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 month of February, 1866 brought great news from Enniskillen Township, where an exciting new strike was made at Oil Springs. One well, the Hendricks, was pumping 2,000 bbls. per day.

While Oil Springs was producing the oil, Hamilton was burning it up. According to the Hamilton Times of 2 March, a disastrous fire occurred the previous evening at J. M. Williams' refinery and created a spectacular cloud of dense black smoke. The report said that

"the buildings which was built of stones was owned by Mr. F. W. Fearman, who took a considerable loss. The cause of the fire was not determined, but it was supposed that a tank either over-flowed or leaked."

In the United States, the Civil War being over, thousands of discharged soldiers were easy prey for the Fenian rabble-rousers and in Canada West, the Volunteers were busy recruiting and training. The Hamilton Times on 10 March said:

"The blaze of military enthusiasm kindled by the threatened invasion by lawless hordes fostered in the neighboring Republic, has swept over the land like a whirlwind, and as one mans the loyal people of Canada will arise in arms to resist the enemy of Britain. Since the reception of the order from Government calling the Volunteers of Hamilton into service, the entire force abandoning all other pursuits and considerations of life have been constantly on the alert, engaging in frequent drill and seem inspired, with the determination to stand by the old flag and defend the sanctity of their homes to the last."

More news from the oil country continued to occupy the front pages, the short-lived Bothwell Field coming in for its share along with more strikes at Oil Springs, at which town several companies of volunteers had been formed for the National emergency.

With the end. of the Reciprocity Treaty on the 17 March, lists of tariffs appeared in the newspapers.

A sailing notice appeared in the Hamilton Times on 19 March for

"Freight & Passenger Line from Montreal to Kingston,Toronto,Hamilton and St. Catharines"
and listed these vessels: HER MAJESTY,Capt Chisholm,AMERICA,Capt. Moore,WHITBY,Capt. Leslie and MAGNET,Capt. Malcolmson. The agents were W. H. Ireland at Montreal,E. Chaffey & Co. at Toronto,Norris & Wheeler at St. Catharines and John Proctor and Geo. T. Malcolmson at Hamilton.

On Tuesday, 14 April, navigation opened when the schooner JOAN D'ARC,Capt. Jas. Hill, passed through the harbour on her way from Whitby to Dundas. The first departure of the season was the propeller MAGNET,Capt. Geo. T. Malcolmson, for Kingston on the 17 April.

Visiting the Great Western Railway shops, a reporter from the Hamilton Times had this to say:

"In the boiler shop may be seen the immense boilers, four in number, designed for the company's new iron ferry steamer to ply between Windsor and Detroit, which is now nearing completion... Their dimensions are 20'6" in lengthq by 8'6 " in diameter. The material used in their construction is 3/8" plate. The flues in each number 213, varying from 3 to 4 inches in diameter. The work is double rivetted throughout and extra stayed. These huge boilers have been in progress since early last Fall, some 30 or 40 men being constantly employed under the supervision of J. G. McIntyre, foreman of the boiler department. The four boilers will shortly be completed and transported to Windsor over the Great Western Ry."

H. L. Bastien, former ship-carpenter with James Whyte, placed an advertisement in the Hamilton Times on the 28 April, notifying readers that he had taken over the boat-house of the late Dennis Phelan. He had sail and row boats for rent and would take charter parties sailing to any point around the harbour. Tackle and minnows at the boat-house at all times.

Word from the Oil Springs Chronicle, reprinted in the Times on the 4 May stated that Hamiltonian N. F. Birely had been successful in striking oil. He was apparently doing quite well until his old second-hand pump broke down, but he was busy installing a new one.

We are reminded that there was still traffic on the Rideau Canal, by an item recording the first arrival at Kingston. It was M. K. Dickinson's steamer CITY OF OTTAWA from Ottawa.

The Hamilton Times, on 8 May, carried this article regarding the steamer ARGYLE:

"This favourite steamer, the property of Messrs. Cameron & Innes, enters upon the business of this season with increased facilities for the comfort and safety of passengers. Her machinery has been thoroughly over-hauled and a splendid new boiler of much larger capacity has been put in. This will not fail to give increased confidence to the large numbers who have been in the habit of making regular trips to the Beach or Oaklands during the summer months."

The Canadian Inland Steam Navigation Co., commonly referred to as the Royal Mail Line, did not change their route, as had been rumoured. Their advertisement, placed in the Hamilton Times on 4 May, listed the ports of call as follows: Hamilton,Toronto,Pt. Darlington,Pt. Hope,Cobourg,Kingston,Gananoque,Brockville,Prescott,Cornwall and Montreal. The fleet consisted of: GRECIAN,Capt. Clark Hamilton,MAGNET,Capt. John B. Fairgrieve,CHAMPION,Capt. Sinclair,SPARTAN,Capt. Thos. Howard,PASSPORT,Capt. J. R. Kelly and the KINGSTON,Capt. Andrew Dunlop. In Hamilton, the uptown agent was John W. Murton and at the waterfront Edw. Browne. The MAGNET was again sent down the river and was to commence her Saguenay cruises on the 26 June from Napoleon Wharf at Quebec.

The Hamilton Spectator reported on the 10 July, that:

"The timber, which for some time has been formed into drams, for the purpose of rafting to Quebec, moved off in tow of the tug HERCULES yesterday. There were six drams containing 48,000 feet of square timber and they carried 10,000 pipe staves."

The same day, the steamer KINGSTON arrived with 203 Norwegian emigrants who had sailed from Christiania in the ship WANEREST and had arrived in Montreal a few days ago. At 10:00 p.m. they boarded a train on their way to Chicago.

An excursion to Queenston Heights for the employees of F. G. Beckett & Co. was advertised to take place on Wednesday, 25 July, aboard the steamer OSPREY. She would sail from MacKay's Wharf at 7:00 a.m. and returning, would leave Queenston at 8:00 p.m. Brass and String Bands would be provided and the single fare was $1 or $1.50 for a couple. The public were invited.

In 1864, A. M. Robertson had built a scow for Messrs. Barr & Maxwell, to be used in the refloating of the burned-out schooner ORION, in the Deep Cut. The ORION was raised and brought to Hamilton where she was hauled out at Robertson's yard and on the 16 August, the rebuilt ORION was launched, the honours being performed. by the shipbuilder's daughter, Miss Jennie Robertson.

The next day, H. M. Gunboat HERON anchored in the harbour and the Hamilton Spectator reported:

"His Worship Mayor Chas. Magill went aboard Friday afternoon and paid his respects to the commander, Lieut. Stephenson. Having ascertained that he did not leave until the following evening, he called the council together and having stated the object of the meeting, an address was prepared and adopted and the Mayor and some of the Council members proceeded to the wharf. After meeting the officers of the HERON, they drove up to the Royal Hotel where a luncheon had been prepared."

After the usual toasts and responses, plus some songs, the Councillors and the Officers boarded cabs and drove up to the Mountain View Hotel for a panoramic view of the city and surrounding country, The notable point to bear in mind is that this little event was planned in a matter of one or two hours and was carried out with complete success by the Mayor and Councillors. At the time of this writing, (1980) it is difficult to digest, especially when we listen to, or read about the general confusion which prevails among the inmates of our City Hall.

A launching took place at Wellington Square on the 4 September, when the schooner AZOV slid down the ways at 3:00 p.m. She was built for Messrs. Buntin & Waldie and measured 108.4 x 23.7 x 10.0 and was designed to carry 14,000 bus. of grain or 200,000 feet of lumber. The steamer ARGYLE had taken passengers from Hamilton to witness the event in the morning, but certain difficulties caused the launch to be delayed. The name of the shipbuilder was Melancthon Simpson.

The Great Western Railway car-ferry GREAT WESTERN was launched from the shipyard of H. & S. Jenking at Windsor on the 6 September. The hull was prefabricated by Barclay, Curle & Co., at Whiteinch, on the Clyde and was designed by S. Risely, Government Inspector of Engines. The re-assembly of the hull was supervised by Mr. Currie of Toronto. In the knocked-down condition, her hull comprised 10,878 pieces of iron, mostly plate and angle, with a total weight of about 500 tons.

By the 10 December, the following vessels were in winter quarters at Hamilton: steamer PRINCESS OF WALES, schooners MARCO POLO,CHINA,S. D. WOODRUFF,D. McINNIS,ORION and HERCULES and the barges SCOTLAND,IRELAND and QUEBEC.

Also in December, there appeared in the papers, a prospectus for the Intercolonial Steamship Company (Limited), the object of which was to establish a regular trade route between Canada and the Maritime Provinces. To open up new and free markets for our commerce in lieu of the markets of the United States, now so restricted in consequence of the abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty. It was encouraged, as well, by the discussions concerning Confederation of the British Provinces, which had been going on for two years past. The list of Provisional Directors was quite impressive: from Toronto,Hon. Wm. McMaster, M. L. C., Hon. Wm. Pierce Howland, M.P.P., J. G. Worts,Thos. Chisholm; from Hamilton,Donald McInnis,Adam Brown and Thos. Swinyard; from London,Hon. John Carling, M.P.P.; from St. Catharines,Sylvester Neelon and Thos. Rodman Merritt; from Guelph,David Allan and Jas. Goldie; from Galt,James Crombie and Richard Blain;T. N. Gibbs, M.P.P. Oshawa;Charles Whitlaw of Paris. Secretary-Treasurer, Pro Tem, John Proctor,Hamilton.


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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.