Although it scarcely seems possible that so much time has passed, this autumn is the 5th anniversary of the withdrawal of the Canadian Pacific Railway from the Great Lakes passenger trade. Yes, it has been five whole years since you could make the relaxing trip from Georgian Bay to the Canadian Lakehead on the "Great White Twins." For this reason, it seems appropriate that we should kick off Volume III with the history of one of the early units of the C.P.R. lake fleet.
The year 1873 saw the completion, at the Kelvinhaugh, Glasgow, yard of the shipbuilding firm of Aitken and Mansell, of the iron-hulled, twin screw freighter NORTH. This steamer, 240 feet in length, 35 in the beam and 13 in depth, was immediately placed in the South American cattle trade, operating between England and the River Plate. In 1878, she was chartered to make a special trip from Brazil to South Africa with a rather unusual cargo - 700 mules. NORTH arrived at her destination with no difficulties, but subsequent to her arrival, the Supercargo disappeared and with him a large sum of money. The ship was seized and ordered sold to pay off the debt.
In 1881, NORTH was purchased by the Canada Lake Superior Transit Company which had been founded about 1878 by Messrs. Smith & Keightley of Toronto. She was brought to Canada, cut in two sections for the passage upbound through the canals and finally arrived at Collingwood on November 14th, 1881. Over the winter of 1881-2, the steamer was fitted with her passenger cabins and she appeared the next season as an almost-typical combination passenger and 'tween-deck package freight carrier. One rather unusual aspect of her appearance was that her original centre island was retained so that the iron bulkheads continued up to the boat deck amidships and a short portion of the promenade deck was plated up flush with the hull. She was, of course, equipped with side ports for the handling of freight.
The steamer emerged from the transformation under the name CAMPANA and entered her owners' service between Georgian Bay ports and the American and Canadian Lakeheads to replace the small wooden propeller CITY OF WINNIPEG which had burned at Duluth on July 19, 1881, with the loss of three lives. Her first commander was Captain F. B. Anderson,
CAMPANA continued on this run until the tragic events of November 7th, 1885, the day that the last spike in the C.P.R. transcontinental line was driven at Craigellachie. That day saw the stranding of the railway's steel steamer ALGOMA, then in only her second year of service, on the rocks of Isle Royale in Lake Superior with the loss of 48 lives. ALGOMA was one of the C.P.R.'s original three sisterships built especially for the Owen Sound-Lakehead run and her loss left the company with insufficient tonnage to maintain the service. To replace their lost vessel, the railway chartered CAMPANA at the outset of the 1886 season and she operated for them until the appearance of ALGOMA's permanent replacement, the Owen Sound-built MANITOBA, in 1889.
Once the CAMPANA was released from the C.P.R. charter, the Canada Lake Superior Transit Company sold her to the North West Transportation Company of Sarnia, commonly known as the Beatty Line. This firm, incorporated in 1882, was one of the successors of the original partnership of James H. and William Beatty which was formed in 1865. It is interesting to note that, even while CAMPANA, was under charter to the C.P.R., she was operating under Beatty management, for Henry Beatty, a cousin of brothers James and William, had left the family organization in 1882 to manage the lake vessel operations of Canadian Pacific. North West Transportation, which operated in conjunction with the Grand Trunk Railway, ran CAMPANA on their Sarnia-Lakehead service opposite their UNITED EMPIRE of 1883 and, in 1890, the pair was joined by the newly-completed MONARCH. CAMPANA spent the summer of 1893 on the run to the Chicago World's Fair.
The vessel ended her Great Lakes service in 1895 when she was sold to the Quebec Steamship Company. Once again CAMPANA was cut in two sections in order to clear the canals on the outbound trip and the bow and stern were rejoined at Montreal. The steamer entered the service of her owners between Montreal and Pictou, Nova Scotia, and remained in this trade until June 17th, 1909, when she stranded on Wye Rock, located on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River below Quebec City, The ship broke apart, allegedly at the same place where she had been rejoined after her last canal passage, and became a total loss.
And so CAMPANA, always an odd ship during her years on the Great lakes, had returned to the salt water for which she had been built, and ended her days there. In the meantime, she had played a large part in the opening of the Ontario Northwest and had won a place in the memories of many Canadians who had crossed Lakes Huron and Superior in her.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.