Unfortunately, we must now report one of the saddest news items that has come our way in a long time. We have recently learned that the veteran Paterson steamer ONTADOC, has been sold for scrap and passed down the Welland Canal for the last time on October 14th with a cargo of grain for Quebec. It has not yet been confirmed whether she will go overseas this autumn, nor have we the identity of her buyers. ONTADOC was the last conventional steamer in the Paterson fleet and had lately become something of a symbol of the many vessels of her type which have been gradually disappearing from the scene over the past few years. Her last seasons have been spent mainly on the coal run to Toronto and Hamilton from Lake Erie. In memory of ONTADOC, we hereby declare a one month period of mourning for the Toronto Marine Historical Society. During this period, all members shall, upon rising and before retiring daily, face in the direction of the Weaver Coal Dock in Toronto and read aloud the profile of the steamer that appeared in Vol. II, No. 2 (November 1969) of this publication.
The Hall Corp. tanker GULF TRANSPORT passed down the Welland Canal for the last time on Saturday, October 24, en route to Montreal where she was decommissioned. It is said that she has been sold to Italian buyers and that she will soon be leaving for the Mediterranean under her own power. GULF TRANSPORT originally sailed as BRITAMOCO for the British American Oil Co. Ltd., and was the last unit to operate on the lakes from amongst the fleet of four conventional steam canal tankers purchased by Halco from Gayport Shipping Ltd. in 1959.
Earlier in the year, we reported details of the takeover by Neonex International Ltd of Maple Leaf Mills Ltd., and the resultant change in the position of Upper lakes Shipping Ltd. Neonex has now stated that it has failed to complete the necessary transactions. No details have been announced, but we understand that negotiations are continuing.
The misfortunes of the Hall Corporation seem to be continuing without respite. On September 23 the self-unloader OREFAX grounded on a small, rocky island in the St. Lawrence River west of Brockville. She was released with some difficulty, several days later. The exact cause of the mishap has not been made public, but early reports suggested that engine problems had arisen.
The Toronto ferry SAM McBRIDE left under her own power on Friday, October 16th, bound for Whitby for her regular drydocking and inspection. Unfortunately, she suffered a mechanical failure shortly after leaving Toronto Harbour and had to be taken to her destination by the tug, G. W. ROGERS. The McBRIDE, built in 1939, has long been the mainstay of the ferry service but this year was relegated to the position of spare boat as a result of engine difficulties. She was last on drydock three years ago at which time the job was done at Port Dalhousie.
Speaking of the drydock at Whitby, we understand that it was the destination of INLAND TRANSPORT when she was towed from Toronto on August 3rd. The tanker was refitted and cleared on August 15th. Despite our fears as expressed in a previous issue, the tanker has operated ever since.
Not only are upper lake operators preparing for a long season, but it seems that the ships will be running late in our area as well. It has been announced that the closing date for the Welland Canal has been extended from December 22nd to the 31st of the month, the latest closing date ever. Operation will continue on a day-to-day basis until January 7th depending on traffic and weather conditions.
One of the fleets planning on keeping vessels running well into January is U.S. Steel. However, two of the company's ships headed for an early lay-up. WILLIAM A. McGONAGLE, built in 1916 at Ecorse, cracked her propeller shaft during September and went to South Chicago for repairs. The job done, she was towed on October 6th by LEON FRASER to a lay-up berth in Milwaukee. WILLIAM B. SCHILLER of 1910, will also remain idle after repairs necessitated by her backing into the South Chicago breakwater. She was towed to Milwaukee by PHILIP R. CLARKE.
Several smaller American carriers have headed in early also. The Wilson steamers, A. E. NETTLETON and EDWARD S. KENDRICK went to the wall in Buffalo with grain storage cargoes in mid-October and the Kinsman veteran, UHLMANN BROTHERS, went on the Toledo drydock on September 26th and has since laid up. The busy Canadian grain trade has kept most of the ships in operation on our side of the border but one exception is ROYALTON which laid up with storage in Hamilton during October.
We previously reported that the bulk carrier, RUTH HINDMAN, had been sold to Marine Salvage Ltd. for scrapping. We now learn that this was not the case and that no formal sale was completed pending the results of her survey which was due at the beginning of August. Apparently as a result of the flourishing grain trade, she received monthly extensions and did not go on the drydock at Port Weller until the week of October 19th. Her future will therefore depend on her condition as revealed by inspection.
The Interstate Commerce Commission has been petitioned by two railroads for permission to reduce their ferry services across Lake Michigan and thus avoid duplication of runs which both maintain. The Chesapeake and Ohio wants to drop the service between Ludington and Kewaunee while the Ann Arbor would end runs between Frankfort and Manitowoc. The end result would be that C & O would retain two cross-lake services and the Ann Arbor would operate one.
It has been reported that Erie Marine Inc. will soon begin construction of a second 1000-foot self-unloader at its Erie, Pennsylvania, shipyard. The vessel, unlike Hull 101 now being built for Bethlehem Steel, will be a conventional self-unloader and should be completed during the winter of 1971-72. No announcement of the identity of the firm for which the ship will be built has been made, but many followers of the shipping scene have ideas on the subject.
While on the subject of Hull 101, STUBBY was taken into the drydock at Erie in late September in preparation for separating the two halves and inserting the midbody section. The completed carrier should be ready sometime next spring.
The U. S. Coast Guard tender, TAMARACK, a familiar sight to ship fans visiting Sault Ste. Marie, was officially retired on October 16th. Built in 1934 at Manitowoc, the 124-foot TAMARACK had been stationed at the Soo for many years. She was an exceptionally trim vessel and was a bit of an oddity in the Coast Guard fleet in that her forecastle was painted white instead of the usual black. She will be replaced at the Soo by BUCKTHORN which has been transferred from Buffalo.
The Marine-Oswego-Trinity Group of New York has agreed to dispose of its ocean shipping interests to General American Transportation Corporation of Chicago. The part of the group not included in the sale is the American Steamship Co. of Buffalo, the Boland and Cornelius fleet. The sale will reportedly assist in the settlement of the estate of the late H. Lee White and will provide funds for a program of expansion by American Steamship. Despite much speculation, there have been no further developments in connection with the forced sale by American of the Reiss vessels.
An unusual visitor to the Welland Canal recently was the Buffalo firetug, EDWARD M. COTTER, which locked down on October 19th en route to Port Weller Drydocks for her five-year inspection. The COTTER was built in 1900 at Elisabeth, N. J., and sailed previously as W. S. GRATTAN and FIREFIGHTER.
We very much doubt that many of our members even noticed the recent departure from Toronto of the remains of a very significant vessel. The veteran steam harbour tug, G. R. GEARY, was last operated in 1966 and had since been lying idle in various locations around Toronto Harbour. She was stripped of cabins and machinery during 1968 and during the early part of 1969 was tied inside the inner end of the east pier of the Eastern Gap where she gradually settled to the bottom. On October 2nd, 1970, the tug ARGUE MARTIN, appeared on the scene towing the Hamilton Harbour Commission's floating derrick which lifted the hull of the old tug from the mud. Then on Sunday, October 4th supported by the crane and towed by ARGUE MARTIN and SOULANGES, the G. R. GEARY slipped quietly away from the port which she had served for so many years.
The summer issue of the S.S.H.S.A. quarterly "Steamboat Bill", confirms details of the final disgrace of ASSINIBOIA. She was raised from her resting place on the bottom of the Delaware River on January 4, 1970, and, on January 20th, was towed by tugs, PATRICE McALLISTER and ANN McALLISTER to a wrecker's yard in Bordertown, N.J.
Some of our salt water devotees may be interested to note that the TRANSGERMANIA, of Poseidon Linien, made her last trip into the lakes late in October. She has been sold and will soon leave the Poseidon lakes service as will LUISE BORNHOFEN whose charter has not been renewed by the same firm.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.