Downbound lower Lake Huron, Nov. 12, 2011.

George Wharton

Algoma Provider
(Murray Bay (2) 1963 - 1994, Canadian Provider 1994 - 2011)

by George Wharton

The keel was laid for this classic straight-deck bulk carrier in August, 1962 at Collingwood Shipyards Ltd., Collingwood, ON as their hull # 177.  Nine months later, on May 3, 1963, the new hull was launched as the Murray Bay (2) for Canada Steamship Lines, Inc., Montreal, QC.  This build was the fastest construction of a vessel of this type and size and proved to be the last steam turbine powered vessel built for Canada Steamship Lines.  The new carrier was named Murray Bay (2) just prior to the original Murray Bay being sold June 15, 1963 to N.M. Paterson and Sons Ltd. who, in turn, named their vessel Comeaudoc.  The naming of the new laker followed a Canada Steamship Lines naming pattern for this class of vessel honoring better known bays on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.  Murray Bay (La Malbaie) is located on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River.

The bulk carrier was powered by a John Inglis 9,000 s.h.p. (6,620 kw) cross-compound steam turbine engine with 2 Babcock & Wilcox water tube boilers fueled by heavy fuel oil.  Power was fed to a single fixed pitch propeller giving the laker a service speed of 17.3 m.p.h.  Seventeen hatches service 6 holds where the vessel was capable of carrying up to 27,450 tons (27,891 mt) of iron ore at a mid-summer draft of 27' 05" (8.36m) or approximately 26,243 tons (26,664 mt) at the new Seaway draft of 26' 06" (8.08m).  Cubic capacities include 29,800 net tons (26,607 tons / 27,035 mt) of coal; 26,691 tons (27,120 mt) of wheat, 25,114 tons (25,617 mt) of corn or rye; 22,029 tons (22,383 mt) of barley or 21,516 tons (21,861 mt) of oats.

On July 18, 1963, the Murray Bay sailed on her maiden voyage from Collingwood, ON in ballast to Taconite Harbor, MN for a 23,962 ton (24,347 tonne) load of iron ore for Hamilton, ON.  During that initial season, she carried 23 cargoes.  The Murray Bay departed Montreal, QC on March 2, 1979 for Port Cartier, QC and shuttled 98,768 tons (100,355 mt) of iron ore from that port to Contrecoeur, QC before the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway for the 1979 season.  From 1967 to 1992, she handled over 630 cargoes for Canada Steamship Lines.  Beginning in 1991, she sailed under the management of Great Lakes Bulk Carriers Ltd., St. Catharines, ON; a pooling consortium made up from the bulk carrier fleets of Canada Steamship Lines, Misener Holdings Ltd. and Pioneer Shipping Ltd.  On December 21, 1993, the Murray Bay tied up in Montreal ending just over 30 years of service with Canada Steamship Lines following the demise of the management consortium.

On April 8, 1994, the Murray Bay was acquired by Upper Lakes Group, Inc., Toronto, ON from Canada Steamship Lines.  Her fleetmates Black Bay, Lemoyne (2) and Rimouski as well as the Misener bulkers David K. Gardiner, Peter Misener and Ralph Misener were also acquired in the same transaction.  By October, 1994, following a survey at Toledo and new hull paint, the Murray Bay had been reactivated under her new name Canadian Provider sailing for Upper Lakes under the management of Seaway Bulk Carriers, Winnipeg, MB (a partnership pooling the bulk carriers of Upper Lakes Group and Algoma Central Marine).  Beginning in 2000, the Canadian Provider sailed under the management of Seaway Marine Transport, St. Catharines, ON following the merging of Seaway Bulk Carriers and Seaway Self Unloaders into one management company.  Seaway Marine Transport currently operates and manages the vessel for Upper Lakes Group.

The Canadian Provider often does not sail until the fall grain rush, her service being quite dependent on the bulk agriculture industry.  In 2001, she did not sail until she was called into service for a circumstantial reason.  The N.M. Paterson and Sons' bulk carrier Windoc had been the victim of an allision and fire in the Welland Canal in August, 2001.  Following the incident, the Windoc was towed to Hamilton, ON to await her fate.  The Canadian Provider was towed on September 9, 2001 from her lay-up berth in Toronto and rafted to the stricken carrier to have the undamaged cargo of wheat transferred to her holds for furtherance to Montreal.  The cargo transfer took almost two weeks with the Canadian Provider being able to take all but about 5,000 tons (5,080 mt) of the Windoc's cargo.  She remained in service for the remainder of the 2001 season.

On her final voyage of 2004 loaded with a winter storage cargo of sugar from Quebec City, QC to Toronto, the Canadian Provider allided with the Redpath Sugar dock in Toronto causing fairly extensive bow damage (holed) and dock damage.  She remained in Toronto until May 20, 2005 when she was towed to Hamilton for repairs and lay-up.  On April 10, 2006, the Canadian Provider arrived under tow at St. Catharines' Port Weller Dry Dock for her 5-year survey.  The classic laker returned to active service on May 5, 2006 when she departed upbound in the Welland Canal in ballast to Thunder Bay, ON for a 25,199 ton (25,604 tonne) load of wheat for Quebec City.

On February 25, 2011, a formal statement was issued announcing the sale of the privately owned Upper Lakes Shipping fleet and their associated interest in Seaway Marine Transport to Algoma Central Corporation.  Former Upper Lakes Chairman of the Board, company spokesman and owner John D. ("Jack") Leitch stated "It is with some regret and sadness that I tell you that we have decided to sell the vessels of Upper Lakes Shipping and our interest in Seaway Marine Transport to Algoma Central Corporation. A definitive agreement has been signed and the deal is anticipated to close in about a month. By the end of this season the proud logo on the funnels of Upper Lakes vessels will no longer be seen on the Great Lakes or along the St. Lawrence River."  Jack further states "For 80 years we have been a part of the Canadian landscape and of the fabric of the Canadian economy."  The Upper Lakes Shipping fleet will takes its place in modern Canadian Great Lakes history as having been a prominent player in the economic development of the regions served by the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway system.  On April 15, 2011, Algoma announced that the Canadian Provider would be renamed Algoma Provider.  The name change took place in September 9, 2011 while in temporary lay-up at Toronto, ON.  Included was the application of the Algoma bow and stack markings with the stack color change.  Her Canadian registry changed to Algoma Provider, her port of registry remained Toronto, ON.  The bulker returned to service on October 18 in ballast to Thunder Bay, ON.

The Provider laid up for the winter on December 29, 2011 at Hamilton ON pier 25. She remained idle at the beginning of the 2012 season and was later shifted deadship to Hamilton pier 8 to receive a substantial amount of steel work in preparation to sail late in the season. As the 2012 fall grain rush approached, the Provider began fitting out and had steam up by mid August. However, plans to sail were abruptly cancelled when it was found that one of her fuel tanks had cracked and leaked fuel into internal spaces in her double bottom (no exterior leaks or pollution). Taking into account the harvest forecast and tonnage commitments, the decision was made to clean and repair the vessel rather than proceed with a sale for scrap. Finally, on the morning of October 6, 2012 the Provider departed her layup berth in ballast for Thunder Bay to begin her shortened and what proved to be final season. Plagued by engine trouble throughout her last few months, she carried only a handful of cargoes before taking on one last load of wheat in Thunder Bay destined for Elevator 4, Section 56 South in Montreal QC, arriving to unload and layup on December 30, 2012. The ship remained laid up in retirement at Montreal until she was sold for scrap and her Canadian registry closed on May 29, 2013.

On June 9, 2013 with the tug VB Artico on the bow and Vigilant I on her stern, the former Algoma Provider –with her name shortened to OVI for her last voyage, stack markings painted over and a homeport of Freetown (Sierra Leone) lettered on the stern – was towed from Montreal bound for Aliaga Turkey. The last survivor of a long line of Collingwood built steamers, the old Murray Bay was beached on July 12, 2013 to be broken up.


Overall Dimensions (metric)
 Length  730' 00" (222.50m)
 Beam  75' 00" (22.86m)
 Depth  39' 02" (11.94m)
 Capacity (mid-summer)  27,450 tons (27,891 mt)
at draft of 27' 05" (8.36m)
 Power (steam turbine)  9,000 s.h.p. (6,620 kw)

AlgoProvider11-12-11gw4175.jpg (105958 bytes)
Lower Lake Huron with wheat from Thunder Bay, ON for Quebec City, Nov. 12, 2011.
George Wharton
AlgoProvider11-12-11gw4185.jpg (61084 bytes)
Turning into the St. Clair River at the Lake Huron cut buoys 1 & 2. George Wharton
AlgoProvider11-12-11gw4188.jpg (83328 bytes)
Into the St. Clair River at Point Edward, ON.
George Wharton
1-AProvider-4-10-11-nw.jpg (74656 bytes)
Another view at Toronto, Oct. 4, 2011.
Neil Walsh
5-AlgomaProvider-10-19-11-jm.jpg (95272 bytes)
Upbound the Welland Canal passing the tug/barge Karen Andrie/Endeavour above Lock 3,
Oct. 19, 2011. John McCreery

Another view. John McCreery

Toledo, OH Oct. 18, 2003. Mike Nicholls

Seaway, July 27, 2001. Kent Malo

Close up. Kent Malo

Mission Point, Sept. 10, 2003. Scott Best

Welland Canal, Oct. 6, 2002. Alex Howard

Rod Burdick

Winter lay-up, Hamilton, ON,
Feb 23, 2002. G. Wharton

Welland Canal, Oct. 17, 2003.
G. Wharton

Stern view, Oct. 17, 2003.
G. Wharton

St. Marys River, May 2004.
Roger LeLievre

Welland Canal, Sept. 2004.
Alex Howard

Stern view. Alex Howard

Provider in Toronto. 1-3-05 Tony Wells

Temporary repairs.

Harbor wall in front of Redpath Sugar.

Departing Lock1, Welland Canal under tow, April 10, 2006. Al Howard

Positioning to be placed into dry dock.
Al Howard.

Into Port Weller Dry Docks.
Al Howard

Leaving Port Weller Dry Docks,
May 5, 2006. Michael Gosselin

Raising in Lock 7, May 5, 2006.
Al Howard

Stern view leaving the lock.
Al Howard

Upbound the St. Lawrence River just below the Thousand Island Bridge, Aug. 13, 2006. Fritz Hager

Meeting the Federal St. Laurent.
Fritz Hager

Stern view, approaching the Thousand Island Bridge.
Fritz Hager

Unloading at Montreal, July 2006.
Kent Malo

Upbound the Welland Canal, Oct. 2006.
Bill Bird

Stern view, passing under the Allanburg Bridge,
(bridge 11). Bill Bird

More pictures from our archives


As the Murray Bay

Murray Bay, 1978. Roger LeLievre

Murray Bay at Hamilton, ON, July 24, 1984.
John McCreery

Murray Bay at Marquette 1987.
Rod Burdick

Below Lock 2, Welland Canal, Apr. 7, 1991.
John McCreery

Welland Canal on hot, humid day,
May 12, 1991. John McCreery

In transition at Montreal with the Canadian Voyager, Aug. 24, 1994. John McCreery

Detroit River, Sept. 19, 2004.
Mike Nicholls

Stern view. Mike Nicholls

St. Clair River. Mark Schumaker

Welland Canal Todd Davidson

Stern view Kent Malo.

Loading Thunder Bay. Rob Farrow

Detroit River. Mike Nicholls

Stern View. N. Schultheiss

Duluth Glenn Blaszkiewicz

Arriving Hamilton, ON May 20, 2005 with bow damage repaired. John McCreery

Welland Canal, July 15, 2006.
John McCreery


Aerial view. Don Coles

Soo Locks, Aug. 2003.
Roger LeLievre

Arriving at Hamilton, ON, Nov. 4, 2007.
John McCreery

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