by Alan Sykes (With Additional Notes by the Editor)
Over the past few years, "Scanner" has been recording the downbound passages of many lakers bound for scrapyards or for service away from the Great Lakes. Often, ships are noted as having transitted the Welland Canal for the last time, but only infrequently these days is there mention of a vessel making her very first trip down to Lake Ontario.
Most shipping enthusiasts know of at least one "first transit" during the early 1930s, this being the August 6, 1932, downbound passage of LEMOYNE which served as the ceremonial opening of the fourth Welland Canal, but this was not the first downbound trip through the waterway of an upper laker. What of some of the other upper lakers for which the opening of the Welland Ship Canal permitted service down into Lake Ontario?
|The downbound passage of LEMOYNE on August 6, 1932, marked the ceremonial "opening" of the fourth Welland Canal. Photo courtesy Alan Sykes.
During the autumn of 1929 and the spring and summer of 1930, canallers had been using various parts of the new canal as construction progressed into its final stages and certain sections of the old third canal could be abandoned. The last passage to use parts of both canals (Locks 1,2,3 and 8 of the new canal and Locks 11 through 24 of the old) was made by the motorship I.L.I. 102 on November 22, 1930.
The honour of being the first ship over 260 feet in length overall to make a complete transit of the new canal was accorded to the self-unloading collier JOHN McCARTNEY KENNEDY, which passed down the canal on October 29, 1930 with a load of coal bound for Toronto. During this passage, two tugs escorted the ship through the canal to ensure that she would suffer no damage and that no harm would come to any of the canal's structures.
From the time of this first transit until June 15, 1931, all lakers seeking to pass through the canal were required to obtain special permission from the government in Ottawa. Permits were granted only to ships not exceeding 450 feet in overall length. Effective June 15, 1931, vessel owners no longer had to ask for government approval to use the canal, however the maximum permitted length of a boat making the transit remained unchanged.
On June 29, 1931, the government extended to 550 feet the maximum length of ships allowed through the waterway. This change made it possible for all lakers of Canadian registry to use the canal, with the exception of the large steamers GLENEAGLES, ASHCROFT, STADACONA (II), DONNACONA (II) and LEMOYNE. The regulation remained in effect until July 1, 1932, when the maximum allowable overall length was extended to 600 feet. Finally, on August 1st, 1932, came permission for vessels of up to 650 feet to use the canal, and thereafter both DONNACONA and LEMOYNE had access to Lake Ontario.
Cargoes brought down the Welland Canal during these early years were usually discharged at Hamilton, Toronto, Kingston, or Oswego, N.Y. In addition to frequent grain, ore and coal shipments, cargoes (including deckloads) of automobiles, and bulk shipments of cement were also recorded. It must be remembered, however, that lake shipping was then held firmly in the terrible grip of the Great Depression and many lakers were whiling away their time in ordinary. In fact, the great LEMOYNE herself was brought out of lay-up and painted specially for the occasion of making the ceremonial opening transit of the new canal.
We list herewith the first recorded passages of upper lakers from 1930 until the close of the 1932 navigation season, together with the names of their owners at the time and the eventual disposition of the vessels. While some of these ships were seen only infrequently in the canal thereafter, many of them returned to pass through the canal time and time again during the ensuing years. It is interesting to note that two of the vessels shown were passenger cruise boats, namely NORONIC and TIONESTA, and that this type of vessel has now entirely disappeared from the waterway.
October 29, 1930 - JOHN McCARTNEY KENNEDY, Valley Camp Steamship Company. Scrapped 1959-60 as (d) R.E. MOODY.
December 5, 1930 - JOHN ERICSSON, Great Lakes Transit Corp. Ltd. (James Playfair). Scrapped 1968.
June 8, 1931 - NORONIC, Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. Destroyed by fire September 17, 1949, and hull subsequently scrapped.
June 15, 1931 - THOMAS BRITT (II), Lakewood Steamship Company. Scrapped 1969 as (e) BUCKEYE (I).
- JAMES B. EADS, Great Lakes Transit Corp. Ltd. (James Playfair). Scrapped 1967.
- TIONESTA, Great Lakes Transit Corp. Scrapped 1941.
- BRENTWOOD, Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. Scrapped 1937.
June 17, 1931 - COLLINGWOOD, Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. Scrapped 1968.
- SARNIAN, Northland Steamship Company Ltd. Scrapped 1947.
June 18, 1931 - W. C. FRANZ, Algoma Central and Hudson Bay Railway Company. Lost by collision, November 21, 1934.
June 19, 1931 - WM. F. FITCH, Jenkins Steamship Company. Scrapped c.1950.
June 21, 1931 - CANADOC (I), Paterson Steamships Ltd. Scrapped 1970 as (e) PORTADOC (III).
June 25, 1931 - JAMES WATT, Jenkins Steamship Company. Scrapped 1961.
July 3, 1931 - WESTMOUNT, Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. Scrapped 1967.
July 4, 1931 - ROBERT P. DURHAM, Arrow Steamships Ltd. Scrapped 1965 as (d) FEDERAL HUSKY.
July 5, 1931 - HAGARTY, Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. Scrapped 1968.
July 6, 1931 - EMPEROR, Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. Lost by stranding, June 4, 1947.
July 7, 1931 - ANNA C. MINCH, Western Navigation Company Ltd. Foundered, November 11, 1940.
July 22, 1931 - PRESCOTT, Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. Scrapped 1962.
August 2, 1931 - W. E. FITZGERALD, Chicago Navigation Company. Scrapped 1971-72.
August 8, 1931 - LAKETON, Mathews Steamship Company Ltd. Sold for scrap 1967 and lost at sea, January 13. 1968.
- MIDLAND PRINCE, Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. Scrapped 1969.
August 20, 1931 - WILLIAM NELSON, Paisley Steamship Company. Scrapped 1969 as (c) BEN E. TATE.
August 21, 1931 - GODERICH (I), Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. In service as storage barge (g) LIONEL PARSONS.
August 25, 1931 - J. E. SAVAGE, Valley Camp Steamship Company. Scrapped 1969 as (d) ROBERT J. PAISLEY (II).
August 27, 1931 - HENRY CORT, Lake Ports Shipping and Navigation Company. Lost by stranding, November 30, 1934.
September 9. 1931 - SUMATRA, Sumatra Steamship Company. Scrapped 1968 as (c) DOLOMITE.
September 29, 1931 - WILLIAM B. PILKEY, Paisley Steamship Company. Lost by collision, April 27, 1944, as (c) FRANK E. VIGOR.
October 14, 1931 - BERRYTON, Mathews Steamship Company Ltd. Scrapped 1969 as (d) C. A. BENNETT.
October 28, 1931 - QUEDOC (I), Paterson Steamships Ltd. Scrapped 1962 as barge (d) H. S. & G. NO. 1.
November 30, 1931 - JOLIET (II), Cleveland Cliffs Steamship Company. Scrapped 1964 as (c) POWERAUX MARK.
April 16, 1932 - DOW CHEMICAL (I), American Steamship Company. In use as breakwater as (e) PINEDALE.
April 18, 1932 - JOHN A. KLING, Rockport Steamship Company. In service.
April 25, 1932 - SULTANA, Nicholson Universal Steamship Company. Hull still in existence as refuse barge.
April 26, 1932 - PRICE McKINNEY, Pioneer Steamship Company. Scrapped 1961.
May 7, 1932 - E. G. MATHIOTT (I), Valley Camp Steamship Company. Scrapped 1936.
May 12, 1932 - THUNDER BAY QUARRIES (I), American Steamship Company. Sold for scrap 1973 as (c) UNITED STATES GYPSUM (II) and lost at sea, May 21, 1973.
May 16, 1932 - MARITANA, Buckeye Steamship Company. Scrapped 1947.
May 23, 1932 - CORALIA, Nicholson Universal Steamship Company. Scrapped 1965 as (c) L. D. BROWNING.
June 12, 1932 - CONNEAUT, Wyandotte Transportation Company. Scrapped 1973 as (b) WYANDOTTE (II).
June 14, 1932 - PENOBSCOT, Nicholson Universal Steamship Company. Scrapped 1964.
July 6, 1932 - ASHCROFT, Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. Scrapped 1969.
July 8, 1932 - GLENEAGLES, Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. In service as (b) SILVERDALE.
July 11, 1932 - CHARLES C. WEST, Rockport Steamship Company. Awaiting scrapping 1979.
July 20, 1932 - DIAMOND ALKALI (I), American Steamship Company. Awaiting scrapping 1979 as (d) FERNDALE (II).
July 21, 1932 - HURON, Wyandotte Transportation Company. Scrapped 1973.
July 22, 1932 - STADACONA (II), Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. In service as (b) NORDALE.
August 1, 1932 - CRESCENT CITY, Nicholson Universal Steamship Company. Scrapped 1959 as (b) CARL W. MEYERS.
August 6, 1932 - LEMOYNE, Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. Scrapped 1969.
August 8, 1932 - JOHN W. BOARDMAN, Huron Transportation Company. In service as (b) LEWIS G. HARRIMAN.
August 12, 1932 - MORRIS S. TREMAINE, Eastern Steamship Corp. Scrapped 1966 as (c) T. J. McCARTHY.
August 13, 1932 - G. J. GRAMMER, Grammer Steamship Company. Scrapped 1964 as (d) D. A. MOLONEY.
August 27, 1932 - DONNACONA (II), Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. Scrapped 1969.
August 30, 1932 - SIERRA, Inter Ocean Steamship Company. Scrapped 1964.
September 14, 1932 - HENRY STEINBRENNER (I), Kinsman Transit Company. Foundered May 20, 1953.
September 27, 1932 - JOHN SHERWIN (I), Interlake Steamship Company. Scrapped 1974 as (d) KINSMAN VENTURE.
September 29, 1932 - A. D. MacBETH, Buckeye Steamship Company. Scrapped 1940.
October 4, 1932 - HARVEY H. BROWN (III), Interlake Steamship Company. In service as (d) MARLHILL.
October 5, 1932 - S. T. CRAPO, Huron Transportation Company. In service.
October 7, 1932 - CAPTAIN THOMAS WILSON, Wilson Transit Company. Scrapped 1946 as (b) KICKAPOO.
October 12, 1932 - PRINDOC (I), Paterson Steamships Ltd. Lost by collision, June 1, 1943.
October 17, 1932 - FRANK E. TAPLIN, Wilson Transit Company. Scrapped 1969.
October 23, 1932 - A. W. OSBORNE, Wilson Transit Company. Scrapped 1946.
October 25, 1932 - MIDLAND KING, Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. Scrapped 1937.
October 26, 1932 - VALCARTIER, Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. Scrapped 1937.
October 29, 1932 - TAURUS (I), Interlake Steamship Company. Scrapped 1947.
October 31, 1932 - W. D. REES, Wilson Transit Company. Scrapped 1955 as (b) LEETSDALE.
November 1, 1932 - JOHN ANDERSON, Valley Camp Steamship Company. Scrapped 1972 as (c) G. G. POST.
November 9, 1932 - ANGELINE, Presque Isle Transportation Company. Scrapped 1965. - MARTIAN (I), Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. Scrapped 1938.
November 15, 1932 - SINALOA, Tri-Lakes Steamship Company. Scrapped 1971 as (d) STONEFAX.
November 18, 1932 - FONTANA, Maritime Steamship Company. Scrapped 1960.
November 24, 1932 - ROYALTON, Mathews Steamship Company Ltd. In service.
November 27, 1932 - RALPH BUDD, Great Lakes Transit Corp. Ltd. (James Playfair). Scrapped 1966 as (c) L. A. McCORQUODALE.
December 5, 1932 - ADAM E. CORNELIUS (I), American Steamship Company. Awaiting scrapping 1979 as (d) AVONDALE (II).
December 10, 1932 - MARIPOSA, Buckeye Steamship Company. Scrapped 1947.
The year 1979 marks the 150th anniversary of the first passage of a ship through the original Welland Canal. There will be festivities in the canal area throughout the coming navigation season. This feature is our way of beginning the celebrations on an historical note.
Our sincere thanks go to Alan Sykes of Welland for doing the necessary research of the vessel passages especially for "Scanner". We hope that his work will help our readers to understand the method in which the Welland Ship Canal was brought into full operation.
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