Before navigation opened in 1882, very early in the season, a deputation from Toronto waited on Sir Hector Langevin in Ottawa, on March 25th, for the purpose of drawing the Ministers attention to the damage done to the Island opposite that city by the ravages of storms which had a short time previously taken place.
This deputation, consisting of Messrs. Platt,Hay,Ginley,William Gooderham and Erastus Wiman, pointed out the peril in which this important section was placed, and naturally desired to know what were the Government's intentions in the matter.
Sir Hector informed them that the Government had only just received the report of Captain Eads, the celebrated engineer, but that the matter should receive most careful consideration, as the Ministry were fully alive to the exigencies of the situation.
On March 30th the Toronto Mail has this laconic, but emphatic, paragraph:--" There will be trouble on this bay if a tug is not soon in commission. Vessels were detained two days for want of one. What's the matter, Frank?"
"At half-past four yesterday afternoon Mr. John Clendinning's new Island ferry-boat was successfully launched from the stocks, foot of Berkeley street. Although the afternoon was cold and disagreeable a number of ladies put in an appearance to witness the launch. A bottle of wine was placed in the hands of little Georgie Westman, a grandson of Mr. George Williams, the Esplanade constable, who, breaking it ever her bow, christened her " Canada." Mr. George Cleak, the builder, then gave the word to cut the lines, and away she slipped broadside on into her future home with a Union Jack flying from each rudder-post, while a cheer went up from the spectators present."
Among the various steamers plying on Toronto bay at this time were the Luella, Jean Baptiste and Prowett Beyer, under Mr. Turner's management. Of these the first is in 1893 the property of the Toronto Ferry Company, the second has become the Sadie, and belongs to the same company. The third steamer, built in Buffalo, and called after a citizen residing there, was disposed of some years since, and is not now upon the lakes. Another steamer, which was also on the bay until about 1884, was the Geneva. She has been sold to the United States. The Queen City, as is told elsewhere, became the Ongiara, and is on the Niagara river. The Mascotte was purchased by the Toronto Ferry Company, and the Imperial has gone to the upper lakes.
Among the steamers controlled by A. J. Tymon since 1882 have been the Arlington, Jessie McEdwards,Kathleen. Gertrude and Island Queen, all of which were purchased by the Toronto Ferry Company, and were described in another place. Besides these there were from 1883 to 1885 running from Toronto to Victoria Park the Ontario and Gipsy. The former of these was burnt and the latter is now in Kingston. The Mazeppa, built by Melancthon Simpson at Toronto in 1884, after running on the bay and also between Toronto and Lorne Park, became one of the steamers belonging to the Hamilton Steamboat Company, and now runs on Burlington Bay. The Annie Craig ran for some time until 1885 season excursions from Toronto to the Humber.
At the semi-centennial celebration of Toronto's incorporation on June 30th a tableau called " Naming the Harbor" was exhibited. This tableau represented the naming of Toronto harbour, and measured thirty-five feet by nine. Half the car was taken up by a sand bank, surmounted by a stockade shown in profile; the whole affair was made of canvas, but painted to represent the different objects to be called to mind. The logs were pointed, and stood about six feet high. On the sand bank outside the palisades was left a narrow platform along which, with measured steps and slow, guards were pacing. Inside the stockade was a small log house, constructed of canvas, and in front of the stockade, one on either side, were a couple of cannon. From the sand bank there was a deep descent into the other half of the car, which was covered with canvas painted to represent water. About the centre a boat was let in, as if sunk to the proper depth in water. Standing in the boat was an officer holding aloft the Union Jack, and giving to Toronto harbour the name it has ever since so proudly borne.
On August 3rd, 1885, one of the most disastrous fires that ever occurred in Torontobroke out about one o'clock in the morning. Practically the whole of the shipping and boat-houses on the Esplanade, from Scott to Princess street, were injured or destroyed, the total damage being estimated at more than $300,000. So fierce and lurid were the flames that in describing the scene a local newspaper of the time says:-- " The whole Island was lighted up so effectively by the blaze that the small print of a newspaper could have been read without difficulty at any point between Hanlan's and the Wiman Baths."
Among the vessels injured or totally destroyed were the Mazeppa--afterwards rebuilt--the Annie Craig, Ontario and Theresa, formerly the West. These last three were totally destroyed. The schooner Annie Mulvey, the yachts Minden,Veronica,Sprite and Maple Leaf also fell victims to the flames. The schooners Mary Ann and Madeline were very badly injured.
Among other steamers was the Garnet, running from Toronto to Victoria Park; the Hastings which made excursions to various points on the lake from Toronto, as the Rupert also did. The first of these vessels went from Toronto to Kingston, and in 1890 disappeared. The second is now running on the river at Quebec.
In the early summer of 1883 a sailing race for canoes and skiffs came off in Toronto harbor on May 24th, under the management of the Toronto Canoe Club. The course was around the Island, going out at the eastern gap, and returning by the western channel. The start was made off the Royal Canadian Yacht Club wharf, foot of Lorne street. The prizes were (l)a $20 aneroid barometer, the gift of Commodore Neilson; (2) a Waterbury watch; (3) a camp hammock; and (4) a hunting knife. The canoes were limited to 14 feet length by 33 inches beam; the skiffs were allowed 16 feet by 42 inches beam, and must be the property of, and sailed by, members of some regularly organized boat, yacht, or canoe club. Following are the entries and result of the race:--
The race was announced for 11 a.m., and the start was made by 11.10. The Boreas came out with a new 95-feet racing sail, and she showed is power by taking the lead at the start and keeping it all through. The boats started with a light north-westerly breeze, which died away, and they got pretty well bunched at the eastern gap. A breeze then sprang up from the south-westward. Mr. Dick's skiff, which had 200 pounds of ballast aboard, was making a good second to the Boreas, when the mast-step was carried away, and she had to retire from the race. The Isabel was third, but some of the gear came loose, and she had to luff up and lower sail till it was put right, enabling both the Princess and the Troad to pass her. She settled down to work again, and succeeded in overhauling them both and coming in second. The Boreas got home a long way ahead, and the others arrived in the order above noted, with not a great deal of space between them, after getting in the doldrums for several minutes off the Union Station. Everything went off well, and the occasion was a very pleasant one.
As Mr. Neilson did not wish to carry off a prize that he himself had offered, he handed the barometer to the Isabel, and took the second prize instead. The race was also for the T. C. C. Challenge Cup, last held by the Isabel, which passed to the Boreas.
When the boating season opened in 1884 those who attended the spring races of the Argonaut Rowing Club on Saturday attar-noon, June 21, experienced a most delightful time. The weather was beautiful and the rowing was keen and exciting. The scene on the balcony was a brilliant one. The ladies were charmingly dressed and a number of the gentlemen were conspicuous by their boating costumes. On every side wen to be seen the pretty blue and white colors of the Argonauts.
The racing was well managed by the veteran president, Henry O'Brien, and the captain, Ollie Murphy, assisted by P. D. Ross, A. G. Thompson and James Hogg, the other three members of the senior four. Seven fours turned out, and six heats were rowed. The course was a straight half mile to the east, the finish being opposite) the club house From the balcony and roof there was a clear view of the course. No time was kept.
Second heat--White--R. Baldwin, bow; R. W. Y. Baldwin, 2: W. R. H. Moffatt, 3; A. D. Langmuir, stroke. Blue--J. H. Rogers, bow; A. H. O'Brien, 2; W. Langmuir, 3: L. H. Whittemore, stroke. Blue was the lucky color this time.
Third Heat--White--L. Davidson, bow; E. J. Bristol, 2; G. Dunstan, 3; H F. Wyatt, stroke. Blue--H. R. Boulton, bow; P. D. Hughes, 2; J. S. Bell, 3; A. D. McLean, stroke. Again the blues crossed the winning line first.
Victory once more crowned the cerulean colors. The Whites fouled McLaren's crew early in the race, but both boats straightened out and resumed. Nearing home the bow of the Blues shipped his oar, but this mishap was instantly righted, and the boat sped home to victory.
This was the last and deciding heat of the day and consequently more interest centered in it than in any of the preceding. Each crew had already rowed over the course twice, and they started for the third time with determination stamped upon their brows. But Whittemore's four lacked the staying power of McLaren's and they gave out, McLaren's winning easily, being loudly cheered as they rowed into the club house.
Among the freight steamers upon the lakes is the well-known vessel Rosedale, built in Sunderland, England, in 1888, by the Sunderland Shipbuilding Co., her owners being John H. G. Hagarty,Capt. Saml. Crangle and that well-known wharfinger, Mr. W. A. Geddes, of Toronto.
She was the first vessel to take a cargo through from Montreal to Chicago without trans-shipment. Her length was 180 feet, her width 35 feet and the very great depth of 24 ft, while her carrying capacity was 43,000 bushels. She was lengthened in 1891, an addition of 73 feet being made to her. She is now able to carry no less than 60,000 bushels and is employed in the grain trade between Duluth and Kingston, Capt. James Ewart being her master.
The steamer Ocean, running from Montreal to Hamilton, has been fully described in another portion of the Marine History; throughout the season of 1893 she carried great numbers of excursionists to the World's Fair, Chicago, from the Lower Province to Hamilton, where they completed their journey by rail.
Running from Collingwood, calling at Owen Sound from the Sault Ste. Marie, are in 1893 the steamers Atlantic, Baltic, Pacific and Northern Belle. The latter has been many years on this route. The former are all comparatively new vessels.
Among other notabilities who still survive are Captains James Dick, Thomas Harbottle and Sinclair. These all commanded steamers more than forty years since, and the latter remains in active service to the present time (1893).
In concluding this portion of the history of the Canadian Marine hearty acknowledgement of the assistance received by the loan of books, documents, etc, and in the giving of oral information, is tendered to Mr. R. Tinning, Mr. James Herson, Mr. W. A. Geddes and Mr. F. Armstrong, of Toronto. Also to Mr. A. Milloy, of Montreal, and to Mr. W. Helliwell, of Highland Creek, It is possible that things which some of our readers may deem important have been omitted, but if this is so it has been by accident and not by design.
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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.