The Hamilton Steamboat Company was founded in 1887 by several enterprising business men of that city with the view of developing both the freight and passenger traffic between the "Ambitious" and the "Queen" cities of the west.
Their first venture was on the most modest scale. They contented themselves by running a small steamer built by Simpson, of Toronto, known as the Mazeppa, from Hamilton to Burlington Beach. This steamer has been on the same route ever since, and is under command of Captain Lundy.
The Macassa is a steel vessel built on the Clyde in 1888 by Hamilton & Co., of Glasgow, and on her completion brought out here. Her engines are of 600 indicated horse power, and were made and supplied by Kemp, the well-known mechanical engineer of Glasgow.
She was brought out to this country by Captain Hardy, who commanded her for the first season she ran upon the lake. Since then, with a short interval, she has been under command of Captain William Zeeland, a grandson of one of the best known of the early commanders of lake vessels, Captain Edward Zeeland, whose name has repeatedly been mentioned in this history.
In her first season the Macassa proved a great success, not only financially, but also as a seaworthy and quick sailing vessel. Emboldened by this success her owners decided to bring out another vessel, and a larger one, and with this end in view the Modjeska was placed upon the stocks.
The first commanding officer of the Modjeska was Captain Malcolmson, who safely brought her across the Atlantic from the Old Country. He remained in command that season. Since then she has been under charge of Captain Adam Middleton Sharp,of Burlington.
The chief engineer for both the Macassa and Modjeska, and the man who had most to do with the selection of their powerful engines and machinery is Mr. James Smeaton, in whom the steamboat company's manager and directors deservedly place the most unreserved confidence. Mr. Smeaton, after serving his articles as engineer's pupil in England, was some years in the employ of the Allan line, being at the time he entered the service of the Hamilton Steamboat Company engineer on board the Norwegian.
He is a direct descendant of John Smeaton, the famous engineer who designed and built the Eddystone Lighthouse in the English Channel. Of this Smeaton it is recorded that he "for a large portion of his life was in constant attendance on Parliament, which in difficult or important engineering schemes invariably demanded, and almost always followed, his advice." Substitute "Hamilton Steamboat Company "for "Parliament" in that sentence and it is an apt description of John Smeaton's descendant, James Smeaton's, relation with his employers.
Mr. M. Leggatt is acting president of the Hamilton Steamboat Company, the president, Mr. T. B. Griffiths, having died in August (1893). Mr. J. B. Griffiths is the managing director, and Mr. Fergus Armstrong, assistant manager. Mr, G. T. Tuckett is the secretary and treasurer. The officers of the company are in Hamilton, with a branch in Toronto. At the present time (1893) each of the company's steamers make during the season two trips daily between Hamilton and Toronto, and vice versa, with the prospect, in the future, of more frequent journeys with an increased fleet of steamers.
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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.