Chapter 11
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


Aeneas D. MacKay placed an advertisement in the Spectator on the 26 February, calling attention to the vessels for which he would be the local agent. They were the OSPREY,Capt. Smith,AMERICA. Capt. Moore,BRANTFORD,Capt. Hanna,CITY OF LONDON,Capt. Pollock and the new composite vessel now building for Capt. John Malcolmson.

Not to be outdone by his fellow Scotsman, John Proctor gave notice on the 27 March, that he was again agent for the Jacques Tracy Line, which would consist of the HURON,Capt. Taylor,INDIAN,Capt. Vaughan,ST. LAWRENCE,Capt. Rea,AVON,Capt. Mowat,OTTAWA,Capt. Elliott,BRISTOL,Capt. McAuley and the MAGNET,Capt. Patterson. This last named vessel was purchased early in 1867 by Capt. Francis Patterson of Kingston and promptly re-sold to John Proctor.

Further to the above, it was noted. that these steamers would make connection at Montreal with the steamers HER MAJESTY,Capt. Kennedy and MERRITT,Capt. Smith, for Halifax and the Gulf ports. John Proctor was doing his business on the old Commercial Wharf, just west of MacKay's.

In an editorial entitled

"Intercolonial Trade",
in the Spectator on the 30 March, we read that
"One of the great results of Confederation will be the construction of the Intercolonial Railway and the impetus which will thereby be given to the trade between the different colonies."

The editor, with unbridled optimism, assumed that this noble work would be completed in

"not less than two years"
, and then went on to say:
"During that period, it will be necessary to develop that trade by other means and it becomes the paramount duty of our governments, both local and general, to do all they can to enable the people of the different Provinces to exchange their products and to establish rapid and regular communication between them. In this connection we may mention that the Hon. A. R. McClelan, Commissioner of Public Works for New Brunswick, visited Hamilton yesterday to make enquiries as to the prospects and intentions of the Intercolonial Steamship Co. and we are pleased to learn that Mr. McClelan holds out to those who are particularly interested in that enterpriseg the prospect of being able to obtain from the Legislature of New Brunswick, a subsidy of at least $10,000 per annum. Mr. McClelan's visit will give new life to the company and we hope to hear of immediate steps being taken for the establishment of the proposed line on a firm and substantial basis."

On the 12 April came word of the launching at Andrews' Shipyard in Port Dalhousie, of the schooner VICTOR for Edward Browne.

Navigation at Hamilton opened on the 16 April, when the schooner PEERLESS,Capt. Roberts' arrived from Toronto, to load staves for the Calvins of Garden Island. She was followed by the schooner PRINCESS ALEXANDRIA,Capt. L. Middleton, also to load staves for Kingston. The AZOV then arrived, having already made one trip from Toronto to the Genesee with grain. Of the winter fleet, the HERCULES and ORION, the MARCO POLO,RAPID and the D. McINNIS were all preparing to take on grain cargoes. There seemed to be considerable enthusiasm regarding the prospects for the new season and the regular line steamers were expected daily.

The following day, MacKay was advertising the propeller CITY OF LONDON, on or about the 5 May, for Welland Canal ports, Pt. Dover,Pt. Ryerse,Pt. Burwell,Pt. Bruce and Pt. Stanley. This was a relatively new vessel, having been completed the previous year by Louis Shickluna at St. Catharines.

Her Majesty's Gunboats stationed on the Lakes were HERON,Lieut. Solly,BRITOMART,Lieut. Allington and CHERUB,Lieut. Huntly. The Provincial Gunboats were the PRINCE ALFRED,Lieut. Douglass, 3 officers, 1 surgeon, 2 engineers and 64 men from H.M.S. AURORA;RESCUE,Lieut. Fairlie, 2 officers, 2 engineers and 48 men from H.M.S. AURORA and the HERCULES,Lieut. Hooper, since relieved by Lieut. Storey, 2 officers, 1 surgeon, 2 engineers and 50 men likewise supplied from H.M.S. AURORA.

Wednesday afternoon, the 1 May, was a gala occasion on the waterfront and the Hamilton Times had this to say:

"The fine new composite steamer built for Capt. John Malcolmson was successfully launched from the yard of A. M. Robertson at half past 3 o'clock this afternoon. The ceremony of christening the new craft by breaking a bottle of wine over the bow, was performed by Mrs. Aeneas D. MacKay and as the noble ship dipped gracefully into the flowing element amid the plaudits of a large concourse of spectators, her burgee was given to the breeze, bearing the name ACADIA. The dimensions of the ACADIA are: length over-all, 144 ft., beam 26'3", depth of hold 12 ft. and she is designed to carry 4,500 barrels. Her engine, built by F. G. Beckett & Co. measures 32"x 32" and she has a return-tube boiler 17 ft. long and 8 ft. in diameter. The shafts, engine bed and frame, as well as all the iron for the boiler were imported from England. The whole frame of the vessel is Iron, as is the deck frame, hatch coamings and hold stanchions."

The schooner QUEEN OF THE LAKES, bound for MacKay's Wharf with a cargo of coal went ashore two miles south of the Burlington Canal on the night of Friday, 3 May and was abandoned to the underwriters by her owner John Riley of St. Catharines. The cargo amounted to 400 tons, part of which was on deck. She was refloated one week after the stranding and brought to Brown's Wharf. On the 15th, the tug YOUNG LION took her in tow for St. Catharines for repairs.

The CITY OF LONDON, running a little late, called at Hamilton on the 12 May with a full compliment of passengers and very little room left for cargo. She took on about 50 tons, mostly groceries. Her ultimate destination was Bruce Mines.

Cunningham, Shaw & Co. were still trading to the Lakes, as noted by the arrival of their barquentine THERMUTIS,Capt. Collins, on the 17 May. She cleared for Cleveland.

At 11:00 p.m. on the 21 May, the Northern Transportation Co., propeller WISCONSIN left Cape Vincent, bound for Chicago with passengers and cargo. Between the Cape and Grenadier Island, she was found to be on fire and in the ensuing panic, over 20 persons were lost.

An interesting advertisement appeared in the Hamilton Spectator on the 8 June, giving notice that the steamer OSPREY would sail on or about the 18th for Pictou and Halifax, cruising up the Saguenay River, both ways, as well as making intermediate ports of call. Capt. W. Smith was in command and the notice was signed by Aeneas D. MacKay and P. G. Routh.

Another launching took place in Hamilton on the 11 June and was reported by the Spectator thus:

"Launch of the Schooner PERSIA - the fine new schooner built for Capt. MacCallum, by A. M. Robertson, was successfully launched at 3:00 o'clock. The ceremony of christening was performed by Miss Lizzie Park MacCallum in a manner that would do credit to the sister of any sailor. Numerous friends and spectators were present. The PERSIA's dimensions are: length 120 feet, beam 26 ft., depth of hold 9'6" and she has a capacity of 11,000 bus. of grain. She will be commanded by the owner in the Lake and River trades."

On the 13 June it was reported that an accident had occurred in the Welland Canal on the 8th, when the steamer EAST, downbound knocked the gates off Lock 17. The water thus released, flooded the cotton mill and some fields lying below the canal. The EAST sat on the bottom of the canal for four days before being refloated.

The 13th Battalion held their first annual Grand Excursion and Picnic at Queenston Heights on Thursday the 18 July. The steamer HURON left Proctor's Wharf at 7:30 a.m. and entertainment aboard ship was provided by the Battalion Band and also a Quadrille Band for dancing.

The steamer ROTHESAY CASTLE, a former Clyde paddler, which had seen service as a Confederate States blockade-runner, appeared on Lake Ontario at this time and had, in fact, taken a moonlight excursion from Hamilton on Saturday, 13 July. She called at Wellington Square and Oakville, after which she cruised out in the Lake for two hours before returning. Capt. Leach and his steamer proved to be very popular.

On Tuesday night, 13 August, John Proctor's propeller MAGNET,Capt. F. Patterson, downbound from Hamilton to Montreal with wheat and flour, collided with the U. S. steamer BAY STATE and sank about 12 miles below Kingston. Passengers and crew escaped in the boats as she settled in 60 feet of water. The U.S. tug RESCUE brought a diver to the scene the following week and he discovered that she was lying upright on soft bottom and stated that the hole was not large enough to cause any great difficulty in refloating her. Proctor, meanwhile abandoned her to the underwriters.

During August, the ARGYLE was running to Oaklands and the Beach, but the PRINCESS OF WALES had taken leave of the harbour and was reported to be operating between Toronto and the Island.

On the 17 September, it was reported that the MAGNET had been refloated and towed up to Garden Island, presumably for an estimate for the repairs. Calvin & Breck, however, did not get the contract and the MAGNET was taken to Sorel, where Messrs. G. & A. McCarthy took her in hand.

A news report from Sarnia stated that the tug W. K. MUIR had exploded and sunk in the St. Clair River about midnight on the 18 September, while arranging a tow of five schooners. This tug was built at Buffalo in 1854 and measured 110.3 x 16.5 x 8.5, with a gross tonnage of 123; net 83. She had been rebuilt at Detroit in 1863 by J. W. Woolverton and was registered. at Montreal on the 4 May 1864 by Capt. Thos. Harbottle of Hamilton. The following year her owner was Wm. Hendrie of Hamilton, a railroad contractor. In the explosion, six men were lost and the tug sank immediately.

The steamer CORINTHIAN in Hamilton Harbour Photo: Ontario Archives S-3999
The Canadian Inland Steam Navigation Co. made public the news that they had purchased the steamer CORINTHIAN for the Lake Ontario service and the UNION for the Lower St. Lawrence service. Also acquired were the U.S. steamers BAY STATE and ONTARIO.

On the 18 November came word of another boiler explosion, this time Jacques, Tracy & Co.'sAVON, bound from Hamilton to Montreal. This exciting event occurred when the vessel was off Presquile. The steamer ST. THOMAS was despatched to render assistance.

There was an early freeze on the lower canals that caught many vessels. On the 28 November, the propellers COLONIST and BRANTFORD arrived in Hamilton with general cargo being the first to complete their voyages after the thaw.

In December, the schooner ALBERT of Detroit, was driven ashore at Van Wagner's Beach. At daybreak the following morning, a local farmer sighted the ice-covered wreck with seas crashing over her. Mounting his horse, he spread the alarm and Col. Van Wagner took charge of the rescue operation which was accomplished by two men pushing a small boat along planks, laid on the heaving shore ice, until it floated. Each time that two of the schooner's crew got into the boat, it was pulled back to shore by the farmers and fishermen gathered there. In this way, all hands were saved.


Previous    Next

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.