The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Scanner, v. 14, n. 8 (May 1982)
Scanner (Toronto, ON), May 1982

Bascom, John N., Editor
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Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Marine News
Date of Publication:
May 1982
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Toronto Marine Historical Society
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Friday, October 1st - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Open Slide Night. Members are invited to bring up to twenty slides each to illustrate their summer shipwatching activities.

The Editor's Notebook

Our May Dinner Meeting was a great success and considerable credit is due to Bill Wilson, who arranged for the dinner at the Ship Inn, and to Donald Page, of Kingston, who was our guest speaker. Mr. Page spoke about his involvement with famous Lake Ontario passenger boats, and particularly the great KINGSTON on which he served. His address was most interesting and we thank him for coming to speak to us. We believe that all members and guests who were in attendance enjoyed a very pleasant evening.

This is our belated May issue, which had to be delayed because of the early date chosen for our dinner meeting. We have purposely held it back in order to lessen the time lag between it and the Mid-Summer issue, and thus to enable us to keep more current on items of marine news.

Please note that there will be no formal meetings of T.M.H.S. during the summer months, and that we will next meet on the first Friday in October. We hope that all our members will have a very enjoyable summer, one full of marine activities. We will, no doubt, be seeing many of you in the traditional boatwatching spots around the lakes provided that there are still some ships operating!

In the New Member Department, a hearty welcome goes out to Brad Jolliffe of London, to Ronald LaDue of Hamlin, N.Y., to Kenneth A. Feren of Niagara Falls, to Gary Barda of Caledonia, to Ernest Kadlau of Ancaster, to Wendy Nicol of the Canadian Sault, to David Christensen of Scottville, Michigan, to Robert Graham of Massena, N.Y., to Rolland Kauffman of Toledo, and to the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center at Fremont, Ohio.

Marine News

Although 1982 will undoubtedly go down in the records as a very poor year for lake shipping as a result of adverse economic conditions, it will probably also long be remembered because of the spring "ice wars". Severe problems were encountered not only in Lake Erie, but also in the Straits of Mackinac, the St. Mary's River and Whitefish Bay. The U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers, including the reactivated MACKINAW, were kept extremely busy, and the Canadian Coast Guard brought NORMAN McLEOD ROGERS into the lakes to assist on Lake Erie. As a result of the heavy ice conditions, navigation got off to an extremely late start, for many operators were unwilling to risk damaging their ships by sending them out into the ice. As of the third week in April, few boats were moving anywhere, Buffalo was still solidly frozen in, and many upbounders were anchored in Lake Ontario and moored along the Welland Canal awaiting an improvement in conditions on Lake Erie. NORMAN McLEOD ROGERS did not complete her assignment on Lake Erie until the second week of May.

At least two lakers sustained damage in their battles with the ice. On April 8th, the BoCo self-unloader RICHARD J. REISS punched a 28-inch hole in her bow plating in the ice of the Straits of Mackinac, and was anchored off the northeast tip of Bois Blanc Island while she was ballasted down aft to lift her damaged bow out of the water. She had been en route from Toledo to Charlevoix with a cargo of coal, and was being assisted by MACKINAW, when she encountered an accumulation of windrowed ice. The C.S.L. self-unloader TADOUSSAC also received ice damage whilst she was downbound from Superior for the Algoma Steel Plant at Sault Ste. Marie.

While the remainder of the Branch Lines tankers are sorting out their new names (as previously reported in these pages), it appears that MAPLEBRANCH (II) will not be receiving the new name (L'ERABLE 1) which was intended for her. Unlike her fleetmates, the 24-year-old MAPLEBRANCH is no longer classed for service in ice, and she spent the winter in lay-up at Sorel. We understand that she is still there and is up for sale. It has even been said that a deal with Caribbean purchasers has been concluded, but we have yet to receive confirmation of any such sale. Branch Lines' newest tanker, presently being completed by Davie Shipbuilding at Lauzon, is due for delivery during June, and it is reported that she will be given the name L'ERABLE 1, thus confirming that MAPLEBRANCH is definitely the "odd ship out" of the fleet.

One laker whose sale for Caribbean service has been confirmed is the Paterson motorship PRINDOC (III), which has left the lakes under her new name, (b) HANKY. The new owners who have given the stemwinder this most peculiar name are identified as the Sea Trading Company of St. Lucia in the West Indies. It had earlier been suggested that the Paterson fleet might be intending to sell off more of its small motorvessels, but this does not now seem to be the case. One factor which may have influenced Paterson in its decision not to dispose of boats such as KINGDOC and LABRADOC, is the resecuring by Paterson of the contract for carrying corn to the Canada Starch plant at Cardinal, a contract which recently has been held by Westdale Shipping. As we understand the situation, Westdale is to carry the first few cargoes of the year to Cardinal, but subsequent movements will be handled by Paterson.

In recent issues, we have commented upon developments involving the former British Columbia government ferry SUNSHINE COAST QUEEN, which once served the Straits of Mackinac as (a) VACATIONLAND. It will be recalled that she recently passed to the ownership of Gulf Canada Resources Inc., Calgary, for Arctic supply service. It is now reported that she will be renamed (e) GULF KANAYAK for her new duties.

The St. Lawrence Seaway and Welland Canal had been scheduled to open for 1982 on March 29, but ice and economic conditions delayed things considerably, and no traffic passed through either canal until April 5. the latest opening in the last decade. The U.S. canal at Sault Ste. Marie opened on April 9, and the first freighter through was BENJAMIN F. FAIRLESS, which passed upbound behind U.S.C.G. MACKINAW, which assisted her through the river ice. The canal had opened officially on April 1, but no traffic appeared until the FAIRLESS came on the scene. This was the first time in many years that the Soo Locks had been opened by a U.S.-flag laker. The Canadian lock at the Soo opened on April 23.

Hard times certainly seem to have befallen Westdale Shipping Ltd., for the small Canadian fleet is now operating only two vessels, the motorship LEADALE (II) and the steamer SILVERDALE. Meanwhile, ERINDALE and NORDALE remain in lay-up at Toronto and, on April 29, were moved from their winter berth, on the south side of the channel outside the Cherry Street bridge, to Pier 27 at the foot of Yonge Street. ERINDALE is being held as reserve boat and her bow damage, suffered in an October 6, 1981, collision with the east abutment of the Allanburg bridge, will be repaired if work presents itself for her. NORDALE, however, has been retired as a result of her deteriorated condition, and is for sale. No doubt she will eventually be sold for scrapping. Westdale has backed out of its negotiations to purchase the veteran self-unloader SAGINAW BAY from the American Steamship Company, allegedly because BoCo would not agree to favourable terms. Meanwhile, the deal to acquire HOCHELAGA from Canada Steamship Lines has also fallen through. C.S.L. had HOCHELAGA towed from Cardinal to Kingston on April 24, and there she has been placed in "permanent" lay-up.

Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. is also reeling under the current recession and has left six of its boats laid up at Toronto. GORDON C. LEITCH and WHEAT KING are on the east wall of the Turning Basin, while R. BRUCE ANGUS, SEAWAY QUEEN and FRANK A. SHERMAN are in the Leslie Street slip. The 56-year-old POINTE NOIRE is lying on the south side of the Lake Ontario Cement pier at the west end of Villiers Street. There are no indications as to when or if any of these ships may be fitted out for service.

The newest addition to the fleet of the Algoma Central Railway, the motorvessel ALGOWEST, a straight-decker, was successfully launched at Collingwood on April 28. She is scheduled to enter service sometime during July. Observers at the ceremonies were pleased to note that ALGOWEST has been given a white forecastle. Apparently, the company's policy now is that all straight-deckers will wear white forecastles, while the self-unloaders will retain the blue forecastles which they were given several years ago. The re-introduction by Algoma of the white forecastle will result in a considerable improvement in the appearance of those vessels involved.

Meanwhile, another Algoma ship, the self-unloader ALGOSEA, has undergone a major refit, including the installation of new engines, at St. John Shipbuilding and Drydock Ltd., St. John, New Brunswick, in preparation for her new role in the salt trade. ALGOSEA will be out on long-term charter for this service, and it is unlikely that we will see her in the lakes.

The former lake tanker/barge LIQUILASSIE spent 1981 at Tampa, Florida, in idleness as the aftermath of her encounter with the Gandy Bridge. Her future seemed to be unpromising, but she has now embarked upon new duties. Early this spring, she was towed from Florida en route to Tahiti with a cargo of fertilizer. We have no idea what will be done with her once she is in the South Pacific.

The tug which took LIQUILASSIE to salt water, and which was towing her when she tangled with the bridge, was TUSKER, which subsequently returned to the lakes and spent the 1981 season pushing the barge MCASPHALT 201 around the lower lakes and St. Lawrence River. TUSKER and her barge wintered at Toronto, but were not active until late in May as a result of some rather severe engine problems aboard the tug.

The 71-year-old steam carferry CHIEF WAWATAM went out of service on April 22. She then sailed from the Straits of Mackinac to Sault Ste. Marie, where she laid up alongside the old Carbide dock on April 26. It was originally intended that she be out of service for sixty to ninety days, and that Ste. Marie Yard and Marine would perform the boat's five-year survey and inspection. It was hoped that the Coast Guard could be persuaded to permit her bottom to be inspected by divers, thus saving the cost of drydocking her. Meanwhile, the search is on for methods of financing her further operation, but there has been little if any encouragement forthcoming from the Michigan Transportation Department. The CHIEF's problems involve not only the cost of her own operation, but also that of a connecting rail line in the lower peninsula, whose availability is essential to the continuation of carferry service across the Straits.

After a year of indifferent trailer traffic, the axe has finally fallen on the Oshawa to Oswego ferry service operated by LAKESPAN ONTARIO. Despite announcements of the finding of new cargo markets and plans for bringing a second boat to Lake Ontario this autumn, Lakespan Marine Inc. was forced to suspend service when the provincial government withdrew its funding of the project. Consequently, LAKESPAN ONTARIO laid up at Oshawa on April 23, and there she remains. To encourage further operation, the City of Oshawa offered Lakespan one month of free dockage but, to date, there is no indication that anything can be done to revive the ferry route.

The Ann Arbor carferries on Lake Michigan have also found themselves in a precarious position recently. The Michigan Interstate Railway Company, operator of the Ann Arbor and its ferries, suspended all service on April 6, but the suspension lasted for only twelve hours and service was then resumed. The state had intended that operation of the "Annie" be turned over to the Michigan and Western Railroad Company, a new wholly-owned subsidiary of the Green Bay and Western Railroad Company, but this change has not occurred and litigation has ensued between the two firms. As well, Michigan legislators have complained bitterly about the prospect of a Michigan railway being operated by a Wisconsin company, particularly as the latter had agreed to run with a smaller subsidy than that given to Michigan Interstate. Meetings to try to settle the dispute were scheduled for mid-May.

Meanwhile, the Chessie System ferry operation has been reduced to but one boat. After operating the winter service, CITY OF MIDLAND 41 was withdrawn in favour of BADGER, but the MIDLAND was temporarily back in service again during May. She then was placed in lay-up along with the long-idle SPARTAN. The MIDLAND is due for inspection and survey on June 9, but has been granted a 90-day extension. With BADGER now the only regularly operating Chessie ferry, observers feel that it will not be long before Chessie is permitted to implement the final phase of its infamous "Kewaunee Plan" and take BADGER out of service as well. However, with the State of Michigan still pursuing the construction at Ontonagon of tug/barge combinations designed to replace the Ann Arbor ferries, Chessie has revealed some interest of its own in reentering the Lake Michigan rail ferry service with barges carrying freight cars only and no passengers. The plot thickens...

We have previously mentioned the difficulties in which the Ford Motor Company's lake fleet (now spun off, along with the steel plant, into Rouge Steel Corporation) has found itself as a result of reverses in the automobile market. As yet, there have been no changes in the appearance of the Ford boats, although it is said that Ford insignia will be removed from them. ERNEST R. BREECH and JOHN DYKSTRA, will spend 1982 running grain to Buffalo under a Cleveland-Cliffs charter, while only HENRY FORD II and WILLIAM CLAY FORD will run for their owners. No sale has yet been arranged for the idle BENSON FORD, although several prospective purchasers (including at least one shipbreaker) have taken a look at her. Her name will not be given to the DYKSTRA until the old BENSON FORD has finally been removed from documentation.

One of the first serious casualties of the 1982 shipping season occurred on April 14, when the Upper Lakes Shipping self-unloader CANADIAN PIONEER was the victim of an early-morning grounding in the Amherstburg Channel of the Detroit River. The efforts of four tugs failed to free her, and the Soo River Company steamer E. J. NEWBERRY was called to the scene to lighter part of her grain cargo. CANADIAN PIONEER was finally freed on April 16 and continued her voyage. She was subsequently placed on the drydock at Port Weller for the necessary repairs to her bottom. CANADIAN PIONEER was built at Port Weller and had only been placed in service late in the 1981 season.

Another spring grounding victim was the Halco tanker CHEMICAL TRANSPORT, which found the bottom near Dark Island, in the upper St. Lawrence River, early on the morning of April 17. The accident appears to have occurred as a result of one or more navigation buoys having been out of proper position. The damage to CHEMICAL TRANSPORT caused a minor problem involving the weeping into the river of small quantities of her cargo, a gasoline additive. This material, however, evaporated and dissipated on its own, without the necessity of any major clean-up operation.

Despite the fact that her Christmas Day fire caused damage only to the after accommodation area of HUDSON TRANSPORT, the 20-year-old tanker has been abandoned to the underwriters by Halco for a sum which is said to be in the area of $4,000,000. We understand that HUDSON TRANSPORT was built with tanks which might only be expected to last for about twenty years in the trades in which she has operated, and that her entire midbody would soon have required replacement if she were to continue in service. As yet, we have no word on what will become of HUDSON TRANSPORT.

Meanwhile, it has been said that Halco would like to dispose of its tanker UNGAVA TRANSPORT, (a) VARANGNES (70), (b) TOMMY WIBORG (74), but we do not know whether any prospective purchasers have yet come forward. The motorship was built at Greaker, Norway, in 1959, and was converted to a tanker in 1971.

While on the subject of Halco, we should mention that FRANKCLIFFE HALL made an unusual visit to Toronto, from April 12 through 14, to unload a cargo of soya beans at Victory Mills. As far as we know, she is the largest vessel ever to unload there, and could not have done so except that her unloading equipment was utilized to assist the elevator's own gear. Because of the short slip on which Victory Mills is located, even the turning of a maximum-sized straight-decker would not permit the elevator leg to reach her middle hatches.

Several issues ago, we speculated on the prospects of one or more of the idle C.S.L. package freighters being used on the Newfoundland service of Atlantic Freight Lines, of which C.S.L. holds a 49% interest. We subsequently learned that C.S.L. had proposed the assignment of FORT ST. LOUIS to the route. She was to have been moved to Thunder Bay on April 19 for conversion to a containership, and was to have entered service on June 1 as (b) BELLA-VENTURE II. However, FORT ST. LOUIS did not go to the Lakehead and, by early May, it was apparent that her transfer to A.F.L. was not to be. We understand that C.S.L. has once again put her up for sale. It is interesting to note that, for many years, FORT ST. LOUIS was chartered by C.S.L. to Clarke Steamships, which has since been transformed into Newfoundland Steamships Ltd., which is the major competitor of Atlantic Freight Lines on the Newfoundland route.

Meanwhile, the Ontario government has been attempting to persuade C.S.L. to reactivate its package freight service. The suggestion was that only one of the boats be operated, and that she be placed on a run serving the ports of Ashtabula, Toledo, Windsor, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay. The company expressed interest in the scheme, but plans were cancelled when the provincial authorities refused C.S.L.'s request that a subsidy be provided to cover potential operating losses.

The famous Lime Island fuel dock, which was originally opened in 1912 to provide bunkers for steamers on the lower St. Mary's River, has now been closed and will not operate at all in 1982. Although oil fuel was available at Lime Island until the close of navigation in 1981, the last load of bunker coal out of the dock was loaded aboard ROBERT S. PIERSON on July 24, 1981. Unfortunately, the PIERSON experienced much trouble subsequently as a result of the poor quality of the coal which she took aboard on that trip.

The Metro Marine fleet of Moncton, New Brunswick, which operates the tankers SEAWAY TRADER, METRO STAR and METRO SUN, has now disposed of its original vessel, METRO LANDRY NO. 1. She had been acquired in 1975 by Antonio Landry (who owns "Metro" gas stations in the Maritimes) and, under the ownership of Metro Marine Transport and Terminals Ltd., Moncton, and flying the Bermuda flag, she had operated around the Maritimes and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. METRO LANDRY NO. 1, (a) ROYSTON (44), (b) SEQUATCHIE (48), (c) A.O.G. 21 (48), (d) OTCO BAYWAY (66), (e) ETHEL TIBBETTS (75), was built in 1944 at Galveston, Texas, and was 249.5 x 37.1 x 14.5, 1204 Gross, 826 Net. It will be recalled that she saw service into the lakes during the 1950s as OTCO BAY-WAY, then owned by the Oil Transfer Corporation. METRO LANDRY NO. 1 has been stripped and her hull has been donated to the town of Shediac, N.B., although we have no idea what the town may be intending to do with her.

The stern section of the newest C.S.L. self-unloader, ATLANTIC SUPERIOR, is now at the Thunder Bay shipyard, where it will be joined to the short bow section that was built for her there. The stern piece, some three-quarters of the stemwinder's total length, was built last year at Collingwood and wintered there. It cleared Collingwood on May 5 in tow of the A.B. McLean Ltd. tugs WILFRED M. COHEN and MISEFORD, and passed upbound at Sault Ste. Marie on the morning of May 7. ATLANTIC SUPERIOR was built in two sections in order to free the Collingwood ways for the construction of other hulls.

As previously reported, the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission Manitoulin Island ferry CHI-CHEEMAUN wintered at Collingwood, where she was built back in 1974. Not only did she receive her regular survey and inspection at Collingwood last autumn but, over the winter, she was structurally altered to increase her capacity by about ten percent. The work is said to have cost about $1,000,000. CHI-CHEEMAUN cleared Collingwood on April 5 and went back into regular service between Tobermory and South Baymouth on April 23. She is operated by the Owen Sound Transportation Company Ltd.

The United States Steel Corporation's steamers ARTHUR M. ANDERSON, CASON J. CALLAWAY and PHILIP R. CLARKE are now in service after their self-unloader conversions at Fraser Shipyards. The ships are operating in a very satisfactory manner and it would appear that they will remain in service for the duration of the season despite the adverse business conditions.

Not so lucky, however, will be the Columbia Transportation conversions, MIDDLETOWN and ARMCO, which are still at the BayShip yard at Sturgeon Bay. We do not have a projected completion date for either steamer, but we understand that each, when ready, will make a few shakedown trips and then lay up. RESERVE was due to arrive at BayShip in mid-May for a similar conversion. Columbia has not yet fitted out its big COLUMBIA STAR, although she is scheduled to enter service during the month of June.

The dispersal of the excursion fleet of Sherwood Marine Inc., Toronto, continues. CAYUGA II, purchased from the receivers by Norman Rogers, has been repainted in blue and white colours and is being readied for service. At the time of her purchase by Coastal Corp., it was said that she would be renamed, but no new name has yet appeared. The little NIAGARA has gone back across the lake and will probably be operating on the Niagara River. SHIAWASSIE, a former Toronto ferry and Niagara River excursion boat, which ran charters out of Toronto last year, has been purchased by a local operator who had her taken to Port Credit for a refit. The big steamer CALEDONIA, after wintering in Toronto's Polson Street slip, was moved during April to the inner end of the Leslie Street slip, where she has since been boxed in by idle Upper Lakes Shipping boats. Local rumour has it that CALEDONIA may operate in 1982, but we have no idea who her operator (if any) might be.

Readers will recall the diesel canaller LACHINEDOC (II), which was built in 1956 by the Atlantic Shipbuilding Company at Newport, England, for N. M. Paterson and Sons Ltd. She was a somewhat unusual vessel, rather different in appearance than any other Paterson canaller. She left the lakes in 1975 after being sold to buyers in the United Arab Emirates. As (b) EMERALD, she loaded soya bean mash at Toronto and cleared the lakes en route to Arabian waters via Ireland. Now comes word that EMERALD, owned by Gulf Development Marine Services, U.A.E., sank on November 8, 1980, in the Arabian Gulf. She had last been sighted some 14 miles southeast of Shah Allum Shoal. It is not known how EMERALD came to meet her fate, but her loss confirms what we have always known, that being that a canaller built for lake service has never been a ship properly suited for deep-sea service.

One of the saddest sights on the lakes in recent years has been the wreck of the wooden Newfoundland coaster AVALON VOYAGER, which stranded on the shore of Lake Huron whilst en route from Toronto to Owen Sound for use as a restaurant. Her superstructure had deteriorated considerably as a result of her exposure to the elements, but it had been hoped that her wreck could be used as an underwater dive site. On March 2, 1982, however, the wreck was set afire by vandals and, to further the indignity, scavengers attacked the hull later in March and cut holes in it to remove piping and wiring. With her wheelhouse and main cabin destroyed, and the hull damaged, plans to use AVALON VOYAGER as a site for divers have been abandoned, and the wreck will be left to fall apart on the reef.

An unusual visitor to Toronto on May 20 was the American Steamship Company self-unloader ADAM E. CORNELIUS, which delivered a cargo of salt down the Ship Channel. Although BoCo ships brought much coal to Toronto in years gone by, and have carried the odd salt cargo here in recent years, the CORNELIUS is a definite stranger in these parts. When she departed in the early morning hours of May 21, she backed out through the narrow draw of the Cherry Street bridge and then swung around and cleared by the Eastern Gap. The Upper Lakes steamer JAMES NORRIS did the same thing one week earlier. Usually, boats using the Channel will turn in the Turning Basin on arrival or at departure, for backing through the bridge is a most delicate manoeuvre, to say the least. But, with three sides of the Basin cluttered with laid-up boats, the space for turning a large vessel there is severely limited, and masters seem to be chosing stern-first passages under the bridge as the lesser of the available evils.

J. F. VAUGHAN, the most recent acquisition of the Soo River Company, was towed from Hamilton to Port Weller, for drydocking, on April 22 by the tugs GLENEVIS and LAC MANITOBA. She came off the drydock on May 1 and was upbound in the Welland Canal on her first trip, en route to Duluth, on May 7. She was not fully painted whilst at the shipyard, but at least her name was painted on her bows in a more permanent manner than it had been last fall when she was towed from South Chicago to Hamilton. Several other Soo River steamers, including SOO RIVER TRADER and HOWARD F. ANDREWS, have also carried cement cargoes from Clarkson to Duluth this spring.

Although the rest of the Soo River fleet got off to a relatively early spring start (considering all conditions), JOSEPH X. ROBERT was considerably delayed and did not clear Toronto until the first week of May. Her propellor had to be replaced and difficulties were encountered in getting the old one off while she lay in her winter berth in the Ship Channel. In addition, problems have been encountered with the condenser which was salvaged from the scrapped BROOKDALE (II) and installed in JOSEPH X. ROBERT during the winter months.

Ship of the Month No. 111


During the past few years, those companies operating tankers on the Great Lakes have seen a startling series of changes in their fleets. Not only have more modern tankers replaced many of the old familiar vessels, but changing levels of demand for petroleum and chemical products have resulted in the development of ships designed to carry particular liquid cargoes. The construction of pipelines, together with the implementation of conservation and the development of alternate energy sources have cut back on the amount of crude oil and gasoline carried by tanker. There are many fewer tankers operating on the lakes now than there were just a few short years ago.

One fleet which has been greatly changed by these various developments is that of Imperial Oil Limited, which once operated the largest collection of tankers on the lakes. Although Imperial still runs a number of Canadian-flag ships on the St. Lawrence River and the east coast, most of its lake cargoes are today carried in chartered vessels. Indeed, the Imperial lake fleet now consists of only one company-owned tanker, that being the 34-year-old steamer IMPERIAL SARNIA (II). Even the SARNIA has barely survived several planned retirements, and it is questionable how many more years she will remain under Imperial colours.

The Imperial Oil Company Ltd., as it was then known, was formed as a Canadian subsidiary of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey. It began to carry petroleum products around the lakes about the time of the turn of the century, the first service being comprised of the the big Calvin-built wooden tug REGINALD, and a number of barges which she towed. Imperial's first self-propelled tanker, designed to carry petroleum products in bulk, was the little IMPERIAL (I), which had been built for salt water service in 1898, had been acquired by another Standard Oil affiliate in 1901, and was brought to the lakes in 1902, subsequently being bought outright by Imperial Oil. In addition to being Imperial's first true tanker, she was the first such vessel to be employed on the lakes by any operator, all previous lake "tankers" having been case-oil carriers.

Imperial's second lake tanker was IMPOCO (I), built in 1910, but she enjoyed only a short career on fresh water and was sold off the lakes in 1913. It is the company's third tanker with which we concern ourselves now, and we do so with very good reason. She was rather different in design from the earlier tankers, served Imperial in a number of different functions, and went on to enjoy many more years in an entirely different type of service after she was sold out of the fleet. She carried Imperial colours for many years, and made quite a reputation for herself, although she did not achieve the record of serving longest in the fleet. That record belongs to the barge I.O. LTD. NO. 6, (a) S.O.CO.NO. 4l, (c) GRINDSTONE ISLAND, which served Standard Oil and then Imperial Oil from 1903 until 1969, latterly as a bunkering tanker at Halifax, Nova Scotia. We do not believe that any other Imperial tanker will ever be able to challenge the barge's achievement in longevity.

We have, however, strayed from our story of the third Imperial tanker, so let us now return to it.

She was built in 1912 at Dundee, Scotland, by the Caledon Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Ltd., as its Hull 226. She was 248.2 feet in length, 42.6 feet in the beam, and 15.6 feet in depth, just the right size to fit the small locks of the old Welland and St. Lawrence canals. Her tonnage was officially recorded as 1669 Gross and 1035 Net, and it is interesting to note that she underwent such very little change during her 37 years of service as a tanker, that there were no changes in these tonnages even up until the time that she was retired and sold.

The new Scottish-built tanker was powered by a triple-expansion engine which was manufactured for her by the shipbuilder. It had cylinders of 16, 24 and 41 inches, and a stroke of 36 inches. Steam was provided by one coal-fired Scotch boiler. One might wonder why an oil tanker had a coal-fired boiler, but it must be remembered that, back in 1912, oil had not yet come to be accepted as a fuel for steamboats, and it was not available in the seemingly endless quantities in which coal poured from North American mines. (The vessel was, however, later converted to oil fuel and then back again to coal.)

Registered at Sarnia, Ontario, and enrolled as C. 132745, "the new steamer was christened IOCOMA. At this late date, it is rather difficult to speculate on how she came by her name. Imperial Oil did operate a refinery in the Maritimes which bore the same name, and it is thought that the plant's name was invented to include the company's initials and the location of the refinery, the Maritime Provinces area of eastern Canada. IOCOMA may have been named after the plant or, on the other hand, the 'MA' at the end of her name may have been intended to refer to 'Marine' or some other such designation.

Whereas IMPERIAL (I) and IMPOCO (I) were typical, small, salt-water steamers of the three-island type, with bridge amidships, IOCOMA was clearly designed specially for lake trade. She had her pilothouse on the forecastle, just as did IMPEROYAL (47), (b) IMPERIAL COBOURG (52), (c) STARBELLE, which was built for the company in 1913 at Grangemouth. The company, however, must have found this pilothouse-forward configuration undesirable for its tankers, for IMPEROYAL's bridge was later moved back and subsequent lake steamers constructed for Imperial carried their bridge structures amidships. (The most recent Imperial Oil tankers have all been stemwinders.)

IOCOMA was a handsome steamer. She had a full raised forecastle with a closed rail running back for half its length. The pilothouse, a small steel cabin, had five windows in its front, and sat directly on the forecastle head. The pilothouse was neither square nor rounded, but was flattened across its face and rounded at the two front corners. The master's quarters were located in the texas cabin, which was set on the forecastle directly abaft the wheelhouse. IOCOMA was given flying bridgewings and an open navigation bridge which was located on the monkey's island. The foremast rose from a point immediately abaft the forward cabin.

Her deck was given a pleasing sheer, and was not cluttered with a prominent "trunk", as were the decks of most later tankers. IOCOMA had a very low trunk, on which were mounted assorted valves, connections, etc. Her mainmast was stepped about three-quarters of the way down the deck, not far ahead of the break of her full raised quarterdeck. As was Imperial's custom with its lake tankers for many years, IOCOMA's entire after cabin was enclosed in the raised poop, and no accommodations were located above-decks.

Atop the quarterdeck were located the lifeboats and coal bunker hatches, as well as a number of ventilators for the machinery and cabin spaces. Two particularly large ventilator cowls rose immediately forward and on either side of the funnel. The smokestack itself was rather thin, but extremely noticeable because of its great height. It was topped by a narrow but protruding cowl. Two small chimed whistles, one mounted directly over the other about half-way up the front of the stack, were fed steam from a pipe which ran up the inside of the funnel.

IOCOMA bore her original colours for eight years. Her hull was black and her cabins, trunk, deck equipment, etc., were red. The lifeboats were painted white, as was the dodger which ran around her open bridge and out over the bridgewings. The foremast was buff, while the main was buff with a black top, or smokeband. The stack was black, and carried on it a rather stylish white monogram which was made up of the intertwined letters 'I.O.Co.'. All of the early Imperial Oil tankers carried this same monogram.

The construction of IOCOMA was completed at Dundee during the early summer of 1912, and she was taken around to Glasgow where, on July 18, 1912, her crew was signed on for her maiden voyage across the North Atlantic to New York. Her crew of 22 persons included:

C. Cabot, Master Charles Calligan, A.B.

R. G. James, 1st Mate W. A. Driver, 1st Engineer

V. H. Alcock, 2nd Mate J. Jarvie, 2nd Engineer

G. Reid, Steward S. M. Saybolt, 3rd Engineer

James Mooney, Cook J. Forrest, Greaser

J. Reid, Messroom Steward R. McLeod, Greaser

J. Petrie, A.B. J. Green, Fireman

George Pearson, A.B. A. Kemp, Fireman

Alex Gardiner, Sailor J. Kimmond, Fireman

T. McMahon, A.B. G. Ritchie, Trimmer

Joseph Stevenson, A,B, J. Anderson, Trimmer

IOCOMA set out from Glasgow with this sea crew aboard and, in due course of time, arrived safely at New York. It is to be assumed that she loaded a cargo there on arrival for, on August 11, 1912, she was en route from New York to Mulgrave, Nova Scotia, a port located on Cape Breton's Strait of Canso.

The officers were paid off on August 19, and the crew on August 22, 1912, and it is to be supposed that a Canadian crew then came aboard to bring IOCOMA into the lakes. Little is known of her operation during these early years, but she probably divided her time about equally between the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River trades with, perhaps, occasional trips out to the east coast. IOCOMA must have been a success, for we have been unable to locate any adverse reports concerning her capabilities.

By 1916, IOCOMA had been fitted with a wooden upper pilothouse to enclose the previously open navigation bridge. This seven-windowed cabin, although quite flimsy by today's standards, must have served well the purpose for which it was intended, for it was to last the steamer right up until the time she was scrapped, more than half a century later. The windows immediately either side of the centre wheelhouse window were most unusual, for a second pane was added below the regular window to give those on watch an unobstructed view down toward the forecastle. This feature was incorporated into the upper pilothouses placed on many Imperial tankers in later years, even on those steamers whose bridge structures were set back down the deck, so the officers must have voiced their appreciation for the additional visibility which these lower windows provided.

IOCOMA served on salt water after having been requisitioned for war service in 1916, but she returned to the lakes after the war and operated in her usual trades for another decade. There is reason to suspect that she may have operated on salt water on the east coast of Canada during the years immediately following the war, particularly during the winter months.

One of only a few changes to be made to IOCOMA during her 37 years of Imperial service, came in 1920, when she received new stack colours. Her hull remained black, and her cabins red (except for the pilothouse, which was white), but the 'IOCO' monogram was removed from the funnel. The black stack was then spruced up with two white bands, between which appeared a blue band. These colours were the same as those that all Imperial Oil tankers on the lakes, and even on salt water, would wear until well into the 1960s.

We can locate details of only one accident involving IOCOMA during her entire career with Imperial Oil, and that occurred in May of 1922. Upbound in the Welland Canal, under the command of Capt. T. A. McMann, she came into collision with the downbound steamer TREVISA, which was owned by the Export Steamship Company Ltd., Montreal, and commanded by Capt. P. D. Mahoney. The Dominion Wreck Commissioner's report indicated that IOCOMA had sustained only minimal damage, estimated at $300, but that TREVISA had been wounded to the extent that some $10,000 in repairs were required.

Capt. L. A. Demers convened a court of enquiry at Montreal on June 5, 1922, with the assistance of Capts. C. Lapierre and A. Lefebvre as nautical assessors. The court found that IOCOMA was responsible for the collision, but stated that the accident had occurred in such a manner that no responsibility could be attached to the master or officers of either steamer. Unfortunately, the brief description of the proceedings, which was contained in the Annual Report of the Department of Marine and Fisheries for the year 1922-23, gave no further detail of how the accident occurred. In fact, we do not even know the exact date of the occurrence, for the Wreck Commissioner's report variously describes the accident as having occurred on May 4, May 8 and May 14! Something seems to have been lost in the preparation of the report...

In 1928, IOCOMA was sent to Talara, Peru, for service in the Peruvian coastal trade which was operated by the International Petroleum Company Ltd., a subsidiary of Imperial Oil. Several Imperial tankers were involved in this trade over the years and, in fact, a tanker built in 1917 at Collingwood, TALARALITE (47), (b) IMPERIAL MIDLAND (53), (c) WILLOWDALE, was named after the port of Talara and spent much of her life in the South American service. In any event, IOCOMA went to Peru and was refitted for the combined carriage of case oil and bulk oil. Whatever it was that was done to her at that time, it did not alter either her Gross or Net Tonnage.

IOCOMA, spent a number of years in the Peruvian service, but emerged none the worse for the experience and returned to the lakes during the 1930s. She spent most of her time serving as a bunkering tanker at Montreal but, with the onset of World War Two, she was transferred to Halifax for the purpose of bunkering the many transatlantic convoys that were assembled there. This job kept her extremely busy, for a great many vessels came to Halifax to join the forming convoys, and IOCOMA was required to be available on a 24-hour-a-day basis. Her crew kept a constant watch for ships that showed a signal of three vertical white lights, which meant that they were in need of fuel oil. IOCOMA was even called upon to bunker such great ships as QUEEN MARY, and she could keep IOCOMA busy all by herself, for the QUEEN could swallow up so much bunker oil that three trips of the little tanker were required to fill up her tanks.

IOCOMA finally returned to the Great Lakes in 1947 and, that year, was given a new name. All of the Imperial tankers were renamed in 1947, it having been decided that each ship would carry the word 'Imperial' in her name, along with the name of some port or city served by her. Accordingly, IOCOMA became (b) IMPERIAL WHITBY, named for the town of Whitby, a small port located on the north shore of Lake Ontario, east of Toronto and just west of Oshawa.

IMPERIAL WHITBY ran on the lakes for three seasons after her return from Halifax, but she was looking tired, as she had every right to do after the way she had been used, especially during the war years. Her texas cabin looked rather peculiar at this stage, for its windows had been sealed up with the welding of a large steel plate around the complete front of the house, presumably to protect against damage on salt water. The big sunvisor had been removed from the upper pilothouse, and she had run for a period with no visor at all, although a small one (which covered only the three centre windows) was added after she returned to lake service. And if her upperworks looked a bit scruffy, her hull looked very well used indeed, for her plates were banged and dented and many of her ribs could be seen.

IMPERIAL WHITBY was finally retired by Imperial Oil Ltd. in 1949, and she was sold to a syndicate which was headed by George S. Cleet of Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd. She lay idle at Port Weller until 1951, when she was again sold, this time to Bayswater Shipping Ltd., Brockville. This small operator of self-unloading canallers had been formed in 1946 by George McKinnon Davidson, who previously had been office manager for Coal Carriers Ltd., also of Brockville. The first Bayswater vessel had been the veteran self-unloader BAYANNA, (a) ARAGON (46), whose story was featured as our Ship of the Month No. 102 in the issue of May, 1981.

Bayswater had IMPERIAL WHITBY taken to the shipyard of Canadian Vickers Ltd. at Montreal in 1951, and there she was converted to a self-unloading bulk carrier. During the course of the conversion, her spar deck was raised so that it was flush with both the forecastle and the quarterdeck. Her anchors, which previously had been carried down near her loaded waterline, were raised to a point just below the forecastle rail. Her forward cabins were left exactly as they had been when she was a tanker, except that three small portholes were cut into the front of the texas. The old foremast was removed and replaced by a very light "stick" which grew out of the square top of the A-frame of the unloader. The mainmast was relocated aft of the stack. The funnel itself was cut down considerably in height, and it was surrounded by a modern shell, roughly egg-shaped in cross-section, with its original chimed whistles mounted on its front and a series of ventilation slits cut in its backside near the top.

The steamer was, of course, remeasured before she entered service for her new owner. Her dimensions, particularly her depth and tonnage, had been considerably altered by the reconstruction. Her length remained the same at 248.2 feet and her beam at 42.6 feet, but her depth was now shown as 23.1 feet. Her tonnage was registered as 2174 Gross and 1549 Net.

Before she re-entered service late in 1951, the steamer was renamed (c) GEORGE S. CLEET. She was all painted up in Bayswater's colours, and looked quite smart, even considering her age. Her hull was black, while the forecastle rail, which had been extended back to the forward deck winches, was white. The cabins were white, while the stack colours were almost the reverse of what they had been during her Imperial Oil years. Her stack was black, while the two bands which formerly were white became blue, and the blue band between them became white.

The black hull colour, however, lasted only for the autumn of 1951. In 1952, GEORGE S. CLEET appeared with a light blue hull, and this was the colour that she would wear for the rest of her days. The remainder of her livery was unchanged. In April of 1953, the CLEET was reboilered with a single-end Scotch boiler which had been made in 1941. The identity of its builder is not known, but we assume that it came from a war-built hull, probably a warship.

In 1961, GEORGE S. CLEET was renamed (d) BAYGEORGE, in line with the company custom of giving all of its vessels names beginning with the prefix 'Bay', in honour of the Bay of Quinte, on which the boats frequently operated. Although they were seen all over the lower lakes, the Bayswater self-unloaders carried large quantities of cement clinker from the Picton plant of the Canada Cement Company Ltd. to Montreal. In the case of BAYGEORGE, the suffix of her name had nothing to do with Mr. Cleet, for whom she had previously been named, but rather it honoured George McKinnon Davidson, the founder of the Bayswater fleet.

That same year, 1961, BAYGEORGE was taken in hand by the shipyard at Kingston for a bit of modernization. Her handsome old counter stern was cut off and, in its place, there was constructed a rather ugly cruiser stern. We have absolutely no idea why this change was performed, and we rather wish that it had never been done, for the cruiser stern certainly did not fit the various architectural styles that were evident throughout the rest of the boat. Nevertheless, her original graceful lines had been totally destroyed when the spar deck was lifted back in 1951, so we suppose that little harm was done by fitting this new stern. The rebuilding caused her registered tonnage to be altered to 2184 Gross and 1365 Net.

BAYGEORGE was already the largest of the four Bayswater self-unloaders, but she was sent to the shipyard at Kingston in 1965 for an additional lengthening. This alteration did not require a major rebuilding of her holds or her unloading machinery, for she was a self-unloader of the scraper type, and hence did not have a complicated system of tunnels, gates and conveyors below decks. To match her increased length, BAYGEORGE was given a new 175-foot unloading boom at this time. Her old boom was transferred over to BAYFAIR, (a) COALHAVEN (62), which had, until then, been operating with the same rather primitive unloading boom which had been fitted aboard her when she was built at Haverton-Hill-on-Tees back in 1928.

The addition of BAYGEORGE's newly-constructed midbody increased her tonnage to 3172 Gross and 2351 Net. The reconstruction increased her length by 76.5 feet but, strangely enough, although the American Bureau of Shipping reported her revised tonnages, it never showed her increased length, leaving a blank space in its register instead. It was almost as if the Bureau had some idea that BAYGEORGE would not last long enough to make it worthwhile to record her new dimensions. In fact, this very nearly proved to be the case.

George Davidson, the founder of Bayswater Shipping Ltd., passed away in 1964, and the line went into receivership after his death. Financing for the modernization of the fleet, including the lengthening of BAYGEORGE, was obtained via the Industrial Development Bank of Ottawa. Nevertheless, despite the fact that appearances were kept up, and the two surviving operative vessels were kept well painted (BAYGEORGE and BAYFAIR even had the words 'Bayswater Shipping' applied to their sides in large white letters), the company's earnings could not meet its obligations. During 1967, Bayswater had even been working on the purchase of the venerable upper lake self-unloader DOLOMITE, (a) EMPIRE CITY (29), (b) SUMATRA (62), and she operated to Bayswater's account throughout the year, but the company's financial position was such that the purchase was never completed.

Bayswater Shipping somehow managed to complete the 1967 navigation season and then went into voluntary liquidation. BAYGEORGE was seized by the Industrial Development Bank on the strength of a mortgage relating to the 1965 rebuilding. In 1968, she was sold to a concern known as Transworld Shipping Ltd., of Montreal, but she never again operated.

In 1969, both BAYFAIR and BAYGEORGE was purchased by the United Metal and Refining Company Ltd., and they were towed to that company's shipbreaking yard at Strathearne Terminals in the far east end of Hamilton Harbour. BAYFAIR was broken up in 1969, but BAYGEORGE lingered on a while longer. She was gradually stripped of any valuable equipment, and her cabins were burned out to get rid of worthless woodwork. The flames completely devoured the wooden upper pilothouse which had been added only a few years after she had made her original appearance in the lakes, and only her texas and the original lower pilothouse, completely gutted, remained atop the forecastle. BAYGEORGE was finally put out of her misery when her last remains were broken up during 1971.

And so ended the career of a famous steamer, one which had worked harder during her lifetime than most canallers were ever required to do. Not only had she been treated to an additional and totally unexpected lease on life when she was converted from a tanker to a self-unloading bulk carrier at the age of 39 years, but she had the dubious distinction of being lengthened only two years prior to her retirement. She was hardly a handsome vessel in her final years of service, but she was certainly functional and still displayed a few vestiges of her earlier days.

(Editor's Note: The details of IOCOMA's first voyage and her World War Two service come, with our appreciation, from Esso Mariners: A History of Imperial Oil's Fleet Operations 1899-1980. which was published by Imperial Oil Ltd. in 1980.)

Additional Marine News

Considerable litigation has resulted from the December 24, 1979, sinking of the Huron Cement steamer E. M. FORD at Milwaukee. The Amoco Oil Company has taken action against National Gypsum, alleging that the sunken FORD blocked access by the now-retired tanker AMOCO ILLINOIS to the Jones Island oil terminal and thus increased the cost of unloading the steamer. National Gypsum has sued the City of Milwaukee, charging that the municipality was negligent in assigning the FORD to a winter lay-up berth on the exposed side of Jones Island, where she lay at the mercy of the high winds and heavy seas which caused her to break her moorings and pound against the wharf. E. M. FORD, now 84 years old, was later repaired and returned to service, a development which brought joy to all lake historians and observers.

By mid-April, the entire superstructure of NORMAC, the former Captain John's Harbour Boat Restaurant, had been removed from the vessel. Her hull still lies on the bottom of Toronto's Yonge Street slip and the only evidence of her whereabouts is the buoys which mark the location of the wreck. NORMAC's owner, John Letnik, has concluded his legal action against the Aetna Insurance Company, but is still involved in litigation with the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto (owner of the sidewheel ferry TRILLIUM), and with the Toronto Harbour Commission. The latter suit alleges that the T.H.C. was negligent in allowing NORMAC to be moored where TRILLIUM could strike her! (We understand that Metro is considering building a new city dock for TRILLIUM to prevent a recurrence of the type of accident that damaged NORMAC on June 2, 1981.)

The Gaelic Tug Boat Company, Detroit, has purchased salt water tugs from Texas owners, and they will be renamed and used for harbour work. The first is PROPELLER (U.S.257991), 81.7 x 25.0 x 11.0, 146 Gross, 39 Net, which was built in 1949 by Alexander Shipyard Inc., New Orleans. She was owned in 1971 by Suderman and Young Towing Company Inc., Galveston. The second tug is JENNIFER GEORGE (U.S.263869), 81.7 x 25.0 x 10.9, 149 Gross, 63 Net, which was built in 1952 at New Orleans. The last owner we show for her (1971) was the Bay-Houston Towing Company, Galveston.

The Great Lakes Towing Company, Cleveland, has changed the traditional names and colours of some of its lake tugs, transferring them to its subsidiary, the Admiral Tug and Barge Line. Now painted bright blue with stars on their stacks, they are renamed in honour of World War II Pacific battles. MAINE is now SAIPAN, MARYLAND is TARAWA, AMERICA is MIDWAY, and SOUTH CAROLINA is rechristened TULAGI.

The motorship NONIA, 1173 Gross Tons, which was built in 1956 at Aberdeen, Scotland, and which ran on the east coast of Canada for many years, was arrested at Montreal last year, after an alleged sale to a Toronto owner. She wintered at Montreal. The marshal to the court called for tenders on the vessel, with all bids to be submitted by May 31st.

The Hudson's Bay Company is back in the shipping business. It has purchased HUDSON VENTURE, (a) GONDUL (71), (b) SILVA (80), and has renamed her (d) CANGUK, an Inuit word meaning "wild goose". Jules Jourdain, president of her former owner, Jourdain Navigation Ltd., Montreal, has joined the H.B.Co. as its marine manager to operate CANGUK.

DUC D'ORLEANS is a 194-passenger excursion boat operating out of Sarnia and owned by 453939 Ontario Ltd., Corunna. Her actual owner, Ken Bracewell, asked the St. Clair Parkway Commission to waive the $3,000 dockage fee at Alexander Mackenzie Park pending a decline in high interest rates which have reduced her profitability. On March 17, his request was denied, but the Commission agreed to accept instalment payments. DUC D'ORLEANS will expand her operations in 1982 to take trips from Windsor, Chatham and Wallaceburg. Her treatment by the Parkway Commission is reminiscent of the way Sarnia city fathers drove BLUE WATER BELLE out of town by refusing her suitable dockage.

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Scanner, v. 14, n. 8 (May 1982)

Meetings; The Editor's Notebook; Marine News