The 1970 shipping season at Toronto began officially on April 4th with the arrival of the tanker, IMPERIAL WINDSOR, from Sarnia, Four days later, the first salty of the year the tanker, STOLT NORNESS, entered port. The early movement of ships up the St. Lawrence was severely restricted by heavy ice conditions, and this prevented the usual rush of foreign vessels up the Seaway.
Elsewhere, ice has choked shipping in the Whitefish Bay area where a number of Upper Lakers were caught fast on their first upbound passages. The ice problem was also severe in the Buffalo area where Lake Erie ice had piled up in great windrows. The Cliffs freighters PONTIAC, FRONTENAC and CADILLAC were trapped in the harbour and had to be broken out by the icebreaker WESTWIND which had been brought up from the coast.
The two Shell tankers wintering in Toronto underwent name changes this spring and one of them was a surprise to most observers. The WHITE ROSE is now sailing as the FUEL MARKETER (II), as expected, but it had been presumed that FUEL MARKETER (I) would become RIVERSHELL (III). Instead, the veteran canaller was renamed WESTERN SHELL, In addition, W. HAROLD REA is now sailing as EASTERN SHELL (II).
Name changes have also been in evidence in the American lake fleet. The self-unloader, CLEMENS A. REISS, and the straight-decker, REISS BROTHERS, purchased last year from the Reiss Steamship Co, by the American Steamship Co. of Buffalo, have been renamed JACK WIRT and GEORGE D. GOBLE respectively. Presumably there will be further renames among the former Reiss ships as time passes.
At Humberstone, the scrapping of the self-unloading barge MAIDA is progressing rapidly and at Hamilton the wreckers have almost disposed of the remains of the carferry GRAND HAVEN. Work has begun on the demolition of the ROBERT J. PAISLEY as well.
It has been confirmed that the tug TIFFIN (a) ASHTABULA, taken to Hamilton last year for use in pushing Shell's bunkering barge, has been renamed JENNY T. for the service. She is painted in Shell's usual livery,
The carferry PERE MARQUETTE 12, now has the name ST. CLAIR painted on her bows almost a year after it became known that the change was coming. This would appear to be the first concrete step in the entry of the C.N.R. into the Sarnia-Port Huron ferry route. Construction of the new docks on either side of the river has not begun as yet.
It is reported that the remains of ASSINIBOIA were raised from the Delaware River around the beginning of the year. We understand that the burned-out hull has been sold to local scrappers. It is regrettable that this steamer could not have been preserved in a Canadian port, however, we take solace in the fact that KEEWATIN is still alive and well at Douglas (Saugatuck), Michigan.
The coming year is shaping up as a much better one for Canadian vessel operators than 1969. Grain bookings are up over last year and it would appear that very few ships will remain idle. As an example, we understand that Algoma will operate their steamer MICHIPICOTEN which spent the entire 1969 season and much of 1968 laid up.
Of interest to some of our deep-sea fans will be the reported sale of the American passenger liners CONSTITUTION (1951) and PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT (l944) to Chandris Lines. The transactions are, of course, subject to the approval of the U. S. Maritime Administration. The former owners of the two ships were, respectively, American Export-Isbrandtsen Lines and American President Lines.
The tanker ARCTIC TRADER has now returned to salt water. Built at Collingwood as the TYEE SHELL, she had served for a number of years in Shell's West Coast service but returned to Collingwood last fall to be enlarged. A whole new forward end was built for her, and the old TYEE SHELL bow section still lies at Collingwood Shipyards. The "new" ship re-entered service last fall under the name ARCTIC TRADER and spent the winter at Sarnia, Now she has left the lakes to take up duty on the East Coast of Canada.
Another tanker has made her debut on the Lakes. The CONGAR (II), formerly the IMPERIAL HALIFAX of Imperial's East Coast fleet, arrived in Toronto on April 16th to begin service for her new owners, Johnstone Shipping Ltd. of Toronto.
The battle of the ships against the ice on the lakes this spring has caused a number of casualties so far. The most serious cases were the BENSON FORD which had to put into St. Ignace, Michigan, after being holed by the ice jammed into the Straits of Mackinac, and the C.S.L. self-unloader STADACONA which ran into trouble while downbound in Whitefish Bay. The latter ship received serious bow damage and began making water faster than it could be pumped out. Fortunately, her master was able to transfer enough taconite ore into the after compartments to raise her bow and stop the flow of water through the damaged bow plates.
We have a further piece of information for those who would like to bring the Reoch fleet list, published in the last SCANNER, up to date. The PARKDALE (II) has now been sold to Marine Salvage Ltd. of Port Colborne for scrapping. Presumably she will go overseas. The same firm has also purchased the Kinsman steamer LACKAWANNA which was retired at the end of last season.
The Interlake freighter C. H. McCULLOUGH JR. will again be operated as a barge this year. She will be chartered to the Roen Steamship Co. but will be carrying for Pickands Mather as her main trade will be taking pellets from Escanaba to the Youngstown Sheet & Tube plant in Indiana Harbor.
Boat Tours International Ltd, will soon be starting a tour service in the lagoons of the Toronto Islands. The company plans to commence operations in May using two 65-foot glass-topped launches which have been obtained in Holland and which are each capable of carrying 100 passengers. The boats, named MISS KIM SIMPSON and MISS SHAWN SIMPSON, were unloaded from the Belgian salty PATIGNIES. on April 18th. Apparently, the vessels will enter the lagoon at Hanlan's Point and will proceed easterly, exiting at Ward's Island, as well as touring the harbour area. We certainly wish their operators the best of luck in navigating some of the tighter turns in the channel with these long craft. Another interesting point is that the old weedcutter was taken out of service more than fifteen years ago....
Apparently the plans are proceeding for the use of the barge WILTRANCO I in the Lake Michigan ore trade this year. Recently salvaged after a long period on the rocks of eastern Lake Erie, she has been repaired and will be pushed by the tug, OLIVE L. MOORE, which has been fitted out with an upper pilothouse for the task, We understand that her owner plans to haul ore for the Inland Steel Corporation between Escanaba and Indiana Harbor.
Late on Sunday, April 19th, a vicious spring storm was lashing the eastern coast of Canada, and caught in the teeth of the gale was the Newfoundland seiner ENTERPRISE, The 100-foot fishing boat sent out distress calls from a point about ten miles off the northern tip of Cape Breton, in the Cabot Strait, In port at North Sydney at the time was the Canadian National Railway's carferry PATRICK MORRIS, and her master took her to sea before her regular departure time in response to the distress calls of the ENTERPRISE. On reaching the location of the seiner, the crew of the ferry spotted wreckage. The MORRIS's sea gate aft was battered open by the pounding of the seas and apparently the ferry began taking water through the opened stern. Approximately 30 minutes after sending calls for assistance at 6:55 a.m. on the 20th, the PATRICK MORRIS sank below the stormy waters of the Strait. Her captain and three other officers were lost as well as the entire crew of 8 carried by the seiner. Of interest to our readers will be the fact that the MORRIS was built in Montreal in 1951 as Canadian Vickers' Hull 251. With a length of 449 ft., she entered the Florida to Cuba service of the West Indies Fruit and Steamship Co., Inc., under the name NEW GRAND HAVEN, For a number of years, she was the running mate of the former lake carferry GRAND HAVEN, recently broken up at Hamilton. The C.N.R. purchased the ferry after political problems spelled the end of the Cuban service. The ferry was twin screw and was powered by Unaflow engines. Fortunately, she did not carry passengers or the loss of life might have been much greater.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.