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
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
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.