Saturday 1 March 2014

Self Discharging Bulk Carrier WHITEFISH BAY

It was a cold and dreary day last November as I waited for the far distant and newly built WHITEFISH BAY slowly make her way toward St. Lawrence Seaway's Iroquois Lock. There was also a certain eeriness in the air, because my first vantage point for these snaps was at the eastern entrance to the former Iroquois Lock and the start of the 7.5 mile Galop Canal that lifted 'canallers' like my dad's ship, the BIRCHTON, ( 15.5 feet to bypass the swift and treacherous rapids at Point Iroquois, Cardinal and Galop Island.
I recall during a visit the summer before he died, how excited he was to see the Iroquois and Galop Locks still in existence and well maintained, unlike so many former Welland Canal locks that had been destroyed or buried under after the current canal was opened in 1932. I remember my dad telling me how they would stop in overnight at Cardinal or other canal villages back then, and at first light, off the BIRCHTON and other downbound canallers would race out to ride the rapids to Montreal. Canals like the Galop were needed for the upbound passage to Lake Ontario and above. It was like my dad was there with me that day as the WHITEFISH BAY passed two former marker buoys sitting on either side of the old Iroquois lock walls and the hydro plant in the background while edging closer to her destination.
Meanwhile, the 740' WHITEFISH BAY is the third of four Trillium-class self unloading bulk carriers that like her sisters, BAIE ST. PAUL, THUNDER BAY and BAIE COMEAU ( each were built in China and had to traverse the Pacific and Panama Canal before they could commence operating on the Seaway and Great Lakes.
She is also the second Canada Steamship Lines vessel to bear the name WHITEFISH BAY. Built in 1961, the first was a 730' straightdecker. Other CSL 'Bay' named vessels which honoured various large bays on the Great Lakes, included BLACK BAY, MURRAY BAY, THUNDER BAY, NIPIGON BAY and the GEORGIAN BAY.
The actual 'Whitefish Bay' is located on the southeastern end of Lake Superior and had a certain great ore carrier 'put 15 more miles behind her' to the protected waters of this large bay, there may not have been a reason for Gordon Lightfoot to create the ballad, 'The Wreck of the EDMUND FITZGERALD'.

With his ball protected between his front paws, Tanner patiently allowed me to snap the WHITEFISH BAY as she passed through the lock and the CASCO corn starch plant in Cardinal, Ontario, where prior to the opening of the Seaway in 1959, no upbound vessel could transit due to the Cardinal Rapids which were situated at that exact spot. Nothing fishy about this tale. c);-b 

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