Trip on the Mataafa; 100 Years Ago
By John Belliveau, images courtesy James Hogan, J.W. Westcott Co.

This collection of pictures comes from the archives of the J.W. Westcott Co. who have graciously given permission for these historic photographs to be shared.

Mr. John Ward Westcott II, son of J.W. Westcott Company founder Mr. John Ward Westcott I, took a trip on the Mataafa and documented his travels with these photographs. In the archive photo book that these pictures are located, there are descriptive hand written notations included along side several of the pictures describing the people, places and sites, unfortunately there are no notations in regard to exact dates of the voyage. From research, it is known that these pictures were taken sometime in the years of 1904 to 1905, prior to her famous wreck on November 28, 1905 off the North Pier at the entrance to Duluth Harbor. It is not certain where this trip originated at, but from known landmarks in the photographs it appears this voyage began in the Green Bay area and headed up the St. Mary’s River, through the Canadian Lock and on to Duluth, MN.


View on deck of Mataafa looking forward. Three masts are visible. Unknown man sitting on hatch.

View on deck of Mataafa looking aft, barge Bryn Mawr is seen in tow.

Closer view of barge Bryn Mawr under tow of Mataafa.

Mate Wally Brown and forward windlass

Capt Dick Humble at wheel of open pilot house (note: it is recorded a Capt. Robert Humble was in command of Mataafa at the time of the famous Nov. 28, 1905 wreck at the entrance to Duluth harbor. Dick may have been a nickname Robert used or perhaps Dick Humble may have been a relative?)

Mr. John Ward Westcott II looking through porthole while onboard Mataafa.

View on aft deck of Mataafa showing crew members “soogying” the deck.

Mate Wally Brown and unknown man at forward windlass on Mataafa.

Tail Point Light #3 in Green Bay (this light existed from 1899 to 1973 as per research from Dave Wobser).

Two boats racing on Hay Lake in the St. Mary’s River (picture is not clear enough to read names on these two vessels).

View of “Sailors Encampment” along the shore of the St. Marys River while traveling up-bound onboard Mataafa.

View of “Summer Homes” along the shore of the St. Marys River while traveling up-bound onboard Mataafa.

“The Garbage Wagon”. View of grocery supply boat Superior alongside Mataafa delivering groceries. This boat operated in the Soo for Pittsburgh Steamship Co. in the years of 1902 to 1917 and was nicknamed “The Garbage Wagon” (as per information found on Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Bowling Green University database web site).

Approaching the Canadian Lock.

Lining up for the entering the Canadian Lock, steering pole visible in this picture.

View taken on deck of Mataafa looking aft while being raised in the Canadian Lock, the barge in tow, Bryn Mawr is seen just aft of the Mataafa also in the lock. Notice the spectators strolling along the lock wall.

Photo of building located at the Canadian Lock. (Control offices?)

View of “boat watchers” from 100 years ago on North Pier of the entrance to Duluth Harbor. Ironically this picture taken from the Mataafa of the North Pier is the same pier the Mataafa struck in her famous wreck of November 28, 1905.

Mate Bonnah and deck winch on Mataafa.

Mr. G.H. Cummings and deck winch on Mataafa. (no information on who Cummings was.)

Mataafa Thank you’s: After obtaining the collection of “Trip on the Mataafa: 100 Years Ago” pictures, I became quite interested in this ship and began working on researching the ship and her history in attempts to try to nail down a time period these photos were taken. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has taken the time to help me with this research: Roger LeLievre, Dave Wobser, Jim Hogan, Len Barr, Bill Forsythe, Scott Tomlinson, Shawn B-K, Joe Komjathy, Alicia Miller, Wayne Sapulski, Terry Pepper, Al Miller, Jim, Russ and the HCGL Bowling Green Univ. database site
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