Readers of these pages will know that your fearless leader (i.e. the Editor) does not mince words when it comes to making comment on some noteworthy development on the shipping scene. They will also be aware that our tastes in marine architecture run strongly to the traditional.
In our last issue we commented to the effect that, in our opinion, the C. S. L. motorvessel FRONTENAC was the ugliest self-unloader conversion yet unleashed upon unsuspecting shipwatchers. Yet the fact remains that FRONTENAC is basically a good-looking ship and only her new equipment makes her look so ghastly.
Quite the opposite is true of CHARLES E. WILSON, latest addition to the American Steamship Company's fleet of self-unloaders. Her unloading boom is a cleanly-built tubular affair and it springs from a very unobtrusive mount just forward of the after cabin. There is no unsightly elevating device in view.
The basic design of the ship itself, however, must surely hit an all-time low in the beauty and imagination departments. Without a doubt, she is the ugliest ship on which we have ever laid eyes! She is roughly similar in profile to J. W. McGIFFIN, but much less pleasing in appearance if such a thing could be possible., WILSON has a completely rounded bow which is not even graced by a raised forecastle. On the bow squats a small squarish cabin, looking much like a floating construction-site privy, and atop this are mounted two square boards bearing the sidelights. Why these latter necessities were not placed on the bridgewings is quite beyond us. One cannot help wondering just how much water she will shovel up over the bow in a head sea and the thought of freezing temperatures and flying spray brings to mind interesting possibilities.
The WILSON's after cabin is much reminiscent of a cardboard orange crate - it is squarish and has a few holes in it! The lack of any number of portholes and the almost total absence of outside walkways should suffice to bring on a good case of claustrophobia in any crewman unlucky enough to be quartered in this structure, but on further thought, the entire crew should be candidates in this department as there doesn't appear to be any accommodation at all elsewhere on the ship. The cabin is topped with a pilothouse, much like that of McGIFFIN (except for the fact that the windows are not evenly spaced), and a very square single funnel hardly high enough to be seen over the bridge. The lifeboats are, for some strange reason, mounted on the deck rather than atop the cabin.
The stern is the usual (for these days) transom variety but has been rendered even more distasteful by the appearance of diagonal creases in the steel running up and forward from the curve at the waterline. The stern has none of the relatively smooth lines seen in the after end of WILLIAM R. ROESCH. The hull itself is noticeably hogged (intentionally, we presume) and her side plating is so wrinkled already that it reminds one of tissue paper stretched over the ribs.
Yes, this is surely the most complete aesthetic abortion ever set free upon the lakes and the frightening part of the whole thing is that the way things have been going, the next one will surely be worse. Hang in there CANADIAN CENTURY and J. W. McGIFFIN, you weren't so bad after all!
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.