During the season of 1829, the Lake Ontario Canadian Line of Steamboats, comprising the ALCIOPE,Capt. James Mackenzie, the NIAGARA,Capt. John Mosier and the QUEENSTON,Capt. Joseph Whitney, were sailing from Prescott on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday mornings, after the arrival of stage coaches from Montreal. The ports of call were Brockville,Kingston,York and Niagara. The fare from Prescott to York or Niagara was £2.10.0 and from Kingston, £2.0.0.
The still-unfinished Burlington Canal had sufficient depth of water and the passage of schooners inbound with general cargo and outward bound with wheat and flour was frequent. To the little schooners ANN AND JANE, and R. H. BOUGHTON, went a special honour. Late in the season, in November, they sailed into the new harbour of Port Dalhousie, at the mouth of Twelve Mile Creek where each in turn was hauled into a wooden lock and began the long tow up the Welland Canal. After 39 more locks, they passed down the Welland River to Chippewa, where they entered the Niagara River, and headed south toward Lake Erie. The useable size of the locks was approximately 100 x 21, with 7 feet of water. Owing to the chronic shortage of funds, all structures were wooden, and hurriedly built. No bends in the natural sections had been straightened, but despite all shortcomings, the canal was now a reality, and it worked.
Twelve years were to pass before the Government of the United Canadas took over the operation of the canal, and began the work of enlarging the locks, reducing the number, and replacing all structures with durable stone. But in the meantime, a whole new era was dawning. All the way up the canal from Port Dalhousie, through St. Catharines,Merritton,Thorold to Port Robinson were potential industrial sites, suddenly created by the availability of hydraulic power from the waste weirs. There must have been great rejoicing in the homes of the country merchants and farmers and especially in the barracks in George Keefer's new village of Thorold, at the top of staircase, where the assorted Corkonians and County Downers would celebrate the completion of the job in their own inimitable manner. No doubt there were some glorious fights before the next sunrise. There would be much work yet to be done. Hydraulic canals would have to be dug and many mills would be built.
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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.