The dawn of a new era in steam navigation was heralded by the landing in New York on the 23 November 1839 of John Ericsson, whose work in the development of the screw propeller, had brought that device to the stage of economic and mechanical feasibility. The St. Catharines Journal of 8 April 1840 reprinted a notice from the Montreal Gazette stating that Messrs. Sanderson and Murray would apply the Ericsson Propeller to four barges, then under construction for service on the Lachine,Ottawa River and Rideau Canals. It further mentioned that three of the engines were being built in New York, while the fourth was being manufactured in Montreal by Nelson Walker.
Late in 1840, the first of these vessels, the ERICSSON, was built at Brockville by William Parkyn and she measured 87.0 x 16.4 x 5.5. Her register stated that her owners were Tobin & Murison, of Montreal and George Sanderson, of Brockville.
Shipping on Lake Ontario was getting back to normal. The QUEEN VICTORIA,Capt. Hugh Richardson, was in service between Toronto,Queenston and Lewiston, while the BRITANNIA,Capt. Wm. Colcleugh, was on the Toronto to Hamilton run. The BURLINGTON,Capt. Robert Kerr, was operating from Hamilton to Niagara, with calls at Grimsby and Pt. Dalhousie. The GORE,Capt. Thomas Dick was in service between Toronto,Port Hope,Cobourg and the Genesee.
In Hamilton, a young Irishman by the name of Michael Willson Browne acquired two water lots from Jas. Hughson.Browne, born in 1816 at Limerick, had come to Upper Canada as a lad in 1828 and lived at Kingston where he learned the business of forwarding and wharfage. He was no doubt encouraged in this by his elder brother James, who was a successful wharfinger at Toronto for many years. Moving to Hamilton in 1836, Michael entered, into partnership with D. C. Gunn before setting up business on his own account. He was later joined by a younger brother, Edward.
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This volume is copyright The Estate of Ivan S. Brookes and is published with permission of the Estate. The originals are deposited in the Special Collections of the Hamilton Public Library.