The last week of March, 1845, was blessed with mild weather which freed all of the Lake Ontario harbours from Winter's grip. Forwarders, sailors, shipowners and shipbuilders were all busy with preparations for the new season. On the 24 March, the steamboat ECLIPSE, from Toronto, attempted to enter Hamilton, but was unable to do so by construction work on the piers.
"Propeller SYRACUSE, built at the shipyard of George S. Weeks in this village on Saturday last (10 May). She is owned by Messrs. Merrick, Davis & Co. and is one of the New York, Oswego & Chicago Line. She is decidedly the largest vessel yet built here for the Upper Lake trade, being 350 tons burthen and of sufficient capacity to stow 2,000 barrels below deck. Her cabins and staterooms are commodious and accommodations for passengers are superior to any other class of freight vessel. She is to be propelled by the Ericsson improved steam engine, which is now being placed aboard. She is advertised to leave this port for Chicago on the 29th inst."
"Hamilton is fast rivaling Toronto in its population and wealth".After lamenting to some extent, the distance between Hamilton's business center, and its waterfront, went on to mention that
"the good folks of Hamilton have all the railroad fever upon them, as well as those of Toronto." This writer had reached Hamilton on the steamboat ECLIPSE, "said to be the fastest on the Lake."
"The shipyard in this place exhibits quite a bustling appearance, and the skill and the business habits of its proprietor, Mr. Louis Shickluna, secures a good share of orders from distant places. The keel is now laid for a brig, ordered by a gentleman in Hamilton. The dimensions will be 110 ft. keel, 120 ft. on deck, 25 ft. 6 in. beam and 11 ft. depth of hold. Burthen is to exceed 350 tons, and she is to carry over 2,000 barrels under the hatches. She is to be ready next spring."The gentleman from Hamilton was Michael Willson Browne.
At the opposite end of the LakeMessrs. Calvin and Cook launched the schooner LIVERPOOL, for their own account, on 7 August at their shipyard on Garden Island. She slid into the water "all standing and ready for sea," and the Kingston Whig stated, that
"she is a credit to the laudable enterprise of her owners, and when all the canals are completed, nothing will prevent her from taking cargo from the head of Lake Huron, and discharging it at Liverpool."
One of the canals, the Beauharnois, was, in fact, officially opened on the 13 October, but two days before, on Saturday 11 October, the steamboat ALBION left Lachine with a party of Government officials and ascended the canal into Lake St. Francis, returning via the rapids. This was the same ALBION, built by William Parkyn, at Brockville in 1838. She measured 101.2 x 16.1 x 7.6 and was owned by H. & S. Jones. She was a side-wheeler with a gross tonnage of 168.
Service between Hamilton and the Niagara River ports had been provided by the steamboat TELEGRAPH,Capt. Masson, who made his last trip of the season on the 15 November. There were promises of a new steamer for this run in 1846.
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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.