Chapter 10
Better Times Ahead
Table of Contents

Title Page
1 A place called Hamilton.
2 Public Works and Private Enterprise
3 Port Hamilton
4 1837-1839
5 Ericsson Wheels
6 1844-1847
7 Good Times in Port
8 Boom Town Days
9 Depression Years
10 Better Times Ahead
11 1867-1870
12 Prosperity for the Shipbuilders
13 The Second Railway Building Era
14 1884-1888
15 The Electric Era
16 The Iron Age
Table of Illustrations


The subject of direct trade with Great Britain was once again brought to the attention of the citizens by the Hamilton Spectator on the 21 January, in an editorial saying, in part:

"We have much pleasure in noticing that some of our merchants are directing their attention to the export of produce direct to the English market. Such a course is eminently calculated, not only to benefit this city by the notice it will attract among the Liverpool and London dealers, but it will materially serve the Province at large, at this time, when public attention in Britain is so actively aroused to interest in all that concerns Canada. It is also a step in the right direction toward the emancipation of our business men from the intervention of New York capitalists, a reason that seems now more than ever desirable, when the friendly relations of the two countries are so seriously exposed to sudden interruption. Hamilton, in former days, was famous for the enterprise and energy of its business-men and it gives us much pleasure to report that its reputation is in no danger of suffering diminution. The incident which has called forth these remarks, was the shipment yesterday, by Mr. M. O'Connor of Hamilton, of 91 kegs of butter and several barrels, cases and tierces of pork and ham, via New York for Liverpool and consigned to Messrs. Gillespie, Borthwick & Co. This is the second shipment made by Mr. O'Connor this season, the first being to London and we understand it is his intention to cultivate the direct trade with Liverpool and London."

On the afternoon of Monday, the 17 February, it was discovered that smoke was issuing from the top of the Great Western Railway's Grain Elevator and forthwith, the citizens became acquainted with the remarkable combustibility of wooden elevators. Needless to say, the place burned to the ground despite the

"untiring and indomitable perseverance"
of the entire city fire department. There was some 30,000 bushels of grain in storage at the time.

Early in April, the Montreal Herald published a list of the forwarders and steamers for the 1862 season. The vessels operated by Jacques, Tracy & Co. would be: HURON,COLONIST,INDIAN,AVON,OTTAWA and ST. LAWRENCE.Messrs. Black & Perry would have the steamers BOWMANVILLE and RANGER and the propellers WHITBY and MAGNET. The fleet of Cowan & Holcomb would consist of the WEST,BRANTFORD,GEORGE MOFFAT,WELLINGTON and BOSTON. The steamers of the Royal Mail Line were: KINGSTON,PASSPORT,CHAMPION,MAGNET,BANSHEE and NEW ERA.

On the 15 April, Kingston harbour was open, the ice being weakened by a mild spell and the efforts of the steamer PIERREPONT which had made a crossing to Cape Vincent. She had to go around the head of Wolfe Island because the canal was still frozen solid. The steamer BOWMANVILLE,Capt. Perry, cleared. for Toronto, from Anderson & Ford's Wharf. She would go through to Hamilton if the harbour was clear of ice,

On the afternoon of Tuesday, 16 April, at 3:30, the barque CAMBRIA was successfully launched at St. Catharines. She was built by Louis Shickluna for the Malcolmsons of Hamilton and the event was, as usual, quite a gala affair. A brass band assisted in drawing a good crowd and the barque was launched

"all standing"
- ready for sea. She measured 135 feet in length, 26 feet beam and 13 feet depth of hold. The reporter didn't do a very good job. He neglected to say who sponsored the vessel, nor did he mention the honoured guests from Hamilton. He seemed most impressed by the spread of refreshments provided in one of the shipyard buildings, by the gathering of the elite in another building and by a certain get-together, later in the day at the Welland House. The CAMBRIA was due to leave for Chicago within a week.

The Great Western Railway yards and shops,showng the grain elevator built in 1862.Photo Ontario Archives S-3990
The Great Western Railway, having cleared away what was left of their elevator, were busily erecting a new one and during the month of May, good progress was being made.

The Hamilton Spectator, in their issue of the 10 June, had this to say:

"We have been informed that the refuse from the coal oil refineries, which is emptied into the Bay, is having a very deleterious effect upon the fisheries at the Beach. It is said that the water, on certain mornings, is covered for a considerable distance with oil and the effect has been to drive away the fish from the Beach. The subject is not without difficulty. In the infancy of the coal oil industry, it would be inexpedient to place restrictions on the operations of refiners, but at the same time, it would be disastrous to the fishing industry if the fish are driven away by the noxious effluvia arising from the coal oil."
This is why the old-timers along the waterfront always referred to Sherman Inlet as
"Coal Oil Inlet"

Another spectacular fire occurred in the early hours of Sunday the 22 June, when Waddell's and Williamson's grain warehouses at the foot of Bay Street were destroyed. The fire department managed to save the wharf which served these two buildings.

A little to the south of the burned warehouses, John Smith, a commission merchant, was building a wharf and grain warehouse, which, at a later date, came into possession of the Myles family.

A collision that could have been a disastert occurred at 3:00 a.m. on the 25 July, when the PASSPORT and the EMPRESS collided at the False Ducks. The EMPRESS, downbound, struck the PASSPORT on the port side, tearing away the guards and destroying the wheel and then was beached on Timber Island to survey the damage to her bow. The PASSPORT was taken in tow by a schooner from Toledo for a short distance, when the steamer HURON came along and took her into Kingston. The EMPRESS was taken in tow by an un-named steamer to Kingston for repairs. This affair was followed by the usual contradictory statements by Capt. Harbottle of the PASSPORT and by the mate of the EMPRESS, as to who was right and who was wrong.

The Kingston News, on the 28 July stated that:

"The EMPRESS has been placed on the Marine Railway. Her stem post and bow planking are thoroughly shattered and will have to be replaced. The damage to the PASSPORT is limited to the wheel and wheel-housingg and the shaft does not appear to have suffered. The work of repairing both steamers is proceeding day and night. Mr. O. S. Gildersleeve, managing director of the Inland Navigation Co. is superintending the work, with the vigorous energy and promptitude, which is a feature of his character. It is now thought that both vessels can be repaired within a week."

The EMPRESS was again in trouble a month later. She was detained at Prescott on her downward trip, waiting for a large group of passengers from Ogdensburg, who were most anxious to make the run through the rapids to Montreal.Capt. Cameron, it seems, ran the Lachine in darkness against his better judgement, and after passing under the Victoria Bridge, lost the channel and struck a rock. The vessel began to make water immediately, but staggered. On reaching her wharf with five feet of water in the hold. She sank there, but all the passengers and their baggage were put ashore. This happened on Saturday, 16 August.

The Hamilton Spectator of 22 August reported that:

"Mr. James Williamson is erecting, on the site of the buildings destroyed by fire in June, one of the most substantial and commodious grain storehouses in the Province. It is 102 feet in length and 64 feet in width and is being built of plank, instead of frame-work. When finished, it is calculated to store 140,000 bushels of grain. The contract was let at the end of June to Mr. Robt. Butcher and will be completed by the end of August. It is built on the plan of the elevators, on stone foundations and is supported by iron rods running between each bin. The bins are 21 feet in depth. There are three tracks leading from the building to the wharf and four on top for receiving grain. It will be able to ship 10,000 bushels per day."

The Spectator announced the sailing of the first vessel from Hamilton to Australia, direct, in their issue of the 30 October, as follows:

"The brigantine UNION which was the first vessel direct from this City to Liverpool, having been purchased by Messrs. Edgar & Melville, sailed yesterday with a mixed cargo for Australia. The cargo consists of manufactured lumber of various descriptions, wagon and carriage wheel hubs, cabinet stuff, sashes, etc., as well as, coal oil. Capt. Zealand, Jr. takes the UNION down to Montreal, where Capt. James will assume command. The UNION is a fine vessel and has made several voyages abroad, the last being to Cuba during which she encountered very heavy weather.


Previous    Next

Return to Home Port

This volume is copyright The Estate of Ivan S. Brookes and is published with permission of the Estate. The originals are deposited in the Special Collections of the Hamilton Public Library.