As most of our members will be aware, there has been much shipbreaking activity at Thunder Bay in recent years. Shearmet Recycling has dismantled a number of ships at that port, and in 1985 was operating two scrapyards, one on the Mission River and one on the Kaministiquia River. Unfortunately, we did not receive current reports on the progress of the cutting up of the various ships that were at Thunder Bay for scrapping, and so the reports that were contained in earlier issues of "Scanner" were either belated or else downright incorrect.
Member Al Schelling has undertaken to set us straight on the developments at the two scrapyards in 1985, and what follows is his report. We should mention that when Al refers to a "canoe", he is actually speaking of what remains of a ship when her upperworks are all removed and her hull is cut down to a point just above the tanktop.
"Let's start with 15 May, a Wednesday. HORACE JOHNSON was finished by the cutters in the morning, and in the afternoon, the canoe-shaped remains of PATERSON arrived at Shearmet's Kam River dock from the Mission River site where she had been cut down. SPRUCEGLEN arrived at Shearmet's Mission dock from Goderich at 0530 hours on Tuesday, 18 June. On Friday, 28 June, PATERSON was finished. (Incidentally, the very next morning, the new PATERSON (II) arrived in port, did some sea trials, was photographed professionally, had a bit of repair work done at Keefer Terminal dock, and on Sunday, June 30th, she was downbound with her first cargo.)
"On Tuesday, 2nd July, HOMER D. WILLIAMS was towed (as a canoe) from Shear-met's Mission dock to the Kam River dock, and on Thursday, 4 July, EUGENE P. THOMAS, which had been tied up behind the WILLIAMS canoe at the Mission dock, had her pilothouse removed. On Tuesday, 23 July, cutting started on SPRUCEGLEN, about five weeks after her arrival in port. HOMER D. WILLIAMS was finished at the Kam dock on Tuesday, 10th September, and on the next day, EUGENE P. THOMAS' canoe arrived in the Kam River cutting slip from the Mission River site.
"AUGUST ZIESING left Duluth under tow of the local tug THUNDER CAPE on Thursday, 3rd October, and arrived at Thunder Bay the next day. However, due to high winds, rain and oncoming darkness, the tow stayed out in the harbour all night, going around in circles, I presume. The next morning, Saturday 5th October, they brought her into the Shearmet Mission River dock at 10:00 a.m., with the tug PENINSULA astern. She was tied up ahead of SPRUCEGLEN, stern of ZIESING to bow of SPRUCEGLEN. Shearmet shut down the Mission River operation for the winter months during the last week of October, and ZIESING and SPRUCEGLEN were still there at that time.
On Monday, 4th November, EUGENE P. THOMAS was finished at the Kam River dock, and the next day, JOHN HULST, which had been sitting at the Kam dock in a 60% scrapped state, was moved into the cutting slip, and her dismantling resumed. On Thursday, 14th November, AUGUST ZIESING and the remains of SPRUCEGLEN were brought to Shearmet's Kam River site from the Mission yard, and on Friday, 15th November, Shearmet Recycling shut down the Kam River operation for the winter. Cutting will resume in the spring of 1986."
We wish to express to Al our sincere thanks for bringing us up to date on the activities of the breakers at the Lakehead, where much scrapping has taken place in recent years. We hope that, in the future, we will be able to keep more current with Thunder Bay news, but we can only do so with the assistance of local members, and we request their support in this respect.
Incidentally, knowing what the weather can be like in Thunder Bay during the winter months, it is not difficult to understand why the breakers close down their operations until the spring. A dead ship in mid-winter can be one of the coldest, most unpleasant things we know!
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.