The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Scanner, v. 14, n. 1 (October 1981)
Scanner (Toronto, ON), Oct 1981

Bascom, John N., Editor
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Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; The Upper Canada Railway Society; Captain Ernest H. Ridd; A Question of Latitude; Offerings From Freshwater Press; Additional Marine News
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Oct 1981
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Toronto Marine Historical Society
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Friday, November 6th - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Our speaker will be Mr. W.P. Dunphy of Guelph, a member with varied marine interests. We believe that his presentation will be of interest to all.

Friday, December 4th - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Annual Film Night. Several marine films will be shown. Watch next issue for details.

The Editor's Notebook

MEMBERSHIP FEES ARE NOW DUE AND PAYABLE FOR THE 1981-1982 SEASON. We have held down our membership fees for many years in order to bring the benefits of participation in T.M.H.S. to our members for the lowest possible cost. But increased printing costs and the certainty of grossly increased postal rates within the next few months have forced us to consider an increase (unanimously approved at the May Meeting) which should suffice to keep us in the black for several years to come. As a result, fees are now $15.00 per annum. We wish to thank those who have already renewed and we would ask that, if you have not already done so, you send your early remittance to our chief purser, Mr. James M. Kidd, 83 Humberview Road, Toronto, Ontario M6S 1W9. Postage costs prohibit the sending of individual billings, and this is the last issue that will be sent to those who have not renewed.

In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to William Schisler of Welland, to L. J. Fielding of Brockville, to D. Bockus of Welland, to Ralph E. Morris of Goderich, and to Scott B. Worden of Northville, Michigan.

Marine News

In the Mid-Summer issue, we commented on the purchase by North American Towing, an affiliate of Seaway Towing Inc., of three east coast tugs, TRITON, TROJAN and MARY L. McALLISTER, all of which entered the lakes during July. We are now able to report a complete series of name changes which is being made throughout the Seaway Towing/North American Towing fleet, and observers might wish to watch for the following changes:































All of the tugs will be painted much as STE. MARIE I and II have been in the past, except that the white 'S' on a blue field in the stack design will disappear, to be replaced by a red indian head on a white field. The grain storage barges FUGAWE and WANNAMINGO will be kept, under normal circumstances, at Chicago, with no more long trips down the Seaway such as that undertaken in late 1980 by the WIDENER (with less than satisfactory results). Of the tugs in the fleet, ONEIDA will remain at Green Bay, Wisconsin, where she has operated for many years. SIOUX and DAKOTA will serve at Duluth and, in fact, cleared Sault Ste. Marie for their new home on the morning of August 30. NAVAJO and CHEROKEE will call Chicago home and, although it was originally planned that SENECA would be based at the Sault, it seems that she also will operate at Chicago. All this means that CHIPPEWA and COMANCHE will be the tugs stationed at the Sault to assist Salties through the locks and to perform such other duties on the St. Mary's River as may be required. The 81-year-old SEAWAY NO. l/COMANCHE, which has been the spare tug at the Sault for several years, was pressed into active service upon the departure of SIOUX and DAKOTA for Duluth and, for a while, ran as the only company tug there, for CHIPPEWA was not expected to be ready for service after her recent dieselization until early October. COMANCHE broke her steering quadrant while above the locks on the afternoon of September 2 and had to be towed down to the Twin City Dry Dock and Marine yard by the pilot boat SOO RIVER BELLE (the former SALLY M.W. of Sarnia fame). Repairs were quickly put in hand due to the urgent need for the tug's services, and she was back in service some three hours later.

All of these tug developments seem to be pointed in the direction of attempting to grab a large portion of the harbour towing business away from the Great Lakes Towing Company, a firm whose curtailment of tug services (at the ports of Duluth and Superior, for instance) has recently drawn the ire of many vessel operators who were caught in the position of having to pay extremely handsome prices for less than convenient tug services.

MAXINE, an elusive ship for photographers, was caught by the camera of John Vournakis in 1978. She has now been sold for scrapping. We have all been watching with interest the various attempts which have been made to dispose of the steamer MAXINE in connection with the dissolution of the assets of the now-defunct Wisconsin Steel Company. Insufficient bids were obtained at a sale in the spring and, on August 14, another try was made at selling the ship, the former THE INTERNATIONAL of International Harvester fame. This most recent attempt met with success, although we are sorry to have to report that the vessel was purchased by Triad Salvage Inc. of Ashtabula, presumably for scrapping. Tugs were scheduled to take the MAXINE in tow from Chicago late in September in order to move her to her new owner's scrapping berth at Ashtabula. We might hope that this handsome steamer may escape the cutting torches, but the likelihood of her preservation for further service would seem to be small indeed.

A recent advertisement in Boats and Harbors magazine invited the submission by August 14 of bids for the sale of a 135-foot, Honduras-registered diesel tug, recently "refloated", and lying at Port Everglades, Florida. Although the ad did not identify the boat, she is the former lake tug JOHN ROEN V, which sank early in 1981 after her unfortunate trip southwards. We understand that her cabins were completely demolished in the accident.

On September 16th, the McAsphalt Industries Ltd. tug TUSKER cleared Thunder Bay for Port Colborne with the barge D.D.S. SALVAGER in tow. The barge is presently owned by the St. Lawrence Cement Company Ltd. and she will be taken in hand at Port Colborne by E. G. Marsh Ltd. for conversion to a cement carrier. We presume that, when completed, the barge will be placed in service hauling cement out of St. Lawrence Cement's plant at Clarkson, Ontario, possibly as a replacement for the small motorship ROBERT KOCH which is presently used on the route. (Please see subsequent note in this issue.)

In the Mid-Summer issue, we mentioned that HOMER D. WILLIAMS and EUGENE P. THOMAS had been taken out of service by U.S. Steel and laid up at Duluth. We now have more information on the circumstances of the withdrawal of the THOMAS, enough to convince us that it is unlikely that she will ever again see service for the Steel Trust. Some nine miles north of Bark Point on Lake Superior on July 23, the THOMAS suffered a crack in one of the pistons of her diesel engine. CASON J. CALLAWAY took the THOMAS in tow and arrived with her at Duluth that night. EUGENE P. THOMAS was then placed in ordinary. Meanwhile, early in September, THOMAS W. LAMONT and SEWELL AVERY were also sent into lay-up, with ROBERT C. STANLEY to follow. It seems that business for U.S. Steel is not as brisk as it was earlier in 1981 and that, accordingly, the company decided to reduce the number of boats in service and, at the same time, to send CASON J. CALLAWAY and PHILIP R. CLARKE to Superior for an early start on their self-unloader conversions. Both vessels were upbound at the Soo on August 26 on what were reported to be their last trips prior to going to Fraser Shipyards.

Two ships of the fleet of Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. have been active in unusual trades during 1981. ONTARIO POWER, a virtual stranger to the lakes in recent years, has made several trips to the Lakehead for grain, something that she has only rarely done at any time during her career. Meanwhile, CAPE BRETON MINER has been placed in service on the Gulf of Mexico, hauling grain from Houston and New Orleans to Tampico, from whence it is then trucked to Mexico City. Upper Lakes apparently hopes that this will be a long-term employment for the MINER.

On September 13, tentative settlement was reached in the Thunder Bay grain handlers' strike which had interrupted grain shipments from the Lakehead for some twelve days. The strike had threatened to idle the majority of the vessels in the Canadian lake fleet had it continued, and it would certainly have disrupted what many shippers have felt might be an extremely active autumn grain shipping season.

Recent reports concerning lakers which were sold for overseas scrapping in 1980 have included the following information:

EUGENE J. BUFFINGTON was purchased for scrapping by Desguaces Aviles, and dismantling began at San Esteban de Pravia, Spain, during 1981.

J. P. MORGAN JR. was purchased for scrapping by Desguaces y Salvamentos, and dismantling began at San Juan, Gijon, Spain, on November 26, 1980.

The port at which TOM M. GIRDLER arrived on December 13, 1980, in tow of HANSEAT, was Bombay, India. We should stress that all reports received to date indicate that GIRDLER, along with THOMAS F. PATTON and CHARLES M. WHITE, was broken up, and there is no substantiation to rumours that the three "Red Tomatoes" have found new operating careers in far eastern waters.

Johnstone Shipping's newly-acquired self-unloader CONALLISON, as yet only partially painted in her new owner's colours, arrived at Toronto on August 21 and laid up alongside the Commissioners Street wall of the turning basin. On her first trip down the Seaway with coal, it allegedly took 8 1/2 days to unload her as a result of equipment problems. Her stay at Toronto was to be for the purpose of repairing her unloading machinery, but little work seems to have been done to date. The work to be done is reportedly so extensive that some observers have considered her future to be in jeopardy.

Vessel traffic to Wallaceburg, Ontario, has been more frequent this year than perhaps had been anticipated by observers. TROISDOC made two trips for corn early in the year, but Paterson laid her up at Cardinal fairly early in the summer. Numerous trips have been made up the Snye by the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company Ltd. motorships FRANQUELIN and NEW YORK NEWS, and something of a recent record was made on July 20 when both of these vessels were in the river on the same day, NEW YORK NEWS outbound and FRANQUELIN inbound. As well, the Sarnia excursion boat DUC D'ORLEANS called at Wallaceburg on Tuesday and Wednesday each week during the summer, usually carrying senior citizens from Pontiac, Michigan.

The former salty SAMARU, now owned by John P. McGoff and destined to become a boutique and marine museum at Beaver Island on Lake Michigan, has continued to lie idle at Port Lambton. Efforts to take her over to her new home under her own power have been discouraged due to the danger involved, for the ship is in anything but good condition, and her owner is attempting to make arrangements to have her towed to Lake Michigan.

Reported recently was the scrapping of the steam tanker ELBA, (a) BRITAMOIL (59), (b) ISLAND TRANSPORT (I)(63), which was sold by Francesco Lombardi of Italy to an Italian shipbreaker identified as DE.CO.MAR., who began to break up the veteran canaller at La Spezia, Italy, on January 27, 1981. This boat had a brief career in the colours of the Hall Corporation, complete with a cut-down stack, in the early 1960s, but spent most of this period in idleness. She finally fitted out at Port Weller in 1963 for what was to be almost two decades of service on salt water. She was best known in these parts, however, for the 28 years that she spent in the service of the British American Oil Company Ltd. and Gayport Shipping Ltd., along with her equally tall-funfiled sistership BRITAMOLENE and her near-sisters BRITAMLUBE and BRITAMOCO.

Great Lakes Marine Contracting Ltd. of Port Dover, Ontario, has continued with its plans to begin tug and barge trailer ferry service across Lake Erie between Port Stanley and Cleveland during the autumn. The route would be operated by the tug E. N. MISNER, for the time being, with at least one barge and perhaps two. If all goes well, three barges, 260 x 56, would eventually be used along with a 92-foot tug, all four valued at a total of approximately $4,000,000. It is thought that several Canadian manufacturing companies with plants in the London/St. Thomas area of southwestern Ontario would generate sufficient export trade to warrant the new ferry service.

Meanwhile, traffic has been extremely light on the Oshawa-Oswego service operated by LAKESPAN ONTARIO. Only four trailers appeared for the maiden voyage and, as of late August, the two-trip-daily service was down to three trips per week. Unless traffic improves for the Lakespan Marine Inc. ferry, it seems unlikely that Sherwood Marine Inc. would take a flyer on a similar service via the Toronto to Wilson, New York, route through its affiliate Ro-Ro Ontario Inc.

Incidentally, we have been able to secure additional information regarding LAKESPAN ONTARIO. Registered at London, England, prior to her re-registry at Toronto, she passed up the Seaway inbound to the lakes on July 22. She was built in 1972 at Floro as (a) ANU (73). and subsequently sailed as (b) MOR-CLIFF (74), (c) ANU (80), (d) LUNE BRIDE (81) and (e) LADY CATHERINE (8l) before coming to the lakes. She was apparently owned by Latila Shipping Ltd. when she sailed as LUNE BRIDE and LADY CATHERINE, although the owner from whom she was purchased earlier this year by Lakespan Marine Inc. was previously identified as the Golden West Shipping Company of Oslo, Norway.

Much has already been said about the return to service this spring of the U.S. Steel self-unloader IRVIN L. CLYMER. It is, however, interesting to note that she was fitted with the bowthruster which had been removed from the remains of Cleveland-Cliffs' FRONTENAC. The latter ship is still lying at Superior, Wisconsin, in damaged condition, awaiting an appointment with the scrapping torches.

One of our spies noted the former Halco self-unloader HALLFAX lying at Sorel, P.Q., during the summer, with all of her former owner's insignia painted out. The motorship, now bearing the name COALER I, sports a blue diamond on her black stack and carries on her stern the registry port of Panama, R.P. She cleared Sorel on August 19, 1981, en route to New Orleans on her delivery voyage. As yet, we have no identification of her new owners, but it seems fairly certain that, as previously reported, she will be used in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.

Shediac Bulk Shipping Ltd. of Moncton, New Brunswick, the owner of SEAWAY TRADER, (a) IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD (79), has purchased another tanker. The addition to the fleet is METRO STAR, (a) HAMBLE (79), (b) SHELL REFINER (8l), which was acquired in England. Renamed before leaving Whitegate, England, on June 23, she arrived at Montreal on July 15, and is now registered at Sarnia. She has been repainted in the same green livery that SEAWAY TRADER sports, and we suppose that we may expect to see her in the lower lakes area from time to time.

Despite the assorted comments of her owner, John Letnik, as reported in the press and elsewhere, the restaurant vessel NORMAC is still lying on the bottom of the Yonge Street slip at Toronto, her resting place since she sank on June 16, exactly two weeks to the day after being struck by the sidewheel ferry and excursion steamer TRILLIUM. The sunken boat's "superstructure" has suffered much damage during the summer and it seems unlikely that she will ever be returned to her former service as "Captain John's Harbour Boat Restaurant" . NORMAC's owner seems to feel that the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, owner of TRILLIUM, should pay to have NORMAC raised, but the matter is much more complicated than that and the litigation arising from the accident and subsequent sinking will likely take years to sort out. Letnik's lawyers had threatened to have TRILLIUM seized if a $2,400,000. bail bond were not posted, but Metro seems to have avoided this unpleasant prospect. In any event, the threat was a bit hollow in that TRILLIUM won't be going anywhere for quite some time to come anyway, as her season ended on September 25 and she is now in winter quarters.

Bay Shipbuilding's Hull 729, a salt-water barge, was duly christened ENERGY FREEDOM at Sturgeon Bay on July 29, with guests at the ceremonies being taken on a cruise aboard the Ann Arbor carferry VIKING after the christening. ENERGY FREEDOM, in tow of the big tug GULF MAJESTY, passed down the Welland Canal on August 19. Meanwhile, word now has it that BayShip's Hull 730, yet another ocean-going barge, will be named OCEANPORT.

The BoCo self-unloader AMERICAN REPUBLIC made her first trip to Lake Superior during the first week of September, upbound for taconite pellets. Delivered by Bay Shipbuilding earlier in 1981, AMERICAN REPUBLIC was designed for the pellet shuttle between Lorain and the Republic Steel plant up the Cuyahoga River at Cleveland and was, therefore, built mainly for river service. For this reason, few observers ever expected to see her used for operation into the upper lakes.

The stern section of RAYMOND H. REISS remains intact at Ramey's Bend, with its owner, Marine Salvage Ltd., hoping eventually to sell it for further use. The entire forward section of the motorship was dismantled earlier in the year, but the whole stern, including the last hold, has been kept untouched, complete with all of its equipment.

During early August, Canada Steamship Lines, in conjunction with Thyssen Inc. of New York, wrote a new record for the single-ship movement of U.S. export coal. Six C.S.L. maximum-sized self-unloaders discharged 160,000 short tons of Ohio coal into the 170,000 d.w.t. motorvessel YEMANJA at Sept-Iles, Quebec, for delivery to the Nippon Steel Corporation in Japan. Joint movements by C.S.L. and Thyssen Inc. have also sent large cargoes of U.S. export coal to European ports.

Visitors at Toronto from August 19 through August 24 were the warships U.S.S. WILLIAM C. LAWE and H.M.C.S. OTTAWA, as well as the sailing vessel PRIDE OF BALTIMORE, all three having moored at the York Quay area of Harbourfront Park. Comparisons between the 1956-built OTTAWA and the 1946-built LAWE, which were docked stern-to-stern, were inevitable, the most startling to Ye Ed. being the fact that, aboard OTTAWA, he found not one single cabin or passageway in which he could stand without hunching over, whilst there was plenty of headroom everywhere aboard the LAWE. Does this say anything about the lot of the modern Canadian sailor?

The acquisition of C.S.L. Group Inc. from the Power Corporation of Canada by Paul Martin (C.S.L. president) and Federal Commerce and Navigation Ltd. will apparently produce no major changes in C.S.L.'s lake operations. The deal makes Federal Commerce the largest shipping organization in Canada. Heretofore, FedCom has operated mainly salt water vessels, the majority of which have flown foreign flags.

The Ford Motor Company's steamer JOHN DYKSTRA, (a) RICHARD M. MARSHALL (57), (b) JOSEPH S. WOOD (66), made a surprise visit to the Welland Canal on August 26, downbound with coal for Quebec City and scheduled to return with a load of ore from the Gulf. The trip was, apparently, a one-shot deal, although it was suggested that ERNEST R. BREECH might follow at a later date. Meanwhile, U.S. Steel began, during September, to send its "supers" (the FAIRLESS, FRASER, etc., class) down the Seaway with grain for St. Lawrence River ports.

The Westdale Shipping Ltd. self-unloader LEADALE (II) suffered a grounding in the South Shore Canal on Lac St-Louis on August 1st. A lighter had to be called to the scene to remove part of her cargo of salt and, with the aid of five tugs, she was finally freed on August 4. The stranding caused damage to the vessel's bottom plates as well as to her bowthruster and main propeller.

Observers have been waiting with a fair amount of trepidation to see what would happen the first time a 1,000-foot laker might be involved in a serious accident. This state of events almost came to pass on the afternoon of September 15 but, fortunately, the accident proved to be much less damaging than it might have been. On that afternoon, Bethlehem Steel's LEWIS WILSON FOY was downbound in the upper St. Mary's River, making her approach to the Poe Lock. The Algoma Central self-unloader E. B. BARBER was upbound out of the Poe and the two ships came into contact. Happily, damage to the BARBER was reported to be fairly minor, although three small holes were punched into the FOY's hull. Her damage, however, was not deemed by the authorities to be sufficiently severe for the vessel to be prevented from continuing her voyage.

An increase in vessel traffic during the summer months prompted the U.S. Corps of Engineers to increase the number of locks available at Sault Ste. Marie. Up until the end of July, the MacArthur and Poe Locks were in regular use, with the third lock (Davis) being operated during daylight hours on weekdays only. With the third lock obviously required on a regular basis, it was opened full-time at the beginning of August, lock crews being assembled for it by discontinuing linehandling services on the upper and lower piers of the MacArthur Lock. How long the third lock was to remain in full service was not then known. Incidentally, in case any readers might have wondered why the fourth (Sabin) lock has not been operated in recent years except in emergency service, it is because inbound vessels from either direction must secure against or be "walked" along the north pier, but must be secured on the south wall while actually inside the lock. This arrangement necessitates the bothersome switching of lines from one side of a ship to the other, a most troublesome procedure, especially for salties. No such changing over of mooring lines is necessary when a vessel enters the third lock, and so it is the facility used for overflow traffic, particularly lakers which are upbound light. It does seem likely that the third and fourth locks will eventually be replaced by one lock large enough to handle the 1,000-footers which now can use only the Poe Lock.

An interesting salt-water vessel, a long-time visitor to the lakes, has been scrapped in the far east. LIU PAN SHAN, the former THORSHOPE (78), which was built in 1958 and traded into the lakes under the Norwegian flag for C.C.A.L. from the opening of the Seaway until her sale, has now been sold by the China Ocean Shipping Company of the People's Republic of China to Pakistan breakers. She cleared Singapore after June 8, 1980, and arrived at Gadani Beach for scrapping prior to December 29, 1980.

The Gateway Clipper Inc. excursion fleet of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, will not be adding to its fleet the former Streckfus steamer ADMIRAL, the 4,000-passenger, silver-coloured, streamlined giant which was rebuilt 44 years ago from the river railroad ferry ALBATROSS. Now powered by outboard units mounted in her paddleboxes, ADMIRAL had been lying at Avondale Shipyards, New Orleans, while Streckfus tried to raise the money to refurbish her condemned hull. As it turned out, the damage (together with other injuries more recently inflicted) proved to be severe enough for Gateway to back out of the purchase deal which it had arranged. Accordingly, ADMIRAL will now remain at her long-time home port of St. Louis as a static entertainment centre, apparently operated by the City of St. Louis. Meanwhile, however, Gateway Clipper has acquired the former CITY OF WYANDOTTE, which ran Bob-Lo Island service from Wyandotte, Michigan, during the period 1974-78. After a series of sales and renamings in her travels down the east coast, she has now come up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers and serves Pittsburgh as the SPIRIT OF PITTSBURGH, operating out of the Monongahela Wharf which is located just below the Smithfield Bridge.

Late-received information allows us to elaborate on the news item, which appears on Page 3 of this issue, concerning the barge D.D.S. SALVAGER. The St. Lawrence Cement Company Ltd. has confirmed that the barge, recently towed to Port Colborne from Thunder Bay, will be rebuilt as a cement carrier by E. G. Marsh Ltd. It is expected that the work will be completed by about the end of October, at which time the vessel (which is to be renamed) will be towed to Duluth. The company's plans are to ship cement from Clarkson to Duluth in bulk carriers, with the cement being placed in storage facilities at Duluth. From there, it will be shuttled to Thunder Bay by D.D.S. SALVAGER. It would, therefore, appear that the barge will not be operating out of Clarkson, nor will her appearance in the cement trade endanger the future of the diminutive motorvessel ROBERT KOCH, which presently runs cement from Clarkson to Lake Erie.

The Upper Canada Railway Society

Interested in Canadian railway and transit news? The Upper Canada Railway Society, founded in 1941, publishes a monthly 20-page newsletter containing the latest news of railway and electric transit happenings from coast to coast. In-depth feature articles of current and historical interest also appear. Monthly meetings are held in both Toronto and Hamilton, featuring illustrated talks, of both current and historical nature, presented by members and industry officials. Railway and streetcar excursions are also operated. Membership fees, which include 12 issues of the "Newsletter", mailed to your home, are just $17.00 annually. Send your cheque or money order to the Upper Canada Railway Society, P.O. Box 122, Terminal 'A', Toronto, Ontario M5W 1A2, to the attention of the membership secretary.

(Ed. Note: The above notice appears by special arrangement with the U.C.R.S., which will run in its newsletter a similar notice concerning the joys of membership in the Toronto Marine Historical Society. A number of T.M.H.S. members also belong to the U.C.R.S.)

Echoes of "Steelton Gap"

Lake historians remember well that day, back in August of 1974, when the Bethlehem Steel Corporation's steamer STEELTON struck the vertical lift bridge (Bridge 12) on the Welland Canal at Port Robinson and knocked it into the canal. The accident caused considerable damage to STEELTON, the total loss of the bridge (which has never been replaced), a lengthy blockade of the canal to vessel traffic, and the neat but unpopular bisection of the little town of Port Robinson. No accident of such severity has ever before or since happened to one of the Welland's many vertical lift bridges, but a similar occurrence did take place early this summer on the Mississippi River, and we thought that our members might enjoy reading a few words about this latest comedy of errors.

At Mile 428.0 of the Upper Mississippi River, near the small town of Keithsburg, Illinois, was located the Keithsburg Lift Bridge, which carried the tracks of the Trans-Action Railroad across the Mississippi. The whole structure included a fixed span across the Blackhawk Chute, tracks over Blackhawk Island, and a series of fixed spans leading up to the vertical lift span over the navigation channel near the left bank of the river. The bridge, with its limited vertical and horizontal clearances, had long been a source of considerable annoyance to river pilots, particularly as a rather sharp bend in the river had to be negotiated directly below the bridge. The tracks themselves had not been used since about 1972 and the lift bridge had remained in the open position. It had, however, remained an interesting landmark as, for many years, it had been the only vertical lift bridge on the entire Mississippi River.

On June 30, 1981, some children crept out on the east approach to the bridge in order to set off fireworks in eager anticipation of July 4th. Unfortunately, their firecrackers set fire to the oil-soaked ties on the floor of the bridge and, before long, a pretty good fire was blazing. As luck would have it, the fire got hot enough that it melted the cables on the east-side counterweight and, of course, the bridge span then fell into the channel, breaking off the west tower and badly twisting the east tower.

While the Corps of Engineers tried to decide what to do about the situation, and with the Trans-Action Railroad denying that it had any responsibility to remove the fallen bridge, traffic on the river came to a standstill and tows of barges began to back up in large numbers on both sides of the bridge. Finally, it was agreed that towboats could pass certain barges back and forth between them under the fixed spans of the bridge, but no such manoeuvre was permitted with any barge containing dangerous cargo. The towboats, of course, had to remain on whichever side of the bridge they had been when it fell.

It was finally conceded that the only reasonable way to open the channel quickly was to dynamite the fallen bridge, and the Corps proceeded to do just that on July 5. Unfortunately, however, the explosive charges were so placed that, when they went off, they not only demolished the lift span but also knocked the next westward fixed span off its east pier so that it hung downwards on an angle into the river! In any event, the main channel could then be cleared and the remains of the lift bridge were dredged up and deposited for safe-keeping on the upper wall of Lock 17, some ten miles upriver at New Boston, Illinois, pending the resolution of the problem of just who is going to have to pay for the demolition of the famous old bridge. It is likely that the rest of the structure will also be dismantled in the near future.

And so, no longer can travellers on the Upper Mississippi look forward to seeing the old Keithsburg Bridge. But fortunately, unlike the Port Robinson situation, the loss of the bridge has not caused any disruption of highway traffic, nor has it split into two disconnected sections any innocent little towns.

A Word of Thanks to our Members

As we begin our fourteenth volume of "Scanner", Ye Ed. would like to express his thanks to all of our members who have faithfully corresponded with us during the last year regarding items of marine news, corrections, suggestions, etc. Even if we do not have time to respond personally in each case, we do appreciate your assistance and carefully note your comments, many of which find their way into these pages in one form or another. Without your help, we would find it next to impossible to produce a newsletter such as ours, and we hope that we may rely on your continued support in the future.

We try to reply to as many of your letters as possible, but we just do not have the time to answer all of them and still get "Scanner" put together on schedule each month. In the case of enquiries concerning particular vessels, we do try to answer these by means of an item in "Scanner" (perhaps even as a Ship of the Month feature), as we feel that such historical items will be of interest to all, not just to the reader who has enquired.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if there is any way that we might be able to be of service.

Captain Ernest H. Ridd

It is with great regret that we report the passing, on September 22, 1981, at Midland, Ontario, after a lengthy illness, of Captain Ernest H. Ridd, a member of this Society.

Capt. Ridd spent many years in the employ of the Great Lakes service of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and was best known for the years he served as master of KEEWATIN and, subsequently, as master of ASSINIBOIA and commodore of the C.P.R. fleet. An extremely friendly gentleman, he never failed to make passengers feel welcome on board his steamer.

We are certain that the many members and friends of the Toronto Marine Historical Society who knew Ernie Ridd will share the deep sense of loss that we feel with his passing.

A Question of Latitude

No matter how hard we try to avoid them, the gremlins occasionally creep into the text of "Scanner". This usually happens when, in rushing to beat a printing deadline, Ye Ed. gets his fingers on the wrong typewriter keys. Proofreading normally gets rid of these little problems, but occasionally one sneaks past us and is preserved for evermore in the final copy.

One such case occurred in the Mid-Summer "Scanner", wherein we reported the sinking of both MARLHILL and LAC DES ILES which were en route to Mexico earlier this year for use as grain storage barges. Unfortunately, we got an extra '1' in the description of the position of the loss of LAC DES ILES, so that it was reported that she sank at 136.55.6 North by 74.44.2 West. Of course, no such position exists. The correct latitude should have appeared in print as 36.55.6 North.

We thank member Alain Gindroz, chief officer of the new Nipigon Transports motorship LAKE WABUSH, for bringing this typographical error to our attention, for we do not wish to perpetuate incorrect information.

Ship of the Month No. 104


As readers of this journal will be aware, we spend much time in these pages examining the histories of the various canallers that were once so common on the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. We do this for two basic reasons, the first being that little has previously appeared in print in publications such as ours concerning these interesting little vessels, and the second being that, as a class of ship, they have almost completely disappeared from service. In fact, only two "pure" canallers (boats specifically built for canal service and still of canal dimensions) are still in regular operation on the lakes as self-propelled carriers, these being the motorships CONDARRELL, (a) D. C. EVEREST (81), and TROISDOC (III), (a) IROQUOIS (67).

Several other canallers still exist in one form or another on the lakes, however, albeit not looking much the way they did in their heyday. They survive as docks, barges, etc., and some of them have been lengthened and rebuilt to make them more viable for operation in today's economic conditions. One of these survivors, and one which is still relatively active and providing a useful service to her present owner, is the former Canada Steamship Lines bulk canaller MAPLEHEATH. Now into her seventh decade of operation, she is probably better suited to her present service than she was to her bulk trades during the last few years of her duties in C.S.L. colours, for her age was then very noticeable and she would certainly have been replaced by newer tonnage had not the prospect of the completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway prompted her owner to "make do" with the hulls it had, rather than building new vessels of dimensions to match the small locks of the old canals.

In the early years of the present century, British shipyards were beginning to realize that a regular mint could be made by building new vessels of canal dimensions for operation by Canadian shipowners. Knowing that they had a good thing going for them, these yards soon began to experiment with canaller design and, if there was nothing that they could do about the size of the boats, they made up for it with some of the imaginative designs and power plants that they produced for a few of the canallers.

TOILER is seen in the St. Clair River in this 1915 Pesha photo, which shows her after her conversion to steam power. Over the period 1910-1912, the firm of Swan, Hunter and Wigham Richardson Ltd. built two experimental canallers on speculation, in the hope that they would be snapped up by an operator for lake service. They were christened TOILER and CALGARY, TOILER having been, as might be imagined from her rather unusual name (with a bit of a sales pitch built right into it), the first of the two to be completed. TOILER was Hull 840 of Swan Hunter's Newcastle-on-Tyne yard, and was ready for service in 1911.

The new vessel was 255.4 feet in length, 42.5 feet in the beam, and 17.3 feet in depth, with tonnages of 1693 Gross and 1036 Net. She was powered by a most unusual power plant for that day, consisting of two four-cylinder reversible diesel engines of the two-cycle type. Each engine was rated at 180 brake horsepower and each drove its own individual screw. In fact, TOILER was the first diesel-driven ship built in Great Britain, although the novelty of her construction is often ignored in favour of recognition of some of the larger early diesel vessels designed for deep-sea service.

If TOILER'S engines were unusual, so also was her appearance. In fact, the Lake Carriers' Association described her as the strangest-looking vessel to visit the lakes during 1911. Bluff-bowed, she had a full forecastle with a closed rail. Her anchors were sunk deep into round-topped pockets at spar deck level. She carried a rather large single-deck turret pilothouse, on top of which was the open navigation bridge, complete with awning and dodger. Behind the pilothouse was an ugly box-like texas, unadorned by any overhang whatsoever. Perhaps the most peculiar feature of her forward end, however, was the unsightly stovepipe which rose out of the starboard side of the forecastle deck, angled backwards at about 45 degrees, and then rose upward over the monkey's island just forward of the starboard bridgewing. As unusual as it may seem, TOILER carried her galley in the forecastle rather than in the after cabin, and this pipe was the galley stove vent. It really was not so much different from some of the bowthruster exhaust pipes carried today by lakers, those of JOHN A. FRANCE and J.N. McWATTERS coming readily to mind as being just as unsightly.

Two heavy masts were carried, spaced at roughly equidistant points down the spar deck between the forecastle and quarterdeck. Each mast was equipped with two cargo booms, one being slung forward of the mast and one aft. Apart from these masts, which were really nothing more than overgrown kingposts, no "regular" spars were carried by either TOILER or CALGARY.

Each ship was given a half-raised quarterdeck and so each sported a rather heavy counter stern, as the stern plating rose straight upward from the level of the spar deck until it met the open quarterdeck rail. The two lifeboats were carried atop the open after deck, one on each side. A very short and spindly stack, almost totally without rake, rose from the boat deck to vent the diesels, this stack topped by a small double-roll cowl. The stack rose just abaft a small "boilerhouse" or raised bunker hatch which actually sat on the spar deck rather than on the quarterdeck.

TOILER and her later sister CALGARY were nearly identical in appearance, the only major differences being that CALGARY had a longer section of open rail on her forecastle and her galley stovepipe rose just abaft the after bulkhead of the texas. CALGARY'S hatches also had higher coamings than did those of TOILER.

TOILER, duly completed by Swan Hunter and registered in her builder's name as Br.129767, successfully crossed the Atlantic on her maiden voyage and arrived at Montreal on September 21, 1911. She had been chartered from Swan Hunter by James Richardson and Company of Kingston, which intended to operate her in the grain trade. Richardson actually purchased TOILER outright in 1912 and, at that time, the management of the ship was taken over by James Playfair of Midland, Ontario.

TOILER was, however, not what one might have called a resounding success with her unusual engines. We have no reports of major difficulties, but we can well imagine the problems that would have resulted when repairs were necessary or when new parts had to be obtained. TOILER stranded in the St. Lawrence near Cardinal, Ontario, on May 24, 1912; she was salvaged and towed to Kingston where, during the winter of 1912-13. she was rebuilt. Richardson and Playfair took this convenient opportunity to remove her peculiar machinery and replace it with more conventional power.

The engine chosen for the rebuilt TOILER was a fore-and-aft compound steam engine, with cylinders of 27 and 44 inches and a stroke of 42 inches, which had been built in 1882 at Detroit by the Dry Dock Engine Works for the steamer D. C. WHITNEY, (b) GARGANTUA. The engine became available when this latter vessel was reduced to a barge in 1912. Steam was supplied by two coal-fired Scotch boilers, which measured 12 feet by 10 feet, and which had been built for another hull in 1889 by Alley and McLellan at Glasgow, Scotland.

The appearance of TOILER was considerably improved during the course of this reconstruction, for her boilerhouse was much enlarged to provide coal bunker facilities. As well, she was given a much larger stack, of medium height but quite thick and with just a hint of rake, and this gave her a much mo re balanced profile. It should be noted that CALGARY was never given such a rebuild until 1921 and remained a motorship throughout her short career on the lakes. She was sold for use on the east coast during the First World War and was renamed (b) BACOI. She never returned to the lakes but rather continued her coastal trading as a tanker for many years, at least into the 1940s.

In 1914, the ownership of TOILER was officially transferred to James Playfair's Great Lakes Transportation Company Ltd. of Midland, Ontario, although it seems unlikely that this change altered her duties to any significant degree. She carried the usual Playfair stack colours, crimson with a wide black smokeband, but her hull seems to have been black at all times and was never painted grey as were many of Playfair's boats over the years.

TOILER's career in Playfair's service was to be relatively short, however, for she was sold in 1916 for the sum of $90,706.00 to the Ontario Transportation and Pulp Company Ltd. of Thorold, one of the forerunners of what we now know as the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company Ltd. It would seem likely that the O.T.& P.Co. acquired TOILER specifically to carry pulpwood from the St. Lawrence River ports to its paper plant at Thorold. We do know that, for a while, TOILER lost her heavy masts and this would seem only natural, as they would have severely complicated the carriage of deckloads of pulpwood. For this period of her career, TOILER was given a new foremast, a light pole which, without any rake at all, rose just abaft the break of the forecastle and carried a short, light boom. The new mainmast, a slightly heavier pole, was stepped well aft of the stack and, peculiarly, was heavily raked .

Two years later, in 1918, TOILER was purchased for $350,000.00 by Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal. The difference between the selling price of the steamer in 1916 and that in 1918, which was almost four times greater, would seem to have been the result of the effect of the First World War on the availability of serviceable canal-sized vessels. Many canallers had been sent to salt water for coastal or deep-sea service during the hostilities and a great number of them were lost abroad, with the result that fleets such as C.S.L. found themselves desperately short of good tonnage with which to handle their cargo commitments during the boom years that followed the war.

TOILER was soon painted up in C.S.L. livery and, in 1919, she was renamed b) MAPLEHEATH. For a few years, C.S.L. embarked on a program of giving newly-acquired vessels names beginning with the prefix "Maple", a symbol of their Canadian ownership. The last section of such names always began with a particular letter chosen to designate the type of ship involved; in MAPLEHEATH's case, the 'H' designated that she was a steel-hulled bulk carrier of canal size. We are not certain when MAPLEHEATH was brought into Canadian registry, but it may well have been at this time. Like most other British-built canallers, she retained her British registry for a number of years but eventually was placed on the Canadian register, this change being a rather simple one to accomplish.

On December 8, 1920, there occurred the sort of embarrassing accident which shipmasters and owners would just as soon avoid, but which occurs every so often and which has a marked humbling effect on those involved. For reasons now unknown, but perhaps in an attempt to accomplish an emergency stop so as to avoid striking a lock gate, she dropped her anchor whilst in the St. Gabriel Lock of the old Lachine Canal. She ran over the anchor and, with very little water between her bottom and the floor of the lock, she holed herself and sank right there in the lock. Salvage efforts were immediately instituted to avoid any lengthy blockade of the canal and MAPLEHEATH was refloated on December 9. Her coal cargo was unloaded and she was towed to Kingston and put into winter quarters. The necessary repairs were attended to during the winter months at the Kingston shipyard.

MAPLEHEATH operated for C.S.L. throughout the remainder of the 1920s without any further accidents of a serious nature but, as the decade came to a close, it was realized that the second-hand engine placed in the boat back in the Richardson/Playfair years was nearing the end of its usefulness, being then almost fifty years of age. Accordingly, she was repowered again in 1929. The fore-and-aft compound engine was removed and in its place was fitted a triple expansion engine, with cylinders of 17, 28 and 46 inches and a stroke of 33 inches, which had been built back in 1903 by the Polson Iron Works Ltd. at Toronto for the wooden steamer SIMLA of the Calvin Company Ltd., Garden Island. By 1929, SIMLA had long since outlived her usefulness to the C.S.L. fleet, to which she had made her way from Calvin ownership via the Montreal Transportation Company Ltd., which was formally bought out by C.S.L. late in 1920. The engine had been removed from SIMLA for further use and the old wooden hull had then been cast aside to rot away in Portsmouth harbour, just a small part of the extensive "boneyard" which accumulated there. The placing of the engine into MAPLEHEATH was done at the Kingston shipyard.

MAPLEHEATH had, by this time, been given back her heavy spar deck masts, although she no longer carried cargo booms on them on a regular basis. Her stack had grown considerably in height, probably at the time that SIMLA's engine was placed in her. And much improvement forward had been effected by the fitting of a small wooden upper pilothouse, of much the same type as were those added to the turret pilothouses of the first group of Eastern Steamship Company Ltd. canallers in the mid-1920s. These various changes had combined to make MAPLEHEATH appear less of an "oddball" than she had at any previous time in her life, although she still retained certain peculiarities, such as her complete lack of deck sheer and her rather "bald" stern, with its only above-decks cabin being the boilerhouse.

MAPLEHEATH saw some service during the 1930s, although she did spend much time in lay-up at Kingston and elsewhere due to the poor business conditions which then prevailed. MAPLEHEATH did, however, possess a greater cubic capacity for cargo than did many of the C.S.L. canallers and she ran a good deal more than did most of them. With the Great Depression past by the late 1930s, she resumed regular service, whereas some of the older canallers in the fleet did not and eventually found their way to the breakers' yards.

MAPLEHEATH is inbound at the Toronto Eastern Gap with a deckload of autos in this July 1951 photo by J. H. Bascom. In 1947, MAPLEHEATH was once again taken to the shipyard at Kingston for another extensive rebuild. Her old, second-hand boilers, almost sixty years of age, were removed and replaced by two new single-ended Scotch boilers, 16.6 feet by 12.6 feet, which had been built in 1941 by the John Inglis Company Ltd., Toronto, probably for a corvette. Her heavy masts were once again removed and this time they were replaced by light pipe masts, the fore stepped just abaft the forward cabin and the main just forward of the stack. She was also given a new pilothouse which was placed atop the old lower turret. The new cabin was, surprisingly, built of wood and looked much like the old upper house, except that it was somewhat larger and had seven windows across its curved front.

Thus refurbished, MAPLEHEATH returned to service to do battle with a changing economy, one which was rapidly rendering such boats unprofitable to operate. With the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway progressing during the 1950s, and with newer canallers handling more of C.S.L.'s cargo requirements, some of the steam canallers were relegated to spending more and more of their time in ordinary, but MAPLEHEATH's high cubic capacity meant that she did run regularly, for a certain number of the older boats had to be kept in service until the new canals could be opened and the upper lakers run straight down to the river ports without trans-shipment of their cargoes.

MAPLEHEATH underwent only one other change that we know of during this period, and that entailed the long-overdue removal of the ugly galley vent pipe from the starboard side of the forecastle. We have no idea whether the galley itself was relocated, or whether another method of venting galley heat and fumes was found, but the pipe disappeared at last. This change might also have come about as a result of the fitting of more modern electric ranges in the galley to replace older cookstoves.

MAPLEHEATH was not a canaller that was regularly seen in Toronto Harbour, for she normally stayed in the grain trade. But, during the 1950s, she was used to carry almost anything that needed carrying. As a result, she appeared at Toronto several times carrying automobiles and, on at least one occasion in 1958, she brought in a load of pipe sections (including a high load) to be used in pipeline construction.

Crews were, by this time, becoming more accustomed to the better accommodations available in more modern lakers, however, and MAPLEHEATH was not a popular ship amongst crewmen. With her total lack of sheer and her small freeboard when loaded down to her marks, she was a notoriously "wet" boat and regularly shovelled lake water over her decks in heavy weather. Particularly in her stern quarters, the water would get down into the cabins and remain there, much to the chagrin of the occupants.

With the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, however, the usefulness of MAPLEHEATH to C.S.L. was at an end and, of course, nobody else was in the market for a steam-powered canaller of her age. She spent the 1959 season in idleness at Kingston, laid up alongside the Cataraqui Elevator, a spot long favoured by C.S.L. for the storage of surplus vessel tonnage. She would, no doubt, soon have been sold for scrapping as were other idle canallers, but instead she managed to find for herself a much more rewarding future.

On November 29, 1959, MAPLEHEATH was purchased by the McAllister Towing Company Ltd., Montreal, (now known as McAllister Towing and Salvage Ltd.), and was reduced to a crane-equipped salvage barge and lighter. Her after end remained much as it had been, complete with funnel, but the forward cabins were cut away. A large crane was placed on deck for the lifting of cargo from stranded ships. Painted up in the same colours as McAllister's Montreal harbour and wrecking tugs, complete with the bright yellow stripe around her hull, MAPLEHEATH remains active in the McAllister fleet to this day, and she is frequently called upon to assist vessels in distress in the lower lakes area or on the St. Lawrence River. It is anticipated that there will be a need for her as a wrecker for many years to come and, provided that she is kept in reasonable condition, there seems to be no reason why MAPLEHEATH should not still be active well into the future.

(Ed. Note: For his assistance with the researching of the history of MAPLEHEATH, our thanks go to our chief purser, James M. Kidd.)

Offerings From Freshwater Press

Freshwater Press, Cleveland, has released the sixth volume in the "Namesakes" series by member John O. Greenwood. Namesakes 1956-1980 replaces Namesakes II (no longer in print) and is the sequel to Namesakes 1910-1955. The book follows the format of others in the series. Price is $24.75, plus $2.38 shipping. Address Freshwater Press Inc., 334 The Arcade, P.O. Box 14009, Cleveland, Ohio 44114, U.S.A.

One of Freshwater's most important marine offerings has been its reprint of the 1899 two-volume set of Beers' History of the Great Lakes. Now available is a limited number of copies of Volume II which contains much interesting and important biographical material. It is on sale at the special price of $15.00 postpaid (U.S. Funds) provided that remittance accompanies the order. Address Freshwater at the above-mentioned postal box.

Additional Marine News

Shortly after arriving at Port Colborne with D.D.S. SALVAGER, the tug TUSKER was involved in an accident. The Clarence Street bridge failed to rise for the downbound A. S. GLOSSBRENNER and the freighter, attempting to stop, lost steerageway and swung over, striking TUSKER and damaging her Kort steering nozzle. TUSKER was towed by BAGOTVILLE to the Canadian Dredge and Dock drydock at Kingston for the necessary repairs, arriving there on September 26.

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Scanner, v. 14, n. 1 (October 1981)

Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; The Upper Canada Railway Society; Captain Ernest H. Ridd; A Question of Latitude; Offerings From Freshwater Press; Additional Marine News