Chapter 11
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 Canadian Inland Steam Navigation Company, formed in 1861, with three vessels, had, after seven years of prosperity, grown to a fleet of 13 steamers and had a capital of $2 million. At the shareholders' meeting in February 1868, a dividend of 20% was paid and the title of the company was shortened to

"Canadian Navigation Company"
. The officers and directors were: Hugh Allan, President, C. F. Gildersleeve, Vice-Pres., Andrew Allan,Robert Anderson,M. H. Gault,Wm. F. Kay and Edw. Browne, directors. Alex. Milloy, Sec.-Treas., and Senator John Hamilton, General Manager.

The appointments for the 1868 season were: SPARTAN,Capt. Thos. Howard,GRECIAN,Capt. J. R. Kelly,KINGSTON,Capt. P. Farrell,PASSPORT,Capt. D. Sinclair,MAGNET,Capt. J. Simpson,CORINTHIAN,Capt. A. Dunlop,CHAMPION,Capt. C. Carmichael,BANSHEE,Capt. M. W. Bailey,ONTARIO,Capt. Estes,BAY STATE,Capt. Morley,UNION,Capt. John B. Fairgrieve and CATARACT,Capt. Simpson. One other steamer, the LORD ELGIN is held in reserve.

On the 31 March. there was offered for sale by Public Auction, the schooner JOHN RAE, lying at Hamilton. The successful bidder was John Proctor.

By the end of March, the good old Spring enthusiasm was evident along the waterfront and the sidewheeler OSPREY, now owned by Aeneas MacKay and the ACADIA, owned by the Malcolmsons, were glistening with new paint. Great quantities of flour had been moved into the warehouses from mills in Paris,Galt,Dundas,Brantford and other southwestern towns. The stave and timber business looked. good and a large movement of cheese from Ancaster,Ingersoll,Woodstock and other places was expected. There seemed to be a spirit of hopefulness in the community.

Besides the OSPREY and the ACADIA, the winter fleet in Hamilton consisted of the INDIAN and OTTAWA of the Jacques, Tracy Line in addition to the following sailing vessels: GARIBALDI,A. D. MacKay,CAMBRIA,Malcolmsons,CHINA,D. McINNIS and SOUTHAMPTON,Edw. Browne,ORION,Edw. Zealand,UNION JACK,Wilson,JOHN RAE,Proctor,FLORENCE,John McGee,PERSIA,A. Macallum,NEW DOMINION,S. D. WOODRUFF,MALTA and G. C. WOODRUFF,Thos. Rae,MARCO POLO,Thos. Piper and PEERLESS, owned by Owen Roberts.

Navigation opened on Monday, 6 April with the departure of the schooner PERSIA,Capt. MacCallum for Toronto. The first arrival of the season was the schooner IONA,Capt. Partlow, from Toronto on the 8th and cleared for Port Nelson the following day. On the 9 April, the schooner CHINA,Capt. Woods, sailed for Kingston with a cargo of square timber.

A report on the traffic on the Desjardins Canal for the year 1867, lists the following commodities: Coal, 1,822 tons; Pig Iron, 190 tons; Burr Blocks, 49,950 lbs.; Boiler Plate, 57,667 lbs.; Wrought Iron, 8,630 lbs.; Hardware, 153,051 lbs.; Wire, 216,080 lbs,; Dry Goods, 304,799 lbs.; Salts 900 bbls.; Fish, 60 bbls.; Earthenware, 1,060 lbs.; Water Limes 200 bbls. and Fire Bricks 4,000 pcs.

The exports for the same period were: Lumber, 5,315,920 feet; Shingles, 2,255,450 pcs.; Square Timber, 8,000 cu. ft.; West India Staves, 67,800 pcs.; Cedar Posts, 1,145 cords; Flours 129,793 bbls.; Wheat, 1,179 bus.; Oatmeal, 6,978 bbls.; Oats, 4,686 bus.; Peas, 26,765 bus.; Apples, 496 bbls.; Potatoes, 30 bbls.; Bran, 6 tons; Malts 8,182 bus.; Fire wood, 32,650 cords; miscellaneous merchandise, 14,696 lbs. Exclusive of ferries and tugs, 101 vessels of 10,955 tons were entered at the Port of Dundas.

The following item appeared in the Hamilton Spectator on the 23 April -

"Steamers of the Merchants' Line - The fine composite steamer ACADIA, built last summer in this city for the Malcolmsons and engaged in connection with the Merchants' Line of freight and passenger steamers from Montreal to Kingston,Toronto,Hamilton and St. Catharines; and the steamer OSPREY, owned by A. D. MacKay, and running on the same route, have been painted. The hulls, bulwarks, etc. of dark green and the upper cabins beautifully grained inside and out. The work was done by Wm. Davis of Hamilton and reflect much credit on his skill. The other steamers of the line have been refitted also and they will soon commence their trips. A very successful season is expected."

On the 1 May, a Sherriff's Sale took place -

"the unexpired lease of Capt. Zealand's Wharfs which has been occupied by Messrs. Routh & Munro for the year 1867, will be sold on the wharf at 10:00 a.m, to-day. The lease has 3 years and 8 months yet to run."

The account of a launching appeared in the Spectator on Monday, 4 May, as follows:

"The schooner UNDINE, owned by Thomas Myles, was launched at the shipyard of D. P. Lavallee, at the foot of John St., on Saturday afternoon. The Christening was performed by the Misses Lavallee, daughters of the ship-builder. Over 300 spectators were present, a large number of whom were entertained by the owners at the close of the proceedings."
Low water levels caused the UNDINE to ground in the mud after she left the ways, but no damage resulted. Lavallee had begun work on her the previous June and her dimensions were: 110' b.p., 120' over-all, beam 24' 8" and depth of hold 10 ft. The report continued:
"Her model is excellent, with a clipper bow and a clear run aft. She is painted black, with white lines and false ports. She will register 225 tons and her carrying capacity will be about 14,000 bus. of grain. She is built of the best quality of clear oak, well seasoned. A new and important feature introduced in her construction is the use of iron knees, which greatly increase the strength of the hull. Her centre-board box is 26 feet in length, more than the ordinary size and she promises to be an excellent sailer. Her standing rigging will be wire and her sails are being made by W. W. Grant in his sail-loft here. Her cabin is commodious and neatly finished and on her bow is an elegantly carved figure of the water nymph
, in flowing drapery, which was executed by Mr. J. F. Peterkin of Toronto. The new schooner will be commanded by Capt. James Hughes, formerly of the schooner JOHN RAE and she will load staves at the Great Western Wharf for Kingston this week."

John Proctor's propeller MAGNET, having had a complete overhaul and, repair of the collision damage, arrived in port on the 4 May with general cargo from Montreal. She cleared on her return voyage the following day. Proctor was giving his newly-acquired schooner JOHN RAE a similar treatment at his own wharf and it was expected. that she would be outward bound in a few days. Proctor had paid $4,400 for the schooner.

A local news item on the 21 May, pointed out that the unusually low water level had left some of the boat-houses high and dry.

The schooner MINNIE PROCTOR from Oswego, with coal for Thos. Myles got lost in the fog and went ashore at Oakville, but was got off after lightering some cargo. The only damage reported was to her rudder.

It was the 27 May before the UNDINE was completed, and had taken on her cargo of staves. The destination of her maiden voyage had, by this time, been changed to Clayton, N.Y.

On Wednesday, 24 June, the steamer CITY OF TORONTO was booked for a moonlight excursion under the auspices of the Masonic Fraternity. The services of the Band. of the 13th Battalion had been secured. and the steamer sailed from the Great Western Wharf at 7:00 p.m. Two days later, the iron steamer ROTHSAY CASTLE commenced regular trips to Toronto, calling at Oakville en route. She sailed from Zealand's Wharf at 8:00 a.m, and was due in Toronto at 10:30 a.m. Leaving Toronto at 4:00 p.m., she was scheduled to arrive at Hamilton at 6:00 p.m.

A notice on the 23 June reminded the public that the steamer ARGYLE was running two trips per day to Oaklands and the Beach. She started from the Victoria Wharf and called at Bastien's Wharf.

Another item on the same day stated:

"The splendid first-class, upper-cabin steamer OSPREY sails for Montreal this evening at 8:00 p.m., calling at the principal intermediate ports. The OSPREY affords excellent accommodation for passengers and those making the round-trip have the advantage of residing on board the steamer while in Montreal."

The Masonic Fraternity of Dundas were out for a good time on St. John the Baptist Day, with a trip from Dundas on the ARGYLE which would call at the Victoria Wharf before proceeding to Oaklands and the Beach. She then had to get the boys back in time to partake of a moonlight excursion aboard the CITY OF TORONTO. This proved to be a great success with the 13th Battalion Band and the Quadrille Band. Dancing was

"kept up with spirit"
from 8 until midnight and Wm. Lee did the catering. Good weather made a very pleasant night.

The expertise of another boat-builder, Martin Stally, doing business at the foot of James Street, was recognized by the Hamilton Spectator on the 26 June, as follows:

"Yesterday afternoon a new seagoing yacht, christened WATER LILY, was launched for Mr. G. A. Medcalf of this city. She is cutter-rigged, has a centre-board, and registers seven tons. Her length is 25 ft., breadth of beam, 8'6" and her depth is 3 feet. She is painted white, with blue and gold moulding below the gunwale. She is fitted with a cabin having movable berths and embraces every facility and convenience for weathering a rough sea. Mr. Stally has laid the keel of a yacht for Capt. Geo. Smith."

On Monday, 29 June, the Spectator, in the spirit of joy which signalled the approach of Canada's first birthday, noted that:

"The splendid little steam tug PRINCE ALFRED leaves the Railway Wharf every evening at 5:30 p.m. for the Canal and Wellington Square. She returns from the Square at 8:00 p.m. and the Canal at 8:30 and will make several trips on Dominion Day."

They also remarked that,

"Mr. H. L. Bastien had, as usual, made extensive arrangements for the celebration of Dominion Day by putting his immense fleet of sailing and row boats in complete order. If the day is fine, we know of no pleasanter diversion than a sail on the Bay and we are certain that on the day approaching, as it has been on all summer holidays, a flourishing business will be done."

Aeneas MacKay lost some income from his steamer OSPREY as we are informed that she was lying in the canal basin at Dundas, having some work done on her boiler. This information was forthcoming on the 29 July.

At this time, an attempt was made to market the peat from the Humberstone peat bog and some Hamilton capital was invested in the Anglo-American Peat Co. This firm had built a 4 foot gauge tramway from a wharf on the Welland Canal, on the line of the 3rd Concession of Humberstone Twp., one mile west to their plant. Machinery for preparing the peat for fuel, was purchased in Troy, N.Y. and the engine of 20 HP was built by F. G. Beckett & Co. of Hamilton.

On Friday, the 14 August, auctioneers Benning & Barsalou advertised that the propellers AVON and INDIAN would be sold at Montreal. The AVON was at Kingston and the INDIAN was lying at Proctor's Wharf in Hamilton.

Andrews' Shipyard at Port Dalhousie launched the hull of the steam barge DROMEDARY on Tuesday, 25 August, for David Steele of Hamilton. The mortgage was held by D. Butters & Co. She measured 120.0 x 22.5 x 10.6 and had a gross tonnage of 460, net 359. She was towed. to Hamilton for the fitting of machinery by F. G. Beckett & Co. The christening ceremony was carried out by Miss Steele.

The Hamilton Spectator, on.the 21 September, printed this piece of news:

"Recently H. L. Bastien noticed that about 200 feet of new rope was missing from his establishment and he suspected the crew of the sailing scow WAITE from Oswego with sand for the Glass Works. On investigation, he found his rope and retrieved all but six feet of it, which he left dangling over the side of the scow, so that the thief, when he hauled up the short end, would find that he didn't have enough to hang himself with."

At about 1:00 a.m., on the 7 October the Welland Railway steamer PERSEVERANCE, bound for Oswego with 20,147 bus. of corn, consigned to T. S. Mott, burned 15 miles off Pultneyville, N.Y. Her captain and 13 others were lost, while 5 survivors were picked up by her running-mate ENTERPRISE,Capt. John Fitzgibbons.

The death of Thomas Rae occurred on the 28 September. He was a brother of Dr. Rae the Arctic explorer and Richard H. Rae, local immigration agent. He was the youngest son of Thos. Rae of Weir Isle, in the Orkney Islands and was born 23 May 1818. He left Scotland as a boy and resided in New Brunswick, later in Kingston, coming to Hamilton in 1842 or 1843. At one time, he was a partner with one of his brothers in shipping. Latterly, he did business on his own account and had four sailing vessels and was about to build a propeller.

A brief news item on the 19 October stated that the first cargo of peat ever brought to Hamilton, had been unloaded on Proctor's Wharf and would be offered for sale in small quantities.


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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.