More than sixty years ago, when the profession of marine engineer on the Great Lakes was new and poorly supplied, Alexander Milne came to the United States from his home in Aberdeen, Scotland. He left his native land at the instance of the Royal Mail line, a Canadian steamship company which carried the mails for the subjects of the Queen along the great fresh-water seas. The now varied commerce of the lakes was in its infancy then, and all classes of experienced seamen were difficult to secure, so that many followers of the sea in other lands were attracted to this corner of the world. Among them was Alexander Milne, who founded what is perhaps the most important family of marine engineers on the Great Lakes. He was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, in the year 1809, and had followed the profession of marine engineering from the earliest engagement he was able to secure. During the years he was connected with the Royal Mail line he was chief engineer of the fleet, and the important and responsible duties which devolved upon him were ably and conscientiously performed. Among the vessels of this line whose machinery he directed were the Commodore Berry, on which he was sailing when it was lost; the Admiral, Princess Royal, City of Kingston, City of Toronto, Transit and Scotland.
He married Miss Bessie Vair, of Berwickshire, Scotland. Their children were James, who died in infancy; George B., chief engineer of the propeller J.H. Devereux; John, who is deceased; Alexander, chief engineer of the side-wheel steamer Alexandria; William, chief engineer of the propeller Niagara; Thomas, chief engineer of the propeller Melbourne; and Jessie, deceased.
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This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.