Our readers will have noticed that, more often than not, the vessels we choose to feature each month are passenger steamers or freighters that operated, for at least part of their lives, on the lower lakes. Many of the Ships of the Month that have appeared here have been actual canallers and it is just possible that some of you have wondered why we have not featured more of the upper lakers, with which many of our members will be much more familiar.
In reality, that is a question which should answer itself. While we do on occasion feature well-known ships, we feel that we should be devoting our efforts to researching the stories of less familiar vessels, so that our members will then, in turn, know more about them. To a large extent, the canallers have been ignored by many marine publications, and that gives us the perfect opportunity to explore "new ground".
As an example, the steamer that we have chosen this month was built to what might generally be considered to be "canal dimensions", but she spent most of her early years operating on the upper lakes. She eventually wound up in true canal service and latterly operated for Canada Steamship Lines, the fleet that, throughout the years, ran more canallers than any other company. But this ship was one of C.S.L.'s lesser-known canallers, and some of our readers may not be familiar either with the vessel or with any of the details of her career. Hence we present her story here, with the hope that our readers will enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed preparing it.
The gentleman for whom our steamer was named was John W. Moore, a partner in the firm of Moore and Bartow of Cleveland, Ohio. Moore and Bartow were agents and managers for several vessel owners, as well as for their own ships. The well-known shipowner Joseph C. Gilchrist was a partner of Moore and Bartow during the late 1880s and early 1890s, but he soon withdrew from the firm in order to continue in the shipping business on his own account. The other member of the firm was J. H. Bartow, for whom was named a large steel bulk carrier which was built in 1907.
The vessel was constructed with a length of 246.0 feet, a beam of 40.6 feet and a depth of 21.0 feet. Her tonnage was registered as 1961.68 Gross and 1689.35 Net. She was powered by a fore-and-aft compound engine which had cylinders of 26 and 50 inches and a stroke of 42 inches. This machinery was built by S. F. Hodge and Company of Detroit, one of the major Great Lakes engine builders of the period. We have no details concerning MOORE's original boilers, but they were coal-fired and the steam that they produced enabled her engine to develop an Indicated Horsepower of 775.
JOHN W. MOORE was a very handsome vessel, but many of her features more closely resembled those of the old wooden steamers than the steel freighters that were then coming into style. Full-bowed and with a graceful, sweeping sheer to her decks, MOORE sported a full raised forecastle with a closed rail down its full length. Her square pilothouse, with an open navigation bridge on the monkey's island, sat directly on the forecastle, and a large texas cabin, with short bridgewings extending outward from its roof, was located immediately abaft the pilothouse.
The MOORE was given closed bulwarks all around her spar deck and she had a small "doghouse" located about half-way down the deck to provide additional crew quarters. She was built with a large after cabin, well sheltered by the overhang of the boat deck, and her thin, although well-raked, stack rose from an indented boilerhouse which sat immediately forward of the aft cabin. Just forward of the boilerhouse, and of about the same height, was a large box which provided access to the coal bunkers and which served as an upper extension of the bunkers. Not only did JOHN W. MOORE carry large nameboards on the sides of her pilothouse, but in truly old-fashioned style she carried similar nameboards on either side of the boilerhouse.
As originally built, the MOORE carried her foremast down the deck, just abaft the first hatch, while the mainmast also rose from the deck, one hatch back of the doghouse. Both masts were pleasingly raked on much the same angle as the funnel. Before many years had passed, however, the mainmast was removed from the spar deck and stepped from the after cabin, just behind the stack. And then, after the passage of a few more years, the foremast also was moved away from the cargo handling area, being relocated just abaft the pilothouse and rising out of the texas cabin. The movement of the masts was done so that they would not obstruct access to the cargo holds for coal and ore loading chutes and unloading rigs. As well, the small deckhouse was also removed to open up more deck area, and the crew accommodations that had been located in it were relocated to other positions aboard the steamer.
As far as we know, the hull of the ship was always painted black whilst she carried the name JOHN W. MOORE. Her forecastle was originally black also, with a white rail, although the entire forecastle became white in later years. Her stack was all black, while the cabins were white, except for the front section of the boilerhouse and the bunker hatch, both of which were painted a dark colour.
The ownership of JOHN W. MOORE remained with her namesake until 1896, when the vessel was acquired by Frank M. Osborne of Willoughby Heights, Ohio. Osborne was one of the principals of the Youghiogheny and Ohio Coal Company of Cleveland, an important producer and shipper of coal. He also was a major shareholder in the J. C. Gilchrist Transportation Company, Cleveland. As it subsequently developed, the lake shipping industry was hit hard by the economic depression of 1907 and the Gilchrist fleet was no exception. In addition, and some say because of the impact of the depression on his fleet, J. C. Gilchrist suffered a severe stroke that same year. He was left incapacitated by his illness, and Frank M. Osborne succeeded Gilchrist as president of the Gilchrist Transportation Company, in addition to retaining his own coal and shipping connections. The Gilchrist fleet was never able to recover from the depression, however, and eventually wound up in receivership, with most of the vessels being sold off to other owners in 1913.
It is, of course, interesting to note that both the first and second owners of JOHN W. MOORE, namely Moore and Osborne, both had close relations with Joseph C. Gilchrist. Despite these associations, however, we have been unable to locate any indication that the MOORE was ever part of the Gilchrist fleet. First Moore and then Osborne appear to have operated the steamer only to their own respective accounts, and never let her mix in with the Gilchrist operations.
During 1896 and 1897, however, Osborne chartered JOHN W. MOORE to a company called the Great Lakes Steamship Company of Buffalo, an independent package freight line which was formed in 1896 by General John Gordon and J. R. Atkins in order to provide service between Buffalo, Cleveland and Manitowoc, with connections to the Wisconsin Central Railroad. General Gordon had previously been in charge of the Buffalo operations of the Northern Steamship Company, another operator of package freighters. Unfortunately, the Great Lakes Steamship Company (which was in no way related with the later large fleet of the same name which operated bulk carriers) was not successful and its unprofitable operations were suspended after only two years.
JOHN W. MOORE then reverted to the bulk trades, still under Osborne's ownership and the management of what had come to be called the Moore Steamship Company. She spent most of her time in the upper lakes coal trade, but she retained two cargo ports in each side of her hull. We are not certain whether she had carried these ports right through from the time of her construction, or whether they had been added specially during her two years in the package freight trade. That she did have side ports, however, even if they were not frequently used, is not surprising, for the very early steel-hulled bulk carriers had cargo holds which were cluttered by a great assortment of beams and stanchions which were placed there to provide extra hull strength. If needed, 'tween decks for general cargo could be improvised simply by laying wooden planks over these steel beams.
Frank M. Osborne died at Toledo on July 16, 1911, but his passing did not materially change the operation of JOHN W. MOORE. Osborne's estate, together with the Youghiogheny and Ohio Coal Company, continued to run the vessel until December 3, 1915. when she was sold to the Juliet Graveraet Steamship Company of Cleveland. Edward N. Breitung and Company, Cleveland, were the managers of this new line and they immediately rechristened the steamer (b) EDWARD N. BREITUNG. Also operated in this same fleet were the wooden schooner barge MAGNETIC and the steel steamer CHARLOTTE GRAVERAET BREITUNG (19), (a) YALE (16), (c) T. K. MAHER (24), (d) D. E. CALLENDER (I).
The Juliet Graveraet Steamship Company flourished due to the boom in the coal and iron ore trades which resulted from the demands of World War One. The company updated EDWARD N. BREITUNG by giving her a more modern boilerhouse and removing her rather scrawny original funnel, complete with the old-fashioned apron that graced its lower end. In its place was set a new stack, also well raked but much thicker than its predecessor. The old after mast was taken out and in its place was stepped a very thin steel pole. At this stage, the ship's hull and forecastle were painted black, the forecastle rail and cabins were white, and the stack remained all black.
On Saturday, August 25, 1917, EDWARD N. BREITUNG was downbound in Lake Erie with the company's wooden barge MAGNETIC (U.S.91497) in tow. Both vessels were loaded with ore and heavy weather was making their progress difficult. When the tow was approximately abreast of Long Point, MAGNETIC's steering gear failed and the big barge became unmanageable. She fell off into the trough of the seas and finally foundered, breaking in two as she did so. The BREITUNG, commanded by Capt. T. D. Sullivan, stood by during the barge's agony and safely rescued MAGNETIC's master and her crew of seven.
MAGNETIC had been built by the Presley shipyard at Cleveland in 1882, and was 264.1 x 38.4 x 19.9, 1676.22 Gross and 1592.42 Net. She had seen previous service in the fleets of the Republic Iron Company (the M. A. Hanna Company) and the Gilchrist Transportation Company. The Juliet Graveraet Steamship Company had acquired her in 1916 from the Reid Wrecking Company of Port Huron, Michigan.
Both JOHN F. MORROW and T. K. MAHER (the former CHARLOTTE GRAVERAET BREITUNG) were painted in Cleveland-Cliffs livery. Their hulls and forecastles were all black and their cabins became the familiar Cliffs green. Their stacks, however, remained all black and it does not appear that they were given the red letter 'C which graced the funnels of regular Cliffs boats. JOHN F. MORROW carried her name in white letters on her bows, with the legend "The Morrow Steamship Co." appearing in smaller white letters just beneath the name.
The Cliffs fleet kept JOHN F. MORROW busy in the coal and iron ore trades. Strangely enough, it was just a few days more than a year after the steamer had lost her barge MAGNETIC, that the MORROW was involved in another accident under remarkably similar circumstances. On Tuesday, September 10th, 1918, the MORROW was downbound on Lake Huron with the big wooden schooner barge SANTIAGO (U.S.116893) in tow. Both vessels were deeply laden with cargoes of iron ore.
SANTIAGO had been built in 1899 by the famous shipyard of James Davidson at West Bay City, Michigan. She measured 324.0 x 45.5 x 21.5. 2600 Gross and 2525 Net. The barge was, by 1918, also owned by the Morrow Steamship Company. From her dimensions, it can be seen that she was a much larger ship than the JOHN F. MORROW, and the steamer would not likely have been able to work up much speed for the tow, particularly with ore cargoes in both vessels.
At about 1:40 a.m. on September 10, 1918, the labouring tow was about fourteen miles off Pointe aux Barques, which is located at the tip of Michigan's "thumb". SANTIAGO began to take water and her crew was unable to stem the influx with the pumps. SANTIAGO soon foundered, but her crew was able to take to the lifeboat and all were rescued by the towing steamer, which stood by to render assistance. By coincidence, it happened that Capt. T. D. Sullivan, who had been the master of EDWARD N. BREITUNG in 1917 and had directed the rescue of the crew from the sunken MAGNETIC, had come over with the steamer when she was acquired by the Morrow Steamship Company. It was he who was on the bridge of JOHN F. MORROW during the sinking of SANTIAGO, and who manoeuvred the vessel so as to pick up the barge's crew.
JOHN F. MORROW, however, was not to remain long in the ownership of the Morrow Steamship Company. U.S. shipyards, had long been turning out much larger steamers, and she could no longer be operated economically in upper lakes trades. Accordingly, she was sold during 1920, her purchaser being the George Hall Coal Company of Canada Ltd., Montreal. JOHN F. MORROW was transferred to Canadian registry as C.141758, but she was not renamed and retained her old name throughout her years of service under the Hall flag.
Of course, when the MORROW entered the Hall fleet, she was repainted in the usual Hall livery. Her hull was black, although her forecastle rail was white for a few years until it, too, was painted black. The cabins were white and the stack was black with the usual Hall "wishbone" and letter 'H' in white. But apart from painting the steamer, Hall did not alter her much during her years with the fleet. The only noticeable change was that, at long last, she was given an upper pilothouse to provide shelter for her officers, who previously had been required to stand for long hours on the monkey's island in all sorts of inclement conditions. (The only improvement to the ship's navigation facilities that had been provided by previous owners was a small visor over the centre window of the lower pilothouse.)
The new upper pilothouse was a square, wooden cabin which sat directly atop the old house, with no catwalk around it. It had five windows in each side and the front, with the only access to the cabin being a ladder up to the door in its after wall from the texas roof. The addition of the new pilothouse certainly gave the MORROW a more up-to-date appearance, for open bridges were by then very much out of fashion, but the house itself was hardly what could be called "modern", even for the 1920s.
The ownership of JOHN F. MORROW was transferred in 1922 from the George Hall Coal Company of Canada Ltd. to the George Hall Coal and Shipping Company Ltd. as a result of a corporate reorganization of the Hall interests. There were no further changes involving the MORROW during her six years in the Hall fleet, but the steamer did fall victim to at least two major strandings.
The first of these occurred on Wednesday, July 14, 1920, when, during dense fog, she stranded on Lark Reef in the St. Lawrence River. This menace to navigation is located along the north shore of the St. Lawrence, just upstream from the mouth of the Saguenay River. JOHN F. MORROW had taken on a cargo of pulpwood in the small cove on the right bank of the Saguenay at the point where the Petit Saguenay flows into the larger river. Her loading finished, the MORROW proceeded down the Saguenay and was trying to make the turn into the St. Lawrence when she ran foul of Lark Reef. Although she sustained considerable bottom damage, she was successfully refloated on July 21, and continued her upbound voyage, unloading her pulpwood cargo at Ogdensburg, New York. The MORROW then made her way to Buffalo, arriving there on July 27, 1920. The Buffalo Dry Dock Company took the MORROW in hand, drydocking her and attending to the repairs necessitated by the accident.
MORROW's second serious grounding occurred on Tuesday, May 15, 1923. Bound for Byng Inlet on Georgian Bay, she stranded on the southwest bank of Cove Island, which is the largest of the islands lying in the southern part of the entrance from Lake Huron into Georgian Bay. Fortunately, this accident did not prove to be as damaging for the ship, and she was refloated on May 16 by the tugs HARRISON and KEENAN, which had been sent from Owen Sound.
During the month of February, 1925, James Playfair of Midland, Ontario, acquired control of the George Hall Coal and Shipping Company Ltd. and installed himself as president. James A. Richardson of Winnipeg and Frank A. Augsbury of Ogdensburg became vice-presidents, and Frank M. Ross took over as managing director. The George Hall interests had suffered rather badly during the economic recession of 1923 and 1924, and it was as a result of the weakening of Hall's position that Playfair was able to gain control. Of course, much of Playfair's strength in the shipping industry came from his association with several influential U.S. vessel owners and managers, and it could thus be said that a certain amount of this American influence was extended to the Hall fleet as a result of the Playfair takeover.
The Hall fleet did not lose its identity under the Playfair presidency, however. Quite the contrary. Many of the former "Glen" boats from the Playfair fleet wound up wearing their familiar grey hulls but sporting Hall stack colours, for Playfair had merged into the George Hall Coal and Shipping Company his Glen Line Ltd. and Glen Steamships Ltd., and had also transferred over two steamers from his Great Lakes Transportation Company Ltd. This situation was of short duration, however, lasting only through the 1925 season. In the spring of 1926, the Canadian shipping industry was swept by rumours that the Hall and Playfair fleets were about to be swallowed up in a "merger" with Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. of Montreal.
It was on March 10, 1926, that W. H. Coverdale, president of C.S.L., announced in an interview that negotiations had been going on for some three months and that, at a meeting that day, the C.S.L. directors had authorized the purchase of the entire capital stock of the George Hall Coal and Shipping Company Ltd., as well as three other Playfair holdings, the Great Lakes Transportation Company Ltd., the Midland Elevator Company Ltd., and the Midland Shipbuilding Company Ltd. The deal was said to have involved approximately $12,000,000; about half of that sum was represented by the existing mortgages on the George Hall and Great Lakes Transportation fleets.
The actual purchase by C.S.L. of the capital stock of George Hall Coal and Shipping (which the contemporary press referred to as the George Hall Coal and Shipping Corporation), took place on April 10, 1926, with the acquisition of the rest of the Playfair holdings being finalized six days later. Thus it was that JOHN F. MORROW became part of Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., the largest Canadian fleet ever to sail the Great Lakes.
But the MORROW was not immediately renamed, and operated through the 1926 season under her old name even though she had been painted up in what have since become the traditional C.S.L. colours. Readers will recall that, in our January 1983 issue, we reprinted the C.S.L. lay-up list for the winter of 1926-27, commenting that many changes were then in the works for some of the vessels reported. One of those was JOHN F. MORROW, which spent that winter laid up at Kingston.
KIPAWA was, however, to enjoy but a few short years of operation in C.S.L. colours. Many of C.S.L.'s own boats, as well as a number of the former Hall and Playfair vessels, were newer and in much better condition than was KIPAWA, and they were much more economical to run. KIPAWA did enjoy the benefit of boilers that were rather newer than was the rest of her, for she was then operating with two single-ended, coal-fired Scotch boilers, 13'3" by 10'0", that had been built in 1919. We are not sure when these boilers had been fitted in KIPAWA, although it is possible that she may have received them during her days in the Hall fleet, and perhaps even at Buffalo when she was being repaired after her 1920 stranding.
New boilers or not, however, KIPAWA was one of the first of the C.S.L. canallers (for she had then been relegated almost exclusively to canal work) to fall victim to the problems caused by the Great Depression. Although deeper of hull than many canallers, KIPAWA was no more economical to operate, for no advantage could be taken of her extra depth in the shallow waters of the old canals. KIPAWA was laid up about 1930 in the large C.S.L. reserve fleet at Kingston, and she never again turned her wheel. In addition to the effects of the Depression, the opening of the fourth Welland Canal in 1932 led to a reduction in the number of canal-sized boats that were needed, and put an end to any hope that KIPAWA might ever again see service.
By 1937, KIPAWA appeared to have deteriorated greatly and to be in very poor condition. Along with thirteen other old C.S.L. canallers, she was sold in April, 1937, to Les Chantiers Manseau Ltee., the forerunner of Marine Industries Ltd., Sorel. During the autumn of 1937, she was towed to the shipbuilding firm's boneyard in the Richelieu River at Sorel, and there, mouldering away, she lay until she was dismantled in 1944. KIPAWA's final documents were surrendered on March 7, 1944.
In this manner came to an end the career of one of C.S.L.'s most elusive canallers. Photographs of KIPAWA are rare indeed, but that is hardly surprising considering the short time during which she operated for the fleet. Rather than dwell on her closing years, however, it would seem more appropriate to remember the steamer for the many years of faithful service that she put in on the upper lakes for her earlier owners. She was one of the first steel-hulled lake bulk carriers, and it was indeed a credit to her builders at the old Craig Shipyard that she lasted for some fifty-five years, particularly when so many of the early steel lakers came to unfortunate ends.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.