Early in October, the Canada Malting plant at the foot of Bathurst Street, Toronto, received its last cargo. ONTADOC, which had partially unloaded at Parliament Street, moved to the Bathurst elevator on October 3rd to discharge the rest of her barley. Built in 1928, the elevator and plant, recently owned by Harbourfront and leased to Canada Malting, will be closed on November 1st, and malting operations will be carried on at the elevator and plant behind Victory Mills at the foot of Parliament Street. Faced with the enormous cost of dismantling the concrete silos, Harbourfront is trying to find a use for the old plant. Many suggestions have been made, including one that involves a much-needed new marine museum on the site. We shall see... but never again will a laker unload at this, the last commercial plant on the western end of Toronto Harbour which once was so vibrant with shipping, but now is the domain of the millionaire yachter and condominium owner.
Just as Harbourfront is wondering what to do with the next-last grain elevator on the Toronto waterfront, comes word that demolition is at last underway on the old C.S.L. grain elevator at Kingston. The big elevator, closed in 1986, was slated to be rebuilt as condo units, but financing failed and the land is now being cleared for more conventional development. Accordingly, it has become necessary for Canada Steamship Lines to remove T. R. McLAGAN, NIPIGON BAY, HOCHELAGA and METIS, which have languished in idleness beside the elevator for several years. The first to move was McLAGAN, which arrived at Toronto early on October 6 in tow of two McKeil tugs. She was put at Victory Mills and subsequently loaded a storage cargo of Ontario soybeans, being moved on October 16 to the north side of the Cousins Terminal. (It appears that McLAGAN has been chartered to ULS International, which has the Victory Mills bean contract.) The second idle ship to leave Kingston, the cement carrier METIS, arrived in tow at Toronto on October 29 and was moored just south of the Lake Ontario Cement plant at Cherry and Villiers Streets.
In early October, the tug ELMORE M. MISNER headed to Midland to collect the P & H Shipping steamer BIRCHGLEN, (a) WILLIAM McLAUCHLAN (66), (b) SAMUEL MATHER (V)(75), (c) JOAN M. McCULLOUGH (82). The handsome 60-year-old ship, which was given survey and inspection in 1986 although she spent most of that season holding storage at the Canadian Vegetable Oil plant at Hamilton, operated briefly in the grain rush early in 1987. Recently, BIRCHGLEN reportedly was sold to Port Colborne Shipbreaking for scrap, and she arrived in tow off Port Colborne late on October 13. She was, however, taken down the canal and arrived at Toronto early on October 16. She was loaded with beans at Victory Mills, October 20-23, and then was moored beside T. R. McLAGAN for the winter. If BIRCHGLEN is scrapped, it obviously will not be until at least spring, but meanwhile all this has fuelled speculation that P & H may be on the verge of acquiring another vessel for its fleet.
Another idle denizen of Toronto Harbour will be used by Victory Mills for storage soya beans this winter. The Desgagnes motorship CHICAGO TRIBUNE, laid up since early in 1986, was moved from her berth at the foot of Jarvis Street on October 22 and was placed by Waterman tugs on the north wall of the channel near the McAsphalt plant. There she was loaded with beans via trucks and a conveyor belt. She was returned, loaded, to Jarvis Street on October 29.
The two storage hulls used recently at Toronto by ULS International, namely SEAWAY QUEEN and CANADIAN HUNTER, both returned to service in September, the HUNTER sailing on September 15 and SEAWAY QUEEN on the 27th in anticipation of the autumn grain rush. The HUNTER took one load of grain down to Trois-Rivieres and then, on her upbound trip, went to the Welland Dock in early October for what we understand to be major mechanical repairs.
The 116-foot bunkering tanker MARINE FUEL OIL, (a) L. G. LaDUCA (66), which was built in 1960 by Blount Marine Industries at Warren, Rhode Island, has been sold by Marine Fueling Div., Reiss Oil Terminal, for off-lakes use. She was down at the Soo from Superior on September 11 and transitted the Welland Canal on the 14th. She entered the New York State Barge Canal at Oswego en route to New Haven, Connecticut.
The surprise news of the 1987 season came late in September when it was announced that the Sand Products Corporation had sold its 42-year-old passenger steamer AQUARAMA, (a) MARINE STAR (55), to the North Shore Farming Company Ltd., operating as S.S. Aquarama 1987 Inc., Port Stanley, Ontario. Sand Products (the McKee family) will retain an interest in the ship, no doubt by way of a substantial mortgage. AQUARAMA, originally a freighter, was converted to a passenger boat, of rather unusual appearance, in 1955-56 at Brooklyn and Muskegon but ran for only a few years. She has been idle at Muskegon since 1963 and little hope had been held for any further operation of the ship. Her new owners will move AQUARAMA to Port Stanley (she was to go this fall but now will not be towed until next spring), where some $5 million is to be spent to convert her for restaurant, nightclub and convention use. The work allegedly will involve adding some 80 to 100 overnight rooms to the former dayboat. At least for the time being, it is planned that AQUARAMA will stay at Port Stanley, but her new owners have not ruled out the possibility of eventual operation under her own power. Interesting, but to be quite honest, we will believe this project only when we see it come to fruition...
Last issue, we mentioned that, early on September 28, engineering officers (members of the Canadian Maritime Officers Union) struck the Canadian lake fleets. The strike, which was settled in late October, actually was a bit of a bust and did not greatly affect shipping. The boats continued to run, either because their engineers did not walk out or because alternate personnel, in the form of inactive or retired engineers, took the place of striking officers. (The ULS fleet was not involved at all as its engineers are not members of that union.) As a result, there was no blockage of the autumn grain rush as had been feared. To make things even better, in mid-October, 850 Seaway workers, whose contract had expired at the end of 1986, reached a tentative agreement with the assistance of a federal conciliator, thus avoiding a threatened strike which would have idled the Canadian canals.
During September, the Ontario government retained Eyretechnics, of Ottawa, to design the new $10 million ferry which will be built for the Pelee Island route as a replacement for the aging UPPER CANADA and PELEE ISLANDER. Plans will be prepared for an end-loading boat 200 feet long, 50 feet wide, and capable of carrying 40 cars and 400 passengers, and a contract for her construction will be let to an Ontario shipyard. Meanwhile, the federal authorities are studying the necessary rebuilding of four docks, one each at Leamington and Kingsville, and two on the island, to accommodate the new ferry. Time is short, but the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and Communications still hopes to have the new boat running in 1989.
For many years, the former Pyke Salvage steam tug SALVAGE PRINCE has been lying at Toronto. Long based at Kingston as a wrecker, this powerful tug was retired in the 1960s. After a period of inactivity at Kingston, new owners brought her to Toronto but she never ran again. Instead, a succession of parties lived aboard the tug, which was moored in different spots around the harbour, and over the years most of her steam equipment was removed. It was said that she was to be repowered for Caribbean salvage work, but such plans all came to naught, and eventually SALVAGE PRINCE wound up sunk along the inner end of the west pier of Toronto's Eastern Gap, where she was ravaged by vandals. Early in 1987, new owners raised her and, on October 10, the small tug WESTPETE towed SALVAGE PRINCE out of Toronto, bound for Brighton, Ontario. We will wait to see what now will become of this handsome old tug...
In the Mid-Summer issue, we reported the fire which, on April 15, gutted the superstructure of the idle Grand Trunk carferry GRAND RAPIDS at Muskegon, that fire allegedly having been started by thieves cutting navigation equipment from the former steamer's pilothouse. Then, on the evening of October 12, GRAND RAPIDS' near-sister MADISON, owned by Canonie Constructors and also long-idle at Muskegon, was the victim of arsonists who set three fires on the vessel and caused extensive damage to her. There is no word on the future of either GRAND RAPIDS or MADISON in the wake of the vandals' actions.
The former USS Great Lakes Fleet Inc. steamer A. H. FERBERT has left the lakes for scrapping overseas. The "Super", built in 1942 by the American Shipbuilding Company at Lorain, and idle since 1981 at Duluth, was sold earlier in 1987 to Marine Salvage Ltd. GLENADA towed her out of Duluth on September 15 but she got into trouble in heavy weather on Lake Superior and W. J.IVAN PURVIS was sent to assist. The tow reached the Soo on the 19th and cleared on the 20th, but FERBERT broke tow near DeTour and punched a hole in herself. The tow was down the Huron Cut late on the 24th, but FERBERT again strayed and grounded in the St. Clair Cutoff Channel on the 25th. It took GLENADA, ELMORE M. MISNER, BARBARA ANN, GLENSIDE, SHANNON and WM. A. WHITNEY to free her. She was downbound in the Welland Canal on October 1st in tow of GLENSIDE, LAC MANITOBA and LAC COMO but did not clear Port Weller until the 4th as a result of high winds which kept the tow on the wall. FERBERT is the second of the five "Supers" to be scrapped, following ENDERS M. VOORHEES out of the lakes by only a few weeks. LEON FRASER allegedly will become part of a redevelopment of the old AmShip property at Lorain, while BENJAMIN F. FAIRLESS and IRVING S. OLDS will, for the time being, remain in the tinstack fleet as spare tonnage, although there seems no chance that either will ever again see active service.
The second "Maritime Class" ship sold out of the Columbia Transportation fleet in 1987 has now left the lakes, acquired by Corostel Trading Ltd., of Montreal, for overseas dismantling. She is THOMAS WILSON, built in 1943 by AmShip at Lorain for the U.S. Maritime Commission, and the first of the many "Maritimers" to enter service. She was operated (and later owned) by the Wilson Transit Company. Upon the dissolution of that fleet, she passed to the Kinsman Marine Transit Company, but in the forced divestiture that followed Kinsman's swallowing-up of several "independent" fleets which attracted the ire of the authorities, she was sold to Columbia. Unfortunately, the WILSON, which was the third lake steamer named for the renowned captain who founded the Wilson Transit fleet, was also one of the least successful of all of the "Maritimers". The cruiser-sterned, AmShip-built "Maritimers" were given Lentz-Poppet four-cylinder compound engines, but this machinery was not nearly as dependable as the more conventional triple-expansion engines placed in the counter-sterned "Maritimers" built by the Great Lakes Engineering Works. Several of the AmShip boats suffered latterly from severe engine problems, THOMAS WILSON and E. G. GRACE probably being the worst in this respect. WILSON operated but little for Columbia and was retired to Toledo's Frog Pond late in 1979. TUSKER took her from Toledo on September 28 and they were off Port Colborne on October 2, passing down the canal on the 4th, assisted by THUNDER CAPE. It is thought that the WILSON will go overseas in tandem tow with Columbia's ASHLAND, which passed down the Welland in mid-September.
The former Interlake Steamship Company "Maritimer" SAMUEL MATHER (VI), (a) PILOT KNOB (I)(43), (b) FRANK ARMSTRONG (76), which earlier this year was sold to Marine Salvage Ltd. for scrapping overseas, was towed from her layup berth at the DeTour coal dock on September 15 by the McKeil tug W. N. TWO-LAN. She was down the Welland Canal September 19-20 with the TWOLAN assisted by GLENEVIS and ARGUE MARTIN. These tugs were to take her through to Quebec but, on September 22 near Morrisburg, the MARTIN broke her gearbox and was replaced in the tow by GLENBROOK. The MATHER will likely make the transatlantic crossing in tandem tow with A. H. FERBERT.
It is reported that, on September 8, the Dutch tug THOMAS DE GAUWDIEF took the former Cleveland-Cliffs "Maritime Class" steamers CADILLAC and CHAMPLAIN in tow at Quebec, bound for Izmir, Turkey. The deep-sea tug had been waiting almost two weeks as a result of the delayed delivery of the old lakers down the canals.
We now have confirmation that T. W. ROBINSON and NO. 2658O8 (the former BENSON FORD), which departed Quebec on August 11 in tow of JANTAR, bound for Recife, Brazil, had been resold by Marine Salvage Ltd. to Siderurgica Aconorte S.A., which will dismantle them at the South American port.
Upbound in the Welland Canal on October 14 was the ro/ro motorferry BLOCK ISLAND, (a) FISHERS ISLAND, (b) COL. JOHN E. BAXTER, (c) FISHERS ISLAND, U.S. 226004, which will run in 1988 on a passenger and auto ferry service between Buffalo and Crystal Beach, Ontario, thus reviving the former route of CANADIANA and AMERICANA. Built in 1926 at Wilmington, Delaware, by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., Hull 3504, BLOCK ISLAND is 150.1 feet long and 40.2 feet wide, 862 Gross and 563 Net. She is powered by two 8-cylinder diesels installed in 1960 and built at Schenectady, N.Y., in 1942 by the American Locomotive Company. In recent years, the ferry has been owned by the Nelseco Navigation Company of New London, Connecticut.
Passengers on the Sugar Island ferry on the evening of September 16 had a longer ride than expected. The DeTour ferry DRUMMOND ISLANDER, which was substituting for the drydocked SUGAR ISLANDER, broke down in mid-run and drifted all the way down Little Rapids Cut in the current before she could be anchored. The ferry was towed back to her mainland dock by the Wellington Towing Company's workboat MISS DOLLY.
1987 has been an interesting season for the Toronto Island ferries. Last winter, THOMAS RENNIE received much deck and machinery renewal, also receiving a new roof in each pilothouse and new passenger stairways at each end. As well, the RENNIE and SAM McBRIDE both received enalrged [sic] pilothouse windows such as were tried in one end of WILLIAM INGLIS two years ago. (The INGLIS still retains her original window configuration in one of her pilothouses.) No longer do deckhands have to battle with rope falls on the gangplanks, for all of the large ferries, including TRILLIUM, were this summer fitted with hydraulic ramp-lifters of the type tried experimentally on the INGLIS in 1986. When the summer schedule ended in September, work was begun on the replacement of the boat deck in the 48-year-old SAM McBRIDE. All this amounts to more major work than has been done on the fleet in many years. As well, WILLIAM INGLIS left Toronto for drydock in Ramey's Bend at Port Colborne on September 29, while TRILLIUM sailed for drydocking at Whitby on the morning of October 13. Both will be back at Toronto for the winter.
On September 14, the tugs ELMORE M. MISNER and MICHAEL D. MISNER towed the hull of the former Halco tanker HUDSON TRANSPORT out of the Marine Salvage scrapyard at Ramey's Bend, turned her around, and put her stern-first into the small drydock located in the Bend. Since then, a towing notch has been cut into her stern. In fact, HUDSON TRANSPORT will be operated as a barge, her new owner being M. Donofrio of Toronto, operating as Bocadon Marine Transportation Inc. It is not yet known what tug will handle her, what her trade will be, or whether she will be renamed.
As mentioned last issue, SEA-LAND TACOMA passed down the St. Clair River on Labour Day on her delivery voyage. However, she did not fuel at Corunna, fog on the river preventing the stop. Instead, the Sturgeon Bay-built salty bunkered at Port Colborne, the unexpected call being a pleasant surprise for the fuel dock which pumped bunkers into the ship for twelve hours'.
We earlier reported the sale of the Fednav (U.S.A.) Inc. salties FEDERAL LAKES and FEDERAL SEAWAY to the U.S. Navy for its "ready reserve" fleet, the two vessels having proved unsuitable for Fednav's operations. It apparently has been suggested that the two vessels be renamed, respectively, CAPE LAMBERT and CAPE LOBOS by their new owner.
In October, we mentioned that the September 10 issue of "Fairplay" had reported the sale, to unidentified buyers, of the Socanav Inc. tanker LE CEDRE NO . 1, (a) ARTHUR SIMARD (82), for some $2.5 million U.S. Despite this report, LE CEDRE NO 1 has continued to operate in her usual service. We now have an additional report that the tanker has been sold to Mexican interests so perhaps this is simply a case of delayed delivery. Meanwhile, we also have heard reports to the effect that Socanav has finally been able to hawk NORTHERN SHELL (II), (a) OLAU SYD (72), (b) AXEL HEIBERG (74), (c) FROBISHER TRANSPORT (77), which Socanav took over with the Shell fleet this spring. NORTHERN SHELL has remained idle at Toronto all season.
The Delta Queen Steamboat Company, New Orleans, apparently is not content to operate its beautifully-restored, 6l-year-old DELTA QUEEN, and its much newer and larger MISSISSIPPI QUEEN. The company has asked U.S. MarAd for a government guarantee for some $25.5 million toward the coast of constructing a new $30 million sternwheel passenger boat. Nothing has been said about what kind of power will be in her engineroom. Rather than considering a smaller vessel for use in restricted waters and trades that might not attract large passenger loads, the company allegedly is planning another monster, 344 feet in length and 79 feet wide. We cannot imagine what has possessed the company to take such a step, and we only hope that the move will not prejudice the future of DELTA QUEEN or the immense amount of money that in recent years has been allocated to further her restoration and improve her general condition.
On October 7, the Polish Ocean Lines 35-year-old passenger liner STEFAN BATORY, (a) MAASDAM (68), made her final transatlantic sailing from Montreal. The ship, no longer economical to operate on the North Atlantic Ferry, will be used in other trades for now, but undoubtedly will be sold in the not-too-distant future. Nothing firm has been announced, but it is not beyond the realm of possibility that P.O.L. might acquire another vessel to continue its famed transatlantic service.
Last issue, we reported the fire that, on September 11, gutted the bridge area of the idle package freighter FORT YORK whilst she was moored at the C.N.R. freight shed at Point Edward. It was evident that the vessel would soon have to be removed from that berth for safety purposes, especially considering what would happen if winter ice wedged beneath the bow of the ship, which is now elevated as a result of water located in the bilge aft. We understand that Seaway Authority permission has been requested for a tow of FORT YORK down the Welland Canal, and we assume that the former steamer will return to the Hamilton scrapyard from which she was resurrected in 1985 for the short-lived Sharpat Transportation barge service. Meanwhile, FORT HENRY, which has been languishing at the same Hamilton scrapyard, is apparently being considered for inclusion in the redevelopment of the former site of Collingwood Shipyards. FORT HENRY was built at the Collingwood yard in 1955.
Another ship for which Seaway clearance has been sought is the former USS Great Lakes Fleet Inc. self-unloader ROGERS CITY, (a) B. H. TAYLOR (57). As reported in the Mid-Summer issue, the 64-year-old steamer had been sold for off-lakes use but then had been acquired by Upper Lakes Towing Inc., Escanaba. She was towed from Rogers City on July 10 bound for Menominee, and when U.S.X. found out what was planned for its former ship, it took steps to block the freighter's use on the lakes, pursuant to the terms of the original sale contract. It would appear that the "Steel Trust" was successful in preventing Upper Lakes Towing from proceeding with its plan to operate ROGERS CITY, and tugs were allegedly due at Menominee in October to take the ship down the lakes, presumable en route overseas for scrap. As yet we have no detail on such a tow actually taking place.
It would appear that the American Steamship Company may have decided to purge more idle bottoms from its lake fleet. Although as yet there have been no reports of actual scrap sales, we hear that Seaway towing permission has been sought for the eastward movement of the idle JOHN T. HUTCHINSON, ADAM E. CORNELIUS and CONSUMERS POWER. The first two named have been laid up at Toledo, while CONSUMERS POWER, which last operated in 1985 under charter to the Erie Sand Steamship Company, has been lying at Erie. We will detail the histories of these ships if we learn of actual sales. We will also be interested to see whether the long-idle JOHN J. BOLAND and McKEE SONS will also be sold out of the fleet, thus eliminating the last of the company's excess tonnage.
The Upper Lakes Towing tug OLIVE L. MOORE and barge BUCKEYE were kept busy during late August and September hauling 60,000 tons of coal in seven trips from Silver Bay to Superior. The movement was the result of the purchase by the Cutler-Magner Corp. of the steam coal stockpile which had been held at the former power plant of the Reserve Mining Company.
The St. Lawrence Seaway Authority has announced that its canals will close on December 17 this year. The early closing date will permit an early start on this winter's major reconstruction projects at the Welland Canal, but the December 17 date may not seem out of line at all if predictions of an early and severe onset of winter prove to be correct.
The 121 x 44 foot tug which was launched by the ill-starred U.P.S.Co. shipyard at Ontonagon, Michigan, in October 1981, was towed to Houghton, Michigan, early in September, there to await the completion of the companion barge which lies at Ontonagon. The tug and barge, which were only partially complete when the state-funded shipyard (a monumental sinkhole for money) went out of business in a cloud of scandal, were originally designed for a now-abandoned Lake Michigan carferry service. It is apparent that new owners have now acquired both vessels and we shall wait to see what they become.
Early in October, the Purvis tug MARTIN E. JOHNSON was upbound at the Soo towing a 150-ton drydock gate. Formerly used at Collingwood Shipyards, it was en route to the Thunder Bay shipyard and was ballasted with concrete for the long tow.
1987 has not been a particularly happy year for WILLOWGLEN, (a) LEHIGH (III) (81), (b) JOSEPH X. ROBERT (82), the only "Maritime Class" steamer flying the Canadian flag. The 1943-built P & H Shipping vessel collided with the centre pier above the U.S. Soo Locks in the spring, and her master, Captain Jack Hartley, suffered a fatal illness aboard his ship a few days later. Then, on the night of October 10, WILLOWGLEN, bound for Trois-Rivieres with grain, grounded near Morrisburg in the St. Lawrence River. She did not obstruct traffic but the grounded ship did resist the efforts of tugs to free her, and TUSKER and THUNDER CAPE, upbound on Lake Ontario on October 12 after a scrap tow, were turned back to assist. WILLOWGLEN was then freed and was to go to drydock at Port Weller for repairs after unloading her cargo.
Some other interesting autumn groundings include CITADEL HILL at Beaumont, Texas, on October 9, ATLANTIC SUPERIOR at Sines, Portugal, on October 5 (requiring drydocking at Setubal), SAM LAUD near the Conners Creek Edison plant on October 14, and GEORGE A. SLOAN in the Amherstburg Channel on October 20.
The package freighter WOODLAND successfully completed her summer trip to the Arctic and arrived back at Montreal on September 27 in preparation for her return to her usual service on the upper lakes. It seems likely that WOODLAND may make other similar trips in the years to come.
The Canadian Coast Guard vessel SIR WILFRID LAURIER, which was completed by Collingwood Shipyards in 1986 and was the last ship built by that famous yard, arrived at Port Weller Dry Docks in early October for an unexpected drydocking. We presume that the shipyard visit was required as a result of damage to the ship but would appreciate any other detail that may be available.
A recent Lloyd's report indicates that owner Gill Miller has advised that the tug WILLIAM C. GAYNOR is still at the Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company yard at South Chicago, which has purchased her from the underwriters and will cannibalize her for parts. Of course, the GAYNOR was part of the Great Lakes Dredge & Dock fleet for many years, but can anyone tell us what happened to her that she came to be abandoned to the underwriters by Miller?
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.