During the Depression years of the 1930's, there were a number of passenger and freight vessels laid up in Toronto's Ship Channel and Turning Basin due to the general lack of business. For approximately eight years, Canada Steamship Lines' overnight passenger steamer CAPE TRINITY was a member of this inactive fleet.
CAPE TRINITY was certainly not a handsome vessel when compared with the stately KINGSTON. She had a stubby appearance which was caused, in part, by the lack of large, open promenade spaces, by her rather large and almost perpendicular single stack, and by the two very short masts that she carried.
Built at Collingwood in 1911 by the Collingwood Shipbuilding Company Limited as GERONIA for the Lake Ontario to Montreal passenger service of the Ontario and Quebec Navigation Co. of Picton, A. W. Hepburn, Manager, she measured 219.6 feet in length, 42 feet in the beam, and 10.4 feet in depth. These dimensions gave her a tonnage of 2105 gross and 1469 net. She was steel-hulled and propeller-driven and was powered by quadruple expansion engines with cylinders of 22 1/2, 18, 26 and 40 inches, and a stroke of 18 inches. Since GERONIA was designed for navigation in shallow St. Lawrence River waters, her draft was not great and the hull was "blistered" at and below the waterline aft to give her buoyancy and stability. Unfortunately, this did not improve either her behaviour in rough weather or her speed!
The Ontario and Quebec Navigation Co, was one of the firms involved in the 1913 merger which produced the organization originally styled Canadian Transportation Co. Ltd. The name was almost immediately changed to the familiar Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal. In 1914, GERONIA was renamed SYRACUSE and became the running mate for the larger and well-known steamer ROCHESTER. These ships operated in the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence service for a few years under C.S.L. colours, during which time SYRACUSE managed to get herself stranded in the St. Lawrence River on several occasions, partly as a result of insufficient power.
After World War I, both SYRACUSE and ROCHESTER were transferred to C.S.L.'s Saguenay River service, operating out of Montreal, and they were renamed respectively, CAPE TRINITY and CAPE ETERNITY in honour of the two famous rocky landmarks that rise almost two thousand feet above the surface of the Saguenay. However, larger and more comfortable ships rendered them redundant on the Saguenay cruise service, and they returned to the Lake Ontario trade in 1925 when Canada Steamships instituted a Toronto-Thousand Islands-Bay of Quinte route in opposition to their own Toronto-Prescott service which was maintained by TORONTO and KINGSTON.
Due to lack of patronage, the service, as might be expected, was discontinued in 1929 and CAPE TRINITY was laid up at Toronto. Her wooden superstructure gradually deteriorated in lay-up until 1937 when she was sold to Frankel Brothers, a firm of Toronto scrap dealers. Along with the famous Niagara paddle steamer CORONA, her companion in the years of idleness, she was towed to Buffalo for demolition.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.