HUBERT GAUCHER, the former L'ERABLE NO. 1, is not only sporting a new name but also a new letter on her funnel. The old 'B' (for Branch Lines) has been replaced by an 'S', representing Societe Sofati Soconav, her new operator. We presume that the other tankers of the fleet will also display the same change in the near future.
The former Lake Ontario ro/ro ferry LAKESPAN ONTARIO cleared Montreal on November 21, left Cacouna with a load of pulp on the 25th, and arrived at Glasgow on December 7. Now flying the British flag, she has been renamed MERCHANT NAVIGATOR by her new owner, Cenargo Ltd.
As if things were not bad enough for beleaguered Toronto Harbour in 1982, the port has lost one of its last remaining overseas liner services. Christensen Canadian African Line (better known by the initials C.C.A.L. which appear in red on its vessels' white sides), operated by A/S Thor Dahl of Sandefjord, Norway, has withdrawn from lake service and hence from any calls at Toronto, because THORSWAVE, one of its three boats on the lakes last year, has reached the age of fifteen years and is no longer eligible to carry government cargo. At last report, she was up for sale at Montreal. THORSCAPE and THOR 1, which date from 1977, will run a new "express service" from Montreal to South African ports as far as Durban. It has been suggested that other ships might come into the lakes on an unscheduled basis when cargo is offered, but this seems unlikely. Not only does the loss of the C.C.A.L. service deplete even further the number of lines calling regularly at Toronto, but it will deprive us of the sight of the company's beautiful, immaculately maintained, white-hulled vessels.
Despite much recent bad news concerning Lake Michigan carferry operations, there may be light on the horizon. The County of Muskegon, Michigan, is negotiating to purchase, from Penn Central, the idle Ann Arbor ferry VIKING, which has not operated since the Michigan Interstate Railway suspended ferry service last spring. The County plans to lease VIKING to a private operator for use in the passenger and auto trade between Muskegon and Milwaukee. The cost of refitting VIKING for the route would approximate $1,000,000.
On her last trip of the year during December, the Interlake Steamship Company's J. L. MAUTHE appeared at Thunder Bay to load grain for Buffalo. She delivered the cargo to Pillsbury's and then went to Lorain to lay up. The trip marked the first visit of a Pickands Mather boat to Thunder Bay in approximately two decades. Another rare visitor to the Canadian Lakehead was WILLIAM A. McGONAGLE, which loaded 11,663 tonnes of wheat at Thunder Bay for Buffalo on December 5. She was the first Kinsman vessel to visit Thunder Bay in a great many years.
The lake fleet of the Ford Motor Company is presently operated by the spinoff firm, Rouge Steel Company, to which Ford transferred both its boats and the steel plant. As reported last year, negotiations have been underway to sell Rouge Steel to new owners, the sale to include the steel-making facilities but not the boats. We understand that when the sale of Rouge Steel finally takes place, the five-vessel Ford fleet will revert to operation by the Ford Motor Company. The fleet now consists of four active boats, including BENSON FORD (II), the former JOHN DYKSTRA (I), which has been chosen to preserve that famous name on the lakes. Meanwhile, the old motorship BENSON FORD (I) has become JOHN DYKSTRA. (II), but only to allow her old name to be reused. The ship herself has been retired and remained idle in the Rouge River during 1982. She has been stripped of any parts which might help to prolong the life of HENRY FORD II, her near-sistership, and the old BENSON will likely be sold for scrapping as soon as there is any appreciable improvement in the presently-depressed scrap market.
In the December issue, we mentioned that a salty had struck Bridge 3 on the Welland Canal on November 21, causing damage to the structure. We reported that the vessel involved was "GRIGORIOS", but we have since learned that her name was actually GRIGOROUSA.
The last of the Clarke Steamships fleet is now being sold off to new owners. La Compagnie de Navigation Charlevoix-Saguenay Ltee., with its ferries SAGUENAY and CHARLEVOIX, was sold in 1980 to La Societe des Traversiers du Quebec. During January, 1983, La Traverse Riviere-du-Loup-St. Simeon Ltee. and its ferry TRANS-ST-LAURENT were to be sold to Mr. A. Rioux, who owns Traverse Trois Pistoles-Escoumins Ltee., the operator of the ferry LE GOBELET D'ARGENT, (a) OSBORNE CASTLE. Also expected to be closed during January was the sale of CABOT (Clarke Transport Canada Inc.) and CHIMO (Newfoundland Steamships Ltd.) to Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd., which apparently intends for each boat to be in the shipyard for two months for "conversion". We need hardly say that this news comes as a distinct surprise. We have no confirmation of U.L.S. plans for CABOT and CHIMO, but perhaps we may be permitted to speculate a bit.
When Canada Steamship Lines closed its package freight division at the end of the 1981 season, efforts were made by the Ontario government to persuade C.S.L. to reactivate the service. Clients of C.S.L. also complained about the cessation of the unique trade, but C.S.L. refused to reopen the line without subsidies to offset losses and, with no provincial money provided, the package freighters lay idle during 1982. Could Upper Lakes Shipping be considering the use of CABOT and CHIMO on a lake package freight route? They would be good boats for that trade and, of course, U.L.S. is no stranger to general cargo. We recall the unsuccessful efforts of U.L.S. to operate such a service in the early 1960s, using the venerable and less-than-suitable steamers JAMES B. EADS and L. A. McCORQUODALE. It will be interesting to see what becomes of CABOT and CHIMO.
If the sale of the two vessels is confirmed, then for the first time since 1921 when Clarke Steamships was founded, the company will own no ships at all. Although Northmont Holdings Ltd., Clarke's parent company, owns 50% of Atlantic Container Express Inc., both A.C.E. ships (CATALINA and LADY M. A. CROSBIE) are bareboat-chartered. BONAVENTURE II, chartered to A.C.E. by Harvey Container Ship Ltd., is laid up following the cancellation of service to Corner Brook, Nfld., and she also is for sale.
A report concerning CHARLEVOIX and SAGUENAY appeared in our December issue, following the arrival of the end-loading motorships at Kingston. Both ferries were built for the Gulf Ports Steamship Company Ltd., with the older SAGUENAY being transferred to the Orleans Steamship Company Ltd. at about the same time that CHARLEVOIX was built in 1962. By 1970, both had been acquired by Dingwall Shipping Company Ltd. The ferries were again transferred in 1979, from Dingwall to La Compagnie de Navigation Charlevoix-Saguenay Ltee. All of the firms mentioned so far were Clarke subsidiaries. CHARLEVOIX and SAGUENAY went to La Societe des Traversiers du Quebec in 1980 and now are at Kingston, purchased by the provincial government. It is not yet clear, however, in what capacity they will be used, for they seem generally unsuitable for use in the Kingston area. While we are waiting to see what becomes of them, we can always contemplate our tax money that has gone into their purchase...
The Augsbury Corporation, a U.S. firm which is related via Frank A. Augsbury, Jr., to the lake fleet of Halco Inc., filed for bankruptcy under the protection of Chapter Eleven during November 1982. This filing gave the company 120 days to reorganize in an effort to avoid full bankruptcy proceedings, but we have yet to receive word on the results of reorganization efforts. Even if the Augsbury Corp. should fail, it seems unlikely that a failure of that firm would have any effect on the Halco fleet, but in the meantime Frank Augsbury has resigned as chairman and president of Halco.
In 1980, the Pittston Stevedoring Corp. attempted to reopen port facilities at Rochester (the port was closed in 1976) in the hope of starting a cross-lake ferry from Oshawa. Pittston leased several sheds and expressed interest in using ten acres at the mouth of the Genesee River for a terminal. Local authorities, however, frowned on the idea, for they planned to keep Rochester harbour for recreational use only. Now the city has bought out the Pittston leases so as to be able to demolish the freight sheds. Thus, except for the Rochester Portland Cement Corp. dock up the Genesee River, endeth any hope for commercial shipping in the Rochester area!
Late in 1980, the tug TRIO BRAVO (the former JOHN ROEN V) and barge TRIO TRADO (MAITLAND NO. l) set out from the lakes en route to the Caribbean. Left behind by the tug due to bad weather, the barge sank at sea in a later tow. TRIO BRAVO had gone on alone, arrived safely at Port Everglades, and then sank at her dock on January 21, 1981. The tug, which was originally the CUMBERLAND of 1898, was later raised, but we now have word that she was intentionally sunk off Fort Lauderdale on December 16, 1982, to serve as an artificial reef. More details, anyone?
We now have additional information on the motorship HANCOCK TRADER which, under the ownership of Baffin Enterprises Ltd., Frobisher Bay, now operates from Oshawa to the Arctic. The little vessel previously served under the Danish flag, as MARCO until 1973, and as LAURITS STAERKE until 1978.
As far as we are aware, Canada Steamship Lines has not yet made any firm decision regarding the reconversion of QUETICO to a straight-decker, despite having towed the steamer from Ojibway to Collingwood during December.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.