Chapter 13
The Second Railway Building Era
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


By the 11 April, 1883, there were signs of life along the waterfront. A strong wind was beginning to break up the ice. The schooner ELLA MURTON was being made ready to load grain for Oswego, where she would pick up a return cargo of coal. There were rumours that Hamilton buyers were interested in acquiring the schooner SYLVESTER NEELON and, also, that the sidewheel steamer ARMENIA of Picton, would be operating on the Bay this season.

Capt. Fairgrieve'sCANADA was scheduled to run on the Chicago and Montreal service of the Western Express Line, with the EUROPE and the PRUSSIA, while MacKay'sLAKE MICHIGAN and LAKE ONTARIO were to run on the Montreal and Lake Ontario service with the L. SHICKLUNA. The GLENFINLAS would operate between Montreal and Duluth.

The propeller CITY OF MONTREAL was almost ready for service, having had repairs and an overhaul costing $3,000. The schooner JESSIE H. BRECK was booked for two cargoes of timber to Collin's Bay as soon as the ice moved out. The propeller CELTIC would join the Merchant's Line service between Montreal,Toronto and Hamilton. The first trip of the MYLES would be to Montreal, after which she would be placed on the Duluth service. The ACADIA would be ready to leave in about two weeks. The harbour was clear of ice on the 16 April.

On the 2 May, the boiler inspector visited the propeller CELTIC and she left port to start her season on the Lakes. The LAKE MICHIGAN was loading at Browne's Wharf and the schooner GULNARE left Myles' Wharf for Garden River, to load lumber. The propeller LAKE ONTARIO was loading old rails at the Grand Trunk Wharf, formerly the Great Western Railway Wharf and would complete loading with general cargo at Browne's. The little steamer CLARA LOUISE was chartered by Flatt & Bradley to tow timber from the Northern & Northwestern Wharf, formerly the Hamilton & North Western, to the Grand Trunk for rafting.

Waterfront news on the 7 May included. the fact that the propeller ST. MAGNUS was undergoing an extensive refit at Robertson's Shipyard. A new steel boiler was being placed in her and her cabin had been almost doubled in size so that she could accommodate 72 passengers. She was expected to be ready about the 1 June. The ACADIA was taking on a cargo of wheat at the N. & N. W. Elevator and the schooner E. R. C. PROCTOR was waiting to load grain for Oswego. The LAKE MICHIGAN loaded old rails at the Grand Trunk and then moved over to MacKay's Wharf to finish loading.

The steamers MAGNET and SPARTAN were transferred to Georgian Bay, according to a report on the 12 May. The operators would be Messrs. Beatty & Wragge of the Toronto, Grey & Bruce Railway and Messrs. McGann & Paterson of the Owen Sound Steam Navigation Co. This was confirmed by L. A. Senecal and Alex. Murray, president and vice Pres., respectively, of the Richelieu & Ontario Navigation Co.

The tug CHIEFTAIN arrived from Garden Island on the 23 May to take out a raft of timber.

R. O. MacKay and Thos. Myles & Son advertised the propeller MYLES, sailing from Hamilton on Saturday 9 June for Cleveland,Amherstburg,Windsor,Sarnia,Sault Ste. Marie,Prince Arthur's Landing and Duluth. The steamer SOUTHERN BELLE commenced her twice-daily service from Hamilton to Oakville and Toronto on the 11 June.

The MYLES was two days late arriving from Montreal on 11 June. At Hamilton, she loaded 175 tons of fish plate for the C.P.R., before departing for Cleveland.

Several schooners arrived in the harbour on the 20 June, all with coal cargoes, except the WM. JAMIESON, which berthed at McIlwraith's Wharf with sand for the Hamilton Glass Works.

The CLARA LOUISE, owned by Messrs. Thornton & Mitchell, was placed in service between the Simcoe St. Wharf and Bay View Parks formerly known as Rock Bay, making five round trips per day.

The sailing scow HOPE was loading bricks for Oakville on the 23 June at McIlwraith's Wharf. Two days later, the CHIEFTAIN left port for Collin's Bay with a raft belonging to J. S. Murphy. The tug S. S. EDSALL was expected to take a raft for Flatt & Bradley.

Arrivals on the 3 July included the S. S. EDSALL from St. Catharines, the schooner JESSIE H. BRECK at the Grand Trunk Wharf with scrap iron for the Ontario Rolling Mills and the CELTIC, which had been chartered by the Government for the annual Lighthouse Supply trip, due to begin in a week or so. On the 8 July, the schooner TWO BROTHERS arrived at MacKay's Wharf with a cargo of rosin and moulding sand for R. M. Wanzer & Co., manufacturers of sewing machines. An unusual visitor at MacKay's on the 12 July, was the little steam barge A. H. JENNIE with a cargo of bar iron for Messrs. Wood & Leggatt, wholesale hardware merchants. The A. H. JENNIE was built in 1882 at Port Rowan.

Activity in the harbour on the 24 July included, among others, the departure of the schooner MARION L. BRECK for Ashtabula, after unloading coal at Murton & Reid's and the schooner FLORA EMMA, loading a cargo of ashes at McIlwraith's for Oswego.

The propeller GLENFINLAS bound from the Upper Lakes to Montreal, tied up to the canal bank about half a mile above the Niagara Street Swing Bridge at St. Catharines on the 17 August, to make some slight repairs to her engine. Evidently this was done and about 10:00 p.m., Capt. Harry Zealand and Chief Engineer Davidson left the vessel. Not more than half an hour later, fire was discovered in the after end of the vessel and an alarm was given. The fire department arrived, but the fire was too far from a hydrant and by the time the steam pumper got there, it was too late to save the GLENFINLAS. She burned until 9:00 a.m. the next morning, when she sank. Her cargo consisted of corn, loaded at Chicago, plus a large shipment of valuable furs. The crew managed to escape although some had to slide down the forward lines onto the tow-path. The auxiliary donkey boiler and engine were not in service and therefore, could not be used by the crew to fight the fire. The vessel was insured for $16,000. Capt. Zealand came to Hamilton on the 19 July to discuss the melancholy event with his partner, Alex. Turner.

By the 20 August, the CELTIC,Capt. Cavers, was back in Montreal, having completed the Lighthouse Supply trip for the year. A number of passengers took advantage of the cruise.

The hull of the GLENFINLAS was raised and on the 22 August, Mr. Wardell of St. Catharines, while digging out the soggy corn, discovered a human skull. This caused great excitement among the bystanders until Dr. Sullivan, who examined it, made the pronouncement that the skull was part of a corpse which had been buried, since he discerned particles of clay adhering to it. No other bones were found in the cargo so it must be assumed that its presence was the result of some fun-loving farmer's son in the Far West conceiving what he believed to be the joke of the year.

On Tuesday, 28 August, the steamer HASTINGS left Toronto with some 200 passengers for the Grimsby Camp Grounds, making a call at Lorne Park before crossing the Lake. She arrived at her destination at 3:00 p,m. and two hours later, cast off for the return to Toronto. A stiff North-East wind was beginning to make itself felt and after an attempt to maintain her course, the HASTINGS was forced to run for the Burlington Piers. This vessel had been built in Montreal in 1863, as the ROCHESTER and belonged to C. F. Gildersleeve of Kingston. She was renamed HASTINGS in 1876; EURYDICE in 1890 and DONNELLY in 1899, by which time she was serving as a side-wheel tug and was owned by the Donnelly Salvage & Wrecking Co. of Kingston.

Schooner traffic was brisk during September. On the 5th the UNDINE, now owned by Bowerman & Johnson, sailed from McIlwraith's Wharf for Charlotte to load coal for Myles. The D. FREEMAN cleared from Myles' to Toronto to load wheat, while Murton & Reid had two arrivals, both with coal from Ashtabula for the Hamilton Gas Light Co. They were the MARION L. BRECK and the ARCTIC which was towed from Port Colborne by the tug MAGGIE MITCHELL.

The steam barge THOMAS KINGSFORD unloaded a cargo of glassware at MacKay's Wharf from Oswego and on the 10 September, was loading lumber at the N. & N. W. Wharf. She completed her loading at the G. T. R. a few days later. This vessel had been built in 1880 at Oswego by John E. Riley and was rated at 185 tons.

On the 11 September, the schooner UNDINE discharged coal at Myles Wharf and was then moved over to Robertson's Shipyard to be caulked for the grain trade.

The largest cargo of coal to arrive at Hamilton this season was brought from Sodus Point to Browne's Wharf by the schooner H. BENTLEY. It amounted to 817 tons and was received on the 20 September.

The schooner PEERLESS,Capt. Jas. Savage, cleared from Belleville on the 25 September with 400 tons of iron ore for the Cleveland Rolling Mills. After leaving the Bay of Quinte by way of the Upper Gap and entering Lake Ontario, she encountered heavy weather. The following day they lost the flying jib and then all the topsails, and the vessel started leaking. The men spent three hours at the pumps before it was decided to abandon ship. Capt. Savage and his six men were fortunate indeed in making shore about 2 miles east of Point Petre Light Station. The schooner had been built In Oakville by Melancthon Simpson and had undergone a rebuild. in 1881. She was owned by Capt. Savage and was insured for $3,500. She went down in the early hours of 28 September.

The big news story on the 1 October was the death of Isaac Buchanan, at the age of 73. Considerable space was devoted to this man, sometime successful wholesaler and owner of schooners and latterly, a politician and railroad manipulator gifted with certain very useful talents.

His monument is his involvement in the Great Southern Railway Scandal with the shady Sam Zimmerman in which Buchannan bribed three Woodstock gentlemen with $100,000 to remove themselves from the board to make way for Buchannan's nominees.

Buchannan had come to Canada in 1833 to establish a branch of the family business, Peter Buchannan & Co. of Glasgow, at Toronto. Later, he opened in Hamilton under the title of Buchannan, Harris & Co. and also established a connection with Adam Hope & Co. of London. He had interested himself in politics as early as 1841 and was active in Parliament throughout most of his life. His mansion was situated on the brow of the Escarpment and was named "Auchmar" after the ancient seat of his family in Dumbartonshire.

Activities on the waterfront were pretty much routine with the arrival of the schooner ELLA MURTON with coal from Sandusky, the arrival and subsequent departure of the steamer CORSICAN on the Montreal service and the arrival of the schooner VIENNA with coal from Oswego at McIlwraith's Wharf. The propeller CITY OF MONTREAL, now commanded by Capt. Harry Zealand, late of the GLENFINLAS, was discharging a good cargo of merchandise at MacKay's.

On the 2 October, the Hamilton Spectator dropped another bombshell on its readers when it announced that D. B. Chisholm, former mayor of Hamilton, who had set himself up as an investment broker, had absconded. This scoundrel was subsequently located in the Chicago area and was reported to be in "good spirits". Like any successful crook, he was quite unconcerned about the financial difficulties of his late clients.

The Great Central Fair, an industrial and trade show opened on the 2 October in the Crystal Palace and local manufacturers, as well as those from more distant places were well represented.

On the 15 October word came from Port Elgin of the stranding of the Beatty Line steamer ONTARIO, 8 miles below that port. The accident happened in fog while the ONTARIO was bound from Sarnia to Duluth with about 300 tons of cargo and 150 passengers. Capt. James McMaugh was in command and successfully landed all his passengers during the night, with a fairly heavy sea running. They camped in the woods until the following day when they were taken to Port Elgin and the comforts offered by the Arlington House.

Another loss occurred on Lake Erie on 31 October when the schooner SIBERIA, bound from Toledo to Kingston with a cargo of square oak timber lost some of her sails and began to leak, making 6 feet of water in one hour. The captain attempted to beach her, but she was unmanageable and finally grounded one mile west of the West End Light on Long Point. The crew, consisting of 7 men and the woman cook spent the night in the rigging as seas were breaking over her and the lifeboat crew was unable to launch their boat. However, at 8:00 a.m. the following morning, all were safely brought ashore.

The steamer CITY OF TORONTO, berthed in Port Dalhousie, caught fire about 9:00 p.m. on the 31 October and four hours later, there was not much left of her. She was owned by H. J. Daggett of Oswego, N.Y. This vessel was built in 1864 at Niagara by Louis Shickluna for Duncan Milloy of Toronto and had the engine out of the steamer ZIMMERMAN.

The propeller MYLES was loading 900 tons of coal at Charlotte on the 3 November for Port Arthur. She would then proceed to Walkerville and take on 400 bbls. of whiskey and 40 tons of sugar and syrup. Her final stop, en route, would be at Sarnia for 200 tons of hay for the logging camps in the Port Arthur area.

Waterfront news on the 6 November mentioned the following propellers, LAKE ONTARIO, in winter quarters, LAKE MICHIGAN, unloading general cargo from Montreal, before laying up for the winter, SCOTIA outward bound for Oshawa to load wheat, DOMINION outward bound for St. Catharines to load wheat and the L. SHICKLUNA, expected with pig iron at McIlwraith's Wharf. The ACADIA was chartered to load 2,000 kegs of gunpowder at Oakville for Lake Superior, while the CUBA was expected daily to load the remaining package freight for Montreal.

On the night of 11 November a violent storm swept across the Lakes doing much damage to shipping. The schooner H. N. TODMAN was on Lake Huron and managed to get into Goderich where she was driven almost high and dry on the island in the harbour. The schooner MARY owned by Conlon Bros. in Thorold, missed the piers at Conneaut and went ashore. At the other end of Lake Erie, the Lightship on the Colchester Reef foundered. On Lake Ontario the steam barge ALBION had the schooner ALBATROSS in tow as the storm developed. They out the schooner adrift and ran for shelter in the Genesee. Chances for survival of the schooner were slim, since she had only a captain and three inexperienced men and it was assumed that she would go ashore in the vicinity of Oak Orchard. The propeller CELTIC, on a voyage up the Lakes was lucky to find shelter during the gale and arrived in Duluth.

Considerable anxiety was felt in Hamilton for the safety of the schooner UNDINE, owned by Bowerman & Johnson of Hamilton and having some Hamilton men in the crew. She had sailed for Oswego, just before the storm, with timber and barley.

By the 19 November, the CELTIC was downbound on Lake Huron and her owners hoped to send her up again to Lake Superior with supplies for the Canadian Pacific Ry. construction works provided the weather held. The propeller CALIFORNIA had reached Port Arthur with 200 tons of explosives for the same project. The OCEAN was expected from Montreal and would go to St. Catharines to lay up for the winter. The EUROPE was on her way up from Montreal and the schooner GULNARE was in winter quarters at Myles' Wharf.

The Hamilton Spectator, on the 28 November, carried the story of the loss of the steamer ECLIPSE, formerly Leopold Bauer'sJULIETTE, which ran briefly on the Bay. It read as follows:

"Lovers of boating and excursions of this city will have no difficulty in remembering the little steamer JULIETTE, which, about five years ago, ran on the Bay in connection with Mr. Bauer's house at Oaklands, also calling at Rock Bay and the Beach. The JULIETTE was built by Mr. Cooper of Mayville, N.Y. and her owners thought she was going to be a staunch and fast little steamer. However, they were disappointed, for almost the first time she carried a crowd, she partially upset and it was only by her falling against the wharf, that a calamity was averted. This set the people against her and the Customs Officers inspected her, giving her a permit to carry only 100 passengers. By the next season, however, she was fixed up considerably by being widened and her name was changed to ECLIPSE. The order limiting her capacity was canceled and she did a fair business that season. Her owners, however, deemed it advisable to sell her and she went to the Upper Lakes, where she carried supplies for the C.P.R. construction, making a good profit. She left Algoma Mills for Sarnia on the 15 November and was overtaken by a gale on the 21 November, being lost with her crew."

John Drew of the barge ETTA, which she was towing, was the lone survivor of this disaster and made the following statement at Wiarton on the 27 November:

"The steamer ECLIPSE,Capt. Bury, left Algoma Mills on 15 November for Sarnia with the barge ETTA in tow. She ran into Rattlesnake Harbour on Manitoulin Island and left there the 21 November, intending to make Southampton.Capt. Bush of the ETTA, left me alone on the barge and went aboard the ECLIPSE. The weather was fine and I was up until we passed Cove Island Light about 10:00 p.m., when I turned in and slept until about 4:00 a.m. I dressed and went on deck and could see nothing of the ECLIPSE and realized that I was cast adrift and alone on Lake Huron with a fearful gale raging. After a while I heard the steamer's whistle several times, then heard no more of them, At daylight, I saw land about a mile distant and about 4:00 p.m. the barge went ashore on the beach at Little Pike Bay. I jumped ashore and started for Wiarton, 16 miles distant. I do not know the names of the crew. There were seven men on the ECLIPSE. Some fishermen were out in a boat at Pine Tree Harbour and saw three bodies floating near shore with life preservers marked "Steamer ECLIPSE" and what appeared to be the upper-works of a steamer.... By papers found, I identified one as Capt. Bush of the ETTA and one other as J. Moore, Engineer of the ECLIPSE."

Another item of interest on the same day stated that the hull of the steam barge DROMEDARY had been raised on the 23 November and had been taken to A. M. Robertson's shipyard, he having purchased it. The machinery was removed the previous winter and Robertson stated that he intended rebuilding her during the coming winter.

Another loss on Georgian Bay was the schooner CHINA of Hamilton, which stranded on Cape Hurd on the 20 November.

During the winter, the old steamer OSPREY, which had been lying to the east of MacKay's Wharf for the past seven or eight years, was to be dismantled. She had been purchased from the MacKay Estate by R. O. MacKay, who had engaged Tom Cross to proceed with the work of salvaging as much of the metal as possible. This had been going on throughout the autumn and now Cross was waiting for the ice to make up so that he would have

"a floor to work on"
. The old scow ferry from the Canal had been used for the heavy pieces of scrap. The bottom of the OSPREY was later allowed to sink. Many years later, it was found by a dredge.


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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.