The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Scanner, v. 14, n. 3 (December 1981)
Scanner (Toronto, ON), Dec 1981

Bascom, John N., Editor
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Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Marine News; 1912 Casualty List; Ship of the Month No. 106
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Dec 1981
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Toronto Marine Historical Society
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Friday, January 8th - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Theme Slide Night. Members are invited to bring up to 20 slides each to illustrate "Highlights of a Trip Afloat", concentrating on views aboard ship rather than the passing scenery. PLEASE NOTE CAREFULLY THE DATE. Due to the New Year's Holiday, we meet on the SECOND FRIDAY this month.

Friday, February 5th - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. An illustrated address by James M. Kidd. Anyone who was present for Jim's shows at the Marine Historical Society of Detroit and the St. Mary's River Marine Society in 1981 will be anxiously awaiting this superb event.

The Editor's Notebook

The November Meeting was a most enjoyable one for those present. Member W. P. Dunphy of Guelph presented a comprehensive history of the development of sailing vessels, illustrated with his own drawings. We were unable to hear all of Mr. Dunphy's comments due to time limitations, but we hope that he will come back again to carry his account further.

Once again, we wish to express our appreciation to all who have continued their support of T.M.H.S. by renewing their membership. Postage and printing costs prohibit the sending of individual billings and we thank those who responded to our front-page renewal reminders.

In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to Robert Peterson of Peterson Builders Inc., Sturgeon Bay, to Lloyd G. Baxter of Don Mills, to John A. MacLean of Richmond Hill, to Michael Brandon of Calgary, Alberta, to David Powell of Pender Island, B.C., and to Walter Gonyou, president of Canadian Maritime Union Local 401, Port Colborne.

Greetings of the Season

At this time last year, we remarked upon the fact that the 1980 navigation season on the Great Lakes had been a most unusual one in many ways. It seems that the old French saying, "plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose", is quite correct. The more things change, the more they remain the same. As if to prove the point, the 1981 season on the lakes has been every bit as peculiar as was its predecessor. Business conditions have remained uncertain, to say the least, and it has been virtually impossible to keep track, on a day-to-day basis, of which boats were running and which were laid up, because the active roster of both the Canadian and U.S. fleets has been constantly changing. As well, labour problems on both sides of the border, including the situation involving the grain handlers at the Lakehead, have contributed to a general feeling of uncertainty.

With ever more new vessels appearing from lake shipyards, some very familiar lakers have passed into history during 1981 and more will undoubtedly follow suit when navigation closes. Nevertheless, the scrap market has not been so good this year and very few ships have actually made that last, long voyage to the scrapyard.

Fortunately, however, the 1981 season enjoyed one distinct improvement over 1980. There were far fewer accidents of a serious nature this year, a development upon which shipowners, crews, and observer-enthusiasts alike can reflect with a distinct sense of gratitude. We sincerely hope that all of our members and friends who sail the lakes or who are engaged in vessel management achieved a happy and safe navigation season this year, and we wish them the same for 1982. Indeed, we extend the same wish to all of our members, and to our Society itself.

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

And to all of the many members of our growing family, the Toronto Marine Historical Society, we extend our very best wishes for a Merry Christmas and for all possible Happiness in the New Year. Take care, friends, and may 1982 bring to you all a full measure of love, warmth and success.

Marine News

Last issue, we reported that Westdale Shipping Ltd. had chartered CONALLISON from Johnstone Shipping Ltd. as a temporary replacement for ERINDALE, but that unloading problems encountered by the 75-year-old motorship had forced the cancellation of the charter. In fact, CONALLISON made but three trips under Westdale charter and, thereafter, her place was taken by C.S.L.'s HOCHELAGA, which was rechartered by Westdale and hauled out of mothballs at Thunder Bay to complete the season's cargo commitments which would otherwise have been handled by ERINDALE. CONALLISON then made several additional trips to Johnstone's account, but she finally arrived back at Toronto late in the evening of Friday, November 13 and, by early the following morning, she was secure in winter quarters along the Commissioners Street wall of the turning basin. It seems unlikely that CONALLISON will see any further service, for her mechanical difficulties seem to be beyond hope of cure. (Incidentally, her 8 1/2-day coal unloading escapade took place at Montreal during August, rather than at Quebec City as previously reported.)

Having completed her 1981 charter to Algoma Steel, the third member of the Johnstone Shipping fleet, CONDARRELL, arrived at Toronto on November 17 and laid up alongside CONGAR, right near the bow of CONALLISON. Of the three Johnstone vessels, CONDARRELL would appear to have the brightest future.

Despite rumours to the contrary, it appears that Westdale's ERINDALE will not be retired but rather will have her bow damage repaired in the spring. Such, of course, will be subject to a continued need for the self-unloading steamer in the fleet. Although it had been thought that ERINDALE might be towed to Collingwood Shipyards this autumn so that repairs could be completed during the winter, it seems that the 66-year-old boat will remain at Toronto over the winter and will be taken to Port Weller Dry Docks for repairs come spring. ERINDALE's bow is extensively damaged from the boot-top downwards, indicative of a heavy impact in her October 6 altercation with the east abutment of the Allanburg Bridge on the Welland Canal.

Our November issue carried details of the exchange between Triad Salvage Inc. and the Soo River Company which has brought MAXINE to Soo River and committed H. C. HEIMBECKER to the wreckers' torches at Ashtabula. HEIMBECKER's last trip, from Owen Sound to Ashtabula, was made at reduced speed due to the functioning of only one boiler, and was further delayed by the death aboard of an engineer, which forced the ship to make an unexpected stop at Goderich. HEIMBECKER arrived at Ashtabula on November 3 and scrapping operations began almost immediately. By mid-November, much of the after end of the venerable steamer had already been cut down.

Meanwhile, the Soo River Company altered its plans and decided not to keep J. F. VAUGHAN, the former MAXINE, at South Chicago for the winter. A storage cargo of beans for Hamilton was arranged and, on November 15, VAUGHAN left South Chicago in tow of the Malcolm tug BARBARA ANN. By November 19, the tow was at Toledo, where the VAUGHAN was loaded. After a delayed passage down the Welland Canal, she arrived at Hamilton on November 27. The VAUGHAN will spend the winter at Hamilton and will fit out in Soo River colours in the spring.

Shediac Bulk Shipping Ltd., of Moncton, New Brunswick, has again enlarged its fleet of tankers operating on the east coast and St. Lawrence River. Now joining SEAWAY TRADER, (a) IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD (79), and METRO STAR, (a) HAMBLE (79), (b) SHELL REFINER (81), is the newly-acquired METRO SUN, (a) PARTINGTON (79), (b) SHELL SCIENTIST (81), which was built in 1965 at Grangemouth. She made her maiden arrival at Montreal on November 14th.

Several issues ago, we remarked upon the sale by Halco Inc. of its saltwater tankers CANSO TRANSPORT and COASTAL TRANSPORT, two vessels which had never traded into the lakes and which enjoyed but short careers in Halco colours. We now learn that, on October 10, CANSO TRANSPORT cleared Durban, South Africa, under her new name, CHEMICAL SOL. On October 7, COASTAL TRANSPORT cleared Rio Grande for Durban and it is to be assumed that she, also, has since been renamed by her new owners.

Ever since the control of Branch Lines Ltd. was acquired by Davie Shipbuilding Ltd. from Marine Industries Ltd. (the company is now known as Branch Lines, Division of Davie Shipbuilding Ltd.), observers have been expecting a massive renaming project to obliterate all of the ships' names which honour members of the Simard family who controlled Marine Industries. Beginning in January, 1982, all of the tankers will be renamed, and the following are the changes that we may expect: MAPLEBRANCH becomes ERABLE 1; JOS. SIMARD becomes FRENE 1; EDOUARD SIMARD becomes CHENE 1; LEON SIMARD becomes ORME 1; LUDGER SIMARD becomes SAULE 1; and ARTHUR SIMARD becomes CEDRE 1. The first part of each name is the French word for a kind of tree but, as yet, we have no idea what the numeral "1" signifies.

As of September 30, the Michigan State Department of Transportation extended for 60 days its subsidization of the operation of the venerable Straits of Mackinac steam carferry CHIEF WAWATAM, thus ensuring her operation until at least the end of November. During recent months, budgetary limitations had prompted demands for the reduction and eventual elimination of the subsidy which has kept CHIEF WAWATAM in steam. Such a move would undoubtedly force the retirement of the picturesque ferry.

For the last two years, the Maritime Commission class steamer PIONEER (III), (a) McINTYRE (43), (b) FRANK PURNELL (I)(66), (c) STEELTON (IV)(78), (d) HULL NO. 3 (79), has been lying idle in the Frog Pond at Toledo. Owned by the Medusa Cement Company Division of Medusa Corporation since 1978, she has not operated since her charter to the Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company for part of the 1979 season. Now, it seems, Medusa has taken the first major step toward the eventual conversion of the 1943-built vessel to a cement carrier. In tow of TUG MALCOLM, she arrived at Port Huron from Toledo on November 7, and was temporarily moored alongside the storage barge KINSMAN ENTERPRISE, en route to Sturgeon Bay where she will have cement-handling gear installed. She is then slated to be moved to Chicago's Lake Calumet area, where she will be used for a period of time as a storage and cement transfer facility. It seems likely that PIONEER (probably renamed) will eventually enter active service for Medusa, either as an addition to its fleet or else as a replacement for the 75-year-old MEDUSA CHALLENGER.

As reported last issue, the launch of Collingwood Shipyards' Hull 222, the stern section (some three-quarters of her eventual total length) of the latest C.S.L. self-unloader, was scheduled for Friday, November 6. On that day, however, much of Ontario was plagued by extremely high winds and unusually low temperatures. The winds were so strong that the side-launch of the new vessel had to be postponed, and she did not actually hit the waters of Collingwood harbour until Monday, November 9, at which time a successful launch was achieved. The ship will be towed to Thunder Bay in late April, 1982, and there will be joined to the bow section which is being built by Port Arthur Shipyards. The name to be given to Hull 222 will not be announced until the christening ceremonies in the spring, but it is widely supposed that she may be named in honour of Paul Martin, the president of C.S.L. who recently, in partnership with Federal Commerce and Navigation Ltd., purchased control of C.S.L. from its former owners.

Work began this autumn on the dredging and clearing of the navigation channel in the Sydenham River from Wallaceburg to Dresden, Ontario. Shippers of grain from Wallaceburg have, for years, been attempting to have governmental authorities agree to the dredging and straightening of the entire Sydenham River - Chenal Ecarte waterway in order to permit larger vessels to load at Wallaceburg, but this partial dredging job is all that has resulted to date.

On October 28, the tug DANIEL McALLISTER, out of Montreal, picked up the idle Paterson canaller TROISDOC (III) at Cardinal and headed up the St. Lawrence River with her, en route to Kingston. Arriving safely at the latter port on October 29, TROISDOC was laid up alongside WITTRANSPORT II at the LaSalle Causeway. On October 31, however, TROISDOC was cut adrift by vandals who, apparently, objected to the addition of the canaller to Kingston's "derelict" fleet. (WITTRANSPORT II is not at all popular amongst the residents of Kingston.) Fortunately, no damage was done either to the ship or to the causeway or its bridge. DANIEL McALLISTER was summoned back from Montreal and, on November 5, she towed TROISDOC away from the causeway and out to a lay-up berth near the Cataraqui Elevator, a favourite spot for laying up idle ships. With TROISDOC's future uncertain, the R.C.M.P. is investigating the circumstances of her being cut adrift in the hope that the culprits can be apprehended and brought to justice.

Heavy winds swept the lower lakes area on Wednesday, November 18, and they claimed a barge out on Lake Erie. The barge, owned by Great Lakes Marine Contracting of Port Dover, Ontario, was en route from Port Colborne to Cleveland with a load of 1,600 metric tonnes of pig iron when she was overwhelmed by the heavy seas and sent to the bottom of the lake, fortunately without loss of life. We are not certain, but we assume that the pig iron had been taken from the dock of the now-defunct Algoma Steel plant at Port Colborne, which recently was purchased for redevelopment by Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. Assorted materials had been lying on the plant's wharf ever since the facility was closed four years ago.

The St. Lawrence Cement Company's barge D.D.S. SALVAGER cleared Port Colborne, upbound, on November 15, in tow of the A. B. McLean Ltd. tug WILFRED M. COHEN. The barge's conversion to a cement carrier was completed at Port Colborne by E. G. Marsh Ltd. In the spring of 1982, the barge will commence her shuttle service between Duluth and Thunder Bay, carrying cement which is to be brought up the lakes by bulk carriers and stored in silos at Duluth. It is to be assumed that D.D.S. SALVAGER will be renamed before she enters service.

The Columbia Transportation straight-decker ARMCO cleared Toledo on October 13, bound for the Bay Shipbuilding yard where she will be converted to a self-unloader during the winter. She arrived at Sturgeon Bay on October 14. Meanwhile, Columbia's other candidate for conversion this winter, the steamer MIDDLETOWN, cleared Toledo on October 14 and arrived at Sturgeon Bay on October 16.

The U.S. Steel straight-decker ARTHUR M. ANDERSON was reported upbound at the Sault on October 31, bound for lay-up at Fraser Shipyards at Superior, Wisconsin. She will be converted to a self-unloader during the winter, as also will be her two sisters, CASON J. CALLAWAY and PHILIP R. CLARKE, both of which arrived at the Fraser yard late in August. The commencement dates for all three of these conversions had been moved forward from those originally planned, not only because the prefabrication of much of the equipment at the yard would permit completion of all three jobs by the spring, but also because the poor economic conditions of 1981 permitted the ships to be withdrawn from their regular duties earlier than had been anticipated.

The Bay Shipbuilding Corporation's Hull 730, the ocean-going coal barge OCEANPORT, owned by the Ocean Barge Corporation, was christened on October 11. She cleared Sturgeon Bay on October 16, bound for salt water in tow of the big tug GULF COMMANDER. She stopped at Conneaut, Ohio, en route, to load her first cargo of coal.

On the afternoon of Saturday, November 14, Sherwood Marine Inc. brought its small excursion vessels SHIAWASSIE and NIAGARA across Lake Ontario to join CAYUGA II in winter quarters in Toronto's York Street slip. Meanwhile, the steamer CALEDONIA, operated by Sherwood in the charter-party trade but only partially owned by Sherwood, remains on the face of the wall at the lower end of Sherbourne Street. In the interim, doubts have been raised concerning Sherwood's financial situation and whether any of the boats will run in 1982. CAYUGA II was attached by creditors late in November, and both SHIAWASSIE and NIAGARA will allegedly have to be returned to Niagara-on-the-Lake in order to satisfy the demands of creditors in that area. It is unlikely that creditors will be able to touch CALEDONIA, for she is owned jointly by Sherwood, Capt. Al. Avery, Imperial Oil Limited, and the Royal Bank of Canada. Sherwood's uncertain financial position may well have a deleterious effect upon the company's plans for a Ro-Ro trailer ferry service across Lake Ontario.

Last month, we reported on the improved financial position of the operators of the Bob-Lo Island ferry service, a development which has gladdened the hearts of fans of the company's veteran steamers COLUMBIA and STE. CLAIRE. A successful summer in 1981 has enabled the firm to make the necessary refinancing arrangements and to pay off government loans on both sides of the border. Meanwhile, both steamers were sent off to Toledo in late September for their five-year survey and inspection, and they were placed together in the AmShip drydock there.

The Chessie System's 1981-82 winter schedule for the Lake Michigan ferry service features operation Tuesday through Saturday, holidays excepted, with three trips per week to Manitowoc and six to Kewaunee. Off-season crossings are normally handled by CITY OF MIDLAND 41, but this winter's schedule calls for the operation of the newer BADGER instead.

On November 2, the former wrecking tug SALVAGE PRINCE was moved to a winter berth on the inside of the north end of the west pier of Toronto's Eastern Gap at Ward's Island. We do not know who now owns SALVAGE PRINCE, or what will become of her. For the last few years, the former steamer has occupied various berths in the turning basin and on the east harbour wall near the foot of Polson Street. Her machinery has long since been removed and, for a time, she served as home for a group of unusual persons who had planned to rebuild her as a "salvage vessel" for use in the Caribbean. The tug was partially repainted during the early summer of 1981, but she faces what can only be described as an uncertain future, with little prospect of further active service .

The St. Lawrence Seaway Authority has made public the closing dates for its canals. The St. Lawrence canals will close in sufficient time for the dewatering of the Eisenhower and Snell Locks to begin no later than 8:00 a.m., December 21, 1981. The Welland Canal will accept vessels arriving at Call-In Points 15 (upbound) and 16 (downbound) no later than 8:00 a.m., December 31. Mariners have also been warned that the official closing date for the U.S. locks at Sault Ste. Marie is December 15, although the actual closing date has yet to be announced.

A November 12 report in the Toronto press indicated that one of the items on a "shopping list" being prepared for the Metropolitan Toronto Council by its various departments is a request from the Metro Parks Department, operator of the Toronto Island ferry service, for a new ferryboat. The request is for a $6,000,000 ice-breaking boat capable of carrying both passengers and vehicles. While no other details have been made public, it appears that Metro wishes to replace the present carferry ONGIARA., which is now 18 years old. ONGIARA runs the Hanlan's Point route during the summer and, in winter, attempts to maintain the vital crossing for Island residents and Parks Dept. vehicles. She is not an icebreaker, however, and is only designed to operate IN ice, with the result that the ferry service is interrupted each winter when the ice thickens or when ONGIARA falls victim to one of her frequent mechanical indispositions. In fact, ONGIARA, despite her ability to carry trucks, has proved much less suitable as a winter ferry than did the steam tugs NED HANLAN, G. R. GEARY, J. C. STEWART and H. J. DIXON which provided winter ferry service for so many years. There would be much joy in the Island Community if commuters could enjoy the comfort of a dependable ferry in winter instead of having to make the crossing via the circuitous route across the airport and the Western Gap each time ONGIARA is out of service.

1912 Casualty List

The August, 1912, issue of "The Marine Review" contained a lengthy listing of lake marine casualties for the first half of the navigation season. We reproduce here but one page of that most interesting list, the original of which appeared in very small print indeed!

May 7 Str. SMITH THOMPSON. Stranded, Sault River, owing to derangement of steering gear; released on May 9 after lightering.

May 7 Str. SHENANGO. Struck, going up, DeTour, St. Mary's River; docked at Ashtabula; six damaged plates and 12 broken frames.

May 12 Str. SULTANA. Ran ashore in heavy seas, Long Point, Lake Erie; tugs sent to her; released on May 14.

May 12 Str. FRED G. HARTWELL. Arrived at Port Huron on May 14 with disabled steering gear; towed to Detroit for repairs.

May 12 Str. ROMAN. Ran ashore, Whaleback Shoal, Green Bay; tug sent to her; large part of cargo lightered and released on May 17.

May 15 Str. VICTORY. Ran into dock, Lorain harbour, and broke her quadrant; delayed several days.

May 15 Str. E. J. EARLING. Severely pounded in storm, Lake Michigan; rivets loosened; docked at Lorain May 20; one week to repair.

May 18 Str. A. E. AMES. Ran into Grand Trunk bridge, Hamilton, damaging it severely; harbour blocked about a week by accident.

May 18 Sch. J. B. LOZEN. Hit light on extension of east arm, Cleveland breakwater; not damaged.

May 18 Str. CONEMAUGH. Ran aground, Corsica Shoal, Lake Huron; released by FAVORITE.

May 19 Str. IONA. Burned to water's edge, Lake Ontario near Oswego, then sank; loss estimated at $20,000.

May 19 Str. VICTORY. Collided with Str. LEONARD B. MILLER, St. Clair River; slightly damaged.

May 19 Str. LEONARD B. MILLER. Collided with Str. VICTORY, St. Clair River; slightly damaged.

May 20 Str. A. E. McKINSTRY. Collided with Str. CORUNNA, Welland Canal; two plates damaged, five frames broken; repairs at Kingston.

May 20 Str. CORUNNA. Collided with Str. A. E. McKINSTRY; slightly damaged.

May 20 Str. H. P. BOPE. In backing out of slip, South Chicago, hit dock and broke her quadrant.

May 20 Str. (sic) TOILER. Ran ashore, foot of Galops Rapids near Ogdensburg; released May 31 after lightering 35,000 bu. grain; docked at Kingston June 10.

May 21 Str. JAMES DAVIDSON. Eight men severely burned by bursting steam pipe, Lake Superior; steamer hastened to Marquette where injured were taken ashore; two died.

May 23 Sand Str. MULINIX BROS. Turned turtle, Toledo, engine and boilers dropping out; floated June 14; considerably damaged.

May 23 Str. INDIA. Got line in her wheel and ran on beach, Shelldrake.

May 23 Str. JESSE SPAULDING. Lost rudder, Lake Huron; anchored off Cheboygan; tug sent from Sault which steered her to Milwaukee whither she was bound; docked for new rudder.

May 27 Str. FRONTENAC. Collided with barge CHATTANOOGA off Grand Island, Lake Superior; hole pierced in her abreast the coal bunkers 4 ft. above water line, breaking the plates.

May 27 Bge. CHATTANOOGA. Collided with Str. FRONTENAC off Grand Island, Lake Superior; lost an anchor and broke hawse pipe.

May 28 Str. IMPERIAL. Broke four gates, Cornwall Canal, delaying navigation considerably.

May 28 Str. ARABIAN. Collision, St. Lawrence River near Morrisburg; lost her rudder in the rapids.

May 30 Str. ANDASTE. Collided with barge A. W. THOMPSON, Hay Lake, St. Mary's River; hit on port side abreast boilerhouse; four plates cracked, damage extended below waterline; cargo hold began to fill; to prevent sinking was beached. Accident occurred when ANDASTE endeavoured to pass Str. CHARLES M. WARNER and tow, the THOMPSON; floated May 31 after lightering 500 tons ore; taken to Sault for temporary repair; docked at Cleveland June 6; repairs completed June 13; seven or eight damaged plates.

May 30 Bge. A. W. THOMPSON. Collided with Str. ANDASTE, Hay Lake, St. Mary's River; few plates bent; damage slight.

May 31 Str. JOSEPH C. SUIT. Struck by Str. CITY OF DETROIT III while on her trial trip, Detroit River; torn from moorings; sank; probably total loss.

June 4 Str. WILLIAM H. GRATWICK. While leaving port, Conneaut, hit Str. RENSSELAER.

June 4 Str. RENSSELAER. Hit by Str. WILLIAM H. GRATWICK, Conneaut; cabin stove in and lifeboats carried away.

June 4 Str. CITY OF BANGOR. While turning, Escanaba, struck obstruction, lost wheel; towed to Cleveland; new wheel and hub put on.

June 4 Steel Scow (towed by Str. LAKESIDE). Capsized in strong wind and sank; probably total loss; valued at $20,000.

June 6 Str. FRANK J. HECKER. Ran ashore in fog near Crisp Point, Lake Superior; released herself uninjured.

June 7 Str. JAMES B. NEILSON. In landing, Two Harbors, hit the dock; only slightly damaged; repaired at Superior.

June 13 Str. MONROE C. SMITH. Hit by Main Ave. bridge, Cleveland, but was not damaged; bridge damage estimated at $4,000 or $5,000.

June 13 Str. VIKING. Ran hard aground, Toledo; released June 17, uninjured.

June 15 St.Bge. PAWNEE. Broke her crankshaft, St. Clair River near Port Huron; towed to Detroit for repairs.

June 15 Str. CITY OF SOUTH HAVEN. Struck a log, Manistee; docked at Chicago for repairs to her rudder.

June 18 Str. RUTLAND. Collided with Str. UNITED STATES, Chicago.

June 18 Str. UNITED STATES. Collided with Str. RUTLAND, Chicago.

June 18 Str. CADILLAC. Ran aground, Deseronto; lightered; docked at Ashtabula; 20 damaged plates - half must be replaced; repairs completed July 5.

June 20 Str. CANADIAN. Carried away four gates of Lock 22, Welland Canal; break repaired June 21.

June 20 Str. RENVOYLE. Struck, Kingston; docked at Ashtabula June 21.

June 20 Str. MANITOU. Ran ashore, Lonely Island, Georgian Bay; tugs ordered to her from Sault.

June 20 Str. SHENANGO. Lost anchor, Sailors' Encampment, St. Mary's River.

June 20 Str. WILLIAM NOTTINGHAM. Lost anchor below Poe Lock, Sault Canal.

June 20 Str. GEORGE B. LEONARD. Lost anchor, Sandusky.

June 21 Str. HOLLAND. Broke her walking beam, cylinder and piston rod, Lake Michigan; towed to Chicago.

June 22 Bge. HAROLD. In tow of Str. P. J. RALPH when steamer collided with Str. SOCAPA, head of Stag Island, St. Clair River; considerably damaged.

June 22 Str. SOCAPA. Collided with Str. P.J. RALPH; slightly damaged.

June 23 Str. NEPTUNE. Struck obstruction, St. Clair Flats canal; broke two buckets off her wheel.

June 23 Str. CHARLES O. JENKINS. Grounded, Cleveland harbour; had to lighter.

June 26 Str. BOTHNIA. Collided with Str. S. S. CURRY, St. Clair River near Stag Island; nearly cut in two; one drowned; total loss.

June 26 Str. S. S. CURRY. Collided with Str. BOTHNIA when her rudder became disabled; hole 6x8 ft. in her side; towed to Milwaukee by Str. FAVORITE; new rudder put on.

June 27 Str. SIDNEY C. McLOUTH. Burned, Green Bay; total loss; crew rescued.

June 27 Sch.Bge. JOHN A. FRANC0MB. Became waterlogged near Southeast Shoal, Lake Erie, after striking submerged object; 100,000 ft. lumber lightered; towed to Buffalo by Str. MOHEGAN; lost cargo estimated at $30,000.

June 28 Str. CITY OF MONTREAL. Ran aground, Maumee Bay; out 30 inches; released June 30 by three tugs.

June 29 Bge. ALEXANDER MAITLAND. Collided with Str. JAMES CORRIGAN, Lower Detroit River; slightly damaged; docked at Cleveland July 3.


June 30 Str. WILLIAM P. SNYDER. Off Fairport, Lake Erie, broke bolts in connecting rod of intermediate crank pin and cracked cylinder head; towed to Ashtabula by Str. WILPEN and from there to Ecorse for repairs; will need new cylinder head, connecting rod, piston rod and crankshaft; about two weeks to repair.

July 2 Str. CRETE. Collided with Str. JAMES S. DUNHAM, Southeast Bend, St. Clair River; five plates damaged and eight frames buckled on her bow; to be repaired at Toledo.

July 2 Str. JAMES S. DUNHAM. Collided with Str. CRETE; slightly damaged.

July 3 Bge. ALFRED KRUPP. Ran aground, Ballard's Reef, Detroit; released July 4 by tug after lightering 100 tons; leaked; docked at Cleveland

July 5. July 5 Str. VIKING. Ran ashore in dense fog, Split Rock, Lake Superior; hold filled with water; reported by tugs to be in bad shape; probably will be abandoned as constructive total loss.

July 6 Str. COLUMBIA. Considerably damaged by fire near Ogdensburg; may be total loss.

July 7 Str. NORMANIA. Ran aground, Ballard's Reef.

Imagine how extensive this list would be if the whole 1912 season were included! We can be glad that modern navigation aids and shipbuilding techniques have reduced the number of accidents on the lakes, not only because of the great saving in property damage and lives that has resulted, but also because we would never find enough room in "Scanner" to report all the accidents if they still occurred in such great numbers today.

We wish to thank member Robert J. MacDonald of Erie, Pennsylvania, for supplying us with this historical gem.

Ship of the Month No. 106


For a change, we foresake the canallers which have so often been featured in these pages, and look a bit farther back in time. This time around, we have chosen an old wooden steamer and we rather doubt that most of our readers will ever have heard of her or, if they have, we suspect that they thought that there was nothing particularly remarkable about her. This may be so in most respects, but she was lost under rather unusual circumstances and it is the story of her demise rather than of her life that has prompted us to feature her. The narrative is extremely timely, for the loss of this steamer occurred exactly 75 years ago this month.

One of the most renowned shipyards ever to operate on the Great Lakes was that of Frank W. Wheeler and Company at West Bay City, Michigan. In June of 1882, the Wheeler yard launched its Hull 15, a wooden-hulled steam package freighter which was built to the order of Ward's Detroit and Lake Superior Line. She was 183.5 feet in length, 33.9 feet in the beam, and 13.5 feet in depth, with tonnage of 980 Gross and 787 Net. She was equipped with 'tween decks and had cargo ports on each side for the handling of general freight. She was christened OSCEOLA, and was enrolled as U.S.155063.

OSCEOLA was built rather late in the era of wooden shipbuilding. The iron hull was already common on the lakes and, before long, the steel hull would assume absolute supremacy because of its durability and strength which permitted the construction of larger ships. However, at the time of the building of OSCEOLA, there was still a need for vessels of her size and type. Some shipowners never became part of the era of steel hulls, and the Ward interests were amongst these. The Wards had been operating steamers out of Detroit for many years, but their empire came to an end with the disappearance of the viability of wooden-hulled vessels.

OSCEOLA was generally typical of wooden package freighters of her day. She was planked all the way up past the 'tween deck to the upper deck, and her high sides were topped with an open wooden rail. Only on the flush forecastle did she carry closed wooden bulwarks. She was probably built with more cabins on the upper deck but, before long, she carried only forward cabins, a doghouse, and an after cabin.

The texas was a small square structure located far forward and, above it, was a full bridge deck which overhung the texas considerably on all sides. On the bridge deck was a small square pilothouse with three round-topped, sectioned windows across its front and with an open bridge on the monkey's island. She may originally have carried the usual ornate octagonal "birdcage" pilothouse that was sported by so many of her contemporaries, but of this we cannot be certain. A tall, heavy mast was fitted immediately abaft the pilothouse, and it was equipped with a boom and with sail for auxiliary power. A doghouse for additional accommodation for the crew was carried midships on the upper deck, and abaft it were the lifeboats, mounted right on deck and with davits provided for lifting the boats over the side. (Strangely enough, however, she had no davit forward for lifting the large stocked anchors which were carried on deck.)

OSCEOLA did not have a boilerhouse aft, and her slightly raked stack, which was of medium height, rose directly out of a squarish after cabin which sported windows and doors in all four sides. Bunker coal was loaded through a hatch in the deck just forward of this cabin. She carried only a very small mainmast (if it could be called that, which we doubt) and this was stepped quite far aft. OSCEOLA had a very heavy counter stern, typical of Wheeler's wooden steamers.

Wooden hulls always posed certain problems for their owners, particularly in larger vessels. With the passage of the years and with differing distributions of cargo weights, wood hulls became "limber" and soft, with the result that they tended to hog (droop at the bow and stern) or sag (dip amidships). Boats of this type were usually strengthened with braces of some sort. On the eastern rivers and Atlantic coast, these often took the form of "hog chains" which ran along a single row of tall, upright poles and, in the case of passenger boats, down to the guards. On the western rivers, such braces usually consisted of a double row of slanted poles, connected by chains and rods which ran lengthways over the poles and down to the guards. On the lakes, where passenger and freight steamers developed somewhat differently than in other areas, such strengthening members usually appeared as arch trusses, large braced wooden beams which rose in a great curve fore-and-aft on either side of the vessel, sometimes soaring high above the upper deck. OSCEOLA evidenced none of these types of hog braces, but it seems likely that she did have arches, although they were probably quite small, built into her sides and not rising above deck level.

In due course of time after her June, 1882, launching, OSCEOLA was completed and entered service for the Ward interests, running, as the name of the line suggested, from Detroit and other lower lake ports to Lake Superior. She appears to have operated successfully, although she was stranded on Lake Huron during the 1888 season. The accident was not as serious as it might have been, however, and OSCEOLA was salvaged, repaired, and placed back on her usual route.

During the 1890 season, OSCEOLA was chartered, as a replacement for the fire-damaged steamer ROANOKE, to the Clover Leaf Steamboat Line. This was a service operated by the Toledo, St. Louis and Kansas City Railroad between Buffalo and Toledo as a connection between its Toledo to St. Louis rail line and several eastern railroads, including the West Shore, the Lehigh Valley, the Erie Railroad, the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western, and the New York Central. The charter of OSCEOLA was not continued after the close of the 1890 navigation season.

A short time later, OSCEOLA was chartered to the Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad for its Lake Michigan break-bulk service. The F.&P.M. was a forerunner of today's Chessie System lake carferry service; in the days before the development of the carferry, the company ran normal passenger and package freight boats across the lake. The term "break-bulk" was invented to describe the operation wherein freight was unloaded from railroad cars on one side of the lake, loaded aboard steamers for the cross-lake trip, and then placed back in railroad cars on the other side for the continuation of its travels.

During the middle and late 1890s, OSCEOLA was chartered to W. H. Botsford and Company of Port Huron, Michigan, for its route between Port Huron and various Lake Superior ports. This was a package freight service which was operated in conjunction with the Grand Trunk Railroad. Then, in the early 1900s, she was owned and operated by the Lake Michigan and Lake Superior Transportation Company, an enterprise of the famous partnership of Leopold and Austrian.

In 1905, OSCEOLA was purchased from the Hibernian Bank of Chicago (which had probably acquired her through mortgage default) by R. O. and A. B. MacKay of Hamilton. These two gentlemen are no strangers to readers of this journal; they were entrepreneurs par excellence, and we have had much to say in the past concerning their interesting marine ventures and escapades. The MacKays built up one of the largest fleets sailing under the Canadian flag during the early years of the new century and many of their vessels were later to become part of the large fleets which were organized later by James Playfair and by Canada Steamship Lines Ltd.

OSCEOLA was placed on the Canadian register as C. 112204 and she was renamed (b) GOLSPIE in honour of a small town in Sutherlandshire, on the east coast of northern Scotland. That this name was chosen for the steamer is not at all surprising, for it was to Sutherlandshire that the MacKay family traced its roots. In 1906, the MacKays formed the Golspie Steamship Company Ltd. of Hamilton to assume the ownership of GOLSPIE. This company was capitalized at $50,000 and its directors were R. O. MacKay, A. B. MacKay, W. Southam, J. A. Milne and D. Brown.

GOLSPIE, although owned by the MacKays, visited her home port but infrequently, for her owners, soon after purchasing her, chartered her to the Dominion government for use as a lighthouse tender on the upper lakes. She was, nevertheless, destined to operate for only a short period of time in this service, and it is small wonder that we have encountered no good photographs of her as GOLSPIE.

Early in December, 1906, GOLSPIE was sent to Thunder Bay to load a cargo of oats and general cargo for what was intended to be her last trip of the year. It has been reported that her destination was to be Point Edward, Ontario, but, as the following material will reveal, it was also said that this trip was to take her to Owen Sound. Of the two, we would consider Owen Sound to have been the most probable destination of the steamer.

On the way down Lake Superior, GOLSPIE encountered heavy weather and a typical, blinding, late-season snowstorm. The captain, it was reported, lost his bearings, with the result that the steamer went hard aground at Brule Bay, near Michipicoten, Ontario, on Tuesday, December 4th. (Some reports have said that the accident occurred on December 6, but we believe that these can be discounted.)

The captain and five crewmen remained at the wreck and the balance of the crew, under the command of the first mate, set out to row to Michipicoten Harbour. The temperature at the time stood at some 22 degrees below Zero (and that's Fahrenheit, not Celsius), and those in the small boats suffered great hardship. When the news of the vessel's plight was finally received by the authorities, the Reid Wrecking Company was ordered to the scene to see what could be done to save the ship and any survivors still aboard. The master and the remaining five crewmen were rescued by a tug on December 9. The others finally reached Michipicoten after a great deal of suffering from the bitterly cold weather.

Much hard feeling arose after the accident. As a result, Capt. T. Donnelly, the famous salvagemaster from Kingston, was directed by the Department of Marine and Fisheries in Ottawa to take evidence and to report as to the loss of GOLSPIE and the subsequent suffering and treatment of the crew. Evidence was taken at Owen Sound and at Collingwood. A subscription in aid of the wrecked crewmen was taken up and several thousand dollars were raised for their benefit.

It was thought, at first, that GOLSPIE could be salvaged but, after wreckers had taken a look at her where she lay, she was finally given up as a total loss. The steamer had successfully lived through much heavy weather in the past, but she simply could not withstand this major stranding and the pounding that she suffered after she had run ashore.

The following news items are taken from "The Toronto Globe", and come to us through the courtesy of James M. Kidd:

Michipicoten, Saturday, December 8, 1906: (Great Northwest Press Dispatch)

During a fierce northeast gale and blinding snowstorm, the steamer GOLSPIE was stranded in Brule Bay, south of this point. The vessel is lying broadside on a gravel beach, broadside to the sea, and is out two feet forward. The ship's captain says that the boat can be saved if a wrecking outfit can be sent at once to her assistance. The Reid Wrecking Company has been ordered to send tugs and wrecking apparatus. The GOLSPIE was formerly the American steamer OSCEOLA. She had on board a cargo of oats, mill stuff and general freight, and was bound from Fort William to Owen Sound. It was a wooden vessel registering 980 tons and was built in 1882. It had a 183 foot keel and 33 foot beam. The GOLSPIE has been wrecked and saved as often as any boat in the Register. (We do not know to what the writer of the latter comment was referring; it sounds as if GOLSPIE/OSCEOLA had been involved in a succession of accidents, but we have no record of them.)

Hamilton, Sunday, December 9, 1906:

Word was received this morning by R.O. and A.B. MacKay, owners of the steamer GOLSPIE, lighthouse tender, that she had been wrecked and was a total loss. Captain Bault wired from Michipicoten that the boat was wrecked on the shore of Brule Bay on the north shore of Lake Superior and that five of the sailors were so badly frozen whilst going across the trail to Michipicoten that they had to be hospitalized. The crew of the GOLSPIE comprised twenty men, most of whom were from Collingwood.




Victims Refused to Go On with Other Members of the Crew!

Failure to send relief promptly greatly increased the suffering of the men who did not reach the hospital for eight days after their mis-adventure.

Sarnia, Sunday, December 16, 1906:

Joseph Monaghan and Amos Warwick of the crew of the wrecked steamer GOLSPIE have arrived here, and from them information has been received as to the circumstances under which five members of the crew had their feet so badly frozen that amputation was necessary at the Sault Ste. Marie hospital. The GOLSPIE was wrecked on Tuesday, December the Fourth at Brule Bay on the north shore of Lake Superior. There were twenty persons in the crew and the stock of provisions saved was very scanty. At the scene of the wrecked steamer, Captain Bault and five of the men remained.

They had an abandoned pulpwood cutter's shack for shelter. The provisions were divided, the smaller portion being left with the captain's party and the larger portion going with the mate's party which, taking the lifeboat, set out to row for Michipicoten harbour.

Mate MacLeod found it necessary to abandon the boat on Wednesday and start to walk through the woods to try and make it overland. The whole party camped together that night. Green, Thorburn, MacDonald, Donnelly and Keeling were in a very discontented frame of mind, according to the story of Monaghan and Warwick.

Refused to Proceed!

They refused to proceed on Thursday morning and declared their intention of going back to the boat. MacLeod pleaded with them to push on but they said they preferred to take their chance in the boat. They were given an axe and a lamp and some provisions and then left. They had not gone very far when they lost the axe and then became hopelessly lost in the woods, and as the weather was considerably below Zero, they suffered terribly. Now, in the meantime, mate MacLeod's party had reached Michipicoten Mission overland late on Thursday and set about the work of rescue. On Friday morning, four Indian trackers were sent out and located the five lost sailors but they were so helpless that they could not be brought in. The Indians made them as comfortable as possible and on Saturday a party went out and brought them in.

All this time, Captain Bault and his companions remained at the ship, decidedly short of food but nevertheless sheltered from the cold. It was not until Sunday that he was relieved and the final word from his owners was that GOLSPIE was abandoned to the underwriters. Here the story of the members of the crew ends.

There is another side of this terrible tale, however. Vesselmen here are saying hard things of the MacKays of Hamilton, owners of the GOLSPIE. Captain Sinclair of Detroit, the underwriters' representative, writes: "It was a pitiful sight to see the five frozen men carried aboard the tug. It was ten days after the wreck before the men reached the hospital. Two or three of them had no feeling at all in their feet, and the members were as black as your hat". It is reliably reported that the temperature was somewhat below Forty-five degrees below Zero when the vessel was wrecked.

The Detroit News printed copies of telegrams that passed between Captain Bault and the owners asking for a tug; the owners replied that the tug was busy on the Soo River and to bring the men in overland. As this would mean bringing the injured men sixty miles over extremely rough territory, and considering the extreme condition of the men, it was decided to wait for the tug. The tug reached Michipicoten ten days after the wreck and hurried the men to the hospital at the Soo. It is generally believed that skilled medical attention earlier would have saved their limbs.

The sailors tell a story that reflects considerably on the owners. They allege that, in the first place, the GOLSPIE left Fort William short-provisioned, and that it was not necessary to get as far off course as Brule Bay near Michipicoten.

After landing, the crew found shelter, then divided into two parties; one party, including the injured men, left for Michipicoten. The five sailors say that they lost their way and returned to the camp. They say that, on their return to the camp, they were refused admission to the shelter and so set out again for Michipicoten, got lost in the woods and wandered for three days. They say that they lost the head off the axe and their lantern, and that their matches became wet and useless. Next day, some Indians found them and rendered services which undoubtedly saved their lives. The names of the unfortunate men are as follows: Alfred Green of London, England; John Keeling of Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England; John Donnelly of Belfast, Ireland; James Thorburn of Glasgow, Scotland; and William MacDonald of Glasgow, Scotland. (He says that MacDonald is not his real name but that it is Niel.) He lost both his hands and feet and later succumbed from shock.

Sault Ste. Marie, Monday, December 17, 1906: (Special Dispatch)

Feeling is running high in this town among the citizens over the horrible fate of the five sailors from the steamer GOLSPIE. A delegation has approached the mayor demanding that he ask Ottawa to make a full and complete investigation of the whole matter.

Wednesday, December 19, 1906:


Mr. Boyce Attacks the Marine Department! Neglect Somewhere!

Mr. Brodeur Explains that a Full and Complete Investigation Will Be Held!

The terrible sufferings of the crew of the steamer GOLSPIE formed a topic of discussion which afforded Mr. Boyce an opportunity to make a somewhat heated attack upon the Department of Marine and Fisheries. Mr. Brodeur, in a temperate speech, assured the House that an investigation had already been ordered and that it would be searching and comprehensive. And, despite the heated attack, there was no proof that the vessel was registered in Canada at all. (Ed. Note: This last comment seems strange indeed!)

Owners Did Not Know!

To The Editor of The Globe: Our attention has been drawn to an article which appeared in your issue of yesterday, and an article which appeared today in the form of an editorial, on the wreck of the steamer GOLSPIE.

No one can deplore more than we do the misfortune which happened to some of the unfortunate sailors who were employed on the steamer. We feel that a government enquiry would be our justification. The first word received by us of the accident to the boat gave us the information that the crew were all safe. This fact you omitted from your telegram published and referred to by you today. The first intimation to us that any of the crew were frostbitten or had been injured in any way was contained in the same telegram that came stating that these men were in hospital. Since then we have done everything in our power to relieve them by telegraphing monies, and furnishing them with medical attendance, etc. The Globe, we consider, are very damaging to us and are not justified in the facts. The Golspie Steamship Company Limited, R.O. and A.B. MacKay, Managers. Hamilton, December 18th, 1906.

Wednesday, December 19th 1906: Report to Parliament.

The wreck of the steamer GOLSPIE came up in a closed session of Parliament today, the main topic being the enquiry into the disaster and the fate of the five crewmen. The enquiry was a closed affair and the results will not be made public.

Hamilton, Thursday, December 27, 1906:

Action Entered Against the Paper by R.O. and A.B. MacKay!

R.O. and A.B. MacKay of Hamilton, owners of the ill-fated GOLSPIE, have made known through their solicitors that they have entered a suit for damages against the owners of The Globe newspaper of Toronto, claiming that the said paper libelled them in its reports of the wreck carried in its paper.

Unfortunately, we are not aware of the results either of the closed investigation into the wreck and its aftermath, or of the litigation involving the MacKays and "The Globe", but it seems certain that the matter would have remained in contention for a considerable period of time. It is regrettable that the poor old GOLSPIE met her end amid such an atmosphere of argument and recrimination.

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Scanner, v. 14, n. 3 (December 1981)

Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Marine News; 1912 Casualty List; Ship of the Month No. 106