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


Plan of City docks, 1836
In 1836, the steamboat TRAVELLER,Capt. Sutherland, was placed on the Hamilton to Rochester service, with calls at Presqu'Ile Bay,Cobourg,Port Hope and Toronto. She made two trips per week and D. C. Gunn was her agent in Hamilton.

A direct service to Oswego was provided by the ST. GEORGE,Lt. Harper, R. N. and her ports of call were as follows: Leaving Prescott on Wednesday evening after the arrival of the DOLPHIN, from Dickinson's Landing where the Montreal stages ended their run, thence to Brockville and French Creek (now Clayton). She arrived at Kingston on Thursday morning and Oswego that evening, where she awaited the arrival of the canal boats. She crossed the lake to Cobourg and Pt. Hope on Friday morning, arrived in Toronto at 6 a. m. Saturday, went on to Hamilton that afternoon, and terminated the voyage at Niagara the same evening. Those wishing to take passage on the ST. GEORGE, or to ship cargo in her, were advised to apply to the Post Offices at Prescott or Brockville; to B. Phillips,Kingston,H. Fitzhugh at Oswego,H. E. Nichols,Cobourg, The Pt. Hope Harbour Co., Jas. Browne and D. McDonnell at Toronto,D. C. Gunn and Abel Land,Hamilton,J. Niven & Co.,Niagara and to W. Wynn or W. Duff at Queenston.

The steamboat BRITANNIA,Capt. Herchmer, left Hamilton daily at 7 a.m. for Toronto, returning from Toronto at 2 p.m. with stops at Oakville and the Burlington Canal. At Toronto she made connection with the TRANSIT,Capt. Richardson, for Niagara.

Since the opening of the Rideau Canal, some changes had taken place in the forwarding trade on the St. Lawrence, and it seemed that not all were happy about the conditions. Back in April 1833, the following notice appeared in the York Patriot:

"Circular. Brockville, 30th January 1833. The Carrying Trade between Upper and Lower Canada has become of such importance to the prosperity of these Provinces as to render it not less the duty than it is for the interest of the mercantile community to unite in giving greater facilities to the transport of produce and merchandise as well as the conveyance of passengers between Montreal and Upper Canada.

It is generally known that a powerful combination of interests has lately been formed by the junction of several of the principal Forwarders with the proprietors of the steamboats and stages between Montreal and Prescott, which virtually places the whole carrying trade of the country under their control; and notwithstanding the gentlemen thus united may now repudiate the idea of a monopoly, a power is placed in their hands which it will readily be admitted may be used as interest or policy may dictate.

For the purpose of interposing a salutary check in regulating prices, the Canada Inland Forwarding and Insurance Company is formed, with capital stock of 20,000 in 800 shares of 25 each, one half of which is reserved for Upper Canada.

It will be the object of this association to reduce the rates of transport to fair remunerating prices, and that they may be materially reduced and still afford an ample return of capital invested, may be reasonably inferred from the fortunes accumulated by those engaged in the forwarding business within the last few years.

For further particulars we beg to refer you to the articles of Association which will shortly be submitted to you, and respectfully request you will give countenance to this establishment by taking a few shares and giving it your business. We are, very respectfully, Your Obedient Servants, Jonas Jones, Chairman, Brockville Committee.
Committee of Management at Montreal: Adam Ferrie,T. M. Smith,Alex Millar,John Smith,Wm. Guild Jr.,Robert Armour and Chas. Mittleberger.
Committee of Management at Brockville: Jonas Jones,Alex Morris,Paul Glasford,Robert Hervey and M. Maynard Jr. The principal agents are W. L. Whiting at Montreal and James Morris at Brockville."

One factor that was contributing to the health of the St. Lawrence River forwarders was the inability of the Government to understand the importance of enlarging those three small locks on the Grenville Canal. They should have been replaced with locks the same size as those on the Rideau. Another factor will be found in the following notice which appeared in the Toronto Patriot on 11 October 1836:

"Forwarding. United Lines of the Rideau and St. Lawrence.The Ottawa and Rideau Forwarding Company beg leave to notify their friends and the public generally, that they have United their line with that of the Canada Inland Forwarding and Insurance Company.

Although a decided preference has justly been given to the Rideau Line, from the superior craft in which goods are forwarded as well as the certainty with regard to time, and diminution of risk attending the transport, yet some objections have been raised to the canals being closed earlier in the Fall than the St. Lawrence, and to obviate these objections, the company intend this Union to keep a full supply of boats on the St. Lawrence, not with a view of doing their business generally by that route, but to accommodate their customers in the Spring and Fall, as well as to meet every possible contingency that might take place on the canal and restore to the company the fullest confidence of the public.

To facilitate the transport of goods destined for the ports of Lakes Ontario and Erie, the company have arranged for their transshipment at both Prescott and Kingston, but from its eligibility, intend the latter to be the principal place of trans-shipment, when the Rideau Canal is open and no advance on the present rate of freight will be demanded from their regular customers while the canal is open in the Fall. Their stores at present are those of the Canada Inland Forwarding Co., and Mr. W. Dickinson, their agent, will continue to conduct the business there.

Goods forwarded by the Rideau Canal will not be insured unless ordered by the owners; those forwarded via the St. Lawrence will be insured by the Company, unless otherwise directed.

Mr. E. Hacket, of the Canada Inland Forwarding & Insurance Co., will, at all times be ready to receive orders for this company, to whom as well as the Company's agents at Montreal and Kingston, application may be made. E. Cushing, agent, Montreal,W. Dickinson, agent, Prescott and G. Brush, agent, Kingston."

What this all boils down to is that all these people involved in the forwarding trade, either via the Ottawa-Rideau system, or via the St. Lawrence, were practicing the old adage -

"make hay while the sun shines"
. Construction of the Cornwall Canal had commenced when John Beverly Robinson turned the first sod in 1834 and it was obvious that the remainder of the rapids would be by-passed by canals before long. The hand writing was already on the wall, and once it came true, Prescott,Brockville and Kingston would no longer be trans-shipment ports and the rip-roaring days of canaling on the Ottawa and the Rideau would just be something the old-timers would talk about - legend, I guess you'd call it.


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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.