We have sad news to report this month, for yet another of the veterans of lake service has been retired. This time around, it is the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company Ltd. steamer LAC DES ILES, (a) LYMAN C. SMITH (66), (b) MARTHA HINDMAN (79). Built in 1905 as Hull 159 of the Detroit Shipbuilding Company at Wyandotte, Michigan, she was originally owned by the L. C. Smith Transit Company which, in 1911, was merged into the Great Lakes Steamship Company. She was the proud recipient of the stack of the Wilson steamer B. F. JONES (I), which was scrapped after a collision with CASON J. CALLAWAY on Lake Munuscong on August 21, 1955. LYMAN C. SMITH passed in 1957 to the Wilson Marine Transit Company, in 1965 to the Hindman Transportation Company of Owen Sound, and in 1978 to Q & O. She spent the winter of 1979-80 at Toronto, and fitted out early in the spring. She ran for most of the 1980 season in the grain trade and made three rare appearances at Toronto, one of these being for the strange purpose of loading Ontario grain for delivery at Port McNicoll. On November 17, she entered Port Weller drydock for her four-year inspection and survey but, within two hours of going on the dock, it was obvious that her bottom was in such poor condition that even a full inspection, much less repair, was economically unwarranted. She was refloated on November 18, proceeded to Toronto under her own power, and, at 11:40 p.m. that evening, made fast at Berth 283 near the foot of Jarvis Street. Shortly thereafter, her master radioed Toronto Harbour Communications to report that the ship was secured, and the conversation ended with the prophetic message "Good Night, Toronto - LAC DES ILES". Q & O is frantically searching for a replacement boat for its fleet, but has given LAC DES ILES a decent lay-up, instead of simply dropping steam immediately, perhaps as a precaution against the possibility of having to repair and reactivate her in the spring if a suitable replacement cannot be obtained. We assume that the tired old steamer will hold storage soya beans for the winter for Victory Mills, and be sold for scrapping next spring.
The idle Q & O steamer MARLHILL will not be making the one-way trip to the breakers until sometime in 1981. It had earlier been suggested that a scrap sale for the 72-year-old bulk carrier had already been arranged and that she would depart her Toronto berth this autumn. As it developed, however, arrangements were made for MARLHILL to spend the coming winter at Toronto with a storage cargo of soya beans for Victory Soya Mills Ltd. The vessel, whose active career was unexpectedly terminated early in 1980 as a result of boiler failure detected whilst fitting out, was hauled to Victory Mills from her Leslie Street berth on November 5, and was loaded with beans. The loading operation took about a week, following which MARLHILL was moored across the end of the Cousins Terminal at Pier 35. We understand that MARLHILL's service as a storage hull will be relatively short; she is to be unloaded during the winter and will be sold for scrap early in 1981.
The Welland firm of E. S. Fox Ltd. is seeking approval for the proposed construction of a $5,500,000 shipyard to be located on the abandoned section of the Welland Canal just above Port Robinson. It is hoped that construction can begin sometime in 1982. The company's eventual goal is to operate a marine repair yard with facilities to build canal shunters and coastal patrol boats. It will be recalled that the two prototype shunters were constructed at the present Fox fabricating plant at Niagara Falls.
Two-thirds of the present fleet of Westdale Shipping Ltd., namely the self-unloaders SILVERDALE and NORDALE, have recently been on drydock at Port Weller. Both steamers passed survey and inspection with flying colours. ERINDALE, apparently, is not due for docking this season. Although the de-boomed BROOKDALE has been sold for scrapping at Port Maitland, there is a possibility that part of her may survive; we have heard that her boilers may be removed and placed in the Q & O steamer LAC STE. ANNE. Meanwhile, in order to replace BROOKDALE and maintain cargo commitments, the American Steamship Company's JOHN A. KLING has been operating to Westdale's account since her reactivation early in October. KLING has been running mainly in the salt trade, with two trips down to Hamilton and several others to Lake Michigan ports. There are those who suggest that KLING may be purchased by Westdale at the close of 1980, but we have no confirmation of this at present .
A collision on Lake Michigan's Grand Traverse Bay on November 5 resulted in the loss of the Selvick Marine Towing Corporation's 1906-built tug LAUREN CASTLE and the death of her engineer. Earlier, the Amoco Oil Company steam tanker AMOCO WISCONSIN had become disabled with engine failure out on Lake Michigan. She was en route to Traverse City with a gasoline cargo at the time, and a Coast Guard tug towed her into Grand Traverse Bay, after which the tow was taken over by Selvick tugs. At about 1:30 a.m. on the 5th, while some l 1/2 miles northeast of Lee's Point, LAUREN CASTLE somehow collided with the disabled tanker. The tug rapidly capsized and sank in 390 feet of water, all her crew having been rescued with the exception of the engineer. AMOCO WISCONSIN received minor damage in the accident and a small amount of gasoline escaped before the cargo could be shifted to other tanks aboard the 50-year-old boat. The sinking of LAUREN CASTLE, however, caused a major spill of diesel fuel with which authorities had to contend. It is not yet known how the collision between tug and tanker occurred, although an investigation was begun by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The former steam passenger and auto ferry THE STRAITS OF MACKINAC is being dismantled at Sturgeon Bay by Peterson Builders Inc. Peterson acquired the old ferry in 1969 after she had been retired by Straits Transit Inc. which had, in turn, acquired her almost a decade earlier from the State of Michigan Highway Department. The ferry, built in 1928 at River Rouge by the Great Lakes Engineering Works, operated originally between St. Ignace and Mackinaw City. She appeared to be permanently out of a job when the Mackinac Bridge opened in 1957, but Straits Transit reactivated her in 1960 for the Mackinac Island service.
The much-delayed entry into service of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation's latest 1,000-footer, BURNS HARBOR, at last took place in late September. The boat, built by Bay Shipbuilding at Sturgeon Bay, passed upbound through the St. Mary's River on her maiden voyage on September 29. BURNS HARBOR was actually completed by BayShip earlier in the year, but did not enter service during the summer as previously scheduled because of various problems and the lack of demand for tonnage in this year of poor business conditions.
We had earlier believed that all of the U.S. Steel steamers sold for scrapping this summer had been towed to Montreal, with the exception of D. G. KERR, which had been taken by TUSKER all the way to Sydney, Nova Scotia. It now seems that this was not the case. ALVA C. DINKEY and GOVERNOR MILLER were taken through to Quebec City, from which port both steamers cleared on October 18 in tow of the tug CATHY B., destined for a Spanish scrapyard. To be perfectly honest, we are surprised that the scrap tows would set out across the Atlantic so late in the season, particularly in view of the number of old lakers that have been lost during the course of late-season tows across the ocean. (CATHY B. is owned by Fednav Ltd. and is registered at Halifax.)
While the U.S. Steel Great Lakes Fleet has been laying up most of its fleet during the autumn, one of its steamers has made an unexpected return to service. T. W. ROBINSON, the 1925-built "Bradley" self-unloader, had gone into winter quarters earlier in the fall, but was reactivated during November as a replacement for CALCITE II while the latter underwent repairs for mechanical problems.
The last remains of the beautiful U.S. Steel steamer JAMES A. FARRELL were cut up at the Duluth scrapyard of the Hyman-Michaels Company in early November. Work will undoubtedly now proceed on the final dismantling of the cut-down hulls of RICHARD TRIMBLE and PERCIVAL ROBERTS JR., as well as on the as-yet-untouched WILLIAM B. SCHILLER.
The American Seaway Grain Company's barge (and former steamer) PETER A. B. WIDENER did make it safely to Sorel with her grain cargo, but late-season weather conditions have conspired to cancel plans for another trip with grain to Buffalo before the close of navigation. WIDENER, along with tugs OHIO, SOUTH CAROLINA and SAINTE MARIE II, was in the Welland Canal, downbound, on October 30 but spent three days windbound at the Welland dock. It was not until November 2 that she finally passed out through the Port Weller piers into Lake Ontario. She was taken to Sorel for unloading and was subsequently brought back upbound as far as Montreal. There she was left by the tugs, which returned up the Welland Canal on November 13. We presume that WIDENER will spend the winter at Montreal and that she will not return to the lakes until next spring.
The veteran Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker N. B. McLEAN, which was retired from service several years ago and which, it had been hoped, would eventually be used as a museum at Quebec City, has now been sold for scrapping. Purchased by Marine Salvage Ltd., she was towed from Quebec to Sorel on October 8th.
Work began in mid-November on the construction of docking facilities at Toronto's Centre Island to accommodate the sidewheel ferry TRILLIUM. The job, contracted to the Dean Construction Company Ltd., involves chopping off the westerly tip of Olympic Island and adding a new slip to the east of the existing ferry dock. Commencing in 1981, TRILLIUM will be used on days of heavy passenger traffic to augment the service normally maintained by SAM McBRIDE and THOMAS RENNIE.
In the November issue, we mentioned that QUEDOC had been involved in a collision with the salty GEORGE L., but we could give no further detail. We have since learned that QUEDOC, downbound with grain for Trois-Rivieres, was struck by the salty on Lac St-Louis on October 11. QUEDOC continued downbound, unloaded her cargo, and returned up the lakes. It was believed that repairs would be completed at Thunder Bay.
The 229-foot Canadian coaster EDGAR JOURDAIN, owned by the Jourdain Navigation Ltd. of Montreal, has been wrecked at Foxe Basin, Northwest Territories, while operating in Arctic service. EDGAR JOURDAIN, (a) MONTCLAIR, (b) PIERRE RADISSON, (c) GEORGE CROSBIE, was built in 1956 at Collingwood for Montship Lines Ltd., and, along with her sister MONTROSE (I), she operated into the lakes for a short period of time prior to the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. After the new canals opened, the pair was replaced by MONTCALM and her ill-fated sistership MONTROSE (II).
During the last few years, we have seen the demise of most of the old lakers which were used for the famous North Traverse dredging project near Quebec City. One of these, however, was still active during the summer of 1980. This was the spoil carrier ILE AUX COUDRES, the former Hall Corporation canaller HUTCHCLIFFE HALL. She has been used most recently by her present owner, Sceptre Dredging Ltd. of Richmond, British Columbia.
The Montreal-Newfoundland services of Clarke Transport Canada Inc. and Chimo Container Service, a division of Chimo Shipping Ltd., are being merged into a new firm which will be known as Newfoundland Steamships Ltd. Each of the merging companies will hold a 47 1/2% interest in the new organization, the remaining 5% being held by Newfoundland businessmen. The new service will be operated regularly by four boats, CABOT and CHIMO being contributed by Clarke and A. C. CROSBIE and LADY M. A. CROSBIE by Chimo. As a result, Clarke will have no further use for FORT ST. LOUIS, which it has chartered from C.S.L. on a full-time basis since 1970. FORT ST. LOUIS will be returned to C.S.L. for its lake package freight service, apparently to replace the steam-powered FORT YORK. As it now appears, the C.S.L. package freight division in 1981 will consist of FORT CHAMBLY, FORT ST. LOUIS and FORT WILLIAM.
We have received reports to the effect that the Ford Motor Company's BENSON FORD is scheduled to load a cargo of soya beans at Toledo late this season for winter storage at Toronto. If so, this will be the first trip to Toronto for any of Ford's present vessels, and it will probably mean that BENSON FORD is in the course of being purchased by a Canadian fleet.
The Greek salty SARONIC SEA, which grounded near Port Weller late in the 1979 season and which was the subject of frantic salvage efforts in order that she might escape the Seaway before it closed for the winter, survived her stranding but has since fallen victim to the hostilities between Iraq and Iran. She was abandoned on September 25 after taking a severe pounding from shore-mounted artillery. As far as we are aware, she is the only one of the casualties in the Middle East war which had previously visited the Great Lakes.
The Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. steamer JAMES NORRIS emerged from drydock at Port Weller on October 29 after having received preliminary work prior to her self-unloader conversion. Whilst on the dock, NORRIS was painted and a bowthruster tube was installed, although the thruster machinery itself has not yet been fitted. By mid-November, the NORRIS had received part of her above-deck gear and it is evident that, contrary to recent trends, she will carry her unloading gear and boom forward rather than aft.
HELEN EVANS and THORNHILL departed Quebec for an overseas scrapyard on September 17 with the tug CAPT. IOANNIS S. We understand that the EVANS' name had been completely painted out before her departure but we do not know whether she was actually renamed for the Atlantic tow as had been PIERSON INDEPENDENT, which made the tow under the strange name COMPANY. By the way, the former Soo River steamer arrived safely at Santander, Spain, on June 11.
Toledo is well known as a port to which U.S.-flag lakers gravitate for layup during periods of business recession. As an indication of how poor conditions have been for the shipping industry of late, there follows a list of ships that were idle at Toledo during early November. PIONEER, ASHLAND, THOMAS WILSON, McKEE SONS, J. R. SENSIBAR and SYLVANIA were in the Frog Pond, CRISPIN OGLEBAY at the C & O coal dock, ARMCO at the Lakefront ore dock, WILLIAM A. REISS at the Toledo City dock, ROBERT C. NORTON at Hans Hansen Welding, and NICOLET and EDWARD B. GREENE at the AmShip yard. Incidentally, we erred when we mentioned previously that MERLE M. McCURDY had been in the Frog Pond prior to her mid-Summer reactivation; in fact, McCURDY had been lying at the Lakefront ore dock.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.