In the May 1974 issue of "Scanner" we presented an article entitled "Steamboat to Hamilton". With the assistance of member Robert L. Campbell of Toronto, we have been able to continue our research into the intricacies of the ownership and operations of TURBINIA as well as MACASSA and MODJESKA and we give you herewith the results of our further enquiries.
It develops that during the winter season of 1905-1906 the Turbine Steamship Company placed TURBINIA in service in the West Indies under charter to the Canada - Jamaica Steamship Company. This venture did not prove successful and the Turbine Steamship Company reported a loss of $18,000 for the year 1906. The company was reorganized early that year when a large proportion of the company's stock was purchased by shareholders of the T. Eaton Company Ltd. (Toronto's largest department store) and John C. Eaton became president. The head office of the Turbine Steamship Company was transferred from Hamilton to Toronto. TURBINIA did not return to the West Indies during the winter of 1906-1907. During the 1907 season she was advertised to make two trips daily between Hamilton and Toronto and to make a weekly trip on Saturday night to Charlotte, New York, returning on Monday morning.
Early in 1908 press reports stated that "the Turbine Steamship Company proposes the building of another turbine steamer for the Toronto-Hamilton route and that the order will be placed in Canada, the turbines being imported from Great Britain. It stated that tenders have been submitted to the company for the construction of a vessel similar to TURBINIA but 65 feet shorter and 8 feet less in width, with accommodation for 1000 passengers. The name of the proposed vessel is given as EATONIA and the approximate cost as $150,000." This ship, of course, was never built.
On January 15, 1909 the Hamilton Steamboat Company, owner and operator of MODJESKA and MACASSA and the principal opposition to TURBINIA, was also purchased by the T. Eaton Company Ltd. Both the Hamilton Steamboat Company and the Turbine Steamship Company continued to operate as separate concerns until John C. Eaton and his associates at the T. Eaton Company Ltd. sold control of both companies to the Niagara Navigation Company Ltd. in 1911. Niagara Navigation was itself absorbed by the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company Ltd. in 1912.
An interesting story about TURBINIA concerns an occurrence of the autumn of 1907. The famous Knapp Roller Boat which had proven to be a failure as a commercial vessel was blown from its moorings at the Polson Iron Works in the east end of Toronto Bay during a heavy storm. TURBINIA collided with the wayward derelict and the Turbine Steamship Company took legal action against the owners of the roller boat for damages sustained. The court graciously awarded TURBINIA judgment in the amount of $250.00 despite the argument raised by defence counsel that the roller boat was not a ship within the meaning of the Canada Shipping Act.
On August 15, 1909 the TURBINIA caused some little damage to a number of vessels at Charlotte, New York. For some unexplained reason, full steam was applied to TURBINIA's engines while she was moored at her wharf and she collided with the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company's steamer KINGSTON which was then pushed into two other ships. The damage done was comparatively minor as all the vessels were able to proceed on their scheduled trips. A report stated that "official enquiries will be held by both Canadian and U.S. authorities, but in the meantime the second engineer of TURBINIA, who was in charge, has been dismissed".
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.