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History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network

CS Lady Laurier
by Bill Glover


Built in 1902 by Fleming and Ferguson, Paisley

Length 214.9 ft  Breadth 34.2 ft  Depth 17.2 ft  Gross tonnage 1051

Built as a cable ship for the Canadian Government to replace CS Newfield, lost in 1900. Johnson and Phillips supplied all the cable machinery and fittings. In 1905 the Lady Laurier was fitted with Marconi wireless telegraph equipment.

Based at Halifax throughout until scrapped in 1959.

Sessional Papers, Dominion of Canada, 1904:

The Lady Laurier is a twin screw steel steamer, commanded by Captain P.C. Johnson and has a crew of 46 in all. Her dimensions are; 214-9 feet, breadth 34-2 feet, and depth 17 2 feet, tonnage 1,051 04 gross and 413 20 registered.

The report of 1902 contains a short report relating to the construction of the steamer Lady Laurier, which was built to take the place of the steamer Newfield, wrecked in the Nova Scotia agency. The tender price of the steamer was £184,983 but some changes, alterations and improvements were made which increased the first cost of the steamer to the sum of §192,465.91 including the furnishings.

A crew was selected and sent from Halifax to Glasgow to bring the steamer to Halifax. She left Greenock on the 23rd December, 1902, with fair prospects of getting clear of the Irish coast. The weather became very boisterous but the steamer continued on her way until the wind was so violent and the seas so heavy, that she was threatened with damage. The captain deemed it wise to put back for shelter and returned to Greenock on the 29th December, having been out six days.

Some damage was done to the steamer and on examination, it was found necessary to make repairs. While the repairs were being made it was determined to make some still further improvements in connection with the steamer, suggested by the chief engineer. In consequence of the alterations the steamer was detained and the cost materially increased.

When the alterations were completed the steamer sailed for Halifax and arrived on the 22nd February [1903], in Halifax harbour.

On the 24th February, the steamer took in stores and some painting and cleaning was done, rendered necessary by the trip across the Atlantic. On the 6th March the Lady Laurier was sent to Sable island with supplies and on her return trip she supplied some of the stations with coal. The steamer was then moored at the wharf at Halifax and the cable gear which had been brought out from Scotland, was taken from on board and stored. On the 17th of March, the steamer entered upon the service of lifting and placing large automatic buoys and continued in that service until she was again sent to Sable island, on the 8th of May. The weather was extremely rough when the steamer arrived at Sable island and she was compelled to lay off the island until the 10th of May, when the supplies were landed.

The steamer was engaged in the lighthouse and buoy service until May 23, when she entered upon fisheries protection service, and was employed in that service until May 27, when she resumed the lighthouse service. The steamer made another trip to Sable island taking two horses which had been imported from Belgium, and landed them on the island on June 13. She continued in the lighthouse and buoy service until June 27, when she moored at the wharf at Halifax for the purpose of inspecting the engines and boilers. When this work was completed, the Lady Laurier again took up the lighthouse and buoy service to the westward.

This new steamer is considered a very powerful and staunch beat, but unfortunately has met with accidents which have caused considerable damage to the hull and machinery. In the first case this was due to the very severe weather met on the Atlantic ocean, and in the next case to an accident off Lockport, said to be due to a buoy being out of place.

Further information on the service history of the Lady Laurier may be found at this Canadian Coast Guard page [archive copy].

Site visitor Carey Craig’s great-grandfather and grandfather both served on the Lady Laurier. Carey sends this photo of the ship’s crew circa 1933:


Details from the photo above:

Carey’s great-grandfather, John Joseph McLellan (1865-1934). Believed to have been Stores Keeper on the Lady Laurier

Carey’s grandfather, George Patrick Power (1896-1978). Stoker on the Lady Laurier between 1918 and 1939.

Crew photos copyright © 2012 Carey Craig

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Last revised: 30 January, 2012

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