Our readers are no doubt familiar with the stack design of Scott Misener Steamships - black funnel with two silver bands. How many are aware that the design, with small variation, had been in use since before 1900 on vessels of the Mathews fleet of Toronto?
Actually, the original Mathews fleet was founded in 1856 by James Mathews who, along with J. T. Mathews, functioned in partnership until 1902. There were 36 vessels in the original fleet, most of them Welland Canal sized schooners painted white and usually sporting a large black "M" on the foresail. The early steamers wore painted white but later had distinctive green hulls with black stacks with the silver bands - but in the early days the silver bands were high up on the stack and quite close together.
One wooden freighter of the fleet, the NIAGARA, built at St. Catharines in 1875 (136 x 26 x 13, 468 gross tons), spent at least one winter trading in the Caribbean (c. 1890) despite her size. She was lost on Long Point in Lake Erie, December 12, 1899.
In 1902 the Mathews Steamship Co. of Toronto was formed and operated a large number of ships with the distinctive "ton" suffix on the name - BEAVERTON, EDMONTON, HADDINGTON, etc. The Mathews S. S. Co. continued operations in good years and bad until it became a victim of the depression of the late 1920's and early 1930's, For one season, Toronto Elevators operated the fleet under charter from the court-appointed Receivers. In 1933 Colonial Steamships Ltd. was formed by Capt. R.Scott Misener and associates and the new firm purchased the Mathews ships and continued to use the Mathews stack design on all Misener vessels. Colonial Steamships was later merged with the other Misener units and the fleet is today known as Scott Misener Steamships, Ltd.
In the opinion of many, the old familiar black stack with the silver bands is much more distinctive and appealing than the off-beat and somewhat illegible "S M" insignia flaunted by the new RALPH MISENER.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.