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 Richardson's Elevator, Thunder Bay, ON, Nov. 28, 2000.

Tom Stewart 

Great Lakes Fleet Page Vessel Feature -- Algoriver

by George Wharton

This traditional styled straight deck laker was built as hull # 275 by Canadian Vickers Ltd., Montreal, PQ; being christened August 26, 1960 as the John A. France (2) for Scott Misener Steamships Ltd., St. Catharines, ON. Built in 2 parts, the bow was launched on December 9, 1959 and the stern on May 14, 1960, the halves being joined together at the Champlain Drydock, Levis, QC prior ro launching.  The new bulk carrier was the second vessel to be named in honor of Mr. John Alexander France who was a top executive official of the Misener organization until early 1964.

The John A. France was powered by a General Electric steam turbine engine rated at 9,900 s.h.p. (7,282 KW) with 2 Babcock & Wilcox heavy fuel oil burning water tube boilers; the power being fed to a single fixed pitch propeller giving her a rated speed of 17.0 m.p.h. She was also equipped with a bow thruster. Her 22 hatches serviced 6 holds where she could carry approximately 25,152 tons (25,556 mt) at the Seaway draft of 26’ 03” (8.00m) and was capable of carrying 26,800 tons (27,231 mt) at her mid-summer draft of 27’ 07.5” (8.42m). The vessel weighed in (displaced) at 7,250 tons (7,366 mt) lightweight.

As part of the Misener fleet, grain products and iron ore were the primary cargoes for the John A. France. Her maiden voyage was in ballast from Montreal to Pointe Noire, QC where she loaded iron ore for Ashtabula, OH; delivering the cargo September 8, 1960. Shortly after, on September 17, 1960, the vessel set her first Great Lakes cargo record when 859,000 bushels of wheat were loaded at Port Arthur, ON for Baie Comeau, QC.  During her second season of sailing; she carried a record cargo of 835,195 bushels of flax from Fort William, ON (now Thunder Bay) loading on November 14, 1961 for delivery to Port Colborne, ON. This flax record still stands today.

The beginning of the 1991 season saw the John A. France sail under the management of Great Lakes Bulk Carriers Inc., St. Catharines, ON. The consortium Great Lakes Bulk Carriers Inc. was a partnership of the bulker fleets of Canada Steamship Lines, Misener Holdings Ltd., and Pioneer Shipping Ltd. Also formed in the early 1990’s was the consortium Seaway Bulk Carriers Inc., Winnipeg, MB; a partnership of Algoma Central Marine and Upper Lakes Group. These partnerships were formed in an effort to maximize profits and vessel utilization in a difficult economy for bulker fleets. The fleets maintained ownership of their vessels.

With the demise of the Misener fleet and Great Lakes Bulk Carriers; Algoma Central Corp., Sault Ste. Marie, ON acquired the John A. France in 1994, renaming her Algoriver in June. Her new name was derived from her new owner’s fleet prefix “Algo” and “river” in honor of the St. Marys River joining Lake Superior with Lake Huron.

The Algoriver then sailed under the management of Seaway Bulk Carriers from 1995 through to the end of the 1999 navigation season. She then sailed under the management of the newly formed Seaway Marine Transport, St. Catharines, ON; also a partnership between Algoma Central Marine and Upper Lakes Group. This new partnership combined the bulkers and self unloaders of both fleets into one management group. The Algoriver’s activities continued to be focused in the grain products and iron ore trades. As such, her sailings were subject to long periods of lay ups due to the seasonal fluctuations of the grain industry.  The need for this bulker, however, was limited primarily to the fall grain rush and carried only 38 cargoes from 1996 to 2000.

The Algoriver’s 2000 (and final) sailing season typifies the fate of many Canadian “straight deckers” that would see activity only during the fall grain rush. The Algoriver departed her Montreal lay up berth on September 26 sailing in ballast to Point Noire, QC to load iron ore for Indiana Harbor; then in ballast to Thunder Bay for a cargo of grain products to Port Cartier, PQ. Her season ended with a load of wheat from Thunder Bay to Montreal where she arrived on December 23 for unloading and her final lay up. During this short season, the Algoriver visited Thunder Bay five times to load grain cargoes bound for Hamilton, ON; Montreal and Port Cartier, QC.

In August 2002 the Algoriver and her Seaway Marine fleet mate Canadian Voyager were sold for scrap for delivery to Aliaga, Turkey under tow. Within days of this announcement, on August 18, 2002, the Algoriver departed her lay-up port of Montreal under tow of the large Panamanian tug Suhaili. As with Canadian Voyager that preceded her, the Algoriver’s final proud voyage down the St. Lawrence River took her past many ports that had been considered “ports of call” during her 40 years of service on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.  Shortly after her arrival at Aliaga on September 12, work crews began cutting her apart.

Overall Dimensions (metric)
Length  722' 06" (220.22m)
Beam  75' 00" (22.86m)
Depth  39' 00" (11.89m)
Capacity (mid-summer)  26,800 tons (27,231 mt)
at a draft of 27' 07.5" (8.42m)
Power (steam turbine)  9,900 s.h.p. (7,282 KW)


Hamilton, June 10, 1994 shortly after being renamed Algoriver with part of her previous name still showing. John McCreery

Loading grain at the Cargill Elevator (now known as Andersons "E" Elevator). Jim Hoffman

Welland Canal, Oct. 12, 1998.
John McCreery

Algoriver with her name painted out and anchorless
ready for tow. Kent Malo

Stern view. Kent Malo

Waiting for the tow. Kent Malo

Underway. Luke collection

A close up view of the Algoriver as she works her way upriver bound for one of the elevators to load grain. Jim Hoffman

Outbound Maumee Bay after loading grain bound for a St Lawrence River Port. Jim Hoffman


As the John A. France in the Welland Canal, June 20, 1975. Rudi Rabe

Welland Canal, Nov. 19, 1984.
John McCreery

Welland Canal, May 27, 1994.
John McCreery

Stern view. John McCreery

John A. France upbound at the Soo with a blue hull. Jim Hoffman

John A. France upbound from the Hi level Bridge at Toledo bound for one of the elevators to load grain. Jim Hoffman

John A. France departing ADM/Countrymark Elevator after loading grain and will be
headed downbound the Maumee river for Lake Erie. Jim Hoffman

John A. France outbound Maumee Bay at Toledo. She just finished loading a grain cargo
upriver and is now bound for a St. Lawrence River Port. Jim Hoffman

At the Soo. Scott Misener Collection

As the Algoriver upbound the Maumee River headed for one of the Elevators to load grain. Jim Hoffman

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