On the same day that she started down the Welland with KINSMAN VOYAGER, April 30, the McAllister tug SALVAGE MONARCH arrived at Port Colborne with the BoCo self-unloader HENNEPIN in tow. The vessel, which had been brought from Toledo, was placed in the Marine Salvage Ltd. scrapping berth at Ramey's Bend where she will be broken up. Incidentally, we understand that her owners stripped out HENNEPIN before selling her to the scrappers. It seems that they were looking for marine artifacts to decorate their Buffalo offices and cleaned out the old steamer in the process.
Yet another steamer consigned to the scrapyard is RUTH HINDMAN. Idle since the close of the 1974 season, she has been sold to Western Metals Corp. of Thunder Bay and will be dismantled at the Lakehead. She passed up the Canadian Lock at the Soo on June 21 in tow of the tug W. J. IVAN PURVIS. RUTH HINDMAN was built in 1910 at Toledo and served the United States Transportation Company, the Great Lakes Steamship Company, and the Wilson Transit Company before being sold to the Hindman Transportation Company Ltd. in the early sixties. While under U.S. registry she carried the name NORWAY.
To switch from scrappings to new commissionings, we can report the entry into service of the newest unit of the fleet of N. M. Paterson and Sons Ltd., Thunder Bay. The motorship ONTADOC was enrolled at Collingwood on April 21 as C.346840. She measures 342 x 49 x 27, Gross 4488, Net 3168. She arrived at the Algoma Steel plant at the Canadian Soo on April 25 on her maiden voyage and there loaded steel for Duluth. It had been hoped that she could run down the Seaway right away but this was not possible as her deck winches were not ready and temporary installations were made so that she could begin service.
Meanwhile, the Paterson fleet is cutting back the number of canal bulk carriers in the fleet. At present, the only such unit in operation is TROISDOC, her sistership SARNIADOC and the similar LACHINEDOC being at the wall at Cardinal. The third sistership, CALGADOC, was sold this spring to Mexican buyers and cleared Cardinal on May 3rd under the name EL SALINERO.
A surprise visitor to Toronto on several occasions this summer has been CEMENTKARRIER which has not been seen in these parts since she laid up here over the winter of 1973-74. Since then she has been operating on the Canada Cement Lafarge service out of Montreal while ENGLISH RIVER has held down the Lake Ontario run. CEMENTKARRIER, long a familiar sight on the Toronton waterfront, has had her appearance altered slightly as the sides of her after cabin have been plated in, presumably as a result of the severe battering she took last year when caught in a major blow on the Gulf. We hope that the vessel will favour us with a few more visits as the year progresses.
Work continues on the rehabilitation of TRILLIUM at Humberstone. The hull work was completed in late spring and the contract was then let for the fitting of the new aluminum superstructure. Her new boiler was placed in her and the stack remounted. By mid-July the framing was up for the main deck cabin. It has been decided that the remainder of the work will be done at Ramey's Bend and the old ferry will not be returned to Toronto until the job is finished. Meanwhile, TRILLIUM's older (1906) sister BLUEBELL is in the news. Taken out of service after the 1954 summer season, she was cut down to a barge at the Metro Marine yard over the winter of 1955-56 as it was planned to use her to haul fill for the project of raising the level of the islands. She was only used in this capacity for a very short period of time since during 1956 she sank after taking on water through an unsealed hull opening. The bare hull has lain ever since in Lighthouse Pond back of Gibraltar Point, for many years lying alongside TRILLIUM but looking almost unrecognizable without her cabins and machinery. Now we hear that there are plans afoot to use BLUEBELL's hull as a dock facing at Ashbridge's Bay, a small harbour located east of the Toronto harbour area. Thus the future of the former flagship of the ferry service is as bleak as that of TRILLIUM is full of promise.
Most of the vessels of the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company Ltd. are now sporting the line's new funnel colours, although it has taken a long time to get the job done and a few of the ships are still running around with varieties of the scheme. Basically, the design now adopted incorporates the green, white and blue bands which we described in an earlier issue, but to this design has been added a rather peculiar representation of an evergreen tree (stemless and otherwise leaving much to the imagination) in blue on the white band. For a while SHELTER BAY lost the lower green band and the whole bottom portion of the funnel was white, but this has now been changed and the green has reappeared.
Nothing further has developed regarding the future of the many idle U.S. Steel bulk carriers although we do know that a Canadian operator has been looking at W. F. WHITE. Rumour has it that ALVA C. DINKEY may be used as a barge at Cleveland to haul ore from the breakwater area up the Cuyahoga but we rather doubt that this plan will ever come to fruition.
In a move to combat the high cost of ship repairing, Hall Corporation Shipping Ltd. has acquired control of Shelburne Industries Ltd., a firm operating a shipyard at Shelburne, Nova Scotia. Hall contemplates using the Shelburne yard for maintenance work on its tankers, all but one of which will fit the drydock (the lone exception being BAFFIN TRANSPORT). As a further benefit to the Hall fleet, the Shelburne location has access to open water on a year-round basis.
The Mohawk Navigation Company's stemwinder SILVER ISLE got herself into a spot of trouble on June 1st when she ran hard aground in Lake Erie's Pelee Passage while downbound with a cargo of grain. She slid well up on the shoal and was resting at a particularly uncomfortable angle but it seems that no major structural damage was sustained. The vessel was freed about four days later after her cargo was lightered by the Columbia craneship BUCKEYE.
In the May issue, we commented upon the fact that Cogema (Compagnie de Gestion de Matane) was trying to back out of the deal with Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. for the purchase of the idle package freighter FRENCH RIVER which was to have been used as a carferry across the St. Lawrence. Much to our surprise, C.S.L. agreed to "buy back" the motorship and she thus never moved from her lay-up berth at Hamilton (except when C.S.L. pressed her into service briefly during the early part of July). It is interesting to note that this is the second deal which has fallen through for Cogema. Prior to getting involved in the FRENCH RIVER fiasco, Cogema had taken a purchase option on the long-idle Grand Trunk Lake Michigan carferry GRAND RAPIDS. They backed out of that one when they discovered the costs that would be involved in refitting the 48-year-old ferry for their intended operations.
GRAND RAPIDS has been in the news in yet another capacity recently. The Grand Trunk has, of course, filed for abandonment as have the Ann Arbor and Chesapeake & Ohio, all three companies seeking to discontinue their cross-lake ferry services. The Grand Trunk normally operates only one boat, usually MADISON, while CITY OF MILWAUKEE is held in reserve as spare boat (and, in fact, is presently operating under charter to Ann Arbor to replace the wounded ARTHUR K. ATKINSON). Grand Trunk would like to sell GRAND RAPIDS but in one of the moves planned to block the discontinuance of the rail ferries Michigan Attorney General Frank J. Kelley has filed suit in the U. S. District Court at Grand Rapids to prevent the railroad from disposing of the ship until the whole future of the Lake Michigan carferries has been decided.
An advertisement in the March 1975 issue of Boats and Harbors indicated that Harry Gamble of Port Dover, Ontario, was seeking to sell two oil tankers. One was readily identifiable as HUSKY 120 which he purchased several years ago from a group in the Canadian Soo but never operated, except on her delivery voyage down the lakes. The other ship was described as measuring 251 x 43 x 17, "built 1926 in U.S.A., Canadian registry", and observers for a while were wondering what vessel this might be. It is evident that the tanker to which the ad referred is INLAND TRANSPORT which is now in her third season of idleness at Sarnia and looking much the worse for the exploits of vandals. We had thought that this motorship had already been sold to United Metals for scrapping at Hamilton but either this is not the case or else she has since been resold to Gamble. In view of the condition of her hull, we doubt that anything but the cutting torch lies in wait for INLAND TRANSPORT.
Remember back a few months when ye Ed made a prognostication to the effect that 1975 would be the last year of the C.S.L. package freight service? Well, if we had placed any money on the bet, we would be feeling pretty good right now for it seems that our forecast may be right on the mark. Canada Steamships has become embroiled in a dispute with Canadian National and Canadian Pacific over the "dockage" rates that the railroads pay the shipping line for the loading and unloading of their cars at the company's lake terminals, the disagreement being so strong that the railroads have elected to cancel the entire pact. Accordingly, C.S.L. advised its employees at Thunder Bay, Windsor and Hamilton that operations would cease on or about June 22. Since then C.S.L. has softened its stand on the dispute, saying that it will keep the service operating "at least until the end of the year", apparently in the hope that the federal government will make things easier for the route economically. We still think that the package freight trade will soon reach its demise and this recent brouhaha provides C.S.L. with an excuse for dropping a run which it wanted to discontinue anyway. The company has even gone so far as to advertise for sale FORT HENRY which has lain idle at the Hamilton terminal this season.
The former Escanaba Towing Company tug LEE REUBEN is now being operated by Hannah Inland Waterways under the name MARY E. HANNAH. The latter company is also now running the Malcolm Marine tug TABOGA formerly of Port Huron. Another Hannah tug, MARGARET M. HANNAH, towed the former Roen pulpwood barge HILDA from Lamont to Joliet, Illinois, on the first section of her trip to salt water. We understand that Hilda will not now be going to the Mediterranean as was originally planned but will be operated in the New Orleans area.
The Kinsman steamer GEORGE D. GOBLE carried a rather strange cargo recently. She arrived at Lorain on July 21st with the prefabricated deckhouses for the two new Interlake Steamship self-unloaders being built there by the American Shipbuilding Company. The cabins were manufactured at South Chicago.
The Imperial Oil tanker IMPERIAL ST. CLAIR is not what you would call a regular visitor to lake ports as she spends most of her time on the east coast. She was, however, at Port Weller Drydocks for a refit during the month of May and in mid-June she made a rather interesting call at Toronto. Arriving on June 19, she unloaded at the Imperial dock in the ship channel and then moved up to the Texaco dock the next day. She loaded 104,000 bbls. of gasoline and cleared port via the Eastern Gap on June 21, her destination being Philadelphia.
Speaking of Toronto's Eastern Gap, this harbour entrance is once again open to vessel traffic after two years of reconstruction. In recent years the gap has only been used by small ships due to serious silting problems at the outer end. The construction of the eastern headland has redirected the longshore drift and continual dredging will no longer be required to keep the channel at a navigable depth. The eastern wall of the gap has been pushed back about two hundred feet and the outer ends of both walls have been chopped off, the channel being dredged to Seaway depth. It is now the main entrance and is being used by most of the ships calling here as it cuts considerable time off a passage either down or across the lake.
While the U.S. Corps of Engineers is busy studying the possibility of rebuilding either the Davis or Sabin Lock at the Soo to take 1000-foot-plus vessels, the Lake Carriers' Association has revived the idea of a canal through the central upper peninsula of Michigan. The canal, 38 miles in length, would start at Au Train Bay on Lake Superior west of Munising and would reach upper Lake Michigan via the Au Train River, Au Train Lake, Mud Lake, the water storage basin of the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company, Whitefish River and Little Bay de Noc. Earlier studies of this particular routing had indicated that the proposal was not economically feasible.
A Port Stanley fisherman believes that he has located the sunken carferry MARQUETTE AND BESSEMER NO. 2 in Lake Erie. For many years the vessel has been the object of searches conducted with depth sounding equipment and other such gear but no positive results were ever obtained. Larry Jackson claims that his current find can be well documented and in particular he alleges that he brought a piece of railing from the ship to the surface in a gill net. MARQUETTE AND BESSEMER NO. 2 was lost in December 1909 under particularly tragic circumstances. Sailing from Conneaut in heavy weather, she was prevented from reaching the Canadian shore by the winds and ran for safety back to the south side of the lake. There she found her route to safety blocked by the freighter CLARENCE A. BLACK which had anchored across the harbour mouth to wait out the storm. The ferry turned again and tried to run on a northeasterly course to the lee of the north shore but she was overwhelmed by the huge seas and apparently sank with all hands after exposing her open stern to the fury of the gale.
The former Halco tanker RIVER TRANSPORT carried the name DON ERNESTO when she cleared Montreal for the Caribbean on April 22. The motorship is now registered in Nassau and owned by an Ecuadorian firm, Navipac S.A.
The tug DANA T. BOWEN has now been renamed W. J. IVAN PURVIS by J.W. Purvis Marine of the Canadian Soo. Originally the Abitibi Paper Company's tug MAGPIE, the vessel was later in the Hindman fleet (where she was given the name of the well-known lake author) and since her sale to the Purvis interests several years ago she has once again taken up residence at the Soo.
The Gaelic Tugboat Company of Grosse Ile, Michigan, has purchased the veteran steam tug WILLIAM A. WHITNEY from the Zenith Dredge Company of Duluth and during the month of June she was brought down the lakes in tow of Gaelic's tug DONEGAL. The WHITNEY, built in 1920, has been used only very occasionally over the last twenty years and we understand that her very poor condition is worrying her new owner.
In our May issue we reported that Canadian National Steamships would cease operating the Alaska cruise steamer PRINCE GEORGE at the close of the 1975 season. Little did we know at that time that she would not even start the season! It seems that during the month of April the vessel was severely damaged by a fire that gutted a good portion of the passenger accommodation, C.N. immediately announced that the entire cruise schedule was cancelled and placed the vessel for sale on an "as is" basis as she lay at Vancouver. Her future does not look good and we rather fear that the end of PRINCE GEORGE may also spell the end for the Alaska run of Canadian Pacific's beautiful PRINCESS PATRICIA. C.P. is well known for its apparent aversion to passenger trade of any kind (a trend which has developed over the last few years) and we get the impression that the company might well drop the "PAT" now that the domestic opposition is out of the way and there will be no loss of face.
On the other hand, however, we have heard a rumour to the effect that British Columbia Steamships, the company formed by the B.C. Government to operate the former C.P. steamer PRINCESS MARGUERITE on the Seattle to Victoria run (they apparently wanted her under different colours than the rest of the ferries since she is an "old-fashioned" side-loading steamboat), may take over C.P.'s remaining B.C. ferry operations (PRINCESS OF VANCOUVER) plus PRINCESS PATRICIA and are even considering assuming operation of PRINCE GEORGE. We have as yet heard nothing definite on this, but it would be a most pleasing development if it should occur.
There have been more developments in the continuing saga of the Straits of Mackinac steam carferry CHIEF WAWATAM which at present is making only one round trip per week. As recounted earlier, the Mackinac Transportation Company has petitioned the I.C.C. to be allowed to discontinue the service, but there has been a great hue and cry raised by the populace and a number of politicians who object to the shutting off of this rail route to Michigan's upper peninsula. The case is not expected to be decided for several years but in the meantime the City of St. Ignace (the ferry's northern terminus) has made it known that it wishes the opportunity of purchasing the 64-year-old steamer if and when she is withdrawn. Now just what do you suppose they could be planning to do with her? Not another tourist trap for an area already loaded to the gills with that ubiquitous animal, we hope ...
Staying with carferries for a moment, we understand that there is a possibility that the C&O Lake Michigan carferries may not be withdrawn as per the railroad's current plans. C&O employees are allegedly interested in taking over the service and running the boats on a co-operative basis with the blessing of the railroad which it is felt might agree to continue routing trains by water if it could be relieved of the chore of operating the vessels. We'll pin a "wait and see" tag on this one for a while.
It has been announced that Hull 715 which is due for 1976 delivery from Bay Shipbuilding to the Inland Steel Company will be named JOSEPH L. BLOCK in honour of the former company chairman who retired earlier this year. The ship will be a self-unloader and will measure 728 x 78.
The Inland Steel steamer WILFRED SYKES sailed from Fraser Shipyards on June 28th after her conversion to a self-unloader. Unfortunately, the unloading rig which has been installed does not in the most remote manner fit the original design of the vessel and what had to be the most handsome of the "modern" (she's 26 years old) lake carriers has now had her lines completely destroyed. She sports an aft-mounted boom hinged on a high and ugly structure forward of the after cabin (a la FRONTENAC) which completely hides the funnel from view. The boom itself does not rest at an angle compatible aesthetically with the sheer of the deck but rather hangs downward in a droopy fashion. A large raised hatch has been added aft. We are truly disappointed ...
Another vessel for which a similar conversion is in the works is the beautiful SCOTT MISENER which will in the near future have her appearance marred by an aft-mounted boom and high elevating device. Perhaps we could overlook this travesty if only Misener management would remove the monster (unused for several years) from the deck of their flagship RALPH MISENER!
The American Steamship Company is a company which, despite the current poor business conditions, has grabbed the bull by the horns and has embarked on a great fleet enlargement program. Four new hulls have already been built for the fleet (ROGER M. KYES, CHARLES E. WILSON, H. LEE WHITE and SAM LAUD) while no fewer than five more are on order from Bay Shipbuilding, the first two to be christened ST. CLAIR and BELLE RIVER. 1975 has not however been a particularly happy year for the company. The newest of its carriers, SAM LAUD, was only in service for a few weeks when on June 28 she struck bottom in the Sturgeon Bay Canal and ripped out about 600 feet of her plating. As a result, the vessel had to be returned to the shipyard at Sturgeon Bay and at the time of this writing it is not known how much of the season she will miss.
While on the subject of American Steamship, we should report that CONSUMERS POWER is presently laid up at Ecorse, allegedly with hull damage of some kind. It is expected that she will be returned to service when conditions improve. Two BoCo self-unloaders did not fit out at all this year, namely CHARLES C. WEST and FRED A. MANSKE. The latter, which previously sailed in the fleet of the Pioneer Steamship Company as J. S. ASHLEY, is reportedly close to being sold for scrap if, indeed, a sale has not already been concluded .
With the current economic recession adversely effecting sales of both grain and steel products, and with iron ore stockpiles high after a winter of late navigation, many lake operators on both sides of the border have been sending vessels to the wall during the summer months. As an example, Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. in June put GODERICH, JAMES NORRIS, GORDON C. LEITCH, WHEAT KING, SEAWAY QUEEN and NORTHERN VENTURE into layup at Toronto and these have since been joined by RED WING and CANADIAN MARINER. Misener laid up the flagship RALPH MISENER and the smallest ship of the fleet, ROYALTON, while C.S.L. has put a number of bulk carriers and even two self-unloaders into ordinary. Cleveland-Cliffs laid up PONTIAC and may put in more. Kinsman has taken three ships out of service and may pull in others as well, while U.S. Steel which started the year with a much reduced operating fleet has cut back even further by laying up B. F. AFFLECK and HORACE JOHNSON. Other fleets have been similarly effected but the most startling news was that Pickands Mather, which had already withdrawn CHARLES M. SCHWAB, ROBERT HOBSON, JOHN SHERWIN and CHARLES M. BEEGHLY, decided late in July to lay up the entire fleet for a period of several weeks. Shipwatching at our various familiar vantage points is not particularly rewarding at the moment!
The tanker TEXACO CHIEF arrived in Toronto on July 7th and has been lying since along the north side of the turning basin where she has been having her tanks cleaned and lined in the same manner as have IMPERIAL QUEBEC and GULF CANADA in recent years.
During the latter part of July there arrived in tow at Toronto a most strange vessel, the remains (and we use that word with good reason in view of her condition) of the McAllister steam tug SALVAGE PRINCE. This tug has lain for many years at Kingston in idleness and at one time it was hoped that she would become a museum exhibit at that port. But now she is lying on the north side of the slip at Villiers Street opposite the Cousins Terminal, facing outwards and rubbing sterns with the not-quite-as-decrepit CHRIS M. This latter fact would lead one to believe that the PRINCE has also been bought by Norman Rogers, although what he could ever consider doing with her is totally beyond us.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.