Chapter 241
A Progressive Enterprise, 1819 to 1837.

Table of Contents

Title Page
203 The Island Lighthouse.
204 Two Western Piers.
227 The Island in the Forties.
236 Front Street of Old.
237 Canadian Lake Navigation
238 1766 to 1809.
239 Six Eventful Years, 1809-15
240 A New Era, 1816 to 1819
241 A Progressive Enterprise, 1819 to 1837.
242 The Rebellion of 1837-38
243 Complaining Travellers
244 The Trade of the Lake Still Continues to Expand
245 The Royal Mail Line, 1840 TO 57
246 Storms and Shipwrecks -- Great Destruction of Life and Property -- The Commercial Distress in 1857.
247 Gloomy Anticipations for the Spring Trade
248 The Niagara Steamers, 1874-78.
249 Niagara Falls Line - 1883 to 1893.
250 Hamilton Steamboat Co. '87-'93
251 The General History of the Lake Shipping Continued
252 New Steamers
253 Lorne And Victoria Parks.
254 Toronto Ferry Co. 1890-93.
255 Royal Canadian Yacht Club.
256 Canadian Pacific Steamers.
257 The Rochester Route -1889-'93
258 The Ottawa Steamers, 1864-93
259 The R. & O. Company.
260 Tabulated Statements of Various Vessels from 1678 to the Present Time.
Table of Illustrations

The March of Improvement -- More Steamers and More Trade

In the preceding chapter a very brief reference was made to the Dalhousie as being a new addition to the fleet of steamers on the lake. She was built at Prescott, ran from that port to Kingston, and was a large steamer of 350 tons burthen.

There was a very well known schooner on the lakes about 1820 called the John Watkins; she was afterwards commanded by Captain Thew. This gentleman once found himself in an awkward position in consequence of flying from his masthead an ensign which vessels of the Royal Navy alone have the right to carry. She, to his great amazement, when lying off Kingston, was boarded by an officer and detachment of marines from an English man-of-war adjacent, and his colours confiscated. They were, however, soon afterwards restored to him upon his representing to the Admiralty that they had been displayed inadvertently. As a matter of fact the flags had been a present to Captain Thew from Mr. Thomas Dennie Harris, of Toronto. This gentleman was the well-known merchant of King street west. His place of business was situated at the warehouse known as No. 124. He retired from business some years later, and at his death was harbor master of the city.

The Lady Sarah Maitland was another of the lake schooners, Sinclair was her captain. Like others of those who commanded sailing craft he afterwards had charge of a steamer.

This schooner received her name in compliment to the wife of Sir Peregrine Maitland. Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada for nearly ten years. Lady Sarah was a daughter of the Duke of Richmond and was one of the "fair women" who were at the celebrated ball given in Brussels by the Duchess of Richmond on the eve of Waterloo.

Early in 1820 a schooner known as The Brothers, built for a joint stock company, of which Mr. Gates was one of the principal shareholders, was launched at York. No such event had taken place for a number of years previously. There was another small vessel called the Caledonia. She ran between York and Prescott, or crawled rather, as it took her no less than six days on one occasion, and that in September, to accomplish the distance from Prescott to York.


On July 1820 there was launched at York a sloop called the Richmond, of 100 tons burthen. She sailed from York to Niagara under the command of Edward Oates, who was a large shareholder in her. We learn from an advertisement in the Observer, dated July 17, 1820, that: "The Richmond has excellent accommodations (sic) for ladies, gentlemen and other passengers, and nothing will be omitted to make her one of the completest and safest passage vessels of the class in America, being manned with experienced mariners." This very modest announcement is signed by Edward Oates and is issued from York. Captain Oates' trumpeter had evidently been dead for a very considerable period.

Two years afterwards Captain Oates is again to the fore, for he advertises the sailing arrangements for that summer. Not only does he "respectfully inform his friends and the public, that his packet shall leave York and Niagara" on certain days specified, feat he also adds this emphatic assurance that "passengers may depend on a passage on those days." He concludes thus loftily: "The superiority of sailing and accommodation for ladies and gentlemen are too well known to the public to make any comment upon." This advertisement bore date York, June 1st, 1822. As an amusing specimen of "putting on frills" in the advertising line, it has few equals. There are still some old people remaining with us (1893) who as children were passengers on this incomparable packet. The lapse of more than sixty years has failed to obliterate the wretched memory of some, at least, of her voyages from York to Niagara. This schooner came to a disastrous end, being wrecked near Brighton, on Presqu'Isle Bay, in 1826.


In 1824 another steamer of no less than 350 tons was built at Queenston, and was called by that name when she was launched in 1825. She was owned by the Hon. Robert Hamilton, and at first commanded by Captain Whitney. The Queenston ran from Prescott via York to Niagara, and was in constant demand by the Government as a trooper. This boat will be mentioned frequently as the history proceeds.

In the spring of 1825, just prior to the launch of the Queenston, there was an ice jam in the Niagara river, causing the river to rise. Owing to the great pressure of the ice against her it was found desirable to keep blocking the vessel up and extend her ways. Owing to this she was forced some distance up the gully or ravine beyond the place upon which her keel had been laid.

A small steamer known as the Caroline, of only 75 tons burthen, was built at Kingston in 1825. Her route was from the head of Bay of Quinte to Prescott.

On June 3, 1826, the Loyalist publishes this announcement:

"The new steamboat Canada was towed into port this week by the Toronto from the mouth of the River Rouge where she was built during the last winter. She will shortly be fitted up for her intended route, which we understand will be from York and Niagara round the head of the lake and will add another to the increasing facilities of conveyance in Upper Canada. Six steamers," the Loyalist adds, " now navigate the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario in this province besides the Canada and a boat nearly ready for launching in Brockville."

In this year, as in its predecessors, the Frontenac was steadily employed. On June 9th she arrived in York harbor having on board for duty at the garrison the headquarters division of the 70th Regiment, and as that corps disembarked she received a detachment of the 76th Regiment en route to Quebec. The same paper refers to the arrival at York on the preceding Tuesday of the steamer Queenston.

The Steamer Martha Ogden
An American vessel known as the Martha Ogden was also plying this year between York and Niagara. She was the property of a United States firm of merchants.


The steamer Toronto was commenced at York late in the year 1824 or early in 1825. She was built at the foot of Church street, on the bay, and was of peculiar build, being constructed of half inch planks and the same shape at both ends. She is described by Dr. Scadding as being "A shell of successive layers of rather thin boards placed alternately lengthwise and athwart, with coatings between of stout brown paper, pitched." She ran between Kingston and Prescott a short time, afterwards to Toronto. She proved a failure, and after a few seasons disappeared. She was commanded by an American captain named Shaw, and afterwards by Capt Mclntosh.

Of the steamboat Canada, which has just been referred to as being in tow of the Toronto, the Loyalist, in its impression of August 18th, 1826, says (and as evidencing the strides that were being made in the means of communication on the lakes, the following passage is quoted in extenso):--

"The new steamboat Canada, Captain Richardson, made her first trip to Niagara on Monday last, and went out of the harbor in fine style. Her appearance reflects much credit on her builder, Mr. Joseph Dennis, and the machinery manufactured by Messrs. Wards, of Montreal is a specimen of superior workmanship.

"The combined excellence of the model and machinery of this boat are such as will render her what is usually termed a 'fast boat.' The trip to Niagara was performed in four hours and some minutes. Her present route we observe is advertised from York to Niagara and the head of the lake.

"On noticing this first trip of another steam boat we cannot help contrasting the present means of conveyance with those ten years ago. At that time only a few schooners navigated the lake, and this passage was attended with many delays and much inconvenience Now there are fire steam boats all affording excellent accommodation and the means of expeditious travelling. The routes of each are so arranged that almost every day of the week the traveller may find opportunities of being conveyed from one extremity of the lake to the other in a few hours." The paper then gives a list of the steamers running at that time and their routes. They were "The Niagara and Queenston from Prescott, the Frontenac from Kingston once a week, with the Canada and Martha Ogden, between York, Niagara and the head of the lake every day. Affording," remarks the Loyalist, most complacently, "facilities of communication which the most sanguine could scarcely have anticipated at the period we speak of." After a passing reference to a steamer called the Cornwall, running on Lake St. Louis, and to the Charlotte, Toronto and Dalhousie, the article concludes thus eloquently:

"These are some of the evidences of improvement among us during the past few years, which require no comment. They speak for themselves, and it must be pretty evident from such facts as these that those who cannot or will not see the progress we are making must be wilfully blind."

The Niagara mentioned in the preceding paragraphs had been built at Prescott, and was under the command of Captain Mosier, who is mentioned previously as in command of a schooner between Kingston and Sackett's Harbor. The Niagara had rather a curious history. She was originally a sailing vessel, owned and commanded by Captain Mosier, and called the Union, of Wellington Grove. Owing either to her being faultily built, or from some unknown cause, she suddenly capsized in the River St. Lawrence, near Prescott. Captain Mosier, nothing daunted, succeeded after a time in righting and getting her into dock at Kingston. There he cut her in two, added about thirty feet to her length by an insertion, and then launched her as a steamer. The Loyalist describes her as "a handsome and well built boat with a powerful engine and most excellent accommodation for travellers."

Frequent mention is made of this vessel throughout the season. Early in the month of September " the steamboat Niagara, Captain Mosier, made her trip last week from York to Prescott and back again in something less than four days," She called each journey at Kingston, Gananoque and Brockville, and the distance covered was nearly five hundred miles. Considering the numerous and lengthy stoppages that had to be made, this must certainly be considered as, for the period, a very creditable performance.


The Queenston was very regular in her journeys all through the season of 1826. The Anglican Bishop of Quebec paid a visit, in discharge of his episcopal duties, to York, extending over several days, leaving the harbor on his return journey to Kingston on September 12th by the Queenston. When that steamer returned to York a few days later she had as passengers, on their way to Niagara, several officers of the Royal Navy, among them being Admiral Lake, of H. M. ship Jupiter, and Captain Stewart, of the Menai.

In the Loyalist of Nov. 11, 1826, a serious accident to the Niagara is reported. She, it appears, struck on a reef of rocks off Poplar Point, about 60 miles from Kingston. The passengers were taken off by the Queenston, and, owing to the indefatigable exertions of Captain Mosier, the greater portion of her cargo was saved and forwarded to York.

The same issue of the Loyalist contains an advertisement asking fur tenders "for supplying the Royal Naval Establishment at Penetanguishene with fresh beef." It is dated York, November 1st, 1826, and signed J. J. Billings, Deputy Assistant Commissary-General. In the following week a notice appears calling a meeting of the stockholders of the steamer Canada to " be held at York, on board of the boat, on Monday, 4th December, at 12 o'clock.' This was signed "By order of the Committee of Management. J. W. Gamble treasurer."

Mr. Gamble's name does not again come up prominently in connection with the history of Canada and her Marine. It may be observed that he was the same gentleman who in after years played a very prominent part in Canadian politics. He was a member of the Provincial Parliament for nearly two decades, and resided at Pine Grove, "about ten miles north-west of the city.

In prospect of this meeting which evidently caused Captain Richardson to have doubts about his being further entrusted with the sole management of that vessel, ha, (Capt. R.) addressed the following letter to the stock-holders. It is contained in the Loyalist of December 9th, and reads thus;--

"Gentlemen,--It having been decided at a meeting of the stockholders, held on board the Canada, that I should be invested with the sole charge and management of the boat the ensuing year, unless at a meeting to be held the first Monday in March, other arrangements take place, I seize this opportunity on the eve of my departure for England, to assure the stockholders that I have made every arrangement for the safety of the boat and the necessary repairs, and at the same time I respectfully submit to them the ostensible motive of my voyage, Gentlemen, I am so deeply embarked in the speculation I have entered into that the prospect of the stock depreciating, and of the boat's services and my own labors being rendered abortive in so lucrative a ferry as that betwixt York and Niagara, mainly by a plurality of the management, fills me with dismay. And, as I trust I am entitled to the confidence of the stockholders generally placed in my abilities, and am convinced that unless the power of management be invested in one person to act with all his energies in the scene of profit, to seize the advantages of market in the economy of the outlay with the discretion of a sole owner, loss and ruin to myself must ensue. With this view of the subject I embark for England to endeavor to raise funds and relieve those gentlemen who are averse to my management, and to take up the remainder of the stock, that they who so kindly confided in my assurances of individual profits, and placed implicit reliance in my integrity and abilities, may not be disappointed in their fair expectations. Confident that I possess the hearty wishes of success from many valuable patrons, in taking leave, I am happy to subscribe myself, gentlemen, your most obedient humble servant, Hugh Richardson, York, Dec. 6, 1826."

The following paragraphs appeared in the Loyalist on December 16th, 1826.

"Light House--The want of a light house at the eastern extremity of the lake has often been complained of. The subject may probably present itself to the attention of Parliament."

"Burlington Canal--We are happy to learn that the schooner General Brock, with a cargo of merchandise passed through the canal on Saturday last. This fact will remove whatever doubts may have remained as to the success of this work."

This is the first time we find the General Brock mentioned. She had been built we believe in York, and was used almost wholly as a merchant vessel.


Respecting the steamship Canada, Captain Richardson made his trip to England and returned to York early in March, 1827. The meeting of the Canada's stockholders held on the previous 4th of December had been adjourned until April 2nd, 1827, and in anticipation of the proceeding then to be held, Captain Richardson again writes

"To the shareholders in the Canada Steamboat."

"Gentlemen, it must be fresh in the memory of you all that I am the original projector of the Canada; that my abilities, in whatever light they may be received, were wholly employed in planning, constructing and fitting her out. Facts have already proved that I led no one astray by false theories in her construction; and her engine is upon the model of the very best now generally in use in England. 1 have been all along by far the largest shareholder, and nearly the whole of the shares were taken up by gentlemen upon my personal solicitations, in doing which I did not fear, in the strongest language I was master of, to pledge the success of the undertaking, not only on the prospect of the lucrative ferry, but also upon the faith of my own personal exertions. Then do I infer too much by saying that a friendly disposition towards me, a confidence in my abilities and my integrity (with very few exceptions), was the basis upon which I met with such general patronage? However, after a certain period it was no longer possible to raise sufficient stock to complete the vessel; the expedient of borrowing was resorted to, and a debt of 1,200 contracted with the bank.

"Upon this the boat commenced her operations, and ran from the 7th of August, a period of 98 days; during which time, gentlemen, I look upon it as a matter of congratulation that at the very first starting, having an American boat to oppose her, the proceeds of the Canada not only paid her current expenses but also a sum of upwards of 200 in extraordinary outfit, including 40 insurance on money borrowed, also the interest thereon; 50 nearly for replacing her wheels, repeatedly destroyed, and considerable repairs. I see nothing but what is most flattering in this her first outset. Thus it would have appeared when I made my report, that had I done it in the most favourable light, I should have thought, as one of the guardians of the property entrusted to my charge, that I was only fulfilling a duty I owed the stockholders when I enhanced rather than depreciated its value. At the end of the season, from disappointments and expenses in collecting the amount of the shares taken up, there was still wanting a sum of 400, and at the last general meeting the further sum was borrowed, hampering the boat with a debt of 1,000. At this crisis, at a great personal expense and a greater sacrifice of domestic comfort, I set out for England to trespass upon my own immediate friends, and now return prepared to relieve the embarrassments of the boat, and am willing, in the face of representations that went to disparage the stock, to invest a much larger capital in the Canada, in doing which I confer a benefit on the whole, and trust I give further proof of the sincerity of my professions when I undertook the arduous task of getting up a steamboat. But, gentlemen, things have not gone as I wished, or as I intended; and, perhaps, I am the only person who will have property invested in this vessel to such an amount as to make it of vital importance that success should attend the adventure. Therefore, upon this ground, upon the ground of my being the projector of this vessel, upon the responsibility of my situation as master, ostensible agent, and possessing owner, I most earnestly solicit your particular support to my appointment as managing owner of this vessel; and to that effect may I again solicit the most general attendance of the stockholders at the meeting to be held on board the Canada, the second of April? I am, gentlemen,

Your very obedient servant,

York, March 24, 1827.

Navigation opened early in l827, for under a salute from the garrison the Lieutenant-Governor and his family left York for Stamford on board of the Queenston on April 4th, returning by the Canada on the 21st of the same month.


The accident which occurred to the Niagara in the previous November was much more serious than had been anticipated, for the Loyalist of May 26th, says:

"The report in circulation last week that the steamboat Niagara had been got off from the beach near Long Point where she was unfortunately stranded last fall is incorrect." The paper adds the expression of its confident hope that she will in a few days be afloat and that they will soon have it in their power to announce her safe arrival in port.

The Loyalist of April 21st records the fact of the accidental drowning of the mate of the Canada in these words:--" George Reid, mate of the steamboat Canada, was last night drowned by falling from the plank leading from the wharf to the vessel. It is painful to hear that the unfortunate man leaves a wife and five children to lament his sudden loss."


The Loyalist is at this time desirous that more steamers should be added to the lake fleet and thus brings the subject before its readers.

"The Queenston performs her trips regularly from Prescott to York and Niagara once every week. The convenience of a second and even a third boat would, however, be a great accommodation to travellers. We are happy to hear that Captain McKenzie, late in command of the Frontenac, (now laid up) has made arrangements for building a new boat to be propelled by an engine of greater power than that of any other now navigating the lake. The acknowledged ability of Captain McKenzie while in command of the Frontenac, the regularity with which her trips were performed, and the attention he at all times bestowed on the comfort and convenience of his passengers, induce us to hope that the undertaking he has commenced will speedily be carried into effect."

The Dalhousie, under the command of Captain A. McDonell, resumed her trips between Prescott and Kingston on May 2nd, leaving the former port on Wednesdays and Saturdays and the latter on Mondays and Thursdays, stopping each way for half an hour at Brockville and Gananoque. The advertisement concludes thus:--"Passengers must be punctual, as the boat carries the mail; she cannot be delayed for anyone." On June 9th, following, an advertisement appears in the Kingston papers offering the Frontenac for sale. We quote the same in its entirety.

"By public auction will be sold on Monday, the second of July next, at Kingston, as she now lays at wharf, the steamboat Frontenac, with her anchors, chain-cables, rigging, etc., also the engine, of 50 horse power, manufactured by Messrs. Watt and Boulton. Sale to commence at 10 o'clock a. m., on board. For any further information application to be made to Mr. Strange, Kingston, or to John Hamilton, Queenston, June 1, 1827."

No sale took place or if the vessel was ever offered publicly it was withdrawn.

The Queenston, under the command of Captain James Whitney, running between Prescott, Kingston, York, the head of the lake and Niagara, was constantly employed in 1827 in the conveyance of troops from and to these various ports. It is announced in her advertisement for the season under date May 25th, that "every endeavor has been made to render the accommodation and fare on board of the best description."

Captain Richardson's steamer, the Canada, was rather unfortunate this year. In the end of July, while crossing the lake from Niagara to York, she broke her main shaft.


This accident was, though, happily repaired in about three weeks, for we learn from the Loyalist that she re-commenced her trips to and from Niagara on the 7th August. She was again subject to severe damage in a storm on the lake during October, but was not incapacitated for service. On December 1st she made her last trip for that season and laid by for the winter.

We have just mentioned that an attempt had been made to dispose of the Frontenac. It came to nothing at the time, and at the end of August her owner, Mr. Hamilton, removed her to Niagara There she was set on fire, the Loyalist of September 29th thus referring to this dastardly act:--

"The Messrs. Hamilton, proprietors of the steamboat Frontenac, have offered a reward of 100 for the discovery of the persons who set fire to that vessel some time ago. The Frontenac, after being fired, was loosed from her moorings and had drifted some distance into the lake, when she was met by the Niagara, Captain Mosier, who took her in tow and succeeded in bringing her to the wharf at Niagara, where, after some exertions, the flames were extinguished." She was soon afterwards broken up, and thus terminated the existence of the first steamboat built on Lake Ontario. Sic transit gloria mundi.


Early in 1828, on March 27th, Sir Peregrine and Lady Sarah Maitland, the former being the Lieutenant-Governor of the Upper Province, embarked at York, on board the Canada, for Stamford. This journey of his Excellency's involved Captain Richardson in an amusing, though somewhat heated, discussion in the columns of the Colonial Advocate, with the editor of that journal. Captain Richardson had been accused of permitting undue exclusiveness on board the Canada, in the exclusion of other passengers upon the occasion of the Lieutenant-Governor's journey. After first of all denying the report that on account of the presence of their Excellencies other passengers were declined, and then giving an emphatic assurance that had his distinguished guests so wished ii no one else would have been taken on that trip, Captain Richardson concludes his letter to the Advocate thus:

"As long as I command the Canada, and have a rag of color to hoist, my proudest day will be when it floats at her masthead indicative of the presence and commands of the representative of my King.


"Master and managing owner of the Canada steam packet, April llth, 1828."

Among sailing vessels employed upon the lakes in 1828 was the Canadian, built at York, and launched there about the middle of April. She was the property of William Gamble, afterwards of Milton Mills, Etobicoke, and Captain Bowkett, who commanded her. She was used principally for the transport of grain.

A passenger vessel, of about 80 tons burthen, known afterwards as the George the Fourth, and plying between Kingston and York, was also launched a day or two earlier than the Canadian. There was besides a well known schooner called the Catherine, commanded by Captain Campbell, conveying goods and passengers between York and Niagara.

Late in May or in the very early days of June, 1828, a new steamer, designed to succeed the Frontenac, was launched at Niagara, where she had been constructed by her owners, Robert Hamilton and Andrew Heron. She arrived in York, it being her first voyage, on June 26th, 1828. The Loyalist thus speaks of the event:--

"The new steamboat Alciope, built at Niagara, owned by Robert Hamilton, Esq., and commanded by Capt. McKenzie, late of the Frontenac, with a number of ladies and gentlemen on a party of pleasure, made her first entry into our harbor on Thursday last. She is a fine model, and fitted up in a most elegant and convenient manner for passengers. She commences her regular trips, we understand, next week, and under the command of Captain McKenzie, so well known for his skill and experience as a seaman, and for attention to his passengers, we have no doubt the Alciope will be found a valuable acquisition to the regular communication which is now afforded by means of the several steamboats plying on the lake, and that she will receive a share of that public patronage which is so deservedly bestowed upon the owners and commanders of other boats whose public-spirited exertions are worthy of the highest praise."

Many people have wondered why this vessel received the name she did. It is a purely fanciful one, and though apparently of Greek origin, does not belong to any of the ancient heroes or heroines, whether real or mythological.


On June 7th, 1828, the Loyalist mentions that Commodore Barrie in " his Majesty's schooner Cockburn entered this port (York) on Monday last, and on landing at the Garrison was received by a salute, which was returned from the schooner. The yacht Bullfrog was in company with the Cockburn."

The Commodore intended to proceed by land to Lake Simcoe, thence on a tour of inspection of the several naval depots of the lakes.

There is a passing allusion to the Alciope in the Loyalist of September 6tb, respecting the movements of that vessel for the remainder of the season.

On the 27th of the same month Mr. George Savage advertises from York that " His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to appoint him Collector of Customs for that port." He succeeded Mr. William Allan.

The schooner George Canning ran between York and Niagara at this time. Captain J. Whitney, afterwards famous as captain of one of the lake steamers, was in command.

In the following year, 1829, was built at Bath, upon the Bay of Quinte, by Gildersleeve, the Sir James Kempt. She was commanded by various captains and ran between Prescott and Belleville, attaining a speed of about twelve miles an hour.


This steamer received her name out of compliment, not, as might be supposed, to a famous sailor, but to a noted soldier and statesman. Sir James Kempt, sometime Lieut.-Governor of Nova Scotia, afterwards Governor-General of Canada. He had seen service in many different parts of the world; in India, Holland, Naples, Sicily; during the Peninsular war also, where at the assault on the Castle of Badajoz he was severely wounded. He recovered from his injuries, and during the remainder of the campaign was present as Major-General, commanding a brigade at the battles of Vittoria, Vera, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes and Toulouse. Though he was again wounded at Nivelle he remained on the field until the conclusion of the action. Finally he commanded the 8th Brigade at Quatre Bras and Waterloo.

In a history of the lake shipping, published some years since, this vessel is erroneously described as the Sir James Kemp. It is difficult to understand how such an error could have been made, as there was but one Sir James Kempt and but one steamer named after him. No one of the name of Kemp ever occupied any prominent position in Canada either. But humanum est errare.

In 1829 we have the Canada, Niagara, Queenston and Alciope all plying between Kingston, York and Niagara. The opening of navigation was exceedingly late in this year, for on May 16th it is noticed in the Loyalist that "the steamboats have some difficulty in getting into the Niagara river from the large quantities of ice passing down from the upper lake."

The Toronto and Dalhousie in this season were both running between Kingston and Prescott.

The Steamer Great Britain
In 1830 a famous vessel was commenced and launched. This was the Great Britain of 700 tons, owned by the Honorable John Hamilton and at first commanded by Captain J. Whitney, and her route was from Kingston to Niagara by the head of the lake. She was a great favorite with the emigrants from the old country, possibly to a very great extent on account of her name. She was the largest vessel then on the lakes. The Upper Canada Herald, published at Kingston, announces on December 8,1830:


"The steam boat Toronto, together with all her furniture, will be sold at public auction to the highest bidder on Monday, 13th inst. The sale to take place on board of the boat at 12 o'clock."

The notice is dated December 1st previously.

In the Upper Canada Herald of January 16th, 1831, we are told that "on Tuesday the 18th, being the Queen's Birthday," this was Adelaide, Queen of William 4th, "Commodore and Mrs. Barrie gave an entertainment at Kingston to a number of the inhabitants and to the naval and military officers on the station."


In this year the owner of the Alciope, Mr. Robert Hamilton, substituted high pressure for low pressure engines in the vessel, and changed her name from the Alciope to that of United Kingdom. Her new commander was Captain Isaac Harrington.

In 1831 we find Captain Richardson, commanding the Canada, writing a lengthy letter to the Niagara Gleaner, dated York, April 23rd, in which he says:--

SIR,--The postmaster at Niagara having refused this day any longer to take the way letters and papers from the Canada on her arrival, as heretofore accustomed, and the distance from the landing to the post office being such, and the stay of the Canada so short as to preclude ma from undertaking their delivery, I am of course forced to decline receiving for the future any letters or papers for Niagara. Last season the Canada carried the mail, this season--not. But that the public may not fancy that the extravagant compensation to the Canada had weight in breaking up the arrangement of last year, I beg to state that the Canada received for carrying the mail and all way letters and newspapers, 1s. 3d. per trip, or 2s. 6d. per day, whilst she made her double trips, and 1s. 3d. per day when she made but one. What will result from the present change? The Canada will lose a source of emolument, which perhaps would have been creditable to the post office had she enjoyed it from her first opening of the ferry ! The public will pay 7d instead of 4 1/2d for their letters, and receive them 24 hours later than by the Canada; and the post-office will have credit for understanding financial arrangements, better than public accommodation--as by a retrograde motion of delivery of 24 hours, it increases the value of postage 100 per cent.

I am, sir, your most obedient servant,

M. O. of the S. P. C.

We have only to remark in reference to above letter that the Canadian public of today would find it very hard to reconcile themselves to a charge of seven pence or fourteen cents on a letter between Toronto and Niagara.

This year a small steamer known as the Iroquois, of but 100 tons burthen, was launched at Prescott. Very little is known about her. Her route was between Prescott and Dickinson's Landing. She was what was called a steam wheel vessel and descended the rapids. She was found unsuitable for that purpose and was soon laid aside.


Referring to the Government dock-yard at Kingston in 1832 is the following interesting passage contained in a book published by Lieutenant E. T. Coke, of H. M. 45th Foot, entitled " A Subaltern's Furlough." He says:

"Two steamers were at this time continually running between the Ottawa and Ontario, and the traffic of heavy boats also appeared considerable.

"Several large hulks of vessels of war, built during the last war to cope with

those of the Americans on the stocks at Sackett's Harbour, and which were never launched, are now fast falling to decay in the Navy Yard at Kingston.

"A seventy-four had been sold a few months previously for 25, and a few days before our arrival a heavy squall of rain accompanied by lightning had split the St. Lawrence of 120 guns down the centre. The props giving way, the vessel broke into a thousand pieces, covering the ground all round with a heap of ruins."

The narrative concludes with a prophecy that the four or five frames of vessels still there on the stocks will soon meet with a similar fate.


Captain McKenzie, who had been first in command of the Frontenac and afterwards in that of the Alciope, died on August 27th of this year. He, at the time of his death, was engaged in the construction of two other steamboats; one at the head of the lake and one at Lake Simcoe; and was, on most occasions, consulted respecting the management of steamboats, so that he may justly be called the father of steam navigation in Upper Canada. His death was considered a great loss to society and to the country.

The Steamer William IV
Three new steamers were launched in this year, namely, the John By of 100 tons at Kingston; the William IV. of 450 tons at Gananoque, and the Transit of 350 tons at Oakville. The first of these, the John By, ran between Toronto and Hamilton, under the command of Captain Kerr. She was of peculiar construction, having a paddle wheel in her stern. The first one put in was too large and had to be removed. Even when this was done the vessel did not prove a success, and she came to an inglorious end -- wrecked at Port Credit. The William IV. ran between Toronto and Prescott, and was commanded at various times by Captains McDonald, Paynter, Jones and John Cowan. She, having four funnels or smoke stacks, was visible at a long distance. She finally became a tow boat.

The third of these steamers was first of all known as the Constitution, under the command of Captain Zeeland. Later she came under Captain Richardson, who with Mr. Gilkison were the principal owners She plied between York and Niagara and had her name changed to the Transit. She was finally wrecked.

In 1833 the steamer Britannia was added to those already on the lake She was built at Kingston and was of 200 tons burthen. In the Montreal Settler of April 16th, 1833, and in subsequent numbers of the same paper, is the following notice respecting her:

"The subscribers beg to announce that the new and elegant steamer Britannia will be ready early in May to ply between this city and Laprairie. Mr. James Thompson, of that place, has been appointed agent for the receiving and forwarding of property. "(Signed,) JOHN TORRANCE & Co.

"Montreal, April 12th, 1833."

Just a month later, on May 12th, the same paper gives the intelligence of this vessel, under Commander Luckin, " having commenced her regular trips between Montreal and Laprairie, in conjunction with the lines from and to the United States, Quebec and Upper Canada."


In addition to the Britannia, in the same year were built the Cobourg, the Kingston and the Brockville. Each of these steamers received its name from the place where it was constructed. The Cobourg was of 500 tons burthen, and up to this date only one vessel, the Frontenac, had equalled her in this point, and only one excelled her, namely, the Great Britain.

She was the property of Charles and James McIntosh, two brothers, both of whom died on board of her from an attack of cholera in the year 1834. She plied from Prescott to the head of the lake, and for some time was under the charge of Captain Zealand. She will be heard of again from time to time in this history, notably in 1837 and 1838 during the rebellion. She finally became a tow boat.

The Kingston was a comparatively small steamer of only 200 tons. Her route at first was from Hamilton to Toronto, when she was in charge of Captain Ives. Then she was sent to the Bay of Quinte, where, at a later date, Captain Grass took charge of her. She was built by J. G. Parker, a well-known Kingston man. She did not prove a very great success.

The Brockville was of 350 tons burthen, in length 145 feet, in width 22 1/2 feet, and her cabin was 84 feet long.

The Brockville Recorder of August 30, 1833, says: " The steamboat Brockville is to be launched on Wednesday, September 4th, at 12 o'clock noon. The Great Britain and William IV. are expected to be in this port at that hour." In another paragraph the editor complacently remarks regarding the Brockville that "she will probably be the fastest and best finished boat on the Canadian waters."

Her builders were Shay & Merritt, of Montreal, and her engines were supplied by Avery, of Syracuse. She made her first trip between Brockville and the Long Sault, under the command of Captain L. Hilliard, on April 1st, 1834.


A previous reference has been made to the way in which the dock-yards at Kingston were being neglected. In April of this year the following advertisement appears in a local paper:

On the 20th May, 1834, will be offered for sale, by public Auction, at Kingston Dock Yard, Upper Canada, a large quantity of
Anchors, from 2 cwt. to 15 cwt.; 1,000 tons iron ballast,
About 350 brass shivered single blocks, from 4 to 5 inches;
Blocks common, about 9,000, from 4 inches to 23 inches;
Blocks double, 2,500, from 5 inches to 20 inches;
Blocks careening, double, treble and fourfold, 50 in number, from 21 inches to 31 inches.
Do. clewline, clump and long tackle, from 6 inches to 18 inches;
Do. sister and topsail sheet, from 6 to 21 inches, 100;
Do. double and treble cat, from 12 to 18 inches, 30;
Do. snatch, 12 to 17 inches, twenty;
Do. iron-bound top, single and double, from 6 to 20 inches, 200.
Bolts, anchor stock, ring, set and wrain, 1,300; buntin, white, red, yellow and blue, 810 yards; copper boltstave, one ton, from 1-2 to 1 1-2 inches; iron, round and square, 9 tons, from 3-4 to 2 3-8 inches; tar brushes, chain cables, with gear; canvass, 1,500 bolts, from number 1 to 8; iron casks, 300 in number; Carpenters' tools, compasses, signal flags and pendants; sixty coils bolt rope, from 3-4 to 6 inches; 100 coils rope, cable laid; 15 coils cordage, 350 coils, hawser laid; 1,000 cringles of sorts, 1,200 dead eyes, 300 hearts, timber dogs, fearnought files, glass, 3,000 panes, stone ground; hammers, hammocks, hinges, tackle hooks, caulking irons, kersey, old lead, 4 tons; lead pipe, from 1 1-2 to 3 inches; lines, chalk, deepsea, log and hand, 2,000 m number; locks, brass, 100 in number; turning lathes, with tools, 2 sets; mauls, 450 in number; nails of all sorts and spikes, two tons; needles, paint, chain pump gear; sails for frigates, 2 sets; shivers lignumvitae, 3,000 in number; steel German; stoves, Canadian; 8 barrels turpentine; twine, 4 tons; wire, copper; wire, iron; several old and half worn boats; with a great number of other articles of Naval and old Stores; also,
of about 60 tons, nearly new and completely rigged, and well furnished in every respect; will make an excellent Packet.
Pine plank, about 19,000 feet; elm board, 4,000 feet; oak board, 1,500 feet; and several thousand feet of oak and pine timber. A quantity of Slop clothing and bedding, provisions and victualling stores.
The sale to commence at 10 o'clock, A. M. and to continue every working day until the sale is closed.
The biddings to be in sterling money, the Dollar 4s. 4d. A deposit of 25 per cent. to be paid at the time of purchase, which will become forfeited to the Crown if the remainder of the purchase money be not paid, and the Stores taken away, on or before the 7th day of June next.
The Stores may be seen, and further particulars learned, on application to the Master Shipwright at Kingston Dock Yard.
ROBERT MOORE, Master Shipwright.
April 24, 1834.


In an advertisement respecting the movements of the steamer Cobourg for the season of 1834 it is noticeable that York has now become Toronto. The latter place is so described with the parenthetical addition "late York."

In 1834 the Commodore Barrie was built at Kingston by Henry Gildersleeve. She was of 275 tons capacity, and her commander was James Sinclair. Her route was from Prescott to Toronto and Niagara. Her advertisement states that she was propelled by two superior low pressure engines of Messrs. Ward & Co. manufacture.

From the Western Mercury of August 7. 1834, published at Hamilton, it is learned that a new steamboat built at Oakville, (and known as the Oakville,) had commenced running daily between Hamilton and Toronto, Sundays excepted. This steamer is described as being a very handsome boat and elegantly fitted up. . Her captain was James Mills.

The St. George, a fine steamer of 400 tons, was built and launched at Kingston early in 1834. She ran from there to the head of the lake. A paragraph is contained in the Hamilton Western Mercury of June 16th in that year saying that the steamers Constitution, with 70 emigrants,the Cobourg, St. George and William IV. with 350, 110 and 90 respectively had landed these passengers at Hamilton.

The St. George's commanding officer was Lieutenant Harper, R. N. The vessel he commanded was at this time the only low pressure, schooner-rigged vessel on the lake, and it was claimed for her by her owners that as a sea-boat there were none to surpass, if any to equal, her. Among the other steamers plying between the various lake ports at this time was an American steamer, whose route was from Ogdensburgh to Kingston, thence by Sackett's Harbor, Oswego and Rochester to Toronto, proceeding from there to Niagara and Lewiston. She was called the Oswego, Captain J. T. Homans. A steamer known as the Enterprise was also built at Kingston in 1834, but she ran for a very brief period, being speedily broken up. Another, known as the Union, to ply between Hamilton and Toronto, was also completed at Oakville at nearly the same time. She was owned by a joint stock company. She was afterwards converted into a barque.

A steamer called the Peter Robinson, built late in 1833, or very early in the following year, to ply upon Lake Simcoe, was offered for sale in the summer of 1834 by her owner, Mr. Charles Thompson, the reason alleged being that he (Thompson) found it impossible to be absent from home to attend to the boat himself. However, Mr. Thompson had to make it possible, for no sale was effected just then at any rate. Those who knew Lake Simcoe at a much later date than 1834 will not much wonder at it.

A paragraph appeared in the Kingston Chronicle late in July of a somewhat enigmatical nature, announcing that several " should circumstances permit," would be speedily added to the lake service. What this referred to was never clearly explained, or even explained at all.


Another steamer that did good service on the lakes was built in 1835 in Scotland and put together in Montreal, and under Captain James Sutherland plied upon the lake. She was called the Traveller, and she did not belie her name, for she was of excellent speed and capacity. In the end she was put to useful but somewhat ignoble work, being converted into a tow-boat. She will be often heard of in the next few years. For the first time in the history of the Canada steamship she appears in 1835 under another commander. Frank Bury in this year takes the place of Captain Richardson; the latter remains though as managing owner. The steamer's route was the same. On February 24th an advertisement appears in the Toronto Courier offering for sale the schooner Humber of 50 tons burthen. She was lying east of Cull's wharf.

W. L. Whiting & Co., of Brockville, also advertise in the same and in other provincial papers " that they will be prepared at the opening of navigation with a sufficient number of most improved covered barges to ensure despatch in the transport of produce to Montreal, and merchandise from thence by the St. Lawrence to any part of Upper Canada. " These gentlemen also notify the public that " entries are passed at the Custom House without charge of commission."

What wind and water did for the inhabitants of Toronto some dozen years later was in 1835 proposed to be effected by artificial means. The proposition was to build a canal or " cut" across the peninsula, opposite Toronto. A meeting was called in furtherance of this project on March 3, 1835, when one of the reasons given in support of the scheme was that " It would most certainly, by letting in the pure water of the lake, purify the waters of the bay." Nature made this " cut," now many years ago, and yet,strange to say, people are to be found who venture to assert that " the waters of the bay" are only even comparatively pure, when compared with, well, let us say a very dirty canal.

The steamer Cobourg in 1835 had as her captain C. Paynter and made her trips as in the season previously. The Constitution became the Transit, and under Hugh Richardson, (formerly master of the Canada and still her manager,) ran from Hamilton to Toronto, Port Hope, Cobourg and Rochester. On June 18th, 1835, the Great Britain, Captain J. Whitney, arrived in Toronto harbor with a very large number of emigrants. This steamer ran from Prescott to Toronto and Niagara. At the latter port the American steamer United States, Captain J. Van Cleve, ran in connection with her to ports on the opposite side.

This season the Peter Robinson was again upon Lake Simcoe, Charles Thompson still being her owner, and connecting with her was the Penetanguishene for Isle St. Joseph, the Sault Ste. Marie and Mackinac.


Late in the year, on November 10th, a terrible storm took place on the lake. Two schooners were wrecked off the "Ducks," near Kingston, a place that has been mentioned several times already, and always, or nearly so, in connection with some shipping disaster.

Other sailing vessels that are mentioned include the Three Brothers, so called after the Mclntosh Brothers: John, who commanded her; Charles, who had charge of another lake schooner, the Superior, and Robert, the master of the Eunice, previously mentioned. There were several others also, namely, the Robert Burns, the Emily, the Prosperity, Fanny and Perseverance; besides the Guernsey, Peacock, Caroline, Fair American, Sovereign, Jessie Woods, Erin, Charlotte, Winnebago, Lord Nelson, Enterprise and Boxer. Of these the Fanny, Sovereign and Jessie Woods, were the property of Mr. James Lockhart, of Niagara. The first named was under the command of Captain Dick, a gallant sailor and enterprising man. A great deal will be heard of him as this history progresses. Captain Pecke, a veteran sailor, was the officer in command of the Boxer. He is stated at this time to have been navigating the lakes for nearly forty years.

Captain George in his barge from Quebec visited Toronto in 1835. This man was not a sailor by profession, but he was a born nautical mechanician. He had a scheme for enabling loaded vessels to overcome the rapids of the St. Lawrence and reach the upper ports on the river without disturbing their cargoes. This was to be done by pulleys or chains anchored in the bed of the river or fixed upon the banks. He contrived to get his own vessel up in this way, loaded with a general assortment of merchandise. But the expense was too great for private owners, and as the construction of canals round the rapids was soon afterwards completed, contrivances like that of Captain George, however ingenious, were useless. Dr. Scadding describes George's barge as possessing a peculiar rig, its masts forming above the deck a sort of large St. Andrew's cross, such being, in his opinion, the most convenient arrangement for working the leg of mutton or triangular sails which he used. In reference to the navigation of the rapids let us here mention that Captain Maxwell first navigated in a steamboat the deep channel of the Long Sault, and Captain Hilliard on board the Ontario first descended the rapids at Lachine.

In the Hamilton Gazette, of February 6th, 1836, this advertisement is found:

"The Schooner Aurora,
"Edward Zealand, Master,

"Intends running during the winter, when the weather will permit, between the Burlington Canal and the Garrison wharf at Toronto. Enquire for her arrival and departure at Mr. Hurley's Hotel."


Navigation opened early in May in 1836, and the Hamilton Gazette thus alludes to the steamboats on the lake:

"The Transit, Captain Richardson's beautiful vessel, is ready to start the moment her icy tetters are broken, and our old safe and comfortable friend, the Canada, is ready to follow in her wake. We hear she is intended to go to some port to the eastward, and if the ice remains much longer we shall, sure as egg3 are eggs, see the gallant captain, as he has done before, cut his way out."

The Cobourg had had new boilers put in at a cost of $2,500, and both it and the Traveller had been generally repaired.

The Transit made her first trip from Toronto to Niagara on May 1st.

On May 18th the Hamilton Gazette publishes this advertisement:

"Office of the Grand River Navigation Company, Seneca, Grand River, July 21,1835.

"At a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Grand River Navigation Company of this date it was


"That the first steamboat of not less than fifteen horse power that shall ply on the Grand River, from Dunnville to the head of the navigation when opened, shall be allowed to pass toll free through the locks of this navigation as long as she shall ply thereon."

The same privilege was also to be extended to the two first covered barges costing not leas than $1,000 that passed through. The advertisement was signed " By order of the Board, James Little, Secretary. "

Three steamboats, the Sir James Kempt, the Brockville and the Kingston, were in this season plying between Prescott and the Bay of Quinte, touching at Hallowell both up and down.

A steamer known as the Thomas McKay plied between Quebec and Bytown (Ottawa) in this year, but her journeys appear to have been somewhat spasmodic.

In the same season we find between Toronto and Hamilton the Britannia, under Captain Herchmer. She had been built in Kingston and was of 200 tons burden.

The steamer William IV. was in the season of 1836 placed under the command of Captain Hilliard, who has been previously mentioned as the captain of the Brockville on the Bay of Quinte.

The Kingston Chronicle of an early date, in May, 1836, speaks of the steamer Bytown, running from Kingston to Bytown. (Ottawa) also of the Cataraqui, belonging to the Ottawa and Rideau Canal Forwarding Company, as having just been launched. This vessel was under Captain Chambers. The same company had two other steamers on the route between Bytown and Montreal, namely, the Ottawa and the Shannon.

The following advertisement appears in the Toronto Courier of May 28th: "


The well-known Government built cutter, Bull Frog, about 40 tons burthen, with all her running and standing rigging complete, and in good sailing order, will be sold very low for cash or approved endorsed notes fur half the purchase money. For particulars apply to " BURKE & O'NEILL,


Another advertisement, relating to the navigation of the lake, appears in the same paper on August 18th. It tells us that:

"The well-known steamboat Oswego, Captain Malcolm, and Oneida, Captain Smith, will ply daily (Sundays excepted) between Oswego and Lewiston, in connection with the steamer Transit, Captain Richardson, running from Lewiston and Niagara every morning to Toronto. Travellers who take passage on board said boats will arrive in Toronto by noon next day and at the low fare of $4 50 from Oswego."

It will be seen from this notice that a change has been made in the command of the Oswego, it being transferred from Captain Homans to Malcolm.


On June 27th, 1836, there was a great public sale of naval stores at Kingston Dock Yard. Besides stores of every imaginable kind used in ship building the sale included one frigate, in frame, 56 guns; one ship, in frame, 22 guns; one brig, in frame, 14 guns, and one schooner, in frame, of 4 guns; also the Cockburn schooner, 70 tons, paid off in 1834. with her masts and spars; also the Bull Frog, tender of 60 tons, with her sails and rigging in store; also ten gun boats in good condition, " as far as they are finished," to quote the exact words of the advertisement, besides " one old schooner and four old ships of war lying aground on the mud in the harbour," to again quote the same source. But besides this decidedly miscellaneous collection there were twelve boats new, and in use, from 14 to 32 feet, chiefly built of the best rock elm, and in addition were offered for sale six fire engines, three in good repair; the other three the advertisement contents itself by describing as " repairable," which was a strictly non-committal statement.

The papers of the day give no information how this sale resulted. There was no alteration made for the season of 1836 in the sailing arrangements of the Great Britain and United States from that which obtained in 1835, and their respective commanders were unchanged. There was, though, a small steamer, subsidiary to them, running from Prescott to the head of the Long Sault rapids, called the Dolphin. She does not appear to have been a vessel of any pretensions.

The Montreal Gazette of June 28th has this brief advertisement:

"For sale, the new steamboat Toronto, forty-five horse power, and the Lady Aylmer steamboat. Apply to A. T. Hart, Three Rivers."

These were probably small river steamers running to Montreal. The first named of them must not be connected with the boat of the same name, which has already been mentioned as having been built in Toronto.

Under the heading " Port Credit Forwarding Business," on July 6th, Captain John Mosier acquaints his friends and the public that he has established himself at the new and thriving village at the mouth of the river Credit for the purpose of carrying on the forwarding business in all its branches. He respectfully solicits patronage, and in doing so adds the assurance that all business entrusted to his charge will be promptly and carefully attended to.

In the Toronto Courier of the same date, and side by side with Captain Mosier's advertisement, is another announcing that the schooner Adelaide, of 120 tons, Captain J. Atkinson, will sail from Toronto for Penetanguishene, Kettle Creek, Amherstburg, Sandwich or Goderich, on or about July 15th or 20th. Intending passengers were to apply to James Browne, Esq., Toronto, or to the master on board. There is something delightfully vague in the announcement " on or about the 15th"; a day or so either way appears to have been of no moment.

The Peter Robinson was on Lake Simcoe this as in the preceding season. There is a reference made to her in the announcement of a pleasure trip across Lake Huron, contained in the Toronto Courier of July 23rd, which states that the steamer Penetanguishene will leave the port of the same name on August 9th for the Grand Manitoulin and St. Joseph Islands, the Sault Ste. Marie and Michillimackinac, stopping a day or two at each place, returning by the same route to the port of departure. That was purely pleasure. The business-like part of the excursion is shewn in the concluding paragraph of the advertisement with its peremptory statement that intending excursionists will be required to leave Holland Landing in the steamboat Peter Robinson, on Monday morning, August 8th, at 8 o'clock.

In the Toronto Courier of August 20th, is a notification of the intended sale by auction on the 30th of the same month by James M. Strange, at his rooms on Yonge street, of the schooner Plough Boy and the sloop Martin Van Buren, they having been condemned for offences against the revenue laws. These two vessels were probably both American smugglers. Among their cargoes was not only " a large quantity of Young Hyson tea," but also " one barrel of whiskey and seven boxes of segars."

On September 3rd Sir Francis Bond Head, the newly appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, returned to Toronto from a short tour in the eastern division of the province in the steamer Great Britain, taking up his quarters at Government House.

In the Toronto Courier of September 17th, copied from the Detroit Advertiser of the previous August 27th, is a paragraph to the effect that the editor of that paper had heard from Captain Robinson, of the steamer General Gratiot, that a schooner of thirty tons burden, without color or name, and containing a crew of twenty-three persons armed with pistols, dirks and muskets, was taken in the St. Clair River under strong suspicion of having piratical intentions. Referring further to these men the Detroit paper says " they were all ornamented with huge moustaches, and were commanded by one whom they called General Dixon."

The Steamer United States
The steamers on the late throughout the season of 1836 comprised among them the Traveller, Transit, Britannia, Hamilton, Great Britain, Canada, Commodore Barrie, Cobourg and Oakville; on the Bay of Quinte the Sir James Kempt, Brockville and Kingston; on Lake Simcoe the Peter Robinson, and making occasional trips on Lake Huron was the Penetanguishene. In addition to these there were the American steamers we have more than once mentioned, namely, the Oswego, Oneida and United States. In the following year, 1837, several other steamers were added to the now rapidly increasing fleet. They were the Sir Robert Peel, of 350 tons; the Queen Victoria, of 200 tons, and the Experiment, of 150 tons. More will be said of these presently.


The Provincial Parliament assembled early in 1837, and on March 22nd the Hamilton Gazette gives a long list of Bills which had passed during the session. Among those relating to the provincial marine there were as follows:--"The Acts incorporating the Grafton Harbor Company, providing for the survey of the Ottawa River; granting a loan to the Louth Harbor Company,Niagara, and also to a similar company at Gananoque; Acts compelling vessels to carry a light at night, and also for the improvement of the navigation of the River Trent; also incorporating the company of the Port Darlington harbor; enabling the Canada Company to erect a harbor at Goderich; incorporating the Beverly Navigation Company, the Fort Erie Canal Company; and several Acts authorizing loans to various towns to enable them to perfect their harbors or complete the erection of lighthouses.

The schooner Britannia, forming a portion of the estate of William Crooks, of Niagara, deceased, was offered for sale on March 23rd by his executors. Beyond the fact that she was at the time of sale lying in Oakville, there is no further information given concerning her.

The Traveller in 1837, Captain James Sutherland, made two trips a week between Rochester, Cobourg, Port Hope and Toronto, and between Hamilton, Toronto, Port Hope and Cobourg. The Britannia, no longer under Captain Herchmer, but under William Colclough, ran daily between Toronto and Hamilton, calling each way at Port Credit, Oakville and Burlington Bay.

The Hamilton Gazette on April 19th refers to the lake steamers and to their routes and commanders for the season then commencing:--The William IV., Captain Hilliard, was to sail from Prescott to Toronto. The Great Britain, Captain Whitney, continued the same route as in 1836. The Commodore Barrie, Captain Herchmer, did likewise. The Cobourg was commanded this season by Captain Harper, R.N., late of the St. George. The latter was under charge of her former purser. These vessels ran from Prescott to Toronto in conjunction with one another during the season.

The Sir James Kempt and Brockville. Captain Calder, continued to run from Prescott to the Bay of Quinte. The Transit, Captain Richardson, was between Toronto and Niagara. Captain Richardson's former steamer, the Canada, had now been finally withdrawn from service on the lake

During her entire career, with the exception of one season, when she ran from Oswego to Kingston, she had been on the Niagara route. Her end came through running ashore near Oswego, when she was wrecked and finally broken up.


On April 6th the Upper Canada Gazette announced that his Excellency the Lieutenant Governor had been pleased to appoint William Chisholm, George Chalmers, and Merrick Thomas, Esquires, to be commissioners for the erection of a lighthouse at Oakville; Colin C. Ferrie and Edmond Ritchie, Esquires, to complete the Burlington Canal; also to be commissioners, under an Act passed in the previous session, the Honorable Z. Burnham, G. S. Boulton, Alex. McDonell, A. S. Fraser, and Robert Jameson, Esquires, to improve the navigation of the inland waters of the district of Newcastle; also William Sowden, John T. Williams, and William Owston, Esquires, for the erection of a lighthouse on Gull Island; finally, Major Bonnycastle, William Henry Draper, and Hugh Richardson, Esquires, commissioners for the improvement of the harbor of Toronto.

The Hamilton Gazette of May 10th publishes the following paragraph extracted from the Cobourg Star:--" Rice Lake--The steamboat Sir F. B. Head (formerly the Northumberland) will commence running in a few days. She is intended to perform the trip to Sully and back every day (Sundays excepted). The Pemadash has also been fitted at great expense by Mr. W. Boswell, and will be ready in a few days for the same route."

Capt. James Sutherland, of the Traveller, has already been mentioned several times, and there are not many men now living in Toronto who can look back twenty-five or thirty years or more without calling to mind this popular, good, honest and thorough seaman, (although bluff in his demeanor). He came to this country shortly before the rebellion of 1837.


He navigated the first steamship (the Unicorn) across the ocean to Quebec. He was also in the Hudson Bay service, and was placed in command, shortly after his arrival in Canada, of the steamer Traveller, which, in 1835. and gome years following, ran between Hamilton and Prescott, and during the rebellion carried troops to different points on lake and river. In 1840 he was placed in command of the new steamer, Niagara, (name afterwards changed to Sovereign). She was a fast vessel for those days, and was placed in the line of Royal Mail steamers. In 1842 Capt. John Elmsley and Donald Bethune, Esq., purchased the Sovereign from Hon. Jno. Hamilton, and Capt. Elmsley commanded her. Capt. Sutherland was then placed in command of the St. George, a good, staunch sea boat, but inferior and slower than the Sovereign. This change was not agreeable to him, particularly as he frequently suffered the mortification of seeing his former ship pass him on the route up the lake. The St. George was on the direct route between Kingston and Niagara, and it occasionally happened that the Sovereign also left on her trip from Kingston to Toronto nearly an hour after the St. George had started on her upward trip, and it was on one of these occasions that Capt. Sutherland came out with one of his queer sayings. When the St. George was off the "Ducks," about twenty-five miles west of Kingston, the Sovereign was observed some distance a-stern, but overtaking the St. George rapidly and would soon pass her. Sutherland paced the deck, now and then casting his eyes on the approaching Sovereign. His mate said to him, " Captain, here comes the Sovereign after us." Sutherland looked astern again, and hitching up his trousers, sailor fashion, said with a sort of grin, "So she is after us, is she ? Well, we will soon pay her off in her own coin, and be after her shortly." The writer calls to mind just now, another of Capt. Sutherland's characteristic remarks, and many more might be added if fully remembered. One of his cabin waiters was quite a clever musician, and performed very well on the cornopian, be having been a bandsman in one of the regiments stationed at Toronto. On certain occasions, when leaving or arriving in port, this musician would treat the passengers to some popular air. One day, as the vessel, the Niagara, was approaching port he went forward to the wheelhouse, where Capt. Sutherland stood, bringing the steamer to the wharf, and commenced playing some lively air. The Captain appeared annoyed, and said to him, in not very complimentary language: " I say there, stop blowing that horn of yours, you land lubber, and bear a hand in hauling in the slack of that bow line." The poor performer was frightened out of his wits, and made direct for the cabin to hide his mortification at the abrupt termination of his favourite melody.


Capt. Sutherland's great desire was to sail a steamer of his own, and it was not long before his ambition was fully gratified. With the assistance of his friends he went to Scotland, and contracted with a Clyde firm to model and supply materials for an iron steamer for the service of the lake. The British Government took a large proportion of the stock, with the view of using her in the event of war with the States, but otherwise not to have any control over the vessel. She was modelled on the Clyde, and afterwards put together at Niagara by James and Neil Currie, the latter of whom now resides in this city (1893), She was called the Magnet, was a great success, and is still as good as ever, a new boiler and a new deck having been supplied. Capt. Sutherland commanded her for many years, bat he was killed with many others on March 12, 1857, at that dreadful railway horror in crossing the Desjardins Canal on their way from Toronto to Hamilton. The writer was at the Grand Trunk depot when the train left, and saw many acquaintances there on their departure, including Capt. Sutherland. The news of the disaster received shortly after filled all Toronto with dismay, attended as it was with many most painful circumstances. Capt. Sutherland and Mr. Zimmerman were together on the same seat, and were both instantly killed, and many others. Capt. Henry Twohy, well known in Toronto, had a narrow escape; he went down to see Capt. Sutherland off, and he consented to accompany Sutherland to Hamilton, and actually took his seat beside him for that object, when suddenly he said: "On reflection, I will postpone my trip, as I have something to do at home." So he shook hands with his friends, and had only just time to leave the train. Twohy afterwards told the writer that as he sat with Sutherland talking, a feeling came over him that he should not leave Toronto then. He said it looked like a presentiment of evil. Of course, the death of a man so well and favourably known as Captain Sutherland, particularly in the sudden and unexpected manner in which it occurred, would cause great sorrow, and deep, heartfelt sympathy for his wife and family.


The Commissioners appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor under Act of Parliament to superintend the completion of Gull Island Light House, advertised in the Cobourg, Kingston and Toronto newspapers in June for tenders for this purpose. These are the conditions under which proposals by contract were to be given in:
1st.--The plans and specifications are alone to be the rule for making proposals.
2d. --Contractors are to make at their own expense all boats, skows, wharfs and machinery of whatsoever kind that may be required for completing the work, also to sustain upon their own responsibility, all risk, injury or damage of every kind, sort or description that may occur to the works from the commencement to their completion.
3d.--Those who give in proposals are required to find competent security for the proper and due performance of the contract.
"The editors of the Cobourg Star, Kingston Chronicle and Gazette, and Patriot Newspapers, are requested to give the above two insertions in their respective papers at their earliest opportunities.

The Cobourg Star of August 2nd, 1837, notes the arrival there on Friday, July 28th, of the new steamboat Sir Robert Peel from Oswego on her first trip up the lake. The paper remarks concerning this vessel that:

"She is altogether of novel construction, being built for speed, of remarkable length and narrow in the beam so as to draw but little water, (only four feet as she lay at the wharf,) and presents the least possible resistance in her passage through it."

The paper goes on to say that the vessel was tastefully fitted up, "entirely for the accommodation of passengers, and is intended, we understand, to touch regularly here on her passage to and from Oswego, Kingston, &c., every week, on the above-named days. The Honorable Judge Jones, of Brockville, and a large party of friends were on board, who, with her commander, Captain Bury, formerly in the East India service, report most favorably of her failing qualities. They represent her as being wholly free from the disagreeable jar of the engine common to other boats; and at the same time anticipate from her shape that she will prove a great deal faster."

On July 29th tenders were invited by the commissioners, Messrs. D. Campbell, Thomas Reid and Bernard McMahon, from experienced contractors for the erection of a Light House at Presqu'Isle Point, and it is at the same time notified that " good and sufficient security will be required tor the due performance of the contract."

A storm of great violence swept Lake Ontario in the early days of August, the schooner Union, of Port Hope, being wholly wrecked; her crew succeeded in reaching land safely. The passengers of the Cobourg, who were also exposed to the fury of this terrible storm, published a card of thanks to Captain Harper in which they expressed " their warm admiration of his intrepidity and able management on so trying an occasion, as well as of their entire confidence in the qualities of the boat itself."

The following Order-in-Council, respecting vessels frequenting Toronto harbor, was issued on September 7th:


IT IS ORDERED by His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council, that the following Schedule of Rates and Regulations be adopted; and all persons whom the premises may concern are required to conform themselves thereto.

Clerk Executive Council.

SCHEDULE OF RATES to be collected upon cargoes of vessels coming into the port of Toronto, and unladen within the same, for the purpose of raising a fund for defraying the principal and interest of the sum of 2,000, granted for the construction of improvements in the harbor of Toronto, viz:--

All masters of vessels, or persons having charge thereof, on their arrival at the port of Toronto, with an intention of landing any part of their cargo, shall deliver, on demand, to the Collector of Customs, or his Deputy, a manifest of the merchandise so to be landed, signed by the master of such vessel, or the person having charge thereof, which manifest shall be an authority to the said Collector, or his Deputy, for receiving from the captains of the respective vessels the amount of rates apportioned as above, for the payment of which the said captains shall satisfy the Collector or his Deputy, before the removal of said articles from the wharf or pier upon which the same may be landed.

The above rates, together with the regulations relative thereto, to take effect from the thirteenth day of September, 1837, and all persons concerned to be governed thereby, under the penalties imposed by the Provincial Statute, 3rd William IV., chapter 32

SCHEDULE OF RATES to be collected at the port of Toronto,for wharfage on articles landed from on board of vessels or other crafts lying under, and protected by, the pier erected for the benefit of the harbor at Toronto, under authority of an Act of the Provincial Legislature, passed in the third session of the eleventh Parliament, viz:--

The above rates to become payable on the 13th instant; and all owners of vessels, or masters thereof, will hold themselves liable for the settlement of the said dues to the Collector of the Customs of the port of Toronto or some person deputed by him, in such manner as he may prescribe, under the penalties for non-performance, established by 3rd William IV., chap. 32.

The steamers on the lake ceased running for the season of 1837 on November 26th, winter having set in early and with very great severity.

The Experiment, Captain Dick, made her first trip from Hamilton to Toronto on July 4th, 1837, where she continued running under the same commanding officer for the rest of the season.

The Burlington, which had been built at Oakville and launched there on June 10th, also made her first trip early in July, under Captain John Gordon. She ran daily from Dundas to Hamilton and Toronto.

There was another severe storm on the lake at the end of October. The steamer Bytown was totally wrecked at Kingston. The Commodore Barrie narrowly escaped a similar fate, but lost one of her paddles, while the Cobourg ran ashore on a sandbar at Ferris' Point, eight miles from Kingston.


A sketch of travelling on the lakes in 1833 is given us in the charming volume, "Roughing it in the Bush," written by that delightful authoress Susanna Moodie just forty years ago. Mrs. Moodie, describing the journey of herself and husband from the lower to the upper province says:--" Our journey during the first day was performed partly by coach, partly by steam. It was nine o'clock in the evening when we landed at Cornwall and took coach for Prescott. There we embarked on board a fine new steamboat William 4th, crowded with Irish emigrants proceeding to Cobourg and Toronto. At Brockville we took in a party of ladies, which somewhat relieved the monotony of the cabin, and I was amused by listening to their lively prattle and the little gossip with which they strove to wile away the tedium of the voyage. The day was too stormy to go upon deck--thunder and lightning accompanied with torrents of rain. Amid the confusion of the elements I tried to get a peep at the Lake of the Thousand Isles; but the driving storm blinded all objects into one, and I returned wet and disappointed to my berth. We passed Kingston at midnight, and lost all our lady passengers but two. The gale continued until daybreak, and noise and confusion prevailed all night. The following day was wet and gloomy, the storm had protracted the length of our voyage for several hours, and it was midnight when we landed at Cobourg."

Mrs. Moodie has a singular mode of expressing herself when she refers to Lake Ontario. Instead of speaking of it as it has just been mentioned, she, referring to a troublesome passenger says:--"He kept up such a racket that we all wished him at the

bottom of 'the Ontario.' "Again she writes: --" On the 9th September the steamboat William IV, landed us at the then small but rising town on 'the Ontario.' "

It is possible that at the time Mrs. Moodie wrote, it was customary in some parts of Upper Canada so to speak of the lake, but if it was, it is strange no other author of any eminence cotemporary with that gifted authoress does so.


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This electronic edition is based on the original in the collection of the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston.