The strike of the Minnesota iron ore miners has continued through October and no end is in sight. As a result, shipping on the upper lakes continues at a low ebb. Meanwhile, the Canadian operators are running their boats loaded both ways, downbound with grain and upbound with Quebec ore for Hamilton or Lake Erie ports, although some of the carriers are picking up ore cargoes at Picton, Ontario. More American upper lakers are making themselves visible on Lake Ontario these days. Kinsman's FRANK R. DENTON, a veteran of 66 years service, passed down the Welland Canal on October 11 with barley for Oswego and she was back up the canal again on October 15th. The National Steel Corporation's big ore carrier GEORGE M. HUMPHREY was downbound light in the Welland on October 15 heading for Sept Iles for ore. Meanwhile, with IRVING S. OLDS back in service after extensive repairs, the United States Steel Corporation continues to run all five of its "supers" down the Welland, usually with grain down and ore up. The Pringle self-unloaders are also frequent visitors to Lake Ontario these days. As an indication of how desperate things have become amongst the American vessel operators and consumers of iron ore, the Ford Motor Company's JOHN DYKSTRA passed down the Welland October 19-20 to pick up a cargo of Canadian ore. As far as we are aware, this is the first time that an active Ford bulk carrier has ever transitted the canal while in service for the company. It seems that there is little likelihood of the resumption of ore shipments from the upper lakes this season.
The tug PRESQUE ISLE, back in the drydock at Port Weller in early October, emerged from her incarceration on October 15 but because of further problems was unable to head back to Erie, Pennsylvania, to rejoin her consort barge. Instead, she was sent back down through Lock One to the old Empire-Hanna coal dock where she remained for the better part of a week while final repairs were completed. Needless to say, the tug looked most odd by herself, particularly since her bridge wings were cut off to facilitate her passage through the canal. She looked most unusual when canalling as her forward linesman was forced to do his job while standing in the recessed area of her bow below deck level. But perhaps the oddest feature of the tug is her draft of 20 feet.
The St. Lawrence Seaway Authority has let it be known that it intends to close permanently the Canadian lock at Sault Ste. Marie at the end of the 1982 season. The lock, a truly historic relic of the late nineteenth century, is the oldest lock still in active service on the Great Lakes system but is of only minimal value at the present time due to its very narrow width and shallow depth of water over the sills. Although still used by tankers and by some of the smaller Canadian carriers such as the C.S.L. package freighters, most of the lock's transits are made by yachts and by the "ice cream" (tour) boats.
The owners of the diminutive sandsucker C. W. CADWELL, Equipment House Ltd. of Toronto, are trying to dispose of the boat for use as a museum facility of some sort but so far there have been no takers. The CADWELL, built in 1911 and latterly operated for many years by Cadwell Marine (the Bawtinheimer interests), has not run except for a few trial trips since 1973 at which time her present owner, for reasons unexplained and of no apparent logic, installed in her the Fairbanks Morse diesels which had previously powered the Toronto Island ferry SAM McBRIDE and which had been thoroughly worn out in that vessel. It is not yet evident what will eventually become of the little CADWELL but there seems to be little hope of further service for her.
Last issue, we reported that for the first time in many years, the 373-foot bulk carrier PIC RIVER had carried a cargo of iron ore, making the trip from Quebec City to Lake Erie. It now seems that PIC RIVER is not the smallest laker to carry ore on the lakes this season for in early October, the 339-foot Paterson motorship ONTADOC (II) brought a cargo of St. Lawrence River ore to Ashtabula. Unfortunately, her trip was not the most pleasant for whilst the unloading process was underway on the morning of October 3, number four Hulett at the Union Dock struck a hatch coaming on the boat and fell into her hold. The arm of the Hulett machine was cut off and ONTADOC sailed for Conneaut, Ohio, where the remains of the unloader were dredged from her hold. The services of a 200-ton heavy lift were needed to accomplish this task. ONTADOC was back in service by October 9. The Huletts, victims these days of attrition and modern technology, are rapidly becoming objects of considerable historical interest. They were revolutionary in their day and were a great improvement over their immediate predecessor, the Brown Hoist, but after many long years of service, their numbers are rapidly dwindling.
The Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. bulk carrier RIMOUSKI grounded on September 13th at Champlain on the St. Lawrence River near Trois-Rivieres and was not released until the 17th of the month. The laker, long elusive for boatwatchers and photographers due to her long-term use on the Quebec titanium run, was taken to Sorel for repairs after being refloated.
The purchase of IMPERIAL LONDON from Marine Salvage Ltd. by the Honduran firm Fletamar S.A. has, according to a reliable source, fallen through because of the failure of the purchaser to come up with the agreed quantity of folding green. As a result, Marine Salvage has repossessed the tanker and, stuck with the bills for towing her to Whitby and putting her on the McNamara drydock, has decided to tow the boat all the way back to the Ramey's Bend scrapyard. It is not known when the LONDON will make the return trip up the Welland Canal. We sincerely hope that the 29-year-old steamer will find another operator but her chances do not appear to be very good.
The former steam tanker LIQUILASSIE, her propulsion machinery removed at Hamilton, was towed up the Welland Canal on October 19-20 by the tugs PAUL E. and LAC MANITOBA. She arrived at Windsor on October 21 and there the finishing touches are being put to her conversion to a tank barge. Her bridge structure will be removed intact for use as an office ashore and her stern will be cut square. She has been purchased by Ray Bergeron whose L. B. Shipping of Windsor will operate her, mainly out of Sarnia, in conjunction with the affiliated Allied Tug and Barge Services Inc.
The McKiel tug LAC MANITOBA had just returned from her trip with LIQUILASSIE when she was called upon to take another old tanker on her last trip. It was the Johnstone Shipping Ltd. steam tanker CONGAR (II) which had lain idle in the Toronto turning basin for the last two navigation seasons. She was hauled out of Toronto on the morning of October 26 and was taken to Hamilton where she will be broken up by Strathearne Terminals. CONGAR, of course, was the former IMPERIAL HALIFAX and had long been a feature of the Canadian east coast shipping scene prior to her arrival in the lakes a few years ago.
Last month we reported the intended reactivation of the Quebec ferry steamer LOUIS JOLLIET in the excursion trade. We are pleased to hear that she did enter service late in the season for her new owners who are known as La Compagnie d'Excursions Maritimes de Quebec or Quebec Waterways Sightseeing. LOUIS JOLLIET operated between Pont de Quebec and Pont de l'Ile d'Orleans while the DUC d'ORLEANS of the same company ran from Quebec to Ste. Anne de Beaupre. The company has let it be known that it would be interested in acquiring passenger vessels to operate on the old C.S.L. route to the Saguenay River but no concrete plans for such a service have been announced.
The last of the wartime "Park" tankers active on the Great Lakes has apparently been retired. The Shell motorvessel FUEL MARKETER (II), (a) EGLINTON PARK (45), (b) JOHN IRWIN (II)(56), (c) WHITE ROSE II (57), (d) WHITE ROSE (70), arrived in Toronto in early October and for several weeks lay along the Commissioners Street wharf in the turning basin. She was, however, slowly stripped of much of her equipment and on October 26th she was moved to the most southerly berth on the west wall of the basin which had just been vacated by CONGAR. The retirement of FUEL MARKETER, an unlengthened canaller built in 1944 at Sorel, might be interpreted to mean that the Shell Canada Ltd. fleet may soon be augmented by the addition of another hull. Readers will recall that earlier in the 1977 season, it was said that the tanker FROBISHER TRANSPORT had been sold by the Hall Corporation Shipping Ltd. to Shell. Many observers had begun to discount this report in view of the fact that FROBISHER TRANSPORT has continued to operate in Halco colours, although Hall was admittedly seeking to divest itself of the ship. We have since heard that the change in ownership might come at the end of the season and it could be that the retirement of FUEL MARKETER is a preface to this event.
As of September 30, CARTIERCLIFFE HALL was out of the Lauzon drydock and almost ready to enter service. When observed on October 11, she was receiving the finishing touches to her conversion while her old forward section was moored in the St. Charles River loaded with scrap and awaiting a tow overseas. Meanwhile, MONTCLIFFE HALL was in the Davie drydock ready to be cut apart and her new bow section was well underway on the building berth. STEELCLIFFE HALL had just arrived at Lauzon and her new forward hull section had only recently been laid down. The first two of the new Halco carriers will be in service this autumn but STEELCLIFFE HALL will not be ready until the spring of 1978.
Contrary to a previous report in these pages, the Canada Steamship Lines package freighter ESKIMO has returned to regular lake service. She is once again back in full C.S.L. colours and has been reregistered at Montreal. It is a pleasure to see her back in the lakes after a protracted absence.
The steam carferry CHIEF WAWATAM has returned to her old stand at the Straits of Mackinac after undergoing repairs at Sturgeon Bay. A few repair items could not be completed due to the strike at the shipyard, a strike which is continuing as these words are written. The CHIEF was purchased earlier this year by the State of Michigan from the old (and defunct) Mackinac Transportation Company and is now operated by the Straits Car Ferry Corporation.
Meanwhile, the Grand Trunk's standby boat on its Lake Michigan carferry route, CITY OF MILWAUKEE, was due for drydocking. With the Bay Shipbuilding Corp. facilities at Sturgeon Bay unavailable due to a labour dispute, the steam carferry (vintage 1931) was sent under her own power to the American Shipbuilding Company's yard at Lorain, Ohio.
The withdrawal from service of the Lake Erie carferry PELEE ISLANDER has been delayed from September 18 to November 7th by virtue of a September 15 decision reached by Transport Canada. The Pelee Islanders themselves, however, were unaware of this decision when on September 16 they stalled a number of vehicles on the ferry's ramps in protest. The islanders are still hoping to prolong the ferry service until December 11 and are seeking a reinstatement of the federal operating subsidy which would allow the boat to operate again in 1978.
We have learned that the American Steamship Company of Buffalo has sold its self-unloading steamer CONSUMERS POWER to the Erie Sand Steamship Company. She will operate for the remainder of the 1977 season under charter to Boland and Cornelius. The sale brings to two the number of self-unloading bulk carriers in the Erie Sand fleet, the other being J. F. SCHOELLKOPF JR., also a former BoCo unit.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.