Chapter 10
Better Times Ahead
Table of Contents

Title Page
1 A place called Hamilton.
2 Public Works and Private Enterprise
3 Port Hamilton
4 1837-1839
5 Ericsson Wheels
6 1844-1847
7 Good Times in Port
8 Boom Town Days
9 Depression Years
10 Better Times Ahead
11 1867-1870
12 Prosperity for the Shipbuilders
13 The Second Railway Building Era
14 1884-1888
15 The Electric Era
16 The Iron Age
Table of Illustrations


The first news of the 1863 season came from Brockville, where Messrs. George Chaffey & Brothers were busy in their shipyard. Repairs to the steamers BOSTON and WELLINGTON were almost completed and the propeller BRISTOL, built at this yard in 1862, had been floated off the marine railway. The new BROCKVILLE was ready for launching and the tugs ADVANCE,FOREST and PHOENIX were still undergoing repairs. This firm would operate 15 barges on the river this season.

From Kingston came word that Capt. Gaskin's fine barque BRITISH LION had been completed and was ready to load a cargo of ice to help keep Chicago's beer cool.

During the month of April advertisements for the various steamship companies began to appear. Jacques, Tracy & Co. would have the following steamers on the Hamilton to Montreal service: HURON,AVON,COLONIST,INDIAN,ST. LAWRENCE and OTTAWA. The Beaver Line advertised the BOWMANVILLE,MAGNET,WHITBY,RANGER,BOSTON,WELLINGTON,BRISTOL and BROCKVILLE. Their agent in Hamilton was John Proctor.

The Royal Mail Line listed the KINGSTON,Capt. Clark Hamilton,EMPRESS,Capt. Andrew Dunlop,PASSPORT,Capt. Thos. Harbottle,CHAMPION,Capt. J.R. Kelly and the BANSHEE,Capt. H. E. Swales.Edward Browne was the agent at Hamilton.

Capt. John Walsh advertised his ferry VICTORIA as plying between

"Hamilton and Port Flamboro".
She sailed from the Victoria Wharf, near the Railway Wharf, to Brown's Wharf(Aldershot), calling at Rock Bay. There would be six round trips per day. According to a notice published on the 6 June, she was calling at Oaklands instead of Brown's Wharf.

An interesting notice appeared in the Hamilton Spectator on 26 June, announcing that the steamer MAGNET would be sailing every Tuesday and Friday mornings from the Napoleon Wharf, in Quebec, to Cacouna,Riviere du Loup,Murray Bay,Tadoussac and up the Saguenay River to Ha Ha Bay, in connection with the steamers of the Richelieu Company.Capt. Thomas Howard was in command and passage could be booked in Hamilton at the Royal Mail Line office, where J. W. Murton was the agent.

The steamer HERO commenced service from the Great Western Ry. wharf to the Beach on the 14 July. Passengers were requested not to wander across the tracks on their way to the boat.

This woodcut shows the launch of the schooner Hercules atRobertson's Shipyard in 1863. The derrick at the right was onZealand's Wharf. Photo: Frank Woods
The schooner HERCULES was launched beside Zealand's Wharf, on the 5 August. This vessel was built by A. M. Robertson, for Capt. Edward Zealand, Jr. and measured 114 feet in length, 25'10" beam and 12 ft. in depth. She was sponsored by Mrs. Zealand and completion was expected to take about a month.

The steamer BOWMANVILLE left the Great Lakes on the 11 August, when she sailed for Havana,Cuba.George F. Wyatt, of Toronto, her managing owner, had sold her to Alonzo Jimenez, et al., of Havana. She had been built in 1854 at Portsmouth by George N. Ault and measured 176.1 x 27.3 x 10.0 with a gross tonnage of 759; net 521. She foundered at sea in 1861 while on a voyage to Havana.

The St. Catharines Post, on the 21 August reported: "The fine steamer ZIMMERMAN was destroyed by fire this morning, about 2 o'clock while lying at Lewiston, N.Y. The crew were aroused by the watchman, but by that time, the fire had a strong hold on the vessel and there was no hope of saving her. The watchman and the second mate were lost. She was owned by Capt. Milloy of Toronto, who had purchased her from the estate of Samuel Zimmerman and it was reported that he had her insured for only one quarter of her value.

A bad storm occurred on the Lake on the 23 September and the BANSHEE remained in Toronto. The propeller INDIAN, downbound from Hamilton to Montreal, went ashore near Presqu'ile and in Kingston, the American Line steamer CATARACT left her berth and headed into the islands for shelter.

While running the Coteau Rapids on the 28 September, the PASSPORT struck the rocks and had to be beached. Capt. Harbottle succeeded in getting all hands ashore as the stern of his command slowly settled into about 20 feet of water.

On the evening of Friday, 9 October, Capt. Edward Zealand's schooner ORION,Capt. Dingwall, was totally destroyed by fire while downbound in the Deep Cut, near Port Robinson. She had a cargo of oil from Sarnia to Hamilton.

On the 31 October, the Hamilton Spectator copied an article from the Montreal Herald without dating it, concerning the launching of the GRECIAN. It read as follows:

"A beautiful iron steamer was launched from the shipyard of Mr. A. Cantin in the most successful manner. The GRECIAN is built for the Canadian Inland Steam Navigation Co.John Livingston erected the iron hull, the plates for which were imported from the Clyde, The joiner work is under the superintendence of Mr. James Currie, the material being supplied by Mr. Shearer. The dimensions of the steamer are, length 183 ft., beam 27 ft., (44 ft. over the guards) and depth 10 feet. Her machinery was constructed by George Brush and will be placed aboard immediately. Her engine is a horizontal 45 x 120" and is rated at about 500 HP. The new steamer will be ready for the spring navigation and will be fitted out in a manner to promote the comfort of travellers and will be furnished in the elegant and luxurious style that characterizes the floating palaces of modern times."

A storm of considerable violence raged across Lake Ontario on 30 & 31 October and vented most of its fury in the Kingston area. The steamer CHAMPION left Toronto at 3 p.m. on Friday, 30th and did not reach Kingston until noon on Sunday, after a turbulent 21 hours. The Royal Mail steamer KINGSTON and the American Line steamer ONTARIO were both weather-bound in Kingston, while the WELLINGTON hid behind Presqu'ile and the BANSHEE got into South Bay. The schooner WEST WIND, anchored just above Anderson & Ford's Wharf in Kingston, was blown across the harbour and grounded on Point Frederick. She was rescued by the tug ADVANCE. The J. G. DESHLER of Cleveland, outward bound with grain for Liverpool, was towed into Garden Island by Calvin & Breck's tug WILLIAM, after losing an anchor and sustaining other storm damage.

The schooner JOHN RAE of Hamilton, stranded a little west of the Niagara River on the 3 November, in a very exposed position. All hands were safe.

The Hamilton Spectator copied the following account from the St. Catharines Journal, giving no date, as usual:

"The launch of the new propeller HER MAJESTY was one of the most successful affairs of the kind that has ever taken place under Mr. Shickluna's auspices. HER MAJESTY has a length of 181 feet, beam of 30 feet and depth of 12 ft. 4 inches. She has a tonnage of 670. She is to be propelled by a vertical low pressure engineg 26 x 26" and has two tubular boilers 7'6" in diameter. Steam pressure will be 70 p.s,i. The machinery is to be built by Davidson & Doran of Kingston and the designer is S. Risley of Toronto."

Winter sport on the Harbour in 1863. This view of the Point at the foot Bay St. shows H. L. Bastien's boathouse at the extreme right. To its left is the Smith's Grain Warehouse witha schooner frozen in in front of it. Grant's Sail Loft appears next. The schooner at the extreme left is wintering at the endof the high wharf extending out from Williamson's Grain Warehouse. Photo: Hamilton Public Library
The article deals at great length with the reception which took place at the Welland House and included many guests from Toronto, including the mayor of that city. This was the first propeller built on Lake Ontario, specially for the St. Lawrence River trade, so long promoted by H. B. Willson. The absence of Hamiltonians seems to indicate that little or no Hamilton money was forthcoming for this project.


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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.