Over the last few issues, we have mentioned the fact that the Hindman Transportation Company of Owen Sound was looking for another ship. We had known that Hindman was negotiating for the purchase of Hanna's bulk carrier GEORGE R. FINK and it seems that the deal for this steamer had reached fairly advanced stages when, towards the end of March, it became known that Canada Steamship Lines were looking for a buyer for their 1950-built, 623-foot, Unaflow-powered bulk carrier COVERDALE. Hindman immediately dropped the deal for the hand-fired coal-burning FINK and bought the COVERDALE, taking delivery of the ship on April 16, 1973, while she was en route to Hamilton with a cargo of St. Lawrence ore for Stelco. COVERDALE has since been renamed GEORGE HINDMAN (IV) in honour of the founder of the fleet. This purchase will not only give Hindman a far superior vessel than the one they had originally sought to purchase, but will avoid the cost of registering a foreign-built ship.
A change of colours has meant that phptographers will have to chase all the Huron Cement boats in 1973. The vessels of the fleet, while keeping the ugly cream hulls which succeeded the former handsome dark green in 1966, have lost the "cement bag" insignia on the bow together with the name of the National Gypsum Company. The lower case letter "h" now appears on the forecastle in green and the words "Huron Cement" are seen down the sides of the ships in green instead of red, the letters being shaded in black. While all Huron vessels operated in the early spring, many are now laid up as a result of labour troubles at the company's Alpena plant. In addition, rumours persist to the effect that this will be the last year for J. B. FORD and E. M. FORD.
The Algonquin Corporation's steam canal tanker CARDINAL is now in service and is already a frequent visitor to Toronto. She still carries the Imperial black hull and red cabins, but the blue band on her funnel has been painted white to produce a very wide white band on the otherwise black funnel, an easy adaptation of IOCO colours.
The Interlake Steamship Company's bulk carrier JOHN SHERWIN passed down the Soo locks on April 19th on her first trip after being lengthened at Fraser Shipyards in Superior, Wisconsin. We understand that she looks every bit as good as CHARLES M. BEEGHLY which got the treatment over the winter of 1971-72.
The familiar "red tomatoes" of the lakes, CHARLES M. WHTIE, THOMAS F. PATTON and TOM M. GIRDLER, so called because of their large funnels painted in the colours of the Republic Steel Company, have appeared this year in the colours of their new operators, the Cleveland Cliffs Steamship Company. We hear that their appearance is much improved. The vessels were managed last year by Cliffs after the latter company won the Republic ore contract from the now-defunct Wilson Marine Transit Company, but they remained in Republic colours during 1972. We hope that Cliffs will not remove the splendid chime whistle installed several years ago on the PATTON after the demise of the whistle's former owner, the steamer J. E. UPSON.
In our April issue, we neglected to mention the launch on Saturday, March 10th, at the Bay Shipbuilding Corp., Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, of the self-unloading bulk carrier CHARLES L. WILSON. The vessel, building for the American Steamship Company (Boland & Cornelius), was launched with no ceremony as the official christening is to be held on completion of the ship, hopefully this Autumn.
Speaking of American Steamship, we learn that agreement in principle has been reached in the negotiations for the purchase of American by the General American Transportation Company of Chicago. The fleet is presently owned by the Oswego Shipping Company of New York. Sale price is said to be $53.1 million.
It was announced on April 9, 1973, that the carferry SUGAR ISLANDER has been sold by the Wellington Transportation Company to Poirier Marine Inc., officers of the latter firm being currently involved in a large development on the Soo's Sugar Island which is served by the ferry. Society members need not fear, however, that Jim and John Wellington, genial operators of the ferry, will disappear from the scene. They will remain to operate the vessel under its new ownership and as such will be able to concentrate their efforts on the running of the ferry rather than on the constant and continuous disputes with the "concerned citizens" of Sugar Island who, it seems, are forever on the warpath over fares, schedules, or both. The sale of the ship must be approved by the Chippewa County Board of Commissioners and by the U.S. Corps of Engineers, both of which bodies were closely involved in the operation.
The veteran Muskoka Lakes passenger steamer SEGWUN may yet ply again the waters of the lakes she served so long. SEGWUN, an iron hulled ship dating back to 1887, last operated in 1958 and has since lain at Gravenhust, most recently as a floating marine museum. She is the last of the Muskoka steamboats which were once so numerous. The mighty deed of restoring the ship has been undertaken by the Ontario Roadbuilders Association, a group of highway contractors who, it seems, have been troubled by an attack of conscience, since their efforts in building roadways have been primarily responsible for the decline and, in fact, disappearance, of the major North American inland water passenger steamers. A fund-raising campaign amongst the Association's members is expected to raise sufficient funds for the project.
Another steamboat restoration project has also gotten underway, this one right here in Toronto. In April's issue, we commented on the hopes that the veteran sidewheel ferry TRILLIUM would some day sail the waters of Toronto Bay as she did for forty-six years before her retirement in 1956. The project is well underway since the powers that be in the Metropolitan council have approved the expenditure of $1500 for an examination of the vessel. Under the direction of the Toronto Historical Board, a surveyor has been retained and, judging by his enthusiasm for the job, it is obvious that the old girl will get a good going over. At the present time, it is estimated that the cost of stripping off the old upperworks and restoring the vessel to her 1910 condition, as well as refitting her machinery, will approximate half a million dollars. Municipal representatives seem keen on the project and it is hoped that they will eventually approve the expenditure.
Thanks to the digging of Skip Gilham, we have managed to learn a bit more about the incident at Goderich harbour on the weekend of March 17-18. It seems that, as usual, a number of vessels wintering at the port (including some of the units of the storage fleet) were tied up bow on to the wall near the salt works. The gale winds screaming in off Lake Huron tore loose almost all of the ships and they were swept towards the inner end of the small harbour, piling up against PATERSON which had remained secure. The PATERSON sustained considerable damage to her stern, the majority of it being inflicted by the Paterson motorship MONDOC. Among the ships swinging free was AGAWA CANYON. Eventually the mess was cleaned up and the shipss returned to their berths. Shades of Buffalo Creek and the MacGILVRAY SHIRAS!
Speaking of the Goderich storage fleet, we understand that the Goderich Elevator and Transit Company is considering disposing of several of its units, namely the former Paterson barges, for scrapping. We have heard that they may be looking at ELMDALE as a replacement.
The Hall Corporation's tanker CABATERN has made her first appearance in the lakes this spring dressed in full Halco livery and carrying the name BAFFIN TRANSPORT on her bows. Her appearance is much improved.
Speaking of Halco, we understand that the fleet has now sold for scrap the motor tanker INLAND TRANSPORT and the bulk canal steamers SHIERCLIFFE HALL and STERNECLIFFE HALL. The former vessel wintered at Sarnia after her grounding incident in the North Channel last November 4th, an incident which, although minor in itself, led to serious repercussions due to a nasty oil spillage allegedly caused by the deteriorated condition of her plating. The two steamers have been idle in Toronto's turning basin now for a number of years and are beginning to look rather sad. In recent weeks they have been stripped by Ship Repair & Supply Ltd. of their navigational equipment. It is believed that the three ships will be taken across the Atlantic in one tow and, if this materializes, it will be the first triple tow of old lakers bound for European scrapyards. Your Editor would not bet on their chances of making it across ....
A continuing labour dispute and accompanying violence has forced the Davie Shipbuilding Ltd. yard to close down for "an indefinite period". Accusations have been flying from both sides of the dispute and so far there is no indication of an early settlement. It is reported that the closure has caught one of the maximum-sized Canada Steamship lines bulk carriers in the drydock and it is quite obvious that C.S.L. is not exactly pleased with the prospect of one of its larger carriers being stuck in the drydock for the summer. The trapped ship is believed to be BAIE ST. PAUL.
The bow section of SIDNEY E. SMITH JR. was placed off the Sarnia waterfront on May 1st, 1973, where she will form part of a breakwater for a landfill project. And so the story of the SMITH escapade now draws to a close, the only aspect of the accident still remaining unfinished being the upcoming hearing into the collision. For those who may be interested the Master of the SMITH at the time of the accident, Capt. A. Kristensen is sailing JACK WIRT of the Erie Sand fleet this year, while Capt. Clyde Davis of the PARKER EVANS has moved over into RUTH HINDMAN for 1973.
While Collingwood Shipyards Ltd. goes ahead with its contract to build the new ferry for the Tobermory-South Bay Mouth service, arguments are still raging over the suitability of the design of the new vessel and over the selection of the site for the new dock which some observers feel will ruin the character of Tobermory harbour. Fans who want to enjoy the crossing on the old ferries, NORGOMA and NORISLE, had better get moving as time for the pair is running short. It appears that NORISLE will be retained as standby ferry for the crossing due to her ability to carry campers and trucks. There are, however, rumours circulating to the effect that NORGOMA may go back into the cruise service. If so, it will have to be somewhere other than up the North Channel to the Soo, since that route is now blocked by a new low-level bridge at Richard's Landing.
On April 27th, Toronto Harbour temporarily lost a landmark. The lighthouse at the end of the east pier of Toronto's Eastern Gap was removed by the Harbour Commission's floating derrick and taken to the Cherry Street container terminal where it will be stored until completion of the planned offshore aquatic park to be situated at the end of Leslie Street headland. The familiar lighthouse, with its mournful foghorn, had guarded the Eastern entrance since 1895 but had to be removed due to the planned realignment of the east pier to fit the reconstruction of the Eastern Gap as the new main harbour entrance. Also removed was the small lighthouse marking the inner end of the same pier. Both will be restored as historical landmarks once the new gap and protective headland are completed.
May 22 was a bad day for the Welland Canal as two of its bridges were put out of commission, both, oddly enough, through collision with German vessels. At 6:42 a.m. Bridge 19, the bascule road bridge over Lock 8 at Humberstone was struck by the HELENE ROTH. Damage was not too severe and the bridge was put back into road service on May 26. However, just before noon on the 22nd, BUNTENSTEIN struck the much-battered Bridge 1 at Port Weller and damaged it to such an extent that it was still out of operation at the time of this writing, pedestrians being directed over the upper lock, gate and cars being sent south to cross at the Carleton Street bridge over Lock 2.
It seems that American Shipbuilding is in the midst of discussions aimed at disposing of its wholly-owned subsidiary, the Great Lakes Towing Company. We have no indication of the identity of the prospective buyers. No formal complaint had been lodged against AmShip for its purchase of Great Lakes Towing several years ago, so we can only assume that AmShip was talked into the sale by the U.S. Government, which has taken a dim view of the company's numerous moves for expansion.
The units of the fleet of the Escanaba Towing Company are gradually being sold subsequent to the cessation of operations by the problem-plagued firm. As readers will recall, the barges WILTRANCO and A. E. NETTLETON were involved in a series of bizarre and costly accidents during 1972 and it is no wonder that Escanaba has gone put of business. At a U.S. Marshal's sale at Escanaba on May 17, the tug OLIVE L. MOORE was sold to the First National Bank of Escanaba for $32,000 while the WILTRANCO went to the Industrial Fuel and Asphalt Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan, for $61,000. The NETTLETON was never owned by Escanaba, rather being chartered from the Wilson Marine Transit Company. She has since passed by sale to the Kinsman Marine Transit Company and it was obvious that Steinbrenner would never agree to the same charter. It is expected that she will be scrapped shortly and we assume that WILTRANCO will also wind up in scrappers' hands eventually.
The Ann Arbor railroad, surprisingly, was recently involved in a news item which had nothing to do with the abandonment of carferry operations! It seems that on April 30 the Ann Arbor's VIKING arrived at Sturgeon Bay for drydocking. The Grand Trunk's idle GRAND RAPIDS was chartered as a replacement but she damaged a crankshaft and made the trip to Chicago on one engine. The Ann Arbor then hauled VIKING back out of the shipyard on May 2 without her repair work being completed. She is scheduled to return later for her drydocking.
It seems that the Chesapeake & Ohio has once again mentioned plans to cut the steam powered river carferry PERE MARQUETTE 10 down to a carfloat a la ST. CLAIR etc. Similar plans were mentioned several years ago but were apparently shelved so that at the present time, the number 10 is the last steam-powered river carferry on the Great Lakes. The vessel, built in 1945, is not the most handsome thing afloat being a typical hump-backed railferry with pilothouse atop a tower, but she does make an interesting sight as she shuttles back and forth across the St. Clair River between Sarnia and Port Huron belching forth great clouds of black smoke. For those who might wish to photograph the ship while she is still operating under her own steam, we would advise that she is totally inaccessible while at the Sarnia dock. However, her Port Huron dock is easily accessible and a good photo may be obtained right from the foot of Griswold Street as she prepares to enter the dock on the U.S. side. We might warn you, however, that her sailing schedule is somewhat erratic and you should be prepared to wait some considerable length of time to get a picture.
The Canadian Coast Guard tug GLENADA is currently lying at Sarnia having been purchased by Sandrin Bros., who formerly kept A-BURG there under charter. GLENADA, a 73-footer built in 1943, is currently being "blistered" on both sides, so apparently she was not quite wide enough to suit her new owners.
As part of the Kingston Tercentenary celebrations this summer, the Kingston Whig-Standard, the local newspaper, has organised a steamboat race to be held on Navy Bay July 6 through 8. Numerous steam-powered launches, of which there has been considerable revival on Ontario waters during the last few years, are expected to participate. Your Editor received an Entry Form in the mail, and only wishes that he had a suitable boat to enter in the race. Anybody got a steam tug they don't want?
The Upper Lakes Shipping bulk carrier THORNHILL suffered some bad luck at the start of the season. On her first trip to the Canadian Lakehead, she grounded in the Kaministiquia River on April 4 and, in trying to pull herself off the sandbar, she burnt out a bearing in her main engine. She was taken to Port Arthur Shipyards for repairs and started out on her downbound voyage twice, only to have to return each time for further work. She finally got away on May 1st.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.