Chapter 10
Better Times Ahead
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 waterfront community lost one of its well-known and well-liked members on the 30 January, with the sudden death of Dennis Phelan, the boat-builder. This untimely loss was the result of an accident in his shop.

The steamer EMPRESS was sold out of the Royal Mail Line in March and it was stated that she would operate between Ogdensburg and Montreal, taking the place of the ALEXANDRA of the American River Line,

Navigation opened at Hamilton on the 6 April with the arrival of Edward Browne's schooner CHINA, in tow of the tug YOUNG LION from Port Dalhousie, where the schooner had been lengthened during the winter. MacKay's schooner GARIBALDI sailed the following day for Oswego with a cargo of flour, loaded at the Great Western Wharf. She was the first to leave.

Word from Kingston told that the Royal Mail steamers GRECIAN,MAGNET and PASSPORT, as well as Jacques, Tracy & Co.'sOTTAWA were all fitted out. In addition to the three mentioned, the Royal Mail Line would include the KINGSTON,SPARTAN and CHAMPION, the only wooden hulled vessel in the fleet. A new steamer, the CORINTHIAN, was being fitted out at the Canadian Locomotive & Engine Co, for Mr. Gildersleeve'sCobourg-Rochester service. Henderson's Line was down to two vessels, the BRANTFORD and the OSPREY.

A good west wind on the 13 April, helped five schooners on their way out of the harbour from the Great Western Wharf, all laden with pipe staves. Here are their names and quantities of staves: schooner SEA GULL for Kingston, 18,000; LILLY for Kingston, 11,000; LINNIE POWELL for Kingston, 15,000; SULTAN for Kingston, 10,000 and the HELEN also for Kingston with 12,000. The same day, the barque SOUTHAMPTON sailed for Kingston with 16,000 ft. of square timber for D. Patton & Co.; the JOHN RAE cleared for Oswego with 10,223 bus. of barley from John Smith's storehouse, as well as 936 bbls. of flour and 330 bus. of peas from the Great Western Wharf.

In an anonymous letter to the editor, appearing in the Spectator on the 11 May, the writer gave glowing accounts of the industries of the town of Dundas and among other things, he mentioned that John Gartshore of the Dundas Foundry, was turning but two engines per week for the oil pumping Stations in Enniskillen Township, and was also working on the engines for the Great Western Ry. car ferry at Windsor.

Cunningham, Shaw & Co.'sWIRRALITE sailed from Liverpool on 7 April and arrived at Quebec on 10 May with general cargo for Toronto and Hamilton. The THERMUTIS was at Bruce Mines and would finish loading at Detroit and the ETOWAH would be coming out in the Autumn. This news was provided by Aeneas D. MacKay on the 16 May.

Capt. John Walsh advertised his service to Oaklands with the PRINCESS OF WALES, five trips per day, fare 12 1/2 cents.

On the 16 May, the Hamilton Spectator carried a Notice of Insolvency regarding Thomas Rae and R. H. Rae, trading under the firm name of Rae Brothers & Co. The creditors were advised to meet on the 6 June at the office of Willson & McKeand.

A pall of gloom spread over the town of Dundas after the drowning of four young people in the Desjardins Canal on the evening of 13 June. The steamer ARGYLE, bound for Dundas at about 8:00 p.m. overtook a rowboat containing E. W. Coleman, son of James Coleman,Miss Carrie Coleman,Miss Kate Gage of Stoney Creek,Miss Creighton and George Creighton. The boat was swamped and capsized and the only survivor was George Creighton, who could swim. The ARGYLE stopped and attempted to render assistance, but to no avail. She then proceeded to Dundas for some grappling irons and came back to recover the bodies.

Aeneas MacKay placed an advertisement in the Spectator on the 23 June, giving notice that the steamer BANSHEE,Capt. Thos. Harbottle, would commence service between Hamilton and Toronto on 27 June.

This summer, the MAGNET was again placed on the Saguenay River service, sailing from Napoleon Wharf in Quebec.Capt. Fairgrieve was again in command.

The steamer HURON was chartered by the Orangemen of Hamilton for an excursion to Toronto on the 12 July. To keep the festivities on a high level, a brass band was provided.

On Saturday, 25 August, the steamer SPARTAN sank near Caughnawaga. It seems the captain became confused by bush fire smoke sweeping across the river and attempted. to reach a wharf on the south shore, where he could wait for visibility to improve. However, the SPARTAN struck a rock before reaching the wharf and settled with only her saloon deck above water. All hands got off in the boats.

Messrs. F. G. Beckett & Co. received some publicity in the Hamilton Spectator in August, when a reporter visited the engine and boiler works on James Street North. Their specialty at the time was the portable engine much in demand by saw mills and oil wells, and the plant was turning out four per week.

An item from Rochester, N.Y., dated 18 September said:

"The schooner LOCHIEL,Capt. Scott from Dundas, C.W., for Oswego with 9,000 bus. of wheat, foundered in Lake Ontario at daybreak this morning, 15 miles north-east of the Genesee River Light. The captain and crew came into the Genesee at 9:00 a.m, in the yawl boat, having saved nothing from the vessel."

A violent gale raged across the Lakes on Sunday, the 17 September and the schooners MAGGIE and IRIS came ashore on Burlington Beach. The following day, the THERMUTIS unloaded her cargo from Liverpool at MacKay's Wharf. In addition to the THERMUTIS,Cunningham, Shaw & Co. were operating the ETOWAH, the WIRRALITE and the WAVERTREE, which was formerly the U. S. vessel R. H. HARMON.

A loss occurred in the Thousand Islands in the early hours of Sunday the 24 September, when the propeller BUCKEYE of the Northern Transportation Co., bound from Ogdensburg to Toledo, struck a rock near Cross Over Island Light. She slid off the rock and sank in 70 feet of water. Three women passengers were lost and the survivors were picked up by the CHAMPION and returned to Ogdensburg,

On the 5 October, word was received that the SPARTAN had been successfully refloated, using 64 screw jacks. Divers found that she had ripped her bottom open for 22 feet, to a width of eight inches. After a temporary patch was fitted, steam pumps completed the dewatering and she was towed to Cantin's Dry Dock in Montreal for repair.


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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.