The Niagara Falls Line, founded in 1883, Mr. A. W. Hepburn, of Picton, being the principal promoter, was projected for the purpose of securing a portion, at any rate, of both the freight and passenger traffic between Toronto, St. Catharines and Niagara Falls, hence the name given to the undertaking.
Until 1888 the Empress, for so she is always called for brevity's sake, was entirely unopposed on her route, but in that year " a change came o'er the spirit of the scene," for when the season opened the proprietors of the steamer found they were to have a rival to compete with who wished also to share the risks and also the profits to be gained from the lake trade.
The Empress and the Lakeside continued on the same route until 1892, when a new company was formed, who not only chartered the Lakeside, but built a new steamer of their own called the Garden City; so in 1892, between Toronto and Dalhousie, there were no less than three steamers running, namely, the Empress, the Lakeside and the Garden City.
The Garden City was built at Toronto in 1892, by the Doty Company, in their yard at the foot of Bathurst street. She was intended by her owners, as has just been mentioned, to ply from Toronto to St. Catharines, and she did so for the remainder of that year.
Her length over all was 180 feet, her beam being 25 and her width over guards 44 feet, while her depth was 11 feet and she drew six feet of water. No iron whatever was used in her construction. She was of steel from stem to stern.
Mr. John Booth is the engineer for these vessels, having been previously in the employ of the Chatham Navigation Company, where he served his articles. Messrs. N. J. Wigle and A. W. Hepburn are the joint managers, and Mr. Smith, of Milloy's wharf, is agent in Toronto.
In 1893 the owners of the various steamers consulted together, and it was decided unanimously that it would be better for the public, better for the steamers, and possibly even better for the pockets of the shareholders in the various vessels, that this reckless opposition should cease, so a tentative proposal of amalgamation for at any rate the present season was made and entered into which possibly may be fully carried out, and the boats form the fleet of one company at a future date. Nous verrons.
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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.