Chapter 16
The Iron Age
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


By the 14 April, navigation was open and although many vessels were still fitting out, others were busy. The MACASSA was making daily trips to Toronto and the steam barge CHUB was hauling stone to that port from Hamilton. The GREYHOUND was fitting out in Toronto and was to be sent to the Bay of Quinte.

Capt. S. C. Malcolmson had succeeded in refloating his recently-acquired schooner SINGAPORE, which had gone aground near Charlotte last fall. She was hauled off by the tug CHARLIE FERRIS of Oswego and towed into Charlotte for repairs. After fitting out, she would load coal for Hamilton.

The schooner E. H. RUTHERFORD, owned for many years by the late Edw. Browne, had been purchased by Elias Rogers & Co. of Toronto, together with the schooner KEEWATIN.

The steamer MAZEPPA was being readied for the season and the well-known schooner OLIVER MOWAT was unloading coal from Charlotte.

J. J. Morehouse announced on the 26 April, that the contract for the erection of the blast furnace plant had been let to the Philadelphia engineering Co. The price was $360,000 and the terms of the contract stated that the company would erect the plant and operate it for one week by the 1 January 1895. Work was expected to commence within two weeks.

The steamer MODJESKA left for Port Dalhousie dry dock on the 2 May and was expected to enter service on the 21 May. The steamer MAGNET was in service again this year on the Montreal run. The OCEAN had wintered in Toronto and had acquired a new boiler. She was almost ready to start her season.

On the 11 May, the MAZEPPA went to Toronto for a visit to the Toronto Dry Dock Co.

An item in the Toronto Globe of 15 May, stated that the case of the Hamilton Bridge & Tool Co. versus Albert E. Gooderham was settled out of court. It was an action for $3,500, the amount of a disputed account for the construction of the steam yacht CLEOPATRA. The defendant put in a counter-claim for $3,000 for delay on the part of the plaintiffs for not completing the yacht by 1 April 1893, as per the agreement. Just before the case came up for trial, an agreement was arrived at and a consent verdict for $2,000 in favour of the plaintiffs was entered, each party to pay their own costs.

There was filed in the Registry Office in Hamilton, a document by which the Hamilton Iron & Steel Co. secures the consent of the Atlantic Trust Co. of New York, to guarantee the issue of bonds to the amount of $250,000 @ 6%, payable in 30 years from the 1 May 1894. The Company furnishes security in the form of a mortgage on its lands, buildings and plant.

The propeller CUBA was again a regular caller at Hamilton. On the 15 May, she stopped at Geddes' Wharf in Toronto and picked up 200 tons of cargo for Hamilton.

Judge Senkler of St. Catharines, as sole arbitrator, began an arbitration on the 18 May, over the estate of the late Thomas Myles, to decide certain points in dispute between the executors of the estate and C. J. Myles, with reference to the partnership in the coal and vessel business and to a settlement of the accounts of the estate. The late Thomas Myles had an interest in the partnership of Thomas Myles & Son amounting to about $60,000.

The steamer MAZEPPA came off the dry dock at Toronto on the 17 May and left for Hamilton the following day with a scow and a piledriver in tow.

The coal strike in the United States was causing some steamers to be laid up and in Hamilton, the Ontario Rolling Mills Co., the Nail Works, the Hamilton & Toronto Sewer Pipe Co. and other factories expected to close down in a few days. The Gurney Tilden foundry cut its work-week to four days. As of the 19 May, the Hamilton Electric Light Co. had sufficient coal for the immediate future and some other industries were going to fire their boilers with wood and coke.

The schooner WAVE CREST,Capt. Corson, had sailed from Hamilton with a cargo of lumber for Oswego. At 9:00 p.m. on the 19 May, she was about one mile outside Oswego, in heavy fog, when she was struck a glancing blow on her starboard quarter by the old steam barge H. D. COFFINBERRY, outward bound with coal for Chicago. The force of the collision nearly rolled the schooner over, but she kept going and was assisted into the harbour by the tug CHARLIE FERRIS. The steam-barge was originally built in 1853 at East Saginaw by Arnold and had undergone a rebuild in 1881.

A heavy easterly gale raged on the Lake during the 20 & 21 May, disrupting the schedules of many vessels. The MAGNET was running late, having taken shelter in Presqu'ile Bay. The CUBA made her regular run to Toronto and Hamilton, but some of her passengers were not at all well. The famous old CHICORA did, not cross the Lake and the MACASSA missed, a trip.

The steamer CITY OF WINDSOR at Sault Ste. Marie after her service on Lake Ontario. Photo: Author's Collection
There was trouble on the Welland Canal on the 30 May, when the steamer CITY OF WINDSOR, on a regular trip from Toronto to St. Catharines, took all four gates off old lock 1 at Port Dalhousie. Entering the lock, the engine was stopped, but did so on dead centre so that the engineer was unable to reverse it immediately. A line was got on a nigger-head, but the vessel's momentum snapped it and she hit the upper gates. The CITY OF WINDSOR was flushed out of the chamber and was carried down the harbour, smashing her rudder on one of the piers.

The CITY OF WINDSOR was built in 1883 at Detroit by the Detroit Dry Dock Co. for the Detroit, Dresden & Island Transit Co. Her dimensions were 117.0 x 24.8 x 10.7; Gross 501; Net 316. She passed into Canadian ownership in 1890 and at the time of this accident, her managing owner was S. T. Reeves of Windsor, Ontario.

The steamer MAGNET grounded in the Split Rock Rapids on the afternoon of 31 May. Her passengers were subsequently landed at Vaudreuil and there was apparently no damage to the cargo. She was refloated on the 4 June and taken to Cantin's dry dock in Montreal, where damage was found to be slight.

The propeller OCEAN hauled out on Rathbun's ways at Deseronto after her confrontation with the barge KENT.
The propeller OCEAN collided with the barge KENT at 2:00 a.m. on the 7 June, near Sister Island, below Alexandria Bay and sank with her stern in about 30 feet of water. The KENT was evidently one of a string of barges in tow of the tug SEYMOUR of the Ogdensburg Coal & Towing Co. and she struck the OCEAN on the starboard bow, making a terrific hole that extended from just below the promenade deck, down to the bottom. The barge did not survive and it was surprising that the OCEAN did. The Donnelly Salvage and Wrecking Co. of Kingston, sent the steamer PIERREPONT to the scene and by 6:00 p.m. the salvagers were busy removing furniture, fittings, cargo, etc. The OCEAN was abandoned, to the underwriters. She was valued at $19,000 and insured for $15,000.

During the month of July, business in the harbour was fairly routine. On the 7 July, the schooner MARY ANN LYDON cleared light for Port Hope and the schooner TRADE WIND arrived from Charlotte with coal. The propeller ACADIA came in from Montreal with cargo and passengers, while the propeller MELBOURNE arrived from Toledo and cleared for Montreal. On the 10 July, the MAGNET was in on one of her regular trips from Montreal, as was the CUBA. The schooner SINGAPORE brought coal from Oswego for the MacKays and the American schooner ST. LAWRENCE was in port from Cleveland with coal for the Hamilton Gas Light Co.

The news that the Dept of Public Works was going to build a road swing bridge at the Canal was made public on the 13 July. An appropriation of $5,000. for foundation work was included in the Supplementary Estimates. A few days later, Ottawa divulged that the bounty on pig iron would be paid for the next five years, at the rate of $2.00 per ton.

Traffic in the Harbour on the 24 July included the CUBA and the MAGNET which both cleared for Montreal and the ARABIAN loading general cargo for the Upper Lakes. The steam barge IONA arrived from Cleveland with coal for the Hamilton Gas Light Co. She had been built in 1892 at Trenton, Ontario and measured 123.5 x 24.2 x 10.2 with a gross tonnage of 231, net 157. She was owned by J. D. Vanalstine of Milford, Ontario. The American schooner GENERAL FRANZ SEIGEL had also brought coal for the Gas Works and had cleared for Cleveland. A general slump in business on the American side of the Lakes was bringing a number of U. S.-owned schooners into the Lake Ontario trades.

On the 1 August, the Hamilton Steamboat Co. announced, that they expected. to have the steamer CITY OF WINDSOR in Hamilton to assist with the crowds wishing to attend the regatta on the 4 August.

Another visitor to the port was the schooner JENNY WHITE,Capt. Carter of Erie, Pa., which was lying off Myles' Wharf, awaiting her turn to unload coal. Capt. Carter told the press that he would proceed to Oswego and load coal for Quebec. He would then sail to Notre Dame Bay,Newfoundland, where he would load a cargo of sulphur for Wilmington, N.C. Fed up with the slack business on the Lakes, the captain, a

from Maine, was going to try his luck on the coast.

The regatta of the Canadian Association of Amateur Oarsmen was scheduled for Friday and Saturday, 3 & 4 August and the Hamilton Steamboat Co. promised a sailing every twenty minutes from the James St. Slip to the Beach, using the MACASSA,MODJESKA,MAZEPPA and the CITY OF WINDSOR.

While bound up the Lake from Oswego to Hamilton with coal, the schooner DAUNTLESS,Capt. J. T. Mercer, sprang a leak off Braddock's Point on the 5 August. She finally completed the voyage and unloaded 270 tons of coal, mostly wet, at Murton's Wharf. The schooner was owned jointly by F. G. Beckett of Hamilton and Capt. Mercer. Her value was given as only $l,000.

On the evening of 8 August, the R. & O. steamer ALGERIAN,Capt. Dunlop, had the misfortune to smash a wheel while running the Long Sault Rapids. She also holed. herself and water entered the dining saloon and the baggage room. She was brought safely into Cornwallt from which port the steamer ROCKET took some of her passengers on to Montreal. The rest of the passengers, feeling they had had enough excitement for one day, chose to take the train.

The propeller MYLES arrived in Hamilton on the 14 August with the largest cargo of coal yet received - 1,116 tons. She was under command of Capt. Geo. MacKay and unloaded at her owners' wharf. The LAKE MICHIGAN came in from Montreal the same day with a good cargo of general merchandise and cleared for Fort William.

A fire on the night of 14 August removed an old landmark from the bluffs above the City Docks. The house was built in 1836 by Capt. Edward Zealand and quite a number of trees had to be cut down to make space for it. At the time of its destruction, it was on the property of the Burlington Glass Works and was owned by them.

Another incendiary fire occurred the following night and destroyed an old house at the corner of James and Guise Streets, owned by Mrs. MacKay. The last occupant was Tom Cross and since his death, the place had become a hang-out for a gang of waterfront roudies. As in the case of the Zealand house, there was a strong smell of oil.

The propeller OCEAN, having been refloated and taken to Deseronto where she was hauled out on Rathbun's Marine Railway, had been repaired by the 16 August and was about to resume her sailings. The propeller ACADIA had been taking her place on the Hamilton-Montreal service.

The Government dredge NIPISSING was working in the Burlington Canal and was bringing up much coal and wreckage from the railway accident in 1891.

J. J. Morehouse announced on the 29 August, that about $30,000 had so far been spent on foundation work for the blast furnace plant on Huckleberry Point. He also stated that an attempt would be made to complete the works in the specified time.

The proposal to establish a car-ferry service from Erie to Port Dover was gaining momentum and Parliament had approved the dredging of the harbour.

During Toronto's civic holiday on the 13 August, the Hamilton Steamboat Co., in an effort to accommodate an over-flow crowd, had sent the steamer MAZEPPA down on a late trip. On the 5 September, the MAZEPPA's captain received a summons because his vessel was not licensed to trade outside Hamilton Harbour. Three charges of a similar nature were laid against the Mathews Brothers, owners of the ACACIA. Both owners were fined $50 each for these offenses.

J. J. Morehouse was having his troubles with the Grand Trunk Ry. over the laying of a spur into the blast furnace location. It seemed that the Railway Company was insisting on exclusive right to use the projected line and Mr. Morehouse, justifiably, couldn't see it that way.

Capt. John Gordon, who it may be remembered, was well-known in Hamilton in bygone times, died in Guelph on the 16 September. He was a son-in-law of Robert Land, a member of one of the founding families of this City.

Word was received from Ottawa that work on the sub-structure for the new swing bridge at the Canal would begin on the 1 October.

The Grand Trunk Ry. and J. J. Morehouse finally resolved their differences over the spur line to the blast furnace property. This had to be done before any machinery would be received from Philadelphia.

The steamer MAGNET was in trouble on the 29 September, having developed a leak while making a downward passage. She was beached on Barnhart Island and the old PASSPORT replaced her, making the run via the Murray Canal and the Bay of Quinte. On the same day, the MacKay propeller ACADIA was tied up in the Cornwall Canal with engine trouble. While up bound from Montreal to Toronto and Cleveland with general cargo and a few passengers, she broke a cross-head key while in the Beauharnois Canal, with the result that one of the cylinder heads cracked. The ST. MAGNUS towed her as far as Cornwall.

The construction of the Hamilton Iron & Steel Company's plant was creating some interest among the citizens and on Sunday, 7 October, the weather being fine, large crowds visited the site. Among them was the Hon. J. M. Gibson, a long-time booster of the project.

Capt. Thomas Harbottle, Steamboat Inspector at Toronto died on the 12 October at his residence, 62 Isabella St. in Toronto. He was born in 1824 at Newcastle-upon-Tyne and came to Buffalo, N.Y. when very young. As soon as he was old enough, he took up sailing as a career and in 1841 was sailing the schooner JOHN JACOB ASTOR. He came to Toronto in 1851 as master of the schooner AMERICAN. By 1853, he was captain of the steamboat ROCHESTER and from 1854 to 1869, he sailed the steamer PASSPORT. In 1870, he purchased the schooner_RAPID and at one time, owned the tug W. K. MUIR briefly. His last command was the steamer CHICORA in 1876 to 1882, after which he assumed the duties of Steamboat Inspector. He had 16 children. He had, at one period, resided in Hamilton for 15 years. He left a widow, seven sons and three daughters. Of the sons, James was master of the CHICORA,Thomas Jr. was master of the U.S. steam barge HAVANNA,Harry, master of a whale-back steamer, George, purser of the CARMONA and Neville, purser of the CIBOLA. He was buried in Hamilton.

The Magee-Walton Ice Company took out a building permit for the erection of a frame ice-house at the foot of Strachan St. The cost of the building was estimated to be $4,000.

On the 17 October, the first carload of machinery for the Blast Furnace arrived from Philadelphia. A week later, three more carloads were received.

The schooner F. H. BURTON, with 150 tons of pig iron from Milwaukee for the Sawyer Massey Co., got stuck in the Burlington Canal on the 24 October. The schooner DAUNTLESS was sent to lighter her, but the tug ELLA TAYLOR managed to pull her free.

The Hamilton Bridge & Tool Company assigned on the 22 October to C. S. Scott, official assignee. The immediate cause of the assignment was the judgement for $10,000 obtained by A. T. Wood, one of the directors. The concern is said to be abundantly responsible, financially and there has been some friction among the members due to the desire of A. T. Wood to withdraw from the company. The capital stock of the company is $100,000, of which about $60,000 is paid up. The principal shareholder is Wm. Hendrie, who is president and who holds a controlling interest. The other officers and directors are J. S. Hendrie, vice-president, Thos. Meston, Sec.-Treas., A. T. Wood,M. Leggatt and A. Gartshore. The business was founded in 1863 and came into the hands of the above-named gentlemen in 1881. A few years ago, Wm. Hendrie obtained a controlling interest by purchasing the stock of the late Dennis Moore, iron founder. A meeting of the creditors was to be held on the 29 October.

J. J. Morehouse, in a statement to the press on 27 October, said it was the intention of the company to use Ontario iron ores from the Sudbury and Central Ontario districts. He stated also that the timber required for the construction of a wharf had been purchased.

A plan to rejuvenate the waterfront was being promoted by F. J. Rastrick, an architect and civil engineer of considerable skill and Alex. Henderson, a builder. The plan covered the area from the Grand Trunk property, all the way to the foot of Wentworth Street and involved considerable land-fill, together with the construction of new wharves and boat-houses. It would provide for future railway rights of way to service the wharves. City Council referred the proposal to the Board of Works and a meeting was arranged at which Messrs. Rastrick and Henderson were to be present to explain their scheme.

At the meeting of the creditors of the Hamilton Bridge & Tool Co., all the shareholders and creditors, except A. T. Wood, were represented. The assignment to C. S. Scott was confirmed and A. Gartshore,M. Leggatt and J. S. Hendrie were appointed Inspectors. A. T. Wood had applied to the court for a winding-up order, but the creditors preferred to have the estate wound up by the assginee and the inspectors.

In November, the Hamilton Steamboat Co.qpany's pier at Elsinore on Burlington Beach, was being repaired and strengthened. The south pier on the Bay side, at the Canal had undergone repairs, 140 feet of it being replaced. This required 28,000 feet of timber.

On the 10 November, the schooner WAVE CREST sailed for Oswego with a cargo of lumber, her last voyage of the season.

Work was progressing on the blast furnace plant, although some of the machinery seemed to be held up somewhere between Philadelphia and Hamilton.J. J. Morehouse announced that he was having offices fitted up in the Canada Life Assurance Building.

The steamer MAGNET sailed for Montreal on the 17 November, on her last trip of the season. She would go to Sorel for rebuilding during the winter. Her berth capacity would be increased to 160 and the cabins would all be refitted. A new engine would be put in and she would acquire feathering wheels. The cost of all these improvements was expected to be about $15,000. She had a very successful season carrying much cargo and many passengers from Hamilton.

The MACASSA had begun the season on the 7 April and made her final trip on the 17 November. This added up to 513 trips which totaled about 19,700 miles. Capt. Zealand was well satisfied.

The schooner DAUNTLESS left for Port Dalhousie, to be dry-docked and rebuilt. The propeller ACADIA arrived with 6,843 coils of wire for the Ontario Tack Co. and sailed for Montreal.

On the 24 November, the schooner BALTIC, built in 1867 by Le Claire at Wellington Square, was driven ashore east of the piers at Oswego and became a total loss. She had been rebuilt in 1874 by Capt. Baird and had a registered tonnage of 188.

Marine Insurance ceased on the 30 November, but not all local vessels were in port as of the 1 December. The ARABIAN,Capt. Patenaude, reached Toronto on 30 November with grain from Fort William. Much ice was encountered, coming down the Kam River, but none was seen on Lake Superior, despite the extreme cold. She had had weather on that Lake and again on Lake Erie, where she was pretty well iced-up. She had to lighter-off 8,000 bus. of her cargo of 40,000 bus. of wheat at Port Colborne, since the Welland Canal draft was down to 12 feet.

The schooner F. H. BURTON, coal-laden from Charlotte for MacKays, narrowly escaped foundering in Lake Ontario. Driven far off course, and having begun leaking badly when still 10 miles off the north shore her captain despaired of reaching Hamilton. He managed to get her into Toronto, where she tied up at the Queen's Wharf and the cargo was sold to McGill & Co.

MacKay's propeller LAKE MICHIGAN had been having her troubles with the boisterous fall weather and had taken 24 days to go from Montreal to Fort William. She was now homeward bound and was expected at the Soo on 1 December. There was a possibility that she might winter at Goderich.

During 1894, two steam launches were built in Hamilton. These were the LIZZIE and the ATHENA. The former was built by W. & A. Johnston and measured 71.0 x 12.5 x 4.6; 16 tons and was powered by a HP 10 x 10" engine said to be built by Wm. Johnston. The ATHENA was built by Wm. Johnston and her dimensions were 57.5 x 9.6 x 5.8, 14 tons and she was fitted with a steeple compound engine 8/13 x 10, built by the Killey Beckett Engine Works in Hamilton.


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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.