Chapter 14
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 first steamer for Montreal, the LAKE MICHIGAN, was scheduled to leave Hamilton on the 8 May with calls at Oshawa,Kingston,Gananoque,Brockville,Prescott and Cornwall. All MacKay advertisements were now careful to point out that they had a telephone in the dock office.

An item in the Hamilton Spectator on the 13 May called attention to George Midwinter'sBayview Park, where an inclined railway had been installed for the convenience of the customers. The railway had two cars, each with 12 seats, hauled on a 3/4 inch steel cable, by a steam engine built by George Morrison at his works on Caroline St., near Stuart St. The railway extended from the wharf to the top of the high bank. The steam-launches LILLIE and MAGGIE MASON would provide frequent service from the City, starting the 18 May, the Grand Opening Day for the season.

The propeller LAKE ONTARIO was again operating in the Merchants' Line and her first sailing to Montreal was the 17 May. The CELTIC was advertised to sail on the 1 June, with the usual ports of call, but continuing on to Quebec. The LAKE MICHIGAN was expected. from Quebec about the 5 June with 2,000 sacks of Liverpool Coarse Salt which had been trans-shipped from an ocean vessel. It would be sold at MacKay's Wharf.

The ownership of the steamer SOUTHERN BELLE had been transferred to a newly organized stock company known as

"The Toronto & Hamilton Navigation Co. Ltd."
It was capitalized at $60,000 and the principals were David S. Keith,Geo. Keith,Alex. Keith and W. M. Merritt, all of Toronto and I. P. Gray of Chicago. The SOUTHERN BELLE,Capt. Donaldson, had received new boilers and had been redecorated. She would commence her service from Toronto to Oakville and Hamilton on the 12 June, berthing at MacKay's wharf.

Capt. John B. Fairgrieve was the successful bidder for the annual Lighthouse Supply charter and his propeller CANADA left to carry out these duties on the 17 July. A number of local people went along for the cruise, including one of the Captain's daughters.

On the evening of 31 July, electric lighting first appeared on a Canadian Canal. The first 4 miles of the Lachine Canal, from Windmill Point to a point above Seigneurs St., was illuminated by 160 Edison Incandescent lights of 50 candle-power and 14 of 32 candle-power. The lighting plant was built by the Royal Electric Co. for the Dept. of Railways & Canals.

At 7:30 p.m. on the 13 October, the storm signal at the Canal was hoisted, indicating a moderate gale from the east, shifting south to southeast. Up until noon the following day, the wind was easterly at 15 knots, with occasional rain squalls. Then the wind shifted to the south and velocity increased to 30 miles per hour, the signal being changed, indicating a gale from the south, swinging into the west and northwest. By 4:00 p.m. the wind velocity was 50 miles per hour and by midnight on the 14 October, it reached 60. The swing bridge machinery chose this particular night to break down, according to Murphy's Law, when the bridge was being opened. An extra gang of men were sent down to try to move it, but the canal remained closed all that night.

Shortly before this happened, the bridge was opened and three schooners, running before the gale successfully reached port. They were the MAGGIE McRAE, the ELLA MURTON and the L. D. BULLOCK. The first-named side-swiped one of the piers several times on her mad dash to the comparative safety of the harbour.

Much damage was done along the Beach. Many trees came down, small boats were smashed and Bastien's boat houses were demolished. Capt. Campbell had quite a struggle to reach his lights without being blown into the canal. The propeller LAKE ONTARIO, which for a time had lain in the canal, moved over to Burlington until 11:00 a.m. on the 15 October, by which time the bridge had been opened by hand and she came into the harbour. The bridge was expected to be out of commission for several days.

The propeller MYLES was again in the news, when, on the 2 November she struck bottom about 2 miles above Kingston. She carried on, making water fast and sank opposite the Kingston Foundry Wharf in 16 feet of water. She was on a voyage from Duluth with 42,000 bus. of wheat for A. D. Thompson & Co. of Montreal. By the 5 November, 2 divers and 4 steam pumps were at work on her and the grain was being pumped out.

The schooner SYLVESTER NEELON,Capt. Milligan, had a rough time on Lake Huron, in heavy weather with sleet and snow. Completely iced up, she staggered into Tobermory and was promptly laid-up for the winter. The Captain and his crew managed to reach Owen Sound on the 9 December. The schoonerg at this time, was owned. by Flatt & Bradley of 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.