George A. Graham Revisited

Table of Contents

Title Page
The Editor's Notebook
Marine News
George A. Graham Revisited
Vessel Appointments for the New Season
Segwun in 1984
Ship of the Month No. 128 MARTIAN (II)
The Annual Dinner Meeting
Table of Illustrations

Readers will recall that, in the March issue, we featured as our Ship of the Month No. 127, the steamer MARINA (12), (b) GEORGE A. GRAHAM. Our article of necessity left certain questions unanswered and we asked for the assistance of our readers on those points. We sincerely thank all those who responded.

In respect of the engine that powered the steamer, it was triple expansion, with cylinders of 24", 38" and 61", and a 42" stroke. It was built in 1890 by the Globe Iron Works and developed 1200 I.H.P. at 75 r.p.m. Steam was supplied at 160 p.s.i. by two single-ended Scotch boilers measuring 12'6" by 14'0", which also were made for the ship by Globe in 1890. For providing machinery details, we extend thanks to Rev. Peter J. Van der Linden, to Gordon Wendt, to Bob MacDonald, and to the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston.

Concerning the wreck of the GRAHAM in October 1917, we must admit to having committed an error in respect of the location of the wreck. Our records indicated that the GRAHAM, after falling off into the trough of the seas, eventually fetched up on Fitzwilliam Island, but we now have it on the best of authority that the GRAHAM actually made it much closer to the shelter of South Bay that her master was seeking. In fact, she stranded on the rocks about a quarter-mile west of the dock at South Baymouth, the entrance to South Bay then being much narrower than it is today. The fishermen who rescued the GRAHAM's crew all lived very close to the wreck site and thus were able to reach the vessel quickly. Confirmation of the location of the wreck comes from Mark Russell of St. Catharines, who was serving on the GRAHAM at the time of her loss, and also from R. A. Ward of Tehkummah, Manitoulin Island.

Mr. Russell indicates that the GRAHAM did not actually break in two when she stranded, but she did hit the rocks with such force, and stopped moving forward so suddenly, that her deck and sides buckled amidships. Her crew took shelter behind the steel bridge structure, awaiting rescue. The hull of the GRAHAM lay at such an angle that it acted like a breakwater for the small boats that came out to assist. The fishermen's boats would run in close to the wreck and, between waves, a couple of men from the ship would jump in quickly so that the small craft could pull away before being swamped. This operation took all day to accomplish, but it did get all the crew to the safety of the shore.

We mentioned that the plight of the stranded GRAHAM was so hopeless that salvage was not attempted. This is not entirely correct, for it would seem that the Reid Wrecking Company's steam lighter MANISTIQUE did attend at the scene to see if anything could be done. Nothing of any consequence was accomplished by MANISTIQUE, and she soon departed to render aid to GOUDREAU (I), (a) PONTIAC (I)(17), which had stranded on November 23, 1917, on Southeast Shoal, off Lyal Island, in the Stokes Bay area of the Saugeen Peninsula. We thank Ron Beaupre for bringing this information to our attention.

It was mentioned that GEORGE A. GRAHAM was owned for several years by the Canadian Northwest Steamship Company Ltd., a firm which was affiliated with Thomas Marks and Company Ltd., Port Arthur, managers. Although certain records of the Marks operations have been preserved, the actual corporate history of Canadian Northwest is something of a mystery. Member Gene Onchulenko of Thunder Bay has done some digging at our request, and his research of local records has yielded the following details.

The power behind the Canadian Northwest Steamship Company, at the time with which we are concerned, was George Thomas Marks; he was a nephew of Thomas Marks, who was the first mayor of Port Arthur (formerly Prince Arthur's landing) . George had been a resident of Port Arthur ever since his return home from college in 1874, and he had become a managing partner in the family enterprises by the early 1880s. He was elected to the town council in 1885 and served as mayor from 1893 through 1899. He eventually became president of Canadian Northwest Steamship Company, and also was a director of the "Port Arthur Daily Sentinel".

George T. Marks was also a director of the Thunder Bay Dock Forwarding and Elevator Company, which was formed in 1882. President of the firm, and its principal shareholder, was his uncle, Thomas Marks. Associated with them in this concern were Franklin Samuel Wiley, his brother H. A. Wiley, and W. C. Dobie. The Wiley Brothers were also nephews of Thomas Marks, and hence cousins of George. F. S. Wiley was owner of the Queen's Hotel; he, like George Marks, was also a director of the Port Arthur newspaper, and initially was a partner of Thomas Marks and Company in the general merchandising and shipping business. Wiley later branched out for himself with extensive mining, railway, and power interests in the Thunder Bay district.

"F. S. Wiley was for years a member of the Council of the Municipality of Shuniah, Mining School Trustee for Port Arthur, a town councillor, a member of the Board of Education and president of the Port Arthur Board of Trade. He will be best remembered for his shipping interests, which included the operation of three (sic) freighters - the NEEBING, PAIPOONGE and GEORGE A. GRAHAM. In addition, he purchased in 1912 (sic) a large whaleback steamer which he renamed the ATIKOKAN. World War One forced the company into such financial straits that it had to sell the ships prematurely in order to meet its obligations."

To digress for a moment, we would be remiss if we did not correct an item in the preceding quotation. In fact, F. S. Wiley's involvement with ATIKOKAN considerably predated 1912. The vessel, then known as (a) JOHN B. TREVOR, was wrecked on October 11, 1909, on Rocky Reef, Isle Royale, whilst sailing for the Pittsburgh Steamship Company. She was abandoned to the underwriters and it was F. S. Wiley who, in 1910, salvaged her and had her towed to Port Arthur. The whaleback went on the dock of the Western Dry Dock Company early in 1911, and she was back in service, under Wiley's ownership, during October of 1912. Wiley sold her on January l4, 1913, to the Canadian Northwest Steamship Company Ltd.

There would appear to have been certain questions as to whether the Canadian Northwest vessels were taken over by the Montreal Transportation Company Ltd. in 1914 or, as we stated, in 1917. The records would indicate that the change came during April, 1917. The issue could have been clouded somewhat by the fact that Roy M. Wolvin, who had been one of the leaders in the formation of Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. back in 1913. and who had personally purchased control of Montreal Transportation in 1916, may well have had associations with Canadian Northwest and/or some of its people prior to 1917.

What about George A. Graham himself, the gentleman for whom MARINA was renamed when Canadian Northwest purchased her? His interests paralleled those of Marks and Wiley, but in Fort William rather than Port Arthur. Graham was, at one time, the mayor of Fort William, and he also was publisher of "The Times Journal", the town's newspaper. We suspect that he must also have been involved in certain enterprises with the Marks and Wiley families, else it would be unlikely that his name would be chosen for the steamer they bought in 1912.

Incidentally, Mark Russell recalls that, when he worked on GEORGE A. GRAHAM, the steamer would sometimes tow the barge THUNDER BAY (I)(40), (a) MALTA (12) (c) PINEBRANCH (41), (d) EMPIRE STICKLEBACK (46), (d) PINEBRANCH. The barge, however, could usually be seen in tow of the steamer PAIPOONGE. Russell also recollects that, although she was loo large to pass down the old Welland Canal, the GRAHAM could get down as far as Welland and did so on several occasions with loads of calcite for the carbide plant.

Any other contributions from members to the history of GEORGE A. GRAHAM herself or her owners, will be greatly appreciated and duly recorded in these pages.


Previous    Next

Return to Home Port or Toronto Marine Historical Society's Scanner

Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.