During the last week in the month, the blast furnace was being charged. The establishment of the furnace had caused a veritable stampede to re-open old abandoned iron mines in north Hastings County and in Frontenac, but in most cases, this was a
"flash in the pan". Good ore occurred in many scattered places and usually in small quantities. . The mining methods that had been used were primitive, few of the mines being equipped with anything resembling machinery. At most of them, the horse was used to haul up the ore and at many, that versatile animal was required to de-water the mine by hauling up a bucket, though some mines had a small steam pump. Very few mines had railway sidings and in fact, some were several miles from the nearest siding. Teamsters with bob-sleighs were making as much as $200 per day, hauling ore to Eldorado Station on the Central Ontario Ry., which took the cars down to Trenton Jct. where they were switched onto the Grand Trunk Ry. Some of the mines had stock piles of ore left over when they closed down in the 1880's and these were eagerly purchased, by the Hamilton Iron & Steel Co. at fairly low cost.
Ice-cutters, working for several dealers, were finding ice up to 11" in thickness, but on the 5 February, there was a violent northeast blow, followed by an influx of warm air producing a mid-winter thaw. Teams began breaking through the rotting ice.
On Saturday, 8 February, the Gurney Tilden Foundry ran the first test on 10 tons of pig iron from the Hamilton furnace and the results proved satisfactory in all respects. During February a new company, The Hamilton Blast Furnace Company, was organized to take over the Hamilton Iron & Steel Co. and the principals were J. H. Tilden,J. Milne,W. Southam,A. T. Wood,D. Newton,R. R. Morgan and A. B. Osborne.
The Hamilton Steamboat Co. announced on 15 February, that Capt. Wm. Zealand had been appointed to the MODJESKA, with Capt. Geo. Guy as 1st mate and that Capt. Crawford and mate Pat Walsh would again have the MACASSA. A large number of men were employed on their steamers and the MAZEPPA was getting a new boiler.
Robert Hobson, son of Jos. Hobson, Chief Engineer of the Grand Trunk Ry., was appointed secretary-treasurer of the Hamilton Blast Furnace Co., according to a news item on the 18 February, at which time the daily output of the furnace had reached 100 tons. Orders for pig iron were being received from foundries in Owen Sound,Toronto,Galt,Guelph,Sarnia,London,Preston and many other places. The company was selling all it could produce.
A. T. Wood and John Milne of the Hamilton Blast Furnace Co., were members of a large delegation to Queen's Park on the 27 February, regarding the granting of additional bonuses to a railway referred to as the Rainy River Ry. Co. The railway had already been granted $3,000 per mile for 80 miles of line and the delegation was asking the same favour for an additional 70 miles, from the Atikokan Range to the head of navigation on Rainy Lake. True, there was iron ore in Atikokan, but a number of Hamilton business-men were dabbling in the gold prospects further to the west.
the part of the propeller ACADIA, versus the Government for damages to vessel and cargo, when she sank at Morrisburg in July 1893. The plaintiffs state that she struck a large boulder on the bottom of the canal.
On the 24 March, Major Henry A. Gray reported that the masonry work for the new swing bridge would be finished in two weeks and that the contract for the bridge had been let to the Dominion Bridge Co. of Montreal.
Down at the City Docks, work on the wintering vessels was well advanced by the 7 April, although the ice was still solid. Vesselmen were hoping for a good season, as usual and wishing the ice would break up. At the James St. Slip, the MACASSA had been redecorated throughout and had received new furniture. Chief Engineer W. Noonan was busy with his machinery, as was his counterpart on the MODJESKA,W. Durham. The MAZEPPA was having a great deal of work done on her this winter. At MacKay's Wharf, the ACADIA,Capt. J. Clifford and Chief Engineer John Brown was nearly ready for business, as was the LAKE MICHIGAN,Capt. J. Moore and Chief Engineer Jos. Baker. The OCEAN did not winter in Hamilton, but would be on the Montreal-Hamilton route again this season with Capt. Trowell and Chief Engineer A. Ramsay.Capt. Fairgrieve'sARABIAN was resplendent in fresh paint. Capt. O. Patenaude would be in command, with Chief Engineer W. Scott taking care of the machinery.
The propeller MYLES had wintered at Kingston and it was felt that she would not be out for some time, as the ice was very thick and teams were still crossing it to the islands. Her master would be Capt. Geo. Mackie and Geo. Smeaton, who was on the MODJESKA last year, would. be her chief engineer.
Schooners wintering in Hamilton were the W. J. SUFFELL,Capt. John Corson,SINGAPORE,Capt. S. Malcolmson,VIENNA, which belonged to Capt J. Ewart had been sold to Capt. Sexsmith and the ERIE STEWART,Capt. Lyons, owned by Capt. Allen of Port Dover. The ELLA MURTON,Capt. Thos. Armstrong would be carrying coal for Murton & Co.
Spring came in very suddenly and on 16 April, the temperature in the City was 95 F. Many people were eyeing the Beach and thinking of cool lake breezes while at the same time, worrying because there did not seem to be any activity regarding the new bridge. The make-shift ferry could. handle only pedestrians.
The MAZEPPA slid down the ways at Robertson's Shipyard. on the 16 April, before the admiring gaze of Mayor Tuckett, Murray A. Kerr, the managing director of the Hamilton Steamboat Co.,Geo. T. Tuckett,Seneca Jones and Hugh Fairgrieve. She had undergone a thorough overhaul and everyone was pleased, including the steamboat inspector. The MACASSA towed her to the James St. Slip, where the redecorating of the passenger space would be done. The MACASSA would leave on the 20 April for Port Dalhousie to have her hull painted and would begin her season on the 23 April.
"Ore Shipments by Water"brought to light a problem that would affect the port for many years. Although the Hamilton Blast Furnace Co. wharf would have at least 14 feet of water when it was completed in June, it would be useless as long as the Government continued to take so little interest in the Burlington Canal. Even with the improved Lake level, there was but 12 feet available in the canal. The Hamilton Blast Furnace Co. was, according to the item, making arrangements for the mining and shipping of ore from the Port Arthur district and here again, was the stumbling block in the form of the Welland Canal with its frequent accidents and its unreliable water levels. Actually, the idea of bringing ore into Hamilton was an exercise in futility and the situation would not improve until 1931.
R. O. & A. B. MacKay met with Capt. Neelon in Toronto on 21 April and finalized the purchase of the SIR S. L. TILLEY and the schooner T. R. MERRITT. The sale price was $40,000 for the two vessels. R. O. MacKay then left for Collingwood, where the vessels had wintered.
The opening of the Welland and St. Lawrence Canals had been set for 1 May, but an announcement by Collingwood Schreiber, Chief Eng'r. for the Dept. of Public Works advanced the Welland Canal to 28 April. The ARABIAN cleared on 25 April for Port Dalhousie where she was to go on dry dock before setting out on her first voyage. The MACASSA returned from the dry dock the same day and would begin her season on the 27 April. Capt. Corson took the W. J. SUFFELL out and headed for Cleveland on the 27 April, to pick up a cargo of coal for the gas works. The propeller LAKE MICHIGAN was loading cargo for Fort William and would load grain there for Montreal. The MYLES was due to leave Kingston for Walkerville, to load 2,500,000 staves for Duluth. She would then load grain for Kingston.
Sewage disposal was again the topic of the day on 5 May, when it was decided to establish plants at Ferguson Ave. and at the East End Sewer. A by-law would. be submitted to the ratepayers to raise the necessary money, estimated. to be $85,000.
The Hamilton Blast Furnace Co. stated on the 8 May, that production would be slowed down. This was due to a strike of miners in the Adirondack region and also, it would give the company a chance to get ready for the arrival of Lake Superior ore. Management was not too happy with the quality of the ore they had been using.
The propeller ACADIA was chartered for the annual Lighthouse Supply voyage, which would be undertaken about the first week in July. The ACADIA was in the news on the 13 May when she was in Kingston with 21,800 bus. of corn from Toledo to Montreal. While passing through the Welland Canal, the cargo was found, to be on fire, so the crew cut holes in her deck and turned the hoses on it. Thinking the fire to be out, they proceeded down Lake Ontario, but three times the fire erupted again. At Kingston, where she stopped to lighter for canalling, the Montreal Transportation Co. refused to handle her at their elevator. Eventually, 5,000 bus. of damaged corn was unloaded and she went on to Montreal.
On the 13 May, this amusing tale was related to the citizens of Hamilton, who chose to read the Spectator: Police Magistrate Jelfs had a case of piracy or theft on the high seas before him this morning. The high seas were represented by Hamilton Harbour and the pirate was one W. D. Hind, a member of the Toronto stonehooking fraternity, whose raking craft was a battered old sailing scow, called the ZEBRA. This pirate chief had come up from Toronto with a load of old iron, which he sold to the Ontario Rolling Mills Co. While here, he took a look around the Bay and paused at the ruins of the N. & N. W. Elevator Wharf. There seemed to be a good prospect of an iron harvest on the bottom so he got out his grappling hooks. After several days of hard work, he hauled up about 3 tons of scrap iron, which had fallen into the water as the elevator burned. Hind weighed anchor yesterday afternoon, set sail, and made for McIlwraith's Wharf. He had no sooner tied up, than a G. T. R.. officer pounced on him, charged him with theft and marched him uptown.
This morning, the magistrate discovered from the witnesses for the prosecution, that the iron was in navigable waters and that the old wharf had been abandoned by the Grand Trunk Ry. He concluded that Hind was not really guilty of theft and that if the railway company had any more valuable stuff lying around on the bottom, in navigable waters it had better get it up and out as soon as possible. Hind indicated that
The schooner W. J. SUFFELL was no respecter of the high and mighty of Hamilton society. On her way down from Cleveland with a cargo of coal, she scooted into the Burlington Canal with the aid of a good north-east wind. Capt. Corson, doing something like the proverbial
"sixteen knots and a Chinaman", was steering pretty close to the south pier all the way through, so that the schooner's big main boom was extending over the pier and ripped the porch off the prestigious home of the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club.
While the schooners L. D. BULLOCK and ANTELOPE were working their way down the Lake, the W. J. SUFFELL and the SINGAPORE were loading coal at Charlotte and a race was in the offing. When these two hotshots cast off their lines and, went rolling merrily up the Lake, the old Yates Coal Dock collapsed. Capt. John Corson won the race.
On the 20 May, the little steam barge CHUB was loading sand at McIlwraith's for Toronto. Over on MacKay's Wharf, a team of horses were hitched to the little dock office on the east side of the warehouse and it was dragged around to a site at the south end.
The MAZEPPA was scheduled to Make two trips to Bay View and the Beach on Sunday, 24 May and the following day, the GARDEN CITY was expected, from St. Catharines with about 700 people coming to see the Military Review.
The propellers PERSIA and LAKE MICHIGAN were in port on the 2 June and the former vessel took on 3,000 bus. of peas at the Magee-Walton warehouse for Montreal. The Quebecers evidently could not grow enough peas for their own pea soup.
A new landmark was about to appear on Burlington Beach, in the form of a brick power house for the HamiltonRadial Electric Ry. The boilers for this plant were on their way from Goldie & McCullough's works in Galt on the 5 June. The plant was built on the Bay side, not far south of the Brant House and a spur from the Grand Trunk was laid, across the roadway and the electric railway line for the purpose of delivering coal.
The steamers A. J. TYMON and QUEEN CITY brought excursions from Toronto on the 6 June and that night, the ACADIA tied up at the Canal, to unload the steel for the road swing bridge. The men of the Dominion Bridge Co. arrived also.
Melancthon Simpson had been building a steam yacht for Messrs. Long & Bisby of Hamilton and she was launched on the 11 June. Her name was NYMOCA and she was 60 feet long by 12 feet beam. Her hull was B.C. pine and she was propelled by a compound engine built at Copp Bros. machine shop, under the supervision of F. G. Beckett.Isaac Hodgins fitted, the engine and the Fitzgibbon boiler was made by David Fraser.
The steam-barge JOHN S. PARSONS was unloading, coal from Sodus Point at MacKay's Wharf on the 13 June. She was built in 1891 and measured 118 x 21; Gross tonnage 203, net 138. She was owned by Phelps of Chaumont, N.Y.Murton's Wharf had the schooners MARY ANN LYDON,Capt. Robinson and the ELLA MURTON,Capt. Armstrong, while the lineup at Myles' Wharf included the WAVE CREST,Capt. W. A. Corson,DUNDEE,Capt. Kelly and the W. J. SUFFELL,Capt. John Corson.
The W. J. SUFFELL seemed to have the knack of getting her name in the news at every opportunity. On the 29 June, she tied up at Myles' Wharf looking somewhat bedraggled, having left part of her bowsprit in the steelwork of the new bridge at the Canal. Also, in port that day, was the schooner CHENEY AMES, unloading wire from Cleveland. She was built in 1873 at Youngstown, N.Y. by Lummeree and had a registered tonnage of 298.
The ACADIA departed on the Lighthouse Supply voyage on the 13 July and several local people took advantage of the cruise. An announcement of great importance to the industrial development of the City told of the incorporation of the Hamilton Cataract Power Co.
On the 10 August, an application was made for incorporation by the Murton Coal Co. Ltd. The charter members of the firm were E. C. Murton,F. M. Willson,Charlotte Murton and C. A. Murton, all of Hamilton and G. W. McEathron of Syracuse, N.Y.
The Hamilton Blast Furnace Co. let contracts for the construction of a small office building to the east of the furnace, on 2 September. It would. measure 32 ft. by 26 ft. and would have two stories. The architect was A. W. Peene, the bricklayer was W. H. Buscombe and the carpentry work would be done by Jas. Sage. The offices uptown would be vacated about 1 November.
"Little Giant Water Wheel".
The first storm of autumn came on the 7 September and the R. & O. steamer HAMILTON was delayed, she having gone into hiding in Presqu'ile Bay. The following day Car No. 20 made a test run over the Hamilton Radial Electric Railway. The tracks were finished on the bridge, but the road approaches had not been graded. The next day Major Gray arrived, and the grading was begun. It seemed that whenever the Major was out of town, nothing got done. Two days later, teams were being allowed to use the bridge.
During September, work was started on the Sewage Disposal works and Mayor Tuckett called on the Hon. Israel Tarte in Ottawa, asking that some dredging be done in Hamilton. He was given an order to the dredge operators, to continue working where required.
The schooner W. J. SUFFELL sailed on 18 September for Sodus Bay to load coal for Amherstburg.Capt. Corson would, then go to Detroit and load. a cargo of rye for Kingston. The steamer HAMILTON, on her downward trip to Montreal got aground in the vicinity of [***missing] The Calvin Co. despatched their tug CHIEFTAIN to the scene of the mishap. The HAMILTON had about 40 passengers.
Messrs. Piggott & Ingles, contractors, who had the contract to build the T. H. & B. Ry. bridge over the Desjardins Canal, had a scow on the job with three boilers and engines on it. On the 19 September, the scow sank. Two days later, they had managed to fish up one of the engines.
The schooner WAVE CREST,Capt. W. A. Corson, made a fast trip, having left Hamilton at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, 24 September, for Oswego, arriving there at 10:30 a.m. Thursday. She loaded coal and sailed Friday morning, arriving in Hamilton on Sunday afternoon. The local vessel-men were urging that the range lights on the Canal be made red, as the lights at the Hamilton Blast Furnace Co. confused them when they came in at night.
A stranger arrived in port on 6 October in the form of the steam barge ISABELLA J. BOYCE, from Cleveland with a cargo of wire. She had been built in 1889 at Manitowoc by Burger and measured 138 ft. in length, 20 ft. beam and grossed 368 tons.
The apple crop was good this year. The schooner T. R. MERRITT was loading apples at Browne's Wharf for Montreal and the steamer HAMILTON, on her last downward trip, took 1,000 bbls. from Burlington. On the 17 October, the OCEAN was loading apples for export to Europe.
The steam barge NEWAYGO was at McIlwraith's Wharf on the 5 November, unloading a cargo of billets for the Ontario Rolling Mills Co. from Cleveland. The NEWAYGO was built in 1890 at Marine City by Holland. Her dimensions were 196.0 x 37.2 x 13.4; Gross 906, net 697. She had a compound engine 23/46 x 40, built by the King Iron Works in Buffalo and steam was provided by one boiler 10'6" x 16'0" built by Love & Schofield of Port Huron, Mich.
"Where is the ACADIA?"She had left Fort William one week before, with wheat for Montreal and had not been heard from. The weather had been particularly bad on Lake Superior and the MacKays were getting anxious. Capt. John Clifford was from St. Catharines, but Chief Engineer Jas. H. Brown, 2nd. engineer John Hughson, purser Geo. P. Frend and cook Annie Perkins were all from Hamilton.
The W. J. SUFFELL was the first vessel to load pig iron at the new wharf of the Hamilton Blast Furnace Co. and she took on 300 tons on the 13 November for Montreal. Three days later, the schooner SOPHIA loaded there for Montreal.
On the 14 November there was rejoicing in the City. MacKays had received a telegram from Sault Ste. Marie, telling of the loss of the ACADIA. All hands were safe at Gargantua. She had left Fort William at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, 4 November, with 21,000 bus. of wheat for the Ogilvie Milling Co. at Montreal and all went well until Thursday afternoon, when the wind which was out of the north-east, began to freshen. Michipicoten Island had just been passed at 5:00 p.m. when the wind blew a gale and a dense snow storm set in. The sea made up very fast and in order to make a lee, the vessel had to be hauled up towards the land, which brought her near Michipicoten River. At 9:30 the ACADIA was checked down and then stopped.. Half an hour later, breakers were seen on the port side. The wind was blowing fiercely, signals were given to go ahead, but within a few minutes, she struck on the rocks. The wind then shifted to the north west, which held her on but she started pounding. The pumps were started immediately, but at 2:00 a.m. on Friday, the ACADIA settled to the bottom in 12 feet of water. At 9:00 a.m. the weather cleared and they found themselves on rocks a mere 75 yards from shore. Food, bedding and anything else useful for the setting up of a camp, was taken ashore. The shore was so rocky that great difficulty was experienced trying to find a spot. They were at a location 15 miles from the nearest habitation and 50 miles from the closest railway station. They had food for a week or two and during the day heavy snow fell, until sometime after 4:00 p.m. They had supper and by that time the weather had cleared and Capt. Clifford ordered all hands to start for Gargantua Light Station, 15 miles down the Lake. After going about half a mile, the wind freshened again and they returned to their camp. A second start was made at 1:00 a.m. Saturday. Carrying bedding, food, etc. the ship's company made their way painfully over the rocks for six hours and reached the Lighthouse, by which time another blizzard was upon them. It was impossible to leave until Sunday morning, when Capt. Clifford, with four men and the Lightkeeper set out for Sault Ste. Marie in a small sailboat. They reached Point Demere on Sunday night and carried on at daybreak Monday, getting as far as Lemass by 2:00 p.m. The wind now came ahead and they were compelled to remain there for four days and four nights. They set sail again on Saturday 14 November and arrived at Sault Ste. Marie at 5:00 p.m. The ACADIA was a total loss.
The propeller MELBOURNE called at the Hamilton Blast Furnace Co. wharf on the 19 November to load 300 tons of pig iron for Trois Rivieres. Two days later, the steamers HAMILTON and CUBA made their final appearances for the season. The LAKE MICHIGAN was on her last trip to the Lakehead and the SIR S. L. TILLEY was downbound between Sault Ste. Marie and Sarnia.
Most of the schooners were laid up, but the W. J. SUFFELL and the T. R. MERRITT were at Kingston. The MYLES came in to lay up on the 5 December with the T. R. MERRITT in tow. The LAKE MICHIGAN and the ARABIAN took their last grain cargoes to Kingston and returned to Hamilton for the winter.
The Hamilton Blast Furnace Co. completed its first year of operation, during which it produced 28,302 tons of pig iron, employed on the average, 125 men and paid out $47,000 in wages. The value of the product at the furnace amounted to $353,780. The total tonnage of ore used was 51,138, of which 35,868 tons came from the United States and 15,270 tons was Canadian, consisting of magnetite, hematite and bog ores. The furnace also used 5,883 tons of mill cinder, 30,348 tons of coke and 8,657 tons of limestone. The furnace was in production from the 2 February to 6 May and from 23 June to 21 December, a total of 241 days.
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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.