Saturday 15 December 2012

Classic Straight-decker MANITOBA (Revised)

There was all kinds of activity last Sunday along the Seaway as lakers and salties hurried along to the next port to discharge or pick up another load before the Seaway closes officially for the season at the end of the month. Topping up her holds at the huge grain elevator at the Port of Johnstown Terminal near Prescott before heading further down river was the 607'9" classic straight-decker MANITOBA. Currently owned by Lower Lakes Towing of Port Dover, the MANITOBA went into service in 1966 as the MANTADOC and was owned then by N.M. Paterson & Sons of Thunder Bay, Ontario. When CSL took over ownership of her on 2002, she was renamed TEAKGLEN, and then her name was changed again to MARITIME TRADER in 2005 when she was purchased by Voyager Marine of Ridgeville, Ontario. Regardless of her many names, she has remained a useful carrier of dry cargo like grain and canola seed for over 46 years and counting.
Speaking of grain elevators, during the summer of 1971, I worked at the Government Elevator in Port Colborne (shown down below) which is located next to the then Maple Leaf Mill at the southern entrance to the Welland Canal. Port Colborne's is a large facility but probably half the size of the Johnstown terminal which has been a massive landmark along the St. Lawrence since 1932.  
During that hot summer, we mostly emptied boxcars laden with grain onto a hopper that sent it to the silos located somewhere in the building. A simple process would be to devise a system that would allow the boxcar to be partially tilted on one side for a quick empty, but instead, once the spillage was completed after the huge steel door was rolled away, other workers like myself entered the boxcar from the roof hatch and with huge shovels in hand commenced tossing the grain into an auger that was jammed into place to speed up the discharge process. Once there was enough head room, an electric shovel was brought into the mix which worked great to push the grain forward but was a real hassle to drag behind you while trudging through the loose and shifting grain beneath your feet. 
On one occasion, a straight-decker like the MANITOBA, only much smaller docked at the elevator and after the unloading arm (which consisted of several steel bucket to lift or 'elevate' the cargo into the silos), and a bulldozer was lowered in the hold, we then climbed down to do our thing only on a much larger scale. It was especially hard and hot work that day, and after getting home, I recall rewarding myself for my efforts with a few barley sandwiches. Yes, I believe they were "Carlsbergs" c):-D


  1. I'm surprised that an elevator of that size didn't have a gizmo that would not only tilt a boxcar sideways, but it would then rock it back and forth so that all of the grain would be cleaned out using gravity.

  2. I always watched for her here in Beauharnois, she is small, a beauty!