At this time last year, we remarked upon the fact that the 1980 navigation season on the Great Lakes had been a most unusual one in many ways. It seems that the old French saying, "plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose", is quite correct. The more things change, the more they remain the same. As if to prove the point, the 1981 season on the lakes has been every bit as peculiar as was its predecessor. Business conditions have remained uncertain, to say the least, and it has been virtually impossible to keep track, on a day-to-day basis, of which boats were running and which were laid up, because the active roster of both the Canadian and U.S. fleets has been constantly changing. As well, labour problems on both sides of the border, including the situation involving the grain handlers at the Lakehead, have contributed to a general feeling of uncertainty.
With ever more new vessels appearing from lake shipyards, some very familiar lakers have passed into history during 1981 and more will undoubtedly follow suit when navigation closes. Nevertheless, the scrap market has not been so good this year and very few ships have actually made that last, long voyage to the scrapyard.
Fortunately, however, the 1981 season enjoyed one distinct improvement over 1980. There were far fewer accidents of a serious nature this year, a development upon which shipowners, crews, and observer-enthusiasts alike can reflect with a distinct sense of gratitude. We sincerely hope that all of our members and friends who sail the lakes or who are engaged in vessel management achieved a happy and safe navigation season this year, and we wish them the same for 1982. Indeed, we extend the same wish to all of our members, and to our Society itself.
But now, as the skies and waters of the lakes take on the familiar grey tint of winter, as the snows obscure the horizons, and as the haze rises from the cold waters, the ships scurry about for their last cargoes of the year before heading for the calm and safety of winter quarters. We wish them safe passage.
And to all of the many members of our growing family, the Toronto Marine Historical Society, we extend our very best wishes for a Merry Christmas and for all possible Happiness in the New Year. Take care, friends, and may 1982 bring to you all a full measure of love, warmth and success.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.