"NAVIGATION OPEN.--There is a good deal of activity among the vessels now in our harbor. Refitting, painting, and repairing are to be seen on all sides, and several have already arrived here from other ports, and three or four cleared to-day and last night. One, the Mary Grover, has arrived from here at Oswego, laden with wheat. Others are spreading sail and soon the whole fleet will be in motion for the season as usual A steam tug has been employed over near the Island all day removing some obstructions in the new channel between the Island and the eastern peninsula."
"ROYAL MAIL LINE.--The steamer Grecian, of the Royal Mail Line, makes a trip on Tuesday to Toronto, with a load of barrack stores, from the Military Stores' Department at Kingston. She will be the first of the line to make a start. It is not expected that the line will commence running until a few days before the 1st of May, by which time the new steamer Spartan will be ready to take her place."
The schooner Eureka, having been placed at the disposal of the Volunteer Naval Brigade at Toronto, she was taken out by them under the command of Captain McMaster for the first time on April 14th. The Toronto Globe, speaking of the brigade, says they were well drilled, and doubtless at the call of duty would be " ready, aye ready."
were at this time in course of construction for the American Government service on Lake Ontario. They were built at Williamsburgh and at Baltimore. Owing to the great amount of smuggling that had been going on throughout the War of Secession this course was absolutely necessary.
The Rochester was on her old route from Cobourg to Rochester; the Silver Spray, between Toronto and Port Dalhousie, while the American Express Line had their three steamers, the Ontario, Bay State and Cataract plying as in 1863-64.
The new steamer Spartan, of the Royal Mail Line, arrived in Toronto for the first time on May 24th. The Globe of the following day thus describes her: " The splendid new steamer Spartan was in our harbour today and yesterday, and was visited by a large number of our citizens. She is really a most beautiful vessel, fitted up in cabin and saloon in the most gorgeous manner, with all the elegant finish of the tasteful artisan. Her machinery is of the most powerful and perfect kind, without the appendage of the ugly walking beam so frequent on our lakes. She was built on the Clyde and brought out in sections and put together in Montreal."Trade on the lakes throughout 1865 appears to have been at a very low ebb. Week after week, from the opening of navigation, the same complaint of dulness arose. On June 20th the Globe writes despondingly: " In marine affairs we have been waiting to chronicle some activity, but must again revert to the same old report of dulness that we gave some time ago." The paper then, after a few general remarks, expresses the hope that this state of inactivity will soon be dispelled, and somewhat more cheerfully winds up its otherwise most lugubrious comments by saying that it hears: " The new steamer Corinthian is expected up soon. She is said to be a marvel of beauty and one of the finest of the many beautiful boats which adorn our lake shipping."
Only two days later, on June 22nd, the Globe returns to the subject and states emphatically " the business of the lake will not pay the large number of vessels in want of employment this season." This time the Globe has no consolatory remarks to offer.
The steamer Bay of Quinte broke her shaft about June 24th, and was towed from "The Bay" to Kingston for repairs. During her temporary absence from her route her owner, Mr. Gildersleeve, chartered the R. M. steamer Banshee to supply her place.
A new sailing vessel, known as the Jacques de Molay, arrived in Toronto, under command of Captain D. M. Tucker, on July 25th. She was described at the time as being one of the finest vessels that had ever entered Toronto harbor. She was 148 feet long and was of 600 tons burthen. She was built at Liverpool by her owners, Messrs. Nyrian & Purdow, of that city, and was the first of the Templar line of packets to run from Liverpool to the north-western lakes.
sometime running between Toronto and the Island: "The miniature little steamer, the Ripple, with her jaunty rig and obliging boy captain, runs half-hourly between the city and the Island, and is well patronized by our citizens and the young folks desirous of enjoying a sail."
On August 22nd John Walsh, captain of the steam ferry boat Princess of Wales, advertises that his steamer will leave Tinning's wharf, Toronto, for the Island, every day at. noon, and every half hour afterwards throughout the day until 7 p.m.
The Spartan, of the R. M. Line, met with a very serious accident by running aground in the St. Lawrence, near Caughnawaga, on August 27. Fortunately no lives ware lost. The vessel was eventually repaired and resumed her usual route
The propeller Brockville, belonging to Chaffey & Co , of Kingston, and trading from Montreal to Toronto and Milwaukee, was wrecked on November 8th at Big Point, Sable Lake, Michigan. Two lives were lost, besides 2,400 barrels of flour. Fortunately for her owners the vessel was fully insured.
For some years the steam communication between Collingwood and the Sault Ste. Marie was limited to one boat a week, and although the service as performed by the Algoma in 1864 and '65 was punctually and efficiently done, business sufficiently developed itself to justify additional provisions.
In 1866 the Northern Railway Company completed arrangements securing a double service during that season--steamers leaving Collingwood for the Sault twice a week instead of only once. The second steamer was known as the Wolverine, and her route was the same as that of the Algoma.
Owing to an unusually protracted winter, the various ports on the lake were not free from ice as early as was generally the case. Navigation opened nearly a fortnight later than usual, the City of Toronto not resuming her trips until quite the middle of April.
The Montreal passenger line consisted of the steamers Spartan, Grecian, Kingston, Passport, Magnet, Champion and Banshee. Their commanding officers were Captains Howard, Hamilton, Dunlop, Kelly, Fairgrieve, Sinclair and Farrell.
The American boats ran the same as in 1865, leaving Toronto in the morning for Lewiston; from thence to Ogdensburgh, where they connected with the boats for Montreal. Of the freight steamers Jacques, Tracy & Co.'s line was the same as in 1864 and 1865. Among new freight vessels the Bristol was under the management of Chaffey & Co. The steamers Perseverance and Enterprise, the property of the Welland Railway, ran between Port Dalhousie, Oswego and Kingston. The Whitby, belonging to Messrs. Henderson & Co., ran between Montreal and Toronto and Hamilton and vice versa.
On April 18th was launched at St. Catharines the new propeller City of London, intended to run from Port Stanley to Montreal. The vessel was named by Miss Taylor, of London, and the launch was declared one of the most successful that had ever occurred in St. Catharines.
The extreme length of the vessel over all was 145 feet, beam 26 feet 8 inches, with 11 feet 6 inches depth of hold, and 450 tons measurement. The St. Catharines Journal. in a highly flattering notice of this steamer, concludes its remarks thus: " There is excellent accommodation for steerage as well as cabin passengers, so that the wants and purses of all classes can be accommodated. The City will be commanded by Captain Pollock, a safe and reliable and skilful man, and having a large interest in the craft himself, he will spare no pains to do everything in his power to secure the comfort and safety of passengers under his care."
On April 13th, under the heading " Princess of Wales Steamer," the Toronto Leader has this notice: " The undersigned takes this opportunity of returning thanks to the citizens of Toronto for the very liberal support he received last summer in running to the Island, and respectfully intimates that he will resume his usual trips on or about the 10th May.
Messrs. Chaffey & Co. advertised on April 23 that "The A 1 propeller Merritt will leave Toronto for Halifax on Saturday, the 28th inst. For freight apply to E. Chaffey & Co , Bank of Toronto Buildings, Wellington street, Toronto."
The Emily May made her first trip for the season of 1866 on Lake Simcoe on May 14. She left Bell Ewart for Orillia every morning on the arrival of the mail train from Toronto, " calling at all points of interest," at least so advertised her master, Isaac May.
Not until April 28th was there much activity on the lake. On that date the Leader of Toronto published this paragraph: -- " The lake steamers have begun to move. The steamer Reindeer and propeller Brantford arrived here from Kingston to-day. The propeller St. Lawrence is expected up to-night or on Sunday morning. The propeller Indian left St. Catharines to-day for Hamilton to load peas and flour for Montreal. The Huron and the Ottawa are expected up on Tuesday, May 1st."
On May 1st the London (England) correspondent of the Chicago Tribune writes thus to his paper: " The frigates Liffey, (20,) and Galatea, (26;) the corvettes Jason, (21,) and Satellite, (21;) the sloop Petrel, (21,) and the gunboat Rainbow, have received orders to prepare for sea with the utmost despatch. Their destination is said to be the Gulf and River St. Lawrence, where their presence may be necessary in view of the complications that are likely to grow out of the lapse of the reciprocity treaty and the fisheries question."
On April 28th another fine vessel was launched from Shickluna's shipyard, St. Catharines, making the total number of twenty-six schooners and steamers built there in five years. This vessel was a fine piece of naval architecture, measuring 143 feet over all, 26 feet beam, 11 feet hold and 460 tons burthen. She received the name of "Bessie Barwick," (alliteration here "lent its artful aid") out of compliment to the daughter of Mr. J. H. Barwick, agent for the Bank of Upper Canada at St. Catharines. Captain William Carridice had command of the new vessel.
Not until May 6th was the river clear of ice in the vicinity of Lewiston. On that day Captain Milloy, of the City of Toronto, reported that he had been able to pass down without obstruction from this cause.On May 22 a new vessel of 120 tons burthen was launched at Toronto at the Rolling Mills wharf. Her length was 80 feet, depth 6 feet, and breadth 20 feet. She only drew about 18 inches of water; was scow-built, and wire instead of rope-rigged. She was intended to ply from Toronto to ports on the opposite side of the lake. She was owned by Captain Woodhouse, who also commanded her, and her cost was $2,500.
"Island Ferry. Steamer Bouquet. Season tickets for sale at the following places: Messrs. W. & J. Strachan, Front street; Saulter's wood yard; Church street wharf; R. W. Parkinson, Esq., corner of Yonge and King streets, and from the captain on board. Toronto, June 1, 1866. JAMES SAULTER, Master."
Early on the morning of June 1st the City of Toronto left her moorings for Port Colborne, having on board the "Queen's Own" of Toronto, who were suddenly called to arms for the purpose of defending the province against a raid made upon it from United States territory by the Fenian desperadoes.
On June 5th one hundred and twenty sailors from H. M. S. Aurora arrived in Toronto by Grand Trunk Railway from Quebec. A portion of them took possession of the steamer Magnet, which, by order of the Government, was being fitted up as an armed cruiser. The rest of them went on for duty at Windsor. On the following day those of their comrades who had at first joined the Magnet were also ordered to Windsor, a report that a Fenian raid was there anticipated from Chicago being the cause of this change.
During the Fenian troubles of 1866 the naval brigade (volunteer) was formed, as has been mentioned, for service on the lakes, under Captain McMaster. When the actual invasion took place they were at once called out for active duty and loyally responded to the call. After the excitement caused by the invasion had subsided, the following letter from the Major-General commanding the troops was received by Captain McMaster:
SIR,--I am directed by Major-General Napier, C. B., commanding H. M. forces and volunteers in Canada West to express to you his thanks for the efficient services rendered by the naval brigade under your command, particularly recently, when required to take charge of and convert the steamer Rescue into a gunboat, -in discharging her cargo and getting the necessary armament on board in a very short time and in a highly creditable manner, and when relieved from the charge of the Rescue in performing similar good services when placed in charge of the steamer Magnet. And the Major-General will not fail to avail himself of the services of the naval brigade afloat should an opportunity occur, and will have great pleasure in bringing before the notice of His Excellency the Governor General the important and valuable services which they have rendered.
This is certainly very pleasing, but it is, to say the least of it, somewhat embarrassing to be told, as the Toronto Leader of July 20th tells its readers, under the heading "Naval Brigade," "that this body of well-drilled young men are now disbanded. Ill-usage on the part of the Government is given as the cause." It is to be feared the Naval Brigade expected too much.
The gunboat Heron, intended for service on Lake Ontario, arrived here (Toronto) yesterday. She is a trim little craft and carries two 112 lb. Armstrong guns The Heron left at 11 a. m. for Port Dalhousie, and was saluted by the guns at the artillery barracks."
At this time the Government had ready for river and lake service the gunboats Britomart, Cherub, Rescue, Michigan, St. Andrew, Royal and Heron, all heavily armed and manned by sailors from the Royal Navy.
"This fine steamer made her first trip yesterday, between this city and Hamilton. Previous to starting for the "Ambitious city" a trial trip was made in order to satisfy the Government Inspector that her machinery was all right.
"Capt. De Horsey, of the Royal Navy and a number of other gentlemen were on board, all of whom spoke in the highest terms of the vessel. She will, during the remainder of the season, run between Toronto and Hamilton, and no doubt become popular before long. The low fare and her superior accommodations will insure her a large share of public patronage."
After this she was re-built, brought to Toronto and called the Southern Belle. On August 17th, 1875, while coming up the lake she ran on the boiler of the Monarch, which lies outside the Island, and was wrecked. She was restored and again ran from Toronto to Hamilton.
A rather serious accident occurred to the City of Toronto while on her passage on August 9th from Niagara to Toronto. She had a head wind and heavy sea to contend with, and in her endeavor to surmount the difficulties that beset her path, she broke her shaft and reached Toronto in a disabled condition. She was off her route for exactly a fortnight, her place being taken in the meantime by the Osprey.
This steamer had been built in 1864 at Sorel; was a side-wheeled, upper-cabin vessel, her dimensions being 175 x 45 x 11 feet 6 inches. She contained the machinery of the famous Jenny Lind, well known in her time as one of the fastest steamers on the lakes.
The Osprey was built at the time of the American War of Secession, and was intended to be used as an armed cruiser, but no sale could be effected for that purpose, so her owner brought her back to the St. Lawrence, when she was chartered by Capt. Frank Patterson for two years and ran from Hamilton to Montreal.
In 1867 she was purchased by AEneas Mackay for the purpose of trading to Halifax. One trip was made, but it turned out most unprofitable and was never repeated. She then ran from Hamilton to Montreal until 1875 or 1876 with variable success, then laid up for two years and in the end perished by fire. Capt. Daniel Taylor commanded her for many years.
On August 28th a supper was held in Toronto at which complimentary addresses were presented to Captain McMaster and Lieutenant McGregor, of the late Volunteer Naval Brigade. At the game time an epergne in frosted silver and glass was presented to the former gentleman and a "Henry" rifle to the latter.
On September 6th there was launched at Oakville a sailing vessel known as the "Smith and Post," described by the Marine Inspector as being "one of the finest vessels on the lakes." She was of 300 tons burthen, her length, breadth and depth of hold being respectively 118, 26 and 9 feet 6 inches. Her builder was John Potter, of Oakville, and her owners were Captain William Wilson of the same place, who also commanded her, and Thomson Smith, of Toronto.
The Senator subsequently sold her to Captain William Hall, who used her for towing rafts on the lake from Toronto to Prescott. Shortly after Hall purchased the steamer he added another deck to her and changed the position of the wheel house.
The Robb was used during the Fenian troubles to convey troops from one part of the frontier to another. This was before she came under Captain Hall's management and control. Finally the Robb was stranded at Victoria Park, and there remains (1894).
During November storms swept over the province, and one of the worst occurred on November 13th, when the Caspian schooner was lost and many other vessels belonging to Hamilton, Toronto, Port Hope and Kingston were either dismasted or seriously damaged. The loss of life was not so great as might hare been expected. Two men were lost with the Caspian.
The steamers of the self-styled Royal Mail Line had been remarkably free from accident all through the season, as indeed bad all the steamers on the lake. Nevertheless, owing to the Fenian raid the English gunboats on the lakes and other causes, the season of 1866 had been one of the most memorable in the records of inland navigation since 1837. It closed quietly enough, though there were not a few who feared that the following year would see fresh cause for anxiety. Fortunately these gloomy anticipations were never realized.
The first composite steamer built upon the lakes was constructed in 1866 in Hamilton, and was named Acadia. She measured 140x 40x12 feet, and had through her peculiar build very great carrying capacity.
In 1882 forty feet was added to her length, and she became a general trader on the lakes. For the most of her time she has been commanded by captains of the name of Malcolmson and has been very profitable to her owners. She is now (1894) the property of the Mackay's of Hamilton, and runs from Toronto to Montreal.
THE GUNBOATS,--The gunboat Hercules, which has wintered in Navy Bay, moored to the dockyard wharf, alongside the gunboat Royal, is being fitted out by her crew of seamen from the Royal Navy for the opening of navigation, when she will be stationed either off Kingston or Prescott. During the winter she was well repaired, having received new paddle boxes, &c. She cannot be expected to be able to move from her present quarters for two weeks at least to come. The Royal, which was stationed last summer off Cornwall, is not being fitted out this year as a gunboat, the Government having no further requirement for her on the naval service. She has been handed over to her proper owners, and will leave for Montreal as soon as it is possible to pass through the canals. The Hercules is now the only Canadian gunboat stationed below the Welland Canal, but the Imperial gunboat Heron will constantly cruise between the upper end of the lake and Prescott.
The following were the officers in charge of the English gunboats: Heron, Lieutenant Solly;Britomart, Lieutenant Allington; Cherub, Lieutenant Huntley. The Provincial gunboats were manned from the Aurora, as follows: Prince Alfred, Lieutenant Douglass, 3 officers, 1 surgeon, 2 engineers and 64 men. Rescue, Lieut. Fairlie, 2 officers, 2 engineers and 48 men. Hercules, Lieut. Hooper, 2 officers, 1 surgeon, 2 engineers and 50 men.
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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.