The Merchants' Line, operated by Capt. John B. Fairgrieve,R. O. & A. B. MacKay,W. A. Geddes of Toronto and Geo. E. Jaques & Co., of Montreal, planned to run seven vessels during the 1899 season. These were the propellers CUBA,MELBOURNE,PERSIA,OCEAN,ARABIAN,LAKE MICHIGAN and SIR S. L. TILLEY. Of these, the OCEAN and the LAKE MICHIGAN were to handle the Montreal-Hamilton trade.
On the 21 March, word was received of the death of Frederick Garner Beckett at Englewood, N. J., where he had been staying since shortly after the new year. He was the founder of F. G. Beckett & Co., manufacturers of engines, boilers and other machinery and the plant was situated on Simcoe Street. It occupied the entire block from James St. to MacNab St., a site later used by a cotton mill. In 1889, Mr. Beckett entered into a partnership with Joseph H. Killey and they operated the Killey Beckett Engine Works at York and Bay Sts. He was a promoter of the mountain access road which became known as Beckett's Drive and he was interested in the Brantford & Hamilton Electric Railway project.
A decision of momentous importance was made on the 13 April, when the Hamilton Blast Furnace Co. and the Ontario Rolling Mills Co. agreed to amalgamate. The agreement was signed by A. T. Wood,Albert E. Carpenter,Wm. Southam,John Milne,Chas. S. Wilcox,Chas. E. Doolittle and Aaron M. Wilcox. The corporation formed by this merger would be known as the Hamilton Steel & Iron Co. Ltd.
The dredge ONTARIO was working on the Rush Bed off Myles' Wharf during May. On the 17 May, the longshoremen at MacKay's Wharf went on strike for more money, but strike breakers were brought in and work went on as usual.
According to an announcement on the 18 May, the R. & O. steamer COLUMBIAN was to replace the HAMILTON, which had met with a mishap at Port Darlington on the 13 May. The latter vessel was back on the run by the 21 May.
On the 26 May, the Donnelly Salvage & Wrecking Co., searching for the tug JAMES A. WALKER, which foundered somewhere near Nicholson's Island in October, 1898, chanced upon the wreck of the propeller ZEALAND, lost in 1885.
The steamer COLUMBIAN, now replacing the ALGERIAN, arrived in port on the 1 June and later departed for Montreal. The COLUMBIAN was a singularly ugly vessel, built in 1892 at Chester, Pa., by the Delaware River Co. Her dimensions were 194.4 x 33.3 x 8.8; gross 1,307 tons, net 770 tons. She was a steel, twin-screw steamer with three decks and she was powered by two triple expansion engines 12 1/2/19/30 x 15, supplied by the builders. She underwent rebuilds in 1901 and again in 1909 and neither of these operations improved her looks. She was not what could be called a money-maker.
The Hamilton Steamboat Co. called attention to the fact that the MACASSA would commence a twice-daily service to Toronto on 7 June. The departure times from Hamilton were 7:45 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.; from Toronto, 11:00 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. The MODJESKA would be placed on the run on the 17 June and an agreement had been made with the Canadian Pacific Ry., allowing return tickets to be used by rail, one way, and steamer, the other.
The R. & O. steamer ALGERIAN made her first appearance in the harbour on the 8 June and sailed for Montreal at noon. For the rest of the summer season, this vessel and the HAMILTON would leave Browne's Wharf on Mondays and Thursdays at noon for Montreal, running via the Bay of Quinte. One way fare was $8.50, return $16.00, meals and berth included.
H. L. Bastien completed an electric launch on the 19 June for a customer in Montreal. The launch was 30 feet long and was to be test-run on the Bay before shipping. Boatbuilder T. W. Jutten, at the foot of Wellington St., was working on three similar boats, also for Montreal people.
The purpose of the company was to own and operate vessels and to carry on the business of forwarders, wharfingers and warehousemen. The signers of this application were: A. T. Wood, M.P., W. E. Sanford,Wm. Southam,Chas. E. Doolittle,Chas. S. Wilcox,Wm. D. Long and Adam B. MacKay.
The prospectus of the Quebec, Hamilton & Fort William Navigation Co. was issued on the 16 August and the stock was placed on the market. The Provisional Directors were A. T. Wood,R. A. Lucas,Wm. Southam,C. E. Doolittle,C. S. Wilcox,W. D. Long and A. B. MacKay. It was the intention of the company to have two vessels built at an estimated cost of approximately $130,000 each. Stock to the amount of $175.000 was issued and the balance required for the company's operations would be raised by issuing debentures.
Trouble had been experienced on the swing bridge at the Canal and on the 22 August, it was out of service. The Hamilton Radial Electric Ry. arranged for the steam launch MAPLE LEAF to ferry its passengers across the Canal.
The prospect of continuous 14 foot naviation on the St. Lawrence Canals was drawing closer to becoming a reality and much improvement work had been done between Prescott and Cornwall. The replacement of the Beauharnois Canal was not completed.
On the night of 26 August, the propeller SIR S. L. TILLEY, with the schooner T. R. MERRITT in tow, was heading for Cleveland to load coal for Fort William. Off Fairport, fire started in the engine-room and rapidly spread throughout the vessel. There were 18 people aboard and 16 of the managed to get into one boat which was picked up by the schooner. The wheelsman and one deckhand remained aboard for some time, steering her toward Fairport, as the engineer had left the engine running full ahead. These two men finally jumped into the Lake and were picked up by another steamer. The SIR S. L. TILLEY ran aground and was abandoned as a total loss. Her master was Capt. W. O. Zealand and Robt. Chestnut was mate. The Chief Engineer was Jos. Boulanger and Jas. Hopkins was 2nd engineer. The purser was John Milne. The hull was later refloated and sold by the underwriters, being rebuilt as the ADVANCE.
A special meeting of the directors of the Quebec, Hamilton & Fort William Navigation Co. was held on the 6 September, to receive the report of the committee appointed the previous week o look into the building of two vessels. The committee recommended that the proposed steamers should be similar to the ROSEMOUNT of the Montreal Transportation Co., but of larger carrying capacity. They decided against the fitting of 'tween decks, but recommended that the supporting members for future 'tween decks should be provided. Discussions were held with the Hamilton Bridge Co., but that company stated that they could not procure the steel soon enough to suit the owners' delivery date of April 1900. It was then decided to send A. B. MacKay to Great Britain to visit the shipbuilders over there.
The schooner JESSIE DRUMMOND arrived in port on the 15 September with a cargo of coal from Erie. This vessel had been built in 1864 at St. Catharines by Melancthon Simpson and had a registered tonnage of 292.
Adam B. MacKay sailed from New York on the Cunard liner UMBRIA, on the 16 September, to negotiate with some British shipbuilders. The same day, the death of John Dynes, proprietor of the famous hotel on the Beach, was noted in the press. He was born in 1816 in Dundas and had located on the Beach in 1834. His hotel was long a favourite of fishermen and duck-hunters and was noted for the excellence of its fish and game dinners.
The schooner KEEWATIN was loading wheat for Kingston on the 28 September and the WAVE CREST and the SIR C. T. VAN STRAUBENZEE both sailed for Oswego. The schooner T. R. MERRITT arrived on the 3 October with a cargo of iron ore from Marquette, Mich. and the FLORA CARVETH came in from Oswego with coal on the 7 October.
In October, construction of the steel-making facilities at the Hamilton Steel & Iron Co. plant was being delayed by late delivery of structural steel. There was a possibility that the bricklayers would have to be laid off for a while.
On 16 Oct., the fish tug CITY OF LADYSMITH, built by Robertson Bros. for Ross of Pt. Maitland, was completed and towed away by the tug AUGUSTA. Her engine was supplied by the Bertrams Engine Works Co. of Toronto.
The R. & O. steamer HAMILTON went aground at Point Iroquois at 4:00 a.m. on the 20 October. The Calvin Co. was called in and despatched their tugs REGINALD,WILLIAM JOHNSTON and CHIEFTAIN to the scene.
On the 30 October, the steamer MACASSA went to Port Dalhousie for dry docking before returning to Hamilton to lay-up for the winter. The ARABIAN came in from Kingston and departed for Fort William and the T. R. MERRITT arrived from Oswego with coal.
The propeller OCEAN took on a cargo of apples and pig iron for Montreal on the 16 November and the schooner EMERALD brought the season's last cargo of coal for the Hamilton Gas Light Co. from Ashtabula. The EMERALD, 394 tons, was bullt in 1872 at Pt. Colborne.
According to a notice in the Spectator on the 30 November, the Myles Transportation Co. was incorporated. The provisional directors were R. & J. T. Williamson of Niagara Falls, N.Y.,C. J. Myles,R. O. MacKay and Mrs. Ellen Dillon, all of Hamilton.
The same day, the schooner WAVE CREST,Capt. Mercer, went ashore near Oak Orchard., N.Y. and became a total loss. She was on a voyage to Toronto with coal for the Toronto Electric Light Co. and was owned by J. J. Turner of Peterborough. Her value was said to be $3,000.
The annual meeting of the sharehold.ers of the Hamilton Steamboat Co. was held on the 14 December, with Murray A. Kerr, president and managing director, in the chair. M. Leggat was vice-president and the other directors were G. E. & G. T. Tuckett,F. W. Fearman,Seneca Jones, and H. B. Witton. The company had experienced a very successful season and in recognition of Mr. Kerr's skilful handling of the affairs, the shareholders unanimously voted him all expenses for an extended trip to Europe.
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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.