Notwithstanding the troubled state of the province in 1838, the steamboat Sir F. B. Head, after undergoing extensive repairs, resumed her usual trips, leaving Peterborough for Claverton, Rice Lake, at 8 o'clock, a.m., and returning from the latter port at 12 noon, daily.
The owners of the Great Britain, Captain Whitney, in announcing the arrangements for the trips for that vessel for 1838, from Kingston round the lake to Oswego, assure their intending patrons that " the accommodations on board the Great Britain are not surpassed by any boat on Lake Ontario, the gentlemen's and ladies' cabins being fitted up entirely with roomy and airy staterooms, with two berths in each." None of the steamboat proprietors were at all modest in describing the excellences of their various vessels. It is sad to have to say that this good opinion was not shared so fully as it might have been by the public generally. Complaints about the incivility of servants, the bad quality of the meals, wines and spirits provided, were both loud and deep. though it was also pretty generally admitted that " things might be worse."
The Queen Victoria steamer has been mentioned as a vessel added to the lake fleet in 1837. She was commenced and it was the intention of Mr. Lockhart, her owner, to have her launched and running in that summer, but unavoidable delays arose, and it was not until April 3rd, 1838, that she was launched, nor until July 12 that her first trip was accomplished, under command of Captain Thomas Dick, from Niagara to Toronto and Hamilton, returning to the first mentioned place. The Queen Victoria was built at Niagara by Mr. Gilkison and was finally wrecked.
"The steamboat Experiment, Capt Dick, left this port yesterday for Niagara, where she is undergoing necessary repairs, and early in the spring she will renew her regular trips between Toronto and Hamilton."
A week or two later a change was made in the command of this steamer, as it is learned from the British Colonist, 22nd March, 1838, that "the steamer Experiment, Capt. Wheeler, will leave for Burlington Beach and Wellington Square on Friday morning, the 16th instant, at 8 o'clock. The Experiment will for the present, and until Burlington Bay opens, ply between Toronto and Burlington Beach and Wellington Square, leaving Toronto every morning (Sunday excepted) at eight o'clock, and returning from the Beach the same day at one o'clock p. m., calling at the intermediate ports."
Possibly owing to the disturbed state of both the Upper and Lower Provinces, there were no great changes in or additions to the lake steamers in 1838. A steamer which was known as the Gore, of 200 tons, was commenced at Niagara, and she afterwards plied between Rochester, Cobourg and Toronto. The Experiment, Commodore Barrie, Burlington, Britannia, Cobourg, William IV. and Transit all ran with the exceptions that have been mentioned, caused by the rebellion, as in 1837, and in the Bay of Quinte steamers there were no alterations. The Earl of Durham, who succeeded Sir Francis Bond Head as Governor, visited the Upper Province in July, arriving in Toronto on board the Cobourg on July 18th. The steamers Brockville and Kingston were now under command of Captains Brush and Lawless respectively, on their original route from Kingston to the head of the Long Sault. Captain Whitney relinquished command of the Great Britain at the end of this season and assumed that of the American steamer United States, which he held until his death, which occurred from typhus fever on October 12, 1841.
"DAILY CONVEYANCE--To AND FROM LEWISTON, QUEENSTON, NIAGARA AND TORONTO. --The new, splendid, and fast - sailing steamer, Queen Victoria, Thomas Dick, Commander, will, for the remainder of the season, ply daily between the above places, Sunday excepted, leaving Lewiston and Queenston every morning at eight o'clock and Niagara at half-past eight o'clock for Toronto. The boat will return each day from Toronto to Niagara, Queenston and Lewiston, leaving Toronto for these places at two o'clock p.m.
"Passengers by this boat will on Monday and Thursday arrive in Toronto in time for the William the Fourth steamer for Kingston and Prescott, and passengers from Toronto for Niagara will arrive in time there for the Rochester and Oswego steamers. On arrival at Lewiston railroad ears will leave for the Falls, and on arrival at Queenston stages will leave for the Falls, whence the passengers can proceed next day by the steamer Red Jacket from Chippawa to Buffalo, or by the railroad cars for Manchester.
"The Queen Victoria is fitted up in elegant style, and is offered to the public as a speedy and safe conveyance, having all the accommodation that passengers can desire, to whose comfort every attention will be paid.
"DUNDAS, HAMILTON AND TORONTO.--The steam packet Burlington, John Gordon, Master, will leave Windsor on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, at nine o'clock a. m. Leave Toronto on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, at eleven o'clock a.m., touching at Port Hamilton, Maitland's Wharf, B. B. Canal, Wellington Square, Oakville and Port Credit, on her way up and down.
"LAKE SIMCOE--STEAMBOAT NOTICE.-- The Peter Robinson will leave Holland Landing for the Narrows, via Barrie and Oro, every Monday and Friday, and via Georgina and Thoriah every Wednesday. On return to the Holland Landing will leave the Narrows every Tuesday and Saturday, via Thoriah and Georgina, and via Oro and Barrie every Thursday.
A dreadful steamboat disaster occurred on Lake Erie on June 16th. The George Washington, on her passage from Detroit to Buffalo, when about 33 miles from the latter city, was discovered to be on fire, and before she could be run ashore was entirely consumed, nearly the whole of her passengers perishing in the flames or being drowned. Over thirty persons perished. They were chiefly Americans.
The Hamilton, Captain Mills, ran during the season of 1838 between Kingston and River Trent, leaving former place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8 a.m., and the latter on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 2 p. m.
In 1839 the Commodore Barrie, Captain Patterson, commenced her regular trips on April 8th, leaving Kingston on Mondays and Thursdays at 6 p. m. and Toronto on Wednesdays and Saturdays at the same hour, touching at intermediate ports. On the Bay of Quinte the Kingston began her season's work on April 17th in connection with the Sir James Kempt between Kingston and the River Trent. The sailing arrangements were the same as those of the year previous for the Hamilton, which in this year had both her route and her captain changed. The Hamilton, Captain R. Gaskin, made four trips a week between Kingston and Oswego, leaving the first port every alternate day, beginning with Sunday at 9 a. m. and the latter on the intervening week days at 8 a. m. and on Sunday at 7 p. m. Another Bay of Quinte steamer, the Albion, of 200 tons, built at Brockville, was launched this year. She had as captain W. T. Johnson. She ran from Kingston to Belleville, and sailed from both places on the same day as her competitor, the Kingston, but at different hours.
The Great Britain, Captain Jacob Herchmer, resumed her regular route from Kingston to Niagara and Oswego, calling at all intermediate ports. Early in April the Commodore Barrie, William IV and St. George ran from Kingston to Toronto. The river steamers Dolphin and Brockville ran in connection with the vessels just mentioned between Kingston and Dickenson's Landing daily, Sundays excepted.
Later in the season the Hamilton, Captain Gaskin, again had the route changed. Instead of from Kingston to Oswego, in October she began to run and continued to do so for the remainder of the year between Rochester, Toronto, Port Hope and Hamilton.
The Transit and Queen Victoria, under the Richardsons, father and son, ran this season as usual from Toronto to Niagara. The famous Gildersleeve launched a new vessel of 250 tons in 1839, at Kingston, naming her after himself, Henry Gildersleeve. She commenced her regular trips in the fol-lowing season.
In 1840 another steamer appeared on Lake Simcoe, supplanting the Peter Robinson. She was known as the Simcoe, her managing owner being the same as that of the former vessel. She was thus advertised in the Toronto Patriot:
The two steamers in which Capt. Richardson had such an interest, namely, the Transit and Queen Victoria, were in this season commanded as in the one immediately preceding it. They were advertised to ply during 1840 as follows:--
Captain Dick, formerly commanding the Experiment and later the Victoria, was in this year in charge of the Gore, that vessel with the Britannia, Captain William Colclough, and the Burlington, Captain Robert Kerr, forming a line from Rochester and intermediate ports via Toronto and Hamilton to Niagara. It is worthy of note that steamboat advertisements are far more concise now-a-days than they were then. The following advertisement is copied from the Toronto Patriot;
WILL, until further notice, leave ROCHESTER, at Sunset, and the lower Landing at half past ten, every Monday, "Wednesday, and Friday Evening, for COBOURG; and will leave Cobourg for PORT HOPE and TORONTO, every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday Morning, at half past 5 o'clock.
Returning, the Gore will leave Toronto for Rochester, touching at Port Hope and Cobourg, every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday night at 9 o'clock; and will leave Port Hope at half past 1. and Cobourg at half past 5. every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning for Rochester.
Passengers from New York, by this route, for Cobourg, Port Hope and Toronto, [by leaving New York on Tuesday, Thursday, or Sunday morning, and taking the Railroad from Albany to Auburn], will reach Rochester in 36 hours--in time for the GORE--and will arrive at Toronto within 54 hours. Passengers from Toronto for New York will arrive at Rochester in time to take the Mail Stage for Auburn at half-past one p.m., or the Swiftsure line of Stages at six p.m., and arrive at New York within 55 hours.
Plies daily. (Sundays excepted,) between Toronto and Hamilton,--touching at the intermediate Ports,--in connection with the Gore; leaving Toronto at 8 A. M., and Hamilton at 2 P. M. and meets the steamer
at Hamilton about 12 at noon. The Burlington, having a new low-pressure engine, will leave Hamilton every afternoon (Sundays excepted), at 2 o'clock, for Niagara and Lewiston touching at Grimsby and Port Dalhousie, (near St. Catharines, from which place a carriage will meet the boat regularly,) and arrive at Lewiston in the evening.
N. B.--Luggage, parcels, and packages, at the risk of the owner, unless booked and paid for. The proprietor will in no case hold himself responsible for any loss of or damage to goods of any description, on board the above Steamers, occasioned by fire, the dangers of the navigation, the act of God, or the Queen's enemies.
On April 18th, 1840, a great fire took place at Kingston, which resulted in the entire destruction of the Ottawa and Rideau wharves, the steamer Cataraqui, the schooner Dora Nelson, besides an immense quantity of goods, including 10.000 barrels of flour, pork and potash. The Lake Ontario Steamboat office was also destroyed. The fire was supposed to have been caused by sparks from the tunnel of the American steamer Telegraph. An accident also happened to the steamer conveying the Governor General from Niagara to Toronto, in the middle of April. She got aground eight miles above the harbor, and His Excellency reached Toronto in a jolly boat after a row of eight miles. He left Toronto again for Kingston, on Friday, April 24th, on the steamer St. George. An advertisement appeared in the Toronto papers throughout June, as well as in those published at Rochester, of cheap excursions on July 4th, by the Gore steamer, for the benefit of pleasure seekers. This aroused the wrath of the notorious "Bill" Johnson, known to fame as the hero of the Sir Robert Peel incident, and he, not for the first time, issued a proclamation. It appeared undated in the very first days of the month, and read thus:--
Wm. Johnson. Commodore, etc.. Lake Ontario. Whereas, as public notice has appeared in a Rochester daily paper, that the British steamer Gore, Capt. Dick, of Toronto, W. C., offers to make two pleasure trips from the landing at Carthage on the 4th inst., the anniversary of American Independence, and whereas it is well known that Dick and the owners of this boat are violent British Tories and bitter enemies of American Democratic institutions, but in order to fleece American citizens and fill their coffers with half dollars at their expense, they pretend to aid in the celebration of a day they abhor and detest.
The inhabitants of Rochester are therefore warned " if they value life," not to patronize these excursions, and so avoid, not only "the danger to be apprehended, but the disgrace and dishonor of countenancing and patronizing a party who hate Democracy and who have exulted and triumphed in the burning of the Caroline and murder of American citizens."
Early in June about the 5th, just as the Great Britain was preparing to leave Oswego on her journey to the Canadian shore, a man brought on board a small box, containing three jars of gunpowder packed in wool, beneath which was concealed a lighted slow match. This box was placed with other baggage in front of the door of the ladies' cabin. A few minutes after the boat left the wharf the explosion took place which was not so destructive as had been intended, the injury being confined to the breaking of a few windows in the ladies' cabin and the blowing up of the skylight above. The boat put back immediately and the man who brought the box on board was arrested together with another man whom the former announced as the chief instigator to the diabolical attempt. This man was "Bill" Johnson's friend, Benjamin Lett, and he was at once transmitted to Auburn, N. Y., county jail, but owing either to extraordinary vigilance on his part, or want of it on the part of his custodians, he made his escape when about four miles from his destination.
The steamboat owners were very unfortunate in this summer, no fewer than three of their vessels being disabled in as many days. The Ontario broke her shaft in ascending the rapids from Dickenson's Landing. The Gore's machinery also broke down on her journey between Rochester and Cobourg, the Commodore Barrie assisting her into Port Hope. While disabled the Britannia was placed upon her route. The third accident occurred to the St. George which broke her shaft on July 8th when ten miles out from Oswego on her journey across the lake. The Britannia again enacted the part of the Good Samaritan, towing the St. George also into Port Hope.
WILL leave TORONTO for KINGSTON, on Tuesday Evening next at 9 o'clock; and will leave KINGSTON for TORONTO on Wednesday Evening, on the arrival of the steamer from Prescott. Cabin Passage, Two Dollars and, a half,
A great public meeting of the Canadian militia and others was held on Queenston Heights on July 30th, and this was the occasion for an imposing naval display. The meeting itself was convened for the purpose of raising funds to restore the monument erected to the memory of General Brock, the recent destruction of which had been attempted.
Four steamers left Toronto for Niagara at about half past seven in the morning: The Transit, Captain Richardson, decorated with evergreens, reminded one of "The Wood of Birnam," and Malcolm's direction,
seemed to have been fully observed; this moving grove was relieved by the bright standards of the National Societies, the colours of England, Scotland and Ireland producing, through the leafy screen, an effect as beautiful as impressive; The Queen Victoria, Captain Richardson, Jr., also decorated with flags, ensigns and streamers; The Gore, Captain Thomas Dick, bearing aloft a mighty Union Jack, left the city wharves, the Transit and Victoria leading by about three miles, the Gore following in their lee; The Traveller, Captain Sandom, R. N. waited at the Garrison wharf for His Excellency the Lieut. Governor, who with his Staff embarked as the Gore passed by; His Excellency being received by a guard of honor of the 32nd Regiment; the pair of Colors --bearing the word "Niagara" -- presented to the old Incorporated Militia of Upper Canada by His Most Gracious Majesty George the Fourth, then Prince Regent, were placed on board the Traveller, the fine band of the 34th Regiment being also on board.
After a delightful passage, the four vessels keeping in sight of each other. Fort George soon rose to view, and while approaching the month of the River Niagara, the passengers of each were gratified in seeing on the right two steamers bearing rapidly down, as if from Hamilton, while on the left a leviathan of the lake was pressing on to the place of assembling; on the arrival of each vessel at the wharves, which, with the adjacent banks, were peopled with a dense crowd, it was received by a lusty shout of welcome, and a thundering salute from a long eighteen-pounder, which, remarkably enough, had the day before been unearthed from its forgotten resting place, where it had remained buried since, perhaps, the battle of Queenston, and what then, as an engine of destruction, poured forth its iron bail against the enemies of the gallant Brock, now figured as the peaceful herald of the hero's friends.
When the grand procession passed Port Niagara (U.S.) scarcely a living being was to be seen. As the fleet moved upwards, the sight was animating in the extreme--eight fine vessels streaming with ensigns, the Royal Standard of England, in particular, flying at the mast head of the Traveller, all breasting together the cataract-fed current of the rushing river, the numbers of brave men on board of them, all united in one common noble purpose, and the martial strains which floated on the breeze, all contributed to the effect; the overhanging banks crowded with persons, some waiting to gaze as the vessels passed, others hastening onward to keep pace with them, adding to the beauty of the scene.
The skiff match for prizes of $20, $10 and $5 had five competitors. The winners were R. Renardson, J. Goodin and John Iredale. In the race for sailing boats under two tons nine were entered. A dispute arose as to the winner.
Two boats started for the four-oared match; prize a silver cup valued $60. They were the Sylph and Water Lily, and the former won by six lengths, time 28 minutes. The amateur skiff match was won by Mr. Angus Morrison. The prize was a silk ensign and silver cup.
The day was fine, and the Transit, under Captain Richardson's command, was at the service of hundreds of guests, to whom the ever hospitable sailor was a genial host. The band of the 32nd Regiment furnished the music.
THE stockholders of the Steam Boat Cobourg are hereby notified that the Committee have this day declared a dividend of two pounds Currency per Share, payable on or after the 12th Instant, at the office of W. L. Perrin, Esquire, Toronto.
Later in the month there was a serious accident to the steamer William the Fourth, while on her passage down the lake on Oct. 28th. This was caused by a heavy south sea breaking in the false sides of the ship and causing her to take in such large quantities of water thai serious mischief was threatened. To save her from sinking she was run aground in South Bay, where the mail bags, passengers and captain were transferred to the Malcolm, an American vessel, which had come alongside to render what assistance she could. The Malcolm then proceeded to Kingston, arriving there with her cargo and all on board the same night in safety.
There was much discontent all through the two provinces at this period with the postal arrangements, and the establishment of a mail line by steamer from Toronto to Kingston had been decided upon. In anticipation of this event the following advertisement was issued from Montreal: --
TENDERS will be received by the Deputy Post Master General, at the Post Office. Montreal, until Noon on Saturday, the 5th Dec. prox.,for the conveyance of Her Majesty's Mail, by STEAM-BOAT, between Dickenson's Landing and Toronto wharf, for a term of years, commencing with the navigation of 1841.
The conditions for the required engagement are described in a Notice, which may be had at the Post Offices of Montreal, Kingston. Cobourg and Toronto, and at the General Post Office, Quebec. Montreal, 4th Nov., 1840.
PUBLIC NOTICE is hereby given, that the Steam Boat COBOURG, with Engines. Furniture, &c, &c, as she now lies, will be sold by Auction (if not previously disposed of by private sale] on Monday, the 1st day of February next, at 12
THE new wharf and other premises recently erected at the foot of Graves street. The Wharf is well adapted for the shipment of Produce, Lumber. &c., being but for a short time during the winter season obstructed with ice.
Just as the year was closing it was announced by the Kingston Chronicle, of Dec 2nd, that "her Majesty's new steamer, Minos, recently built at Chippawa, has received her machinery, and proceeded up Lake Erie a few days since on her trial trip. She is very strongly built and goes at the rate of twelve miles an hour."
In 1841 there were yet more additions to the steam vessels on Lake Ontario besides those intended for the Royal Mail Line. The Frontenac, the second of the name, appeared on Lake Ontario, her route being from Toronto to Kingston. She was at first a sort of naval free lance, and caused much consternation to the proprietors of the other steamers on the lakes by the low rate at which she carried passengers. No record, though, exists that the travelling public were at all distressed at these proceedings on the part of her owners. On the contrary, they appear rather to have appreciated the unusually cheap fares. It is just barely possible that if similar competition were to ensue now between our two great railway companies, with a like result, their patrons would not add to their perplexities by complaints of being charged too little.
"OPENING OF NAVIGATION.--Early on Monday morning [this would be on April 5th] the well-known bell of the Gore drew all hands to the wharf, to greet the first arrival of the season--a most welcome event truly in the present state of the roads and after four months winter. The Gore takes her old route to and from Rochester and Toronto, calling at Cobourg and Port Hope on her way down for the present twice a week, viz., Mondays and Thursdays in the morning, and returning the following evenings. She is this year commanded by Capt. Kerr, a gentleman favourably known to the travelling public as late captain of the Burlington --Capt. Dick, who formerly sailed the Gore, having now charge of his own vessel, the Toronto ."
The Commodore Barrie, Captain Patterson, to quote her advertisement for the season, " plied between the following ports: -- Prescott, Kingston, Oswego, Wellington, Cobourg, Port Hope, Bond Head Harbor,Port Darlington, Whitby, Toronto, Hamilton, Niagara, Lewiston and Queenston."
The City of Toronto, of the R. M. Line, ran from Toronto to Niagara every Monday, leaving the former place at 8 a.m., and returning from the latter in the afternoon. The Britannia, Transit, Victoria, and St. George were also all fully employed during the 1841 season. They nearly all connected with the steamers of the R. M. Line.
The steamer Vulcan, Richard T. Johnson, appeared on the upper St. Lawrence between Kingston and Belleville in August, leaving the former place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and the latter on the alternate days. She is described by the Kingston Chronicle as being " a new boat, and a most desirable conveyance for passengers and freight."
The Cobourg has undergone a thorough repair during the last winter, and an improvement was made in her boilers which has considerably increased her speed; she is now not inferior to any boat on Lake Ontario, in point of safety, comfort and convenience, and it is well known to be one of the best sea boats on the Lake. As she will not be detained waiting for the mail, the above hours will be punctually attended to. Passengers with their baggage will please be on board before the time appointed for sailing.
In 1841 the new steamboat Prince Edward was built at Gardner [sic: Garden] Island for the Bay of Quinte route. She made her trial trip to Bath and back in three hours. " She is beautifully finished, but being rather crank in the water it will probably be necessary to give her false sides." So said one of the local papers.
On August 9th a terrible disaster occurred on Lake Erie, when the steamboat Erie, an American vessel, Captain T. J. Titus, was totally destroyed by fire and nearly two hundred people perished. Not a paper nor an article of any kind was saved. There were between thirty and forty cabin, passengers, of whom ten or twelve were ladies. In the steerage were one hundred and forty passengers, nearly all of whom were German or Swiss immigrants. It was a singular coincidence that the Erie was burned at almost the same spot where the Washington, also an American vessel, experienced a similar fate in June, 1838, a very little more than three years previously. It is not pleasant to have to record that instead of being the last to leave his ship, Captain Titus was one of the very first! Such conduct is happily as rare in the American mercantile marine as in the British.
The Kingston regatta took place under the patronage of Captain Sandom, R. N , on August 29th. Among the names of the stewards on the occasion are those of Henry Gildersleeve, Lieut. Harper, R.N., Samuel B. Harrison, and John Roy, all of whom were well-known men throughout the entire province.
The events were five, and consisted of:-- Sailing match, value $48: Six-oared race, $40; Four-oared race, $30; Skiff race, $20; and a skiff race, open to all comers, for two prizes of $16 and $10 each.
The Toronto Examiner of May 4th, 1842, reports the closing scene in her life thus briefly:--"We regret to learn that the steamer Commodore Barrie, plying between Kingston and Belleville, was run foul of by a schooner on Saturday night last, and sunk. The crew and passengers were all saved, but the vessel and cargo, (about 500 barrels of flour), will prove a total loss." The accident occurred nearly opposite Presqu'Isle, the Barrie colliding with the schooner Canada, going up the river."
The Kingston Herald also describes the accident, and adds with dignity:--"As the matter will probably undergo a judicial investigation we abstain from any comments on the facts. The night was cloudy."
There was at the time what a shipping notice of April 11 in that year describes as a " new line of steamers." They ran four times a week from Toronto and Hamilton to Rochester. They were the America, Captain Henry Twohy, and the Gore, Captain Robert Kerr. The former left Toronto, calling at Port Hope and Cobourg, at 9 o'clock every Sunday and Wednesday evenings, and Rochester every Tuesday and Saturday mornings also at 9 o'clock, calling at Cobourg and Port Hope. The Gore left Toronto on Tuesdays and Fridays at noon, and Rochester on Mondays and Thursdays at 9 a. m. These steamers also plied between Toronto and Hamilton. Parcels and luggage were, the notice is careful to add, " at the risk of the owners unless booked and paid for." Mr. E. S. Alport was the agent in Toronto. Later in the year, in August, the America and Gore made three trips a week instead of four, and called also at Bond Head, Darlington and Oshawa.
The Toronto Regatta, under the patronage of the Mayor, took place on September 5th. The presidents were Mr. Hugh Richardson and the Honorable J. Elmsley, R. N., and among the list of stewards are the names of Captains Steele, Stewart and Baldwin, all of the Royal Navy, also Captains Dick and Colclough, of the lake steamers. There was but one sailing match open to all boats built upon keels and under ten tons. There were seven other competitions, all rowing matches. The total amount of the prizes was only £77 10s currency, a little more than $200. There was little interest taken by the public in the proceedings.
The same steamers as in 1841 ran from Toronto to Niagara in connection with the mail line to Kingston. A steamer that for many years did good service on the lake was commenced this season at Niagara. She was of 400 tons burthen, was called the Chief Justice Robinson, was built by Captain Richardson, formerly of the Canada, and was for some time commanded by his son, Hugh Richardson, jr. Her bow was of peculiar construction, she having an enormous cutwater, not unlike a double furrowed plough. This was to enable her to cut through ice the more readily, and it to a very great extent accomplished its intended purpose. The Administrator, of equal tonnage with the Chief Justice, was built at or nearly the same time, and her route at first was the same as that of the latter. The Despatch, a small vessel of 200 tons, built, it is believed, at Hamilton, and running between that port and Toronto, Captain Edward Harrison, also made her first appearance in this year. The Welland, of 300 tons was also launched in 1842. She had various routes, but ran for many years, being finally burned in 1856. A steamer called the Lady of the Lake, which was afterwards changed into the Queen City, was launched in 1843, She was the property of the American Steamboat Company and her route was at first from Toronto to Niagara. She was looked upon as a crack vessel and great things were expected of her.
When the navigation opened in 1843 there was yet another new steamer known first as the Commerce, afterwards as the Eclipse, Captain James Sutherland. Her route was Hamilton and Toronto. All the Canadian steamers carried goods and passengers for the United States, in connection with a New York line of vessels plying between Oswego and New York, whose announcement of sailings for 1843 reads thus:--
THE Proprietors of this Line desire to inform the Public that their DAILY LINE OF LAKE BOATS will run between NEW YORK and OSWEGO, direct (without trans shipment at Albany or Troy), as heretofore, during the Season of 1843.
The agents of this line were: In Kingston, J. H. Greer; in Toronto, George Urquhart, who resided on Yonge street, and in Hamilton, Messrs. Gunn & Browne. The Gore, Admiral, America and Chief Justice all resumed their usual course in this season, the Transit and the Queen Victoria also, so that, considering the population of Upper Canada at this time, the means of transportation from place to place can not be deemed to have been inadequate. The Eclipse was one of the steamers that ran in connection with the Royal mail line, as also did the Chief Justice. It is somewhat amusing to note how very complacently the owners of the steamboats describe their various crafts. The advertisement issued respecting the sailings of the Eclipse just mentioned is a case in point. She is described as the
THIS new and fast sailing steamer will, until further notice, leave Hamilton for Toronto at 7 o'clock a.m., and returning, will leave Toronto at 3 o'clock p.m., touching at the intermediate ports. The above boat has been built expressly for this route, and offers superior accommodation to the travelling public.
The reason the Eclipse received that name instead of the Commerce was on account of the fact that on her trial trip from Niagara to Toronto she accomplished the distance in less time than the Lady of the Lake, then looked upon as the swiftest vessel. Her name was thereupon changed to Eclipse, she having " eclipsed" anything then upon the lake.
The Brockville, Captain Maxwell, was between Kingston and Dickinson's Landing; the Prince of Wales, Crysler, and Prince Edward, W. T. Johnson, were on the Bay of Quinte; the Union, still under Captain Burns, was on her old route, while in connection with the lake steamers the Pilot, Robert Gilpin, and the Bytown, Sugbred, left Kingston for Montreal every Tuesday and Thursday respectively.
From Kingston ran the steamer Pilot for Montreal direct, advertised thus;--This well known, favorite low pressure boat will resume her regular trips on the opening of navigation, leaving Kingston as usual every Tuesday at 2 p. m , and Montreal every Thursday at 6 p.m.
The owners beg to intimate that some improvement has been made in her boiler, by which they expect her speed will be very materially increased; also other improvements to the boat in general, thereby adding to her comfort and convenience. H. & S. Jones.
It was widely advertised that the new and fast sailing steam packet Prince Edward (Captain Bonter) "will commence running on the bay of Quinte on Monday next, and continue during the ensuing season as follows:--Will leave Belleville for Kingston every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening, at 6 o'clock, touching at the intermediate places on her way down.
"And will leave Greer's wharf, Kingston, for Belleville and the River Trent every Tuesday and Thursday evening, at six, and every Saturday evening at four, touching at the intermediate places. N.B.--Passages free for reverend gentlemen of all denominations. "
On April 14th a propeller, afterwards known as the London, containing an engine of 25 horse power, was launched at Cobourg. She was the property of Mr. Baker, of that town, and was intended for the carrying trade from there to Montreal.
The steamers Favorite, Britannia and Rob Roy, forwarding steamers under Captains Jones, Maxwell and Dickinson, received and forwarded goods, produce and passengers from Montreal to Kingston and vice versa, by the Rideau canal and River St. Lawrence. It goes without saying, that the agents for these steamers, both in Kingston and Montreal unite in describing them " as being all of the first class and fitted up in a style equal to any on the route." Such may have been the ease certainly, but it is somewhat disquieting to find travellers who tell a somewhat different tale. For instance Bonnycastle in his book of travels, referring to this period, makes loud complaints about the absence of comfort experienced and emphatically pronounces "the charge for wine shameful, seven shillings and sixpence a bottle and stuff of the most inferior quality." The charge may have been true but the gallant major should have remembered that he could hardly expect as much comfort on a river steamer as at the Royal Engineers' mess.
"Steamboat for sale at Kingston dock yard. To be sold by auction, at Kingston dock yard, on Tuesday, the 28th of the present month, Her Majesty's steam vessel Traveller, with her engines and boilers complete." The advertisement proceeds further to describe the steamer as "a fine, fast-going vessel of 352 tons, with a first-rate engine of 90 horse power, in perfect condition. She is now riding at the moorings in Navy Bay, off the dock yard, had a thorough caulking in August last, when she was housed over; her hold and decks have been well aired with heated stoves during the winter months. She may be examined, and also her machinery, every day previous to the sale, (Sundays excepted), within the working hours
"A deposit of 25 per cent, to be made at time of purchase, the remainder of the purchase money to be paid before the ship is removed, which is to be done within one month of the sale, at the sole expense and cost of the purchaser." Jas. Linton, Auctioneer.
WILL leave Buffalo every day for Chippawa and Port Robinson, at 9 o'clock a.m., and returning will leave Port Robinson at 12 o'clock noon, and the railroad dock, Chippawa, at 12 o'clock p.m., except on Sundays, when she will leave Buffalo at the same hour (or Chippawa only, and returning will leave Chippawa at 4 o'clock p.m.
By this route passengers leaving Buffalo at 9 o'clock a.m. will have an opportunity of viewing Navy Island, Niagara Falls and the splendid scenery of Niagara river, and arrive at Queenston in time (or the boats proceeding to Toronto, Oswego, Rochester, Kingston and Montreal. Returning will arrive in time (or the eastern cars and the boats going west on Lake Brie. Passengers leaving Toronto in the morning and taking the cars at Queenston and the Emerald at Chippawa 'will reach Buffalo before 5 o'clock in the afternoon. Cars also leave Queenston in the evening after the arrival of the steamer that leaves Toronto at 2 p.m.
The Admiral left Hamilton for Oswego every Tuesday and Saturday at 2 p.m. She called at Oakville, Port Credit, Toronto, and Port Hope both going and returning. The American and Gore were on the route between Toronto and Rochester.
During the latter end of 1843 was commenced at Kingston a vessel of 700 tons burthen which, when launched the following year, received the name of the Cherokee. She was built under the direct superintendence of Mr. Tucker, the naval constructor, sent out to Kingston from England by the Imperial Government. She was commanded by Captain Davis, R. N. Her chief officer was Lieutenant Riccalton, while Dr. Pierce was her surgeon. Her armament consisted of six and nine pounder guns, eighteen in all. She cruised between Kingston, Toronto, Hamilton and Niagara. On her trips from Kingston to Toronto and back again Captain Thomas Dick almost invariably piloted her. His fee for this service was five pounds each way, but he thought himself well compensated by the good time he had aboard with the officers, and he used to distribute his pilot fees among the men. After sailing about Lake Ontario for some years the Cherokee was taken to Halifax, and after being lightened up was sold to Captain Gaskin, who was assisted in bis purchase by E. M. Yenwood, late of Kingston, then connected with the Bank of Montreal. Captain Gaskin ran her as mail boat between Halifax and St. John's.
Another vessel named the Mohawk, also a gunboat, but of very much smaller dimensions, being only of 150 tons burden, was built at Kingston about the same time as the Cherokee. She cruised on Lakes Erie and Huron. Her first commander was Lieutenant Tyssen, R.N. He was succeeded by Lieutenant Herbert. The Mohawk was broken up in the early " fifties."
The next season the Eclipse, Captain Gordon, ran between Toronto and Wellington Square for part of the time, and for the latter portion of the year extended her journeys to Hamilton. The America continued her old route from Toronto to Rochester. The Queen Victoria, Admiral, Transit and Chief Justice ran in connection with each other, and also in connection with the R. M. steamers from Toronto to Niagara and the head of the lake. The Forester, a small steamer of about 250 tons, was launched in the spring of 1845, and made her trial trip on Rice Lake on April 15th. On the 16th of the following September she began under Captain L. L Weller to run regularly from Peterborough to Gore Landing.
There were no material alterations made either in the steamboats themselves or in their commanders for the season of 1846. The Despatch, previously mentioned, ran from Toronto to Hamilton, Captain Edward Harrison being her captain. But if there was little alteration in the vessels sailing from one port to the other, there was a very great deal of change in the fares, ruinous competition being the order of the day between the rival owners. The Toronto Globe of May 13th thus refers to the subject in an article headed
It thus writes:--" The high fares which the owners of steamboats in this province have levied on the public, and which we conceived it our duty to animadvert pointedly upon last year, are now producing their legitimate fruits. The glittering prize has produced strong competition between two classes of proprietors who have hitherto not disturbed each other. If the fares had continued reasonable, such as not to put narrow limits on the natural advantages this province enjoys for travelling, this might never have occurred. But unreasonably high fares have produced a revulsion to the other extremity. Captain Richardson reduced the fare to Kingston to $3, a fair price which might have satisfied the public, and afforded an ample remuneration to the proprietors, but the opposite party was not contented and now the passage, as we are informed, may be made for the ruinously low price of $1, and between Toronto and Hamilton for one shilling, or anything " The paper, after some general remarks on the subject, concludes its article by assuring the steamboat proprietors that any attempt to revert to the former high fares will only provoke new and more determined opposition, adding, in a somewhat lofty tone of patronage, " Captain Richardson's line,as far as we can learn, is best entitled to support."
A pleasure steamer, known as the Island Queen, Captain H. Ives, ran from Kingston to Wolfe Island, calling at Garden Island daily. She made four trips each way. Her season extended from May 1st to November 1st, on the Bay of Quinte.
A very important meeting, Mr. T. Gibbs Ridout presiding, was held at Toronto on December 28th, "for the purpose of establishing a line of freight propellers between Toronto and Oswego." Mr. George Brown, the well-known Canadian statesman, attended and spoke in support of the project. Mr. Brown also referred to the injury done to the country by the exorbitant steamboat fares which he said "shackled business, confined knowledge, and were felt as a grievous burthen by the whole of the community." The meeting came to an end after passing various resolutions relative to the water traffic.
Trade was exceedingly quiet and times dull when the season of 1847 opened, so it is not at all surprising to learn that there were great complaint from the owners of like and river steamers of the scarcity of passengers and the absence and smallness of freights. The steamers America, Admiral, Eclipse, Despatch and Chief Justice all were on their accustomed routes. In addition to these was a steamer called the Telegraph, Captain Mason, plying between Toronto and Hamilton.
The British Canadian, published at Toronto, August 14th, in the same year contains the following interesting notice: "Marriage. On August 6th, by the Reverend J. Barclay, M.A., at St. Andrew's church, Toronto, Captain T. Dick, steamer Chief Justice Robinson, to Joanna, only daughter of the late John Carfrae, Esquire."
This year was marked by the fearful mortality caused among the emigrants from the United Kingdom to the Canadas by typhus fever, or, as it was more generally called, emigrant fever. No record exists as to the number of those who died from its effects, but it is generally believed to have exceeded one thousand souls. Two new vessels, that afterwards became great popular favorites on the lakes, were launched in the early summer of 1847. They were the Passport and the Magnet. The first of these was the property of the Honorable John Hamilton. The Kingston Chronicle of June 12th remarks in a casual manner, as if new steamboats were as plentiful as blackberries, "We have heard that a trial trip has been made of the Hon. John Hamilton's new iron steamboat the Passport, and that she proves to be, as was anticipated, the fastest boat on these waters. ' The second of these vessels, the Magnet, was launched at Niagara. Mr. Gunn, of Hamilton, was a very large shareholder. He, in company with the president of the Hamilton Board of Trade and several of the merchants of that city, were present at her launch on July 3rd. The materials of which the Magnet was built were imported from England. The vessel was a great credit to the Niagara Dock Company, as well as to Captain Sutherland, under whose direction she was built. It goes without saying that the owners of the Magnet considered their vessel "the best on the continent," but they were, for Canadian steamboat owners of the day, fairly modest. They only advertised her at first as "the finest vessel on Lake Ontario."
These two steamers fulfilled, indeed more than fulfilled, all expectations indulged in concerning them by their owners. More than forty-six years later, in 1893, they are both still on the route from Toronto to Montreal, and are likely to long continue there.
An accident occurred to the Transit steamer, formerly owned by Captain Richardson, in July. While on a journey up the St. Lawrence she struck a sunken rock, which sunk her in shoal water. She was raised and towed down between barges to the Marine railway, Kingston, but the fastenings giving way as she lay near the wharf, she went down in deep water and became a total wreck.
A well-known sailing vessel, the Scotland, was built at Toronto and launched there in May of this year. Thomas Brunskill, of Toronto, was her owner, but she did not begin to make regular journeys until the following year. Navigation appears to have had an early start in 1848, as the Eclipse resumed her trips from Hamilton to Toronto on March 15th, All the other lake steamers began their journeys at the end of the same month or very early in the following April.
A correspondent of one of the Toronto newspapers, dating from Queenston, March 30th, 1848, relates: " This morning has witnessed an unprecedented spectacle, long to-be remembered in connection with the Falls. Suddenly the waterfall retired to a considerable extent towards the centre, so that the table rock was left dry sufficiently to en-able those who had the good fortune to be in the vicinity to go as far access the river above as to be directly over the tremendous fall. This feat was accomplished by ladies and others. Several bayonets, muskets, etc., were picked up. The water has since returned to nearly its usual level. The cause of the occurrence is attributed to the accumulation of ice at the ingress to the river from Lake Erie, doling for a time the inlet."
Of steamers on the upper St. Lawrence, running in connection with the Hamilton, Toronto and Kingston boats, the Empire, Captain Bonter, ran from the River Trent to Montreal and vice versa, all through the season, leaving Montreal on Mondays and the Bay of Quinte on Thursdays. The steamers British Empire and British Queen plied from Prescott to Montreal so long as the river was open for navigation.
An accident attended with the most lamentable loss of life occurred on Lake Erie early in May to the Commerce, a propeller plying on that lake. The following extract from a private letter written by a lady residing near Dunnville gives a very good account of the circumstances. It is dated Port Maitland, May 9th, 1848, and reads as follows:--
"I fear my letter will almost be too late, but this most melancholy accident on the lake has so occupied all our attention that 1 could not write before. You have probably seen full particulars of it in the papers, but as it occurred within two miles of us I will mention it again.
"The Despatch steamer, on her way to Buffalo, ran into the Commerce propeller, bound for Port Stanley with a detachment of the 23rd Regiment on board. She sank in fifteen minutes, and forty men, women and children were lost.
"The assistant surgeon had left a wife and child in Kingston He was lost. The other three officers were saved but lost everything they had. One of them said he had just drawn three months' pay in advance. Henry went to see them to-day. They were all taken on beard the Minos (the Government steamer). We just now saw them leaving in the Earl Cathcart The ensign (Sir Henry Chamberlain) and a few men are to remain here to attend to the melancholy duty of burying any of the poor fellows whose bodies may be washed on shore. They are bound for London. The regimental plate, wine, stores, etc., are all lost, and a very large sum of money. About seventy men are saved. The most of them were without clothes. They have been partly supplied from Dunnville and this neighborhood, and we all sent them all the bedding and blankets we could spare. A poor little fellow, son of the commissary in Montreal, was going up with them for a pleasure trip and he was lost. You may suppose it banished everything else from our minds."
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This electronic edition is based on the original in the collection of the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston.