Chapter 4
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


Although the Rebellion and its aftermath cast a shadow over the business of the country for several years, there were, in 1838, two events that would have a profound influence on commerce and industry. Hamilton had acquired its first foundry when John Fisher established his business in 1835, and now, James Belle Ewart, a wealthy and enterprising citizen of Dundas decided to emulate Fisher. He procured the services of a Scottish millwright by the name of John Gartshore, who had come to Upper Canada in 1835 and built a mill in Fergus. Two years later, he was burned out. Gartshore supervised the building and operation of the Dundas Foundry until 1869.

The other important event concerns St. Catharines where a Maltese shipwright named Louis Shickluna acquired the shipyard of the late Russel Armington. He advertised his intention to carry on the business of shipbuilding and repairing, and he did just that until 1880.

Shortly before midnight on the 29 May, the steamboat SIR ROBERT PEEL, built in 1837 at Brockville, stopped at a cord-wood dock on Wellesley Island, to take on wood. At this secluded spot, she was ambushed by Bill Johnston, self-styled "pirate of the Thousand Islands", with a gang of hoodlums, most of whom were said to be exiles from Upper Canada. They drove the crew and passengers ashore, ransacked the vessel and set her on fire, before rowing away in a flotilla of small boats. The hue and cry raised by the Press was quite dramatic, as no doubt the United States press was, after the CAROLINE affair.

James Lockhart, of Niagara, sold his steamboat EXPERIMENT to the Government, who fitted her out as an armed patrol vessel. By mid-July she was cruising in the Islands in search of Bill Johnston.

Two steamboats were built on the Niagara River during 1838. The QUEEN VICTORIA was launched at Queenston, and the GORE at Niagara. The QUEEN VICTORIA, together with the EXPERIMENT and the COBOURG took part in the Battle of Windmill Point, below Prescott, on the 18 November.

On the 4 December, another Border Incident occurred on the Detroit River, when the steamboat THAMES was burned by a raiding party from Detroit.


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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.