Chapter 3
Port Hamilton
Table of Contents

Title Page
1 A place called Hamilton.
2 Public Works and Private Enterprise
3 Port Hamilton
4 1837-1839
5 Ericsson Wheels
6 1844-1847
7 Good Times in Port
8 Boom Town Days
9 Depression Years
10 Better Times Ahead
11 1867-1870
12 Prosperity for the Shipbuilders
13 The Second Railway Building Era
14 1884-1888
15 The Electric Era
16 The Iron Age
Table of Illustrations


An indication that all was not entirely satisfactory in the River Forwarding Trade appeared on 22 March 1828, when the following notice was published, by four of the leading firms in the business:

"We, the undersigned, hereby give notice that we will not be accountable or liable as Forwarders or Common Carriers, on the River St. Lawrence, for the hazard and dangers of the navigation hence to Montreal. We promise the public to employ none but sober, experienced men as masters of our boats. We will at all times, when it can be done, effect insurance on property consigned to us, with some respectable office, for its safe delivery in Montreal, and at the lowest premium to be obtained .... Persons who object to this course will immediately signify it by letter, in which case they must consider themselves subject to all the liabilities of the navigation, carelessness and inattention of our boatmen excepted.
H. & S. Jones
James M'Cutcheon
Hooker & Henderson
John McPherson & Co.
Prescott, March 22, 1828."

Two days later, Hamilton's first shipowner, Wm. Chisholm, [page 15] penned a notice and took it to the office of the Gore Gazette for publication. In it he informed the public that he now had five vessels on Lake Ontario, and that he had appointed the following agents, John McPherson & Co.,Hooker & Henderson, and Jas. M'Cutcheon at Prescott;Archibald MacDonald at Kingston; Kerby & Co.,Queenston;Jas. Lockhart at Niagara;Wm. Bergin at York;John Ross at Dundas, and at "Burlington Bay" - John L. Williams,Andrew T. Kerby,Abel Land,Richard Hatt and George Chisholm.

Elsewhere on Lake Ontario shipyards were busy. Down at Bath, that master shipwright, Henry Gildersleeve, launched the steamboat SIR JAMES KEMPT on Monday, 5 August, as a replacement for his QUEEN CHARLOTTE. The new hull was towed to Kingston by the TORONTO, for the fitting of boiler and engine. At Niagara, the Boulton & Watt engine out of the FRONTENAC, burned the previous year, was placed in a new hull called ALCIOPE. Four years later, she was renamed UNITED KINGDOM, and later was converted to a sailing vessel being wrecked on Nicholson's Island, under the name of FRONTENAC.

On 30 June 1828, an item appeared in the Niagara Gleaner regarding arbitration in connection with the Burlington Canal. The arbitrators were stated to be Daniel O'Reilly, for the Commissioners, Edward McBride for the contractor, and Allan Napier MacNab. They had evidently awarded 12,938 to the contractor, Strowbridge, but the Commissioners not only refused to pay this money, but demanded that the Attorney General show cause as to why they should. One wonders if MacNab, who was not known for his saintliness, and his two Irish friends had a little boodle in mind, including, of course Mr. Strowbridge.

In the days of sail, there were always connections between the ports of Hamilton and Oswego - grain and lumber in the old days, hard coal right into the Twentieth Century, when the last of the tired old schooners were struggling up and down the Lake, trying to make an honest dollar. But on the 12 December 1828, there was much rejoicing in Oswego, for they had a direct connection to New York. The new Oswego Canal, a branch of the Erie, was completed. This news probably sent shivers down the backs of the Montreal shipping men, for now, not only could the Upper Lakes funnel their freight to New York, but Lake Ontario could do so too. The monopoly was ended by a far less dangerous system of navigation than the St. Lawrence.


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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.