In our Mid-Summer issue, we commented upon the troubles of the Hall Corporation, and the fact that its flagship, OTTERCLIFFE HALL, was to be chartered to Misener Transportation for the remainder of 1983 as well as for the 1984 season. We understand that the vessel will be renamed (b) ROYALTON (II) for her charter service, thus reviving a most historic name formerly used by the Mathews and Misener fleets. With the arrival of OTTERCLIFFE HALL, Misener laid up its SCOTT MISENER (III) at Hamilton, for that ship carries less cargo than does OTTERCLIFFE, and is more costly to operate. Misener is now giving serious consideration to the lengthening and repowering of SCOTT MISENER, with that work perhaps beginning as early as next year.
A most unusual recent visitor to Toronto harbour was the U.S.S. Great Lakes Fleet's self-unloader CALCITE II, (a) WILLIAM G. CLYDE (6l). The 54-year-old motorship was under charter to Westdale Shipping Ltd. for four trips, the first two of which took her to Oshawa with salt. On the third trip, she arrived at Toronto during the afternoon of Sunday, September 18, with a cargo of road salt. She unloaded the cargo quickly and cleared Toronto again little more than four hours later. The visit of CALCITE II was all the more notable in that there has not been a United States Steel vessel in Toronto for many, many years, although the "Bradley" self-unloaders once called here regularly and one of the straight-deckers (seems to us that it was PHILIP R. CLARKE) once came in to load grain at Toronto Elevators during the 1960s. Incidentally, the "Bradley" self-unloaders look very handsome this year with their names painted on the hull in white letters instead of black. CALCITE II looked particularly good at the time of her visit, for she had only recently been on the drydock at Fraser Shipyards, and she was dressed to the nines in a new coat of paint. Of special interest was the fact that her red boot-top had been extended right up to the fantail beading, which is the way that all the "Bradley" boats used to carry it in bygone years.
The P. & H. Shipping Division of Parrish & Heimbecker Ltd. is presently operating five of its vessels, namely BEECHGLEN, BIRCHGLEN, OAKGLEN, WILLOWGLEN and CEDARGLEN, the latter steamer having cleared Toronto on August 27 after a temporary lay-up of almost three weeks. Meanwhile, in mid-September, P. & H. set about removing the bowthrusters from ELMGLEN, which is laid up at Toronto, and SPRUCEGLEN, which is now a storage barge at Goderich. The best of the parts from these two units will be fitted in WILLOWGLEN at Toronto during the coming winter. As well, the company has been stripping usable equipment out of FERNGLEN, which has been lying idle in Toronto's Leslie Street slip since last autumn. It seems that both ELMGLEN and FERNGLEN are likely candidates for scrapping before too long. Meanwhile, PINEGLEN, also laid up at Toronto, is now the P. & H. spare boat even though she is presently out of class. No stripping or disposal of PINEGLEN is presently being contemplated.
One more of the many vessels that have been idle in Toronto harbour this summer is now back in service. The Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. straight-decker CANADIAN HUNTER cleared port during the evening of September 28th. She had been laid up in the Leslie Street slip, her bow facing inward, and as there is very little space in the turning basin these days as a result of all the ships laid up there, CANADIAN HUNTER was forced to back all the way up the channel and out under the Cherry Street bridge before she could turn and head out into the lake by way of the Eastern Gap.
At last report, work was still underway on the rebuilding and repowering of NORTHERN VENTURE, utilizing the stern section of CABOT. By mid-September, the VENTURE (or whatever she should properly be called at this stage) was still up on the graving dock at Port Weller, with no indication of when she might emerge. The conversion is apparently running behind schedule and considerably over budget, and the reports we have received indicate that the vessel is even uglier than we had supposed she would be. We have heard rumours to the effect that Upper Lakes Shipping may also be unimpressed with the conversion, and that the similar rebuilding of HILDA MARJANNE (using the stern of CHIMO) may either be postponed or cancelled. Be this as it may, CHIMO arrived at Port Weller under tow from Hamilton on September 17.
The American Steamship Company's self-unloading Maritime-class steamer JOHN T. HUTCHINSON, which has been idle for several seasons at Cleveland, was taken in tow by the G-tug OHIO on August 4, and was taken to Toledo, where she was placed in the Frog Pond, thus joining the many other inactive lakers laid up there. The HUTCHINSON is said to be in poor condition, and observers have assumed that any further operation of the ship is most unlikely. The tow to Toledo would seem to confirm those suspicions.
During the summer of 1983. observers on the Toronto waterfront have had a good opportunity to watch the gradual demolition of the Maple Leaf Mills grain elevator which was located between Rees Street and Spadina Avenue. The demolition has been done by Western Metals Corp. of Thunder Bay, the same firm that has been scrapping ships at the Lakehead for a number of years. The work has progressed very slowly, as the concrete silos, reinforced with steel rods, have been difficult to knock down. The rubble has been dumped into the old elevator slip, and when the work is completed, the area will be part of the ever-growing Harbourfront Park, with condominium residences and recreational areas taking over the space previously occupied by the elevator. The removal of "Toronto Elevators" (as the facility was known, even after Toronto Elevators Ltd. no longer owned it), means that the Canada Malting Ltd. elevator, at the foot of Bathurst Street, is the only commercial shipping operation on the Toronto waterfront west of Yonge Street.
Canadian Cruise Lines Ltd., Vancouver, the operator of the west coast cruise steamer PRINCE GEORGE (II), declared bankruptcy on September 6 after the seizure of the ship in Vancouver as a result of action by crew members to recover unpaid wages. The British Columbia registrar of travel services cancelled the ship's registration and froze the company's bank accounts, but it was said that the vessel had been sold to an Edmonton-based financial group and might make her scheduled September 17 and 24 sailings from Vancouver to Skagway and way ports. PRINCE GEORGE operated for Canadian National for many years but was eventually retired and spent considerable time in lay-up. She was bought by Canadian Cruise Lines two years ago and ever since has attempted to operate a class type of cruise service to Alaska in competition with more modern vessels operated by deep-sea cruise lines.
Speaking of the Alaska cruise service, we continue to hear stories about the possibility of the old Canadian Pacific west coast cruise steamer PRINCESS PATRICIA (II) coming to the Great Lakes. The "Pat" is a beautiful vessel indeed, having been built in 1949 by the Fairfield yard at Glasgow, the same yard that produced KEEWATIN and ASSINIBOIA forty-two years earlier, and we would dearly love to see her operating on the lakes.
We previously reported on the lowering into the Niagara Gorge, on June 8th, of the new excursion boat MAID OF THE MIST V, which was built as a replacement for the older MAID OF THE MIST II (II). We have since learned that the older vessel proceeded down the Welland Canal under her own power during July, after having been hauled up out of the Gorge, and was en route to a St. Lawrence River shipyard for rebuilding. It seems that the former MAID will be used in missionary work on the rivers of South America. Who would ever have thought that the little MAID would ever travel so far away from home?
In the Mid-Summer issue, we mentioned briefly the fact that the Metro Toronto Parks and Property Dept. has been planning to build a new city dock for the steam sidewheeler TRILLIUM. It was officially announced in late August that a contract had been let to Canadian Dredge and Dock Ltd. for the construction of a special dock for TRILLIUM, complete with hydraulic ramps to facilitate end-loading. The work, costing almost $700,000, will begin in October and the dock is to be ready by May, 1984. At present, TRILLIUM usually, is moored along the west wall of the Yonge Street slip, and loads her charter passengers through her side gangways. When unloading passengers after a charter, or when operating (as she does only infrequently) on the Island ferry service, she uses a ramp at the west side of the slip normally occupied by the carferry ONGIARA. These arrangements, however, have been something less than satisfactory, and the new dock will be a considerable improvement.
The Panamanian salty MELA, the former PANELA, which called at Toronto in early September with a part-cargo of sugar, ran into a spot of trouble later in the month. MELA was arrested in the Welland Canal on her downbound trip in mid-September as a result of claims that she had caused damage to shoreline facilities during her passage of the St. Clair River. Nevertheless, a bond was soon posted on behalf of her owners and the vessel was released the following day.
Each month, we have commented in these pages upon the poor economic conditions that are currently plaguing us, and their effect upon lake shipping. Despite the fact that the economy seems to be looking marginally brighter than it did at the opening of the navigation season, even more lake vessels were laid up by the end of summer, with many of those that operated during the spring going to the wall as the summer months wore on. Some of those are now being reactivated as the new grain crop begins to move, but some may not turn a wheel again until next year. And, of course, many of the lake vessels that have been idled by the current depression will never move again under their own power.
Municipal indignation is growing in Kingston, Ontario, over the continued presence, alongside the LaSalle Causeway, of the barge WITTRANSPORT II, the former Hall Corporation steam canal tanker CAPE TRANSPORT. It will be recalled that the ship was stripped of much of her superstructure here at Toronto four years ago, and she then made her way around Lake Ontario, rather than being taken, as intended, to the Caribbean via the New York State barge canal. She wound up at Kingston some two years ago and, despite much public outcry, has remained there ever since, with her agents, Oceanic Operations Corporation of Oyster Bay, New York, who act on behalf of her Panamanian owners, continuing to pay dockage fees. The city officials would obviously prefer to have her out of their sight, but that is nothing surprising, for the city of Kingston has turned its back upon the shipping industry that did so much to develop the city itself, and, like Toronto, wants to see its port devoted to residential and recreational use, casting away any practical association with its past. To make matters worse, vandals attacked WITTRANSPORT II during early June and, as a result of the damage they inflicted, the vessel's stern settled to the bottom of the harbour, although her bow still rides high. We suspect that, rather than making her over into a water tanker, her owners will never do anything with WITTRANSPORT II (which, incidentally, is now registered in Panama), and that she will eventually make her way to a local scrapyard. But in the interim we find it hard to fathom the total objection to the vessel voiced by Kingston residents and fomented by the editorial vehemence of the Kingston press. The city's newspaper has labelled the old tanker "The Incredible Hulk", amongst other names, and has even gone so far as to sponsor a contest wherein residents can suggest possible uses of WITTRANSPORT II (not practical, of course) to get her away from the Causeway. We wonder whether any Kingston residents have ever stopped to think that the vessel is a canaller and that the hull would make an interesting display inside the restored Kingston drydock? Not likely, even though the museum people were looking for just such a vessel not too long ago...
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.