The season of 1884 began with a report from Kingston, stating that the old propeller INDIAN had received an extensive overhaul during the winter, to the tune of nearly $4,000. She was, on the 10 April, preparing to depart for Hamilton with several tows.
Navigation opened on the 21 April when the steam barge ALBION and barge ARK arrived from Port Dalhousie. They went to the Grand Trunk Wharf to load timber for J. S. Murphy in Quebec. Also, the steam barge D. D. CALVIN arrived with her tows, the schooners ORIENTAL,DENMARK,BAVARIA and PRUSSIA. They too proceeded to the G. T. R. wharf to load timber for their owners, the Calvins, at Garden Island. The D. D. CALVIN was new, having been built at Garden Is. in 1883.
On the 24 April it was noted that some of the wharfingers were patching up their properties, but prospects for the coal trade were not bright. The winter had been an easy one and much coal remained on the wharves.
The schooner UNDINE had fitted out and was loading timber at the N. & N. W. Wharf for Oswego. The GULNARE was awaiting her turn at the same wharf. The propeller ST. MAGNUS was fitting out and would be ready to sail in a week or so.
The D. D. CALVIN and her barges left on the 28 April and the ST. MAGNUS cleared for Port Dalhousie to have her wheel changed. The LAKE MICHIGAN was not fitting out, but the CELTIC was loading for Montreal. The propeller CANADA was having some work done on her boiler.
The schooner E. R. C. PROCTOR was chartered by R. O. MacKay to bring coal from Charlotte @ 25¢ per ton. Since making that bargain, the rate had risen to 30¢. In June, the CELTIC,DOMINION and other propellers were busy in the package freight trade from Montreal with the occasional return cargo of grain from Toronto or St. Catharines.
On the 12 June, the CELTIC began loading an unusual cargo in the form of sections of an aqueduct, built by the Hamilton Bridge & Tool Co. for the Quebec Water Works. The finished structure was 160 feet long, 12 feet deep and 15 feet wide and was required to bridge the St. Charles River.
Lake levels were up in 1884 and when Capt. Campbell took soundings throughout the length of the Burlington Canal at the end of June, he found a least depth of 15'6", over the bar, where there was only 12'6" in 1883. The deepest sounding was 28 feet.
The CELTIC sailed on the 1 July to supply the Light Stations between Hamilton and Montreal and was expected to return on 12 July. MacKay's propeller LAKE ONTARIO, making a late start, began her season on the 28 June, when she departed for Montreal.
Among the steamboat advertisements appearing in July was that of the SOUTHERN BELLE making two round trips daily to Toronto, with calls at Oakville. This was the former ROTHESAY CASTLE, now under the management of George Keith.
A new steam launch named SHAMROCK, entered the Beach trade this season, built in Hamilton by Capt. John Henry Larkin. She measured 48.0 x 10.3 x 3.6 feet and had a registered tonnage of 38. She was fitted with a High Pressure engine 7.9 x 9 inches, built by Copp Bros. & Barry of Hamilton.
"The steamer CELTIC with Lighthouse supplies stopped at Burlington Piers at 6:30 p.m. yesterday, on her way out. On her arrival at the station, Mr. P. Harty, Superintendent of Lights and his assistant Mr. J. A. Robinson proceeded to inspect the Lights and surroundings and were much pleased with the manner in which they were maintained. After they had finished the inspection and delivered. the supplies, the following were invited to Capt. Campbell's residence: Capt. Wm. Cavers of the CELTIC and his wife, H. A. Young, purser, Inspector Harty and wife, Asst. Insp. Robinson and these passengers, Mrs. & Miss MacKay, Mrs. & Miss Branigan,Mrs. Wm. Young, Mrs. & Miss Duncan,Mr. MacKay,Mr. Black,Rev. Sutherland,Mr. J. E. Tuckett and wife, as well as several others. The party was treated to ice cream and other refreshments and each lady to a handsome bouquet of flowers. The gentlemen were not forgotten and all the members of the party, when leaving, expressed themselves as well pleased with the way they were entertained. The party then proceeded, by invitation from Mr. & Mrs. Tuckett, to their villa on the Beach, where they were right royally welcomed and handsomely entertained to all the delicacies of the season. They then proceeded on board the steamer for Port Dalhousie with the good wishes of all."
Schooner traffic in the Harbour at this time included the ELIZA WHITE, which unloaded sand at McIlwraith's Wharf for the Hamilton Glass Works and then cleared for Oswego, the MEDITERRANEAN at Murton & Reid's coal wharf unloaded coal and cleared for Weller's Bay to load iron ore and the PRIDE OF AMERICA, also with coal at Murton & Reid's. The propeller LAKE ONTARIO cleared for Toronto and Montreal with passengers and freight.
Monday, the 21 July was a big day for the employees of the Ontario Rolling Mills and the American Nail Works. Nearly 400 people sailed on the SOUTHERN BELLE to Lorne Park for their annual picnic and the day was passed with games, competitions and dancing. The steamer docked in Hamilton at 10:20 p.m.
A party of Government Officials, accompanied by a diver and his assistant, arrived at the Burlington Canal on the 24 July to carry out an inspection of the cribs under the piers. This was being done to ascertain whether the canal could be deepened and if so, by how many feet.
There was a great scramble amongtthe schooner-men to complete their deliveries of coal so as to be ready for the grain trade and, on the 6 August, this was the dock line-up: At Murton & Reid's, schooners ELLA MURTON,ERIE STEWART,GOLD HUNTER and BALTIC, all from Oswego; at Myles' Wharf, the UNDINE and the GULNARE from Oswego; at the McIlwraith Wharf, the AURORA and the KATIE ECCLES, also from Oswego; at Browne's the schooner E. H. RUTHERFORD was unloading.
The propeller LAKE MICHIGAN, which had been offered for sale, and had lain at Zealand's Wharf all season, was now being fitted out. The propeller ST. MAGNUS was expected from Kingston with general cargo and was booked to load oil for the Upper Lakes. The LAKE ONTARIO was on a voyage from Toledo to Montreal with grain, the first such cargo shipped this season. She would return to Hamilton and load structural iron-work manufactured by the Hamilton Bridge & Tool Co. for the new drill hall in Montreal.
Capt. Larkin of the SHAMROCK, had a very unpleasant trip across from Bay View on Saturday night, the 16 August, when a group of young drunks created a disturbance. Chairs were smashed, lamps were broken or thrown overboard and their language left something to be desired. They refused to pay their fares and attempted to beat up the captain when the launch tied up. By the time the police arrived, most of the offenders had scattered in the darkness, but three were taken into custody and subsequently brought before the court.
Hamilton entered the Electrical Era with the announcement on the 30 August, that the Royal Electric Co. of Montreal, was about to install 50 electric lights on the principal thoroughfares of the city.
Waterfront news on the 4 September indicated that coal was still arriving on the docks. The schooner SPEEDWELL was unloading coal from Cleveland at Murton & Reid's for the Hamilton Glass Works. The E. H. RUTHERFORD unloaded at Browne's Wharf and then sailed for Weller's Bay to load iron ore at the Gardenville ore dock and the FLORA CARVETH left Murton & Reid's for Cleveland.
A lengthy article in the Toronto Globe on the 12 September promoted the establishment of 14 foot navigation in all Canadian Canals. The Globe was on the right track, but the Government would fumble with this for another 15 years.
A fire of some magnitude occurred on the waterfront on Saturday morning, 13 September, when the old car shops at the west end of the Grand Trunk yard were destroyed. The shops were well insured and the only losers were the employees whose tools were all lost.
In a letter to the editor of the Hamilton Spectator on the 15 September, a local man described a visit to the new mill of Messrs. Flatt & Bradley at Casselman on the Canada Atlantic Ry. This was indicative that the timber trade was nearing its end in the southwestern part of the Province. This firm had been responsible for the shipping of great quantities of timber from Hamilton Harbour over the years. This was not the only timber firm to seek new fields for their endeavours, Michael Brennen & Sons, having moved. north to Tioga in Simcoe County. They later moved up to Huntsville.
The Welland Canal was having trouble with low water according to a news item on the 29 September and some vessels trading to Ogdensburg were withdrawn from service. It was hinted that the guard lock at Port Colborne should be closed and that the Feeder Canal should be used to raise the water level in the long reach.
By early October, two Hamilton-owned schooners were busy in the iron ore trade from the Gardenville Dock in Weller's Bay to Cleveland. These were the UNDINE and, the ELLA MURTON and there was always the chance of getting a return cargo of coal to Hamilton.
The CELTIC arrived from Montreal at midnight on the 11 October and among the passengers were R. O. MacKay and his bride, whom he had married in England. The CELTIC, after unloading general cargo, moved over to the N. & N. W. Elevator to load grain for Montreal. That weekend the schooner E. R. C. PROCTOR was unloading sand, at McIlwraith's for the Glass Works, the MAGGIE MCRAE was unloading coal at Murton & Reid's and the GULNARE was laid up at Myles' Wharf.
The Fisheries Inspector raised an objection to the City's having commenced to dump ashes and other refuse in a swamp on the west side of Wellington St. near Picton St. Alderman Morgan stated that the swamp was an abomination and the sooner it was filled in the better. He pointed out that beyond lay another swamp, a stagnant pond and finally, the out-fall from the Cathcart St. sewer. He averred, that no self-respecting fish would live in the swamp. The magistrate seemed inclined to agree.
On Monday, 3 November, the funeral of Capt. John Craig Burrows took place in Hamilton. He had died aboard his command, the propeller ST. MAGNUS, at Sault Ste. Marie.Capt. Burrows had come out from Ireland as a young lad and settled at Smith's Falls, where he subsequently learned the trade of harness-maker. Finding this not to his liking, he shipped out on a canal-boat on the Rideau Canal and by the age of 19, was master of a boat. He came to Hamilton in 1874 as master of the LAKE MICHIGAN. Later he was a partner in the DROMEDARY and subsequently with A. M. Robertson in the ST. MAGNUS.
The propeller CUBA had some bad luck on the 22 November when she was bound from Toronto to Montreal and blundered onto a shoal opposite Alexandria Bay, N.Y. Her cargo consisted of 28,000 bus. of barley, 300 bags of flour, 40 bbls. of whiskey, plus some general cargo, totaling $50,000. The owners were Hagarty & Co. of Toronto.
A late caller at Burlington was the steam barge CLINTON, which arrived there on the 26 November to load barley, shipped, by Mr. W. Kerrins to Oswego. The schooner-scow HOPE was waiting to load shipplanks at the same port.
On Monday, 1 December, Capt. Campbell removed the buoy from Rush Bed, opposite McIlwraith's Wharf. He would have to keep his lights glowing until the propeller CELTIC and the schooner UNDINE made port on their final voyages of the season.
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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.