Algoma Montrealais
IMO 5241142

St. Marys River.
(Roger LeLievre)


Laid down as the Montrealer, this traditional styled Great Lakes bulk carrier was constructed in two sections. Ordered in late 1960 by "Canada's own almost home-grown Greek shipping tycoon" (Montreal Star weekly magazine section of June 1, 1963) Mr. Phrixos Basil Papachristidis for his company Papachristidis Co. Ltd., Montreal, QC. and financed by Hiram Walker and Sons Ltd. (distillers of Canadian Club Whiskey), the 230’ (70.1m) bow section was built as hull # 77 by George T. Davie & Sons Ltd., Lauzon, QC and the stern portion built as hull # 278 by Canadian Vickers Ltd., Montreal, QC. The stern section was launched October 19, 1961 and the bow section on October 25, 1961; the two sections being joined at the Champlain Drydock at Lauzon. The vessel’s name was changed and on April 12, 1962; she was christened Montrealais at the Canadian Vickers yard in Montreal. Canadian Vickers Ltd. retained ownership of the new laker during her construction and after her launch. The Montrealais was bareboat chartered back to Papachristidis Co. Ltd., who operated and managed the vessel. Eastern Lake Carriers Ltd. of Montreal, a joint venture of the Papachristidis and Irving families (a well known name on the Canadian east coast), took over ownership of the vessel in 1965 with Papachristidis Co. Ltd. remaining as managers.

The Montrealais is powered by a Canadian General Electric model MD70 cross compound steam turbine engine rated at 9,900 s.h.p. (7,382 kW) at 103 r.p.m. with two heavy fuel oiled fired Babcock & Wilcox water tube boilers. The power is transmitted to a single fixed pitch propeller through double reduction gears giving the vessel a rated service speed of 19 m.p.h. The laker is equipped with a bow thruster. Her 20 hatches service 5 holds where she is capable of carrying 28,443 tons (28,900 mt) of iron ore at a mid-summer draft of 27’ 08" (8.43m). At the new Seaway draft of 26' 06" (8.08m) implemented in 2004, the Montrealais can carry approximately 26,740 tons (27,170 mt). Her holds have the cubic capacity to carry 27,600 net tons (equivalent to 24,643 tons / 25,039 mt) of coal, 24,703 tons (25,100 mt) of wheat, 23,349 tons (23,612 mt) of corn or rye, 20,388 tons (20,716 mt) of barley or 18,739 tons (19,040 mt) of oats. Other capacities include 850 tons (864 mt) of fuel oil, 11.8 tons (12 mt) of diesel oil, 47.24 tons (48 mt) of potable water and 11,866.4 tons (12,057 mt) of water ballast.

Mr. Papachristidis was born in Eleftheroupolis, Macedonia on June 15, 1901 and came to Canada in 1933 at the urging of pen pal (and soon to be spouse) Mariette Vachon of Beauce, QC. He arrived in Canada with nothing more than a suitcase full of foreign stamps. After building a wholesale stamp trading business which continued through World War II, he redirected his attention and energy to the shipping industry buying his first ship, the Dartmouth Park, from Canada's War Assets Corporation shortly after the war. By 1949, his company Papachristidis Co. Ltd. owned 9 vessels, all engaged in world-wide tramping services. In the 1950's, he chartered vessels to Navios Corp. (the ocean-going subsidiary of U.S. Steel Corp. at the time). When the St. Lawrence Seaway opened in 1959, the business relationship between the two companies was close. With the encouragement of Navios, he used his ingenious understanding of Canadian legislature established to encourage the shipping industry in Canada to enter the Great Lakes and Seaway trades.

The Montrealais was the first bulker built for Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River service for the Papachristidis Co. Ltd. The firm still had a fleet of ocean-going freighters but had not operated on the Great Lakes until 1962. Mr. Papachristidis began his Great Lakes operations with two new vessels: the Montrealais and the Hamiltonian (built by Saint John Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Saint John, NB; launched April 7, 1962). "Montrealais" is the French translation of "Montrealer"; a native or resident of the city of Montreal, QC. The Montrealais’ namesake is the city of Montreal, being named in honor of the city headquartering the Papachristidis operations. The vessel was the fifth Canadian "730-footer" built that shared the "Queen of the Lakes" title for being the longest vessel on the Great Lakes. On December 7, 1962 the honor was passed on to the newly built Canadian steamer Frankcliffe Hall at 730’ 02" (222.56m). The Montrealais is considered a sister ship to the Quebecois and, by design, to the Canadian Miner.

The focus of Papachristidis’ Great Lakes operations was the movement of Labrador iron ore west from Gulf of St. Lawrence ports to Lake Erie and Lake Michigan ports with a contract from Navios Corp. Rates were cut to obtain eastbound return cargoes of grain. By 1967, the fleet had reached its maximum size of 6 Seaway-sized lakers, all built new for the fleet. The other five vessels added were the previously mentioned Hamiltonian (1962), the Quebecois (1963), New Brunswicker (1963), Don-de-Dieu (1965) and Feux Follets (1967).

While sailing for Papachristidis, the Montrealais was in collision with the British tanker Atheltemplar in Montreal harbor on August 3, 1962 resulting in only minor damage. The vessel ran aground on November 21, 1967 in the St. Lawrence River near Trois-Rivieres, QC with resulting damage to 19 plates.

Just prior to the commencement of the 1972 navigation season, the Montrealais was acquired with her four remaining fleetmates from Eastern Lake Carriers Ltd. by Jackes Shipping Ltd. (a division of Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd., Toronto, ON). Prior to this sale, her former fleetmate Don-de-Dieu had been sold in 1967 to Labrador Shipping. Upper Lakes transferred ownership of the Montrealais to another operating division Leitch Transport Ltd. in 1975, and then took direct ownership of the vessel in 1976. Current vessel registration information shows Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd., Calgary, AB as registered owners (a division of Upper Lakes Group, Inc., Toronto, ON). Her principal cargoes and trade routes remained essentially unchanged upon joining the Upper Lakes fleet. The Montrealais was used in a brief trial carrying deck loads of containers from Great Lakes ports to St. Lawrence River ports but the market for this type of service never materialized.

Of note, the Montrealais was involved in a serious head-on collision with the Algobay on June 25, 1980 on a very foggy St. Clair River. There were no reported casualties. The resulting massive bow damage to the Montrealais resulted in almost $1 million worth or repairs which were completed at Port Weller Dry Docks, St. Catharines, ON with the vessel returning to service on September 23, 1980. The Algobay also received extensive bow damage which was repaired at Herb Fraser & Associates, Port Colborne, ON at an estimated cost of $500,000. On October 17, 1993 while underway in ballast on the open waters of Lake Michigan off of Indiana Harbor; the Montrealais, while attempting to change course, pulled hard to port experiencing a 28 degree roll in unexpected swells. Five hatch covers were lost overboard with others being damaged. (The hatch covers were stacked on deck at the time of the occurrence.)

Early into the Montrealais’ winter lay-up of 1999/2000, the vessel acted as a control ship for a massive New Year’s Eve fireworks display held in Toronto’s harbor. The fireworks were fired off of the decks of her fleetmates Canadian Mariner, Canadian Trader, and Canadian Venture to the delight of millions of spectators both at the harbor front and on television. Each vessel was restricted by the Fire Marshal to being crewed by one mate and one engineer only, for safety reasons.

The Montrealais remained an active carrier in the Upper Lakes Group fleet being operated and managed by Seaway Marine Transport, St. Catharines, ON (a partnership of Upper Lakes Group and Algoma Central Corp.). From 1993 through until January, 2000; the Montrealais sailed under the management of Seaway Bulk Carriers, Winnipeg, MB which was the predecessor to the current management partnership. By June of 2003, the Montrealais had received the necessary modifications to operate the engine directly from her bridge. The vessel’s cargoes continued to be focused in the grain products and iron ore trades as it has been throughout her career. Other cargoes included bulk cement and raw sugar (usually a winter storage cargo).

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. During the 2011 navigation season, Algoma had her stack markings changed. In early 2012, Algoma formally changed the vessel's name to Algoma Montrealais with Transport Canada's registration being changed accordingly.

Algoma Montrealis passed downbound for the last time at the Soo Locks on Christmas Day 2014. She laid up for the season in early January 2015 at Montreal. She was soon sold to Turkish shipbreakers and renamed Mont for the scrap tow, which left Montreal June 15 in charge of the deep-sea tug Diavlos Pride. They arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, July 10, 2015, and scrapping began immediately.


Written by George Wharton.



Ship Particulars
Length 730' 00" (222.51m)
Beam 75' 00" (22.86m)
Depth 39' 00" (14.17m)
Midsummer Draft 27' 08" (8.43m)
Capacity 29,072 tons
Engine Power 9,900 shp steam turbine)
Previous Names
Mont 2015 - 2015
Algoma Montrealais 2012 - 2015
Montrealais 1962 - 2012
Montrealer Before Launch

 


In the lower St. Lawrence River under Papachristidis colors.
(Emory Massman)

Damage after collision with the Algobay, June 1980.
(John Hopkins)

Wide view.
(John Hopkins)

Another view.
(John Hopkins)

After a collision with the Algobay.
(Bill Ansell)

Close up.
(Bill Ansell)

Under repairs at Port Weller Drydocks.
(Matt Miner collection)

Welland Canal, Nov. 26, 1993.
(Skip Meier)

St. Clair Cut Off.
(Don Coles)

Loading in Duluth.
(Glenn Blaszkiewicz)

St. Clair River.
(Rod Burdick)

Thunder Bay.
(Rob Farrow)

St. Clair River.
(Todd Davidson)

St. Marys River.
(Todd Davidson)

Loading in Thunder Bay.
(Rob Farrow)

5 Year Survey. Pascol Engineering Dry Dock, Thunder Bay.
(Rob Farrow)

Below Big Point, July 2000.
(Todd Davidson)

Close up St. Clair River, June 24, 2001.
(George Wharton)

Lake Erie, July 15, 2001.
(Don Coles)

Leaving Hamilton, May 24, 2002.
(Paul Beesley)

In the Burlington Canal heading for Lake Ontario, May 24, 2002.
(Paul Beesley)

Entering the Welland Canal downbound at Port Colborne, June 2, 2002.
(George Wharton)

Winter lay-up, Hamilton, Feb. 20, 2003.
(Mike Nicholls)

Clearing the Mac Lock, July 9, 2003.
(Lock Tours Canada Boat Cruises)

Close up, St. Marys River.
(Lock Tours Canada Boat Cruises)

Stern view.
(Lock Tours Canada Boat Cruises)

Upbound St. Marys River Aug. 15, 2003.
(Roger LeLievre)

Loading at Richardson's, Thunder Bay, Oct. 2003.
(Rob Farrow)

Bow profile upbound on the St. Clair River, Oct. 8, 2003.
(George Wharton)

Upbound into Lake Huron.
(George Wharton)

Approaching the Bluewater Bridges.
(Roger LeLievre)

Montrealais secured below Lock 2, Aug. 30, 2003.
(Capt. Alain M. Gindroz)

The letter "R" from Montrealais’ original launch name Montrealer. As well the original Port of Registry Montreal is still visible beneath Toronto. Further down below the POR her original heritage in the form of "Papachristidis Co. Ltd" is still legible.
(Capt. Alain M. Gindroz)

Close up of the "R".
(Capt. Alain M. Gindroz)

Winter lay-up at Toronto with a storage load of raw sugar, Jan 24, 2004.
(Murray Smith)

Downbound at the Soo, May 2004.
(Ben McClain)

Upbound the Welland Canal, May 11, 2004.
(Bill Bird)

Upbound the St. Clair River, July 31, 2004.
(Roger LeLievre)

St. Marys River Oct. 19, 2004.
(Lee Rowe)

Downbound the Welland Canal, April 15, 2005.
(Roger LeLievre)

St. Lawrence Seaway, Apr. 17, 2005.
(Kent Malo)

Stern view.
(Kent Malo)

Upbound the Detroit River, May 12, 2005.
(Mike Nicholls)

Stern view.
(Mike Nicholls)

Man over, docking at Marquette on June 18, 2005.
(Lee Rowe)

At Marquette, June 18, 2005.
(Rod Burdick)

Downbound the Welland Canal, June 24, 2006.
(Jay van der Doe)

Unloading at St. Lawrence Cement, Duluth, Aug. 2006.
(Glenn Blaszkiewicz)

Starboard view, starting turn at buoys 1 & 2 coming off Lake Huron at Point Edward, Aug. 24, 2006.
(George Wharton)

Into the turn.
(George Wharton)

Port view completing the turn.
(George Wharton)

Turn completed, entering the St. Clair River.
(George Wharton)

Passing the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse.
(George Wharton)

Passing under the Bluewater Bridges.
(George Wharton)

Upbound the Welland Canal at Port Colborne, Oct. 2, 2006.
(Dan Sweeley)

Departing Lock 2, April 4, 2013.
(Bill Bird)

Renamed Mont and being prepared for the tow to Turkey, May 18, 2015.
(Rene Beauchamp)

Dockside view, June 9, 2015.
(Rene Beauchamp)

Stern, June 9, 2015.
(Rene Beauchamp)

The tug Diavlos Pride preparing to depart, June 9, 2015.
(Rene Beauchamp)


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