Chapter 16
The Iron Age
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 Merchants' Line, operated by Capt. John B. Fairgrieve,R. O. & A. B. MacKay,W. A. Geddes of Toronto and Geo. E. Jaques & Co., of Montreal, planned to run seven vessels during the 1899 season. These were the propellers CUBA,MELBOURNE,PERSIA,OCEAN,ARABIAN,LAKE MICHIGAN and SIR S. L. TILLEY. Of these, the OCEAN and the LAKE MICHIGAN were to handle the Montreal-Hamilton trade.

R. O. MacKay was president of the Canadian Marine Association while W. A. Geddes was vice-president and Capt. J. V. Trowell was sec.-treas.

The death occurred on the 2 March of Capt. James Malcolmson at his residence, 178 MacNab St. North in Hamilton. He was born in 1816 at Long Hope in the Orkney Islands.

On the 21 March, word was received of the death of Frederick Garner Beckett at Englewood, N. J., where he had been staying since shortly after the new year. He was the founder of F. G. Beckett & Co., manufacturers of engines, boilers and other machinery and the plant was situated on Simcoe Street. It occupied the entire block from James St. to MacNab St., a site later used by a cotton mill. In 1889, Mr. Beckett entered into a partnership with Joseph H. Killey and they operated the Killey Beckett Engine Works at York and Bay Sts. He was a promoter of the mountain access road which became known as Beckett's Drive and he was interested in the Brantford & Hamilton Electric Railway project.

A rumour to the effect that the steamer ARGYLE, formerly the EMPRESS OF INDIA, might be placed on the Hamilton,Toronto and Charlotte service, was made known on the 25 March.

By the 4 April, it was reported, that the ice was still piled 15 feet high along the Beach, but five days later, a strong westerly wind moved it out.

A decision of momentous importance was made on the 13 April, when the Hamilton Blast Furnace Co. and the Ontario Rolling Mills Co. agreed to amalgamate. The agreement was signed by A. T. Wood,Albert E. Carpenter,Wm. Southam,John Milne,Chas. S. Wilcox,Chas. E. Doolittle and Aaron M. Wilcox. The corporation formed by this merger would be known as the Hamilton Steel & Iron Co. Ltd.

The steamer MACASSA,Capt. Crawford, with mate Pat Walsh and Chief Engineer Wm. Durham, went to Toronto on the 17 April to have a new funnel fitted.

The schooner T. R. MERRITT was loading pig iron at the Blast Furnace Wharf on the 20 April and expected to sail in two days.

The MACASSA began her daily service to Toronto on the 21 April, leaving Hamilton at 9:00 a.m. and departing from Toronto at 4:30 p.m. The return fare was $1.00.

The schooner SINGAPORE,Capt. Sutherland, left port on the 24 April for Georgian Bay. This was the day the Welland Canal opened for the season.

From Ottawa came word that $40,000 was included in the estimates for repairs to the piers at the Burlington Canal.

The propeller SIR S. L. TILLEY began her season on the 26 April sailing for Toledo and she was followed two days later by the LAKE MICHIGAN which left for Toronto and Montreal.

The first loaded. cargo vessel did not enter the Harbour until 1 May, when the schooner SIR C. T. VAN STRAUBENZEE,Capt. Williams, came in with coal from Charlotte for Thos. Myles & Son.

The dredge ONTARIO was working on the Rush Bed off Myles' Wharf during May. On the 17 May, the longshoremen at MacKay's Wharf went on strike for more money, but strike breakers were brought in and work went on as usual.

According to an announcement on the 18 May, the R. & O. steamer COLUMBIAN was to replace the HAMILTON, which had met with a mishap at Port Darlington on the 13 May. The latter vessel was back on the run by the 21 May.

The propeller PERSIA made a call on the 22 May and the next day the MYLES made her first appearance of the season, when she arrived from Montreal and cleared for the Lakehead.

On the 26 May, the Donnelly Salvage & Wrecking Co., searching for the tug JAMES A. WALKER, which foundered somewhere near Nicholson's Island in October, 1898, chanced upon the wreck of the propeller ZEALAND, lost in 1885.

The steamer COLUMBIAN, now replacing the ALGERIAN, arrived in port on the 1 June and later departed for Montreal. The COLUMBIAN was a singularly ugly vessel, built in 1892 at Chester, Pa., by the Delaware River Co. Her dimensions were 194.4 x 33.3 x 8.8; gross 1,307 tons, net 770 tons. She was a steel, twin-screw steamer with three decks and she was powered by two triple expansion engines 12 1/2/19/30 x 15, supplied by the builders. She underwent rebuilds in 1901 and again in 1909 and neither of these operations improved her looks. She was not what could be called a money-maker.

On the 2 June, the steamer ACACIA was advertised to operate to

Bay View from the Sincoe St. Wharf on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

The Hamilton Steamboat Co. called attention to the fact that the MACASSA would commence a twice-daily service to Toronto on 7 June. The departure times from Hamilton were 7:45 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.; from Toronto, 11:00 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. The MODJESKA would be placed on the run on the 17 June and an agreement had been made with the Canadian Pacific Ry., allowing return tickets to be used by rail, one way, and steamer, the other.

The R. & O. steamer ALGERIAN made her first appearance in the harbour on the 8 June and sailed for Montreal at noon. For the rest of the summer season, this vessel and the HAMILTON would leave Browne's Wharf on Mondays and Thursdays at noon for Montreal, running via the Bay of Quinte. One way fare was $8.50, return $16.00, meals and berth included.

The Merchants' Line propellers OCEAN and LAKE MICHIGAN were maintaining regular sailings in competition with the R. & O. Line.

H. L. Bastien completed an electric launch on the 19 June for a customer in Montreal. The launch was 30 feet long and was to be test-run on the Bay before shipping. Boatbuilder T. W. Jutten, at the foot of Wellington St., was working on three similar boats, also for Montreal people.

By the latter part of June, the steamer MAZEPPA was making ten round trips daily to the Beach. The fare was 20 cents return and this included transportation on the Hamilton Street Ry.

The steam barge NORWALK arrived from Chicago on the 5 July with a cargo of steel wire for the Hamilton Steel & Iron Co.

An application was made on the 7 July for a charter for the Quebec, Hamilton & Fort William Navigation Co., with a capital of $1,000,000, in 10,000 shares of $100.00 each.

The purpose of the company was to own and operate vessels and to carry on the business of forwarders, wharfingers and warehousemen. The signers of this application were: A. T. Wood, M.P., W. E. Sanford,Wm. Southam,Chas. E. Doolittle,Chas. S. Wilcox,Wm. D. Long and Adam B. MacKay.

The steamer CAMBRIA was advertised, to take a special excursion to the Thousand Islands, sailing from Browne's Wharf at 8:00 p.m. on 28 July.

A washout on the Beauharnois Canal delayed the arrival of the propeller OCEAN on the 4 August.

The schooner W. J. SUFFELL,Capt. J. Corson, came in on the 14 August with a cargo of iron ore from Georgian Bay for the Hamilton Steel & Iron Co.

The prospectus of the Quebec, Hamilton & Fort William Navigation Co. was issued on the 16 August and the stock was placed on the market. The Provisional Directors were A. T. Wood,R. A. Lucas,Wm. Southam,C. E. Doolittle,C. S. Wilcox,W. D. Long and A. B. MacKay. It was the intention of the company to have two vessels built at an estimated cost of approximately $130,000 each. Stock to the amount of $175.000 was issued and the balance required for the company's operations would be raised by issuing debentures.

Trouble had been experienced on the swing bridge at the Canal and on the 22 August, it was out of service. The Hamilton Radial Electric Ry. arranged for the steam launch MAPLE LEAF to ferry its passengers across the Canal.

The prospect of continuous 14 foot naviation on the St. Lawrence Canals was drawing closer to becoming a reality and much improvement work had been done between Prescott and Cornwall. The replacement of the Beauharnois Canal was not completed.

On the night of 26 August, the propeller SIR S. L. TILLEY, with the schooner T. R. MERRITT in tow, was heading for Cleveland to load coal for Fort William. Off Fairport, fire started in the engine-room and rapidly spread throughout the vessel. There were 18 people aboard and 16 of the managed to get into one boat which was picked up by the schooner. The wheelsman and one deckhand remained aboard for some time, steering her toward Fairport, as the engineer had left the engine running full ahead. These two men finally jumped into the Lake and were picked up by another steamer. The SIR S. L. TILLEY ran aground and was abandoned as a total loss. Her master was Capt. W. O. Zealand and Robt. Chestnut was mate. The Chief Engineer was Jos. Boulanger and Jas. Hopkins was 2nd engineer. The purser was John Milne. The hull was later refloated and sold by the underwriters, being rebuilt as the ADVANCE.

The steamer MAZEPPA ended her season on the Bay on 4 September.

A special meeting of the directors of the Quebec, Hamilton & Fort William Navigation Co. was held on the 6 September, to receive the report of the committee appointed the previous week o look into the building of two vessels. The committee recommended that the proposed steamers should be similar to the ROSEMOUNT of the Montreal Transportation Co., but of larger carrying capacity. They decided against the fitting of 'tween decks, but recommended that the supporting members for future 'tween decks should be provided. Discussions were held with the Hamilton Bridge Co., but that company stated that they could not procure the steel soon enough to suit the owners' delivery date of April 1900. It was then decided to send A. B. MacKay to Great Britain to visit the shipbuilders over there.

The schooner JESSIE DRUMMOND arrived in port on the 15 September with a cargo of coal from Erie. This vessel had been built in 1864 at St. Catharines by Melancthon Simpson and had a registered tonnage of 292.

Adam B. MacKay sailed from New York on the Cunard liner UMBRIA, on the 16 September, to negotiate with some British shipbuilders. The same day, the death of John Dynes, proprietor of the famous hotel on the Beach, was noted in the press. He was born in 1816 in Dundas and had located on the Beach in 1834. His hotel was long a favourite of fishermen and duck-hunters and was noted for the excellence of its fish and game dinners.

The schooner KEEWATIN was loading wheat for Kingston on the 28 September and the WAVE CREST and the SIR C. T. VAN STRAUBENZEE both sailed for Oswego. The schooner T. R. MERRITT arrived on the 3 October with a cargo of iron ore from Marquette, Mich. and the FLORA CARVETH came in from Oswego with coal on the 7 October.

In October, construction of the steel-making facilities at the Hamilton Steel & Iron Co. plant was being delayed by late delivery of structural steel. There was a possibility that the bricklayers would have to be laid off for a while.

On 16 Oct., the fish tug CITY OF LADYSMITH, built by Robertson Bros. for Ross of Pt. Maitland, was completed and towed away by the tug AUGUSTA. Her engine was supplied by the Bertrams Engine Works Co. of Toronto.

The schooner W.J.SUFFELL arrived from Oswego, the ARABIAN called in on her way to Ft. William, and the LAKE MICHIGAN sailed for Montreal.

The directors of the Quebec, Hamilton & Fort William Navigation Co. met and accepted the offer for two steamers, cabled by Adam B. MacKay. The cost would be approxiriately $275,000.

The R. & O. steamer HAMILTON went aground at Point Iroquois at 4:00 a.m. on the 20 October. The Calvin Co. was called in and despatched their tugs REGINALD,WILLIAM JOHNSTON and CHIEFTAIN to the scene.

On the 30 October, the steamer MACASSA went to Port Dalhousie for dry docking before returning to Hamilton to lay-up for the winter. The ARABIAN came in from Kingston and departed for Fort William and the T. R. MERRITT arrived from Oswego with coal.

The steam barge TECUMSEH arrived on the 11 November with a cargo of iron ore from Marquette for the Hamilton Steel & Iron Co.

The propeller OCEAN took on a cargo of apples and pig iron for Montreal on the 16 November and the schooner EMERALD brought the season's last cargo of coal for the Hamilton Gas Light Co. from Ashtabula. The EMERALD, 394 tons, was bullt in 1872 at Pt. Colborne.

According to a notice in the Spectator on the 30 November, the Myles Transportation Co. was incorporated. The provisional directors were R. & J. T. Williamson of Niagara Falls, N.Y.,C. J. Myles,R. O. MacKay and Mrs. Ellen Dillon, all of Hamilton.

Capt. Oliver Patenaude brought the ARABIAN in on the night of 7 December to lay up, having had a most prosperous season.

The same day, the schooner WAVE CREST,Capt. Mercer, went ashore near Oak Orchard., N.Y. and became a total loss. She was on a voyage to Toronto with coal for the Toronto Electric Light Co. and was owned by J. J. Turner of Peterborough. Her value was said to be $3,000.

The annual meeting of the sharehold.ers of the Hamilton Steamboat Co. was held on the 14 December, with Murray A. Kerr, president and managing director, in the chair. M. Leggat was vice-president and the other directors were G. E. & G. T. Tuckett,F. W. Fearman,Seneca Jones, and H. B. Witton. The company had experienced a very successful season and in recognition of Mr. Kerr's skilful handling of the affairs, the shareholders unanimously voted him all expenses for an extended trip to Europe.


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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.