Peter McIntyre has literally grown up in the steamboat business, and his energy is plainly visible when he is sitting in his office on Milloy wharf, at the foot of Yonge street, Toronto, almost buried among way bills and freight receipts. He was born January 4, 1844, in Kingston, Ont., within three hundred yards of the shores of Lake Ontario, whose elements had such an influence on his life, and he acquired his education chiefly in the schools of Kingston, proving a very apt scholar. His sister was a teacher, and she thoroughly supplemented the good work done in the public schools for her young brother, which may account to a large extent for the unquestionable culture which Mr. McIntyre possesses.
While yet a mere child Peter McIntyre acquired a strong liking for the water. His father was a lake captain, and at Peter's earliest recollections he was master of the schooner Alert, considered at that time one of the largest craft on the lakes. She had a carrying capacity of 6,000 bushels of grain. He was only eight years of age when his father took him for a trip between Kinston and Toronto in that vessel, and this, his initial experience afloat, created within him that desire for the waves which tinges all his after life.
Being considered a bright lad, he had no difficulty in finding employment when he began life for himself, and when he was barely thirteen years of age he was taken into the office of Messrs. Berry & Walker, of Kingston, where he was intrusted with duties which might have staggered many an older boy of less pluck. His firm were mill and vessel owners, one of the most extensive flourmills in Canada belonging to them, and beside their numerous line of barges they owned two large schooners and the propeller Oliver Comwell, one of the first crew boats on the lakes. Shortly after Mr. McIntyre's entrance into the firm's office, one of the partners, Mr. Walker, withdrew from the concern and returned to England, Mr. Berry carrying on the business. Mr. McIntyre remained with him ten years, during which time he gradually advanced until he became general manager of the entire establishment. Mr. Berry went into the shipbuilding business about that time, and constructed a fleet of ten ocean-going barges, the work being carried out at Portsmouth, about three miles east of Kingston. That speculation proved the ruin of one of the finest gentlemen Canada has ever known. Mr. McIntyre, however, was faithful to the last, nor did he leave until he had carefully wound up the estate for his employer.
Mr. McIntyre was subsequently engaged for one year in the Commercial Bank at Kingston, and then, in 1867, he shipped as purser on the steamer Her Majesty, which had been placed on the run from Toronto and Hamilton and to Picton and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her Majesty was owned by those two well-known gentlemen, Messrs. George Shaffey and T. C. Chisholm. Mr. McIntyre was her purser for three years, and remembers vividly the first trips made to Pictou, N. S., where they were derisively called "d----d Canadians," and the black flag was hoisted on Dominion Day in that city, Nova Scotia then refusing to come into the Confederation. Her Majesty carried large quantities of flour from Lake Ontario to Nova Scotia. The St. Lawrence canals being only nine feet deep, she loaded 4,000 barrels at Toronto, passed down the canals and loaded at Montreal an additional 7,000 barrels. Her good work came to grief in November, 1869, when she stranded on a reef, off Cape Despair, just below Gaspé, and became a total wreck. It was only ten minutes from the time she struck until she went to pieces, but all on board were safely landed by the boats. Coming back to Lake Ontario, Mr. McIntyre concluded that there were better things on the higher lakes. Accordingly he went to Chicago and shipped on the steamer Norman of that port, owned by Messrs. Leopold & Austrian, and here his duties as purser were not light. He ran from Chicago to Duluth, calling at Sault Ste. Marie, Marquette, and a number of south shore ports. The "Zenith City" was then little more than a "howling wilderness;" the Norman carried up the materials to build the first elevator there, and was battling in the ice for three days at the beginning of May before she could get in. When Mr. McIntyre left the Norman he went as purser in the Chicora, owned by Donald Milloy, of Toronto, and running between Toronto, Collingwood and Fort William, and later to Duluth, the "Zenith City."
In 1873 Mr. McIntyre accepted the position of chief freight agent for the Lake Superior Navigation Company, whose boats were running in connection with the Northern railway of Canada. Coming back to Toronto in 1874 he entered the office on the Milloy wharf, staying there until the following year, when he went into partnership with Colonel Shaw and Mr. George in the fishing business on Lake Superior, their quarters being at Michipicoton island, Parisian islands. Batchewana and Mamianse Point. He continued in that line during the years 1875-76-77, in 1878 returning to Toronto, where he again took charge of the office of Mr. Donald Milloy's Yonge street wharf. In 1883 Mr. McIntyre took over the management of the Turner Ferry line and ran that company three years, their boats plying between Hanlan's Point, Mead's, Ward's and Toronto. At that time he began to develop the present ferry system, and finally organized that powerful corporation now known as the Toronto Ferry company. In 1886 he organized the Lorne Park Summer Resort Company, retaining his connection with same until 1888. During 1889 and 1890 he organized and managed successfully the Humberstone Summer Resort at Port Colborne. Since then he has been chiefly in the general summer resort excursion agency business, taking charge of the Milloy wharf offices as well. No man has worked harder to create an interest in Canadian summer resorts than he, and there is no other man who can give as much information to tourists and people seeking summer residences.
Mr. McIntyre was married, in 1883, to Miss Laura Adeline Shepard, third daughter of the late W. A. Shepard, manager of the Mail job-printing establishment, of Toronto. Four children have blessed this union: Arthur Jamieson, Helena May, Laura Frances and Norman Melville, the oldest two attending the public schools of Toronto. In Dominion politics Mr. McIntyre was always Conservative, until Sir Wilfrid Laurier advanced upon the scene at the demise of Sir John A. Macdonald. With the conviction strong upon him that Laurier was the proper statesman to thoroughly repair and direct the affairs of Canada, he worked for him in the Liberal ranks which put the clever French-Canadian into power. Nor has Mr. McIntyre for a moment rued his vote and influence. In municipal elections in Toronto he always took a prominent part, invariably supporting the men whom he considered best qualified to fill the positions sought, irrespective of their party leanings. While Sir John A. Macdonald was alive Mr. McIntyre supported him in Dominion politics, and he gave his vote for Sir Oliver Mowat in Ontario. In religion he is a prominent Presbyterian; he and his wife being active members of the new St. Andrew's Church, on King street west, Toronto. He was brought up in St. Andrew's Church, Kingston, under the pastorate of the Rev. John Maule Machar. Before the division in old St. Andrew's Church Mr. McIntyre was librarian of the Sunday-school, and after the new Church was organized he was Sunday- school teacher and usher for ten years. He also worked actively in the Young Peoples Society in connection with that Church.
During 1876-77 Mr. McIntyre worked arduously in the cause of temperance, and it was through discussion in St. Andrew's Church in which he took part that the Coffee House Association, of Toronto, was inaugurated. Rev. D. J. Macdonell was at that time pastor of St. Andrew's. Mr. McIntyre was one of the leaders in the Prohibition Club at the time of the Howland campaign in Toronto in 1881.
Besides attending to his other interests Mr. McIntyre served a term in the militia of Canada, and took up arms in 1862. He was in the Fourteenth Battalion, of Kingston, and worked his way from private to the rank of ensign. In 1866 he graduated from the Royal Military College at Kingston with a first-class volunteer certificate and a second-class military school certificate on serving half time. During the Fenian raid into Canada he turned out to defend his country, and went with the Fourteenth Battalion to Cornwall, where they were two weeks under canvas. Lieutenant-Governor Kirkpatrick, of Ontario, was at that time the adjutant commanding their battalion. In 1867 Mr. McIntyre joined No. 5 Company, of the Queen's Own Rifles, of Toronto, remaining with that regiment two years, when he was compelled to relinquish his military connection, the steamboat business requiring all of his time and attention. In his younger days he took an active part in athletics and yacht racing. While in Kingston he put money in an eighteen-foot skiff, with which he won a race for a good prize against a number of able competitors.
Return to Home Port
This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.