Chapter 12
Prosperity for the Shipbuilders
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 Dundas Foundry was leased on the 1 January 1870 by the Executors of the Estate of James Bell Ewart, to a group of former employees, operating under the name of Thos. Wilson & Co. These men were Thomas Wilson,Walter Bastable, who retired in 1879, Alexander Barry, who retired in 1876, David Scott and later they were joined by Thomas Howe, who was killed by the collapse of a crane in 1871, and by Duncan McFarlane, who retired in 1876. Thus, the old works were given a fresh lease on life for almost 20 years.

The Zealand family did not waste any time in the settling of the affairs of their late lamented father. Edward Zealand's residence, which stood on Brock Street between A. M. Robertson's house and the big stone building, which in a few years would become the second glass works, was sold at auction on the 25 January.

In April, local boat-builders were busy as usual and both Martin Stally and Wesley Leigh were working on boats for the Red River Expedition. Stally had completed one by the 15 April and it measured 37 ft. by 8 ft., being designed to carry 50 men. He had to build a smaller boat, 30 x 6 feet, to carry 40 men. Mr. Leigh's contract called for two boats of similar dimensions. It was claimed that 12 or 14 men could carry one of these boats over the portages.

D. P. Lavallee was building a hull in the yard behind. F. G. Beckett & Co.'s foundry, which seemed an awkward place for this sort of project, especially when Beckett did not intend to put the machinery in until the hull was afloat.

By the 19 April, the ice in the harbour was rotting and four Calvin & Breck schooners arrived to load square timber for Garden Island. The OSPREY had been repainted and redecorated in a very superior manner which included the laying of new carpets. The galley, formerly in the bowels of the vessel, had been moved to the upper deck, but we are informed that it was well

from the accommodation so that the
"heat and smells"
would not offend the passengers.

On the 20 April, the propellers ACADIA and INDIAN departed for Port Dalhousie, while the arrivals of the day included the schooners KATE, from Oshawa,FLEETWING, from Wilson, N.Y. and the WANDERER, from Toronto.

A sailing notice published by A. D. MacKay stated that the ACADIA would leave on or about the 5 May for Pt. Dover,Amherstburg,Windsor,Sarnia,Goderich,Kincardine,Owen Sound and Meaford. Freight was solicited.

The OSPREY left on her first trip to Montreal on the 26 April laden with flour and general cargo. The Canadian Navigation Co. commenced their regular service on the 28 April and their fleet consisted of the SPARTAN,KINGSTON,CORINTHIAN,MAGNET and PASSPORT.

Myles Wharf, at the foot of John Street was being repaired and a new planked approach had been built for the wagons. In addition, a new office was under construction.

John Proctor received some bad news on the 30 April, for early that morning, his propeller INDIAN, downbound in the Thousand Islands with general cargo, struck a rock and was beached near Rockport. The tug HIRAM A. CALVIN, which was in Brockville, was sent to the scene to pump her out. Three days later, the INDIAN had been refloated. and was on her way down the river.

An item in the Hamilton Spectator on the 12 May stated that: "

"Men are busy at work moving Mr. Beckett's new steamer from the works on MacNab Street, down to the water. The operation is a most tedious one, and three days will probably be spent in getting her down. The capstan, which furnishes the motive power, broke yesterday morning so it was necessary to go to work and make a new one. The name of the vessel will be ONTARIO and she will be propelled by a screw. Her engine will be put in when she is in the water. Her weight, without machinery, is 40 tons."

By the 16 May, the little steamer HERO was in service to Wellington Square and F. G. Beckett's new wharf was nearing completion at the foot of Strachan St.

Among the attractions provided for the citizens on the Queen's Brithday were excursions to Oaklands and the Beach on the steamer ARGYIE, round trip 25 cents, trips on the yacht NAPOLEON from Bastien's Boat-house to Rock Bay, where David Henderson had opened his new ball-room, or for those who wished to go farther afieldg the MAGNET left at 8:00 a.m. for a day in Toronto, round trip 75 cents.

Mr. Beckett's new propeller was rapidly nearing completion and was expected to make a trial run on the 3 June. She was intended for the accommodation of pleasure parties and would make trips to Oaklands and the Beach during two or three days of each week. The remainder of the time, she was to be used for business purposes. Her engine was rated at 50 HP and she was fitted with a larger screw than was customary in small vessels.

Archibald McKeand, agent for the Canadian Navigation Co. advertised cruises to the Saguenay, on the 21 June, with the UNION,Capt. Fairgrieve and the MAGNET,Capt. Simpson, sailing from Napoleon Wharf in Quebec. At the same time, it was noted that the steamers ATHENIAN and ABYSSINIAN had been placed on the Lake Ontario service.

According to a report in the Toronto Globe, the propeller BRISTOL collided with the schooner EDITH of Hamilton, on the 7 July about 9 miles off Port Oshawa. The schooner was heavily damaged forward and was taken in tow by the BRISTOL. After 3 hours, the schooner was so low in the water that the attempt to save her was abandoned and the crew were removed. The tug LADY FRANKLIN then tried to get the EDITH into Whitby Harbour and almost succeeded, but when they were nearing the lighthouse, the schooner grounded and rolled over.

On the 13 July, the Hamilton Spectator carried an advertisement stating that

"the public will be pleased to learn that the commodious steamer NORFOLK,Capt. Spain, will give three excursions on the Bay during the week, starting Thursday. She will leave the Great Western Ry. Wharf at 3:00 p.m. - Capt. Spain, master and owner."
The NORFOLK was a small steamer, measuring 80 x 15 x 7, with a registered tonnage of 70 and had been built at Long Point on Lake Erie in 1868. She was destroyed by fire at Napanee in 1877.

Capt. George Malcolmson met an untimely death by drowning in Port Dalhousie harbor on the 4 August. At the time he was acting purser on the ACADIA, which was lying in that harbour and with two other members of the ship's company, decided to go swimming. He was seized with the cramps and sank before help could reach him. His body was recovered in about an hour. All vessels in Hamilton hoisted their flags to halfmast and the funeral was arranged by the Masonic Fraternity. He left a wife, but no children. He was buried on the 8 August.

The barkentine SIR E. W. HEAD was lying at anchor in the harbour on the afternoon of Monday 29 August when a sudden summer squall caused her to part her cable and go charging into Myles's Coal Wharf, which according to reports, practically disintegrated.

A maritime dispute of minor proportions took place on the waterfront late in November, when the captain of the schooner ALPHA, named Pease, refused to move his vessel from Williamson's Grain Wharf. It seems that the ALPHA had been chartered, on behalf of one of the city banks, to take a cargo of grain to Oswego and subsequently, it was ascertained that the vessel was unseaworthy and that no insurance could be effected on either vessel or cargo. The owners of the grain refused to deliver, but Capt. Pease refused to leave, thereby preventing another vessel from berthing. A warrant was issued and two detectives headed for the waterfront to arrest Capt. Pease, who wisely let go his lines and sailed away. The charge was withdrawn.

In December, an advertisement was placed in the Spectator, stating that the Gartshore Iron Works was now prepared to execute orders for every description of castings. A rather confusing title, when the name Gartshore had been for so many years, associated with the neighboring town of Dundas. This new plant was operated by T. Cowie & Co. and was situated on Stuart St., opposite the G. W. Ry. station.


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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.