Thursday 14 March 2013

Self Unloader ALGOMA PROGRESS - Updated, Again!

CANADIAN PROGRESS at Port Colborne - January 16, 2003
Despite her many achievements, it seems that every time I take a photo of the PROGRESS, she's steadfast in the winter ice in Port Colborne and making no progress at all. When christened in 1968, she was named CANADIAN PROGRESS after the slogan used for Canada's centennial in 1967, "A Century of Progress". Built at Port Weller Dry Docks in St. Catharines, ON, the PROGRESS (which was how my dad used to call her) with her twin side by side funnels was the largest deadweight self unloader on the Great Lakes and the first constructed for Upper Lakes Shipping with her wheelhouse and accommodations aft. Along with fleet-mate and near sister ship CANADIAN CENTURY due to their hull and hold design, (now known as JOHN D. LEITCH,, her primary task was to haul coal from Ohio for Ontario Hydro's then several coal-burning power plants.
Renamed ALGOMA PROGRESS at Port Colborne - February 10, 2013
Almost from day one, the PROGRESS started to set new records for coal, iron ore, and barley, and in 1983 she participated in the first ever ship-to-ship self unloader cargo transfer in Cleveland, OH by unloading into the holds of the American Steamship Company's self unloader, AMERICAN REPUBLIC for delivery up the Cuyahoga River. The 730' CANADIAN PROGRESS continued to be actively involved in the coal trade for Hamilton's steel mills, and Ontario Hydro, along with carrying coke, aggregates, slag, iron ore, gypsum, sand and salt like her virtual twin, CANADIAN OLYMPIC (
CANADIAN OLYMPIC at Port Colborne - January 2, 2011
However, shortly after Algoma Central purchased Upper Lakes Shipping, the CANADIAN PROGRESS was renamed ALGOMA PROGRESS in Port Colborne, ON in 2013, which is where I snapped her first as the CANADIAN PROGRESS in January 2003, above and then as the  ALGOMA PROGRESS a little more than 10 years later. Her new name doesn't quite have the same meaning or ring to it, but she's still operating and making progress until the day it's decided she can't no more.
Update - March 14, 2020:
ALGOMA PROGRESS un winter layup at Ports Toronto - March 23, 2014

Just like when I saw the PROGRESS wintering in an ice clear Toronto Harbour on March 23, 2014, she still appeared to be ready to get underway when I photographed her in the following May from the hill at H.H. Knoll Lakeview Park in Port Colborne. However when I snapped her again moments later from West Street, with her tall white superstructure and self unloading boom removed, it was clear her usefulness as a dry bulk carrier was to be no more. The tall block-hulled beauty did well in her 47 years of service and her dismantle steel would allow other companies to grow and progress for many years to come.

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Maureen Bell-Holmes of Chesley, Ontario sent me this photo taken in 1978 of her uncle Joseph Bell who was second mate on the then CANADIAN PROGRESS, behind him. Maureen and I have had a few interesting chats these last few days trying to determine where the photo was taken. To me it looks like the PROGRESS was situated near the former Shell fuel dock in Port Colborne and in the background were the two tall cranes that stood for years on the east side of the harbour to unload iron ore ships at the Algoma-owned Canadian Furnace plant. However, Beatrice Bell Sack, who took the photo of her brother said it was in Toronto across from the Richard L. Hearn Generation Plant which makes sense because it was a coal burning plant for many years, and one that the PROGRESS and other Upper Lakes Steamships self unloaders would have discharged coal from Ohio or Cape Breton. However by 1978, the plant had converted to natural gas, and as Joe had mentioned at the time, four tall smoke stack at the plant were coming down. That in fact happened along with 4 others, which were replaced with one even taller stack that still standing today. Maureen also mentioned that she had many fond memories from being on the boats her dad worked on like when he was an engineer on the SEAWAY QUEEN. Now that was one a beautiful ship and if you are as fond of old lake boats like Maureen is, be sure to check out Jeff Cameron's website, entitled Great Lakes Ship Photography Archives at where you'll see all kinds of Great Lakes Classics that like the PROGRESS and SEAWAY QUEEN below are gone but not forgotten.  Thanks Maureen and Jeff for letting use your pics.  

 Go to for more pics of the QUEEN by Jeff Cameron and others.

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