Chapter 5
Ericsson Wheels
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


Dawing of str. Princess Royal
By April, the navigation season of 1843 was in full swing on Lake Ontario and on the 21st, the new steamer CHIEF JUSTICE ROBINSON, built at Niagara, made her first crossing to Toronto. Her time was two hours and forty-five minutes. The PRINCESS ROYAL and the CITY OF TORONTO were both on the Kingston run. Up the canal, in St. Catharines,Louis Shickluna launched the schooner HIGHLANDER on the 1 May. The steamboat GORE,Capt. Robert Kerr, was again on the Toronto-Hamilton service, as was the ADMIRAL,Capt. Wm. Gordon,

"until further notice".

The first screw-propelled Canadian vessel to venture into the Upper Lakes, was brought to the attention of the public by the St. Catharines Journal of 18 May 1843, as follows:

"Steam Packet ADVENTURE - This splendid steam schooner, which was built throughout by the Niagara Harbour & Dock Company, during the last winter, arrived at St. Catharines, on her way through the Welland Canal, bound for Chicago on the 19th inst. By invitation of Capt. William Taylor, of this village, an experienced and skillful navigator, who is appointed to the command of the ADVENTURE, we visited his vessel and found her an exceedingly well-built craft, neatly and substantially fitted for both freight and passengers, with a superior engine on the Ericsson principle, of 25 horse power. We also learn that it is the intention of the proprietors to run this vessel regularly, as a packet, for the conveyance of merchandise and produce, as well as passengers and emigrants, between Montreal and Chicago, touching at all the principal ports on the Canadian side of Lakes Ontario,Erie and Huron. It is hoped the enterprise in which she is embarked will be supported in such a manner as to induce the building of more schooners on the same plan. Indeed we think she can hardly fail of success; as the advantages she offers to the merchants and all others concerned are, the avoidance of trans-shipment and the saving of forwarding charges - two important items of expense in the trading business of the country.
" The measurements of the ADVENTURE were given as 90 x 17 x 6, tonnage 112.

A follow-up to the above appeared in the same paper on the 15 June, and reads:

"Successful Voyage - Most of our readers will recollect, that the British steam packet ADVENTURE,Capt. Wm. Taylor, of St. Catharines, was noticed in the Journal, some three or four weeks since, as having passed this place on her way to Chicago, on an experimental trip, being destined, if the enterprise should meet with sufficient encouragement, to become one of a new line of steam schooners, with Ericsson propellers, between that port and Montreal. We have now the gratification of stating that the ADVENTURE has returned with a full cargo, having had a good run and very flattering encouragement in the way of business. On her arrival at Chicago, she was hailed by the citizens, with much joy, as forming a new era in the commerce of the Lakes - being the first vessel that ever hoisted the British flag in that port - and the reception Capt. Taylor met with was very cordial and satisfactory. Her cargo consisted of 3,500 bus. of wheat and 128 bbls. of pork and lard, consigned to Geo. Barnett, of St. Catharines. She was only about nine days, coming down, although head winds prevailed most of the time, and consequently had to steam nearly the whole distance. She thereby demonstrated most clearly, the importance and utility of Ericsson propellers. Another fact, greatly in their favour, which ought not to be omitted, is that no extra expense for towing through the canal is required...."

The St. Catharines Journal, on the 10 August 1843, noted that the activities at the Burlington Canal had started. It stated:

"The railroad from the Mountain to the Beach is now completed and the hauling of the stone has commenced. A great quantity of timber has been delivered and every arrangement made to proceed in the work with vigour. The new canal is to be made on the site of the old one. The South Pier will form the breastwork for the protection of the new work which is to be laid down. The North Wall is to be removed and the Canal widened to about 160 feet."

An undated report from the Quebec Gazette, reprinted in St. Catharines on the 12 September gives us more news about the propeller ADVENTURE;

"The steam propeller ADVENTURE,Capt. Taylor, with about 700 bbls. of flour for Messrs. P. Langlois & Son, arrived here yesterday afternoon, direct from Toronto.... She is advertised to leave Quebec to-morrow, direct to Toronto and has good accommodation for several passengers. We hope that her enterprising owners will receive that encouragement which they are so justly entitled to."

In October, the ADVENTURE was again in the news, when she successfully ran the Marshall Channel through the Cedars Rapids, while drawing five feet, six inches. Her cargo was mostly flour and butter from Toronto. The channel she used, had only recently been discovered by Capt. Marshall of the steamboat CHARLOTTE, of the MacPherson & Crane fleet, and had ten feet of water throughout. The old channel would permit a draft of not more than three feet, six inches during low-water periods.

The government was now getting very enthusiastic on the subject of canals, and this year began work on the Williamsburg Canals, the last section of the Upper St. Lawrence still undeveloped. At the same time, the Welland Canal was being completely rebuilt with stone locks 150 feet long. The Feeder Canal to Dunnville had been enlarged and the Broad Creek Lock was under construction between Stromness and Port Maitland. It was essential that this short section, about 1 3/4 miles, be completed as soon as possible, so that the Main Line from Welland to Port Colborne could be finished, and Lake Erie would at last become the summit level, ensuring an absolutely reliable source of water. For some time, it had been feared, and rightly so, that the Grand River supply would gradually fail, as the land was settled and cleared of forest, and the water tables dropped.

Late in November, the Niagara Chronicle rejoiced over the arrival in port of the ADVENTURE, the first vessel to come directly from Montreal. It said in part:

"... and the merchants are highly pleased, as well with the rate of freight, as the condition of the goods. Instead of torn bales, broken boxes and unhooped hogsheads, as used to be the case, the merchandise was all in as good order as when it left the warehouse - a fact that, of itself, is equal to a heavy percentage."
So much for the St. Lawrence forwarders. At this point in time, they were just about a thing of the past.

The ADVENTURE closed out the year, being advertised to commence service on the 27 December, between Toronto,Niagara & Lewiston, weather permitting.


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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.