During this season the first "Niagara Camp" was held. On the 5th of June, the Chicora took over on the morning trip the Toronto Field Battery,MajorGray, Lieut. Beatty, Surgeon McDonald, sixty-five non-commission officers and men, twenty-seven horses, four guns and five companies of the 31st Battalion, Col. Brown,Major Cameron, Capt. and Adjt. Pollard and Surgeon Barnhart.
From modest beginnings began this amoral gathering of the volunteer militia of Ontario, which has since assumed such considerable proportions and greatly extended in its sphere of operations. It has been found by experience that the attraction of a visit to the "Falls," which is possible while at this camp, brings more willing recruits, and the coming into actual touch with the battle fields of the defence of Canada in 1812, creates a sense of duty and of fervour which is very helpful to the service. Many lessons are learned from the remarkable collection of relics of early days, and of stirring times, contained in the Museum, of the Niagara Historical Society* Recently the acreage of the camp has been largely added to and Fort George the embanked ancient fortress, just above the steamboat dock has been repaired and renewed.
Just below the ramparts is to be seen a long one story wooden building - the last remaining portion of the old "Navy Hall," the headquarters of Lieut.-Governor Simcoe, where the meetings of the first Parliament of Upper Canada were held in 1792 and where he entertained the Duc de Liancourt in 1795. The other buildings of the group, as shown in the drawings of Mrs. Simcoe, were destroyed or removed in the construction of the Erie & Ontario Railway.
in England. Her career had been a romantic one. While running on the River Plate in Brazil, she had been chartered to take a cargo of 700 mules to South Africa for the Kaffir War of 1878. The mules were landed at Capetown, but the supercargo, or purser, who was in charge, collected the purchase money and the freight earnings and then disappeared. The steamer was summarily sold to pay the wages of the crew and was then brought to the Thames, where she was purchased by Mr. A. M. Smith, President of the company, and brought out to Montreal. As the Campana was 225 feet long, 45 ft. beam, with tonnage of 2000, and all the lower St. Lawrence canals had not been completed to Welland Canal size, four being still of the old length of 180 ft. only, Mr. Cumberland was engaged to superintend her cutting in two and bring up the two sections.
With a vessel of such size this entailed great difficulties, she being the largest ship that had been up till then brought up the canals and rapids, but the novel problems were solved and the way paved for the Canadian Pacific Steamers, Alberta, Algoma, Assiniboia, built in Scotland, which next followed on the same methods.
In this year the Maid of the Mist, 72 ft. long, 17 beam, depth 8 ft., startled the vessel world. Her business from the elevator stairways to the foot of the Horse Shoe Falls had fallen off. It was said that behind was the sheriff, in front the Whirlpool Rapids and beyond on reaching Lake Ontario a satisfactory sale. Capt. Robinson determined to run the risk and on 15th June started down the river. The first huge wave of the rapids threw the boat on her beam ends sending the smoke stack overboard, almost submerged by the next she righted, and by a quick turn evading the whirlpool emerged from the Gorge in little over ten minutes. The watchful collector at Queenston seized the opportunity for fees and had the Maid enter with him the Customs, the first and probably the last steamer ever to register as having come down from above the Rapids.
In August we met our first loss by the death of Col. F. W. Cumberland, General Manager of the Northern & Northern Western Railways, and our senior director. Having taken the utmost interest in the enterprise, his technical knowledge, energy and judgment had been throughout of infinite value, and his hearty personality was greatly missed not only in business but in comradeship. He was a man who had the forceful faculty of engaging the affection and loyalty of men who worked with or under him; severe but just, exacting yet encouraging, good service was sure to be noted by him and to receive his approval and reward.
After his death the employees of the Northern and North-Western Railway, since absorbed by the Grand Trunk Railway, ereeted a monument to his memory at the Junction station at Allandale, presenting an excellent likeness in bronze of their late chief.
During the winter of 1881-82 further changes took place in the ownership of the City, whereby Mr. Donald Milloy, who had been in charge of her up to this time, ceased to be her managing agent, and Mr. William Milloy and his mother, Mrs. Duncan Milloy, of Niagara, came into control.
On May 20th, 1882 the City with Mr. William Milloy as captain, opened the season with regular Trips - "Leaving Niagara on the arrival of the Canada Southern train 9.45; returning leave Toronto 3 p.m., connecting with Canada Southern at 5.30 p.m. Tickets from D. Milloy, Agent, 8 Front street, East.
On Monday 22nd May, 1882, Chicora resumed the usual trips from Toronto at 7 a.m. and 2 p.m., connecting at Niagara with Canada Southern and at Lewiston with New York Central Railway - "Tickets from W. R. Callaway, 20 King street, East, and 25 York street, or Barlow Cumberland, 35 Yonge street, and 24 York street.
Mr. Callaway then represented the Credit Valley Railway in Toronto, and on their company being absorbed by the Canadian Pacific Railway as part of a through line from Windsor to Montreal, he became its Western Passenger Agent. His wonderful faculty for attractive advertising and catching phrases had immediate effect in creating the company's passenger business against its older rival, and when the "Soo" road was added to the C.P.R.,Mr. Callaway's genius for developing traffic was transferred to Minneapolis, where he achieved similar results. The ticket offices at York street were principally for steerage, and Italian business. Passenger business toward the west was at that time exceedingly active. The Canadian Pacific then under active construction around the north shore of Lake Superior, and to the further west, called for large importations of laboring men, making the beginning of our Italian population. Manitoba and our North-West were attracting much attention and the railways beyond Chicago, not having been merged into large corporations but working independently, were offering large ticket commissions, each acting on its own account.
The season of 1883 found the steamers running in the same manner - Chicora under Capt. Harbottle to Niagara and Lewiston: the City,Capt. W. Milloy to Niagara only. The season was an unfruitful one, weather cool and disagreeable.
For sake of notoriety the steamers under the leadership of the City were often sent across the lake on days when they had better have remained in port and saved money. It was this mistaken course which led to close of the competition.
A heavy storm from the east was blowing, toward the end of September. The seas were running heavily on the Island, and even sweeping up on the dock fronts in the harbor, no business offering and weather cold with sheets of rain and sleet at intervals. The City had come across from Niagara but Chicora had not been sent out for the morning trip, nor had we any intention of sending her out for the afternoon.
About 3 o'clock it was noticed that the City appeared to be firing up. I was at the time in charge and had given instruction that if the City went out Chicora was to follow but on no account to pass her. Capt. Harbottle and self were walking up and down the front of Mowat's dock, where the Chicora lay, watching the other steamer which was lying at Milloy'sYonge street dock, from which we had for the third time been ousted at the beginning of the season. "By the Lord," said the captain, "she's moving; I'm off."
1884 found us without any further partners and alone on the route. It had been a long strife. No wonder we had loved the Chicora for like a good lass she had always cheerfully responded to whatever she was called upon to do.
Her seaworthiness gained the confidence of the public to such an extent that there were not a few families in the city who preferred the rough days for their outings, and some men, among others, Mr. Wilson of the Bank of Montreal, who always had notices sent to them when "there was a real heavy sea on," so that they might make the afternoon 2 p.m. excursion.
Capt. Harbottle having been appointed to a position on shore in the Marine Department, his place on the Chicora was given to Capt. Thomas Leach, of Halifax. It was he who in 1866 had brought up the blockade runner Rothesay Castle and had run her between Toronto and Niagara in competition with the City under arrangements with the Canada Southern.
This steamer duly arrived at Milloy's dock and was found a good-looking sizable boat, with much deck accommodation for many travellers. Going on board the sand barrels on the broad deck seemed somewhat numerous. One of these was held at midship at blocks. Taking out the wedge and turning the barrel a kick set it rolling toward the ship side. As it went the boat keeled over to it.
Without saying or seeing anything more, the investigator walked off and going up to the office told Mr. Foy, "John, you needn't be afraid of the Rupert. She'll frighten her passengers some day, she's crank"' - and so she was.
The competition did not last the whole season, but business was increasing on the route, so the small steamer Armenia was chartered to make an early morning trip from the Niagara River to Toronto. It was not a success, but she was useful when the fruit season opened.
This year 1884 began also another route in competition. The Welland Railway had passed into the hands of the Grand Trunk, and the Empress of India was engaged to make the lake service between Port Dalhousie and Toronto in connection with a fast train from Buffalo and Niagara Falls. No doubt this diverted some business from the through route, but the principal earnings were from its own local district. With the superlative attractions of the scenery of the Niagara River, this Port Dalhousie route will never successfully compete for through or excursion travel with the Niagara River route, but it has the City of St. Catharines and an aggregate of thriving towns which will give a fine local and paying business with Toronto.
In 1855 we were at last in sole possession, having won the established connection with both the railways, at Niagara with the Michigan Central, which had absorbed the Canada Southern, and at Lewiston with the New York Central.
It had been eight long years of anxious and intense application of wits, energy and expense. One year in bringing the steamer down, and seven in constant competition, in wearing out competitors and winning the route.
We were now able to turn all our energies to the more pleasant work of development. The officials of the railways had learned to have confidence in us and appreciated that we were not only ready to give good service, but to add to it, and to improve as the traffic needs of the route showed to be requisite.
When we entered upon the route, Mr. C. B. Meeker was General Passenger Agent of the New York Central - a man patterned after the old Commodore's taste, namely, that there was only one railroad in the world and that was the New York Central. This faith permeated not a few of the minor officials, so that in their opinions, to be permitted to travel on the N.Y.C., was to be considered by a passenger as a high privilege, and the utmost courtesy was to be used toward the immaculate and superior conductor, who honored him by taking up his ticket. Yet there was some reason for it. It was the beginning of great things in railway enterprise and service, for out of a series of small separated local roads it had been from between 1853-55; gathered together under a master hand and thereafter was continuing to be built up into a great and united system, giving the travelling public facilities they had never dreamed of, advantages which would have been impossible without the combination.
In the earlier days of steam railroad enterprize, there was little thought of the possibility of creating communication between far distant centres, as was afterwards found practicable, when the working of the steam engine became better understood. Building short local railroads by local subscriptions joining neighboring towns, appears to have been the method most prevalent. These railroads were in fact only improved stage routes. Some idea of the then conditions is afforded by the list of railroads opened or under construction in 1836 in the State of New York, given in Tanner's American Traveller, 1836: - Buffalo and Niagara Falls Railroad, 11 miles; Mohawk & Hudson Railroad, from Albany to Schnectady, 16 miles; Schnectady & Saratoga Railroad, 20 miles; Ithaca & Oswego Railroad, 20 miles; Rochester Railroad (now in progress) from Rochester to a point below the Falls of Geneva; Schnectady and Utica Railroad (now in progress), 80 miles; Rochester & Batavia Railroad (in progress), 28 miles; Troy & Ballston Railroad (now in progress), 22 miles. Several other railroads are proposed."
These and others were gradually brought into combination, in the one Central System for their mutual advantage and the convenience of the public.*
It seems strange to think that in the sixties there, had been no sleeping cars and no through trains between Buffalo and New York. The trains stopped and started at Albany, where the passengers either laid over at an hotel
for the night, or leaving the cars walked along the station platforms to the decks of a large ferry steamer, on which they were taken across the river to join the connecting trains on the other side. On reaching the outskirts of New York the railway cars were uncoupled, and then each
With the construction of the railway bridge at Albany in 1870, the railway had sprung up at once into a great through route, the only one landing its passengers in the City of New York, and thus over-passing and over-topping all its competitors. It is not surprising, therefore that there was some pride and self esteem in those employed upon it.
When sleeping cars were first introduced on the New York Central it was in the most primitive fashion. The cars were the same coaches in which the passengers rode during the day. The whole of one corner was occupied by a great pile of mattresses and blankets and a number of posts and cross bars. When sleeping time came the posts were brought out, the berths built up and bolted together before the eyes of the passengers. It can be well understood how these improvised constructions creaked and groaned during the night. They supplied a need, but were soon supplanted by the Pullman inventions.
With Mr. Meeker we had the most personally pleasant relations, but when we had made our application to him for a connection, he was staunch to the old steamboat connections of his company and would only deal with us through them, even if he did think we had been hardly treated, but when we had won and deserved our way into an official connection he was equally staunch toward us; recognizing the continuous interest which the steamboat lines have in the mutual business which they have aided the rail in building up. To him succeeded in May, 1883, Mr. E. J. Richards, his highly efficient and much younger assistant, whose knowledge of the passenger business of his railway was unsurpassed by any. From this time began an association with the principal officers of the New York Central, which has widened and deepened with years.
Having come into assured position the railway officers willingly co-operated with us when we spent considerable time and money in sending out travelling representatives and distributing advertising matter respecting the route and Toronto, to all parts of the United States. Mr. Steve Murphy being the efficient Travelling Passenger Agent since 1888. I question very much whether the City and the Citizens of Toronto have any conception of the wealth of advocacy in advertisement and expense which the Niagara Navigation Company has given to the City and its attractions, and particularly to its "Exhibition" during the past twenty-five years.
One after another the, then separate, railways were induced to put lines of tickets on sale reading over the Niagara River Line to Toronto, the list of these having been added to each year. In mentioning this it is to be remembered that in these early years, in the "eighties," there were a very large number of minor railways operating on their own and separate account. The great consolidations into the fewer hands and control of the main trunk lines had not then been effected, and yet more, the system of general traffic associations, joint rate meetings and combined agreed traffic associations had not been devised.
The officers of each railway did what each thought was best for the interests of his own line, and were controlled only by their being open to the possibility of adverse competition from some other line.
The grand field day was the Spring Meeting usually held in Buffalo, to consider "Summer Excursion Rates." As there were many more independent roads the attendance was considerably greater and perhaps there was more of conviviality and social intercourse than in the more staid and business meetings of these subsequent days. Moreover it was a battle of wits between the newer and weaker roads striving to create and attract business from their more longly established competitors.
Will any one who was present at them, forget the mental activity and agility of the General Passenger Agent of the Ogdensburgh and Lake Champlain Railway, then a little one "on its own," striking into the middle of its great competitors; a menace, ambitious, and played with a free hand. Its able representative was like a little terrier snapping in the midst of a surrounding crowd, and he frequently got his way.
The claims for "differentials" by some roads not so well established as others, or where representatives thought their earnings might be thus increased, were perennial, and the demands for more Special Excursions at "cut rates" voluminous. The discussions were lively and well worth hearing.
In the hours of relaxation of this annual gathering which brought men of the fraternity from distant places into friendly contact, there were men who since have risen into the restraining influence and stateliness of highest offices, but who in those younger days did not disdain to dance a can can in a night shirt, or snap fingers in a Highland fling, with an elderly but active steamboater from Montreal. All could sing in a chorus or join in a rout. The foundations of the present great lines of passenger trade were laid in those days, but the railway world to-day does not find quite so much fun in its work as it used.
The days of individuality of minor roads have gone, and for all railway officers those of over pressure against increasing costs of expenses have come. The demand of the public of the day is not only for lower rates but for greater facilities, so that the increasing strain of business needs absorbs all time and attention, although at the same time much pleasant intercourse prevails.
Gradually the scope of our courses of traffic leading to the Niagara River were thus widened but not with ease; what in these present days can be done in a single joint meeting, or by the issue of a single joint rate sheet, required in those days, years of work, visiting the distant parts, and much personal address. It was in these last that Mr. John Foy particularly shone. He had a happy way of gaining and keeping new friends and allies.
In our own local and home city sphere we began working for new business. "Book Tickets" for families, with coupons for the trips, were introduced, an entirely new development, enabling citizens of Toronto to live at home during the summer and yet give their families lake travel and fresh air at remarkably cheap rates.
In this we received the aid of the medical profession. One doctor is remembered as putting it this way: "I tell my people," said he, "that when they want to wash their hands clean they must use clean water, and similarly if they require, as I wish them, to clear out their lungs, they must get fresh air where the clearest and freshest air is to be got, by crossing the lake on your steamers to Niagara."
Another doctor with a large family practice said: "When I find the digestion of the children of any of my families getting out of order I prescribe a "book ticket on the Niagara route." It provides in such cases a splendid natural emetic." There is many a well grown citizen in Toronto whose vigor has been promoted or life saved in infant days by the pure air gained by these trips across the lake. Excursions by societies, Sunday schools, national and benevolent bodies were sought out and encouraged to devote their energies to providing outings for their associations and friends. Every possible method was employed to get new business. We certainly needed it, as we certainly had not, so far, a very profitable time.
Gradually the business on the route showed signs of growth until we saw that if we were to deserve our position with the railway companies and meet the increasing traffic we must add to our equipment. The railway officials had also expressed their opinion that another steamer would soon be needed and stated that in adding it the Navigation Company would receive the continued support of their companies. The first year of peace closed satisfactorily, and 1885 was marked in white upon the milestones of our progress.
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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.