDEN SABLE disappeared recently from Louiseville, Quebec, where they had been resting for a number of years. We are not certain where they have been taken but we must assume that they have been dismantled.

It seems unlikely that there will be a Lake Ontario hydrofoil service in 1981. It will be recalled that Royal Hydrofoil Cruises (Canada) Ltd. ran PRINCE OF NIAGARA, QUEEN OF TORONTO and PRINCESS OF THE LAKES in the service between Toronto and Niagara-on-the-Lake in 1980. The operators ran into various problems last year and there are those observers who doubted that the hydrofoils would be back in '81. It seems that they may have been correct, for it was as late as March 13 that the federal cabinet turned down a request for continued service after a review by the Federal Investment Review Agency. No reason for the cabinet's refusal was announced, but it would seem to have something to do with the fact that the company is not owned in Canada, that the hydrofoils were operating between Canadian ports but were registered in Panama, and that they were manned by Canadian crews but with Norwegian skippers. 1981 looks like a good year for Royal's opposition, Sherwood Marine's CAYUGA II!

Toronto's sidewheel excursion steamer TRILLIUM is apparently in need of a bit of work before she can enter service this spring. A weakness has been detected in her upper deck and it will be necessary for additional strengthening members to be fitted to ensure the safety of passengers.

With TRILLIUM having to be kept available for the Centre Island ferry service on weekends this summer, it is likely that much of her Saturday night charter business will be diverted to BLUE WATER BELLE which will, as in 1980, be operated by Sherwood Marine Inc. Sherwood has bought out the interest of the Royal Bank of Canada in the steamer, but a partial interest is still owned by Capt. Al Avery, who brought her back from the east coast and originally intended to operate her at Sarnia. We do not know what has prompted the change, but BLUE WATER BELLE will be renamed (c) CALEDONIA before she enters service this summer. We do hope, however, that she will be kept busier than in the last two years.

Sherwood will also be operating SHIAWASSIE in the excursion service around Toronto this summer, we hear, presumably under charter. This is the former Parks Department ferry (!), built in 1962, which Metro Toronto wisely (but none too soon) sold off in 1977. She was latterly operated on the Niagara River by Lower Niagara Boat Tours Ltd. Quite honestly, we can think of no local vessel which would be less suitable for excursion service, with the possible exception of the carferries ONGIARA and MAPLE CITY.

The work on the refitting of D. C. EVEREST began at Toronto in mid-March, and it was not long before her two old deck cranes were removed. They will be replaced by one larger derrick, suitable for lifting steel products, before she enters service for Johnstone Shipping Ltd. as (b) CONDARRELL.

The New York buyer of MARLHILL has now been identified as a gentleman by the name of Herman. It is said that the 73-year-old steamer will be towed to the Detroit area in late spring for loading with scrap steel in anticipation of an overseas scrap tow. For a while, it had been thought that MARLHILL might serve either as a storage hull for Victory Mills at Toronto or as a transfer hull for soya beans between Toronto Elevators (Maple Leaf Mills) and Victory, there having been more beans required recently than Victory could store in its own premises. It has been found, however, that the ferrying of beans between the two houses can be accomplished more economically with the use of trucks.

We understand that the Exxon barge, which TUSKER was to bring into the lakes this spring, will not be ready in time and that TUSKER will be returning alone. Without the barge, we must assume that TUSKER will do general towing on the lakes this year instead of being assigned to any regular service. TUSKER's partner in the February collision with the Gandy Bridge at Tampa, the barge LIQUILASSIE, will not return to the lakes, although she is still owned by L. B. Tankers Inc. of Windsor. We do not know how she is to be kept busy on salt water but we assume that her owner must have some trade lined up for her, else she would not be there.

Canada Steamship Lines' idle package freighter FRENCH RIVER seems to have an active future ahead of her after all. She has been laid up for many years, and has lain at the Kingston elevator since a very brief period of reactivation several years ago. Several previous attempts to dispose of the 387.6-foot, 196l-huilt motorship have failed, but now a buyer has been found and FRENCH RIVER will soon be back in service, albeit not on the lakes. The new owner of the ship, effective April 1st, is Montreal Shipping Ltd. which will have her registered in the name of a subsidiary company. The fitting out of FRENCH RIVER began at Kingston on March 23 and was to have included the installation of a freight elevator. It is intended that FRENCH RIVER (no new name has yet been announced for her) will run to the Arctic during the summer months, and will be operating out of New Orleans to Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean ports during the rest of the year. For her new service, she is to be kept well ballasted so as to increase her draft, but it will remain to be seen how her behavior on the open seas is effected by the carferry-like hull shape with which she is blessed.

The relatively mild weather of late winter enabled the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority to plan an early opening of the St. Lawrence and Welland canals. March 25 was the date selected and many of the boats wintering on Lake Ontario began to fit out well in advance of that date in order to be ready for service as soon as possible. Amongst the first vessels in Toronto Harbour to raise steam this spring were those of the Soo River and Q & O fleets.

The ferry from Kingston to Wolfe Island encountered considerable difficulty with ice during the colder parts of this winter, and the Canadian Dredge and Dock Company Ltd. tug TRAVELLER was frequently called upon to assist WOLFE ISLANDER III on her route. The older ferry WOLFE ISLANDER, built in 1946 and retired after the construction of the new boat in 1975, was reactivated late in the winter to fill in on the ferry service from Kingston to Amherst Island. The operation of the older boat was necessary because the regular ferry, AMHERST ISLANDER, was idled by engine troubles.

The Island of Bob-Lo Company, which was operated since 1979 by Cambridge Properties Inc., a consortium of seven Detroit businessmen, has recently been sold to new owners. Included in the sale are the famous amusement park, dock properties, and the veteran steamboats COLUMBIA and STE. CLAIRE. The sale is said to have been prompted by adverse financial results during 1980 caused by poor weather conditions and the state of the local economy. The new owners have not yet been identified, but it is anticipated that the park will open, as scheduled, on May 29, and that there will be no change in the operations of COLUMBIA and STE. CLAIRE, both of which are designated as historic sites.

We have not yet learned what her eventual disposition will be, but we understand that Marine Salvage Ltd. may have acquired LAC DES ILES, the 76-year-old steamer which was retired last November by the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company Ltd. We assume that she will be sent overseas for scrapping, although the condition of her bottom, the reason for her retirement, may well prevent such a long tow.

The future of MAXINE, (a) WILLIAM H. WARNER (34), (b) THE INTERNATIONAL (77), is still very much in doubt. The steamer was to be sold during the winter as part of the disposal of the assets of the financially troubled Wisconsin Steel Corporation, but none of the bids received for the boat were of the magnitude considered necessary for a sale to be concluded. Another attempt at disposal is to be made shortly, but we understand that only scrap dealers have so far expressed any great interest in the handsome vessel. MAXINE was bareboat chartered by Wisconsin to Cleveland-Cliffs in 1980, but she was never operated by Cliffs. MAXINE was built in 1923 by AmShip at Lorain and so is not an exceptionally old vessel. It is said that she is in very good mechanical condition, this no doubt being due to the care lavished on her during her years as a part of the two-ship International Harvester fleet.

The fire damage sustained by MONTCLIFFE HALL at Sarnia on February 26 has proven to be every bit as severe as early reports indicated. The elevated bridge structure was virtually destroyed, including the pilothouse, and repair costs will run well in excess of $1,000,000. Welders from Sandrin Bros. Ltd., Sarnia, were working in the bridge structure at the time and, strangely enough, the fire alarm system aboard the ship had been tested only minutes before the alarm was sounded for the actual fire. This can only be considered to be an unfortunate sequel to the CARTIERCLIFFE HALL fire of 1979, although the most recent episode was not accompanied by loss of life. We surmise that it will not be long before STEELCLIFFE HALL is also sporting a reconstructed after cabin. Meanwhile, the damaged parts of MONTCLIFFE's bridge were cut away early in March and reconstruction has begun. It does not appear that she will receive as extensive a rebuild as did CARTIERCLIFFE after her fire.

Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. is expanding its deep-sea fleet and, in March, 1983, will take delivery of a 71,000-metric-ton deadweight self-unloader of maximum Panama Canal dimensions. A contract for the construction of the vessel was recently let to Hyundai Heavy Industries Ltd. of South Korea. The ship, which will be able to unload at a rate of some 5,000 tons per hour, will be used on the east coast. She will, of course, be far too large to enter the Great Lakes.

We have heard some rather interesting rumours concerning vessels that may be used during 1981 to haul coal from Lake Erie ports to Quebec. The Canadian self-unloader fleet, as it presently exists, would apparently have difficulties fulfilling the contracts in view of previous cargo commitments and other tonnage might have to be found. Names which have figured prominently in the speculations of observers have been those of the idle 1906-built Columbia self-unloaders J. R. SENSIBAR, (a) FRANK C. BALL (30), and SYLVANIA, (a) SYLVANIA (14), (b) D. M. PHILBIN (29). We will watch this situation with considerable interest, for it would be pleasant indeed to see either or both of these veterans (especially SYLVANIA) returned to service.

BALTIC VENTURE, the ship that was originally to have been purchased by Jourdain Navigation Ltd., Montreal, during 1980 (but for which HUDSON VENTURE was eventually substituted), herself came into Canadian service not long afterward. Chartered by Chimo Shipping and reregistered at St. John's, Newfoundland, she was renamed MELVILLE VENTURE.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers steam dredge KEWAUNEE has been stripped of her cabins at Duluth and will be sent during 1981 to Rock Island, Illinois, where she will be made over by the Corps into a crane barge for use in that district on the Mississippi River. KEWAUNEE, 109.4 feet in length, and built in 1913 at Milwaukee, has recently been lying idle at Duluth, where she served as a source of spare parts needed to keep another Corps steam dredge, COL. D. D. GAILLARD, in service. The GAILLARD, 116.0 feet in length, was built in 1916 at Green Bay, Wisconsin, and is one of the last vessels of her type in use anywhere in North America. A dipper dredge, she is most frequently seen in the American Lakehead area but she did travel as far afield as the Detroit River during the summer of 1980, and the writer observed her at Detroit during March, 1981. We hope that the Engineers have enough parts available to keep COL. D. D. GAILLARD is service for many years to come.

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker WOLFE arrived at Sorel on November 25. 1980, in tow of the tug POINT VALIANT. WOLFE had sustained extensive engine and boiler room damage in a fire at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, on January 9. 1980. Considerable concern was felt for the safety of WOLFE when she began to take on water during the tow, but she made Sorel in good order. Repairs to WOLFE will run to some $2,300,000. She was built in 1959 at Montreal and was extensively rebuilt in 1974 at Port Weller.

When AVALON VOYAGER II was wrecked on the shore of Lake Huron on October 30, 1980, Hank Buitendyk of Owen Sound lost the vessel that he had intended to use as a restaurant there. To replace her, he has now purchased a vessel very similar to AVALON VOYAGER, this being CLARENVILLE, another 124-foot wooden-Hulled Newfoundland "schooner", 334 Gross, 171 Net, which was built at Clarenville, Nfld., in 1944. She has recently been owned by Bonaventures Ltd. of Glovertown, Bonavista Bay, Nfld. Buitendyk will have CLARENVILLE fitted out with all of the necessary restaurant fixtures while she is still on the coast, and he will then bring her to Owen Sound, all ready to open to such admiring public as may be found for her there.

The small salty SAMARU, which has lain in the mouth of the Chenal Ecarte at Port Lambton, Ontario, since the summer of 1979, will shortly be taking her leave, undoubtedly much to the pleasure of local residents. Her owner, John P. McGoff (for whom another small salty, subsequently lost, was named and operated in the lakes in 1972) plans to sail SAMARU under her own power this spring to Beaver Island on Lake Michigan. There, she is allegedly to be turned into a combination marine museum and floating boutique! Just how successful that operation might be will remain to be seen, but we will not hold our breath waiting. McGoff also owns a 90-foot Norwegian-built former research vessel, ANNANDALE, which also spent the last winter at Port Lambton.

The salty SARONIC SEA, the victim of a 1979 grounding near Port Weller and of far more extensive damage in the autumn of 1980 as a result of the hostilities between Iraq and Iran, is a total loss. Her midship accommodations have been destroyed and her shell plating has been holed in some JO locations by shots fired from shore-mounted artillery.

Two Yugoslav salties, both familiar visitors to the lakes, suffered serious accidents in 1980. BIOKOVO, (a) MANCHESTER PORT (71), owned by Jadranska Splobodna Plovidba (Jadroplov), sustained extensive fire damage to her accommodations whilst unloading at Civitavecchia, Italy, on August 28. She was on a voyage from Toronto to Rijeka at the time. Abandoned to the insurers, she was sold to the Halcoussis Shipping Corp. Ltd. of Piraeus, Greece, and cleared for that port on October 28 in tow of MATSAS SALVOR. She has since been renamed HYDRA. The other vessel was DUNAV, owned by Jugoslavenska Linijska Plovidba (Jugolinija), which was lost while on voyage from Hamilton via Los Angeles to Tsingtao, Mainland China. DUNAV cleared L.A. on December 9 and reported engine problems on the 26th. On the 28th, she reported that she was taking on water in heavy seas and she was ordered to put in at Yokohama, 630 nautical miles distant, for repairs. Despite air and sea searches, she was never seen again and is presumed to have foundered.

The Lake Erie coal run out of Toledo started on March 1st this year, with RICHARD J. REISS and HENRY FORD II opening the service. BUFFALO joined the others by mid-March. The REISS also managed to be the first arrival of the new season at Cleveland, entering port there on March 19th.

The idle Chessie System carferry SPARTAN, laid up at Ludington since 1979, seems to be earning more money for her owner now than she would have made if she were in service. While the State of Michigan tries to work out arrangements for operating a summer-only passenger and auto ferry service to Milwaukee to replace the discontinued Chessie ferry line, it has been paying an option price of $25,000 per month to Chessie to keep the railroad from disposing of SPARTAN. For the sake of the Michigan taxpayers, we sincerely hope that these payments will be taken off the eventual purchase price in the event that the state should decide to buy the ferry!

Those who have been following the trials and tribulations of the idle deep-sea passenger liner UNITED STATES, which last ran in 1969, will be pleased to hear that United States Cruises Inc., Seattle, has made the final payment of $2 million against the ship's $5 million purchase price. We presume that the company will now go ahead with its plans to refurbish the ship for the cruise service to Hawaii out of San Francisco and Los Angeles.

With the possibility of a Lake Ontario ferry service coming ever closer to reality, it has been suggested that a passenger and freight ferry be considered for a route between Cleveland and Port Stanley, across Lake Erie. No detailed studies have yet been conducted, but there seems to be widespread approval for the idea and many industries in the St. Thomas area have said that they would support the ferry and use it to ship their products.

A long-idle Canadian cruise vessel will be back in service during 1981 and we are pleased indeed to note her Phoenix-like reactivation. The ship is the 350-foot (overall) steamer PRINCE GEORGE, which was built by Yarrows at Esquimalt in 1948 for Canadian National Steamships and ran for the crown corporation through the 1974 season, at which time she was sold to the British Columbia government. In 1975, however, due to a change in provincial governments, it was decided to retire her from her B.C. coast cruises and she was subsequently damaged (although not extensively) by fire. She was sold in 1976 to a Nanaimo concern for use as a restaurant, but these plans fell through and she then passed to owners in Portland, Oregon. PRINCE GEORGE was acquired late in 1980 by Canadian Cruise Lines Ltd. of Victoria and, completely refurbished, is due to run 7-day Alaska cruises from Vancouver from May 11 through October 5. She now carries new colours but has retained her famous name, and we welcome her back to service.

Another Canadian west coast steamboat will be enjoying an unexpected return to service in 1981. Last season, the 1948-built steam ferry PRINCESS MARGUERITE, now owned by the British Columbia government but long operated by the Canadian Pacific Railway, remained idle because the provincial authorities, misquoting an inspection report on the condition of the popular vessel, tried to make brownie points with the public by declaring her un-seaworthy and replacing her on the Victoria - Seattle route. The public, understandably annoyed, stayed away in droves and her replacement suffered a disastrous year. The B.C. government has now realized the error of its ways and has spent considerable money on the refitting of the beautiful, two-funnelled PRINCESS MARGUERITE. She is scheduled to make her first 1981 trip on her old route on May 8th.

While on the subject of west coast passenger boats, we should mention the retirement of Canadian Pacific's former passenger vessel PRINCESS OF VANCOUVER. The 1955-built motorship, a feature of the Vancouver Island ferry service for her entire life, was withdrawn from passenger service last October but has continued to run the route with railcar and trucks. Now, the C.P.R. has announced that she will be retired completely on May 30 and sold as soon as possible thereafter, her place being taken by chartered tonnage and by an extra daily sailing of TRAILER PRINCESS.

Oscar J. Gregoire

It is with deep regret that we record the sudden passing, on March 16, 1981, at Windsor, Ontario, of Oscar J. Gregoire at age 6l. Oscar was an avid observer of shipping on the Detroit River and had been a member of the Toronto Marine Historical Society for many years. We send our sincere sympathy to his family, and particularly to his cousin, Donald Dube, who also is a member of this Society.

Ship of the Month No. 101


Over the years, we have featured in these pages many vessels which were owned by famous Canadian lake operators and, in the course of presenting the histories of their ships, we have taken time to give short biographical sketches of many of the interesting characters that have made up the Canadian shipping fraternity. This time around, we thought that it might be appropriate to turn our attention to the Fairgrieve Brothers of Hamilton, two gentlemen whom we have mentioned previously but with little background detail.

Capt. John Balmer Fairgrieve was born in 1833 at Little Scotland, a settlement near Bradford, Upper Canada (northwest of Toronto), the son of John Fairgrieve Sr. The elder Fairgrieve was born at Galashiels, Selkirkshire, on August 5, 1811, and emigrated to Canada in 1833. In 1837, the family moved to Dundas, Ontario, (near Hamilton) where John Sr. engaged in the forwarding business, operating under the name of Knox and Fairgrieve. John Balmer Fairgrieve's brother, Hugh, was born in Dundas in 1837 and he was educated there. He apprenticed as a mechanical draftsman at the Dundas Foundry which was managed by one John Gartshore. He worked on the famous pumping engines for the Hamilton Water Works in the late 1850s and was also involved in design work for the Detroit River carferries.

John Fairgrieve Sr. moved to Hamilton with his family in 1855. Young John B. Fairgrieve was regarded as a sickly child and he was sent off to work on the vessels of the Royal Mail Line on Lake Ontario. Life afloat obviously agreed with him, for it was not long before he passed his examinations and became a master mariner. In the seasons of 1864 and 1865, Capt. Fairgrieve sailed MAGNET on the Saguenay route and in 1866 he had command of the same boat in the service between Montreal and Hamilton. In 1870, he sailed UNION on the Lower St. Lawrence and Saguenay service and, in 1871, he commanded the new iron-hulled sidewheeler CORSICAN.

Capt. J. B. Fairgrieve became a shipowner in 1872 and that year he took delivery of the wooden-hulled passenger and freight propellor CANADA (C. 100392) from the shipyard of A. M. Robertson at Hamilton. She was launched on June 5, 1872, and was christened by the captain's daughter, Ida. The principal shareholders in the boat were Capt. J. B. and Hugh Fairgrieve of Hamilton, and D. Butters and T. Howard of Montreal. This partnership operated CANADA on the route between Montreal and Chicago from 1872 until 1878.

When the captain and associates formed the New England Transportation Company in 1878, they placed CANADA on their Collingwood - Chicago service along with three other similar passenger and freight propellors, COLUMBIA, CALIFORNIA and LAKE ERIE. As far as we know, CANADA remained on this same route until 1892. She was severely damaged by fire at Port Huron on October 18, 1892, but was later rebuilt. Interestingly enough, it seems that Fairgrieve removed the engine from the hull before the fire so that it could be used in another vessel which was being built for him at the time.

This early photo is thought to show ARABIAN while fitting out at her builder's yard at Hamilton in 1892. This other vessel, in fact, was a composite-hulled package freighter which was built in 1892 as Hull 1 of the Hamilton Bridge and Tool Company, the construction taking place at the A. M. Robertson shipyard at Hamilton. The steel for the ship was imported from the United Kingdom, whilst the wooden upperworks and cabins were done by the famous Lake Ontario shipbuilder, Melancthon Simpson. Fairgrieve had his new steamer registered at Hamilton as C. 100394, and she was duly christened ARABIAN. It is not known whether there was any particular significance in the choice of this name for the new steamer.

The launch of ARABIAN was scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 21, 1892, out the launching did not go as smoothly as a shipowner might hope for a new vessel. The ways had been well greased two days prior to the scheduled date of launch, but the weather was extremely hot that week and the grease soaked into the timbers that formed the ways. The "last rally" sounded as the shipyard workers knocked the wedges from beneath the hull, but ARABIAN stayed right where she was and showed no sign of moving toward the waters of the bay. A tug from a nearby dredging project came to the scene and put a line aboard ARABIAN, hoping that brute force might help start the new boat down the ways, but all that was achieved was the parting of the hawser.

Those assembled for the ceremonies were sent home and the shipyard set to work on putting matters right for the launch. By 11:00 a.m. the following day, June 22, a Friday (not normally considered to be an auspicious day on which to launch a new ship), ARABIAN had been jacked up and the ways greased again. The greasers might just have been a bit too enthusiastic in their work, for this time ARABIAN began to slide down the ways even as the props beneath her were being knocked out. In any event, she finally made her way into the waters of Hamilton Harbour and, as she went, the traditional christening bottle was successfully smashed across her bows by Capt. Fairgrieve's granddaughter, Rita.

ARABIAN was 178.6 feet in length, 31.0 feet in the beam and 13.6 feet in depth, and her tonnage was officially recorded as 1073 Gross and 770 Net. There is little doubt but that the Fairgrieves had her designed with appropriate dimensions so that she could take maximum advantage of the larger locks of the new Soulanges Canal, on which work was commenced in 1892. The low pressure steam engine which ARABIAN inherited from the Fairgrieve's CANADA, had been built originally for that boat in 1872 by F. G. Beckett and Company, Hamilton. After it had been removed from CANADA, it was rebuilt and compounded so that it would be more useful for ARABIAN. After this work, it had cylinders of 20 1/4 and 40 inches, and a stroke of 34 inches, and it could manage 400 horsepower. Steam was provided by one coal-fired Scotch boiler which measured 11'3" by 10'3" and which was built for the boat by the Hamilton Bridge and Tool Company.

ARABIAN was duly placed in commission by the Fairgrieve Brothers, and her first master was Capt. Oliver Patenaude, who continued to command package freighters on the Montreal to Lake Ontario route as late as the 1940s. He was extremely competitive and was one of the toughest skippers on the old canals in a day when, not infrequently, a steamer gained a preferred locking position only if her master was capable of subduing a rival captain in a free-for-all on the canal bank. Such impromptu arrangements were not uncommon in the days before central canal dispatching, when the number of locks to be transitted was such that the gaining of even a few hours or minutes was of the utmost importance if a cargo was to be secured or delivered in anything approximating scheduled time. After he left ARABIAN, Capt. Patenaude sailed CITY OF HAMILTON, the former Anchor Liner JAPAN.

The Fairgrieves continued to operate ARABIAN up until 1902, in which year Hugh Fairgrieve died. It is to be assumed that Capt. J. B. Fairgrieve took over his late brother's interest at this time. ARABIAN remained in the package freight trade, under the flag of the Merchants Line, until the Montreal and Lake Superior Line was formed in 1906 by Frank Plummer, A.B. Mackay and Capt. Fairgrieve. In addition to ARABIAN, this consortium then operated A. E. AMES, H. M. PELLATT and J. H. PLUMMER of the Canadian Lake and Ocean Navigation Company Ltd., as well as Mackay's WAHCONDAH and NEEPAWAH.

The Montreal and Lake Superior Line was dissolved at the close of the 1906 season and was superceded in 1907 by the Canadian Lake Line, which was under the management of Frank Plummer. The vessels on the route that year were the AMES, PELLATT, PLUMMER and ARABIAN, all under the same ownership as in 1906, as well as the salt water steamers NEVADA (1890) and CORUNNA (1891) which had been purchased by Plummer in Great Britain early in 1907. In 1908, the line became incorporated as the Canadian Lake Transportation Company Ltd., with its head office located at 18 Wellington Street East, Toronto. ARABIAN's running mates during 1909 were CORUNNA and NEVADA, the Parry Sound Transportation Company's SEGUIN, and the sistership canallers REGINA, KENORA and TAGONA which were built for the line in 1907 and 1908.

The actual ownership of ARABIAN was retained by Capt. Fairgrieve until he retired from the shipping business in 1911 at the age of 78. The good captain lived only two years after his retirement and passed away in 1913. ARABIAN was sold in 1911 to Lake Commerce Ltd. of Toronto, a new company which was incorporated on November 7, 1911. by J.F.M. Stewart, A.M. Harnwell and W.L. Reid, all of Toronto. Stewart also had very close financial ties with M.J. Haney, Toronto, and these two gentlemen were both involved in the formation of Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. in 1913.

It appears that Lake Commerce Ltd. chartered ARABIAN to the Canadian Interlake Line Ltd. in 1912 and 1913. ARABIAN was not involved in the mergers which resulted in the creation of C.S.L., despite the fact that Canadian Interlake was brought in as part of the merger in 1913 and had been formed back in 1907 by Roy M. Wolvin and Capt. J. W. Norcross, two of the parties who were instrumental in creating C.S.L.

Frank Plummer reappeared in the life of ARABIAN in 1914. and seems to have acquired an interest in the steamer. In fact, the 1914 Dominion List of Shipping indicates that he was her owner, although this may not actually have been the whole truth. ARABIAN was managed for the 1915 and 1916 seasons by the Canadian Northwest Steamship Company Ltd., Toronto, and she was sold in 1917 to the Montreal Transportation Company Ltd., Montreal.

ARABIAN, little changed since her building, is downbound at Little Rapids Cut in this 1919 Young photo. She is seen in the colours of the Montreal Transportation Co. Ltd. Montreal Transportation was a very old Canadian lake and river shipping concern but, when financial control of the company was acquired in 1916 by Roy M. Wolvin, the same gentlemen who sat on the board of directors of C.S.L., the M.T.Co. fleet developed very close relations with C.S.L., although its vessels retained their own colours (black hulls, white cabins, and black stacks with the letters 'M.T.Co.' in white). During these years, the M.T.Co. package freighters ran the upbound trip from Montreal to Fort William in the C.S.L. package freight service, while their return trips eastward, usually with grain, were run to the M.T.Co.'s own account. After he had acquired control of Montreal Transportation, Roy Wolvin, clever manipulator that he was, managed to sell out of the fleet most of the newer steel-hulled boats for which there was a great demand as a result of the war effort. This disposal was accomplished, you may be sure, at a good profit, and the M.T.Co. fleet was left with nothing but second-class vessels, the company then little more than a shadow of its former self.

In 1921, M.T.Co. was finally taken over by Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. and, at long last, the corporate giant assumed full ownership of ARABIAN. But the years were taking their toll on her composite hull and, of course, ARABIAN was quite small when compared with the 250-foot canallers which were beginning to appear on the lakes in ever-increasing numbers. She was kept in service, however, because most of the aging C.S.L. package freighters were in no better shape than was she. By 1925, however, the company was looking forward, with many new package freighters of canal size either on order or already delivered to the fleet. As a result, ARABIAN was withdrawn from service and, in 1925, she was sold to the Gulf Iron and Wrecking Company of Quebec City. This new owner cut her down for use as a barge, but we have no knowledge of her service from this date onwards.

In 1935, the remains of ARABIAN were sold to the St. Lawrence Stevedoring Company Ltd. of Quebec. It is rather doubtful that she operated much if at all for this owner, considering the business conditions at that time. In any case, ARABIAN lasted only until about 1939, at which time she seems to have been dismantled. It is indeed unfortunate that we do not know as much about the old vessel's latter years as we do about the early part of her career.

Throughout her life, ARABIAN was a somewhat unusual vessel as far as her appearance was concerned. She was wooden from the 'tween deck up and carried large cargo ports in her sides. A flush-decker, she had heavily barred wooden rails all the way around her spar deck, with only a closed bulwark forward. Her anchors were carried on deck, with a lifting davit mounted at the stempost. Her bridge structure was also rather unusual. The pilothouse was a small, square cabin with four windows, their tops slightly rounded, across its front and an open bridge on the monkey's island. Small wings grew on each side at the point where the ladders rose from the bridge deck. The texas cabin was large and appeared to be square, but it actually was U-shaped, with the two arms of the "U" pointing aft. Between those two arms rose the foremast, its winch mounted on deck within this sheltered space. Offhand, we cannot think of any other laker that has possessed such an unusual cabin arrangement.

The after cabin was unusually large, but never had a separate boilerhouse as did many of the ships of the 1890s. Her well-proportioned stack, nicely raked, rose out of this cabin, about half-way back its length. ARABIAN'S original fore and mainmast were both as well raked as was her funnel, the masts being gaff-rigged and carrying three stays on each side. As the years passed, the foremast was cut down and then replaced by a short and very heavy mast, on which was slung an aft-pointing cargo boom. The main, which was set just a little abaft midships, disappeared completely and was replaced by a spindly little pole which rose, almost without rake, just behind the engineroom skylight. Apart from these rigging changes, ARABIAN changed very little from the time of her building until she was cut down to a barge.

ARABIAN's career was largely without incident, just as any owner would wish. On November 10, 1900, she was driven ashore in heavy weather some eight miles west of Whitefish Point on Lake Superior, but she was soon salvaged and suffered only minor damage. The Dominion wreck commissioner's reports indicate that she stranded in the Williamsburg Canal on July 4, 19-18, whilst bound from Hamilton to Montreal. Damage again was not severe, and the loss was described only as "partial".

There is extant a photograph, dated July 7, 1920, which shows ARABIAN on the Buffalo Dry Dock Company's dock, with fairly extensive plate repairs being made on the port side forward. It is evident that a number of her frames are missing, and a logical guess is that she might have had a collision with a lock wall or breakwater. There seems to be no damage to the wooden superstructure above the rubbing strake.

ARABIAN had an interesting career, but one that was almost guaranteed to be fairly short, as a result of her method of construction and size. She did, however, serve her owners well, and was a credit to Capt. Fairgrieve, whose pride and joy she was for many years.

(Ed Note: We extend our sincere appreciation to Jim Kidd, and especially to Ivan Brookes, for their assistance in developing much of the information contained in this article, and without whose help it could not have been written.)

You Asked Us

Bob Ireland of London, Ontario, has written with a few questions, the answers to which we felt might be of interest to other members. He enquired about the steam barge O.O. CARPENTER and the passenger steamers WIARTON BELLE, LILY (or LILLIE) and PICKUP. We are pleased to oblige, as usual, as we appreciate the opportunity to be of service to our members.

O.O. CARPENTER (U.S. 155198) was a wooden freighter built as Hull 1 of the Jenks Shipbuilding Company at Port Huron, Michigan. Her keel was laid on January 19, 1891, and she was launched on May 13. She was 127.6 x 30.6 x 9.5, 364.07 Gross and 268.28 Net. Her engine was built by the Phoenix Iron Works of Port Huron, another Jenks enterprise. The CARPENTER was originally operated by Angus Carpenter and the Jenks Steamship Company, and she was in the news on Monday, October 12, 1891, when she became the first vessel ever to use the then-new Hay Lake Channel of the St. Mary's River. (This channel, including the section known as Little Rapids Cut, was dredged out to provide a shortcut to the west of Sugar Island, thus avoiding the long route down Lake George on the east side of the island.) O.O. CARPENTER later passed to the ownership of H.E. Runnels and Capt. Sinclair of Port Huron.

In 1908, CARPENTER was sold to the Maine Coast Steamship Company (later the Maine Coast and Canada Steamship Company) of Boston, Massachusetts, for service between Machias and Eastport, Maine. She was rebuilt with 'tween deck and passenger cabins (no change in tonnage, strangely enough) and was renamed (b) MASSASOIT in 1908. After a few seasons of service, she was laid up, but was later placed back in operation. She was finally abandoned on the east coast in 1931.

WIARTON BELLE (C. 71188) began her life as (a) CHICAGO BELLE (U.S. 125339). She was a wooden-hulled passenger and freight propellor, 100.7 x 17.2 x 5.8, 87 Gross, 57 Net, and although some records indicate that she was built at Buffalo, she was actually built in 1871 at Chicago by F.W. and E.H. Meyer. She was registered at Buffalo, and was still registered there in 1875, but her registry was changed to Owen Sound, Ontario, in 1879, for she had been purchased by James Anderson of Waubaushene and he took her to Georgian Bay, giving her the more appropriate name of WIARTON BELLE. Later on, she was sold to Charles Duffy, Sr., who apparently was an associate of Anderson.

Some reports indicate that Anderson and Duffy also brought to the Bay another steamer, SAM LEWIS, and that both she and WIARTON BELLE ran out of Morrisburg, on the St. Lawrence River, before going to the Bay. In any event, Duffy ran WIARTON BELLE, with Capt. E. Dunn as master and Isaac Dunham as chief engineer, between Owen Sound and Wiarton, with additional service to Lions Head and Tobermory. She ran in opposition to JANE MILLER, a vessel which foundered on Colpoy's Bay on November 25, 1881. The competition with MILLER was too much for WIARTON BELLE and she was withdrawn from her route in 1880. Duffy dismantled her at Owen Sound and intended to place her engine and boiler in his new steamer TELEGRAM, which was built at Waubaushene in 1884. Nevertheless, the machinery did not go to TELEGRAM and we have no idea what may have become of it.

Bob has referred to LILY or LILLIE as a boat which, according to his grandfather, helped out during periods of peak passenger travel on CANADA's route between Owen Sound and the Royal Hotel which was located some five miles out of Owen Sound on the west side of the bay, all this probably occurring during the 1910-1915 period. He has stated that CANADA was operated by "the McLaughlins of Owen Sound" but we can find no mention of such people in our records. We do know that CANADA (C. 71101), (a) J. W. STEINH0FF (95). (b) QUEEN CITY (98), was latterly operated by the Georgian Bay Park and Summer Resort Company, the boat having been partially dismantled in 1909. This company may have been operated by these McLaughlins.

We believe that the vessel to which Bob has referred was LILLY (note spelling) , which was built in 1890 at Oakville, Ontario, as C. 94985. She was 51.3 x 14.2 x 5.5, 22 Gross, 15 Net. Oakville, once the home of Melancthon Simpson et al., was the birthplace of many small passenger steamers. According to the 1914 Dominion List of Shipping, she was then owned by the Victoria Harbour Lumber Company of Toronto and had been rebuilt in 1909 at Victoria Harbour, Ontario, probably as a tug or supply boat. She was still listed in the 1918 Dominion register but we have no record of her subsequently. It seems entirely possible that LILLY may have run from Owen Sound to the Royal Hotel but, as she was rebuilt in 1909 and CANADA was withdrawn the same year, it seems evident that any such service occurred prior to 1909.

PICKUP was described as "a cute little passenger steamer" and, having seen a photo of her, we would agree with his assessment of the aesthetics of the design of this small two-decker. We have, however, had considerable difficulty finding out anything about her. We do know that a steamer named LUCILE, (a) PICKUP (U.S.150304) , was placed on a run between Petoskey and Charlevoix, Michigan, in 1890 by Capt. Philo Chrysler. Built in 1883 at Marine City, she was 80.2 x 19.1 x 6.7, 136.74 Gross, 106.75 Net. In 1896, she was registered at Marquette, Michigan, so we assume that she operated on Lake Superior under the ownership of an Upper Peninsula owner. More than that we cannot tell you, but we would be happy to hear from any member who might have additional information.

Marine Photos For Sale

Member Al Sweigert, whose excellent marine photography has been featured on our photopage on numerous occasions, will be pleased to supply prints of his photos on request. For details of prices and a list of photos available, please address Alan W. Sweigert, 3617 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44113, U.S.A.

The Loss of the City of Detroit

The steamer CITY OF DETROIT (U.S.4378) was a wooden-hulled passenger and freight propellor which had been built in 1866 by Philander Lester at Marine City, Michigan. She was 167.0 x 27.7 x 12.1, her Gross tonnage variously reported as 652 or 682. We have not seen a photo of this vessel, if indeed one exists, but she was probably typical of such boats of her day, with an upper deck cabin, cargo doors on the 'tween deck, an octagonal "birdcage" pilothouse, and her stack far aft.

The famous Ward Line of Detroit appears to have had an interest in this steamer. Capt. Eber Ward and associates were very active in lake shipping during the middle years of the last century and they formed one of the first large organized line services to the upper lakes. In 1870, CITY OF DETROIT was operating to Silver Islet in Lake Superior off Thunder Cape. Silver Islet was once the site of a famous silver mine which was being developed about the time that CITY OF DETROIT traded there, probably carrying miners and supplies. Silver Islet closed down many years ago and today the mine is nothing but a memory.

By 1873, CITY OF DETROIT was owned by John Pridgeon of Detroit. Pridgeon held a controlling interest in the Chicago - Sarnia service of the Grand Trunk line of steamers. This operation lasted until the Grand Trunk completed its Chicago - Sarnia rail link, at which time the water route was abandoned. CITY OF DETROIT serviced this route until her loss in 1873, and there follows and account of her demise, as culled from the Port Huron Daily Times and supplied courtesy of Rev. Peter J. Van der Linden.

Monday, December 8, 1873:

Terrible Disaster: The propellor CITY OF DETROIT of the Grand Trunk Line is lost with all on board. Capt. Morris Barrett of the barge GUIDING STAR with a crew of seven, arrived at Port Elgin, Ontario, Saturday afternoon (December 6) in a yawl boat with their feet fully frozen. They left the barge about nine miles out in a disabled condition. She was laden with 24,000 bushels of wheat, bound from Milwaukee to Sarnia, and was in tow of the propellor CITY OF DETROIT, which was laden with 8,000 bushels of wheat, the remainder of her cargo being rolling freight.

The gale struck at 3:30 that morning, when they cut the barge loose, and about 7:00 a.m. the CITY OF DETROIT sank in Saginaw Bay. Capt. Barrett saw three of the crew of the propellor [sic] in a yawl and one man was seen in another boat. It is feared that the rest of the crew went down with the propellor.[sic] There were about 26 persons aboard. It is thought that there is some error about the time, as it is supposed that the gale referred to was the gale of Thursday morning (December 4th).

On Sunday morning, Mr. Dennis Lynn of this city (Port Huron), who is agent for many of the tugs, was requested to dispatch a first-class tug at once to the relief of the GUIDING STAR in order to save lives.

Tuesday, December 9, 1873:

The barge GUIDING STAR, which was in tow of the propellor[sic] CITY OF DETROIT, on the morning of December 4, when the latter went down off Saginaw Bay, arrived down yesterday afternoon in tow of the tug PRINDEVILLE [sic]. Capt. Barrett, in conversation with gentlemen of this city yesterday, related as much as he knew of the dreadful accident.

It appears that the ill-fated steamer became disabled so that she could no longer hold on to the barge, and so the barge was cut adrift. Soon afterwards, the captain and crew of GUIDING STAR perceived that the propellor was sinking. She was seen to be going down stern first, and the passengers and crew were seen grouped together on the pilothouse and about it. In a short time, CITY OF DETROIT gave a plunge backward and was gone.

Such were the hazards of lake travel in the steamers of those early years. Payment of fare was no guarantee of delivery at or near the intended destination, and a variety of undesirable fates awaited the unfortunate. Chilling lake waters, insatiable flames, and scalding steam from exploded boilers all took their toll of those who travelled by steamboat which was, in many cases, the only way to reach a destination apart from walking across country and catching such railroad service as then existed.

"PRINDEVILLE" mentioned in the news report was the famous upper lake tug, JOHN PRINDIVILLE, 135 feet and 263 tons, which was built at Chicago in 1862. She operated for many years in the Sarnia - Port Huron area and was sold Canadian in 1884. Rebuilt at Collingwood in 1896 and latterly known as (b) CHARLTON, she later served on Georgian Bay and then on the St. Lawrence River, and was still in documentation as late as the 1930s.

GUIDING STAR was a wooden two-masted schooner of 384 tons, built in 1867 at Marine City and long operated by the Red Star Line (Blood, Bond and Ford) of Oswego, New York, principally in the grain trade. She later passed to upper lake interests and was abandoned in 1892.

Additional Marine News

Recent word from Kingston indicates that FRENCH RIVER will be renamed JENSEN STAR by Montreal Shipping Ltd., her new owner. Her fitting out continues at Kingston.

The 1981 shipping season for the port of Toronto opened on Sunday, March 29. with the arrival of E. J. NEWBERRY and LAKE ANJA. The laker arrived with soya beans for Victory Mills and the salty with chemical products. NEWBERRY was substituting on that first trip for SOO RIVER TRADER, which was forced to delay her first sailing due to boiler problems.

A recent report indicates that MARLHILL, and possibly LAC DES ILES with her, may be sent to a port on the Gulf of Mexico for grain storage use. There is no confirmation of this information available as yet.

Late word, so far unconfirmed but coming from "usually reliable sources," has it that J. R. SENSIBAR has been acquired by Ship Repairs and Supplies Ltd., Toronto, for operation by Johnstone Shipping Ltd. If this report is correct, we assume that SENSIBAR will, indeed, operate on the coal run to the St. Lawrence River.

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Scanner, v. 13, n. 7 (April 1981)

Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Oscar J. Gregoire; You Asked Us; Marine Photos For Sale; The Loss of the City of Detroit; Additional Marine News