The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Scanner, v. 13, n. 8 (May 1981)
Scanner (Toronto, ON), May 1981

Bascom, John N., Editor
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Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Marine News; Another Volume of the "Namesakes" Series; Our One-hundredth Ship of the Month Again; Additional Marine News
Date of Publication:
May 1981
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Toronto Marine Historical Society
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As usual, there will be no formal meetings of T.M.H.S. during the summer months. The next regular meeting will be held on Friday, October 2nd, at 8:00 p.m., this being our annual Autumn Open Slide Night. In the meantime, however, there will undoubtedly be many informal (and probably unplanned as well) meetings of our members at such interesting and appropriate locations as the Welland Canal, Point Edward, Little Rapids Cut, etc. Best wishes to all for a pleasant summer season.

The Editor's Notebook

We wish to thank all of our members who supported our Annual Dinner Meeting and attended the festivities. Our sincere appreciation is also extended to Lorne Joyce, speaker for the evening, and to Mrs. Willis Metcalfe, who provided from the collection of our late member, Willis Metcalfe, much Bay of Quinte material used by Lorne in his programme.

We would be remiss if we did not, at this time, thank all of our regular correspondents who have kept us supplied with news items, etc., during the winter. Even though "Scanner" will not appear again until mid-summer, we hope that we shall continue to receive the benefit of their reports in the months to come so that future issues may be as complete as possible. We do not have the time to reply personally to each letter sent, but we do appreciate the kind assistance of our corresponding members.

In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to James H. Jackson of Dearborn, Michigan, to Michel Fournier of London, Ontario, to Mrs. John Edwards of Toronto, to John Vanderdoe of Windsor, to Robert Needham of Goderich, and to Michael J. Dills of Cleveland.

Marine News

In our last issue, we mentioned unconfirmed reports to the effect that Johnstone Shipping Ltd. of Toronto had purchased the Columbia Transportation Division self-unloading motorship J. R. SENSIBAR. We are now pleased to report that this transaction has, indeed, taken place, and that SENSIBAR will soon be in service on the coal run between Lake Erie ports and Quebec City, operating under the new name (c) CONALLISON. The vessel was built in 1906 as Hull 14 of the Great Lakes Engineering Works shipyard at Ecorse, Michigan, as (a) FRANK C. BALL, her first owner having been G. A. Tomlinson's Globe Steamship Company of Duluth. In 1929, she was sold to the Mid-West Vessel Corporation, Cleveland, for operation by the Construction Aggregates Corporation, Chicago. Over the winter of 1929-30, she was converted from a regular straight-deck bulk carrier to a self-unloading sandsucker. The rebuild cost more than $1,000,000 (quite a handsome sum of money for those times), and included the fitting of turbine-electric drive and hydraulic sandsucking equipment. She was the world's largest hydraulic sandsucker at the time and she herself pumped most of the landfill which formed the site of the 1934-1935 Chicago World's Fair. She was chartered to Columbia in 1941 and they purchased her outright in 1943. In 1941, she was converted to a normal self-unloader for the coal and stone trades, this work being done by the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company. In 1960-61, the SENSIBAR was taken in hand by the American Shipbuilding Company's Chicago yard, which repowered the vessel with a 12-cylinder Nordberg diesel, lengthened her hull by 60 feet, and completely rebuilt her cabins. Nevertheless, Columbia has used her little of late because of the addition of newer tonnage to the fleet and because SENSIBAR, through years of very hard use, has come to be in something less than ideal condition. We welcome her to the Canadian flag and wish her many years of service.

After many months of uncertainty, it seems that MARLHILL will not be scrapped this year, nor will LAC DES ILES, her former running mate in the fleets of the Hindman Transportation Company Ltd. and the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company Ltd. Both are to be taken to Mexico for use as grain storage barges in an effort to prevent the infestation which usually occurs when grain is unloaded at Mexican ports and must simply be piled on a pier for want of storage facilities. LAC DES ILES had earlier been acquired by Marine Salvage Ltd. which arranged the resale to the Mexican buyers, apparently with some assistance from Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. MARLHILL has actually been owned by someone named Herman, from New York City, and we must assume that Marine Salvage acted as a broker in her sale to the Mexicans. In mid-April, MARLHILL was moved to the north wall of Toronto's Leslie Street slip and LAC DES ILES to the east wall of the turning basin, where they lay stern-to-stern around the corner. Work was immediately begun on the removal of their boilers and engines, and we anticipate their early departure for the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The future of the Soo River Company's SOO RIVER TRADER, (a) SAMUEL MATHER (III)(25), (b) PATHFINDER (II)(64), (c) GODERICH (II)(80), is much in doubt as a result of boiler problems. The steamer was given an early fit-out near the Cherry Street bridge in Toronto's ship channel this spring, in anticipation of an early departure to fetch from Toledo a cargo of soya beans for Victory Mills, Toronto. During fit-out, however, a crack was found in one of her boilers. SOO RIVER TRADER's sailing was delayed, diagnostic equipment was called to the scene, and E. J. NEWBERRY was dispatched from Humberstone to pick up the TRADER's cargo at Toledo. With the boiler damage confirmed to be serious enough to prevent the operation of the 75-year-old TRADER in her present condition, she limped off to Hamilton in early April, under her own power but on only one boiler. She was immediately laid up again at Hamilton and no decision has yet been made regarding her future. We are told, however, that the TRADER's hull is in good condition, and that a method of keeping her in service is being sought, one that may involve repowering and major reconstruction.

The American Steamship Company's self-unloader NICOLET, now in her 76th year, was placed back in service this spring after the completion of extensive repairs at the Toledo yard of AmShip. It will be recalled that NICOLET suffered severe damage to her forward end, including her unloading machinery, in a fire which occurred at Toledo on December 29, 1979. The ship looks much the same now as she did before the fire, except that her handsome old pilothouse was removed and has been replaced by a small square structure which sits right over the centre of the texas cabin, a far cry from an improvement in her appearance. NICOLET cleared Toledo on April 4 on her first trip and we welcome her back to service. It is not far short of a miracle, you see, that such an elderly boat should be given such an extensive refit and, in the first few days after the 1979 fire, we had despaired of ever seeing her in operation again.

Marine Fueling Division, Reiss Oil Terminal Corporation, has discontinued its marine bunkering service at Cleveland, and its Cleveland-based tankers MARINE FUEL OIL, (a) L. G. LaDUCA (66) of 1960, WM. H. BENNETT of 1950, and MARINE FUEL II, (a) SUNOCO JR. (33), (b) POLING BROS. NO. 4 (54), (c) CEMICO FUEL (65) of 1926, are all laid up together. No doubt efforts will be made to dispose of them if buyers can be found. The only tanker remaining active in the Marine Fueling fleet is the 1978-built REISS MARINE, which operates out of Duluth - Superior, also in the bunkering trade.

How the mighty has fallen! A few years ago, all seemed rosy for the future of the Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company, but Cliffs has since fallen victim to a complete reversal of fortune, particularly with the loss of the Republic Steel ore contract to the Interlake Steamship Company. So poor are things for Cliffs right now that it is planning to operate only three ships at the beginning of the 1981 season, namely WALTER A. STERLING, EDWARD B. GREENE and CLIFFS VICTORY, although that list may be reconsidered if there should be any improvement as the season progresses. Of the fourteen boats that were in the Cliffs fleet at the opening of the 1980 season, the chartered MAXINE has never operated for Cliffs and is for sale, the charters on TOM M. GIRDLER, THOMAS F. PATTON and CHARLES M. WHITE were dropped and the ships scrapped, RAYMOND H. REISS was sold for scrap as 1980 drew to a close, WILLIAM P. SNYDER JR. was "retired" and faces an uncertain future, and WILLIS B. BOYER, CADILLAC, CHAMPLAIN, WILLIAM G. MATHER and PONTIAC are presently lying idle.

The scrapping of RAYMOND H. REISS at Ramey's Bend continues quickly and, by mid-April, the cutting had progressed well down her deck, with the entire forward end gone. It seems that Marine Salvage is still hoping to sell the REISS' Nordberg diesel for further use, but we understand that there has been no great rush of prospective buyers.

THOMAS F. PATTON and CHARLES M. WHITE which, as previously reported, left Quebec on September 8, 1980, in tow of the tug FAIRPLAY IX, are now known to have arrived safely at Karachi, Pakistan, prior to December 23rd. As yet, we have no information regarding the arrival of TOM M. GIRDLER in eastern waters. Ever since the first announcement of the scrap sale of this trio of steamers last summer, it has been suggested (perhaps wishfully) that their eastern buyers might have bought the "tomatoes" for operation there, rather than for dismantling. The chances of that would now seem to be minimal.

The Columbia Transportation Division, Oglebay Norton Company, seems to have a very good year planned for 1981, something of a surprise during these years of indifferent financial conditions. Although a few Columbia boats will not start this spring, the 75-year-old W. W. HOLLOWAY will operate, and some of the ships may even help out with the Quebec coal trade this year. The new COLUMBIA STAR and the converted COURTNEY BURTON are due to be delivered by Bay Shipbuilding by mid-May.

AMERICAN REPUBLIC, the newest vessel of the American Steamship Company, and built specifically for the ore shuttle between Lorain and the Republic Steel plant up the Cuyahoga River at Cleveland, was commissioned in mid-April and made her maiden voyage from Sturgeon Bay to Escanaba and then on to Cleveland with ore.

The newest Interlake Steamship Company 1,000-foot self-unloader, WILLIAM J. DELANCEY, recently completed by AmShip at Lorain, was christened at that port on April 25, and should be in service before this report appears in print. DELANCEY is, of course, similar in appearance to JAMES R. BARKER and MESABI MINER, but is somewhat more advanced in internal design.

Ice conditions on eastern Lake Erie during late March and early April were rather bothersome, particularly considering that the warm weather of late winter had disposed of most of the ice elsewhere in the lower lakes. Helping ships through the heavy ice off Port Colborne harbour entrance were the U.S.C.G. NEAH BAY and the big C.C.G.S. PIERRE RADISSON. A 296-foot motorship, the RADISSON is 5910 Gross Tons and was built in 1978 at North Vancouver, B. C. The Lake Erie icefield, some 12 to 15 miles wide, was particularly troublesome for some of the lower-powered lakers and, amongst others, the RADISSON spent considerable time shepherding NEW YORK NEWS, FRANQUELIN, OUTARDE and SILVERDALE to open water.

JOSEPH X. ROBERT is shown fitting out at the Welland Dock on April 11, 1981. Photo by J. H. Bascom. Another vessel which encountered problems in the ice off Port Colborne was JOSEPH X. ROBERT, the most recent acquisition of the Soo River Company. She arrived off Port Colborne on April 9, but did not succeed in making her way down to her fitting-out berth at the Welland Dock until the following day. In so doing, however, she managed to damage one of her condensers in the ice. During the subsequent few days that she spent at Welland, the ROBERT was given as much of an exterior paint job as was possible, and a heavy layer of limestone residue was blasted out of her holds with high-pressure water guns. JOSEPH X. ROBERT looks very handsome from an external point of view, but to describe her accommodations as spartan would be to commit a monumental understatement. We understand that much work will be done by Soo River on the "Maritimer's" cabins in an effort to make them more pleasant and comfortable.

The cement barge MEL WILLIAM SELVICK and her tug JOHN PURVES made an unexpected call at Toronto on April 12. The SELVICK, of course, normally hauls cement out of Clarkson to Lake Erie, but was prevented from docking at Clarkson's open-lake pier by strong easterly winds and heavy seas. The tug and barge sought shelter in Toronto Bay and anchored there until conditions improved. The Bultema Dock and Dredge Company's JOHN PURVES was built for the U.S. government in 1919 and served previously as (a) L.T. 145, and (b) BUTTERFIELD (57). She is probably best known for her many years of service with the Newaygo Tug Line and the Roen Steamship Company. The Selvick Marine Towing Corporation's barge MEL WILLIAM SELVICK is a real veteran, her hull dating back to 1892. She was known until 1973 as (a) SAMUEL MITCHELL, but she has not operated under her own power since 1963, at which time she was still owned by Huron Cement, the company for which she laboured for most of her life.

Back on January 21, 1978, the Kinsman steamer HARRY L. ALLEN, (a) JOHN B. COWLE (II)(69), a veteran dating from 1910, was destroyed by fire when the burning Capital No. 4 elevator at Duluth, alongside which she was moored, fell on her. Well beyond the possibility of repair, the remains of ALLEN were sold to the Hyman-Michaels Company which dismantled her at Duluth. We understand that the underwriters paid out some $635,000 to Kinsman for the loss of the ship, and that the underwriters are now taking subrogation (recovery) proceedings against the International Multifoods Corporation, the owner of the aged elevator, alleging legal liability for damage to the ALLEN through the "negligence" which caused the fire.

There would appear to have been a reorganization of the Kinsman fleet but we do not yet know how these changes may be manifest in the operation of the six steamers presently belonging to the fleet. As we understand the situation, the ownership of ALASTAIR GUTHRIE, KINSMAN INDEPENDENT and WILLIAM A. McGONAGLE remains with S & E Shipping Corporation, while C. L. AUSTIN, FRANK R. DENTON and MERLE M. McCURDY are now owned by Kinsman Lines Inc., the concern that has operated the S & E fleet in the several years since the last Kinsman reorganization. We also are told that Kinsman Lines Inc. is closely related at present to a consortium consisting of General Mills, the Peavey Grain interests, and International Multifoods. It is interesting to note that the three oldest boats of the fleet are those involved in the present ownership change. The entire fleet will be operated in 1981, with the exception of ALASTAIR GUTHRIE which, for the time being, will remain idle at Buffalo.

With business conditions being what they have been of late, it has been several years since any vessels of the U.S. Steel Great Lakes Fleet have ventured down the Seaway. Indeed, with the shrinking of the tinstack fleet, we rather doubted that any would sail eastward again. So far this spring, however, ENDERS M. VOORHEES, LEON FRASER and IRVING S. OLDS have all passed down through the canals with grain for Baie Comeau.

The refitting of LAC STE. ANNE, with the boilers from the scrapped BROOKDALE (II), has been accomplished at the Law stone dock at Humberstone. By mid-April, LAC STE. ANNE's big stack had been placed back in position and the finishing touches were being put to the job. There is no external change in the steamer's appearance but no doubt she will perform much better mechanically with her newer, albeit second-hand, boilers.

Meanwhile, the scrapping of BROOKDALE herself is well underway at Port Maitland. Her replacement in the fleet of Westdale Shipping Ltd., LEADALE (II), (a) JOHN A. KLING (81), is now in service in her new owner's livery. LEADALE's hull has not yet been repainted in its entirety, and she still has her name in black on the full white forecastle in the same manner as does SILVERDALE. Thus the Westdale fleet is now evenly divided in this respect, for NORDALE and ERINDALE are painted more traditionally, with black forecastles and white rails.

The appearance of FRANKCLIFFE HALL is somewhat altered this season, apparently as a result of problems encountered after her 1980 conversion to a self-unloader. The placing of her extremely large unloader "box" immediately forward of the stack seems to have caused a downdraft problem and her funnel has now been increased in height by about half its original height, now looking much like the stack carried by CARTIERCLIFFE HALL. Her strange appearance results not only from the increased height of the stack but also from the fact that, although the white 'H' was raised proportionately higher up on the stack, the white "wishbone" was left in its old position.

The refitting of CONCRETIA seems to be progressing at Kingston, and her new owner is hoping to have her ready and available shortly for a local cruise service. The 63-year-old hull, which was originally built as a government lighthouse tender but subsequently languished, unused, for many years, in Kingston harbour, has been renamed (b) ONAYGORAH for her new duties as a sailing vessel.

Still lying at Kingston this spring is WITTRANSPORT II, the apparently derelict hull of the old Halco steam tanker CAPE TRANSPORT. Still supposedly en route to the Caribbean for use as a water tanker, the hull has simply made Kingston its latest resting place in its travels around Lake Ontario. She was originally to be taken to the east coast via the New York State Barge Canal in the late autumn of 1977 after having been stripped of her superstructure at Toronto.

A substantial portion of the U.S.-flag lake fleet was idled just before Easter as a result of a strike by engineers and deck officers. Only tankers, grain carriers, and railroad carferries were exempt from the strike and, of the major vessel operators, only Kinsman Lines, Cleveland Tankers, Amoco, Hanna and Ford were able to keep their ships in service, the latter two companies because their crews belong to a different union. At the time this report was written, the strike was still in progress, but there seemed reason to expect a settlement prior to the end of the month of April.

We recently reported on the loss of the container barge CONSOLIDATOR in the Gulf of Mexico during Hurricane Jean in November, 1980. This barge was of interest to lake historians because she had been cut down from the former Chesapeake and Ohio railway carferry PERE MARQUETTE 21, a Lake Michigan veteran. Member Rene Beauchamp has been able to clear up some confusion concerning the renaming of this vessel subsequent to her departure from lake waters. When removed from the lakes in 1976, she was taken to Sorel and it was there that the barge was renamed ESGRAN and placed under Panamanian registry. Then, before leaving Sorel, the hull reverted to the name PERE MARQUETTE 21, with Chicago as its port of registry. We do not, at present, pretend to know the reasons for these various changes, but we do know that CONSOLIDATOR was owned by Co-ordinated Caribbean Transport of Miami, Florida, when she was lost.

It was back on February 26th that MONTCLIFFE HALL suffered severe fire damage to her bridge structure whilst lying in winter quarters at Sarnia, Ontario. In the interim, the centre section of the elevated bridge has been cut away and, strangely enough, the pilothouse and accompanying cabins have now been rebuilt almost exactly as they were, so that there is very little difference externally between "then" and "now" photos of the ship. Most observers had expected MONTCLIFFE HALL to be the recipient of a rebuild similar to that given CARTIERCLIFFE HALL after her tragic 1979 fire.

We are now in a position to elaborate on the new ownership of JENSEN STAR, (a) FRENCH RIVER (81), which was fitted out at Kingston this spring for salt water service. Her actual purchaser is Jensen Shipping Ltd., Montreal, which is an affiliate of Mount Royal Marine Repairs Ltd. and W. F. Walsh Inc., both of Montreal.

As of late April, D. C. EVEREST, not yet renamed, was lying in the Leslie Street slip off Toronto's turning basin, where she was being readied for the installation of her new deck crane. She will be operating during 1981 as (b) CONDARRELL for Johnstone Shipping Ltd. Meanwhile, Johnstone's CONGAR (III) fitted out rather quickly during April and was placed back in the tanker service which she established during 1980.

We now have additional information on the formation (or perhaps, we should call it the "re-formation") of Newfoundland Steamships Ltd., the St. Lawrence River and east coast co-operative shipping venture of Clarke Transport Canada Inc. and Chimo Shipping Ltd. The company's vessels will carry stack colours which are a mixture of the old Clarke and Chimo designs, a blue funnel with white band and diamond, and a red top, with Chimo's "sheaf" symbol on the diamond in red. Hulls will probably be Chimo red rather than Clarke orange. Newfoundland Steamships will operate four boats on a regular basis; CHIMO has been purchased outright from Clarke, CABOT is on a ten-year bareboat charter from Clarke, A. C. CROSBIE is on a ten-year bareboat charter from Chimo, and LADY M. A. CROSBIE is on a three-year sub-bareboat charter from Chimo (her real owner being the United Baltic Corporation Ltd. of London, England). Meanwhile, Chimo has sold its PERCY A. CROSBIE to 103058 Canada Ltd. of Ste-Foy, Quebec, which is an affiliate of Boreal Navigation Inc., and she has been renamed BAIE JAMES.

Lucile/Pickup Revisited

In the April issue, we did our best to answer several questions which had been asked of us by member Robert Ireland of London, Ontario. If nothing else, our answers to readers' questions quite frequently prompt correspondence from other members who have access to more information. We are pleased to reprint here some comments received from Gordon Wendt of Sandusky, Ohio, who hopes that what follows may help Bob Ireland to complete his file on PICKUP, (b) LUCILE. Needless to say, Gordon's information has proven most welcome for our files too, and we thank him for his assistance.

"Here's a bit of local lore re LUCILE. Johnson's Island in Sandusky Bay was, for two brief periods, operated as a pleasure resort in competition with Cedar Point, 1894 through 1897, and again from 1904 through 1907. For another two years, Cedar Point interests leased it as a camping site. The Island was never the equivalent of Cedar Point and it was operated more as a picnic, swimming, and dancing spot. A lack of finances and the powerful competition from the Point accounted for its demise as a resort.

"During the 1905 and 1906 seasons, LUCILE was chartered for the Johnson's Island service, about a three-mile run across the Bay. She ran with LENA KNOBLOCH (U.S. 140459, 75.0 feet in length, built 1881 at Buffalo) and ALTON (U.S. 203057, 43.1 feet, built 1905 at Sandusky). Although the park was not a financial success, it attracted large holiday crowds and, on Labour Day, 1906, six small boats were on the run.

"As for LUCILE, she ran until August 9, 1906, and then, for some unknown reason, had to go to the dockyard at Toledo. This seems odd, for there was a yard at Sandusky that could easily have accommodated her. When she was about three miles from the Maumee River light at Toledo, she foundered as a result of a flange on her steam pipe giving out. She went down and was a wreck, although all aboard were saved. She was raised on December 6, 1906, and her engine was salvaged, but where it went I do not know.

"My records show that she had been built as PICKUP by King at Marine City in 1883. She burned and was rebuilt as LUCILE in 1886. She was sold to Dora May Brower of Ashland, Wisconsin, this sale actually being a trade for DAISY. (Ye Ed. presumes that this DAISY was U.S. 157131, 51.9 feet, built 1884 at South Haven, Michigan, and registered in 1896 at Marquette just as was LUCILE.) LUCILE ran between Duluth and West Superior as a ferry but lost money, allegedly too large for the service. She then ran between Ashland and Washburn but burned at Ashland on August 6, 1904. She was rebuilt in 1905 and appeared on the Johnson's Island run.

"When she ran here on Sandusky Bay, she was sailed by Captain Brower who, in the spring after her demise, published a poem all about her in the Sandusky newspapers."

That a small steamer the size of LUCILE/PICKUP would roam from Marine City to the Lakehead to Sandusky Bay is not really surprising. Ye Ed. wonders, however, where Capt. Philo Chrysler fits into all this, for one of the few things we knew about this steamer before Gordon's letter was that this Chrysler ran her in 1890 between Petsokey and Charlevoix.

Anyone else care to comment?

Another Volume of the "Namesakes" Series

Member John O. Greenwood has recently published Namesakes of the '80s, the fifth volume of the "Namesakes" series and the third dealing with current vessels but updating the record. Price is $22.00 and interested parties should address Freshwater Press Inc., Room 334, The Arcade, Cleveland, Ohio 44114, U.S.A.

Ship of the Month No. 102


Some of the early canallers were strange-looking craft indeed, the products of shipyards which were searching for methods of obtaining the maximum possible cubic capacity in a hull whose size was severely limited by the dimensions of the locks of the old Welland and St. Lawrence canals. After a few years, however, the building of canal-sized steamers became a real art and the shipyards, especially those in Great Britain, began to produce large numbers of these vessels. Most of the earlier canallers were then either rebuilt and modernized, or were taken out of service.

One major exception to this general principle was the veteran self-unloading steamer BAYANNA, which had an active career of almost seventy years. Despite the fact that she lasted well into the 1960s, her basic appearance changed very little over the long years and, by the time that she was retired, she had become a floating museum piece. In an era which produced such modern achievements as the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the antiquated BAYANNA, with her old-fashioned cabins and hull form, had become a true anachronism.

ARAGON, in the colours of the Tees Transit Company, is seen in the Toronto Ship Channel in this 1945 photo by J. H. Bascom. BAYANNA could trace her beginnings back to 1896, when she was constructed as Hull 123 of the Detroit Dry Dock Company at Wyandotte, Michigan. Her original dimensions were recorded as 247.7 feet in length, 42.6 feet in the beam, and 14.8 feet in depth, while her tonnage was measured as 1450.09 Gross and 1072.28 Net. She was powered by a triple-expansion engine, with cylinders of 17, 27 1/2 and 46 inches and a stroke of 36 inches, this machinery having been built for her by the Dry Dock Engine Works of Wyandotte, a firm which was operated by the shipyard. Steam for the engine was provided by a single coal fired Scotch boiler, 12'6" by 12', which, in the fashion of the old wooden lumber carriers, was mounted on deck and enclosed in a steel boilerhouse which was placed in front of the normal wooden after cabin.

The new steamer was launched on May 23, 1896, and was soon made ready for service. Enrolled as U.S.107228 and registered at Cleveland, she was christened ARAGON, a name she was to carry for exactly half a decade. She was built to the order of C. R. Jones and Associates of Cleveland, who operated under the style of the Argo Steamship Company. She was frequently seen in the old Welland Canal and, in fact, was especially built for that service. Constructed at a cost of $125,000 (serious money for the years prior to the turn of the century), she had the largest carrying capacity of any canaller then in service, and could pack 80,000 bushels of corn into her holds.

ARAGON had a very substantial steel hull, with a stem that pulled back a bit as it rose towards the rail, and a very heavy counter stern. She had a full forecastle and the crew's quarters in it enjoyed the benefit of large windows which were cut into its after bulkhead, admitting much more light than would normally have been found in the forecastles of most period vessels. Closed bulwarks ran around the top of the forecastle and on the upper deck was located the pilothouse and, immediately abaft of it, the texas cabin. The pilothouse itself was a fairly small square structure which sported large sectioned windows and the usual open bridge on the monkey's island. Bridge wings were mounted on the roof of the texas.

ARAGON, as was the custom of the day, sported a handsome closed rail which ran all the way down the spar deck from the break of the forecastle to the forward edge of the fully-raised quarterdeck. The latter also carried a closed rail which ran right around the steel boilerhouse and the wooden after cabin. The deckhouse possessed a clerestory which ran down its midship line for the cabin's entire length, illuminating the accommodations. The short and rather thin stack rose from the boilerhouse with a marked rake that matched that of her two masts. The foremast was set in such a position that it rose right through the after section of the texas cabin, while the main sprouted from the spar deck just forward of the quarterdeck bulkhead.

Although her design was basically adapted from that used in the construction of many of the wooden-hulled lake vessels which were so common in the latter years of the nineteenth century, ARAGON was a very handsome steamer indeed and was a credit to her builders. She was smartly painted (although not particularly imaginatively) with a black hull, white cabins, and a black stack. Her boilerhouse appears to have been grey, and white piping marked the level of the upper deck on both the forecastle and the raised stern. Rather similar in appearance to ARAGON was the wooden steamer ARGO which was built for the same fleet in 1895 as Hull 120 of the Detroit Dry Dock Company.

The Argo Steamship Company was principally engaged in the lumber trade, and one of its guiding lights was Erwin L. Fisher, who also was president of the Fisher and Wilson Lumber Company of Cleveland. In addition to ARGO and ARAGON, the Argo Steamship Company operated, over the years, quite an assortment of odd vessels, such as the wooden lumber-carrying steamers SIMON LANGELL, OGEMAW and SACHEM, the wooden schooner-barges D. P. DOBBINS, CHESTER B. JONES and GEORGE B. OWEN, and two other steel-hulled canallers, both ill-fated, the BENJAMIN NOBLE of 1909, and ERWIN L. FISHER, (b) PORT DE CAEN, (c) BAYERSHER (23), (d) CLAREMONT (30), (e) ERWIN L FISHER (30), (f) GEORGE J. WHELAN, which was built in 1910.

ARAGON operated faithfully, and apparently without incident, for her original owner during 1896 and 1897. By late in the season of 1898, however, the east coast shipping trade in the United States was feeling the effects of a shortage of good vessels, this shortage having been caused by the Spanish-American War. Accordingly, late in 1898, ARAGON was chartered to the Atlantic Coast Steamship Company of New York, and she was taken down through the canals for coastal service. By 1900, the war then but a memory, she was back in the lakes, in the service once again of the Argo Steamship Company. However, C. R. Jones had passed away in 1899 and the management of the fleet had been taken over by none other than Erwin L. Fisher.

Unfortunately, ARAGON was not to remain on the lakes for long, for it was in 1903 that she was sold to the Atlantic Coast Lumber Company of New York, a firm which was, no doubt, related to the concern that had chartered her in 1898. She left the Great Lakes at that time, and her port of registry was changed from Fairport, Ohio, to New York City. She was to remain in the coastal service for the next eighteen years! While there, she was fitted with wireless and was assigned the signal letters KVRS.

In 1921, ARAGON was purchased by Prindiville and Company of Chicago, and she was brought back to the lakes for service in the bulk cargo trades. J. Prindiville and Sons were active in the lumber trade, just as Argo had been, and it is likely that lumber formed a large percentage of ARAGON's cargoes. The Prindiville fleet contained, over the years, three other steel-hulled lumber carriers, namely PARKS FOSTER, JESSE SPAULDING and WINNEBAGO, but only PARKS FOSTER was still associated with Prindiville at the time of the acquisition of ARAGON. The latter was purchased by Prindiville during the summer of 1921 but, by mid-December, she had taken her untimely departure from the fleet by way of accident.

During November, 1921, ARAGON's travels took her to Chicago, where she loaded 75,000 bushels of corn for delivery to the Edwardsburgh Starch Company at Cardinal, Ontario. All went without untoward incident until ARAGON cleared the Welland Canal at Port Dalhousie. Downbound on Lake Ontario, she was confronted with a fog which hung low over the calm lake. She strayed from her normal course and, eventually, on the evening of November 17th, she arrived in Athol Bay off Ontario's Prince Edward County, some nine miles southwest of Picton. That she found herself there was a matter of some surprise to all concerned, for it had not been supposed that she was anywhere other than out in the usual shipping channel.

As Athol Bay was nowhere near her intended destination, ARAGON continued on her way, departing from the bay via its southeastern entrance. Passing safely by the infamous Wicked Point, an area of dangerous shoals guarding the entrance, she was headed down the lake, but the course set for her held her too close in on the shore. As a result, she struck hard on Salmon Point, a hazard located some two miles to the east of Wicked Point. ARAGON summoned assistance from Kingston, and the Donnelly Wrecking Company soon responded with the sidewheel salvage steamer CORNWALL and the lighter HARRIET D.

The Salmon Point area is completely open to the lake and provides no shelter along the shore. Bad weather developed not long after ARAGON stranded and Donnelly's salvage efforts were interrupted. To keep the ship from pounding on the bottom, her hold was flooded. The work was later resumed and a small quantity of undamaged corn was removed before the Donnelly crews were chased from the exposed wreck by the inclement weather which heralded the coming of winter. Early in 1922, the salvage efforts were taken over by the famous Toronto shipping entrepreneur John E. Russell, who eventually succeeded in freeing the badly damaged ARAGON.

ARAGON was purchased in 1922 by the International Waterways Navigation Company Ltd. of Montreal, which was a joint venture of John E. Russell and of Robert A. Campbell of Montreal. ARAGON was repaired and, in due course of time, she returned to service, still carrying her old name but now enrolled in the Canadian register as C.150811.

By 1927, however, ARAGON had been rendered obsolete in the bulk canal trades which were then being taken over by a whole new breed of British-built canallers . That year, she was taken to the Canadian Vickers Ltd. shipyard at Montreal, and there she was converted to a self-unloading sandsucker, complete with an A-frame and an 80-foot unloading boom. Her dimensions were altered somewhat in the reconstruction and she emerged with a length of 249.3 feet, a beam of 41.9 feet, and a depth of 15.3 feet, her revised tonnage having been registered as 1643 Gross and 963 Net.

ARAGON's sandsucking equipment did not function in the same manner as did the machinery of most other similarly-employed ships. She did not pump the sand directly into the sandbox in the hold, but rather ran it up into a series of hoppers on deck, from which the sand, after the water drained off, was discharged into the hold.

In 1929, ARAGON was purchased by the Essex Transit Company Ltd. of Windsor, Louis A. Merlo, manager. Essex Transit operated her in the sand trade until the close of the 1933 season, but the effects of the Great Depression on business conditions (particularly in the building trades) caused her not to be fitted out in 1934. She was sold in 1935 to Eugene Lefebvre of Montreal and, in 1937, title to the ship passed to the Sterling Construction Company Ltd. of Windsor. Despite these sales, however, she was not reactivated and ARAGON passed her time lying in ordinary at Windsor until 1941.

On June 20, 1941, ARAGON was sold again, this time to Capt. Thomas A. Tees and the Tees Transit Company of Hamilton. The job of refitting the steamer was given to the Muir Bros. Dry Dock Company Ltd. and she spent the winter of 1941-1942 at the Muir shipyard above Lock One at Port Dalhousie. The onset of World War II had caused a mass exodus of canallers from the lakes to salt water to assist with the war effort, and Tees saw that a profit could be made with ARAGON during the absence of more modern boats. The reconstruction was intended to produce for Tees a self-unloading bulk carrier which could be operated on Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River. In reality, however, Tees only had done that work which was absolutely required by the steamship inspectors in order to permit her to operate for a few years. Very little money was spent on ARAGON and the maintenance work given her was of minimal nature. Tees' lack of care for the old girl became more and more evident and, by 1945, her condition was considered to be poor. In fact, it almost proved to be her undoing.

In December of 1945, ARAGON loaded a cargo of coal at the south shore Lake Ontario port of Sodus, New York, for delivery to the Sowards coal dock at Kingston. After she left Sodus, the steamer encountered heavy weather, and her master decided to come about and run back to the anchorage at Sodus where ARAGON might safely await better weather conditions. The inclemency continued for several days, however, and ARAGON's supply of bunker coal began to run very low. She returned to the dock at Sodus for bunkers and the fuelling process was completed by evening. It was decided that ARAGON would lay over for the night at her dock at Sodus so that the run across the lake to Kingston might be made in daylight.

During the night, however, the weather turned extremely cold and, by morning, ARAGON found herself frozen fast at her pier. She succeeded in breaking her way out through the harbour ice but, after she reached the open lake, it was discovered that she was taking water forward. Investigation disclosed that the water was entering through a hole in the steel hull behind one of the vessel's timber rubbing strakes, where the plating had rusted away. The hole was plugged with a mattress and, in this manner, the water was kept down and ARAGON was enabled to reach Kingston in safety. She immediately unloaded at Sowards' dock, this process bringing the damaged plating above the water level. ARAGON was laid up there for the winter and never again operated for Tees.

It would not have been unusual or unexpected for ARAGON simply to have been cast aside and scrapped at this time. The Second War was over, and the canallers that had been sent to salt water were gradually returning. If they had all returned to their home waters, then ARAGON might really have been doomed to the scrapyard. As it was, however, many of the canallers had perished on salt water, either due to enemy action or to adverse weather conditions (which they had never been designed to withstand), and, as a result, every operable hull was in great demand. Capt. Tees could no longer operate ARAGON or his other boat, the sandsucker C. W. CADWELL, for his financial position was far too precarious, but, during the winter of 1945-1946, he sold ARAGON to George McKinnon Davidson of Brockville. (The CADWELL was sold at the same time to David G. Bawtinheimer of Niagara Falls, Ontario, who formed Cadwell Marine Ltd. to operate her.)

BAYANNA, complete with COLLIER's funnel and forward cabins, is outbound at Toronto Eastern Gap on September 11, 1960. Photo by the Editor. George Davidson had been connected with the Coal Carriers Corporation Ltd. of Montreal, the operators of the self-unloader COALFAX, but, when he was presented with the opportunity of purchasing ARAGON, he immediately took it and formed Bayswater Shipping Ltd., Brockville, to operate the boat. She was given a thorough refit in the spring of 1946 and was then placed in service on the Lake Ontario coal trade. She also carried bulk cement on the upper St. Lawrence River for the Canada Cement Company Ltd. For her new service, ARAGON was renamed (b) BAYANNA, the latter part of the new name being chosen in honour of Anna McKinnon, the mother of George Davidson. The "Bay" prefix seems to have pleased Davidson, for the other three vessels that his company was to own were all given similar names.

Despite her self-unloading equipment and the raised hatches which she had been given, BAYANNA was looking every one of her years, and probably a few more, by the time the 1950s had rolled around. Even her blue hull colour with its white trim, and her blue, white and black stack design could not do much to make her look anything but ancient. Virtually the only improvement aft had been the fitting of a new stack some years previously, but it was no more modern than the one with which she had been built. Perhaps the most interesting portion of her aged anatomy was her little wooden pilothouse which, complete with corner braces, squatted atop an equally quaint texas (which was not her original lower pilothouse). The whole structure was, however, a bit loose after all the passing years and so it was secured to the forecastle by means of a cable which passed over the pilothouse roof and was attached to the deck on either side, turnbuckles being provided to facilitate the occasional necessary tightening.

Nevertheless, BAYANNA was still of some use to Bayswater and was still in regular service. She had a bit of life left in her yet and the company saw the perfect opportunity of modernizing the boat at minimal expense by using some parts off the retired Canada Steamship Lines self-unloading canaller COLLIER which had been withdrawn from service in 1958 in anticipation of the opening of the Seaway, and which, during the spring of 1960, was lying in the elevator slip at Kingston, her original trip to a Hamilton scrapyard having been interrupted.

The entire forward cabin was lifted off COLLIER and moved over to the forecastle of BAYANNA. Bayswater, unfortunately, did not seem to appreciate the appearance of COLLIER's varnished teak pilothouse and so it was painted in white after its move to BAYANNA, where it looked rather like some splendid mansion as compared with BAYANNA's old house. With the pilothouse and texas, BAYANNA gained COLLIER's foremast, an unusual little stick which grew right out of the pilothouse roof. In addition, BAYANNA was fitted with COLLIER's stack, complete with its chimed whistles. Much larger than BAYANNA's old funnel, it was placed in the same position, atop her quaint boilerhouse. It was then painted in the usual Bayswater colours, black with a narrow white band between two blue bands.

Looking just a trifle more modern with COLLIER'S face and funnel, BAYANNA operated through the 1960, 1961 and 1962 seasons. She probably would have hung on for a few more years as well, perhaps right through until the dissolution of the company in 1967, had it not been for her stranding near Deseronto in the Bay of Quinte on December 7, 1962. The late-season accident was serious enough that it brought her career to an end and she was abandoned as a constructive total loss. The wreck was acquired by P. E. Larose of Williamsburg, Ontario, who successfully refloated BAYANNA on December 10, 1963. She was taken to Deseronto where, in May, 1964, her remains were gutted by fire. Scrapping operations were undertaken the same year and it did not take long to complete the dismantling of the old steamer.

(Ed Note: Of considerable assistance to us in the preparation of this feature were the reminiscences of Capt. John Leonard concerning ARAGON, and we extend to him our appreciation.)

Our One-hundredth Ship of the Month Again

Back in March, we featured the famous old laker QUEDOC (I), which operated on salt water during the First War while still sailing under her original name MARISKA. We mentioned that her ocean service was relatively uneventful but that she was involved in a collision on December 27, 1919, with GERALDINE WOLVIN in the harbour of Nantes, France. We professed total ignorance as to what GERALDINE WOLVIN might have been, but wondered whether she had any connection with the famous Roy M. and Augustus B. Wolvin of the lakes.

We still do not know whether there was any relationship between the ship and the Wolvins but, thanks to Rene Beauchamp of Montreal, we know something of the boat herself. Rene consulted a 1921-22 Lloyds Register and confirms that it lists GERALDINE WOLVIN twice, once as a steamer and once as a sailing vessel. The reason for this oddity is that she was a wooden-hulled auxiliary five-masted schooner with twin screws. She was built in 1917 by Wallace Shipyards Ltd. of Vancouver and was owned by the Canada West Coast Navigation Company Ltd.

We know nothing more about GERALDINE WOLVIN or her eventual disposition. We presume, however, that she did survive her brush with MARISKA at Nantes.

The Stranding of the Saskatoon

In Volume IV, Number 2, the issue of November, 1971, we featured as our Ship of the Month the motortanker CREEK TRANSPORT (72), (a) SASKATOON (I) (27), (b) ROSEMOUNT (II) (40) , (c) WILLOWBRANCH (I) (45), (d) EMPIRE TADPOLE (47), (e) BASINGCREEK (50), (f) COASTAL CREEK (68), (h) ILE DE MONTREAL. This was a particularly interesting vessel, built in 1910 at Sunderland, which served many owners and which closed out her active career on the North Traverse dredging project on the St. Lawrence in the mid-1970s.

In our history of this canaller, we mentioned that she had grounded near Portneuf in the St. Lawrence River on July 24, 1914, but we gave little detail on the accident because we did not have the information at hand. We have since obtained a description of the enquiry into the circumstances of the accident as reported in the September, 1914, issue of "Canadian Railway and Marine World". The report is so humourous that we thought it appropriate to share it with our readers.

"An enquiry into the causes of the stranding of the Merchants Mutual Line (she was actually then owned by Canada Steamship Lines Ltd.) steamer SASKATOON in the St. Lawrence River, off Portneuf Light, July 24, was held recently at Montreal by Capt. L. A. Demers, Dominion Wreck Commissioner, assisted by Captains F. Nash and J. W. Westcott as nautical assessors.

"The vessel was bound to Thorold, Ontario, from Anticosti Island, with pulpwood, and was proceeding at about 9 1/2 miles an hour, drawing 11 ft. 11 ins. forward and 15 ft. aft. The pilot, Barthelmi Arcand, boarded the vessel at Quebec, and as soon as the vessel got on her course, left the bridge for breakfast, and when he returned was given charge of the bridge. The captain remained only a few minutes, leaving with the pilot a man who was signed as second mate, but who held no certificate and who was unfamiliar with the navigation of the river, having made only three trips. The captain did not return to the bridge until the vessel had grounded, although he admits having had sufficient rest.

"When she struck, she was heading west by three-quarters south, and after sounding it was found that she was in 12 feet of water, and about 600 feet on the starboard side, a little on the forward side, was the black gas buoy 51-Q. The vessel remained aground from 11:30 a.m. on July 24, to 10:30 a.m., July 27.

"The second mate stated that the vessel steered well and the pilot's orders were accurately carried out. Just prior to the grounding, he told the pilot that the vessel was going in the wrong direction, as there was a rock on the port side and the vessel was on the wrong side of the black gas buoy 51-Q. The second mate did not know the meaning of an ebb tide. The wheelsman stated that he had heard the second mate tell the pilot of the rock, and the pilot answered that it was a piece of wood with a gull on it.

"The pilot stated that he boarded the vessel without direct orders from the pilotage office, and although it was unusual, he left the bridge for breakfast shortly after. The usual courses were steered until the buoy 51-Q was neared, which, having taken for the red buoy 52, he passed about 50 or 60 feet to the north of. (The grammar is that of the reporter.) The error, he (the pilot) claimed, was due to a sore eye.

"In view of the evidence adduced and the antecedents of the pilot, Barthelmi Arcand, who stated that the accidents which happened to vessels which he piloted were so numerous that he did not remember the number, the Court felt bound, in the interest of all concerned, to cancel his license, and his license is hereby cancelled. The Court also felt it its duty to severely criticize the captain of the SASKATOON, William Honsberger, for the apparent lack on interest shown by him with regard to his responsibilities. As soon as the pilot took charge of the vessel, he left the bridge, placing in charge with the pilot a man who signed on as second mate, but who does not possess a certificate, and who is therefore rendered irresponsible, and whose ignorance is so flagrant that he admitted that he did not know the meaning of ebb and flood tide.

"The captain admitted that he was a stranger in the river, but was supposed to familiarize himself with the local conditions, yet he chose, on a fine day, having had sufficient rest, to go to his room, leaving his responsibilities as a master to rest on the pilot, whom he had never seen before, and on one who could not be considered responsible. Moreover, when the vessel grounded, he did not, apparently, think it of sufficient importance to take bearings of objects such as lighthouses or buoys in order to ascertain the position of his vessel. Therefore, the Court felt it incumbent upon it to suspend his certificate for one month, in order that he may be made to realize the importance and responsibility of his position as a master.

"The pilot claimed that the master used strong and insulting epithets toward him. Whilst the Court does not countenance such language, it thinks that, under the circumstances, no weight can be attached to the statement. The Court also unanimously agreed that the displacing of the buoy 51-Q by the tug VIRGINIA and tow had nothing to do with the grounding of the SASKATOON, as the displacement occurred after the accident. The buoy was placed in its former position on the following day."

Wreck Commissioner Demers was well known for his acerbic nature and for his heavy hand in dealing out retribution to those who committed serious errors of navigation or of judgment. We can well imagine some of the comments he might have made during the court proceedings, considering the nature of the evidence presented! Capt. William Honsberger went on to command other ships and was the last master of the Mathews steamer BROOKTON before she was laid up during the Depression. He last served as master of the Toronto Island ferry TRILLIUM and, in fact, passed away aboard her. Of the pilot with the sore eye, Barthelmi Arcand, and of the unnamed "second mate", nothing further is known (perhaps fortunately).

Additional Marine News

A late report indicates that the Soo River Company has decided against any major reconstruction or repowering of SOO RIVER TRADER. Instead, a contract has been let to Herb Fraser and Associates for the repair of her damaged boiler, and the steamer was upbound in the Welland Canal en route to Port Colborne, for the necessary work, on the evening of April 28th in tow of three McKeil tugs. The decision to provide only makeshift repairs for SOO RIVER TRADER more or less confirms that this elderly ship does not figure in the long-range plans of the company.

Indications are that, when the next group of idle tinstackers is sold for dismantling, probably at Duluth, EUGENE W. PARGNY will be included in the sale. This seems a bit surprising in that PARGNY, although built in 1917, was repowered in 1951 and was the first Steel Trust upper lake bulk carrier to be driven by a diesel engine.

The Straits of Mackinac carferry CHIEF WAWATAM was placed on the Michigan State Register of Historic Sites during March. The designation is honourary only and does not assure the continued operation of the 70-year-old ferry.

Later this year, Eurolakes Tanker Line will take delivery from a Split shipyard of the 27,000-ton chemical tankers LAKE ANINA and LAKE ANNE for service into the lakes. They are apparently being built to replace the familiar red-hulled tankers LAKE ANJA and LAKE ANIARA.

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Scanner, v. 13, n. 8 (May 1981)

Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Marine News; Another Volume of the "Namesakes" Series; Our One-hundredth Ship of the Month Again; Additional Marine News