A meeting was held in the Royal Hotel on the 12 November, for the purpose of taking into consideration the proposal to build a summer hotel on Burlington Beach. All interested parties were invited to attend. The Desjardins Canal was in the news again, this time on the 14 April, when the Hamilton Spectator published the report of J. N. Molesworth, C.E., of the Dept. of Public Works, concerning the Hamilton & Milton Road Company's high-level bridge over the canal. After going into great detail as to the construction of this structure, the Engineer said:
"After a thorough examination of the whole bridge, I consider it unsafe in its present condition and unfit for the passage of vehicles and traffic, as at any moment the giving away of the (timber) caps on the piers might bring the whole structure down."
Thomas Swinyard, General Manager of the Great Western Ry. was calling for tenders for the conveyance of 7,000 tons of coal from Cleveland to Hamilton. The tenders, including canal tolls, were to be submitted by 24 April.
The advertisement for the Merchants' Line was placed in papers on the 16 April and listed the OSPREY,Capt. Taylor,AMERICA,Capt. Moore,BRANTFORD,Capt. Vaughan,ACADIA,Capt. Malcolmson and the DOMINION,Capt. McMaugh.
The Merchants' Line was handled by A. D. MacKay and George T. Malcolmson in Hamilton; by Norris & Neelon in St. Catharines; by S. F. Holcomb in Toronto and at Montreal, the agents were Messrs. Peterson Coquillette & Co. Through rates and Bills of Lading were offered to the ports of Shediac,Pictou,Halifax and St. John, probably via the new Quebec & Gulf Ports Steamship Company.
A few items of waterfront news appeared in the Spectator on the 20 April, informing the public that A. D. MacKay had spent about $2,000 on his No. 2 Wharf, removing all the rotten timber and driving new piles all around. A similar sum had been spent during the winter by N. F. Birely & Co. in rebuilding and extending their grain wharf, with the intention of entering into the coal trade. W. Reid & Co. leased the old Clay Wharf at the foot of Catharine Street and made considerable improvements to it, again for the coal trade. This wharf later became known as Murton & Reid's.
"we were shown yesterday on board the fine propeller ACADIA, of the Merchants' Line. A new and most effective swinging steam crane, just turned out from the workshop of George Northey & Co., at King William and Wellington Streets in Hamilton, has been installed. It is exceedingly compact. There are two small vertical cylinders supplied from the main boiler. It will do the work of six men, taking its load out of the hold and landing it on the dock with ease and at a very trifling increase in cost for fuel. The design and workmanship are all that could be desired and for vessels engaged in carrying any quantity of freight, cannot fail to be of the very greatest importance. The ACADIA leaves tonight on her first trip to Bruce Mines. She is a very fine vessel, fitted with comfortable staterooms and in every way, well-appointed."
A favourable wind on the 23 April assisted the following sailing vessels on their way: Schooners S. D. WOODRUFF,Capt. Forthingham and PLYMOUTH,Capt. Johnson, both to Penetang light; the following five schooners all sailed for Kingston with staves: SON AND HEIR,Capt. McIlwaine, 56,000, THERESA,Capt. Murray, 65,000, PEERLESS,Capt. Roberts, 56,000, LADY MORTON,Capt. Keith, 14,000 and MAYFLOWER,Capt. Miller, 30,000. The schooner VICTOR,Capt. Twitchell,ORION,Capt. Zealand and the HERCULES,Capt. Zealand all cleared with staves, but their cargo and destination were omitted. The only steamer outward bound that day was the OSPREY for Montreal with general cargo.
On the same day, further waterfront news stated that the ACADIA was undergoing repairs on Shickluna's Floating Dry Dock at St. Catharines and that the CITY OF LONDON was expected to operate on the Montreal and Port Stanley route. The propeller BRISTOL, had been sold by George Chaffey & Bros. of Brockville, to Charles Cameron of Hamilton and, would be placed on the Hamilton to Montreal service. She was then loading at Port Dalhousie.
"The engines and boilers, which were put in anew by Messrs. Gartshore & Co., were found to work in a first class manner, everything moving as freely as could be anticipated. The passenger accommodation has been extended and nicely fitted up. She will run from Toronto to Halifax."
"The DOMINION collided with the schooner SIR E. W. HEAD last night, carrying away some of her upper-works and breaking the steam chest. Afterwards, while at anchor off Point Pelee, she was run into by the schooner BIGLER, doing some further damage."
On the 15 May, the steamer ROTHESAY CASTLE was advertised to commence service between Hamilton and Toronto, sailing from the Victoria Wharf, near the Great Western Station, at 7:00 a.m., arriving at Toronto at 10:15 and calling at Oakville, en route. The one-way fare was 75 cents.
"The steamer GRECIAN struck a rock in the Cedars Rapids and sank in 13 feet of water. The Headquarters and "F" Battery of the 4th Brigade, Royal Artillery, now under orders for Dublin, were on board numbering some 180 persons, besides women and children, baggage, equipment, field guns, etc. There were also the ordinary complement of civilian passengers. All hands were removed safely and brought down by the ST. HELEN and the KINGSTON."
"The ore from the Blairton Mine is being brought forward and shipped in considerable quantities. The following vessels have already cleared from Cobourg: ORION, 253 tons, TWO BROTHERS, 195 tons, JESSIE, 315 tons, HERCULES, 318 tons, PERSIA, 294 tons, ANNIE FALCONER, 303 tons, SWEET HOME, 218 tons, H. P. MURRAY, 255 tons, WOODARD, 277 tons, UNDINE, 300 tons, NORTHUMBERLAND, 300 tons and TRADE WIND, 300 tons."The Blairton Mine or the "Big Ore Bed" as it was known locally, was situated, on the south shore of Crowe Lake and mining was commenced in 1865. The ore was handled over a stretch of railway to Trent River, thence by barge up through the Hastings Lock and up Rice Lake to Harwood, where it was again loaded in cars and hauled over old Cobourg & Peterborough Ry., which had been bought by the mining company.
The sailing notice for the ROTHESAY CASTLE was published on Friday 14 May, advising that she would begin her regular trips the following day to Toronto, calling at Oakville. Exactly two months later, this item appeared in the Hamilton Spectator:
"The steamer ROCHESTER, recently plying between Kingston and Oswego, commences her regular trips from Hamilton to Toronto and St. Catharines taking the place of the ROTHESAY CASTLE. She sails at 8:00 a.m. from the Victoria Wharf."
Coal was becoming increasingly important as witness these arrivals on the 19 July: the schooners THERESA from Cleveland with 421 tons, CHARM,Capt. Irwin from Oswego, 107 tons, ORION,Capt. Zealand, 465 tons and the HERCULES,Capt. Zealand, 380 tons. The Zealand brothers seemed to be sticking together, probably on the chance that a race could be arranged.
On Friday, 23 July, the steamer OSPREY ran a moonlight excursion to Oakville and a Sunday in St. Catharines was offered by the steamer ROCHESTER, leaving Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. and returning on Monday. Some joker started a rumour that the shaky bridge over the Desjardins Canal was about to be demolished, causing the officials of the Hamilton & Milton Road Co. to rise up in anger.
A rather interesting account of a voyage to the Saguenay was printed in the Spectator that same day. The un-named traveller left Toronto on the ATHENIAN, passing Port Hope and Cobourg about dark and berthing in Kingston at 4:00 a.m. At 5:00 a.m., they proceeded through the Thousand Islands, arriving at Prescott at 9:00 a.m., where they transferred to the small steamer LORD ELGIN for the trip down the rapids at Montreal. The writer remarked that
"we passed very near the ill-fated GRECIAN, which is now abandoned as a total wreck."On arrival at Montreal, the passengers transferred to the Richelieu Company's famous steamer QUEBEC for the over-night run to Quebec City. Here they again transferred, this time to the MAGNET.
A. M. Robertson launched a schooner for his own account on the 18 August, but not without difficulties. Named AGNES HOPE, after the daughter of Chas. Hope of the firm of Adam Hope & Co., she was duly christened by the builder's daughter, Miss Jane Robertson. The vessel started off nicely, but just before reaching the water, she stuck, leaving the shipbuilder in the embarassing position of having built a schooner that did not want to get wet. It was reported that a large crowd had gathered for the event, as usual. Capt. Zealand, standing by with his propeller INDIAN, put a hawser on the reluctant hull, signalled for full steam and broke the hawser. He then did the same with his anchor chain. After much hard labour, the AGNES HOPE was finally coaxed into the harbour. She was a three-master, 125 ft. over-all, 25'6" beam and 10 ft. deep in the hold.
The Anglo-American Peat Company's operations were gone into, in considerable detail, by the Hamilton Spectator on the 8 October. Two Hamilton men were among the executives of this organization, Alderman Edgar being president and Wm. Ambrose, being secretary. By the end of August, nearly 11,000 tons of peat had been processed and, some would be marketed in Hamilton by Murton & Reid.
A fire that could have been disastrous to the City Docks, had there been an unfavourable wind, occurred on the night of Friday, 15 October. It started in a hay-loft over a stable at the foot of James Street and destroyed a house which was the former Hallett's Hotel, together with a collection of outbuildings. There were apparently no fire hydrants in the area and by the time the firemen got enough hose to reach the harbour, it was too late to save anything.
An article dealing with the grain business, in the Spectator, on the 19 October, revealed the interesting fact that grain cargoes moved from Lake Ontario to the Upper Lakes. In the report on shipments from Myles' Storehouse (originally John Smith's) during the six days previous, were 24,000 bus. of barley to Toronto; 7000 bus. of barley to Oswego; 5,600 bus. of barley to Chicago and 10,703 bus. of the same to Ogdensburg. There were also 950 bus. of red wheat shipped to Kingston.
N. F. Birely shipped 2,400 bus, of barley to Toledo and 33,033 bus. to Chicago. Barley from Williamson's Storehouse went to Oswego, 9,606 bus. and he sent 10,569 bus. of red wheat to Kingston. There were also very small shipments of peas to Oswego and Montreal.
A despatch from Quebec, dated 8 November, told of the loss by stranding in fog of the steamer HER MAJESTY. She went ashore on White Head, near PercÚ, with a cargo of coal from Pictou on the 6 November and was lying in six fathoms of water. Part of the crew came up to Montreal on the FLAMBOROUGH, while the rest followed on the GASPE. The steamer was abandoned to the underwriters.
The schooner AIGLE DE MER and the barkentine BESSIE BAKER both arrived in Hamilton on the 15 November with cargoes of rails for the Wellington, Grey & Bruce Railway. This railway was a northern extension of the Great Western's branch line from Harrisburg to Guelph and when completed, would be a good contributor to the timber trade from the Port of Hamilton. Another arrival, one of many on the 15th, was the schooner D. FREEMAN, a new vessel which had been launched on the 15 May at Port Burwell by Capt. Foster. Her master was Capt. Hadden and she arrived from Oswego with 254 tons of coal for Thomas Myles.
MacKay's schooner GARIBALDI,Capt. Spence, departed late on the 16 November for Oswego with 12,300 bus. of barley and early the next morning was driven ashore, stern-first, about one mile from Mimico. Word was received on the 24 November, that the GARIBALDI had been refloated,
An unusual collision occurred in Lake Ontario on 28 November. The schooner MAGDALA of Hamilton, bound from Toronto to Oswego with a cargo of timber and was about six miles out in the Lake, when the schooner WHITE OAK attempted. to pass to windward. At that moment, the MAGDALA's steering gave way and the two vessels came together, doing much damage to rigging.
The City, and especially the shipping community, was saddened by the accidental death in December of Capt. Edward Zealand, a Naval veteran, who had served under Lord Nelson, a merchant captain, wharfinger and a highly respected citizen. He was buried on Friday, the 25 December.
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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.