Friday 29 March 2013

Carlz Boats: Icebreaker CCGS EARNEST LAPOINTE

Carlz Boats: Icebreaker CCGS EARNEST LAPOINTE: Though the locks and channels of the St. Lawrence Seaway, Welland Canal and at the Soo were closed for winter for rehabilitation, it ha...


Graham Grattan of Pointe Louise on the upper St. Mary's River was a navigation cadet on the 730' Algoma Central bulk carrier ALGOCEN when he captured the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker ERNEST LAPOINTE below the Beauharnois Locks in April 1970. Nice pic and thanks Graham c):-D  
Though the locks and channels of the St. Lawrence Seaway, Welland Canal and at the Soo were closed for winter for rehabilitation, it has been business as usual for shipping along the St. Lawrence River from Montreal to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and beyond thanks to the ongoing efforts of the Canadian Coast Guard which was created in 1962.
For over 50 years, the Coast Guard's red hull icebreakers with a transverse white band and white funnel with maple leaf have been tasked with maintaining the navigation channels allowing the passage of ocean-going freighters to maintain commerce year-round, and as spring approached avoid the formation of ice jams which may cause flooding in Montreal and other St. Lawrence River Valley communities. Maintaining shipping lanes over the winter on the St. Lawrence sector has consisted of Medium Gulf/River Icebreakers CCG Ships PIERRE RADISSON, AMUNDSEN and DES GROSEILLIERS, the Light Icebreaker CCGS MARTHA L. BLACK, a newer version of CCGS GRIFFON (, which I snapped in Port Colborne in 2006 (below), and Atlantic division resources like the Heavy Icebreaker CCGS TERRY FOX. With the exception of the TERRY FOX, each has a landing deck and helicopter, and are responsible for icebreaking and escort operations on the St. Lawrence and Saguenay rivers. Also available are two powerful and heavy hovercrafts, CCGS SIPU MUIN and CCGS MAMILOSSA which are used for flood control activities by breaking up ice covered rivers and shores along the St. Lawrence, where conventional icebreakers are unable to operate.
Currently the Welland Canal is open, and the GRIFFON is heading east to her homebase at Prescott and is currently breaking up channels near Picton and Kingston, and the Lake Ontario entrance to the St. Lawrence Seaway. Based in Parry Sound, the Light Icebreaker CCGS SAMUEL RISLEY in cooperation with the United States Coast Guard Cutter KATMAI BAY, has actively been clearing channels in Georgian Bay, Lake Huron, and the St. Mary's River through the Soo to Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior. Clearing the channels of ice jams prevents flooding and damage to ships which may result in a oil spill or loss of life, so the Canadian Coast Guard's motto "Safety First, Service Always" cannot be taken lightly.
During our drive up the St. Lawrence in the fall of 2010, I came across the former icebreaker CCGS ERNEST LAPOINTE perched proudly in tall grass on a gravel-filled dock at the Musee Maritime du Quebec in L'Islet-sur-Mer PQ. The 172' LAPOINTE was built for the Department of Transport in 1941 at the Davie Shipyard in Montreal. During WWII, she was used to ferry supplies to the airbase in Goose Bay NL and service the St. Lawrence between Montreal and Trois-Rivieres along with the larger icebreaker, N.B. MCLEAN until 1978. Instead of being broken up into scrap like so many other hard working ships of the past, the ERNEST LAPOINTE began her second career as a museum ship in 1980 along Canada's former navy hydrofoil, HMCS BRAS D'OR ( shown below in the background. Both can be seen resting easy and going nowhere fast.

Saturday 23 March 2013

Carlz Boats: Self Unloader JOHN B. AIRD

Carlz Boats: Self Unloader JOHN B. AIRD: Since the end of December, lakers of all sizes, dimensions and appearance berth for the winter at a variety of ports along Great Lake...

Self Unloader JOHN B. AIRD (Revisited)

Since the end of December, lakers of all sizes, dimensions and appearance berth for the winter at a variety of ports along Great Lakes and Montreal. During this approximate 3 month lay-up period a revitalization occurs for the ship and her crew as any repairs or servicing that maybe needed without actually being put in dry dock, gets completed by an army of contractors and company maintenance experts, while most crew members receive a well earned rest and relaxation time with their families. This appeared to be the case for the 730' Algoma Central self unloader JOHN B. AIRD which I snapped above Lock 8 in Port Colborne, Ontario last February.      

 Also during this period when the system is shut down due to severe winter weather and ice conditions, the canal's equipment gets re-energized too. Any greasing or lubrication that's needed on bridges, arresters and gates are completed by canal workers all along the seaway from the Soo to St. Lambert Lock. Many locks are emptied so that valves and sections of gates that are normally submerged throughout the season, gets a thorough inspection and repaired if required.  Hey look, there's the RT HON PAUL J. MARTIN ( also laid up above Lock 8 during the winter of 2005.
One winter after church my dad allowed me a lock inspection of my own. That's me dressed to the nines while standing in a puddle at the bottom of the emptied Lock 8. Does life get any better? That was one of the cool things about having a dad who worked on the canal. However, that was then and this is now as another winter lay-up has ended and a new shipping season began on March 22.

Yesterday at 1403, the JOHN B. AIRD, which is named after a former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, let go her lines and got under way for Thunder Bay located along the north shore of Lake Superior. For whatever reason the AIRD was built in two sections. The 610' stern section was constructed at Collingwood Shipyards on Georgian Bay and then towed to Port Arthur Shipyard in Thunder Bay where her 120' forward section which included an ice-strengthened bulbous bow was welded on. I'm certain her unique bow will be taken to task more than once as the JOHN B. AIRD makes her way through several ice fields and jams during her long journey to the Lakehead and her partial birthplace. I'm sure her crew is looking forward to that. 

Update - January 18, 2018:

She's now gone but not forgotten.....

My last opportunity to photograph the JOHN B. AIRD was on April 3, 2017 as the hardworking lady entered the Port of Ogdensburg while on her last downbound passage. As others like her rested in ports throughout the Great Lakes, the AIRD continued to work the ice fields off Goderich and the Strait of Mackinac to deliver road salt to U.S. ports until mid-February. After a short winter layup in Sarnia, it was also road salt that needed to be discharged at Ogdensburg and then Johnstown across the St. Lawrence River before making her way to Montreal and the end of her sailing days. To read more about her final transit, check out:       

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Carlz Boats: Self Unloader CANADIAN OLYMPIC

Carlz Boats: Self Unloader CANADIAN OLYMPIC: It was much like today with its biting wind and blowing snow when I photographed the 730' Upper Lakes Shipping self unloader CANAD...


It was much like today with its biting wind and blowing snow when I photographed the then 730' Upper Lakes Shipping self unloader CANADIAN OLYMPIC berthed for winter along the old furnace plant wall in Port Colborne ON. The difference though is, it was January 2, 2011 when I took the picture, while tomorrow is the first day of Spring. The late winter blast that dumped an extra 20 centimetres of snow and a -15C wind chill factor wasn't appreciated by anyone east of the Detroit River, I'm sure. What was the groundhog's prediction this year? Oh yeah, 'An Early Spring'. Wrong-O Puxy Phil and Wiarton Willie!!
Like so many other ships that sailed for Upper Lakes after the the mid-60's that were uniquely named to commemorate a special Canadian event or profession, the launched in 1976 CANADIAN OLYMPIC was named after Canada's first Olympics which were summer games held in Montreal in 1976. There's been two winter games since, in Calgary in 1988 and Vancouver in 2010. Like her sister, the CANADIAN PROGRESS, the OLYMPIC was also built by Port Weller Dry Docks in St. Catharines ON, and virtually shared the same overall dimensions, along with the cargo trades of coal (for Ontario's power generation plants), taconite pellets, grain and salt products. She also had the word "CANADIAN" removed from her name shortly after Algoma Central took over Upper Lakes in February 2011. In February 2013, I snapped the then ALGOMA OLYMPIC tied off for winter below Lock 8 in Port Colborne ON making herself ready to go for gold in her 38th shipping season. Regardless of her name and the rusting from dragging up her anchor, she still looked proud and willing to take on any competitor that cames her way, like any true "CANADIAN".

Sunday 17 March 2013

Carlz Boats: Container Ships MELBOURNE STRAIT & INDUSTRIAL EDGE...

Carlz Boats: Container Ships MELBOURNE STRAIT & INDUSTRIAL EDGE...: Pretty impressive snap by my friend Kevin from Stittsville ON who on the starboard side of the cruise ship CARIBBEAN PRINCESS caught the...


Pretty impressive snap by my friend Kevin from Stittsville ON who on the starboard side of the cruise ship CARIBBEAN PRINCESS caught the container ship MELBOURNE STRAIT on her way out to sea with a pretty good load of sea cans from Fort Lauderdale, I mean Port Everglades, or whatever, Florida. Meanwhile over there on the port side of the PRINCESS, my friend John (or perhaps his wife Carmel from up north of Perth, ON) snapped another container ship, the INDUSTRIAL EDGE transferring cargo in the port of Oranjestad in Aruba. While both the STRAIT and the EDGE are owned by two different German companies, they are both registered and fly the flag of Antigua Barbuda, twin islands that are located in the Lesser Antilles (Google it, or not). The 591' MELBOURNE STRAIT was built in 2008 in China while the 456' INDUSTRIAL EDGE was built in Portugal in 2009. Since the standard dimension of a container, box or sea can is 20'x8' (length x width), the capacity of a container ship is expressed in 'TEU' or 'twenty-foot equivalent units'. Though the STRAIT which when leaving whatever the place is  called in Florida, appeared to be at the 'edge' of full capacity which is 1,794 TEU, the EDGE, though almost completely empty in Oranjestad except for a few sea cans down below and on her upper deck, can carry up to 636 TEU. So there, got that 'straight'?

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.

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Container Ship LEANDRA

The intermodal container (a.k.a. container, box, sea can and a few other more technical nicknames), is a standardized reusable steel box used for the storage and movement of goods from one mode of transportation to another (i.e., from ship>to rail>to trucks, or any combination, thereof) without unloading the contents of the container. First developed by the U.S. military and commercial shipping operators in the 1950's, apparently there are now approximately 17 million intermodal containers in the world. Though Fort Lauderdale (a.k.a. Port Everglades) is one of the busiest cruise ship ports in the world, it's Florida's leading seaport for intermodal containerized cargo.

While waiting for his cruise ship, CARIBBEAN PRINCESS to shove off last month from Fort, I mean Port Everglades, or whatever, my friend John from up in Lanark County, Ontario, snapped the 476' LEANDRA which was tightly tied off to the opposite pier. Though the LEANDRA is owned by Intersee Schiffahrt (I don't make up these names) of Germany, she flies the flag of Antigua Barbuda and her home port is St. John's, on the island of Antigua. The LEANDRA which has traded on the Great Lakes was built in China in 2008, and when fully loaded as she appears in John's photo, the LEANDRA can carry up to 671 boxes, sea cans, or whatever.
Also pretty much loaded to the hilt below, was an unknown container ship that I snapped off the shores of Playas del Este, Cuba in January perhaps making her way to Fort, I mean Port Everglades, or whatever. c);-b

Saturday 2 March 2013

Carlz Boats: Self Unloader FRONTENAC

Carlz Boats: Self Unloader FRONTENAC: As in life, flexibility, compromise and excepting change maybe needed to keep from being left behind or made obsolete. When launched i...

Self Unloader FRONTENAC (Revisited)

As in life, flexibility, compromise and excepting change maybe needed to keep from being left behind or made obsolete. When launched in 1967, the FRONTENAC was the last wheelhouse forward straight deck laker built for Canada Steamship Lines primarily to be used to carry iron ore from Quebec to the smelters in Hamilton and grain eastward from Thunder Bay. Just five years later though, she was converted into a self unloader and installed with CSL's first stern mounted unloading system allowing the 730' FRONTENAC to be even more useful when carrying coal, coke, road salt, stone, cement clinker and of course, iron ore and grain products. Since then her hull has gone from clay-coloured red to black and then back to red, but unlike most Great Lakes ships, one thing that has not changed in her 46 years of sailing, is her name. I snapped the versatile FRONTENAC last month in Port Colborne where she's laid up for winter, while my friend Jim from Maryland, caught the FRONTENAC inching her way into the upbound twin Flight Locks in St. Catharines last summer. Incidentally, Jim and his wife Dawn are celebrating their 44th Wedding Anniversary today. Take Care & Best Wishes to You Both!!

Update: Feb. 1, 2020:

This girl could easily stand-in as the "Energizer Bunny 🐰" because this winter in particular she's continued to "take a licking but keep on ticking". While most other lakers were in winter layup  all over the Great Lakes, FRONTENAC continued to haul road salt to Milwaukee on Lake Michigan and even with the assistance of the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker GRIFFON three weeks ago, she made her way to the remote village of Fisher Harbour, tucked away in the Manitoulin's along the north shore of Georgian Bay.
After completing her final load to Milwaukee earlier this week, FRONTENAC is now laid-up for winter at Sarnia. In my last photo of her on September 19, 2013, she and fleetmate, CSL TADOUSSAC were tied off together in ballast at Sarnia for awhile due to a labour dispute at the steel plant at Nanticoke on Lake Erie. Sadly the FRONTENAC with her classic straight-decker looks is one girl I don't often get to photograph even during my visits to Port Colborne and the Welland Canal. My friend Nathan Attard caught her unloading grain at the Port Colborne Terminal on July 1, 2015. If you have a snapshot of her you'd like to share, send it to me at, and I'll add it to this post. And congrats to my American ship-watching friend Jim Moyer and his wife Dawn of Salisbury, Maryland, who celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary this year. Have a nice winter everyone c:-D

Took this photo of the FRONTENAC with the only other CSL stern-mounted straight-decker CSL TADOUSSAC from the BoatNerd HQ in Port Huron on Sept. 19, 2013, she's laidup in that general area now. 

Photo by Nathan Attard - July 1, 2015. Nice pic Nathan. I worked at that elevator during the summer of '71. Hard, hot work and read about it in this post featuring the former classic straight-decker MANITOBA: