In April 1921, the Midland Shipbuilding Company Ltd., completed construction of its Hull No. 9, a canal-sized bulk carrier built to the order of the Glen Transportation Co. Ltd., of Midland. The ship was christened GLENCLOVA and entered service bearing the distinctive livery of the various Playfair ships, a grey hull and a red stack with black smokeband.
GLENCLOVA measured 246 feet in length, 24.5 feet in the beam and 18.5 in depth and her tonnage was listed as 1925 gross and 1092 net. She was powered by triple expansion machinery built in the 1880's by the Frontier Iron Works, Detroit, and rebuilt by the Great Lakes Foundry & Machine Co. The engine had come from the wooden freighter MAJOR, latterly operated by James Playfair and more recently converted to a drydock at Midland. The original port of registry for GLENCLOVA was Midland, Ontario.
The ship became part of the Glen Line Ltd. in a 1923 reorganization of the Playfair fleets and then in 1925 she was sold to the George Hall Coal Co. Ltd. of Montreal in which Playfair also had an interest. In 1926 this fleet was absorbed by Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal and GLENCLOVA was renamed ANTICOSTI. She had not served C.S.L. for long, however, when the Depression began to cut into lake shipping operations. ANTICOSTI was laid up in 1930 in Kingston, along with many other ships of the fleet, and there she remained until 1939.
Fortunately, she had not been sold for scrap as had many of the idle C.S.L. units, and in 1939 she was reconditioned at Kingston and converted from coal to oil fuel. She was returned to service but in May of 1940 was requisitioned for wartime duty on salt water. Her owners chartered her to the British Ministry of War Transport for whom she was operated by William Cory & Son Ltd., London, in the British coastal service. After the close of the war, she was sold to the Compania Maritima Panamena Risacua S.A., a Panamanian concern, and was renamed RISACUA in 1948, operating in the Caribbean area.
In the early 1950's, Capt. George Hindman of Owen Sound was looking for more tonnage for his growing fleet, the Hindman Transportation Co. Ltd., and he knew that a number of canallers had left the lakes during the war and had not returned. He found RISACUA in the Caribbean and returned her to the lakes in 1953, giving her the name GEORGE HINDMAN (II). For the first few years, she had a rather unusual appearance in that she was given a grey hull, purple cabins with silver trim, and a yellow stack with a red "H", Mercifully, this colour scheme did not last long and, after various changes in livery, she settled down with a black hull, white cabins, and a black stack with a red band, white diamond, and black "H", the current standard colours of the fleet.
The ship was repowered in June 1955, receiving a General Motors diesel which had been built in 1942. The new engine, albeit very noisy, did increase her speed greatly. The early 1960's saw the Hindman fleet expanding to larger tonnage and. the steamer BAIRD TEWKSBURY, purchased in 1962 from the Midland Steamship Line, Inc., was renamed GEORGE HINDMAN (III) so that the company's flagship might bear the name of the founder. In order that the change might be made, the old GEORGE was renamed ELIZABETH HINDMAN but she continued on in her duties of taking pulpwood to Detroit and grain to the Bayports.
By the end of the late 1960's, however, the ELIZABETH HINDMAN was nearing the end of her usefulness. She was one of the last of the bulk canallers in operation and was showing the signs of many years of hard work. She was due for survey in 1968 but her certificate was extended long enough for her to finish out the year. She was laid up in Owen Sound and there she remains today, retired from active service but held in reserve should she be needed. Nevertheless, there is little doubt that she will be sold for scrap before too long and, when she is finally towed away from her home port and cut up, the wreckers will put an end to the career of one of the most widely travelled of the little canallers.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.