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In 1896, the American Frederick W Morgan, whose firm Morgan and Wright, the predecessor of Uniroyal, had made him a fortune producing bicycle tires, took delivery of a steam yacht, PATHFINDER, built in Racine, Wisconsin.  Resembling a torpedo boat, she was steel built with a ram bow, approximately 136 feet long with a beam of 18 feet and a draught of 8.  She was propelled by a triple expansion steam engine.  She served as the flagship of the Chicago Yacht Club, of which he was Commodore.  When war broke out between the United States and Spain in 1898, he offered her to the US government.

Later, while owned by the Canadian James Playfair, a founder of Canada Steamship Lines, she served with the Canadian Ministry of Revenue as the CONESTOGA from 1928 to 1934.  At some point, likely after the start of the Second World War, she became a naval auxiliary and a tender to HMCS STAR.  One picture taken on 19 September 1942 shows her along the wall at Eastwood Park (later to become the site of HMCS STAR) for a Sea Cadet review.  In May of 1945, a Lt Henry Seymour Smith, RCNVR is listed as being posted to HMCS PATHFINDER, training vessel for STAR.  It is known that she was sold again in 1947 so was likely disposed of by the navy immediately after the war.

One anomaly is that she was equipped with one Thorneycroft boiler and early pictures clearly show her with one funnel while later pictures show her with two funnels.  Another interesting fact is that Toronto Brigantine, a sail training program for youth on Lake Ontario, commemorates the philanthropy of James Playfair in the names of their two training vessels: PATHFINDER & PLAYFAIR.

Pathfinder Pathfinder 3 001 Pathfinder 2

Although the picture is captioned “Alongside HMCS STAR”, it would appear from the brick warehouse in the background that it is actually Pier Ten directly to the east. Forward of PATHFINDER is the stern of what is likely a Fairmile. The number on the transom appears to be “102” which was one of the boats bought by Francis Farwell of Canada Coach Lines / Hamilton Street Railway for his personal use.