Our readers will recall that, over the past several years, we have expressed the fear that Upper Lakes Shipping's veteran steamer GODERICH, (a) SAMUEL MATHER, (b) PATHFINDER, would shortly be discarded unless she were converted to oil fuel, a step which her owners seemed reluctant to take. It is, therefore with some considerable pleasure that we report that the conversion is being done this winter while the vessel is in winter quarters in Toronto's Turning Basin. Although no announcement of the job was made, the work is currently being put in hand by Ship Repair & Supply Ltd. This does, however, make one wonder whether, if GODERICH should be worth the expense of such a conversion, why RIDGETOWN and WIARTON did not receive the same treatment which would undoubtedly have prolonged their otherwise short service under the Upper Lakes flag.
Another Upper Lakes ship was in the news recently, this being the self-unloading stemwinder CANADIAN PROGRESS. She suffered a serious fire in her engineroom on January 4th but damage does not appear to have been too extensive. The firemen's job was made all the more difficult in that the ship is laid up for the winter across the face of the Richard L. Hearn hydro generating plant at Toronto, an area almost inaccessible to vehicles. Her storage cargo of grain was not damaged.
We have received confirmation that the laker MICHIPICOTEN was under tow of the Polish tug KORAL when she foundered off Anticosti Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on November 17th, The KORAL has participated in a number of tows involving old lakers bound for European scrapyards.
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation and Communications is proceeding with its plans to improve service on the Tobermory-South Boy Mouth ferry route currently operated by the Owen Sound Transportation Co. with its steamer NORISLE and motorship NORGOMA. It is planned that construction will begin this spring on a new three-acre dock complex situated to the west of the current ferry dock in the "Little Tub." The new docking facilities will be required since the new ferry, a 361-foot 500 passenger ship, will be a bow and stern loader, rather than a side loader as are the present ferries. No contracts have been let for ferry construction as yet, and since it will be some time before the new docks are ready, it seems that NORISLE and her newer running mate are secure for several seasons, (By the way, we are wondering whether our members might be interested in giving consideration to a group outing on NORISLE such as the S.S.H.S.A. staged in 1971. Comments please.)
The closing of the St. Lawrence section of the Seaway for the winter turned out to be a bit of a frost, if you will pardon the expression. Heavy ice caught the laker OTTERCLIFFE HALL in the Beauharnois Canal and eight other ships, including five salties rushing to reach salt water before closing, were stuck behind her. The icebreakers ERNEST LAPOINTE and NORMAN McLEOD ROGERS had to be despatched to the scene and they finally broke the plug. The salties managed to clear the system eventually, and OTTERCLIFFE HALL cut her trip short, going into layup at Valleyfield, Quebec.
Although this item has nothing to do with the lakes, we thought our readers might be interested to know that the Canadian Pacific Railway has brought to a close eighty years of shipping on Lake Okanagan in British Columbia, and the C.N.R. is also giving up operations on the lake. The C.P.R. operated a number of vessels, including sternwheel passenger steamers like SICAMOUS on the run from Okanagan Landing to Penticton, but in latter years has run only the 110-foot tug OKANAGAN and the car barge C.P.R. BARGE No. 8. Both these vessels have now been sold, and freight will be taken by road transport.
We understand that the dispute over salvage claims on the small salt water vessel RUMBA are continuing. The vessel, bound with locomotives from Toronto to Yugoslavia, was abandoned in the Atlantic on December 14th when a number of the engines broke loose, three being lost overboard. The crew was removed and the vessel taken in tow by the Dutch tug SMIT-LLOYD 103 which was in the area servicing oil rigs. The RUMBA was moored safely in the harbour at St. John's, Newfoundland, but the tug's crew and owners have laid salvage claims against the ship. Any of our members who watched RUMBA being loaded here prior to the trip are no doubt wondering, along with your Editor, how they ever got 16 locomotives stowed away in such a small ship to begin with.
In a previous issue, we reported the sale of the idle tanker IMPERIAL WINDSOR to Beauchamp Investments Ltd. of Corunna, Ontario. It appears that she has been renamed GOLDEN TITAN and, if readers remember the sale several years ago of IMPERIAL CORNWALL and her renaming as GOLDEN SABLE, it will be obvious to all what use Mr. Beauchamp had planned for the WINDSOR. However, plans have now been changed and the WINDSOR will be chartered to a major Canadian tanker operator who will soon change her name. The name GOLDEN TITAN was painted on the vessel but was not officially registered and hence any of our members who have caught her on film bearing the name will indeed have a rare photo. More details on WINDSOR-TITAN, or whatever you wish to call her, will be published in these pages as soon as possible.
Rumours about the breakup of the C.S.L. package freight fleet are flying fast and furious, with observers talking about possible sales and conversions to tankers and cement boats. What is not rumour, however, is the fact that ESKIMO has been chartered to the Agence Maritime for coastal service. She cleared Montreal on her first trip on January 6th. It seems that of the remaining vessels, FORT WILLIAM, FORT ST. LOUIS and FORT CHAMBLY are those most likely to operate on the regular package freight route next season, but we shall have to wait and see.
A change of name has been made by the Hall fleet and should be recorded by historians for their records. The company has changed its corporate label from Hall Corporation (Shipping) 1969 Ltd. to Hall Corporation Shipping Ltd.
The salt water tanker CABATERN was a familiar visitor to the lakes during the past summer, operating under charter to the Hall Corp. We now learn that Halco is negotiating the purchase of the vessel and that the deal is expected to be completed by spring, there being a delay over a union grievance. The name chosen for the tanker is BAFFIN TRANSPORT and she will be renamed shortly.
We earlier reported that the Hindman tug DANA T. BOWEN had been sold to Don Lee and Francis McMillan. No sooner had she been moved to Port Lambton than she was resold, this time to John Purves of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. She was taken to the Canadian Sault and is currently in winter quarters there.
A number of minor grounding incidents occurred late in the navigation season. GEORGIAN BAY went on near the upper entrance of the Iroquois Lock on November 15th and the salty IONIC (better known under her former name, ORIENT EXPORTER) at the same location on December 17th. Both were released without any serious problems. GOLDEN HIND struck bottom near Roberts Lending in the St. Clair River on December 5th but was freed the next day and obviously sustained little damage since she was able to complete the rest of her trips without repairs.
The self-unloader JACK WIRT received minor bow damage on December 15th when she struck a coal dock at Sandusky, Ohio. The WIRT was purchased during the summer by the Erie Sand Steamship Company as a replacement for the sunken SIDNEY E. SMITH JR. (II).
Two familiar German salt water vessels, units of the Poseidon Linien, will not be seen in these parts this summer, TRANSONTARIO has been sold British and is renamed NYANDA, while TRANSATLANTIC has been chartered to the Companhia de Navegacao Lloyd Brasileiro and is renamed LOIDE-HELSINKI.
The Upper Lakes Shipping self-unloader CAPE BRETON MINER, (a) CAPE BRETON MINER, (b) CONVEYOR, reverted to her original name during the past season and operated on the east coast along with ONTARIO POWER. She was to return to Port Weller Dry Docks this winter for refitting but she did not make it in time and we understand that she is in winter quarters at Lauzon. We assume that we shall see her come up first thing next spring.
Ever since the end of navigation, rumours have been rampant concerning a possible sale of Mohawk Navigation's bulk carrier GOLDEN HIND. At long last the news has broken, for on January 22nd, the Ontario Paper Company Ltd. announced that its subsidiary, the Quebec & Ontario Transportation Company Ltd., had purchased the vessel. This seems to confirm that Q & Q has no intention of getting out of the shipping business even though its main raisons d'etre, namely the pulp trade and the carriage of newsprint, have now been discontinued. GOLDEN HIND will be the largest vessel in the Q & O fleet and will bring the number of vessels operated by the firm to ten. GOLDEN HIND is 601.6 feet in length and readers will recall that she was built at Collingwood in 1952 as the tanker IMPERIAL WOODBEND. She was converted to a bulk carrier over the winter of 1953-54 at Humberstone after being sold to Mohawk. Her sale leaves Mohawk with only two vessels, the stemwinders SILVER ISLE and SENNEVILLE.
Late-season navigation has its dangers, but one would normally expect that any damage to a ship at this time of year would be a result of ice, not of collision. Strange things happen, however. It seems that on January 11th, the U.S. Steel orecarriers ROGER BLOUGH, PHILIP R. CLARKE and CASON J. CALLAWAY were labouring in heavy ice about nine miles East of Lansing Shoal located to the west of the Straits of Mackinac. At about 12:45 p.m. the CLARKE became stuck in the windrows and, before the BLOUGH could be stopped, she collided with the stern of the CLARKE. (We hope there were no cases of whiplash reported on the CLARKE!) The ships were upbound light at the time and were being escorted by the breakers MACKINAW and SOUTHWIND. The BLOUGH sustained only minor damage and temporary repairs were done at the Sault. The other steamer does not appear to have received any grievous damage.
The barge WILTRANCO will surely go down in the record books as the Jinx Ship of the Lakes for 1973 because of the number of accidents in which she was involved, but the tanker VENUS, a member of the Cleveland Tankers fleet, will perhaps run a close second. The motorship got the season off to a flying start when she suffered severe damage as a result of explosions which rocked her while lying at anchor in the St. Lawrence River on May 4th. Four crewmen were injured and her Master was killed in that incident. Now we have word that VENUS suffered a serious fire in her engineroom about January 10 while the vessel was in Little Bay de Noc. One crewman was lifted from the ship by helicopter but died en route to hospital. We do not as yet know the extent of damage to the ship.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.