The Port of Toronto was officially opened for the 1971 season on March 24th when the tanker IMPERIAL WINDSOR arrived with a cargo for the Imperial terminal here. The ship was also the first vessel to leave winter quarters this spring, having cleared port at the beginning of the same week. All told, it was a record-setting winter for the veteran canaller. She had also closed out the 1970 navigation season for Toronto, arriving in port on January 8th, 1971. The first salt water vessel in Toronto was the Fabre Line's CASSARATE which arrived on April 18th after a considerable delay due to the severe ice conditions in the St. Lawrence,
Other "firsts" for the season may be of interest. The first through transit of the Welland Canal was made on April 7th by the Hall tanker CAPE TRANSPORT which had wintered in Hamilton. The Straits of Mackinac saw the first passage on March 26th when J.A.W. IGLEHART. with assistance from the icebreaker MACKINAW, passed into Lake Michigan. The Soo Canal was opened on April 8th by CASON J. CALLAWAY which passed upbound with, as might be expected, PHILIP R. CLARKE and ARTHUR M. ANDERSON close behind. The first salt water vessel to pass up the Seaway was the French ONDINE. Ice conditions, the cause of much difficulty for ships attempting to operate during the winter months, continued to hamper operations during the first few weeks of navigation. The main trouble spots were the St. Mary's River, Whitefish Bay, Georgian Bay and the Eastern end of Lake Erie. Upbound vessels in the Welland Canal became trapped at Port Colborne because of the heavy ice in the lake and it was well into the latter half of April before the U.S. Coast Guard could break into Buffalo. Windrows in the Point Abino area of Lake Erie were estimated to be as much as thirty feet in height. The lakes had to make do with a reduced icebreaking team to handle the situation. The U.S.C.G. was forced to cancel the assignment of the breaker SOUTH WIND as a result of the late Seaway opening and this left MACKINAW as the only major American icebreaker in the area. The Canadian Coast Guard used ALEXANDER HENRY at Thunder Bay and had to rely on N.B. McLEAN to look after Lake Erie and Georgian Bay since GRIFFON, as soon as she could leave the Bay Ports, was reassigned to the Lake St. Francis area of the St. Lawrence to help the little SIMCOE. In an effort to ease the severe problem in eastern Lake Erie, the Canadian ocean breaker NORMAN McLEOD ROGERS was brought up in the latter part of April.
In our last issue, we reported that IMPERIAL VANCOUVER had been removed from Canadian registry. It now appears that she was sold to the Coral Petroleum Co., Bermuda, for operation in the Caribbean by Esso Inter-America, and that she cleared Vancouver for the last time on November 24th, 1970, She will be, or perhaps already has been, renamed ESSO ANDINA. The tanker was a 1938 product of Collingwood Shipyards and first served under the name IMPERIAL (II).
The story of the wandering PECHE ISLAND IV is gradually coming to light. The little ferry was one of four built at Wheatley in 1968 to serve the planned recreational development on Peche Island which is located in Lake St. Clair at the mouth of the Detroit River. The development soon folded and three of the ferries will be used on the Bob-Lo Island route. The fourth was sold in November 1970 to Gotaas-Larsen Inc., and on December 8th was reregistered in Nassau. The same day, she was resold to Transportation Mexicana Yucatan and was reregistered in Mexico. Under the name ZACNICHTE, she now operates out of Progresso on the Yucatan Peninsula while our politicians worry about how to recoup the loss resulting from the subsidy paid for the construction of the vessel!
As reported last year, the Medusa Portland Cement Co., has exercised its option to purchase the Interlake steamer C.H. MCCULLOUGH JR., and the vessel is now owned by the Medusa subsidiary Cement Transit Co. In a surprise move, Medusa has announced that the MCCULLOUGH will operate during 1971 in the general trade and we presume that she will be hauling ore for one of the major companies. Her conversion to a bulk cement carrier will follow later, possibly in 1972.
A recent report indicates that Tinstackers HENRY PHIPPS and WILLIAM P. PALMER are now fitting out. The other three inactive U.S. Steel veterans have had their hulls painted prior to being moved to Duluth's Berwind Dock and we hope that this bodes well for their future, especially for WILLIAM J. FILBERT and GEORGE G. CRAWFORD for which ye Ed. has a particular fondness.
The two carferries being built at Port Weller for the federal government, Hulls 53 and 54, were christened HOLIDAY ISLAND and VACATIONLAND respectively in a double ceremony at the shipyard on April l7th. The vessels have two car decks and a third deck equipped with facilities for 500 passengers. They are double ended and have been fitted with Kort Nozzles which enable the ships to move sideways, a capability well illustrated by HOLIDAY ISLAND when she returned from her trials on April 10th and easily negotiated the sharp turn into the shipyard at the upper end of Lock 1. The ferries have dark green hulls, upperworks painted the colour of lime sherbet, and red stacks with large white maple leaf insignia. They will be operated by Canadian National on the Prince Edward Island service. Needless to say, the appearance of VACATIONLAND does not compare with that of another lake carferry which once carried the same name.
The motorship BULK GOLD, which sailed the lakes for many years as GRAINMOTOR of the Canada Steamship Lines fleet, is now lying at Charleston, South Carolina. Owned by Michael Zapatos of Miami, she cannot be converted to a barge as planned as a result of debts following her.
While fitting out at Port Weller in early April, the tanker LIQUILASSIE suffered serious boiler damage. She was taken to Port Colborne under tow and is now moored on the West Pier where repairs are proceeding.
In our last issue, we reported that the American Steamship Co had placed an order for a self-unloading bulk carrier to be built at Sturgeon Bay by Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company, Inc. It has now been announced that a sister vessel will be constructed at the Toledo yard of the American Shipbuilding Company and that she, too, will be delivered to BoCo for the 1973 season. We understand that this development does not preclude the possibility of BoCo exercising an option on a further self-unloader from Manitowoc.
Members who have been in the area of western Lake Ontario during the last few weeks may have spotted a vessel which appears to be some kind of self-unloading yacht. In reality, it was probably the sandsucker CHARLES DICK. During fit-out at Hamilton this spring, the DICK'S hull was painted a very light gray, almost cream, colour and her pilothouse and forecastle were painted white, a great contrast to the old colour of dark gray. The texas, after cabin and deck gear remain red, and we must admit that the ship looks very handsome in her new livery, CHARLES DICK is, of course, skippered by T.M.H.S. member Capt. John Leonard of St. Catharines.
Further to our report last month that the Kinsman Marine Transit Company was contemplating purchase of the three veteran Republic Steel bulk carriers, we can now confirm that the acquisition of HARRY L. ALLEN and PETER ROBERTSON has been completed. Presumably, both vessels have been found able to pass survey with little work required. There would appear to be some delay in completion of the deal for the third steamer, SILVER BAY, however. The official announcement of the sale stated that both ALLEN and ROBERTSON would keep their old names and this might be interpreted as an indication that Kinsman has obtained part of the Cleveland Cliffs contract to carry Republic ore, since both gentlemen are prominent Republic Steel executives.
We have received confirmation that the Escanaba Towing Co. (Clyde Van Enkevoort) has made arrangements to operate A. E. NETTLETON on bare boat charter from Wilson Marine Transit in 1971. The deal would appear to include an option for 1972 as well. As yet, the NETTLETON remains at Buffalo and there has been no sign of reducing her to a barge. The work had originally been reported to be planned for Port Colborne. NETTLETON will apparently take over on Escanaba Towing's run for Inland Steel while the WILTRANCO will be assigned to the Lake Erie coal trade.
The canal tanker WESTERN SHELL, laid up at Toronto since the close of the 1969 navigation season, was sold recently by Shell Oil to the Big D Line of Marine City, Michigan, the deal being closed on April 1st. The buyer appears to be an affiliate of the Enterprise Oil Co. and the intention is to operate the vessel, possibly under Canadian registry, in the Detroit and St. Clair River oil trade. Although there had been some indecision about whether the veteran would be operated under her own power or used as a barge, she had steam raised and was fitting out at the time of this writing.
The retired Tribal Class destroyer-escort HAIDA, recently taken over by the Ontario Government from Haida Inc., the organization that saved the famous Canadian naval vessel from scrapping several years ago, was towed to her new berth adjacent to the Ontario Place development, to the west of the Toronto Western Gap, on Sunday, April 18th. The ship, until now moored at Pier 6 during the winter months, and at the foot of Bay Street during the summer, will remain open to the public.
Several familiar ships will apparently remain laid up in 1971 unless business improves dramatically. EDWARD S. KENDRICK, of the Wilson fleet, is not scheduled to leave her berth in Buffalo's City Ship Canal (or what now remains of the Canal) and the Hanna steamer GEORGE R. FINK will not start the season. The Cleveland Tankers whaleback tanker METEOR continues to be held in reserve and we understand that JOHN P. REISS and OTTO M. REISS will share the same status in the Boland fleet. This latter item may well prove the first step in the eventual dispersion of the Reiss vessels. The Halco canallers SHIERCLIFFE HALL and STERNECLIFFE HALL, of course, remain in the Toronto Turning Basin, their futures very uncertain. Meantime, C.S.L. has announced that it will try to get through the season without the services of FRENCH RIVER currently at the wall in Hamilton. At the same port, STONEFAX and OREFAX are awaiting decisions on their futures. Upper Lakes Shipping had stated that WIARTON would not be fitted out pending improvements in the grain outlook, but the recent removal of certain pieces of equipment from this ship would tend to indicate that she is not long for this world. Despite boom times for Kinsman Transit, there are no plans to start KINSMAN VOYAGER which only last year received an extensive refit after almost a decade in ordinary. She spent last winter in Buffalo, her hull caressed by the sweet water of the Buffalo River.....
Get out the crying towels again, fellas, another of the real veterans of the lakes has bitten the dust. Almost a decade of service has been given by GROVEDALE (II) since her eleventh hour reprieve from the scrappers late in 1962, but it seems that her boilers have finally given up the ghost. Quite plainly, a vessel of her age and size does not warrant any major expense and so, for the second time in her life, she will soon be sold to Marine Salvage Ltd. for scrapping overseas. GROVEDALE was a product of the American Shipbuilding Co.'s Lorain yard in 1905, and has served successively as JOSEPH G. BUTLER JR. and DONALD B. GILLIES. Her retirement leaves WESTDALE and ELMDALE as the only straight-deck bulk carriers in the Reoch fleet.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.