The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Scanner, v. 13, n. 9 (Summer 1981)
Scanner (Toronto, ON), Aug 1981

Bascom, John N., Editor
Media Type:
Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Mangled Vessel Passages; "The Best of Ships along the Seaway"; Additional Marine News
Date of Publication:
Aug 1981
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Toronto Marine Historical Society
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Friday, October 2nd - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Annual Autumn Open Slide Night. Members are invited to bring up to twenty slides each to illustrate their summer ship-watching activities.

The Editor's Notebook

We thank all members who supported our Annual Dinner Meeting in May and attended the festivities. The evening was a great success; those present enjoyed an excellent meal and a most interesting illustrated address by Lorne Joyce concerning shipping on the Bay of Quinte. We sincerely thank Lorne for his efforts, and also Bill Wilson for arranging the meal.

MEMBERSHIP FEES ARE NOW DUE AND PAYABLE FOR THE 1981-1982 SEASON. We have held down our membership fees for a great many years in order to bring the benefits of participation in T.M.H.S. to our members for the lowest possible cost. We can, however, no longer function within the present fee structure and the certainty of substantial postal rate increases this autumn has forced us to consider an increase (unanimously approved at the May meeting) which should suffice for several years to come. As a result, fees are now $15.00 per annum and we would appreciate early remittance to Mr. James M. Kidd, 83 Humberview Road, Toronto, Ontario M6S 1W9.

In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to Capt. Ernest H. Ridd of Midland (the last master of ASSINIBOIA in regular service and commodore of the C.P.R. lake fleet), to Charles W. Salter, Capt. Carl Hirtle, and Claude Gauthier of Prescott, and to John A. Stewart of Nepean, Ontario.

Marine News

A surprise announcement made on August 8 by the Power Corporation of Canada revealed that the conglomerate has acquired a small interest in Canadian Pacific Ltd. and also has agreed, pending federal government approval, to sell the C.S.L. Group Inc. to Paul Martin, president of C.S.L., and Federal Commerce and Navigation Ltd. The selling price of C.S.L. was mentioned as being in the area of $195,000,000. It is unknown whether there will be any major changes in C.S.L. operations as a result of the transfer of ownership.

MARLHILL, sold for use as a grain storage barge in Mexico, as earlier reported, cleared Toronto on April 29 in tow of DANIEL McALLISTER. The same tug took LAC DES ILES out of Toronto on May 4 and, eventually, the two old lakers began the long tow down the east coast behind the tug IRVING BIRCH. However, at about 7:45 a.m. on May 30, MARLHILL foundered some 150 miles due east of Norfolk, Virginia. IRVING BIRCH apparently carried on with LAC DES ILES but the latter also foundered, her turn coming at 1:40 a.m. on June 1, as she went to the bottom in 240 feet of water, 61 nautical miles off Cape Henry Light, in a position described as 136.55.6 North by 74.44.2 West. No comment has yet been made concerning the cause of the loss of the two veterans.

Now in service across Lake Ontario between Oshawa and Oswego as a truck ferry is the roll-on/roll-off motorship LAKESPAN ONTARIO, (a) LADY CATHERINE. Nine years old, she was purchased in June by Lakespan Marine Inc., Oshawa, from the Golden West Shipping Company of Oslo, Norway, for whom she had run between Italy and North Africa. Lakespan is a joint venture of C.N. Marine Corp., Moncton, and Rideau Shipping Company Ltd., Ottawa. It hopes that the ship, with a capacity of 65 trailers per trip, will attract business from shippers who wish to avoid the long drive around the lake. Also planning to enter the Lake Ontario ferry service soon is Ro-Ro Ontario Inc., an affiliate of Sherwood Marine Inc., which intends to carry trailers between Toronto and Somerset, N.Y. Both operators have expressed a need for relief from a recently-imposed increase in federal taxes on marine fuel in order to make the services more attractive to shippers.

A recent entry into service is the first straight-deck bulk carrier built for the Great Lakes since the construction of OTTERCLIFFE HALL in 1969. The 730-foot LAKE WABUSH, launched this spring by Collingwood Shipyards Ltd., passed her trials without difficulty and was duly accepted by Nipigon Transport Ltd., her port of registry being Edmonton, Alberta. She passed up the St. Mary's River on her maiden voyage on July 18 and, on her arrival at Thunder Bay, was drydocked there for the final touches. She is much better in appearance than other recently-built stemwinders and has some natural curves in her hull, especially in her bow and stern. She generally resembles ALGOWOOD except that she lacks unloading gear. Meanwhile, Nipigon has sent its LAKE WINNIPEG and its affiliate Carryore's MENIHEK LAKE to Port McNicoll with storage grain cargoes, an indication of the "softness" of the export grain market.

An August 8 press announcement indicated that Misener Transportation has contracted for the construction at Govan, Glasgow, Scotland, for the construction of two 730-foot straight-deck bulk carriers for delivery in 1983, as well as a third, similar, vessel for Pioneer Shipping Ltd., whose fleet is managed by Misener. No other details are yet available. It is noteworthy that after so many years of the supremacy of self-unloaders in the Canadian lake fleet, the straight-decker is once again becoming popular, with Misener and Pioneer joining Nipigon Transport and C.S.L. in ordering such vessels for the grain trade.

The pilothouse and texas were removed on May 27 from the Goderich Elevator and Transit Company's storage barge D. B. WELDON (II), (a) JAY C. MORSE, (b) SHELTER BAY (II), (c) SHELTER B., and were set on the wharf near the company elevator for use as a marine museum. This is particularly appropriate in view of Goderich's marine heritage and the local availability of marine artifacts.

At long last, the restored SEGWUN is back in service. This July, 1981, photo by Dyke Cobb shows her at Gravenhurst. Now back in regular service at last, for the first time since 1958, is the Muskoka Lakes passenger steamer SEGWUN, (a) NIPISSING. Restored through the assistance of funds provided by the Ontario Roadbuilders' Association and the Ontario government, the vessel not only is once again operative, but has been made a true showpiece, all the more impressive in that she is the last of the once-large Muskoka Lakes steamboat fleet to remain in existence at all. SEGWUN entered service during July and is now making a combination of excursions out of Gravenhurst on Lake Muskoka as well as longer trips up into Lakes Joseph and Rosseau. Demand for tickets for her various trips has been very heavy and persons intending to travel aboard SEGWUN would be well advised to reserve well ahead of time.

The chemical tanker SUNCOR CHIPPEWA, recently completed for Sunchem Shipping Inc. of Toronto, called at Toronto on her maiden voyage on May 29, upbound light for Sarnia. After the appropriate ceremonies, she cleared Toronto late that evening and is now in service. Designed for service between the Sunoco plant at Sarnia and ports of northern Europe, particularly Rotterdam, she looks like any other medium-sized salt water tanker with cabins aft. In honour of her addition to the great Canadian deep-sea fleet, she has been registered at Monrovia, Liberia!

The United States Steel Corp. activated a rather larger fleet in 1981 than had earlier been anticipated. Of the "Bradley" self-unloaders, all are operating, including the refurbished IRVIN L. CLYMER. Of the rest of the fleet, only GOTT, SPEER, BLOUGH, ANDERSON, CALLAWAY, CLARKE, FAIRLESS, FERBERT, FRASER, OLDS and VOORHEES were originally placed in service, but these were later joined by SEWELL AVERY, ROBERT C. STANLEY, THOMAS W. LAMONT, EUGENE P. THOMAS and HOMER D. WILLIAMS. All of these are still in operation, except for THOMAS and WILLIAMS which went back to the wall late in July. Further operation of the WILLIAMS would seem to be very unlikely.

U.S. Steel has finally decided to proceed with the self-unloader conversions of CASON J. CALLAWAY, ARTHUR M. ANDERSON and PHILIP R. CLARKE. The work will be accomplished very quickly and the contract for the work has gone to Fraser Shipyards. CALLAWAY will go to the yard on September 1 and will be back in service during October, 1981. The other two (order unknown), will go in during October and December, respectively, and both will be ready for service in the spring of 1982. Much of the work has been prefabricated by Fraser to save time whilst the ships are in the yard.

Lost off Colombia earlier in 1981 was TRANSTREAM, seen here below W. S. C. Lock 1 in a June 13, 1964, photo by J. H. Bascom. The end came early in 1981 for a former lake tanker which had served for more than a decade in Caribbean waters. WITSUPPLY, (a) TRANSITER (42), (b) TRANSTREAM (69), had long operated on the lakes for Transit Tankers and Terminals Ltd., but had been sold to Challenger Ltd. in 1969 for use as a water tanker in the Caribbean. More recently owned by Witressel Corp. of Panama, she had been sold to interests in Cartagena, Colombia, for scrap. On February 17, 1981, while bound for Cartagena under tow, she capsized in heavy weather off Cabo de la Vela, Colombia, and foundered in the approximate position 12.12 North by 72.11 West.

The necessary boiler repairs were completed aboard SOO RIVER TRADER during May by Herb Fraser and Associates while the veteran steamer lay at the old Law stone dock at Humberstone, and she cleared Port Colborne upbound on June 2nd. During her period of inactivity, the TRADER was completely repainted and she now appears quite spiffy, with her name emblazoned across the bridge and boilerhouse rails.

The Great Lakes Towing Company has apparently decided that it does require its veteran tug AMERICA, and has begun to repair her at its Cleveland yard. AMERICA, built in 1897 and rebuilt several times during the intervening years, was severely damaged by fire whilst lying at Detroit on November 1, 1979, and it had earlier been supposed that Great Lakes Towing would not have sufficient demand for the tug to warrant the cost of repairs.

As an aftermath of the sinking of the tug LAUREN CASTLE last autumn after her collision with the tanker AMOCO WISCONSIN on Lake Michigan, it is reported that the tug's master, Capt. R. Bedell, has been censured by the U.S. Coast Guard on several counts of negligence and misconduct in connection with the operation of LAUREN CASTLE.

Yet another tug has foundered on Lake Michigan, the 1908-built EDWARD E. GILLEN, (a) ERASTUS C. KNIGHT (18), (b) AUBREY (64), owned by the Edward E. Gillen Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While undergoing tests in tow of the icebreaker U.S.C.G. WESTWIND on June 3, the GILLEN capsized and sank some 2 1/2 miles off Milwaukee. Her crew of 4 was rescued by a Coast Guard lifeboat. We do not know whether the tug may be a salvage proposition.

The Halco self-unloader HALLFAX has reached the end of her usefulness to her owner. Built in 1962 at Glasgow by William Hamilton and Son Ltd., and lengthened and deepened four years later, HALLFAX has had anything but a glorious life on the lakes. Beset by assorted woes and accidents over the years, she was retired at the close of the 1980 season and efforts are presently under way to sell her for Caribbean service. It is also reported that Halco has recently sold its salt water tankers COASTAL TRANSPORT and CANSO TRANSPORT which were purchased by Hall in 1979 and 1980, respectively.

The Manitoulin Island ferry CHI-CHEEMAUN, owned by the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission and managed by the Owen Sound Transportation Company Ltd., sustained serious damage in a grounding on June 29. Arriving at South Baymouth from Tobermory, she struck bottom in a dense fog and damaged her hull and propellor. She was immediately taken out of service, much to the dismay of passengers waiting at South Baymouth for the southbound trip, many of whom found difficulty in obtaining accommodations in the rather remote area before travelling onwards by the longer land route. As no alternate ferry was available, it was necessary to get CHI-CHEEMAUN to a shipyard as soon as possible. She could not go to Collingwood, as the drydock there is closed during shipyard improvements. It was proposed to tow her to Thunder Bay, but another boat was on the dock there. As a result, she was eventually towed to Bay Shipbuilding at Sturgeon Bay, where repairs took about a week.

On June 12, 1981, Dome Petroleum Ltd. purchased all shares of Davie Shipbuilding Ltd. and thus acquired control of the Davie yard at Lauzon as well as the Branch Lines Ltd. tanker fleet which Davie controlled. Dome plans to expand Davie operations so that it can handle its regular shipyard business as well as the construction of drilling equipment and large tankers for Dome's well operations in the Beaufort Sea and on the east coast. The Branch Lines tankers will be operated by "another company", but it is not yet known whether this means that they will be run by another Dome subsidiary or whether they will be sold to another operator.

The Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway has at last retired from service its famous 85-year-old steam tug EDNA G. For longer than most observers might care to remember, EDNA G. has lent a hand to arriving and departing ore boats at Two Harbors, Minnesota, and her melodious triple-chime whistle has been a joy to the ear. Retirement will not take her to the scrapper's yard, however, for she is destined to become a static display ashore on the Two Harbors waterfront.

Sherwood Marine Inc. has had an active year in the Toronto area excursion business. CAYUGA II has been busy with Niagara trips and evening charters on Toronto Bay, while SHIAWASSIE has done many excursions. BLUE WATER BELLE, renamed CALEDONIA, has been the recipient of many large charters, some stolen away from TRILLIUM, and she has done better this year than in any of her previous seasons on Lake Ontario. All three Sherwood boats are now painted all white with large multi-coloured stripes running diagonally down their sides amidships. The design rather reminds one of a Pittsburgh streetcar...

So far, 1981 has been a most peculiar year for the Toronto Island ferries of the Metropolitan Toronto Parks Department, a year frought with unusual occurrences, staff problems, and a woeful and very apparent lack of equipment maintenance. On the other hand, it has also seen the completion of a new dock for TRILLIUM at Centre Island, just to the east of the usual ferry slip, and the big sidewheeler first began regular overload traffic service to Centre on Saturday, July 4. On weekdays, she remains in charter-only service, while charters that she would normally have taken on weekends are now diverted to the Sherwood Marine steamer CALEDONIA.

TRILLIUM was the "culprit" in a widely-publicized accident which occurred about 9:30 p.m. on June 2. Returning to her Yonge Street dock after an early-evening charter, her engine failed to stop or go astern, apparently due to a hydraulic lock in her reverse gear. Lines could not be secured as she passed her normal mooring spot and, after glancing off several of the Simpson glass-topped tour boats docked in the slip for the night, she struck the portside amidships of the restaurant ship NORMAC. Damage to TRILLIUM was minimal but NORMAC sustained a large dent in her portside plating, a small fire in wiring running down her side having been extinguished by TRILLIUM's crew. Small holes were punched in NORMAC's starboard side by the timbers which secured her to the dock and fire department crews pumped NORMAC dry until patches could be fitted. NORMAC's diners were safely removed, although two persons suffered minor injuries. Then, in the late afternoon of June 16, exactly two weeks later, NORMAC suddenly took water and listed to port. John Letnik, her owner, happened to be aboard at the time and got ashore safely as his restaurant listed farther and finally came to rest on the bottom, submerged to the upper deck and listing far to port. The cause of the sinking has not yet been determined nor have salvage operations begun. While Letnik proceeds with legal action, diners are being accommodated aboard Captain John's other vessel, the former Yugoslav cruise ship JADRAN. The conclusion of this matter will be watched with considerable interest...

One of the most surprising news items of 1981 concerned an attempt on May 19 to blow up the hydrofoils QUEEN OF TORONTO, PRINCE OF NIAGARA and PRINCESS OF THE LAKES while they lay at their winter berth on the east side of Port Dalhousie harbour. Large quantities of dynamite were found on the vessels by fit-out crews, as well as a timing device which had malfunctioned. The port was sealed off by police, the explosives removed, and an investigation launched into the would-be bombing. So far, no charges have been laid. As noted previously, Royal Hydrofoil Cruises was denied permission to operate from Toronto to Niagara-on-the-Lake during 1981. As a result, two hydrofoils remain idle at Port Dalhousie, while QUEEN OF TORONTO passed up the Welland Canal on May 25, bound for Detroit. We understand that she has not yet found suitable employment there, despite several attempts.

The Newfoundland powered schooner CLARENVILLE arrived at Toronto on July 2 and stopped over for about two weeks en route to Owen Sound where she will serve as a restaurant to replace the lost AVALON VOYAGER II. The wooden-hulled CLARENVILLE is almost an exact sistership to the boat which was lost on Lake Huron late last autumn. She was given added cabins and all of her restaurant equipment in a rebuilding which was done before her departure from the east coast.

A survey of the former steam double-ended paddle ferry G. A. BOECKLING by the United States Salvage Association Inc. on behalf of The Friends of the Boeckling group of Sandusky, Ohio, indicates that the 72-year-old boat is in sufficiently good condition to warrant drydocking at Sturgeon Bay and the tow to Sandusky for restoration. The survey was completed with a view to having the BOECKLING restored as a static display, but it is, of course, hoped that the ferry will one day be able to return to service on Sandusky Bay, where she operated for so many years.

The former Columbia Transportation self-unloader J. R. SENSIBAR, acquired this spring by Johnstone Shipping Ltd., Toronto, was drydocked by AmShip at Toledo and, on June 19, arrived at the old Consolidation Coal Company dock at Windsor in tow of BARBARA ANN and DARYL C. HANNAH. She was refitted there and entered service during late July as (c) CONALLISON. She made her first appearance at Toronto on August 9 and, at that time, only her stack was painted in Johnstone colours. The stack design is the same as that carried by the canaller CONDARRELL. The latter, meanwhile, (a) D. C. EVEREST (81), has been busy since her entry into service during mid-May, but she has had more than her share of misfortune. During June, she lost the boom of her crane whilst unloading a cargo of broken castings at the River Rouge Ford plant, and the last 75 tons had to be scooped out by a shore-based derrick. CONDARRELL eventually made her way to Toronto for repairs, stopping over there en route to Newfoundland with a cargo of bulk chemicals. She returned to Toronto in early July for repairs to her bow after an altercation with the wall at Lock 2 in the Welland Canal. She retains her blue hull and her blue stack with a white band and black top, but on the white band has now been added a raised white square on which appears a large brown beaver and the word "Johnstone" in black letters.

Now that her charter on the east coast has concluded, FORT ST. LOUIS has returned to the C.S.L. package freight service. For the first time in many years, she passed up the Welland Canal on May 21. She runs the package freight trade this year along with FORT CHAMBLY and FORT WILLIAM, with FORT HENRY and FORT YORK lying idle. Of course, FRENCH RIVER has been sold out of the fleet.

The Interlake Steamship Company's newest self-unloader, the 1,013-foot WILLIAM J. DeLANCEY, entered service on May 10 and made her first trip upbound at the Soo on May 11. Her first cargo was taconite from Silver Bay, with which she arrived at the Lorain ore terminal of Republic Steel on May 16. She is generally similar in appearance to JAMES R. BARKER and MESABI MINER, although she is somewhat larger and more advanced as regards equipment.

AMERICAN REPUBLIC, the shuttle ore carrier built by Bay Shipbuilding for the American Steamship Company to run from Lorain to the Republic Steel plant up the Cuyahoga River at Cleveland, was christened at her builder's yard on May 16. She ran trials on the 18th and cleared on May 21 to load ore at Escanaba. She made her maiden arrival at Cleveland on May 24 and had no trouble negotiating the winding Cuyahoga with her special equipment or backing herself down the river on departure without the assistance of tugs. She will, however, return to the shipyard this winter for additional bracing in her superstructure to correct problems encountered during the unloading process.

BayShip's Hull 726, the 1,000-foot self-unloader COLUMBIA STAR, was christened on May 8 by Mrs. John Dwyer, wife of the president of the Oglebay Norton Company. The ship entered service after trials and made her first trip up the Soo Canal on May 31. Her principal trade will be the carriage of taconite to the Lake Front Docks at Oregon, Ohio, just outside Toledo harbour.

Another recent completion by BayShip was the self-unloader conversion of COURTNEY BURTON, also for Columbia Transportation. The steamer was floated from the drydock on April 18 and cleared Sturgeon Bay on May 23. Her conversion is much more satisfactory from an aesthetic viewpoint than have been several other machinery-aft jobs, for the equipment is simple and functional, and does not block the after superstructure of the vessel from sight.

The tug TRIO BRAVO, the former JOHN ROEN V, was raised from her watery berth in Florida on March 24. It will be recalled that TRIO BRAVO and TRIO TRADO (the former barge and carferry MAITLAND NO. 1), both headed southwards to new careers in the Gulf of Mexico, but that the barge foundered off the east coast during January, while the tug sank at Port Everglades on January 21, shortly after her arrival there. Her cabins were demolished in the accident.

After much delay, the McAsphalt Industries Ltd. tug TUSKER collected her ex-Exxon barge at Lake Charles, Louisiana, during early July, and returned with it to the lakes. The barge, renamed MCASPHALT 201, made her maiden arrival at Toronto on August 2 and is presently being towed by TUSKER in the Quebec City - Toronto asphalt trade.

Bay Shipbuilding's Hull 729, a 530-foot barge built for the Universal American Shipping Company, will reportedly be named ENERGY FREEDOM.

The Gaelic Tug Boat Company of Detroit has added yet another tug to its growing fleet. Purchased from New York owners is LEWIS NO. 8, 80 by 24, which cleared New York for the lakes late in May. She has been renamed TIPPERARY (II) for her new duties.

SIR JAMES DUNN suffered no lasting effects from her April 10 grounding in the St. Mary's River above Mission Point. Downbound with grain for Trois-Rivieres, she stranded on the Bayfield Turn but was released the following day by W. J. IVAN PURVIS, MISEFORD, STE. MARIE I and II, OLIVE L. MOORE, and BARBARA ANN. With damage to her sidetanks, she resumed her trip and then went to the shipyard at Thunder Bay for repairs.

The Chessie System received approval in June from the Interstate Commerce Commission to abandon its carferry service between Ludington and Manitowoc, although it is thought that interested parties will appeal the decision. The "Kewaunee Plan" seems to be coming to fruition, for this abandonment would leave the Ludington-Kewaunee route as the only Chessie service on Lake Michigan. Meanwhile, Michigan authorities gave approval for a one-year subsidized demonstration of passenger service between Ludington and Milwaukee, over the route dropped last year by Chessie. Begun during July, the service is operated by the chartered Chessie steam ferry BADGER.

The Straits of Mackinac steam carferry CHIEF WAWATAM has been very busy this spring and summer, running a greatly increased schedule of sailings in order to keep up with the eastward movement of lumber shipments via rail. It has been many moons since the CHIEF has been so active.

A most beautiful visitor to Toronto during early June was the sailing vessel BLUENOSE II which ventured away from her Nova Scotia home waters on a goodwill tour. Resplendent in fresh paint and with all her sails set, she made quite a sight as she sailed in and out of port during the better part of a week. Between excursions, she entertained visitors aboard whilst she lay alongside the Harbourfront Park wharf.

The C.S.L. self-unloader HOCHELAGA seems once again to have fallen victim to boom problems. She is presently out of service at Thunder Bay and is now held as the fleet's spare self-unloader.

The tug JOHN PURVES and barge MEL WILLIAM SELVICK have been frequent visitors to the Welland Canal this year, carrying cement upbound from Clarkson. SELVICK had some bad luck on May 9, however; upbound below Port Robinson, the starboard stringer cable between tug and barge broke and the tow put in to the old canal above "Bridge 12" to fit a new line. Scarcely had the tow got underway again, however, when it met the downbound J. N. McWATTERS near Mile 14. The suction of the passing laker caused the starboard tow cable to break again and the SELVICK swung to port, striking the port quarter of McWATTERS. Damage was minimal but the canal was temporarily closed, with the barge swung crossways to the channel while a new cable was fitted. Eventually the tow got underway again and moved to the Welland dock for inspection. The SELVICK's green hull colour has now been replaced by an attractive grey shade with a white forecastle, reflecting the interest of the Dundee Cement Company in the vessel.

Four Upper Lakes Shipping boats have spent the summer in idleness at Toronto. POINTE NOIRE did not fit out this spring and remained along the north side of Pier 35. GORDON C. LEITCH arrived on May 12 and laid up at the same pier. RED WING arrived on May 15 and WHEAT KING on May 20, this pair going to the turning basin. Several other U.L.S. boats have laid up in other ports. This inactivity seems strange in view of the operations of other Canadian fleets, but resulted from the U.S. coal strike, a slackening of grain exports, and increased fuel costs.

Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd. has been busy this summer with its usual complement of repair jobs and inspections. CANADIAN PROSPECTOR was at the yard from April 28 to May 19 for a refit and repair of grounding damage. Hull 67, the new self-unloader CANADIAN PIONEER, was floated off the graving dock on May 16 and was taken from the drydock to the fit-out berth on May 27. On May 19, the keel of Hull 68 was laid on the "shelf", this being an as-yet-unnamed icebreaker for delivery during 1982 to the Canadian Coast Guard.

The Interlake Steamship Company's straight-decker SAMUEL MATHER, which did not fit out at the beginning of the 1981 season, is now in service. She passed up the Soo on her first trip of the year on June 15. In a similar move, Columbia Transportation fitted out the straight-decker WILLIAM A. REISS and self-unloader CRISPIN OGLEBAY during June. A slight upturn in business conditions is credited for the reactivation of these boats.

Westdale Shipping's SILVERDALE has now been given the black forecastle and white rail which most boats of that fleet have carried in recent years. The 56-year-old steamer, (a) GLENEAGLES, was purchased from C.S.L. in 1978 and, ever since, had retained her old white forecastle. With the repainting of SILVERDALE, the only ship still active in the fleet with a white forecastle is LEADALE (II), the former BoCo self-unloader JOHN A. KLING.

The Ann Arbor's Lake Michigan carferry VIKING was drydocked at Sturgeon Bay during May and left the shipyard on May 18 wearing new black and orange colours. Perhaps this new colour scheme is in preparation for Hallowe'en...

Certain additional information is now available concerning lakers which were sold during 1980 for scrapping overseas:

ALVA C. DINKEY was purchased by Francisco Nata Cuesta, who began scrapping at El Ferrol, Spain, on December 15, 1980.

GOVERNOR MILLER was purchased by Miguel Partins, who began scrapping at Vigo, Spain, on November 28, 1980.

THOMAS F. PATTON, CHARLES M. WHITE and TOM M. GIRDLER were purchased by the Metal Scrap Trade Corporation Ltd. of India, and scrapping was done by the Haryama Steel Company. Arrival date for GIRDLER, in tow of HANSEAT, was December 13, 1980.

The St. Lawrence Seaway Authority has called for tenders on the final phase of the Welland Canal widening north of Port Robinson. Meanwhile, no decision has yet been made on plans advanced by E. S. Fox Ltd. for the building of a shipyard on the stub of the old canal above "Steelton Gap", although there has been a suggestion that the Canada Starch Company Ltd. might like to build a plant at the other end of the old canal below Humberstone.

The former steamer PETER A. B. WIDENER has returned to the lakes, much to the surprise of observers who thought that she would never come back from her unfortunate trip to Montreal last fall. Upbound in tow of BARBARA ANN and two McKeil tugs, she arrived off Port Weller on May 6 but her canal passage was delayed by inclement weather. Her destination was Buffalo but she was subsequently towed to Chicago during late July. Meanwhile, North American Towing, a new affiliate of Seaway Towing, has brought three recently-purchased east coast tugs to the lakes, all arriving during July. TROJAN and TRITON will be used at Chicago, while MARY L. McALLISTER will join SEAWAY NO. 1 and the reengined DOLOMITE at the Soo, with STE. MARIE I and STE. MARIE II moving to take up new duties at Duluth.

Even More on the Geraldine Wolvin

In the March and May issues, we mentioned a collision between MARISKA and the auxiliary schooner GERALDINE WOLVIN which occurred on December 27, 1919, at Nantes, France. As it develops, we were not off base when we suggested that there might have been a connection between GERALDINE WOLVIN and Roy M. Wolvin, one of the founders of Canada Steamship Lines, despite the fact that our guess was made without benefit of any knowledge of the ship except a certainty that she had never sailed on the Great Lakes. We sincerely thank Kevin Griffin of Montreal for sending us a copy of an article by Ruth Greene Bailey, entitled "Twelve MABEL BROWN Type Five-Masted Wooden Auxiliary Schooners, Built in 1917", which appeared in the Marine Notebook section of the December, 1978, issue of Vancouver's "Harbour and Shipping" magazine. It sheds much light not only on GERALDINE WOLVIN but also on the management of the Canadian West Coast Navigation Company, her first owner.

After the passing of the Aid to Shipping Act by the federal government in 1916, British Columbia shipyards enjoyed a business boom prompted by a need for tonnage to haul B.C. lumber abroad, a shortage of hulls due to wartime losses, and the high cost of building ships in European yards. Of some 135 vessels so constructed, twelve were auxiliary schooners of the MABEL BROWN type, designed by J. H. Price, launched in 1917, and built at a cost of approximately $150,000 each. Wallace Shipyards Ltd., North Vancouver, built MABEL BROWN, GERALDINE WOLVIN, JESSIE NORCROSS, JANET CARRUTHERS, MABEL STEWART and MARIE BARNARD, while Cameron-Genoa Mills Shipbuilders Ltd. of Victoria constructed MARGARET HANEY, JEAN STEEDMAN, LAUREL WHALEN, ESQUIMALT, MALAHAT and BEATRICE CASTLE. The ESQUIMALT and CASTLE were soon sold to French interests, leaving ten of the schooners in Canadian service.

If the names of some of these boats sound familiar, it is not surprising, for many of them were named for the wives of prominent Canadian vessel men, most of them connected in some way with Canada Steamship Lines. Among these were the Canadian West Coast Navigation Company's president, James Carruthers, its vice-president, Capt. J. W. Norcross, and others who held an interest in C.S.L. including Roy M. Wolvin, J.F.M. Stewart, M. J. Haney, J. P. Steedman and James Whalen. Also involved was Sir Trevor Dawson.

The ten schooners which remained under the Canadian flag were 240 x 44 x 19, approximately 1470 tons, and their twin screws were driven by Bolinder diesel engines. These were good engines but could be troublesome if not operated by competent engineers who were familiar with them. The boats were well built, possessed extremely fine lines, and made excellent speed in light to moderate winds with engines going and the sails drawing well.

"Capt. Peter John Riber Mathieson became master of GERALDINE WOLVIN in May, 1917. and joined her for the first time when she was loading 1,528,000 feet of Oregon pine at Hastings Mill in Vancouver. Nearly one-third of the lumber was carried on deck. He described her as 'a fine-looking vessel with dumpy spars, solidly built, painted lead colour'. Her ten sails had a spread of 11,200 square feet. Later he remarked: 'Never had I been in a vessel with a deckload as high as ours; it was 15 feet, two feet higher than our poop deck. The freight was very good, $28.00 a thousand feet.'

"She sailed from Vancouver on May 23, and arrived at Sydney, Australia, a voyage of 7,130 miles, in 48 days. Tragically, a man was lost overboard during the voyage. This ship had the honour of making the first successful crossing of the Pacific for the Canadian West Coast Navigation Company. Capt. Mathieson was delighted to receive a raise, which he had not requested, bringing his salary up to $185.00 per month.

"On the homeward voyage, the cargo was copra and a deckload of hardwood for San Francisco. GERALDINE WOLVIN's topsides were caulked at a shipyard in Oakland Creek. United States Shipping Board men were making excellent wages and Capt. Mathieson said, 'I later learned that the more men the shipyard owners engaged, the more money they made out of the government, which was paying them 10% above payroll'.

"Cargo aboard the second voyage across the Pacific from San Francisco to Australia was general freight, including crated motor cars. On the return voyage to the United States from Sydney, they loaded sacked wheat, a small deckload of ironbark, horns packed in huge sacks - all kinds of horns: rams, bullocks, cows; crooked, straight and curved - and rabbit skins. The homeward voyage was rather unpleasant with short steep seas; the ship rolled badly. There was engine trouble off Hawaii and they nearly grounded on Vancouver Island in a dense fog.

"Before sailing with Douglas fir for Shanghai on his third voyage across the Pacific, Capt. Mathieson watched the Chemainus Indian tribe, located near Genoa Bay, load his ship. Her fifteen-foot deckload was secured with heavy chain lashings and they took every precaution to see that it was secure. He observed that the stevedores there were the most expert men in handling and stowing timber he had ever encountered on the west coast.

"GERALDINE WOLVIN left Victoria on October 9, 1918. About three weeks after passing Hawaii, the sails were doing practically all the work. The barometer was falling steadily, for there was a typhoon to westward. At night, the weather worsened, the wind increasing to a howling gale. The vessel 'staggered, laboured and plunged'. The barometer was still falling on November 17 and the ship started to leak. The crew were thankful for 'our new and wonderful pump' which Capt. Mathieson had ordered fitted to replace a smaller one. As long as engine number one was driving the pump there was a chance of keeping the bilges dry. Extra gaskets (bonds or cords on the yards of the ship to tie the sails) were ordered. The boom tackles were hauled taut and the chain deck lashings tightened. From the deckload, lifelines were stretched.

"The ship 'did not head up as well as expected' and lay broadside on the wind and seas, heeling over from the force of the wind. She 'strained and twisted visibly as she laboured, rolled and pitched' in the trough. There was some danger of drifting onto the Volcano Islands. Leaking increased but the pump worked ceaselessly. Throughout the night, the storm continued unabated. The barometer ceased falling at midnight. On the 18th, daylight showed a wild scene. The captain secured himself to the spanker shroud with a cord round his waist. The typhoon was in full force and the vessel heeled away over and almost hove herself to with her starboard quarter to the wind. There was fear for the deckload in the event the chain lashings broke, as the whole fabric was moving with a definite snake-like motion.

"Suddenly, the captain's lashings snapped and he was flung against the spanker mast. For a moment, he thought his end had come, but he managed to grab the spanker halyards and hang on. The vessel was shaking as if in a calculated effort to rid herself of countless tons of water. She seemed to be opening up all over; water poured into the hold and cabins, gradually gaining on the pump. It rose in the engineroom and flowed over the hot cylinders, sending up clouds of steam.

"Capt. Mathieson ordered the engineers to pump oil overboard and soon the spindrift tasted of oil. Once again he lashed himself to the spanker stay, with a double gasket this time. Then the tiller broke and it took two hours to mend it. But, gradually, the barometer rose; better weather was ahead. When the weather cleared, they looked at GERALDINE WOLVIN and the sight was heartbreaking. The schooner was smothered in oil. (Just recently, the mate had finished painting the poop and forecastle and the chief engineer had painted the engineroom white!) The deckload was sagging to port and had shifted two feet aft.

"They passed Tokum Shimo Island and at the Yangtse Lightship the pilot came aboard. Surveyors from the customs house in Shanghai noted all the damage and the matter was put into Lloyds agent's hands. Repairs were costly, but JESSIE NORCROSS had an even larger repair bill, for she had suffered an engineroom fire and her crew had been rescued in sampans. She was sunk and, with the fire extinguished, raised. Her hull was surface-charred only.

"This was not a good voyage for WOLVIN. En route to Hong Kong, there was an engineroom fire. It was extinguished but repairs were required. At Saigon, she loaded general cargo for Marseilles, France, which consisted of rice, fish oil in kerosene tins, silk, pepper, alcohol, egg whites in barrels, rubber, and a deckload of teakwood squares. The freight was valued at some $40,000.

"Before she reached France via Suez, GERALDINE WOLVIN had to feel her way through four minefields, one east of Singapore, one at the Port Said entrance to the canal, a third at the Strait of Messina, and a fourth at the entrance to Marseilles. She anchored outside Marseilles harbour on April 7, 1919, 64 days out from Saigon, having been delayed nine days in ports en route. Capt. Mathieson resigned his command and GERALDINE WOLVIN, JESSIE NORCROSS and MABEL STEWART all went up for sale to foreign owners."

We assume that WOLVIN was bought by French interests and operated in local trades without rename. This would account for her presence at Nantes on December 27, 1919, the day of her encounter with our laker, MARISKA. We realize that we have travelled far away from the lakes with this narrative, but we hope that readers have found this item interesting, particularly in view of the connection between GERALDINE WOLVIN and the Wolvins of Great Lakes fame.

(Ed. Note: In the acknowledgements following her article, R. G. Bailey credited "Master of the Moving Sea", the life of Capt. P.J.R. Mathieson, by Gladys M.O. Howlland. We have edited from the quotes much of the author's florid description of the typhoon.)

Mangled Vessel Passages

From time to time, we have reprinted old vessel reports, exerpted [sic] from the files of old newspapers, listing the movements of boats at various ports and canals around the lakes. Most of these noble ships have passed on for good and the media (they don't even call them newspapers anymore) has turned its focus on other matters. But take heart, for the Chronicle-Journal of Thunder Bay still carries the torch and has managed to come up with some new boat names to add to our records. We thank Capt. John Leonard, master of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE, for clipping the following gem for us.

Ships In Port. Thunder Bay, May 14, 1981:








Fortunately, the Chronical-Journal had the decency to suggest that, for the locations of these boats, readers might call the marine line at 345-1256. We hope that the recorded message imparted more believable information than that reported in the paper!

"The Best of Ships along the Seaway"

This 70-page paperback continues Skip Gillham's series of books about the vessels to be seen along the St. Lawrence and Welland Canals. Various ship of each type are described and illustrated. Published under the auspices of The Welland Canals Foundation Inc., the book is available at $4.95 from outlets in the St. Catharines area or from Stonehouse Publications, P.O. Box 523, St. Catharines, Ontario L2R 6V9.

Ship of the Month No. 103


As we move into the decade of the 1980s, when the overnight passenger vessel has disappeared from the Great Lakes and the package freighter has almost followed the same route, we tend to lose track of the manner in which these distinctive types of ships evolved. In reality, however, there was a period during which these two trades were the lifeblood of lake transportation, a period encompassing the several decades before the development of the shipment of raw materials in bulk.

This extremely rare photograph of MONTGOMERY at Collingwood, c. 1858, comes from the collection of the late Capt. James McCannell, courtesy "Scotty" McCannell.During the 1840s and 1850s, and to a lesser extent for several decades thereafter, the principal type of steamer operating on the lakes was the wooden-hulled combination passenger and package freight vessel, which carried general cargo of all kinds in the hold and on a 'tween deck, and accommodated passengers in cabins on the upper deck. Most of the freight carried during those years was general merchandise and manufactured products, destined for use in the developing towns and cities of the midwest. The production of iron and steel was in its infancy and there was little requirement for the carriage of raw materials, such as iron ore or coal, in any quantity.

A typical steamer of the mid-19th century was the wooden-hulled passenger and freight propellor MONTGOMERY, which was built in 1856 at Newport, Michigan, by the Ward Shipyard to the account of Eber B. Ward and the Estate of Samuel Ward. The master carpenter of the yard, one J. Bushnell, signed the enrollment papers for the new steamer. Eber Ward is no stranger to those readers who are familiar with lake shipping history of the period, for he was one of the most famous vessel operators of the time. Less well known, however, will be the town of Newport, at least under that name. The town became known as Marine City in 1867, and it was under that name that it became a major shipbuilding centre during the years of wooden hulls.

The new steamer was 204.0 feet in length, 34.0 feet in the beam, and 13.8 feet in depth, and her Gross Tonnage was 1104. Unfortunately, we know nothing about her machinery, but her engine was undoubtedly of a very simple nature, probably with but a single cylinder. Her boiler was almost certainly fired with wood. She was enrolled as U.S.16147.

MONTGOMERY was given a hull with a pleasant sheer; she had a straight stem (as was the custom of the day in such vessels) and a rather heavy counter stern. She carried a 'tween deck for the stowage of most of her freight and was equipped with four large cargo ports on each side. Her sides were completely enclosed up to the level of the upper deck, the latter being surrounded only by an open wooden rail. Her hull was strengthened with the usual arch trusses which rose high above both the upper deck and the hurricane deck.

On the upper deck was the passenger cabin, which carried staterooms down either side of a long saloon in which tables were placed and set at mealtimes. We presume that, in the custom of the day, a ladies' cabin was provided as well as a smoking lounge for the gentlemen. The pilothouse was not of the octagonal (or "birdcage") type but was a square structure set on the upper deck forward of the passenger cabin, with the navigational area rising above the hurricane deck. Her single mast, stepped just abaft the pilothouse, was gaff-rigged and carried sail. Her single tall funnel was carried well aft and was almost without rake.

In typical fashion, MONTGOMERY sported a long and ornate steering pole which reached far out past her stem, and a very tall flag staff aft, the latter rising almost to the height of the top of her stack. To protect her wooden hull from the inevitable confrontations with wharves, etc., MONTGOMERY carried wooden timber fenders which hung down from the upper deck, passed over the hull strakes, and just reached the water level. The steamer was painted all in white, with a black stack, and her name appeared in extremely large letters on either side of the 'tween deck between the first and second cargo ports.

MONTGOMERY first operated under charter to the Northern Railway Company of Canada, under the command of Captain Nicholson, on the upper lake route between Collingwood and Chicago. On this route, she ran along with the steamers ONTONAGON, EVERGREEN CITY and HUNTER. Then, during the 1860s, she operated for the Grand Trunk Line along with the propellors B. F. WADE, ANTELOPE and WATERWITCH, providing a tri-weekly service between Sarnia, Milwaukee, and Chicago, with way stops at Mackinac Island and along the west shore of Lake Michigan. While in this service, she was commanded by Capt. Gillies. Eber Ward was agent for the line at Detroit.

By 1878, MONTGOMERY was owned by John Pridgeon of Detroit, another well-known vessel operator of the period. Whilst she was lying at her dock at Point Edward early on the morning of June 10, 1878, it was discovered that she was on fire. Firefighting efforts were immediately begun but the blaze had taken hold in the wooden ship and all attempts to subdue the flames proved futile. The railroad carferry INTERNATIONAL put lines on MONTGOMERY and towed her out to mid-stream in the St. Clair River, there casting her loose to drift downriver. MONTGOMERY was finally beached on the Canadian side of the river, opposite Batchellor's Mill, by the tugs CRUSADER and J. H. MARTIN, and she was still burning at 10:00 a.m. At the time of her destruction, MONTGOMERY'S cargo consisted of 29,000 bushels of corn, 320 barrels of flour, 540 barrels of cornmeal, 200 bags of timothy seed, and 111 bales of broom corn, as well as other miscellaneous items. The cause of the fire was never determined and nothing was saved except for the captain's books. There were no injuries.

The spectacle presented by the burning MONTGOMERY as she drifted down the St. Clair River was "grand and beautiful", according to contemporary press reports. "The light (from the fire) was so brilliant that the entire city of Port Huron was illuminated along with all adjacent points on both sides of the river, and hundreds of people were out watching it." We rather doubt that the untimely demise of MONTGOMERY was greeted with as much enthusiasm by her crew or her owner.

The burned-out hull was towed to the U.S. side of the river, just below Avery's Mill, on the day following the fire, June 11, 1878, so that whatever cargo remained could be salvaged and sold. The press reported that her engine and boiler were valueless, except as old iron, because of the intense heat to which they had been subjected, which had severely warped and twisted the machinery.

Interestingly enough, the hull was not a total loss. Feeling that something useful might be salvaged from it, the remains were acquired by B. Swartout of Algonac, Michigan. MONTGOMERY was towed to Algonac and there was rebuilt in 1879 as a schooner of 709 Gross Tons. She was not renamed at the time of her reconstruction. She seems to have operated successfully in her new role and, by 1889, she had passed to the ownership of G. K. Jackson. That year, he had her converted into a barge at Bay City, Michigan. In 1892, she was owned by the H. M. Handy and Sons Lumber Company of Saginaw, Michigan. It seems highly likely that she ran in the lumber trade all through her years as a schooner and then as a barge.

On Monday, August 29, 1898, whilst out on Lake St. Clair, MONTGOMERY was in collision with the whaleback barge 137 which was, at the time, being towed by the steamer ALEXANDER MCDOUGALL, both whalebacks being then owned by the Bessemer Steamship Company. As a result of the collision, MONTGOMERY settled on the bottom in twenty-one feet of water. She was raised during September, 1898, and was towed to Detroit for repairs. The hull was then 42 years old, a remarkable age for a wooden hull, and it is rather surprising that her owner deemed her worthy of repair.

MONTGOMERY again got herself into trouble during May, 1901, when she stranded on the Charity Islands whilst en route from Lake Superior to Bay City with a cargo of lumber. She was quickly salvaged and returned to service, but the old wooden hull was showing the distinctive signs of its many years of toil, and MONTGOMERY's days were clearly numbered. It was not long before she again found herself in trouble, this time in a predicament from which she would not escape.

On October 20, 1901, the freighter LELAND arrived downbound at Sault Ste. Marie with the crew of MONTGOMERY aboard. Captain Duff, master and principal owner of MONTGOMERY, reported that, on October 19th, while laden with lumber and downbound on Lake Superior in tow of LELAND, the old schooner barge had sprung a leak during heavy weather and had become waterlogged. The bow sank so low in the water that the crew could not move far enough forward to cut the towline. The deckload of lath went overboard in the heavy seas and, in going, it carried away the rigging on one side. LELAND, on seeing the difficulties in which her barge found herself, dropped the towing hawser and manoeuvred alongside MONTGOMERY, releasing her crew who had lashed themselves to the roof of the after cabin of the barge. The crew of MONTGOMERY was rescued in safety and was taken aboard the steamer.

After dropping MONTGOMERY's crew at Sault Ste. Marie, LELAND headed back to Lake Superior to search for the drifting barge. On October 22nd, LELAND located the remains of MONTGOMERY on the beach near Crisp Point. The barge had broken in two and nothing more than the towline and some pieces of canvas could be salvaged. The registered owner of MONTGOMERY, at the time of her loss, was the Port Clinton Transportation Company of Port Clinton, Ohio.

For a vessel of MONTGOMERY'S vintage to have lasted 45 years was quite a feat, considering the many perils that lay in wait for a wooden-hulled boat in the years before the advent of modern navigational aid, and also considering the fact that she had managed to survive the fire of 1878.

(Ed. Note: Photographs of such early steamers as MONTGOMERY are quite scarce and we are indeed fortunate to be able to accompany this history of the boat with a photograph of the vessel in Collingwood harbour, a photo which probably dates to about 1858. The photo is reproduced from an old lantern slide which was in the collection of the late Capt. James McCannell, commodore of the Canadian Pacific lake fleet and long-time master of ASSINIBOIA, and it comes to us through the courtesy of member R. T. "Scotty" McCannell.)

Additional Marine News

Last minute negotiations between the Canadian Lake Carriers' Association and the S.I.U. appear to have produced a contract settlement and have thus avoided the seamen's strike which was threatened for September 1. At least three wildcat walkouts occurred in the Welland Canal area, on July 27 aboard LAKE MANITOBA, on July 29 aboard NORDALE, and on July 30 aboard ALGOWAY, all of these disturbances allegedly concerning safety and working conditions. Much press coverage was given to crew's complaints about conditions on NORDALE, but most of the complaints seem to have been prompted by the contract negotiations.

JAMES NORRIS joined the Upper Lakes Shipping lay-up fleet at Toronto on July 30 and subsequently has had much plate work done on her port side. While the WHEAT KING has been idle, also in the turning basin, her owner has taken the opportunity to do considerable internal maintenance of a major nature.

The museum schooner ALVIN CLARK, which is berthed at Menominee, has been declared the oldest documented American commercial vessel in existence and has been redocumented as U.S. 3985, the lowest official number available. ALVIN CLARK, once known as the "mystery ship" because of doubts as to her actual identity, foundered on Green Bay on June 29, 1864, and was raised on July 29, 1965. Her future as a museum has been somewhat in doubt in recent years due to a lack of funds required for her maintenance.

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Scanner, v. 13, n. 9 (Summer 1981)

Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Mangled Vessel Passages; "The Best of Ships along the Seaway"; Additional Marine News