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 On the Welland Canal

George Wharton 

Great Lakes Fleet Page Vessel Feature -- Canadian Voyager

by George Wharton

Built by Collingwood Shipyards, Collingwood, ON as hull #172; this traditional styled straight deck bulk carrier was launched as the Black Bay on September 20, 1962 for owner Canadian General Electric Co. (Canada Steamship Lines, Montreal, PQ as managers). She departed Collingwood on her maiden voyage April 18, 1963. Burning heavy fuel oil, this vessel was powered by a Canadian General Electric steam turbine engine rated at 9,000 s.h.p. feeding a single fixed pitch propeller giving her a rated service speed of 17.8 m.p.h. Her 17 hatches fed 6 holds where she could carry approximately 25,303 tons at Seaway draft of 26’03” and was capable of carrying 27,050 tons at her mid summer draft of 27’05”. The vessel weighed in (displaced) at 7,312 tons lightweight.

The Black Bay was the eighth Canadian “730-footer” built and the second vessel constructed at Collingwood with these dimensions. She was also one of thirteen “730-footers” to co-hold the “Queen of the Lakes” honors for the longest vessel(s) on the Great Lakes. The Black Bay co-held this title from her launch date through to December 7, 1962. On that date, the honor was passed to the Frankcliffe Hall (2); though considered a “730-footer”, whose actual length was 730’02”. (The Frankcliffe Hall currently sails as the self unloader Halifax for Canada Steamship Lines.)

In her time, she took her turn at setting cargo records. Of note, in 1963 during her first season of sailing, she carried a Seaway record 24,457 tons of iron ore. Later that season, she carried a record 1,383,922 bushels of oats through the Seaway.

On August 24, 1965; the Black Bay was in collision with the Liberian flagged salt water vessel Epic, receiving port shell plating damage amidships. Then, on February 19, 1978, while in winter lay up in Montreal, the Black Bay suffered a serious fire resulting in no injuries but requiring the rebuilding of her aft cabins at an estimated cost of $1 million. On April 5, 1988; she was stranded in the Brockville Narrows of the St. Lawrence River while upbound with iron ore for Hamilton. After being stuck for 3 days, she was released after lightering some cargo, and then proceeded to Thunder Bay for repair after unloading her remaining cargo. Then on August 11, 1989, she grounded while downbound in the St. Marys River, again requiring lightering before she could proceed to Superior, WI for repair.

Canadian General Electric transferred ownership directly to Canada Steamship Lines in 1964. In 1976, ownership of the Black Bay was passed over to Power Corp. of Canada Ltd. (owners of Canada Steamship Lines at that time) with Canada Steamship Lines remaining as managers. In 1991, the consortium Great Lakes Bulk Carriers Inc. took over the management of the vessel. Great Lakes Bulk Carriers Inc. was a partnership of Canada Steamship Lines, Misener Holdings Ltd., and Pioneer Shipping Ltd; formed in an effort better utilize the bulker fleets of the partner fleets and maximize profits. The fleets maintained ownership of their respective vessels. By 1993, the Black Bay only carried 7 cargoes between April and July, and then laid up in Montreal for the remainder of the year.

Following the demise of Great Lakes Bulk Carriers Inc., Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd., Toronto, ON acquired the Black Bay in the spring of 1994, renaming the hull Canadian Voyager. At the time of ULS’s acquisition, the vessel was in a run-down state. She was towed to Port Weller Dry Docks, St. Catharines, ON where the necessary dry docking for repairs and inspections took place. The Canadian Voyager resumed sailing September 25, 1995; sailing under the management of Seaway Bulk Carriers, Winnipeg, MB (partnership of Upper Lakes Group and Algoma Central). At the beginning of the 2000 navigation season, Seaway Bulk Carriers amalgamated their operations with Seaway Self Unloaders becoming Seaway Marine Transport Ltd., St. Catharines, ON. The Canadian Voyager sailed her final 2 seasons (2000 & 2001) under this banner.

Throughout her 40 year career on the Great Lakes, the Canadian Voyager’s cargoes remained focused in the grains and iron ore trades. The vessel’s activities were always subject to the seasonal fluctuations of the grain trade necessitating lay ups as cargo volumes decreased. Fittingly, the Canadian Voyager’s last cargo was a load of soybeans and wheat from Harvest States, Duluth, MN for Port Cartier, PQ; passing downbound through the Welland Canal for a final time on December 17, 2001. She then returned to Montreal arriving December 23, 2001 for her final lay up.

In August 2002 the Canadian Voyager and her Seaway Marine fleet mate Algoriver were sold for scrap for delivery to Turkey under tow. The Canadian Voyager departed Montreal August 15th under tow of the large Russian tug Akhtiar with assistance down the St. Lawrence River to Les Ecoumins being provided by Les Group Ocean’s tug Ocean Hercule. The Canadian Voyager’s final proud voyage leaving her homeland took her past many of the ports she had once considered “ports of call” along the St. Lawrence River.

The tow arrived at Aliaga, Turkey under tow on Sept. 18. The former laker was beached on Sept. 20 for scrapping. Ironically the beaching came 40 years to the day of her launching at Collingwood Shipyards, Collingwood, ON.

Overall dimensions
Length 730'00"
Beam 75'00"
Depth 39'02"
Capacity (tons) 27,050 tons


Detroit River. Mike Nicholls

Stern view. Mike Nicholls

Scrap tow. Kent Malo

In lay-up. Rod Burdick

Canadian Voyager Detroit River. Mike Nicholls

Stern view. Mike Nicholls

Docking in Thunder Bay. Rob Farrow.

Loading. Rob Farrow

Welland Canal. Alex Howard

 At Andersons "K" Elevator loading grain. She is on her maiden voyage under her new name.
Jim Hoffman

Welland Canal Aug. 26, 1999.
Richard Jenkins.

Welland Canal. Richard Jenkins.

On the Detroit River, Oct. 19, 1986.
James H. Jackson
blackbay10-86.jpg (156332 bytes)
Upbound St. Clair River, Oct. 23, 1986.
Marc Dease
BLACK BAY - Fall 1987 (Scrapped as CANADIAN VOYAGER)
Black Bay at Marquette, fall 1987.
Rod Burdick

Black Bay passing under the Blue Water Bridge. Bill Bird Collection

Inbound Maumee Bay Jim Hoffman
Upbound from the Cherry Street Bridge bound for one of the elevators to load grain.
Jim Hoffman

 Black Bay Downbound Toledo, she just finished loading grain and is heading for a St. Lawrence River Port to unload. Jim Hoffman

Upbound from the Hi Level Bridge. Jim Hoffman

Black Bay Loading. Rod Burdick

Black Bay. Oct. 1, 1989.
 Richard Jenkins.

Black Bay. Don Coles

Inbound Maumee Bay bound for one of the elevators to load grain. Jim Hoffman

Canadian Voyager (ex Black Bay) upbound from the Martin Luther King Bridge. She departed Port Weller Drydocks the day before and is on her maiden voyage. Toledo was her first port of call under her new name. She is bound for Andersons "K" Elevator to load grain.
Jim Hoffman

Upbound from the Hi Level Bridge. Jim Hoffman

Video clip of the
Voyager passing in 2001

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