The season of 1844 opened with an incident of somewhat melodramatic quality. In the stygian darkness of a January night, a man was making his silent way along Burlington Beach. He was John Henry Palmer, a zealous Custom House Officer, acting on a tip, and on his arrival at the Piers, he apprehended the schooner WILLIAM JONES, engaged in the nefarious business of smuggling. He also found that a considerable amount of her cargo had already been secreted in the storehouse of Mr. Russell, the contractor on the Canal job. The Hamilton Gazette, whose reporter threw light upon this dastardly act, said:
"Much credit is due to Mr. Palmer for his bold stroke."We doubt that the loyal and enthusiastic officer received any accolade, and certainly Mr. Russell, who held the contract would have little to fear. He would naturally be a staunch Tory, and as such, a friend of Sir Allan MacNab, M.P., who would leap to the defense of one who would, of course, have included the necessary payola in his successful bid for the work.
Of more importance, this year would see the establishment of the firm of Hiram Cook & Co., and the construction of Cook's Wharf , at the foot of Bay Street. Hiram Cook, who came to Canada about 1836 from Jefferson County, N.Y., had become a member of the timber firm of Calvin, Cook & Counter, at Kingston. This partnership was dissolved in 1843, when John Counter pulled out. Cook continued as a trading partner of D. D. Calvin until 1850, when the connection was severed, by Calvin, as the result of certain deals on the part of Cook.
The St. Catharines Journal, of 31 May, 1844, printed two reports emphasizing the speed of inter-city travel. The first concerns the Hon. John Hamilton, who boarded the steamboat CANADA, at Kingston and arrived in Montreal 19 hours later. He stayed five hours, during which he conducted his business and then embarked on the same vessel for the return to Kingston. The entire trip consumed a mere 50 hours, including the stop-over. The other item tells us that the propeller ADVENTURE, of the Toronto & St. Lawrence Steam Navigation Co., made the run down to Montreal in two and a half days, from Toronto.
In June, the steamboat FRONTENAC, which had been built in 1841 at Kingston, was placed on the Kingston,Toronto and Hamilton run by Capt. Ives, who was endeavouring to acquire the TRAVELLER also. A month or so later, the Kingston Chronicle told its readers that
"The proprietors of the Lake Ontario Mail Steamers (Hon. John Hamilton, et al.) had made an arrangement with Messrs. Ives, by which the FRONTENAC had been withdrawn from the Kingston-Hamilton service."In other words, the competition had been successfully eliminated.
The month of August brought news of the progress being made on the Welland and Feeder Canals. The Broad Creek Lock, built by McCulloch, Clark & Co. was complete except for the hanging of the gates, and the work of building piers at Port Maitland was well in hand. On the Welland, contractor George Barnett would finish Locks 3, 4, 5 and 6 within the month, and Boyce, Courtwright & Co. had almost completed Locks 7 and 8. There seemed every possibility that the entire Welland Canal would be ready for navigation in the spring of 1845. As a matter of interest, here are the rest of the contractors, together with the Locks they built: Sherwood & Buel, Lock 1; Brown & McDonell, Lock 2; David Thompson & Co., Locks 9 to 14 incl.; W. Buel, Locks 15 and 26; Samuel Zimmerman & Co., Locks 16 and 17; Boyce & Co., Lock 18; McCulloch & Co., Locks 19 and 20; Oswald & Wynn, Locks 21 and 22; Sharp & Quinn, Locks 23, 24 and 25.
In September, there arrived in Hamilton, the propeller ST. THOMAS, on her way from Montreal to Dundas with pig iron for James Belle Ewart, and others. A cargo of flour awaited her, for the return to Montreal. The Hamilton Journal stated that she was the first vessel to trade direct between the two ports. The ST. THOMAS was built in 1842 at Kingston, being launched on 15 April, that year. Her engine was built by the Niagara Harbour & Dock Co., and she was registered as a "steam schooner". She and her sister-ship, the LONDON, were intended for the Port Stanley to Montreal trade, and her maiden voyage began at Niagara on the 7 July 1842.
While on the subject of Dundas, it might be interesting to note that navigation on the Desjardins Canal opened on 3 April and closed on 23 November 1844. During that space of time, the following cargo was handled: 64,026 bbls. flour, 753 bbls. whiskey, 115 bbls. ashes, 633 bbls. pork, 5,271 bbls. salt, 25 bbls. resin, 16 bbls. tallow & lard, 2 bbls. plaster and 311 bbls. grass seed, 114 Firkins butter, 2,727 bus. wheat, corn & peas, 13,817 Cwts. merchandise, 199,817 puncheon staves, 1,610 pipe staves, 255 1/2 tons coal, 331 1/4 tons pig iron. There were 29 passages by schooners and propellers, plus 421 passages by Durham boats and scows.
Return to Home Port
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.