The winter had been fairly mild and there was not nearly as much snow in the woods as the lumbermen would like to see. Consequently, the outlook for the timber trade in 1882 was not too bright. The previous season had been excellent and there were 13 rafts and 20 cargoes of square timber, totaling about 1,600,000 cubic feet, sent down from Hamilton to Quebec, plus a raft of spars and masts for Boston. In addition to theses several cargoes of pipe and West India staves were loaded for the English market. The value of these shipments exceeded $600,000, the railways collected $35,000 in freight, and the cost of making up the rafts and towing them amounted to nearly $40,000, A heavier trade in staves was looked for and it was hoped that this would offset, to some degrees the lesser amount of square timber.
Along the docks, the schooner E. H. RUTHERFORD,Capt. Peter Davis, was fitting out for the Upper Lakes and would leave as soon as the Welland Canal opened. The propeller CANADA,Capt. McGiffin, was being made ready to join the Collingwood-Chicago service. At the shipyards work was progressing on the new propeller, the steam yacht CLARA LOUISE was awaiting a new boiler being made by J. H. Killey & Co. and the DENNIS BOWEN was undergoing general repairs.
The Gartshore Foundry on Stuart Street, successfully cast the cylinder block for the new composite steamer, after two unsuccessful attempts were made at the old Dundas Foundry. The casting weighed 8,400 lbs and was the largest made in Canada. The second boiler for this vessel was to be ready in a week.
On the 5 May, harbour activity included the departure of the SPARTAN for Montreal and the arrival of the CELTIC from dry dock at Port Dalhousie. The schooner WHITE OAK was loading grain at the Great Western Elevator for Kingston and a raft of timber awaited the arrival of the tug McARTHUR to tow it to Quebec. The raft consisted of five drams and belonged to J. S. Murphy, of Quebec.
On the evening of 11 May, the schooner GULNARE,Capt. Jas. Johnson of Hamilton, had a close call. She had left Hamilton a week previously in bad weather, after lying for several days at the piers. She was laden with timber and a deck-load of staves for Kingston. After trying to beat her way down the Lake, the weather deteriorated and she was forced to run before the wind, now at gale force, with driving rain. At a point about two miles east of the piers, she dropped anchor and hoisted a distress signal. She rode out the gale all the next day and that afternoon, when the propeller CELTIC came rolling past, the distress signal was down and she had lost part of her load of staves. The CELTIC attempted to round-to and tie up at MacKay's Wharf, but being light of cargo, she was carried past and had to go the Railway Wharf. Other schooners in port during the storm were the ACACIA and UNDINE, which were at anchor off Browne's Wharf and the W. T. GREENWOOD, berthed at Browne's. The ELLA MURTON lay at the piers.
The boisterous seas did some damage to Murton & Reid's Wharf, as well as Robertson's. Over at Burlingtong heavy damage was inflicted on McCulloch's, Baxter's, Dalton's and Acland's Wharves, while the Redpath Wharf was totally destroyed.
The ELLA MURTON finally got away and unloaded her cargo of wheat at Kingston and then ran light to Brockville, where she loaded rails for Hamilton. As the storm went its way, schooners began to arrive, the SPEEDWELL and the DUNDEE, with coal for Myles along with the SWEEPSTAKES,and the CATARACT, both with coal from Charlotte. The American schooner J. E. BAILEY arrived at Murton & Reid's Wharf.
The iron side-wheel tug CONQUEROR arrived on the 21 May to tow a raft containing 125,000 cu. ft. of timber to Quebec for Flatt & Bradley. This tug had been built in 1871 at Renfrew by Henderson, Coulbourn & Co., for W. Ross and W. F. Kerr of Glasgow and J. G. Ross of Quebec, She measured 136.6 x 21.7 x 11.8 and her tonnages were, Gross 233, net 24. Her engine was an inclined simple engine with two cylinders 36 x 66, supplied by the shipbuilders. Her registered owner in 1882 was Mrs. Michael McNamara of Quebec.
An interesting visitor was in the harbour on the 30 May in the form of the little steam barge BELLE WILSON of Picton. She was built in 1881 at Picton by George Tate for Collier & Co. of Picton. Her dimensions were 103.3 x 24.1 x 10.1; Gross 186; Net 100. She sailed for Golden Valley to load railroad ties for Pt. Huron.
On the 2 June, the three-masted schooner D. M. FOSTER berthed at McIlwraith's Wharf with a good cargo of 500 tons of stove coal from Fairhaven, N.Y. There was fair amount of traffic in and out of the harbour, but most of the captains were complaining of low rates and the difficulty of obtaining cargoes.
The schooner UNDINE was at Kingston on the 23 June loading iron ore at the Kingston & Pembroke Ry. docks for Ashtabula and would load coal there for Hamilton. The ST. MAGNUS was unloading general cargo at Zealand's Wharf, the ACADIA was on her way down from Chicago and the GLENFINLAS was bound up the Lakes for Chicago and Milwaukee.
Saturday, the 24 June, was a very stormy day with violent thunderstorms in the area and a gale of wind that caught the big tug CONQUEROR in the middle of the harbour with her raft. She was forced to anchor and managed to hold onto the raft. The reporter for the Hamilton Spectator noted, that the Frenchmen didn't bother to show any lights on the tug or the raft after sundown, thereby creating a menace to navigation. He suggested that a fine of $100 might straighten them out.
The coal business held, strong with the schooners ACACIA from Oswego for Murton & Reid, the ARCTIC expected from Cleveland and the CLARA YOUELL from Oswego, along with the NORTH STAR.Murton & Reid's coal usually came from Oswego,McIlwraith's from Fairhaven,Browne's from Sodus Point and Myles' from Charlotte. There were occasional cargoes from Cleveland and Ashtabula.
The MYLES measured 175.0 x 33.6 x 15.2 with a gross tonnage of 1,211 and net 929. Her engine was a compound 24/46 x 36 and steam was supplied by two Scotch Marine fire-tube boilers 8'0" x 10'0". Her managing owner was Thomas Myles who, with Charles James Myles, owned all the shares.
On Friday, the 15 September, the propeller ASIA,Capt. J. N. Savage, foundered. in Georgian Bay, while on a voyage from Owen Sound to the French River. According to reports, the vessel was grossly overloaded and had taken on more passengers than she was licensed to carry. She had left port the night before the disaster, with people sleeping on the cabin floor. The total number of people aboard could only be estimated and the entire crew was lost by drowning or exposure and of the passengers, two survived, being found by an Indian near Pointe au Baril. Tugs were sent out but found only pieces of floating wreckage. The ASIA had been taken to Georgian Bay to replace the steamer MANITOULIN, which was destroyed by fire earlier in the season. The ASIA was built in 1873 at St. Catharines by Melancthon Simpson for J. C. Graham of St. Catharines. Her dimensions were 136.0 x 28.4 x 7.4; Gross tonnage was 347 and net 267.
Another steamer acquired for the Georgian Bay trade never reached that body of water. She was the PICTON,Capt. Dunn, which had been on the Toronto-Port Dalhousie route for the past five years and on the night of 20 September, she was wrecked on Rondeau Point,Lake Erie. She was a sideheeler built in 1870 at Mill Point by William Jamieson and measuring 158.0 x 26.0 x 8.0, with tonnages of 801 and 490. Her owner was James S. McCuaig of Picton.Capt. Dunn and his 18 men got ashore, but the vessel was a total loss.
the 17 November and since that day happened to be a Friday, Capt. Burrows went ashore for the night. He would sail from Hamilton on Saturday for Toronto, to load grain for Buffalo. Such was not to be. At 1:00 a.m. on Saturday, the crew was awakened by a strong smell of smoke. The boiler room was ablaze and after an attempt to fight the fire, they hastily abandoned ship and cut her moorings. She drifted out onto the Rush Bed and was destroyed. Her owners were Capt. Burrows and W. Crankshaw and she was insured for $10,000. She was abandoned to the underwriters, who sold the wreck, as is, to A. M. Robertson, the shipbuilder. When winter's ice had well set, Robertson removed the machinery and hauled it to his yard.
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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.