SAGUENAY TERMINALS
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RADIO OFFICER NOSTALGIA
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FOUR YEARS OF FUN WITH ANCHOR LINE by Ian Walker
"A SEAGOING SAGA" - Trevor Inman
ALAN SHARD - WARTIME MN REMINISCENCES
CAPT'N PETER ASHCROFT, EXPLOITS OF
SEA STORIES & OTHERS
AIME'S STORY & PICTORIALS
MEMOIRS OF A RADIO OFFICER
RELATED SITES

The following query regarding a Saguenay vessel came from Eric in Blackpool, U.K.  Would any readers be able to help ?
 
"Could you suggest who I might contact regarding the identification of this ship that was photographed in Port Said harbour during the November 1956 Suez crisis?
I am writing  a book containing photos of the event.
Regards,
Eric Pegg in Blackpool, UK"
 

xxsunship.jpg

ooooooooooOOOOOoooooooooo

Alexander Micoli sent this great picture of one of Saguenay's handsome ships of the sixties and seventies..............

Hi.
 I only wanted to remember this ship, built in the shipyard Felszegi of Muggia near Trieste Italy for Saguenay.
Beautiful it is to remember this ship in your beautiful site.
I live to Muggia and I have had Sundora to build in the yard in the 1964.
                                                                                                                    Thanks. Alexander Micoli

Ciao.
Sono un appassionato delle vecchie navi, mio zio ha navigato nella
" Saguenay Line Company " sulla nave  "Sundora",costruita a Trieste ( Italy ) 
nel cantiere navale Felszegi nel 1964, di cui vi allego una

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Sagships "SUNDORA" - Courtesy of Alessandro

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Courtesy David Roberts

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Author's Collection

sagterm1.jpg

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Author's Collection

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"SUNROSE" - Courtesy Claude Meldrum Collection

In the early fifties, outside the rushed and crowded network of offices at 100 Dominion Square building in Montreal, the receptionist would have told you that this is the "Demerara-Saguenay Division", thereby tacitly acknowledging a debt to the two rivers which made possible a robust child prodigy of the shipping world. SAGUENAY TERMINALS (Sagterms by cable) had grown from a fleet of three vessels to the position of one of the world's largest commercial shipping operations. Behind this achievement lay a modern pioneering spirit, a conscientious program to serve the needs of Canadian shippers and the shrewd exploitation of the indigenous resources of two vastly different rivers.

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"SUNMONT" - Courtesy Claude Meldrum Collection

Nowhere on earth could the green hulls of Sagterms ships be cradled in more dissimilar waters. The Demerara and the Saguenay are some 3000 miles apart in distance, millions of years apart in geologic age, and even further apart in entity. The Demerara River, in which was then British Guiana, curls sluggishly through a young country dense with the impenetrable tangle of one of the great rain forests of the world. The Saguenay River, in Quebec, cuts through the great rocky heights of the oldest mountains in the world. The Demerara has the bizarre overabundance of a tropical jungle with interlaces tree-walls of fantastic height and unredeemed greenness and a close molten sun that beats on its fertile opulence. Gold and diamonds, orchids and monkeys, pineapples, parrots and sugar cane - these are the heritage of tthe Demerara.

SAGTERMS operated under the two main branches. The sphere of the Demerara-Saguenay Division, in Montreal, was transportation. This included transportation of raw materials and finished products for the parent company, the Aluminium Company of Canada, as well as general cargo. The Port Alfred Division, at Port Alfred near the head of the deepwater navigation of the Saguenay, was chiefly concerned with storage, stevedoring and harbour facilities.

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"SUNJEWEL" - Courtesy Claude Meldrum Collection

SAGTERMS shipping history began with three vessels, the SIRE, the PERIBONKA and the CORABELLA. These were promptly requisitioned for war service and two were as promptly sank by enemy action. Three more vessels were purchased and converted for carrying bauxite (aluminium ore): two former U.S. Navy colliers named PROTEUS and NEREUS and one Canadian bulk carrier, the TURRET CAPE. Both colliers were sunk by submarines. By the 1940's the U.S. War Shipping Administration was allocating vessels to Sagterms, and by 1942 over 100 had been either allocated or chartered to carry company cargo. This arrangmenet continued until war restrictions were lifted in the spring of 1946, at which time there were three 10,000 ton vessels purchased from the Crown. Four additional 10,000 tonners were acquired on long-term bareboat charter and three 4700 tonners on the same terms for the general cargo trade. With the broad background of practical experience gained during the hazardous war years, Sagterms was now in a position to build up a peace-time shipping operation. A plan to rename their ships came first on the 1947 agenda. A contest was announced for employees of the associated companies, and the winner proposed "SUN" as a prefix.

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"SUNAVIS" - Courtesy Claude Meldrum Collection

Sagterms set the pace for future expansion with a pioneering philosophy that boldly reached out for a big new problem as soon as the preceding one was on the way to being solved. Eighty-one ships were under charter by 1951. In 1952 a new field of activity was opened and an intercoastal service was inaugurated from eastern Canada via the Caribbean and Panama Canal to west coast ports in Canada and the U.S. Meanwhile, with the Saguenay ice-locked for 5 months of the year, it was found expediant to delve more deeply into the general cargo field and base an operation on an interlocking combination of tramp, bulk and cargo services. This dictated a new liner service unusual in modern shipping of the time: the "triangular" trade. Fast modern ships, eastbound from Canada to the United Kingdom and north continent, carried grain, flour, newsprint, lumber, fish, asbestos and aluminium ingots. Moving westward from the U.K. and northern Europe to the Caribbean were cargoes of manufactured products, household goods and appliances, steel, cement, automobiles and hardware. Northbound, from South America and the Caribbean to Canada, went coffee, molasses, rum, sugar and the staple bauxite.

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"SUNVALLEY" - Courtesy Claude Meldrum Collection

In 1953 Sagterms focused on the problems peculiar to their new Los Islands (West Africa) to Port Alfred run and further expanded their sphere of operations by adding a Jamaica-British Columbia line. In October of that same year the 7850 ton SUNBRAYTON was launched. Her name honoured Sherman Brayton, a company official who was lost at sea when the NEREUS went down during the war. Conceived as a shuttle ship, the main characteristics of her design are now well known. At the time of her launching, however, she was one of the first sea-going vessels to be constructed especially for this trade with propelling machinery and accommodation situated aft, a short navigating bridge right forward and one continuous central compartment to facilitate the hadling of bulk cargo.

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"SUNBRAYTON"

On January 2, 1954, Sagterms inaugurated their Non-Conference steamship service to Europe, thus entering the North Atlantic trade as an independant line able to quote open rates without being bound by established Conference tariffs. Behind this move lay months of careful study of markets, a close evaluation of existing freight rates and a growing conviction that both production and transport costs had increased to the point where quite a few exporters were unable to compete successfully on the United Kingdom market. The press called it "Canada's postwar lag in exports". Sagterms called it an inequitable rate structure and announced their decision to adjust freight rates on many commodities, thus stimulating sevetral items that had been dormant in export to the U.K. for some time.

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"SUNVICTOR" Courtesy Claude Meldrum Collection

Continuity of this service was emphasized by the offer of a long-tem contract to shippers, extending over a period of one or two years at the shipper's option, during which time the quoted rates were guaranteed. They further agreed to end discrimination between contract shippers and non-contraft shippers by quoting one basic rate, whether a contract was signed or not. Forwarding agents who booked cargo for this new service were, for the first time, offered a stated commission on cargo bound for Britain.

The year 1954 also brought the launching of another ship. The 12,700 ton SUNRIP, the largest ocean going dry-cargo vessel ever built in Canada. She was designed after much experimentation and research into the problems of transporting bulk cargoes of varying densities.

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"SUNRIP" - Courtesy Claude Meldrum Collection

Unique in the design of the SUNRIP were key sections of the feeders which were capable of folding away from the square of each hatch, thereby making conversion for general cargo a matter of a few hours. Some 136 long tons of aluminium were used in the construction and the midships house was believed to be the largest all-welded aluminium superstructure ever fitted on a ship.

Coincident with the expansion of cargo services was the natural growth of a passenger service unique in its variety. With almost a half million deadweight tons in chartered ships alone, flying the flags of Switzerland, Norway,, Italy, Honduras, Liberia, Panama and Great Britain, and a roster of captain's names that sounded like a U.N. roll call, the passenger could choose his ship for nationality, language, accommodation, decor, food and drink.
Between 70 and 80 owned and chartered ships plied between Canada, South America, Europe, the Pacific Coast and West Africa. In additon to this, approximately 40 "Agency" vessels ranging from the Great Lakes to the Finnish and Swedish Baltic, and to Mediterranean ports. The prospective passenger was thus assured an unusual choice of itineraries.

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"SUNCLIFF" Courtesy Claude Meldrum Collection

At the main office in Montreal one of the chief problems management was faced with in the mid fifties was that of replacing the older owned vessels with new construction. The ships chartered by Sagterms far outnumbered the owned ships but it was the company's policy to retain a nucleus of the latter and to expand it only when conditions were favourable. This required an intensive study of world markets plus a great deal of foresight, and the technical angle was one that demanded very special examination with a view to determining the type of vessels most suitable for an ever-changing market. The company's building programme was an ambitious one, based on first-hand experience of the conditions to be met. In addition to recommending that more vessels of the SUNBRAYTON type should be built to replace the veterans of the shuttle service, Sagterm's technical department evolved a basic design called "Sagterm's Bulkship Design" which incorporated several novel features. The basic requirements were for a straight bulk carrier which would be capable of handling bulk cargoes of various densities without special fittings having to be built to secure the cargo. The natural choice was a single deck vessel having the main machinery situated aft, because of the many proved advantages of this design at the time. In the bulkship, therefore, a centralisation of all units was achieved by placing machinery, accommodations and navigating platforms at the after end, an arrangement that had already been adopted by a number of ore carriers and, at least, one large oil tanker. There were five cargo holds; twin longitudinal bulkheads divided each hold into three. The position of these bulkheads was arranged such that a full deadwight cargo of bauxite could be accommodated in the central compartments, while the wings remained empty. When carrying alumina, grain, coal and so forth, the wing compartments could also be used. The bottom of the wing tanks was arranged at an angle so that when the cargo in the central compartments had been discharged that in the wings would slide into the centre and could be removed through the main hatches by grab, bucket elevator of pneumatic means. Structural arrangments for such a vessel to carry a deadwight of 16,000 tons were designed by Sagterms and received Classification and Ministry of Transport approval. These vessels were designed on the basis of mainly welded construction.

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"SUNVARD" Courtesy Claude Meldrum Collection

All phases of marketing and transportation were scrutinized to guarantee the continuance of stable and economical freight rates. Questions of stowage and protection of cargo were discussed. The problems peculiar to an intercoastal service were analyzed. Each 'corner' of the triangular trade was carefully examined in an effort to provide shippers with the ultimate in service, and such items as port time, cargo handling and speed of vessels were continually under review. Behind this closely integrated activity, and in direct touch with every phase of his shipping operation was "the chief" also known as "F.L.P."

F. Leslie Parsons, vice-president and general manager of Saguenay Terminals came to shipping from an executive engineering post in the jungles of South America. From a job where one dictated his own rules in order to survive, he plunged into a field heavily weighted with long-entrenched-tradition. He tackled the challenge of shipping with an engineer's analytical mind and a constructive imagination, backed up by an intelligent questioning attitude. The same massive energy and driving force that he used in pushing back the jungle, and insisting it stay pushed, was focussed on the new problem of building up a shipping organisation.

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"SUNKIRK" Courtesy Claude Meldrum Collection

F.L.P. made few public statements and did not pose as a figurehead. He preferred to remain in the background and work longer and harder hours than any of his staff; to face each new problem directly and solve it efficiently, instead of wasting time announcing what he was going to do. He visualized the complex activities of Sagterms as being geared to two equally important aims: to serve the parent company, Alcan, and to serve the needs of Canadian shippers.

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SUNGATE - Courtesy John Taylor/G3OWO

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Author's Collection

In 1939 Sagterms began with three vessels sailing an ocean lane that connected the majestic rock-walled Saguenay in Quebec with the exotic jungle-lined Demerara in British Guiana. The war came and it was not until 1946 that the company could begin to build up it's fleet. By 1955 the fleet included 12 owned vessels, 60 to 70 time-chartered vessels and about 40 agency vessels. Sagterms had earned a reputation as one of the few shipping lines which could, within a few hours, quote a figure to a shipper for practically any port in the world and, moreover, be prepared to take his cargo there. The company's enterprise had also played a major role in helping Canada, a country of only 15 million people at that time, to become the third largest trading nation in the world - and, on a per capita basis, the first. F. Leslie Parsons didn't need to make public statements! The success of Saguenay Terminals Limited, in fulfilling his aims, spoke for him.

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Author's File

Hello Sir,
My name is Archie A. McAllister, son of George McAllister who was one of Saguenay's Pilots for 27 years on the Demerara River.

I was very happy to view your Web site and the information contained therein.
From time to time my father would take one of his nine children with him for the trip up the river to Mackenzie where Alcan had two Bauxite plants producing many different grades of products. Now some of the ship names on your site I recognise but there are a few of which I have clear memories and a few some connections. The Sunbrayton is where I began my cadetship under Ch. Officer Jerry Kronnenburg (Current Master with Algoma) shuttling between Mackenzie, Guyana and Chaguaramas Terminals (Chagterms), Trinidad with some trips to Smalkalden in Surinam. Now all of Saguenay's shuttle vessels were OBO's i.e. Ore Bulk Oil, the above trips were returns to Chagterms loaded with different grades of Bauxite. However, these vessels loaded Bulk oil (Bunker " C" and Diesel) at refineries either at South Trinidad, San Fernando or Caripito up the Rio San Juan in Venezuela.
Later, after Certifying as Watchkeeping Officer, I boarded the Sunwalker as third officer...the rest is a chronicle about me, but it was that humble beginnings with Saguenay, the background, knowledge and experience gleaned there that has determined and shaped my career.

Capt. George McAllister died peacefully on December 04, 2004 at the age of
94. He piloted for Saguenay for 32 years.

Thank you for this trip...it was good sailing back through the past.
N.B. I happened upon a true to scale model of the Sunbrayton at the
Maritime Museum in Kingston, Ontario....that too was a trip.

Sincerely,
Archie McAllister
National Superintendent Auxiliary Vessels
QHM, CFB Atlantic
(902) 427 0550 Ext. 6020




The following item was provided by Claude Meldrum.  Claude has provided many of the photographs on this site, particularly of  Saguenay Terminals vessels.  Claude's father was involved in the alumina and bauxite trade and became the Marine Superintendant at Chaguaramus Terminal, in Trinidad for a number of years.

 "My dad gained his masters certificate foreign going at the age of 24. He was the son of James Meldrum who owned the largest trucking company in Montreal named Meldrum and Cunningham Wells on Wellington Street. In view of the fact that my dad stammered somewhat and in those days it was an embarrassment to his father and therefore was sent off to sea on the old "MANCHESTER MERCHANT" of Manchester Liners,  regular vistors to Montreal.   His first job was peeling potatoes. After a few trips from Montreal to various ports in Australia he became a cadet and finally was promoted to Master. My dad later took a shore position with the Canadian Government and was transferred to Midland, Ontario on Georgian Bay looking after government owned ships. After a period of about 2 years he was transferred with his family to St. John, N.B. where we spent about 6 months and we were then off to Georgetown British Guyana (at the time British). 
We spent about 1 year there and then back to Canada. Shortly afterwards we were transferred to Trinidad W.I. where my dad was to be the marine superintendent of Chag Terms.  At certain times he would be asked to take a ship with a load of bauxite up to Port Alfred Quebec and return to Trinidad.
He had a lovely sailboat and a small cruiser which he used often with the family taking us out to the Gulf of Paria for pleasurable weekends. Cocktail parties were often taking place especially in those days."  
 

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