Readers will recall that, in the December issue, we featured as our Ship of the Month No. 133, the Lake Ontario excursion steamer NORTHUMBERLAND. In the course of her story, we made mention of the fact that she had served for almost three decades on the East Coast of Canada before coming to the Great Lakes in 1920. However, it seems that NORTHUMBERLAND did not spend all of her time on salt water running her usual ferry route between Pictou, Nova Scotia, and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
Member Kevin C. Griffin of Montreal has brought to our attention the fact that our own beloved NORTHUMBERLAND was one of the earliest Canadian passenger steamers ever to operate in the Florida "cruise" trades, and we must admit that we were completely unaware of the fact that she had ever strayed so far south.
It would appear that, in January of 1896, NORTHUMBERLAND was chartered to Henry Flagler's Florida East Coast Steamship Company for service on the day route between Palm Beach and Nassau. It is believed that she only worked one season on this service, and was then returned to her normal Canadian route under the flag of her owner, the Charlottetown Steam Navigation Company, for which she had been built in England in 1891. Of course, however, NORTHUMBERLAND was not the only Canadian passenger steamer to serve in the warm waters of the south. Some of our readers may remember that TURBINIA, for example, ran in the West Indies during the winters of 1904-05 and 1905-06, returning to her regular service on the lakes during the summer months.
In any event, after NORTHUMBERLAND returned to Canadian waters from her Nassau service, she was replaced by the steamer MIAMI, which was built for the route and which came on the scene in 1898, operating from Miami (rather than Palm Beach) to Nassau. The amusing part of all this is that MIAMI herself did a sort of reverse version of NORTHUMBERLAND'S trick when, in 1901, she left her Florida trade to come to the lakes for one season. MIAMI was chartered for the summer of 1901 to the Northern Steamship Company, which operated her on the run between Duluth and Mackinac Island, where she made connections with the company's big NORTH WEST and NORTH LAND which that season were running between Buffalo and Chicago.
By the way, we would be remiss if we did not thank all of our readers and friends who have spoken so warmly of our NORTHUMBERLAND feature and the photographs that accompanied it, and who have shared with us some of their memories of this most popular steamer.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.