On Thursday, April 18, 1985, Collingwood Shipyards successfully launched the straight-deck motorvessel PATERSON (II), which has been built for N. M. Paterson and Sons Ltd., Thunder Bay. Some 20,000 spectators watched the event, knowing that PATERSON was the last commercial hull for which Collingwood had secured a construction contract. They also knew that the future of the side-launch at the yard hangs at the mercy of the federal government (whose shipbuilding subsidy terminates at the end of June), and of the economy (which at the present time is not such as to encourage further ship construction). PATERSON was christened by Ellen Paterson, daughter of Donald S. Paterson, the fleet's president.
On April 19th, the day following the launch of PATERSON, Collingwood Shipyards laid the keel for the $50-million icebreaker which will be built for the Canadian Coast Guard. The vessel will be ready for launching during November, but we understand that she will be built in a different position than that normal to Collingwood hulls. The reason for this is that deeper water will be required for her launch. The name to be assigned to the new breaker has not yet been announced.
In our last issue, we mentioned briefly (Page 14 - "Additional Marine News") that SENATOR OF CANADA had arrived at Toronto from Humberstone on April 2nd, and that the 28-year-old steamer was then placed in "permanent lay-up" status. At the time, she was moored across the end of Pier 27, foot of Yonge Street, facing west, but in mid-April she was moved to a berth in the eastern portion of the Bay, along Cherry Street at Villiers Street. At the same time, the 25-year-old steamer QUEDOC (II), (a) NEW QUEDOC (63), was pulled out from her spot just inside the Cherry Street bridge, and she was moored alongside the SENATOR. It is extremely rare these days to see a Paterson vessel in Toronto Harbour, and it is only unfortunate that these two handsome near-sisterships could not be here under more favourable circumstances. We would be deluding ourselves if we expressed any optimism in respect of the future of either of the vessels.
One Paterson steamer that is assured of a promising future is the 25-year-old COMEAUDOC, (a) MURRAY BAY (II)(63), which Paterson purchased from Canada Steamship Lines in 1963. It has been announced that, during the winter of 1985-86, COMEAUDOC will be at Collingwood Shipyards, where her two-cylinder Westinghouse steam turbine engine will be removed and replaced by diesel machinery. The work is expected to cost some $6-million, but it will result in a considerable saving in operating costs for COMEAUDOC. We know that certain other Canadian vessel operators have been considering the same type of repowering for some of their steamers, and no doubt they will be watching this conversion with great interest. If successful, the dieselizing of COMEAUDOC may well instigate similar repowering for other turbine-powered lake steamers which have become less than economical to operate.
On the final page of our April issue, we reported that the former Halco tanker UNGAVA TRANSPORT, (a) VARANGNES (70), (b) TOMMY WIBORG (74), after having her propulsion machinery removed at Port Colborne, arrived at Hamilton on April 6th in tow of JAMES E. McGRATH and R. & L. NO. 1. It seems that UNGAVA TRANSPORT has been purchased by a firm known as Provmar Inc., which appears to be the previously-anticipated consortium between Canada Steamship Lines and ULS International, formed for the purpose of providing a bunkering service for their fleets. At last report, the tanker's hull was anchored in Hamilton Harbour, just off the end of the former C.S.L. package freight terminal at the far east end of the port. It has been said that UNGAVA TRANSPORT (no new name has yet been announced) may be used either as a bunkering barge, or else as a storage barge from which other bunkering tankers might load their cargoes. Hamilton, Nanticoke, and Montreal have all been mentioned as ports in which both C.S.L. and ULS could benefit from having their own bunkering service available. We will be watching with great interest to see what eventually becomes of UNGAVA TRANSPORT.
Recently observed in the Welland Canal was a tanker bearing the name HAMILTON ENERGY, which caused considerable interest amongst local observers. Enquiries indicate that she is the former METRO SUN, (a) PARTINGTON (79), (b) SHELL SCIENTIST (8l), which was acquired by the Shediac Tanker Corp., Moncton, New Brunswick, in 1981, and which has since been operated, primarily on the east coast, by the Metro Marine fleet. It had earlier been indicated that this 201.6-foot motortanker, which was built in 1969 at Grangemouth, might well figure prominently in plans by C.S.L. and ULS International to provide a bunkering service for vessels of both fleets, and the arrival of the vessel in this area, coupled with the rather interesting new name which she has been given, would appear to confirm such reports. It has yet to be ascertained whether she is actually owned by Provmar Inc., the firm that is now the owner of UNGAVA TRANSPORT.
The two newest vessels of the fleet of the Rouge Steel Company are now in service, and we must report that they look very handsome in their new colours, complete with white forecastles and white cabins (in place of their former Cliffs green). BENSON FORD (III) is the former EDWARD B. GREENE, and WILLIAM CLAY FORD (II) is the old WALTER A. STERLING. Both steamers are, of course, self-unloaders, and they are actively engaged in running ore to the River Rouge. Also in service for Rouge Steel during 1985 are the self-unloader HENRY FORD II and the straight-decker ERNEST R. BREECH. Idle in their winter quarters at Dearborn are the old BENSON FORD (II), (a) RICHARD M. MARSHALL (57), (b) JOSEPH S. WOOD (II)(66), (c) JOHN DYKSTRA (I)(82), and the WILLIAM CLAY FORD (I), which are now renamed 2658O8 and 266029, respectively, those being their official numbers in U.S. registry. The two vessels are being held pending sale, or, in the the case of the former WILLIAM CLAY FORD, the possibility of conversion to a self-unloader.
Back in 1969, Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. retired its straight-deck bulk carrier RIDGETOWN, (a) WILLIAM E. COREY (63), which it had acquired in 1963 from the United States Steel Corporation. The 1905-built, 556.9-foot steamer was then sold to the Canadian Dredge and Dock Company Ltd., which used her as a construction breakwater at Nanticoke, Ontario, on Lake Erie, along with the former Kinsman steamers LACKAWANNA and KINSMAN VENTURE. Once the Nanticoke project was completed, the latter two vessels, after being raised and towed to Toronto, were sold for scrapping overseas, but RIDGETOWN was to remain on the lakes. In 1974, she was sunk across the mouth of Port Credit harbour, (located to the west of Toronto) to shelter the port for the use of pleasure craft. RIDGETOWN has since been visible, still resplendent in her Upper Lakes Shipping colours, but now comes word that, during the past winter, cracks have appeared in her sides and deck, evidence that the venerable laker is breaking apart. Not only is she exposed to any heavy seas that come in on the shore near Port Credit, but it would seem that little attention was devoted to the construction of a proper gravel bed for the hull before it was sunk in position. It would appear likely that the further breakup of RIDGETOWN will soon appear unless care is taken by the local authorities to secure her position.
In previous issues, we have noted that a number of shipping firms had suggested that they would be taking action to recover the large losses that they suffered as a result of the Valleyfield Bridge Blockade of the Seaway in the late autumn of 1984. In fact, shipowners and operators have actually filed 225 actions or notices of intent of action. In response, the federal government has lodged a $20-million action against AMCA International Ltd., which formerly was known as the Dominion Bridge Company, and which allegedly designed certain of the machinery of the Valleyfield Bridge, including the infamous shaft that broke. The Seaway Authority is also alleging that it will have to repair or replace similar shafts in six other vertical lift bridges along the St. Lawrence canals. In addition, the government has filed separate legal action in an attempt to force AMCA to indemnify it for any damages that might be awarded against the Seaway in respect of the claims of the shipowners.
The summer of 1985 is a significant one for Toronto Bay, in that it marks the 75th anniversary of the building of the steam sidewheel ferry TRILLIUM. The ferry was originally built for the Toronto Ferry Company, was operated by the Toronto Transportation (later Transit) Commission from 1927 until her retirement in 1956, and is currently run by the Metropolitan Toronto Parks and Property Department. TRILLIUM, of course, was restored during the mid-1970s and has since been used for excursion service and, in times of heavy passenger traffic, on the Centre Island ferry route. To celebrate this important anniversary, Metro Parks proposes to run a special week-long series of public excursions during mid-June; these trips would see TRILLIUM call at Ontario Place and at the Island, and the fare would be 50 cents, exactly what it cost to cross the Bay in TRILLIUM back in 1910. Special period uniforms will be worn by the crew for these trips (and perhaps for the whole season), and certain commemorative souvenirs of the occasion will be available.
During the past winter, the 50-year-old Toronto Island passenger ferry WILLIAM INGLIS, (a) SHAMROCK (II)(37), had one of her pilothouses rebuilt to overcome deterioration that had set into its woodwork. The windowframes of that pilothouse have been returned to a natural wood finish, and an experimental project has removed the mullions from between the centre window and the next window on each side, thus replacing the three smaller windows with one large one in order to increase visibility. If the experiment works, the same job will be done on the INGLIS' other pilothouse, and also on the pilothouses of the other big double-ended motorships SAM McBRIDE and THOMAS RENNIE.
As we prepare this issue for publication, we note that the Groupe Desgagnes Inc. steamer GOLDEN HIND, (a) IMPERIAL WOODBEND (54), has at long last been painted up in Desgagnes colours. The vessel was idle at Toronto during 1984, and has only recently been unloaded of the winter storage cargo which was placed in her last autumn. It would thus appear that Desgagnes will attempt to operate GOLDEN HIND in 1985, although it is not yet known exactly what she will do. Meanwhile, the Desgagnes steamers OUTARDE and MELDRUM BAY, which also did not operate in 1984, and which recently were sold to ULS International for scrapping at Port Colborne, are still lying at Toronto; it is expected that they will soon be towed to Port Colborne to join LAC STE-ANNE, which already has been towed there from Hamilton.
The 85-foot, 325-ton, aluminum-hulled passenger motorship WAYWARD PRINCESS, which was built in 1976 at Summerstown, Ontario, as CAYUGA II, has now left her old home port of Toronto, and has taken up residence at Sarnia, where new-operators will attempt to make a success of her. At present, she is moored in downtown Sarnia, just ahead of DUC d'ORLEANS, and it is to be assumed that the two ships will operate together during 1985. CAYUGA II was originally built for service between Toronto and Niagara, but she proved to be unsuitable for service on the open lake. She then ran charter service on Toronto Bay, and was sold to Norman Rogers and renamed, after her first operator, Sherwood Marine Inc., ran into financial difficulties. Rogers, however, could do no better, and WAYWARD PRINCESS spent the 1984 season in idleness at the foot of Jarvis Street, with legal action commenced against her by creditors.
Meanwhile, it is said that a Buffalo firm, which calls itself the Niagara Navigation Company (a very original name!), is seeking Canadian government approval for its plans to operate a passenger service between Toronto and Niagara-on-the-Lake during the summer of 1985. The company proposes to begin its service in late May and to run through until October, using an "all-steel, double-decked ferry with a passenger capacity of 400", which reportedly is to be named NIAGARA. (We are not familiar with this vessel.) The crossing is expected to take 2 1/4 hours each way, and NIAGARA is to make three round trips each day. It is proposed that a one-way adult fare will be $10.00. The last time cross-lake passenger service was offered on a regular basis was in 1980, when Royal Hydrofoil Cruises operated QUEEN OF TORONTO, PRINCE OF NIAGARA and PRINCESS OF THE LAKES on the same route. That hydrofoil service was not popular, and the vessels were taken off the route at the conclusion of the summer season, and were taken elsewhere the following year.
The fleet of Nipigon Transport Ltd./Carryore Ltd. is this season operating only two vessels, namely LAKE WABUSH and LAKE MANITOBA, with LAKETON (the former LAKE NIPIGON) still under bareboat charter to Misener Shipping. Not in service are LAKE WINNIPEG, MENIHEK LAKE and CAROL LAKE, and it is said that LAKE WINNIPEG, (a) TABLE ROCK (48), (b) NIVOSE (62), has been sold to Portuguese breakers who already have sent a tug across the Atlantic to pick her up. The former tanker, which was built at Portland, Oregon, in 1943 as Hull 41 of the Kaiser Company Inc., was acquired by Nipigon Transport in 1961, and a new bow and midbody, built for her by the Blythwood Shipbuilding Company, and fitted in 1962 by Barclay, Curie and Company Ltd., brought her to Seaway dimensions. A most unusual vessel in respect of appearance, LAKE WINNIPEG was expensive to operate, and did not boast a particularly great cargo capacity, and so it is not surprising that she did not operate in 1984. She spent that season laid up at Montreal, and her sale for scrapping, although not entirely unexpected, is notable in that she is the largest Canadian laker ever sold for dismantling.
"Friends of the BOECKLING", the group that is engaged in the preservation and restoration of the double-ended, steam sidewheel ferry G. A. BOECKLING at Sandusky, Ohio, has been awarded a $2,000 grant by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the grant will be matched with funds from the Preservational Services Fund. The money will be used to provide an inspection of the BOECKLING's hull, so that specifications for her drydocking and hull restoration can be made. Meanwhile, work has been progressing on the restoration of the BOECKLING's wooden superstructure.
Small excursion boats are all the rage these days, and the town of Escanaba, Michigan, will be getting one of its own. The diminutive vessel, only 50 feet long, will be built at Escanaba by the Vinette Company for the Bay Town Navigation Company. To be named BAY TOWNE BELLE, the ship is to be launched in June and by early July will be in service between Escanaba and Gladstone on Little Bay de Noc. The vessel is expected to cost some $150,000.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.