Now that part of it is in use as a staging area for the Macdonald bridge re-decking project (the Big Lift), people are taking a closer look and uncovering some interesting relics.
CBC News became interested in one of the relics and have posted the following item on their news site:
Below the bridge is the former home of base of The J.P.Porter Company Limited, general contractors, starting south of where the bridge now stands, running north almost to Jetty Lima (the Naval Armaments Depot Jetty). Porters filled in along the shore to create a marine base that housed a fantastic collection of scows, dredges, tugs and the miscellany of a large marine construction firm. The shore was gradually extended outward over time, covering up several scows and ships in the process.
During the early days of the bridge construction, the Porter yard was in full swing. They have already begun to fill in along the shore line, building piers over sunken hulks.
J.P.Porter, a Nova Scotia native, worked on railway construction in the west in the early days of the 20th century. He returned to Halifax in 1913 and worked for Foley Bros, Welsh, Stewart + Fauquier on the Ocean Terminals in Halifax. He also carried out marine salvage work during World War I and operated a shipyard in Hantsport.
Porter founded his own company in 1921 and went on to build the seawall and deepwater pier B in Halifax.
He expanded his reach all over eastern Canada and as far west as the Welland Canal in 1921, and dug a 12 foot diameter tunnel through bedrock in Boston.
The J.P.Porter Company had every kind of floating equipment imaginable to carry out its work.
In fact filling in land along the shoreline was one of their specialties.
J.P.'s four sons ( R.F., T.T., J.P.P., and L.T.) took over the business, with headquarters in Montreal, but had marine equipment scattered around ports all over eastern Canada. They tended not to invest much in maintenance, and abandoned old equipment where it was last used, although some was brought back to Halifax and left to rot.
The company was eventually sold to the Simard family in Quebec (owners of Marine Industries Ltd) and their own dredging company Richelieu Dredging, became a subsidiary of The J.P.Porter Company.
In the 1970s tHE J.P.Porter Company and several other dredging contractors and their officers were convicted of conspiracy to defraud for rigging Federal Government dredging tenders, and some of the company officers were sent to jail.
In order to pay millions of dollars in fines, the companies were liquidated. Much of Porter's equipment was sold for scrap and some was broken up at the Dartmouth base. Once that was completed, other ship scrappers set up shop in the same area and scrapped more ships, but that ended in the late 1980s. Since then the area has been left as a wasteland.
I prowled that shore in the seventies and documented the end of the Porter company. With camera in hand, I unofficially inventoried what I could and had free run of the place thanks to a friendly watchman who determined I was harmless.
A page from my inventory shows twenty-one hulls. All but four of which were either sold or scrapped. The rest are still there.
Here is a sampling of what I saw:
This pair of wharf rats had just liberated some rolls of drawings. I think the statue of limitations will ensure that they are free and clear by now.
Piles surround the bow of the sunken Daisy - see more below.
By 1980 most of the Porter floating equipment was gone, and other ships had arrived for scrapping, but there was still a great deal of material left partially filled in on the shore.
Built in 1911 in Aberdeen, Scotland, Daisy was taken over and completed by the Royal Navy in 1912. In 1920 it was sold to the government of Newfoundland as a revenue cutter to combat smuggling on the south coast. It was in Burin, NL at the time of the 1929 Tsunami and figured in the subsequent rescue operations.
Porters acquired the vessel in about 1945 and used it as a tug for few years. It must have been laid up before 1949 because its registration was never translated to Canada when Newfoundland joined Confederation. It was sunk as part of the jetty in the 1953 picture at the top of the page, and its remains are still visible today.
Several other notable vessels were scrapped at the former Porter yard, but little remains to be seen of them today, however it is possible to spot remains of the following:
In 1967 Shaw Steamships of Halifax bough the ship and traded to the Caribbean and on northern supply, since it was built to a Baltic ice class.
In 1968 it struck a submerged object and had to be beached near Fort Chimo. It made its way back to Halifax and never returned to service.
Scrapping began in the summer of 1977 .
Koralle's 15 person clinker built wooden lifeboat was cast aside but largely intact in 1979.
(Sharp eyes will have detected Gulf Canada ex B.A.Peerless in the background.)
Eventually the bottom of the Koralle was moved closer to shore, but its keel and stern post are still visible at high tide on the north side of the old Porter pier. (see part 2)
Part 2 to follow..............