Eva Desgagnes

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The Eva Desgagnes is seen in this photograph transiting upbound in the Welland Canal
during the morning hours of May 8th, 1988. At the time it was taken she was sailing southbound in
the canal and was approaching lock 8 in Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada.

Welland Canal Classics - Eva Desgagnes
By contributing Editor Skip Gillham

The career of Eva Desgagnes had paralleled that of her sistership Stella Desgagnes up to her departure from the Desgagnes fleet.

Eva Desgagnes was built at Hull 18 of Port Weller Dry Docks and launched at their St.Catharines, Ontario, shipyard on September 17, 1955. Christened Griffon, the 78.94 metre (259-foot) long by 13.29 metre (43.6 foot) wide, diesel powered bulk carrier joined the Beaconsfield steamship Co.

She was designed for the last years of the pre-Seaway locks of the St. Lawrence and she could carry 4,200 tons deadweight or 135,000 bushels of grain. When the new waterway opened in 1959, Griffon was lengthened by 21.94 metres (72 feet) and deepened by 1.68 metres (five feet, 6 inches) by Canadian Vickers at Montreal. She emerged registered at 2,914 gross tons. The hull was stretched another 5.49 metres (18 feet) in 1960 and operated at 3,542 gross tons and able to carry 5,900 tons deadweight or 220,000 bushels of grain.

Griffon's career was relatively uneventful. She traded the dark red and buff Beaconsfield colours for the green and dark blue of Mohawk Navigation during corporate restructuring in 1963. The Quebec and Ontario Transportation Co., a division of the Ontario Paper Company and, in turn, part of the Chicago Tribune, purchased this freighter in 1967 and she was renamed Franquelin.

Beginning the next year, 1968, until the end of Q. & O. in 1983, this vessel handled 381 cargoes on their account. In her busiest years, 1970, 1973, 1975 and 1977, the ship managed 27 cargoes for the year while in 1980 only 18 payloads came aboard. Mixed grains accounted for 21 per cent of the shipments but there were also significant totals of newsprint, salt, barley, wheat, corn, pitch, soybeans and zinc concentrates. Thunder Bay, Thorold, Baie Comeau, Pugwash and Detroit all accounted for at least twenty cargoes while Toronto, Chicago, Prescott, Montreal and Baie Comeau were the most important discharge ports.

Franquelin was aground for about seven hours off Algonac, Michigan on December 19, 1976, and again on Lake St. Clair the next day due to ice conditions. She also was stuck below the Beauharnois Lock on September 25, 1978. In 1983, her final year for Q. & O., she opened navigation at Collingwood on April 23 delivering feed grain and at Owen Sound on April 25 arriving to load wheat.

Eva Desgagnes loading coal in Toledo        Eva Desgagnes upbound in the Welland Canal

After joining Desgagnes in 1984 she retained the name Franquelin until becoming Eva Desgagnes in 1987. She laid up at Prescott, Ontario on December 15, 1988, but was moved to Toronto in June 1989. Following a sale to Navisur S.A., the ship sailed from Toronto as the Mexican flag Telchac on September 23, 1989, and stopped at Sorel. She departed there on September 30 for service in the south.

Telchac did not last long on saltwater. She was sold to Mexican shipbreakers in 1992 and arrived at the port of Tuxpan on September 14 and subsequently broken up for scrap.

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Posted: June 6, 1998       Last Revised: May 1, 2001
Photo by: Jeff Cameron - Copyright © - 1988, 2000

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