Sunday 14 June 2015

Bulk Carrier CEDARGLEN (Revisited)

Times are changing for Canada's Great Lakes fleet. Even though it still costs less to transport cargoes by ship than by train or truck, the new build boom by Canada Steamship Lines and Algoma Central focuses on ships that are more efficient and environmentally friendly. Whether the name of the ship-class is called Trillium for CSL or Equinox for Algoma, these new boats cut costs because they are more automated, requiring less crews and more fuel efficient with their latest technology in pollution reduction. 
While recent news of Ohio-based Interlake Steamship Company's decision to convert their last steamer, the 56 year old self unloading ore carrier HERBERT L. JACKSON to diesel received glowing reviews (, the next generation Canadian flagged "newbies" that have been or are soon to be built will use heavy marine fuel and are equipped with integrated exhaust scrubbers which will remove 97% of sulphur oxides from exhaust systems. Due to the larger size, unique hull and bow configuration, these speedy "new kids on the block" boats are expected to be 45% more efficient per cargo tonne than others in their fleets. It's being dubbed the largest rebuild of the Canadian fleet since the 1960's and early 70's. Unfortunately though, since all Canadian Great Lakes shipyards have been closed and our other shipyards have been allocated for ongoing refits and new builds for Canada's Navy and Coast Guard for many years to come, the "first in show" neophytes are all being built overseas in China and Croatia. So much for our constantly being encouraged to "Buy Canadian" and keeping our investments at home. c):-l
Like any boat watcher, we all get a charge when we focus in on new "up & comer" like when I snapped CSL's first Trillium-class, self discharging bulk carrier, the 740' BAIE ST. PAUL exiting Lock 8 in Port Colborne in May 2013 (above, right). Meanwhile, just a few months later, two of CSL's "salty-laker" bulk carriers,  the 730' RICHELIEU and SAGUENAY left Montreal under their own power and destined to Turkey for scrapping. H'uh? c):-o When I snapped the just 31 year old SAGUENAY being walked through Iroquois Lock on December 26, 2012 (, little did I know that it was not only an end of season passage, but her last transit on the Great Lakes for good. Other older and less efficient Algoma boats have already been or are in the process of being scrapped to make way for the Equinox-class vessels, like former Upper Lakes classics QUEBECOIS, MONTREALAIS, TRANSFER and PROGRESS. Which ones will be next?  c):-(      

When I snapped the 730' CSL bulk carrier CEDARGLEN (below) exiting Iroquois Lock in November 2012, she was motoring upbound to Thunder Bay to pick up a load of grain. On this trip she was empty of iron ore, a cargo she was especially built to carry when launched in 1959 in Hamburg, Germany. Her name then was EMS ORE, and along with her eight sisters, the 546' bulk carrier with her sleek deep-sea bow and pilothouse amidships, hauled Venezuelan ore to Europe for about 27 years. In 1976, EMS ORE along sisters RHRINE ORE and RUHR ORE, were purchased by Montreal's Hall Corporation to carry Labrador ore to Hamilton's steel mills and then prairie grain downbound to St. Lawrence River elevators. When entering service in 1979, the newly named MONTCLIFFE HALL sported a new fore body which lengthened her to 730', the midship pilothouse and cabins were modified and moved to the stern. While her original diesel engine remained, MONTCLIFFE HALL also had a bow thruster installed along with a controllable pitch propeller.  
When Hallco went out of business in 1988, the MONTCLIFFE HALL and twin sister STEELCLIFFE HALL were acquired by N.M. Paterson & Sons Ltd. of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Soon after her name was changed to CARTIERDOC while the STEELCLIFFE became the WINDOC. The other sister was purchased by Algoma Central and was named ALGONTARIO. Named for the French explorer Jacques Cartier who discovered the St. Lawrence River Valley in 1534, with the added suffix "DOC" for Dominion Of Canada, CARTIERDOC continued the trade route she was designed for with Paterson & Sons and then Canada Steamship Lines when she was purchased in 2002 and became known as CEDARGLEN.
Currently the 56 year old CEDARGLEN is the oldest gearless bulk carrier in the CSL fleet. Despite her impressive 29,515 ton maximum carrying capacity, the "newbies" which are close to ten feet longer and almost three feet wider, can carry almost nine thousand tons of cargo more than the versatile CEDARGLEN.
Today, instead of plying our inland seas and channels, the tall and proud CEDAR sits high in the water and laid up in Goderich, Ontario's harbour until the fall due to "lack of work". Though ore shipments may have dropped off, such an excuse is pretty hard to believe on a day like so many this spring when two bulk carriers lay in anchor off Thunder Bay waiting for grain elevator dock space and two other bulkers according to MarineTraffic AIS appears to be motoring at a good speed towards Canada's largest grain port on the Great Lakes. Perhaps the real reason is it'll take until the fall for space to be available at Port Colborne's IMS scrapyard, which is currently busy cutting up to other classic lakers, the ALGOMA PROGRESS and AMERICAN FORTITUDE. After all, it's where Goderich's last long term layup, the ALGOMA TRANSFER end up. For the CEDARGLEN and her paid off crewman, let's hope it doesn't become a trend......

Updated March 7, 2019
 Waiting to enter the Beauharnois Locks on June 27, 2018

....well the trend of using Goderich as an IMS ship boneyard staging area may have been the case for long term layups ALGOMA TRANSFER, ALGOWAY and ALGORAIL, but my next series of photos is proof positive that the former salty built in 1959 and turned into a  laker in 1979, did not leave "Ontario's Prettiest Town" as a scrap-tow but actually the CEDARGLEN left Goderich under her own power in November 2015 and has been busy ever since.  

While celebrating our 44th Wedding Anniversary at Dewar's Inn on the River, I caught the aging CEDARGLEN again laden with cargo for a lower St. Lawrence port as she effortlessly glided by our cabin and then soon after met one of those "more automated and fuel efficient newbuilds" the 740' ALGOMA NIAGARA making lots of white water on her speedy upriver passage to the Great Lakes.
It is what it is but meanwhile, this winter the CEDARGLEN is laid up at Ironhead Shipyard in Toledo and once her repairs have been completed, she will be starting her 60th year of moving iron ore and grain on the deep and inland seas. Truly she's done yet. c):-))    

Sunday 7 June 2015

Cement Barge MÉTIS

Whenever I have time to visit Toronto's Harbourfront, I'll do a pan to the east to see what boats maybe tied off at Pier 35 or at the Marine Terminal near the Ship Channel Bridge. Almost always parked along the south wall of Pier 35's north slip would be a cluster of vessels owned by the Toronto Drydock Company. In this snap taken in March 2014, the camouflaged coloured MERNIER CONSOL which was a former bulk carrier until she was converted into a floating drydock in 1984, remains locked in the ice with the tug RADIUM YELLOWKNIFE parked in her belly for repairs. To her stern is the red superstructure of the salvage tug SALVAGE MONARCH ( and just on the other side of the slip sits the laid up for winter and Essroc owned cement carrying barge MÉTIS with her notched stern facing the outer harbour.

When I returned to TO in September 2014 and visited the harbour along Cherry Street, I'll admit I was somewhat surprised to see the 331' MÉTIS still tied off where she was when I snapped her along with Toronto Drydock's support vessels six months earlier. It looked like she still hadn't moved in February this year when I was able to pick off her yellow coloured crane and amidships superstructure through the leafless trees on the pier. You never know what will happen when a vessel is placed in long-term layup. Take the 806' Interlake's ore carrier JOHN SHERWIN snapped in September 2013, barely visible through the trees while parked at an old coal dock near DeTour Village, Michigan since she was placed into long term layup in 2008. Click here to read more about her later, OK:

If you've been following my blog, you'd know about the run around the classic self unloader AMERICAN FORTITUDE got eh. She was placed in long-term layup also in 2008 in Toledo, Ohio, and is now waiting to be broken up in Port Colborne. Missed that post? Here's the link: c):-((
Then earlier this month while checking out's "Channel News", I read that the MÉTIS was in Oswego, New York unloading cement. She was paired there with the tug EVANS McKEIL, the same tug that towed the AMERICAN FORTITUDE all the way from Toledo to Côte Ste. Catherine Lock near Montreal and then most of the trip back upbound to Oswego for winter layup last December. That was one slow journey to nowhere and back for the FORTITUDE and her escort tugs. Meanwhile, MÉTIS's "Escape from Alcatraz" was no "Weekend at Bernie's" either. Since EVANS McKEIL notched together with the MÉTIS on April 30th, the "Not Dead Yet Duel" has been busy hauling cement from Essroc's Picton, Ontario plant in Prince Edward County to their bulk terminals in Toronto, and across Lake Ontario to Oswego and Rochester.
When launched in 1956 at Davie Shipyard in Levi, Quebec, the then 259' MÉTIS was a bulk carrier and the last canaller-size ship built for Canada Steamship Lines. Three years later, MÉTIS was lengthen to her current 331' and deepened by another 3.5' to 26'. Two five ton cranes and hoists were also installed which allowed her to self discharge various bulk goods instead of requiring shore-based equipment.
In 1966 MÉTIS was converted in a self unloading cement carrier and operated occasional along the Welland Canal but more often to her current Lake Ontario ports of Toronto, Oswego and Rochester for the then Lake Ontario Cement Company plant located in Picton. In 1991 her diesel engine was removed along with her wheelhouse, stack and aft accommodation quarters, at Kingston Shipbuilders in Kingston, Ontario. From then on MÉTIS was known as a self unloading cement "barge" and when she was not seen being pushed along by the 120' Purvis Marine tug AVENGER IV throughout the upper lakes, St. Clair or Detroit Rivers, she was placed in long term layup in Windsor. In 2001, Essroc  purchased the idle barge, had her towed to Hamilton to be refurbished and then while paired with the EVANS McKEIL began to re-servicing the same ports that MÉTIS did while under her own power for Lake Ontario Cement, a company Essroc had acquired in 1986.

In case you're wondering, MÉTIS is a French word that means "Mixed" and is referred to when describing the "Métis Nation" which are one of the recognized Aboriginal peoples of Canada with the formal recognition equal given to the Inuit and First Nations peoples. The Métis Nation's homeland includes the Canadian prairie provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and parts of Ontario, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, and the northern United States, specifically Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana. The Métis have a distinct culture and history, and are connected through an extensive network of kin relations that started with the mixed-race descendants of unions between First Nations women and European men during the 18th & early 19th century Great Lakes and Western fur trade.  "À la façon du pays" or "according to the customs of the country" unions or marriages usually involved mutual commitments with local First Nations kin and communities. The fur trapper husbands often lived out their lives with these indigenous families. Due to their skills as voyageurs, hunters, interpreters and knowledge of the lands, the Métis were well respected employees by both major fur traders of the day, the Hudson Bay Company and North West Trading Company. Apparently such cities and towns like Sault Ste. Marie, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Green Bay all originated as Métis outposts. I did not know that. c):-o
It's amazing how such a little boat could be given such a big or vastly important name. A small five letter word that acknowledges an "Aboriginal People" whose tireless work ethics and openness over several generations has helped Canada and America prosper and grow. Where would we be without them?

Just like her namesake, the little barge MÉTIS has shown over the years that she continues to be a valuable asset and remains useful regardless of her size. While other pre-seaway canallers have fallen victim to the ship cutter's touch many years before, the MÉTIS which was built to work has adapted. Mixing or changing her cargo trade from mostly grain to only cement products, has in itself made her a unique vessel. Though at times she's had to lie in wait, but when called upon, regardless of being self powered or pushed along the way by the veteran harbour tug EVANS McKEIL, the agile and shallow draft MÉTIS can enter narrow and winding rivers and channels with ease delivering cement which when "mixed" with water can be used to build lasting foundations for the homes and apartment buildings that we live in, sidewalks and roadways to help us get from 'Point A to Point B' by any means of transportation, and as seen in the background of the tied off MÉTIS below, the cluster of commercial skyscrapers that adorns Toronto's dynamic skyline built with concrete and reinforced steel. The cityscape icon and pinnacle of Canadian success and innovation, the 1,815.4' CN Tower consists of over 52,972 cubic yards of concrete all "mixed" on site to ensure batch consistency. So many applications achieved thanks to cement carriers like the MÉTIS. Which begs the question, where would we be without her? c):-()