Chapter 6
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


The first important marine news of the 1846 season appeared in March, in a dispatch from the Kingston News which told those interested in maritime affairs that John Counter (1799 - 1862), able and enterprising mayor and businessman had taken a 20 year lease of the Kingston Marine Railway Co. It went on to mention that a fine new propeller for Capt. Patterson was nearing completion in that yard, and that Messrs. Collins & Power, at Portsmouth, had a 330 ton brig under construction, for Hunter & Pearson. Also at Portsmouth, Beaupré had finished lengthening the PRINCE OF WALES. At Garden Island,Calvin & Cook had rebuilt the schooners WILLIAM PENN and HANNAH COUNTER.

Monday, the 13 April, was a cold blustery day in St. Catharines, but not bad enough to discourage a large crowd from gathering at Louis Shickluna's shipyard, to witness three launchings within the space of one hour. For M. W. Browne, of Hamilton, this would be a notable occasion and he must have been proud indeed at the sight of his new brig, the BREEZE, standing on the ways, fully rigged, with all her colours snapping in the wind and waiting for that short slide into the waters of the canal. The launch was a success, although delayed by the cold weather having congealed the grease so that jack-screws were used to start her moving. The two other launchings involved barges for Mr. A. K. Boomer, who, together with Mr. Browne, presented Louis Shickluna with a 125 lb. bell for the shipyard.

Early in June, the Toronto Examiner gave publicity to the new propeller IRELAND, as follows:

"A New Class of Propellers - Steamer IRELAND - This splendid propeller which visited our wharves last week, and took a load of flour to Montreal, is built on a large scale and fitted up in superior style, being more than twice the usual size of propellers now upon our lakes. She was built at Kingston and her dimensions are: 134.4 x 22.1 x 9.6; Gross 269 tons. Her cabin, which is 83 feet long, is on the main deck, amidships. Along each side of the cabin is a row of staterooms, ten in number, each containing three berths. She has a promenade deck from one end to the other, up to which the bulwarks extend. She is cutter rigged and can set 640 sq. yds. of canvas and she is calculated to carry 2,000 bbls. flour. Her cylinder has a bore of 23 inches and stroke of 24 inches. The high-pressure inverted engine was built by the Kingston Foundry Company and drove two Ericsson Wheels, 7 ft. 6 in. in diameter on shafts of malleable iron, 6 in. in diameter and 23 feet long. Her boiler consists of two shells, 8 x 4 ft. with 150 copper flues, each 2 in. diameter, and the heads are 3/4 in. thick. The thickness of the shells is five sixteenths inch, that of the flues is one sixteenth rated at 30 p.s.i. The engine is expected to run at 30 r.p.m. in order to attain a speed of 9 knots."
According to the IRELAND's register, the shipbuilders were Messrs. Fowler & Wood and her first owner was Capt. Robert Patterson. To the IRELAND goes the honour of being the first Canadian-built canaller of the Second Welland Canal size. Many more would follow, from this date right through to 1875, by which time it was obvious that a Third Canal would be built, and these rather homely little steamers would be obsolete, as were their predecessors, like the ADVENTURE,ST. THOMAS,VANDALIA, the BEAGLE and more, in 1845. Some of them would survive, even long enough to be lengthened so that they could carry greater cargoes through the Third Canal which opened in 1883.

The IRELAND received some more publicity on the 16 September, when the Montreal Courier enlightened its readers in this manner:

"We have to state for the information of our mercantile readers, what to us, and ought to be to them, an interesting fact. There is now lying at Lachine, a propeller steamboat, the IRELAND,Capt. Patterson, having on board, 2,300 bbls. flour. This vessel, the largest, and with the largest cargo ever yet known, has descended the rapids, and passed through the Beauharnois Canal in perfect safety, drawing 7 1/2 feet of water. She took the ground slightly at the entrance to the Beauharnois Canal, thereby proving that it will be necessary to deepen the channel if the transit of such large vessels becomes common, as it doubtless will. She brought 2,500 bbls. to Kingston, but unshipped 200 of them at that point with the view to being on the safe side, on her trial trip. When the Lachine Canal is finished, we have no doubt that vessels of this class will proceed at once to Quebec."

Late in September, Capt. James Sutherland, formerly of the TRAVELLER, returned from England, where he had been for the material for an iron-hulled steamboat similar to the one now building at Kingston for the Hon. John Hamilton. These new vessels would come out as MAGNET and PASSPORT, respectively.

On Sunday the 4 October, in the early hours, the main building of Ewart & Gartshore's establishment in Dundas, containing the foundry and the mill-stone manufactory were destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt immediately, in stone.

Steamer Passport, Photo Author's Collection
More information concerning the new steamboat PASSPORT appeared in the Kingston Argus, early in November:

", she floats, a thing of beauty upon the broad waters of Ontario, and will, by next May be fully completed, and stemming the rapids of the mighty St. Lawrence. Great credit is due to Mr. McAuslan, the engineer who has been in the employ of Mr. Hamilton for the last sixteen years. Mr. McAuslan went to Scotland for the hull of the PASSPORT and in superintending the fitting-out, has shown much ability.

The name PASSPORT, which has been given to the vessel, struck us at first as somewhat inappropriate, but when we came to reflect that its meaning is to go or pass with safety and certainty, we concluded that it was extremely appropriate. For if we cannot go in such a model of naval architecture with certainty and safety, we should like to know in what more safe and certain mode the public can be conveyed."

The St. Catharines Journal, on the 17 December, quoted the Niagara Chronicle, regarding the MAGNET -

"The New Iron Steamer - We are glad to learn that all the material for this vessel has arrived safely at the Niagara Harbour & Dock Co. works. Captain Sutherland is personally superintending the building. The workmen employed are chiefly from Scotland, brought out for the express purpose. They have all had considerable experience in putting iron vessels together, and mechanics of this class are yet scarce in Canada. The engine for this vessel is in the course of manufacture by our Dock Company. Every exertion will be made to have her ready by the 1st of next July...."


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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.