Lunch aboard the Peonia

Click here for more about the Peonia, now called the Dona Maria
201026-111On October 26, 2000, lunch aboard the Peonia was a colorful affair. Here, chief steward Coutinho serves Chief Engineer Rajendra S. Shekhawat curried carrots. His wife Suman, sits beside him. She joined the ship in China, where they started a 46 day journey across the Pacific Ocean, through the Panama Canal, and up to and into the St. Lawrence Seaway. They discharged their Chinese cargo of coke in Hamilton, Ontario and then proceeded to Duluth. Suman will fly home to 201026-113India to be back with her two children, either from Duluth or Montreal. Below, at the Marine Museum, they share photos taken by electro technical officer Syndey Pinto (left) on the side trip they took to Niagara Falls while the ship was in Hamilton. The Peonia should depart Duluth on Saturday with a cargo of corn for Algeria.


duluth june 2012- 003

Children visit the Walter J. McCarthy Jr.

Fourth graders at Homecroft School in Duluth made a visit to the Walter J. McCarthy, Jr. on June 3, 1999 while the boat was loading coal at Midwest Energy Resources in Superior.
Captain Larry Smyth is surrounded by 4th graders eager to hear about the boat.
Here two of them hear all about the ship from First Mate Bill Stirton while 2nd mate Al Flood (just left of center in the back) looks on.

Watch Duluth battle ice in 2008

krnface2Watch from the Alder pilot house as she and the tug Kentucky help the Mesabi Miner get to her layup dock after getting stuck in the ice just after going under the Lift Bridge.

2008Jan21_4200Two months later, the same actors were on the same stage as the Miner looked for help with the ice as she started the new shipping season. Watch Miner Captain Scot Briggs plan the next day’s departure in the Alder wardroom (officers mess) with Alder Captain Kevin Wirth.


Three ships built in Scotland

Above, Spruceglen, October 26, 2003
Above, Birchglen, July 7, 2012
Above, Kaministiqua, August 4, 2013

In 1983, three ships were built in Govan, Scotland by Misener Transportation, a Canadian shipping company. One was the Selkirk Settler, later to be the Federal St. Louis, Federal Fraser, Fraser and in 2007, the Spruceglen. The second ship was built as the Canada Marquis, then the Federal Richelieu, Federal Mackenzie, Mackenzie, and in 2002, the Birchglen. The third, the Saskatchewan Pioneer, became the Lady Hamilton, then the Voyageur Pioneer, and in 2008, the Kaministiqua.

Misener wanted ships that could work all year round and not sit out the long, cold winters in Canada when Great Lakes shipping closes down. These would be heartier vessels made to navigate the many locks, rivers and ports within the Great Lakes, but could also venture out onto the world’s oceans where they would need to operate as salt water ships on the oceans of the world, enduring storms often fiercer than ever seen in the exciting, but still calmer waters of the Great Lakes.

At one time, Canadian companies were not allowed to buy a ship built in a country that is not a commonwealth country. Most salties that come to Duluth have been built in countries that were not part of the English Commonwealth. Many are built in Japan, China, Argentina, Holland, and Poland, meaning none of them could be purchased by Canadian companies. These three sisters were built in Govan, Scotland, in 1983, and thus were legal.

Selkirk Settler: 1983-1991
Federal St. Louis: 1991-1991
Federal Fraser: 1991-2001
Fraser: 2001-2002
Spruceglen: 2002

Canada Marquis: 1983-1991
Federal Richelieu: 1991-1991
Federal Mackenzie: 1991-2001
Mackenzie: 2001-2002
Birchglen: 2002-2015 (scrapped)

Saskatchewan Pioneer: 1983-1995
Lady Hamilton: 1995-2006
Voyageur Pioneer: 2006-2008
Kaministiqua: 2008-

That is why they were built in Scotland; how they were named is even more interesting. Parts of Western Canada were settled by immigrants from Scotland who were brought over with the help of Lord Selkirk. He founded a settlement that eventually became Winnipeg. His followers were called Selkirk Settlers. By the time they got to western Canada, they had become Saskatchewan Pioneers. The pioneers endured many hardships, and had repeated failures trying to grow crops, particularly wheat. They needed faster-maturing wheat because of the shorter growing season. After many futile attempts, a variety of wheat was developed that worked great. That wheat was called Canada Marquis.

I was not around when these ships visited Duluth under their original names. By 1996, when I arrived, they had all been purchased by FedNav, a Canadian shipping company in Montreal.

Around 2001, Fednav was looking to part ways with these ships. To begin with, the name ‘Federal’ was removed. In 2001, the Federal Fraser became the Fraser and the Federal MacKenzie became the MacKenzie. That was the first step to getting FedNav entirely out of 2/3rd’s of the family. In 2002, FedNav sold the Fraser and Mackenzie to the Canada Steamship Company of Toronto. The Fraser became the Spruceglen and the MacKenzie became the Birchglen.


Kaolin clay

Once or twice a year, a salt water vessel (Lady Doris, Yulia, Cornelia and Trudy) brings kaolin clay here to discharge at the Port Terminal. After discharge, the clay is mixed with water, creating a slurry that will then go to local paper companies.  This has become a new local industry at Lake Superior Warehousing, at the Port Authority. Below is some information from the Port Authority’s Summer, 2013 issue of their quarterly, North Star Port.
Kaolin is a hydrated aluminum silicate crystalline mineral used as a bulking agent or filler in a variety of industries including ceramics, paper, paint, plastics, rubber, sealant, adhesive and chemicals manufacturing. This particular clay adds gloss/shininess in papermaking and is being mined, refined and shipped by IMERYS.
The world’s largest producer of quality kaolin, IMERYS has deposits and production plants in the UK, U.S., Australia and Brazil. The product arrives in bulk as a powder, which is conveyed indoors to a building at the Port Terminal for further processing into a slurry for final delivery by tanker truck to customers in the region.You can buy a one pound jar of Kaolin Clay powder for only $5.99 on Amazon!