On several previous occasions, we have mentioned how well built were some of the early steam canallers. They were able to withstand the punishment handed out to them each time they had to fight their way up and down through the many old and small locks of the St. Lawrence and Welland Canals and, in addition, were frequently mauled by the heavy seas to which they were subjected when they ventured out onto the upper lakes. Many of these early canallers fell victim to enemy action during the First World War but enough of them survived that they were not an uncommon sight in the 1920s and '30s. Those that the Great Depression did not polish off and send to the scrapyard, survived only to face hostilities again during the Second War and, by the time this great conflict was over, only a handful of these venerable steamers were left in service.
Notable amongst the survivors of a bygone era as the 1950s wore onward were Canada Steamship Lines' KENORA (1907), CANADIAN (1907), CALGARIAN (1905), BEAVERTON (1908) and EDMONTON (1906), Keystone Transports' KEYBELL (1912), KEYNOR (1914), KEYVIVE (1913) and KEYPORT (1909), the Upper Lakes and St. Lawrence Transportation Company's near-sisters GROVEDALE and PARKDALE of 1903, Bayswater Shipping's old self-unloaders BAYANNA of 1896 and GEORGE S. GLEET of 1912, Powell Transport's STARBUCK (1888) and STARBELLE (1913), Northwest Steamships' SUPERIOR of 1889, and the Reoch steamers FORESTDALE of 1890 and BROOKDALE (I) of 1902. Most of these were retired when the St. Lawrence Seaway opened in 1959, although a few hung on for a few years more. By 1965, seven seasons after the opening of the new waterway, only two of these vessels were still operating. One would go out of service at the end of the 1965 navigation season, while one would linger on for two more years of operation. It is BROOKDALE of 1902, or BROOKTON, as she was once known, that we feature this time around.
Shortly after the turn of the century, the Bertram Engine Works created a trio of very similar steam canallers. OTTAWA, built in 1900 as Hull 30, was ordered by the Canada Atlantic Transit Company, whilst Hulls 36 and 40, christened TADENAC and TADOUSSAC, respectively, were built in 1902 and 1903 to the shipyard's own account. These latter vessels were both sold after completion. OTTAWA was lost in 1909, TADOUSSAC later became the Northern Navigation Company's DORIC and did not return to the lakes after the First War, while TADENAC was to have a career of six and one-half decades.
TADENAC was launched on October 4, 1902, and was completed shortly thereafter, although it seems unlikely that she would have entered service until the spring of 1903. Registered at Toronto and given Official Number C.111895, TADENAC measured 252.5 feet in length, 43.2 feet in the beam, and 22.3 feet in depth. Her tonnage was originally shown as 2359 Gross and 1452 Net. She was powered by a triple-expansion engine, built by Bertram, with cylinders of 16 3/8, 28 1/8 and 46 inches and a stroke of 36 inches. Steam was provided by two single-ended, coal-fired Scotch marine boilers measuring 12 feet by ll 1/2 feet.
The new TADENAC was a most handsome boat indeed, much better looking than many of the early canallers. She was substantial in her lines but still possessed a graceful sheer. She was quite bluff in the bows and carried a raised forecastle and flush quarterdeck. Her two masts, the fore just abaft the forecastle and the main forward of the boilerhouse, were tall and heavy but well raked. The similarly raked stack was tall and quit thick, with a prominent roll at the top.
TADENAC possessed a rectangular texas cabin, containing the master's quarters, and her rounded pilothouse sat directly in front of it on the forecastle. An open bridge, complete with permanent closed rail and awning, was located above the pilothouse. There were six windows across the front of the wheelhouse and they were somewhat unusual in that there was no heavy frame between the two middle windows, thus permitting both to be opened to form a large and unobstructed opening. There was a large after cabin with the boilerhouse at its forward end, and additional crew space was provided in a doghouse set about half-way back down the spar deck. It does not appear that any particular cargo-handling gear was fitted when TADENAC was built, but a cargo boom was later added to the foremast.
Upon her completion, Bertram Engine Works arranged a sale for TADENAC and she passed to the ownership of J.H.G. Hagarty of the St. Lawrence and Chicago Steam Navigation Company Ltd. of Toronto. Her new owner immediately registered her at Owen Sound and renamed her; although photographs of the ship show her name to have been painted on her as IROQUOIS, the Dominion List of Shipping indicates that her full name actually was (b) THE IROQUOIS. Confusing as it may seem, she was reregistered at Toronto on March 3, 1903, probably before she was commissioned.
St. Lawrence and Chicago painted the ship in their own colours with a black hull, white cabins, and a black stack with what appears to have been a red diamond (although the diamond seems to have become white in later years). She ran mainly in the grain, coal and ore trades for the next decade and a half, apparently without incident, for nowhere does does she appear in the annual Wreck Commissioner's Reports during this period.
On April 20, 1916, the entire operation of the St. Lawrence and Chicago Steam Navigation Company Ltd. was purchased by Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. for the sum of $1,787.840. The acquisition of the fleet was approved by C.S.L. shareholders on July 27, 1916 and (THE) IROQUOIS then became yet another of the many boats that had been swallowed up by the huge C.S.L. The actual transfer of ownership on the registry records occurred on September 25, 1916. The ship retained her old name but was almost immediately sent off to salt water to assist in the war effort. She was transferred to the ownership of the Department of Marine and Fisheries on August 21, 1917 and spent the duration of the war years on salt water, not returning to the lakes after the cessation of hostilities.
Instead (THE) IROQUOIS was sold in 1920 to La Societe Francaise d'Armement and, placed under French registry (although her Canadian registry was not closed until June 12, 1921), she was renamed (c) COLORADO. It is not known where she operated but a good guess would be that she was trading between British ports and those of France. By 1922, however, she was considered to be excess tonnage and she was then acquired by one A. B. Mackay of Cardiff, Wales. If this name should sound familiar, it is because this was the same A. B. Mackay who had earlier made a name for himself as a shipping entrepreneur at Hamilton, Ontario. He had once been a voice of considerable authority on the lake scene, but certain reverses of fortune had made it more advisable for him to live abroad. In any event, he purchased COLORADO in 1922 and immediately renamed her (d) DORNOCH, registering her at Cardiff.
DORNOCH was, of course, not the only laker that Mackay purchased overseas after the war. He may have intended to operate her himself but it seems more likely that he was either acting as an agent for lake operators or else simply was of the opinion that he could resell the steamer to a lake fleet which might wish to repatriate her. Be this as it may, DORNOCH passed in 1922 to the ownership of the Mathews Steamship Company Ltd., Toronto, which brought her back to the lakes and renamed her (e) BROOKTON. At the time of her return, she was hardly recognizable as the same vessel she had been when she had left the lakes, for her stern cabin had been completely plated in, a taller and thinner stack had been fitted, and her old pilothouse had been removed and replaced by a rather odd but handsome wooden pilothouse which sat atop the texas.
BROOKTON was immediately painted up in Mathews colours with a black hull, white forecastle and forward cabin, and a black stack with two silver bands. In due course of time, the famous Mathews monogram was also added to the bow. The plated-in stern was at first painted black but it would appear as if the proprietor of the line, Alfred Ernest Mathews, did not appreciate the look of his new steamer with her "raised stern". Accordingly, it was not long before the plating was cut away from her stern cabin and she appeared once more with the open stern which was normal for a laker. She no longer had her heavy masts in her, but rather a light pole foremast and the same type of pole for a main, stepped very far aft behind the stack. During her years of service for Mathews, BROOKTON saw very few other changes, the only obvious ones being the addition of a sunvisor to her pilothouse and the removal of the covered entrance into the forecastle accommodations from the foredeck. Of course, the small doghouse on the spar deck had disappeared long before the steamer ever returned to the lakes, such gear not being appropriate to service on salt water. BROOKTON retained Cardiff as her port of registry until February 23, 1925, at which time she was reregistered at Toronto.
BROOKTON operated mainly in the grain trade for Mathews and her life seems to have been relatively uneventful. On April 22, 1924, during a snowstorm, she went aground on Russell Island Shoal near Owen Sound whilst en route to Port Arthur for a grain cargo. She was released the following day by the big wooden steam tug HARRISON (II) from Owen Sound and it would appear that damage to BROOKTON was minimal. Apparently, however, BROOKTON was involved in a subsequent accident for, on November 17, 1926, she was drydocked at Montreal by Canadian Vickers Ltd. for repairs to bottom damage, including the replacing or fairing of 18 shell plates on her bottom. We know of no other untoward events befalling BROOKTON at this time.
Not so, however, the financial affairs of A. E. Mathews. During the 1920s, Mathews had attempted to cash in on the booming business conditions by adding ten new vessels to the fleet. Mathews had been associated with James Playfair in several joint ventures, but their connection was severed in 1925. This was unfortunate for Mathews, for while Playfair survived the woes of the Great Depression, albeit with considerable difficulty, Mathews did not. Despite indications that business conditions were worsening, Mathews continued to build new canallers, the sisterships LIVINGSTON and WATERTON being constructed for the company in 1928 and another pair, FULTON and SOUTHTON, as late as 1929. During the 1927 season, Mathews had mortgaged his entire fleet to the hilt to finance his continuing expansion program, and when the bottom fell out of the lake shipping business in 1930, Mathews was caught with his pants down.
On January 8, 1931, upon application of the mortgagees (the Montreal Trust Company Ltd. and the National Trust Company Ltd.), Mr. Justice Middleton of the Ontario Supreme Court issued an order appointing G. T. Clarkson, of E.R.C. Clarkson and Sons, as receiver and manager of the Mathews Steamship Company Ltd. He was directed to manage and operate the vessels on behalf of the mortgagees and bondholders, and Mathews was instructed to hand over to him forthwith all of the ships and any other property of the firm.
On February 10, 1931, upon petition of the Toronto Dry Dock Company, the Mathews Steamship Company Ltd. was adjudged bankrupt by the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Ontario in Bankruptcy, a receiving order being issued and F. C. Clarkson installed as custodian pending the first meeting of the creditors. To say that Mathews' creditors were numerous would be to make an understatement of gargantuan proportions. A total indebtedness of some $3,196,267.67 was reported and, at the creditors' meeting of March 19, 1931, it was revealed that, even if the entire fleet was sold, insufficient funds would be realized to pay off even the secured and preferred creditors and nothing would be left over to satisfy any ordinary claims.
As a result, it was decided to operate the fleet in 1931 in an attempt to reduce the indebtedness. Needless to say, Mathews himself had been removed from office as president and a director of the company, which then ran under Clarkson management. During 1932 and 1933, the fleet was chartered to Toronto Elevators Ltd. Two canallers had been repossessed by their builders and five others were sold. Business conditions being what they were during those years, most of the Mathews boats operated only occasionally; only the most economically operated steamers saw any great amount of service and BROOKTON was not one of these. Laid up at Toronto in the autumn of 1931, she did not run at all in 1932 or 1933 but rather was used for grain storage moored, most of the time, in the Toronto Ship Channel. Her career as a storage hull came to a sudden close when she developed a small leak and her cargo had to be unloaded quickly. She was towed to Port Dalhousie on June 2, 1933 by another Mathews steamer, ARLINGTON.
On November 20, 1933, the remains of the Mathews Steamship Company Ltd. were sold to Colonial Steamships Ltd. which had been formed specifically for that purpose by Captain R. Scott Misener and the Hon. H. C. Schofield. Colonial put most of the Mathews boats back into service in 1934, complete with their old colours which, with the exception of the familiar monogram, had been adopted by Misener as his own. Some of the ships, however, were of no use to Colonial and BROOKTON, registered to the ownership of Colonial Steamships Ltd. on February 1, 1934, definitely fell into this category. She remained idle in 1934 at Port Dalhousie, languishing on the east side of the wall above Lock One in Muir's Pond (or Martindale Pond as it is more formally known).
BROOKTON was never once operated by the Misener interests. She lay in the same spot at Port Dalhousie for seven years and, during that period, her condition deteriorated to the point that the vessel was little more than a floating wreck. She was readily accessible to anyone who wished to go aboard her and she was completely stripped of any and all items of any value. By 1939, she was in deplorable condition, her cabin doors hanging open and her wooden pilothouse, its weathered paint having long since peeled away, totally devoid of window-glass. There seems little doubt that BROOKTON would eventually have found her way to the scrapyard had not the Second World War intervened and produced a demand for tonnage that had not been experienced since before the Great Depression.
During 1939, BROOKTON was purchased by Captain George Hindman of Owen Sound, who had her registered in his own name on September 26, 1939 and transferred her on February 8, 1940 to his newly-formed Diamond Steamship Company Ltd. Eight days later, her port of registry was changed from Toronto to Owen Sound. Hindman had been involved in the chartering of boats in prior years and had also participated in several joint ventures, but BROOKTON was the first ship that he owned outright. He immediately renamed her (f) GEORGE HINDMAN (I) and had her completely refitted so that she would be suitable to re-enter service. This refit was done by the Muir Brothers Drydock at Port Dalhousie. The steamer was given a new steel pilothouse and the after cabin was refurbished with a doghouse on the boat deck and a heavy closed rail around the bunker hatch. The old funnel was removed and replaced with a much heavier stack whose liner protruded noticeably above its top. GEORGE HINDMAN's tonnage was measured at this time as 2286 Gross and 1694 Net.
When GEORGE HINDMAN emerged from her refit in 1940 and entered service, was painted grey with a white forecastle, stern rail and cabins. Her big stack was black with a red band and a large white diamond. This stack design was virtually the same as that used by Hindman in later years for the ships of the Hindman Transportation Company Ltd., except that the large letter 'H' had not yet appeared in black on the diamond. As time went on, the hull colour was changed from grey to green and, as might be expected, GEORGE HINDMAN was a most handsome vessel when painted in these colours.
The only major work done on GEORGE HINDMAN after her rebuild of 1939-40 came in 1946, when she was reboilered. She was then fitted with two coal-fired Foster-Wheeler watertube boilers which measured 10 feet by 15 feet and which developed steam at 180 p.s.i. This reboilering undoubtedly added numerous years to the steamer's life, increasing her economic viability.
In 1952, Captain Hindman sold the four canal-sized steamers which made up the backbone of the Diamond Steamship Company Ltd. All four passed to the ownership of Captain Norman J. Reoch, who had been manager of operations for Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. but who had left that position in 1951 to enter business on his own account. GEORGE HINDMAN, HOWARD HINDMAN, BLANCHE HINDMAN and HELEN HINDMAN were his first vessels and, renamed respectively BROOKDALE (I), FORESTDALE, PARKDALE (I) and GROVEDALE (I), they were registered to the ownership of the Reoch Steamship Company Ltd., Montreal.
It would appear that Capt. Reoch liked the green hull colour used by Hindman, for he adopted it as his own and kept it until all but one of his straight-deck canallers had been retired and the fleet was making the transition to upper lakers and self-unloaders. BROOKDALE's entire hull now became green with the exception of the forecastle rail which was white as were the cabins. Her stack was black with a wide red band and a large white block letter 'R'.
BROOKDALE operated mostly in the grain trade for Reoch on the long-haul run from the Lakehead to the St. Lawrence River ports. The only changes in her appearance came late in her Reoch service, the rails of her bridgewings being closed in about 1960 and her hull being painted black in the spring of 1964. BROOKDALE was, in fact, the last Reoch vessel to operate with the familiar green hull colour and there were those amongst us who lamented the loss of this distinctive feature and who wished that the green colour had been used for the Reoch upper lakers.
Of the four steamers that made the transfer from Hindman to Reoch ownership in 1952, BROOKDALE was the last to operate. GROVEDALE and PARKDALE were sold in 1956 and FORESTDALE was scrapped in 1961. WILLOWDALE, a canaller which had been converted from the tanker IMPERIAL MIDLAND over the winter of 1952-53, was scrapped in 1963. AVONDALE (I), WESTDALE (I) and FERNDALE (I), all purchased in 1959 from Scott Misener Steamships Ltd., served but a few short years in Reoch colours, the first two being scrapped in 1962 and the latter in 1963.
But BROOKDALE gallantly carried on, the continuing echoes from her high-pitched chime whistle giving testimony to the fact that the Bertram shipwrights had built a fine and durable vessel. By the time that the last few years of her career rolled around, however, she was no longer particularly suitable for the grain trade and she spent much of her time running coal from Lake Erie ports to Toronto, returning back up the Welland Canal with cement clinker from Clarkson. On Sunday, December 12, 1965, she arrived at Toronto with a storage cargo of soya beans for Victory Mills and proceeded to lay up across the end of the elevator, soon letting down steam for what was to be the last time.
During March of 1966, BROOKDALE was unloaded at Victory Mills and, shortly thereafter, she was towed down the Keating Channel and moored at the premises of the Toronto Dry Dock Company Ltd. There she was stripped of any useful equipment, including her "Port Colborne" fairleads which were cut right out of the bulwarks fore and aft. She lay at the drydock yard through the summer of 1966 and undoubtedly raised a few eyebrows amongst passing motorists on Lakeshore Boulevard and the Gardiner Expressway, for the Keating Channel had long ago ceased to be used by anything but tugs and derricks, and was filling up rapidly with silt from the Don River to the extent that even small workboats found the navigation of the short channel to be treacherous.
BROOKDALE remained in the Keating Channel until, on Friday, October 28, 1966, the Canadian Dredge and Dock Company's tug G. W. ROGERS came and put lines on her bow. Carefully, the ROGERS eased her tow out of her resting place, through the Cherry Street bridge out onto Toronto Bay, and then up Lake Ontario to Hamilton. BROOKDALE was deposited at Strathearne Terminals and there was dismantled over the winter by United Metals and Refiners Ltd., Hamilton. By late March of 1967, only a small piece of the steamer's bow remained to be cut up.
Although BROOKDALE was Reoch's last true canaller, in the spring of 1965, BROOKDALE's last year of operation, Reoch Transports Ltd. purchased the previously-lengthened, self-unloading canaller VALLEY CAMP, renaming her (c) VALLEYDALE. She was operated for only two seasons, however, and in the autumn of 1966 she joined BROOKDALE at Strathearne Terminals, where she was dismantled in 1967.
BROOKDALE was indeed a credit to the Bertram Engine Works and it is unfortunate that the men who laboured to put TADENAC together back in 1902 had no way of knowing that the product of their efforts would still be in existence 65 years later. It is fitting that BROOKDALE's last voyage under her own steam brought her back to the port that had given her life so many years before.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.