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Title: A Century of Sail and Steam on the Niagara River

Author: Barlow Cumberland

Release Date: January 10, 2012 [EBook #38542]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


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Barlow Cumberland Barlow Cumberland

A Century of Sail and Steam on the Niagara River

By Barlow Cumberland

The Musson Book Company



Although the book is published about two months after the author's death, it will be gratifying to many readers to know that all the final proofs were passed by Mr. Cumberland himself. Therefore the volume in detail has the author's complete sanction. We have added to the illustrations a portrait of the author.[Pg v]


This narrative is not, nor does it purport to be one of general navigation upon Lake Ontario, but solely of the vessels and steamers which plyed during its century to the ports of the Niagara River, and particularly of the rise of the Niagara Navigation Co., to which it is largely devoted.

Considerable detail has, however been given to the history of the steamers "Frontenac" and "Ontario" because the latter has hitherto been reported to have been the first to be launched, and the credit of being the first to introduce steam navigation upon Lake Ontario has erroneously been given to the American shipping.

Successive eras of trading on the River tell of strenuous competitions. Sail is overpassed by steam. The new method of propulsion wins for this water route the supremacy of passenger travel, rising to a splendid climax when the application of steam to transportation on land and the introduction of railways brought such decadence to the River that all its steamers but one had disappeared.

The transfer of the second "City of Toronto" and of steamboating investment from the Niagara River to the undeveloped routes of the Upper Lakes leads to a diversion of the narration as bringing the initiation of another era on the Niagara River and explaining how the steamer, which formed its centre, came to be brought to the River service.

The closing 35 years of the century form the era of the Niagara Navigation Co., in which the period of decadence was converted into one of intense activity and splendid success.[Pg vi]

Our steam boating coterie had been promised by Mr. Chas. Gildersleeve, General Manager of the Richelieu & Ontario Navigation Co., that he would write up the navigation history of the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River sections upon which he and his forbears had been foremost leaders. Unfortunately he passed away somewhat suddenly, before being able to do this, and they pressed upon me to produce the Niagara section which had been alloted to myself.

The narration has been completed during the intervals between serious illness and is sent out in fulfilment of a promise, but yet in hope that it may be found acceptable to transportation men and with its local historical notes interesting to the travelling public.

Thanks are given to Mr. J. Ross Robertson, for the reproduction of some cuts of early steamers, and particularly to Mr. Frederick J. Shepard, of the Buffalo Public Library, who has been invaluable in tracing up and confirming data in the United States.

Dr. A. G. Dougaty, C.M.G., Archivist of Canada, Mr. Frank Severance, of the Buffalo Historical Society, and Mr. Locke, Public Librarian, Toronto, have been good enough to give much assistance which is warmly acknowledged.

Barlow Cumberland.

Dunain, Port Hope.

[Pg vii]


Chap. I.—The First Eras of Canoe and Sail 9

Chap. II.—The First Steamboats on the River and Lake Ontario 17

Chap. III.—More Steamboats and Early Water Routes. The River the Centre of Through Travel East and West. 25

Chap. IV.—Expansion and Decline of Traffic on the River. A Final Flash, and a Move to the North 36

Chap. V.—On the Upper Lakes With the Wolseley Expedition and Lord Dufferin 47

Chap. VI.—A Novel Idea and a New Venture. Buffalo in Sailing Ship Days. A Risky Passage 58

Chap. VII.—Down Through the Welland. The Miseries of Horse-towing Times. Port Dalhousie and a Lake Veteran. The Problem Solved. Toronto at Last 68

Chap. VIII.—The Niagara Portal. Old Times and Old Names at Newark and Niagara. A Winter of Changes. A New Rivalry Begun 80

Chap. IX.—The First Season of The Niagara Navigation Company. A Hot Competition. Steamboat Manoeuvres 94

Chap. X.—Change Partners Rate-cutting and Racing. Hanlan and Toronto Waterside. Passenger Limitation Introduced 109

Chap. XI.—Niagara Camps Formed. More Changes and Competition. Beginnings of Railroads in New York State. Early Passenger Men and Ways 119

Chap. XII.—First Railways to Lewiston. Expansion Required. The Renown of the Let-Her-B. A Critic of Plimsoll 134

Chap. XIII.—Winter and Whisky in Scotland. Rail Arrives at Lewiston Dock. How Cibola got Her Name. On the U. E. Loyalist Route. Ongiara Added 143

Chap. XIV.—Running the Blockade on the Let-Her-B. as Told by Her Captain-owner 156

Chap. XV.—The Canadian Electric Railway to Queenston. An Old Portage Route Revived. The Trek to the Western States. Chippewa Arrives. Railway Chief 165

Chap. XVI.—Cibola Goes, Corona Comes. The Gorge Electric Railway Opens to Lewiston. How the Falls Cut Their Way Back Through the Rocks. Royal Visitors. The Decisiveness of Israel Tarte. 178

Chap. XVII.—Cayuga Adds Her Name. Niagara and Hamilton Rejoined. Ice Jams on the River. The Niagara Ferry Completed. Once More the United Management From "Niagara to the Sea" 189

[Pg ix]



Accommodation, Steamer 17

Advertising, N. Y. C. 175

Alaska, S.S. 145

Alberta, Steamer 121

Albany Northern Railroad 42

Alciope, Steamer 29

Algoma, Steamer 35, 44, 121

Algoma, qualifications of electors 46

American Civil War 43

American Colonists under James II 81

American Constitution Compared 47

American Express Line 37

American Prisoners from Queenston Heights 14

Arabian, Steamer 37

Armenia, Steamer 126

Asia, Steamer 78

Assiniboia, Steamer 121


Barre, Chevalier de la 81

Barrie, R. N., Commodore 29, 30

Baldwin, Dr. 15

Bankruptcy of Steamers on River 43

Bay State, Steamer 37, 105

Baxter, Alderman John 152

Beatty, Jas, Jr., Mayor 114

Bell, Mr. David 64

Benson, Judge 33

Benson, Capt 33

Blockade-Running 160

Bolton, Col. R. E. 48

Book Tickets Introduced 132

Boswell, A. R 114

Bouchette, Commodore 13

Bowes, Mayor J. G. 38

Boynton, Capt. George B. 156

Brampton, Mills 42

Britannia, Steamer 33

Brock, General 15, 33, 169

Brock's Monument, Imitation of 33

Brooklyn, Steamer 48

Bruce Mines 44

Buffalo & Niagara Falls Railroad 31

Buffalo Dry Dock Co. 63

Buffalo in Sailing Days 64

Buffalo & Niagara Falls Burlington, Steamer 32

Butler, Col. 84

Butlersberg Begun 84


Callaway, W. R. 123

Caldwell, Warships 13

Caledonia, Schooner 15

Caledonian Society 97

Caledonian S. S. Co. 140

Canada, Steamer 26, 28

Canadian Through Line 37

Canadian Constitution Compared 47

Canada Coasting Law Suspended 49

Canada Railway News Co. 93

Canadian Pacific Railway Terminals 51

Campana, Steamer 120

Campbell, Capt. Alexander, Selects Queenston portage 170

Captain Conn's Coffin, Schooner 14

Captain, position of, high importance 27

[Pg x]Cannochan, Miss Janet 119

Cataract, Steamer 37, 105

Cayuga Creek 10

Cayuga, 112 ways of spelling 189

Cayuga, Steamer, launched, speed trials 190

Century, the close of a 198

Campion, Steamer 37

Charleston, S. C. 159

Charles II. Adventurers 45

Chicora, Steamer—
With Woolesly 47
History name 148
Renown 138

Chicora, Steamer, decision to build partner 136

Chief Justice Robinson, Steamer 34, 39, 41

Chief Deseronto 152

Chief Brant 152

Chippawa River 9

Chippewa, Steamer
Name 173
Launched 174

Cibola, Steamer—
Burned 17
Built 145
History of Name 148

City of Toronto, 1st Steamer 25

City of Toronto, 2nd Steamer 35
Rebuilt as Algoma 44
Transferred to Upper Lakes 45

City of Toronto, 3rd Steamer 35
Goes ashore 123
Burned 125

Clermont, Steamer 17

Collingwood-Lake Superior Line 109

Columba, Steamer 141

Commodore Barrie, Steamer 30

Connaught, H.R.H. Duke of 51

Conn, Capt. 14

Corona, Steamer—
Named 179
Launched 179

Cornell, Mr. George 89, 102

Cross raised at Fort Niagara 81

Cross raised at Quebec by Cartier 81

Cumberland, Col. F. W., M.P. 48, 49, 53, 62, 78, 121

Cumberland, Barlow— 61, 109, 120, 172, 198

Cumberland, Mrs. Seraphina 122

Cumberland, Miss Mildred— 174, 179

Cumberland, Miss Constance 150

Cumberland, Steamer 63

Currie, James C. Neil 36


Daniels, Geo. H. 176

Dawson Road 44, 48

Dennis, Joseph 14, 26

Denison, Lt.-Col. Robert 154

Denonville, Marquis de 82

Demary, J. G. 73

Dick, Capt. Thomas 30, 44

Dick, Capt. Jas. 44

Doctors prescribe Niagara Line 132

Docks purchased—
Queenston 91
Youngstown 166
Niagara-on-Lake 181
Lewiston 191
Toronto 195

Dongan, Col. Thomas 81

Donaldson, Capt. William 110

Don Francesco de Chicora 149

Dorchester, Lord 13

Dorchester, Lady 13

Dove, Schooner 14

Dragon, H. M. S. 30

Dufferin, Lord 52
Tour through Upper Lakes 53

Dufferin, Countess of 54

Duke of Richmond, Packet 15

Duke and Duchess of York 183

Dunbarton, Scotland 38


Early Steamer Routes and Rates 23, 24, 29, 31, 32, 134

Early Passenger Schedules—
[Pg xi]Albany and Bugalo 128

Early Passenger Agents 131

Early Closing Movement 185

Eckford, David 18

Electrical Traction, Infancy of 167

Emerald, Steamer 32

Empress of India, Steamer— 114, 126

Engineer Corps of U. S. A. 193

Erie Canal 36, 40

Erie & Ontario Railway 38

Ernestown 18

Esquesing, Mills 42

Estes, Capt. Andrew 28

Evolution of the Niagara Gorge 180

Exclusive Rights for Navigation by Steam 18

Excursion, Queen's Birthday 94

Expansion of Niagara Navigation Co. 194

Exposition, Buffalo 182


Fast Time to Niagara 26-31

Filgate, Steamer 114

Finkle's Point 18, 19, 25

First Vessel on Lake Erie 10

First Navies On Lake Ontario 17

First Company to Build Steamer for Lake Ontario 17

First Steamer on Lake U & First Steamer on Hudson River 17

First Steamer on St. Lawrence 17

First Steamer on Lake Ontario 19

First Steamers on Lake Ontario, dimensions of 22

First Board of Directors N. N. Co. 197

First Steamer to Run the Rapids 121

First Niagara Camp 119

First Twin-screw Steamer on Upper Lakes 121

First Canoe Route to Upper Lakes 9, 45

First Name of Niagara 155

First Iron Steamers 36

First Railroads in New York State 127

First Sleeping Cars 129

First Electric Railway to Niagara River 167

First U. E. Loyalists 153

First Suspension Bridge over Niagara 171

Flour Rates (1855) to New York 41

Flour via Lewiston to Montreal 42

Folger, Mr. B. W. 186

Fort William 45

Fort Garry 44

Fort George 83, 120

Fort York—Toronto 154

Fort Missasauga 80

Fort Niagara, contests for possession of 12

Fort Niagara—
Established by French 81
Evacuated 83
Captured by British 83
Never captured 83
Americans 83

Formalities on Early Steamers 26

Four Track Series 176

Foy, Hon. J. J. 184, 198

Foy, John 62, 109, 132, 188

Foy, Mr. A. 150

Foy, Miss Clara 179

French River 9, 45

French Pioneers, Trail of 11

French Encompass British 12

Friendly Hand Excursions 100

Frontenac, Count 10

Frontenac, Steamer, commenced 23, 24, 28

Frontenac Lake 12

Frontier House, Lewiston 146

Fulton, Robert 17


Gallinee, Pere 81

[Pg xii]Gibraltar, Point 14

Gilbert, Abner 84

Gildersleeve Family Record 15

Gildersleeve, H. 25

Gildersleeve, Steamer 33

Gilkison, Robert 30, 31

Glasgow, Winter in 143

Gordon, L. B., Purser Peerless 41, 136

Gore, Steamer 30

Gorge Electric Railway 179

Governor Simcoe, Schooner 13

Grand Trunk Railway, opened 42

Great Britain, Steamer 29

Great Western Railway 42, 60

Great Trek to Western States 171

Griffon, Sloop 10, 81

Grimsby 32

Gunn, J. W. 37

Gzowski, Mr. Casimir 64


Hall, Capt. 76

Hamilton, Hon. Robert 25, 29, 170

Hamilton, Hon. John 29, 36

Hamilton Steamboat Co. purchased 114

Hanlan, Edward, reception of 114

Harbottle, Capt. Thomas 36, 92

Harbour Regulations, Toronto, 1851 37-38

Hastings, Steamer 150

Hayter, Mr. Ross 152

Head of Navigation Portages 170

Hendrie, Geo. H. 173

Hendrie, Hon. J. S. 197

Hendrie, William 173

Hennepin, Father 10

Heron, Capt. 34

Highlander, Steamer 37

Historical Society, Buffalo 20

Horse Canalling through Welland 68

Hudson River Railroad 41

Hudson's Bay Fort 50


Ice Jams on River 191-194

Irea, A Novel 59

Immigrants by Chippawa River 171

Indiana Excursions 99

Interest, Points of 101

Iroquois Cap 11

Irwin, C. W. 88

Isle Royale 11, 63

Israel Tarte's Decisiveness 184


J. T. Robb, Tug 62

Jean Baptiste, Steamer 114

Johnson, Sir William 12, 83

Jonquiere 83


Kaministiqua River 45

Kathleen, Steamer 150

Kendrick, Mr. D. M. 175

Kent, H. R. H. Duke of 13

Kerr, Capt. Robert 32, 87

Kingston Gazette 19

Kingston Dockyard 29

Kirby, Mr. Frank 173


La Salle 10

Lady Dorchester, Schooner 13

Lady Washington, Schooner 13

Lahn, S.S. 138

Lake Superior 44

Lake Ontario Steamboat Co. 20

Lake Nipissing 81

Leach, Capt. Thomas 43, 62, 125

Leach, Alexander 62, 103

Legislature, Provincial 46

Lewiston 12, 20, 89

Lewiston, Railway Development 134

Liancourt, Duke de 85

Ligneris 12

[Pg xiii]Limitation of Passengers 116-118

Limnale, Warship 13

Livingston 18

Long Point Bay 14

Lord of the Isles, Steamer 141

Lunt, Mr. R. C. 88, 110, 111, 118

Lusher 19


Mackinac 57

Macdonald, Bruce 198

Macklem, Oliver T. 38

Magnet, Steamer 37

Maid of the Mist, Steamer 121

Maitland, Lady 26

Maitland, Sir Peregrine 26

Mallahy, U. S. N. Capt. Francis 22

Manchester 31

Manitoulin Island 44

Manson, Capt. William 62, 70, 78

Maple Leaf, Steamer 37

Marine Dept., United States 63

Marine Insurance Anomalies 66

Mariner, An Ancient 73

Marks, Thomas 51

Martha Ogden, Steamer 20, 28, 29

Matthews, W. D. 198

Maude, John 85

Maxwell, Steamer 114

Mayflower, Steamer 37

McBride, R. H. 62, 78, 198

McCorquodale, Capt. 130, 152, 187

McGiffin, Capt. 152, 180

McKenzie, R.N. Capt. James 23, 29

McLean, Capt. 48

McLure, General, Retreats from Newark 86

McNab, Capt. 56

Meeker, Mr. C. B. 127

Mellish, John 85

Milloy, Capt. Duncan 38, 43

Milloy, N. & Co. 47

Milloy Estate, Arrangements with 87

Milloy, Donald 88, 110, 122

Milloy, Capt. Wm. Assumes Control 122

Minerva, Packet 15

Missassag River 45

Mississippi River 11

Mohawk, Sloop 13

Moira, Warship 15

Molson, Hon. John 17

Monett, Mr. Henry 175

Moore, George, Chief Engineer 93

Morton, Mr. Robert 142

Mowats Dock 124

Murdock, William 51

Muir's Dry Dock 59

Muir, Mr. W. K. 60

Muir, Capt. D. 72

Mull, Y. Cantire 144

Murney, Captain 15

Murphy, Steve 130

Myers, Capt. 14


Names for Steamers, why chosen 147, 155, 173, 179, 188

Navigation, Upper Lakes, Permitive 52

Navy Hall 13, 120

Nepigon River 45

Newark 84
Seat of Government, burned by Americans, rises from ashes 85, 86

New Orleans 11

New Era, Steamer 37

New York Central Railway 40, 127, 128, 172

New York to Buffalo in 1847 172

Niagara River, Gateway of West 11-12

Niagara River Steamers in 1826 28

Niagara, Steamer 28, 29

Niagara Navigation Co.—
Formed 61
First Directors 61-62

[Pg xiv]Niagara Dock Co. 30

Niagara Falls & Ontario Railway 40

Niagara Escarpment, View from 70, 168

Niagara-on-the-Lake 80

Niagara Portal 80

Niagara-on-Lake, Changes in Name 86

Niagara River Line 95

Niagara Dock 104

Niagara Historical Society 119

Niagara Line, Final Supremacy 126

Niagara Falls & Ontario R. K. 135

Niagara River Navigation Co., U. S. A. 166

Niagara Falls Park and River Railway 167

Niagara to the Sea 196-197

Niles Weekly Register 20, 21

North-West Company 13

Northerner, Steamer 37

Notable Day (1840) on River 33

Notable Passages to Niagara 187


Oakville, Mills 42

Oakville Church 95

Oates, Commander Edward 16

Observation Cars 151

Ogdensburgh 29

Ohio River 11

Onandaga Salt Wells 35

Ongiara, Steamer 155

Ontario, Steamer—
Commenced 14
Launched 21, 22, 24

Ontario Steamboat Co. 19, 20

Orion, Schooner 49

Orr, Capt. James C. 55

Osler, Mr. E. B. 173, 188, 198

Osler, F. Gordon 198

Osler, Miss Niary 174

Oskwego Lake 9

Ottawa, Steamer 30

Ottawa River 9

Ozone, Steamer 141


Pandora, Schooner 49

Parry Sound 53, 56

Parry, W. H. 177

Passport, Steamer 36

Peerless, Steamer 38

Pellatt, C.V.O., Sir Henry 198

Penobscot, Maine 30

Phelan, T. P. 93

Pioneers of France 11

Plimsoll's Legislation 139

Point Aux Pins 48

Point Ahina 67

Pollard, Capt. & Adjt. 119

Port Dalhousie 32, 72

Port Colborne 62, 63

Port Credit, Mills 42

Port Arthur 51

Pouchot 12

Powhatan, Warship, U. S. 158

Prince Edward, Sloop 13

Prince Arthur's Landing 50
Origin of Name 51

Prince Arthur of Connaught 51

Presquile 11, 14

Puchot, Capt. 83


Quebec 12

Quebec Gazette 20

Queenston Heights 10

Queenston Heights, Battle of 169

Queenston, Steamer 25, 28, 29

Queen Victoria, Steamer 30, 32

Queen Anne, Communion Service 152

Queen Victoria Niagara Park 151

Queen Charlotte, Steamer 25

Queen City, Steamer 42

Quinte, Bay of 18


Racing, Protest Against 111

[Pg xv]Rainy River 11

Rankin, Blackmore & Co. 142

Rathbun, E. W. 145, 151

Red Jacket, Steamer 31

Red River 45

Reindeer, Schooner 14

Richards, Mr. E. J. 129

Richardson, Capt. James 14

Richardson, Capt. Hugh 26, 37

Richardson, Capt. Hugh, Jr. 34

Riel Rebellion 47

Rochester, Steamer 35

Rothsay Castle, Steamer 43

Rothesay, Steamer 88, 92, 118

Rouge River 26

Route Hudson Bay & North-West Co. 45

Royal Mail Line 37,196

Ruggles, A. W. 177

Running the Blockade on the "Let Her B" 156

Rupert, Steamer 125

Russell, Governor 85


Sackett's Harbour 18

Sailing Era Closed 16

Salter, Rev. G. 172

Sault Canal 48

Scott, General Winfield 15

Second Canoe Route to Upper Lakes 11

Seneca, Warship 13

Shickluna, Steamer 49

Shipbuilding at Niagara 30-38

Simcoe, Sloop 14

Simcoe, Lieut.-Gov. 84, 85

Sinclair, Capt. James 30

Six Nation Indians 152

Smith, Hon. Frank, afterward Sir 61, 78, 92, 109, 183

Smyth, Charles 18, 20

Solmes, W. H., Capt. 67

Sorel 78

Southern Belle, Steamer 43, 59

Speedy, Schooner 14

St. Clair Lake 10, 11

St. Louis 11

St. Nicholas, Steamer 42

St. Catharines 32, 60, 71

St. Catharines & Toronto Line 126

Stages to Lewiston 25, 171

Steamboating Era Begins 17

Stoney Point 29

Sutherland, Capt. J. 37

Sullivan, J. M. 197

Sydenham, Lord, Gov.-Genl. 33


Teabout & Chapman 18, 25

Tea in Canada 144

The Old Portage 168

Through the Last Lock 74, 76

Thunder Bay 47

Tillingharst, Mr. 92

Tinning's Wharf 43

Toronto, Schooner 14

Toronto citizens given to water sports 114

Toronto Field Battery 119

Tour, Lord Dufferin 53

Towed Across Lake Erie 66, 77

Transfer Coaches at Lewiston 146

Transit, Steamer 30, 34

Traveller, Steamer 30

Trickett, Edward 114

Troyes, Pierre de 82

Turbinia, Steamer Competes 190

Twohey, Capt. H. 36


Underwood, Mr. 177

United Kingdom, Steamer 29

United States, Steamer 30


Van Cleve, Capt. 20, 21, 28, 29, 146

Vancouver 30

Vanderbilt, Commodore 127

Victoria, Steamer 31

Vrooman's Bay 105


Wabash District 99

[Pg xvi]Washago, Laying Corner Stone 53-54

Wauhuno Channel 56

Waubuno, Steamer 56, 57

Weather Bureau, United States 65

Weekes, E. J. 176

Welland Canal 58, 60, 68

Western Railroad 41

West Niagara 84

Whalen, J., Foreman 145

Where the Falls Once Were 181

Whiskey in Scotland 144

White, W. 136

Whitehead, M. F. 15

Whitney, Capt. Joseph 29

William IV., Steamer 30, 31

Wilson, Joseph 49

Winter Mail Services 34, 39, 40, 42

Wolseley Expedition 47
American Obstacles to 50

Wolseley, Col. Garnet 50
Names Prince Arthur's Landing 51

Woodward, M. D. 60

Wyatt, Capt. Thomas 88


York, Schooner 13

York 37, 85

Youngstown 28, 29, 135


Zimmerman, Steamer 38

Queenstown. The NIAGARA RIVER from Queenston Heights. (page
169) Lewiston. Queenstown. The NIAGARA RIVER from Queenston Heights. (page 169) Lewiston.

[Pg 9]



The First Eras of Canoe and Sail.

Since ever the changes of season have come, when grasses grow green, and open waters flow, the courses of the Niagara River, above and below the great Falls, have been the central route, for voyaging between the far inland countries on this continent, and the waters of the Atlantic shores.

Here the Indian of prehistoric days, unmolested by the intruding white, roamed at will in migration from one of his hunting-grounds to another, making his portage and passing in his canoe between Lake Erie and Lake Oskwego (Ontario). In later days, when the French had established themselves at Quebec and Montreal, access to Lake Huron and the upper lakes was at first sought by their voyageurs along the nearer route of the Ottawa and French Rivers, a route involving many difficulties in surmounting rapids, heavy labour on numberless portages, and exceeding delay. Information had filtered down gradually through Indian sources of the existence of this Niagara River Route, on which there was but one portage of but fourteen miles to be passed from lake to lake, and only nine miles if the canoes entered the water again at the little river (Chippawa) above the Falls.

On learning the fact the French turned their attention to this new waterway, but for many a weary decade were[Pg 10] unable to establish themselves upon it. In 1678 Father Hennepin, with an expedition sent out by Sieur La Salle sailed from Cataraqui (Kingston) to the Niagara River, the name "Hennepin Rock" having come down in tradition as a reminiscence of their first landing below what is now Queenston Heights. Passing over the "Carrying Place," they reached Lake Erie. Here, at the outlet of the Cayuga Creek, on the south shore, they built a small two-masted vessel rigged with equipment which they brought up for the purpose from Cataraqui, in the following year.

This vessel, launched in 1679, and named the "Griffon" in recognition of the crest on the coat of arms of Count Frontenac, the Governor of Canada, was the first vessel built by Europeans to sail upon the upper waters. In size she so much exceeded that of any of their own craft, with her white sails billowing like an apparition, and of novel and unusual appearance, that intensest excitement was created among the Indian tribes as she passed along their shores.

Her life was brief, and the history of her movements scanty; the report being that after sailing through Lake St. Clair she reached Michilimakinac and Green Bay, on Lake Michigan, but passed out of sight on Lake Huron on the return journey, and was never heard of afterwards.

Tiny though this vessel was and sailing slow upon the Upper Lakes, yet a great epoch had been opened up, for she was the progenitor of all the myriad ships which ply upon these waters at the present day. It was the entrance of the white man, with his consuming trade energy, into the red man's realm, the death knell of the Indian race.

With greatly increased frequency of travelling and the more bulky requirements of freightage this "one portage" route was more increasingly sought, and as the[Pg 11] result of their voyagings these early French pioneers have marked their names along the waterways as ever remaining records of their prowess—such as Presquile (almost an island); Detroit (the narrow place); Lac Sainte Clair; Sault Ste Marie (Rapids of St. Mary River); Cap Iroquois; Isle Royale; Rainy River (after René de Varennes); Duluth (after Sieur du Luth, of Montreal); Fond du Lac (Head of Lake Superior).

From here mounting up the St. Croix River, seeking the expansion of that New France to whose glory they so ungrudgingly devoted their lives, these intrepid adventurers reached over to the Mississippi, and sweeping down its waters still further marked their way at St. Louis (after their King) and New Orleans (after his capital), annexing all the adjacent territories to their Sovereign's domains.

The Niagara River Route then became the motive centre of a mighty circum-vallation by which the early French encompassed within its circle the English Colonies then skirting along the Atlantic.

What a magnificent conception it was of these intrepid French to envelope the British settlements and strengthened by alliances with the Indian tribes and fortified by a line of outposts established along the routes of the Ohio and the Mississippi, to hem their competitors in from expansion to the great interior country of the centre and the west. Standing astride the continent with one foot on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, at Quebec, and the other at New Orleans, on the Gulf of Mexico, the interior lines of commerce and of trade were in their hands. They hoped that Canada, their New France, on this side of the ocean, was to absorb all the continent excepting the colonies along the shores of the sea. So matters remained for a century.[Pg 12]

Meanwhile the English colonies had expanded to the south shores of the Lakes Oswego and Frontenac, and in 1758 we read of an English Navy of eight schooners and three brigs sailing on Lake Ontario under the red cross of St. George and manned by sailors of the colonies.

In 1759, came the great struggle for the possession of the St. Lawrence and connecting lines of the waterways. Fort Niagara, whose large central stone "castle," built in 1726, still remains, passed from the French under Pouchot, to the British under Sir William Johnson; a great flotilla of canoes conveying the Indian warriors under Ligneris to the aid of the Fort, had come down from the Upper Lakes, to the Niagara River, but upon it being proved to them that they were too late, for the Fort had fallen, they re-entered their canoes and re-traced their way up the rivers back to their Western homes.

Next followed the fall of Quebec, and with the cession of Montreal in 1760 the "New France" of old from the St. Lawrence to the Mexican Gulf became merged in the "New England" of British Canada.

The control of the great central waterway, of which this Niagara River was the gateway, had passed into other hands.

For another fifty years only sailing vessels navigated the lakes to Niagara, and these, and batteaux, pushed along the shores and up the river by poles, made their way to the foot of the rapids at Lewiston with difficulty. These vessels were mainly small schooners with some cabin accommodation.

After the cession of Canada, by the French, the British Government began the establishment of a small navy on Lake Ontario. An official return called for[Pg 13] by Lord Dorchester, Governor-General of Canada, gives the Government vessels as being in 1787, Limnale, 220 tons, 10 guns. Seneca, 130 tons, 18 guns. Caldwell, 37 tons, 2 guns, and two schooners of 100 tons each being built. As there was at that time but one merchant vessel, the schooner Lady Dorchester, 80 tons, sailing on the lake, and a few smaller craft the property of settlers, transport for passengers between the principal ports was mainly afforded by the Government vessels. As an instance of their voyaging may be given that of H.M.S. Caldwell, which in 1793, carrying Lady Dorchester, the wife of the Governor-General, is reported to have made "an agreeable passage of thirty-six hours from Kingston to Niagara."

In this same year H.R.H. the Duke of Kent [afterwards father of Her Majesty Queen Victoria] is reported as having proceeded from Kingston up Lake Ontario to Navy Hall on the Niagara River in the King's ship Mohawk commanded by Commodore Bouchette.

Further additions to the merchant schooners were the York, built on the Niagara River in 1792, and the Governor Simcoe, in 1797, for the North-West Company's use in their trading services on Lake Ontario. Another reported in 1797—the Washington—built at Erie, Pa., was bought by Canadians, portaged around the Falls and run on the British register from Queenston to Kingston as the Lady Washington.

The forests of those days existed in all their primeval condition, so that the choicest woods were used in the construction of the vessels. We read in 1798 of the Prince Edward, built of red cedar, under Captain Murney of Belleville, and capable of carrying seven hundred barrels of flour, and of another "good sloop" upon the stocks at Long Point Bay, near Kingston, being built of black walnut. A schooner, "The Toronto," built in 1799, a little[Pg 14] way up the Humber, by Mr. Joseph Dennis, is described as "one of the handsomest vessels, and bids fair to be the swiftest sailing vessel on the lake, and is admirably calculated for the reception of passengers." This vessel, often mentioned as "The Toronto Yacht," was evidently a great favorite, being patronized by the Lieutenant-Governor and the Archbishop, and after a successful and appreciated career, finished her course abruptly by going ashore on Gibraltar Point in 1811. The loss of the Government schooner Speedy was one of the tragic events of the times. The Judge of the District Court, the Solicitor General and several lawyers who were proceeding from York to hold the Assizes in the Newcastle District, together with the High Constable of York, and an Indian prisoner whom they were to try for murder, were all lost when the vessel foundered off Presquile in an exceptional gale on 7th October, 1804.

Two sailing vessels, the schooners Dove and the Reindeer, (Capt. Myers) are reported in 1809 as plying between York and Niagara. A third, commanded by Capt. Conn, is mentioned by Caniff, but no name has come down of this vessel, but only her nickname of "Captain Conn's Coffin." This j'eu d'esprit may have been due to some peculiarity in her shape, but as no disaster is reported as having occurred to her she may have been more seaworthy than the nickname would have indicated.

Of other events of sailing vessels was the memorable trip from Queenston to York in October, 1812, of the sloop Simcoe, owned and commended by Capt. James Richardson.

After the battle of Queenston Heights, on October 13th, she had been laden with American prisoners, among them General Winfield Scott, afterwards the conqueror in Mexico, to be forwarded at once to Kingston. The Moira[Pg 15] of the royal navy was then lying off the port of York and on her Mr. Richardson, a son of the Captain, was serving as sailing master.

As the Simcoe approached she was recognized by young Richardson, who, putting off in a small boat, met her out in the lake and was much surprised at seeing the crowded state of her decks and at the equipment of his father, who, somewhat unusually for him, was wearing a sword.

The first words from the ship brought great joy—a great battle had been fought on Queenston Heights—the enemy had been beaten. The Simcoe was full of prisoners of war to be transported at once to the Moira for conveyance to Kingston. Then came the mournful statement, "General Brock has been killed." The rapture of victory was overwhelmed by the sense of irreparable loss. In such way was the sad news carried in those sailing days to York.

The Minerva, "Packet," owner and built by Henry Gildersleeve, at Finkle's Point in 1817, held high repute. Richard Gildersleeve emigrated from Hertfordshire, England, in 1635, and settled in Connecticut. His great-great-grandson, Obadiah, established a successful shipbuilding yard at "Gildersleeve," Conn. Henry Gildersleeve, his grandson, here learned his business and coming to Finkle's Point in 1816 assisted on the Frontenac, and continuing in shipbuilding, married Mrs. Finkle. When Minerva arrived at Kingston she was declared by Capt. Murray, R.N., to be in her construction and lines the best yet turned out, as she proved when plying as a "Packet" between Toronto and Niagara.

Many sailing vessels meeting with varying success, were plying between all the ports on the lake. The voyages were not always of the speediest. "The Caledonia,"[Pg 16] schooner, is reported to have taken six days from Prescott to York. Mr. M. F. Whitehead, of Port Hope, crossed from Niagara to York in 1818, the passage occupying two and a half days. In a letter of his describing the trip he enters:—"Fortunately, Dr. Baldwin had thoughtfully provided a leg of lamb, a loaf of bread, and a bottle of porter; all our fare for the two days and a half."

These vessels seem to have sailed somewhat intermittently, but regular connection on every other day with the Niagara River was established by "The Duke of Richmond" packet, a sloop of one hundred tons built at York in 1820, under Commander Edward Oates.

His advertisements announced her to "leave York Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9 a.m. Leave Niagara on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 10 a.m., between July and September," after that "according to notice." The rates of passage were:—"After Cabin ten shillings; Fore Cabin 6s. 6.; sixty lbs. of baggage allowed for each passenger, but over that 9d. per cwt. or 2s. per barrel bulk."

The standard of measurement was a homely one, but no doubt well understood at that time, and easily ascertained. In the expansion of the size of ladies' trunks in these present days it is not beyond possibility that a measurement system such as used in the early part of the last century might not be inadvisable.

The reports of the "packet" describe her as being comfortable and weatherly, and very regular in keeping up her time-table. She performed her services successfully on the route until 1823, when she succumbed to the competition of the steamboats which had shortly before been introduced. With the introduction upon the lakes of this new method of propulsion the carrying of passengers on sailing vessels quickly ceased.

[Pg 17]


The First Steamboats on Lake Ontario and the Niagara River.

The era of steamboating had now arrived. The Clermont, built by Robert Fulton, and furnished with English engines by Boulton & Watts, of Birmingham, had made her first trip on the Hudson from New York to Albany in August, 1807, and was afterwards continuing to run on the river.

In 1809 the Accommodation, built by the Hon. John Molson at Montreal, and fitted with engines made in that city, was running successfully between Montreal and Quebec, being the first steamer on the St. Lawrence and in Canada.

The experience of both of these vessels had shown that the new system of propulsion of vessels by steam power was commercially profitable, and as it had been proved successful upon the river water, it was but reasonable that its application to the more open waters of the lakes should next obtain consideration.

The war of 1812 between Great Britain and the United States, accompanied by its constant invasions of Canada, had interrupted any immediate expansion in steamboating enterprises.

Peace having been declared in February, 1815, the projects were immediately revived and in the spring of that year a British company was formed with shareholders in Kingston, Niagara, York, and Prescott, to build a steamboat[Pg 18] to ply on Lake Ontario. A site suitable for its construction was selected on the beaches on Finkle's Point, at Ernestown, 18 miles up the lake from Kingston, on one of the reaches of the Bay of Quinte.

A contract was let to Henry Teabout and James Chapman, two young men who had been foremen under David Eckford, the master shipbuilder of New York, who during the war had constructed the warships for the United States Government at its dockyard at Sackett's Harbor. Construction was commenced at Finkle's Point in October, 1815, and with considerable delays caused in selection of the timbers, was continued during the winter. (Canniff—Settlement of Upper Canada). The steamer was launched with great eclat on 7th September, 1816, and named the Frontenac, after the County of Frontenac in which she had been built.

A similar wave of enterprise had arisen also on the United States side and it becomes of much interest to search up the annals of over a hundred years ago and ascertain to which side of the lake is to be accorded the palm for placing the first steamboat on Lake Ontario. Especially as opinions have varied on the subject, and owing to a statement made, as we shall find, erroneously, in a distant press the precedence has usually been given to an American steamer.

The first record of the steamboat on the American side is an agreement dated January 2, 1816, executed between the Robert Fulton heirs and Livingston, of Clermont, granting to Charles Smyth and others an exclusive right to navigate boats and vessels by steam on Lake Ontario.

These exclusive rights for the navigation on American waters "by steam or fire" had previously been granted to[Pg 19] the Fulton partnership by the Legislature of the State of New York.

The terms of the agreement set out that the grantees were to pay annually to the grantors one-half of all the net profits in excess of a dividend of 12 per cent. upon the investment. On the 16th of the next month a bill was passed in the Legislature of New York incorporating the "Ontario Steamboat Co.," but in consequence of the too early adjournment of the Legislature did not become law.

At this time, (February, 1816) the construction of the Canadian boat at Ernestown was well under way.

By an assignment dated August 16th, 1816, Lusher and others became partners with Smyth, and as a result it is stated (Hough—History of Jefferson County, N.Y.) "a boat was commenced at Sackett's Harbor the same summer."

Three weeks after the date of this commencing of the boat on the American side, or Sackett's Harbour, the Frontenac, on the Canadian side, was launched on the 7th September, 1816, at Finkle's Point.

In the description of this launch of the Frontenac given in the September issue of the Kingston Gazette, the details of her size are stated. "Length, 170 feet; beam, 32 feet; two paddle wheels with circumference about 40 feet. Registered tonnage, 700 tons." Further statements made are, "Good judges have pronounced this to be the best piece of naval architecture of the kind yet produced in America." "The machinery for this valuable boat was imported from England and is said to be an excellent structure. It is expected that she will be finished and ready for use in a few weeks."

Having been launched with engines on board in early September the Frontenac then sailed down the lake from Ernestown to Kingston to lay up in the port.[Pg 20]

In another part of this same September issue of the Kingston Gazette an item is given: "A steamboat was lately launched at Sackett's Harbor."

No name is given of the steamer, nor the date of the launch, but this item has been considered to have referred to the steamer named Ontario, built at Sackett's Harbor and in consequence of its having apparently been launched first, precedence has been claimed for the United States vessel.

This item, "A steamboat was lately launched at Sackett's Harbor," develops, on further search, to have first appeared as a paragraph under the reading chronicles in "Niles Weekly Register," published far south in the United States at Baltimore, Maryland. From here it was copied verbatim as above by the Kingston Gazette, and afterwards by the Quebec Gazette of 26th Sept., 1816.

Further enquiry, however, nearer the scene of construction indicates that an error had been made in the wording of the item, which had apparently been copied into the other papers without verification.

In the library of the Historical Society at Buffalo is deposited the manuscript diary of Capt. Van Cleve, who sailed as clerk and as captain on the Martha Ogden, the next steamboat to be built at Sackett's Harbor six years after the Ontario. In this he writes, "the construction of the Ontario was begun at Sackett's Harbor in August, 1816." He also gives a drawing, from which all subsequent illustrations of the Ontario have been taken. Further information of the American steamer is given in an application for incorporation of the "Lake Ontario Steam Boat Co." made in December, 1816, by Charles Smyth and others, of Sackett's Harbor, who stated in their petition that they had "lately constructed a steam boat at[Pg 21] Sackett's Harbor"—"the Navy Department of the United States have generously delivered a sufficiency of timber for the construction of the vessel for a reasonable sum of money"—"the boat is now built"—"the cost so far exceeds the means which mercantile men can generally command that they are unable to build any further"—"the English in the Province of Upper Canada have constructed a steam boat of seven hundred tons burthen avowedly for the purpose of engrossing the business on both sides of the lake."

All this indicates that the American boat had not been launched and in December was still under construction.

It is more reasonable to accept the statements of Capt. Van Cleve and others close to the scene of operations rather than to base conclusions upon the single item in the publication issued at so far a distance and without definite details.

It is quite evident that the item in Niles Register should have read "was lately commenced," instead of "was lately launched." The change of this one word would bring it into complete agreement with all the other evidences of the period and into accord with the facts.

No absolute date for the launching of the Ontario or of the giving of her name has been ascertainable, but as she was not commenced until August it certainly could not have been until after that of the Frontenac on Sept. 7th, 1816. The first boat launched was, therefore, on the Canadian side.

The movements of the steamers in the spring of 1817 are more easily traced. Niles Register, 29th March, 1817, notes, "The steamboat Ontario is prepared for the lake," and Capt. Van Cleve says, "The first enrollment of the[Pg 22] Ontario in the customs office was made on 11th April," and "She made her first trip in April."

The data of the dimensions of the Ontario are recorded, being only about one-third the capacity of the Frontenac, which would account for the shorter time in which she was constructed. The relative sizes were:

Length.Beam.Capacity, tons.

No drawing of the Frontenac is extant, but she has been described as having guards only at the paddle wheels, the hull painted black, and as having three masts, but no yards. The Ontario had two masts, as shown in the drawing by Van Cleve.

No distinctive date is given for the first trip in April of the Ontario, on which it is reported (Beers History of the Great Lakes) "The waves lifted the paddle wheels off their bearings, tearing away the wooden coverings. After making the repairs the shaft was securely held in place."

Afterwards under the command of Capt. Francis Mallaby, U. S. N., weekly trips between Ogdensburgh and Lewiston were attempted, but after this interruption by advertisement of 1st July, 1817, the time had to be extended to once in ten days. The speed of the steamer was found to seldom exceed five miles per hour. (History of Jefferson County. Hough).

The Ontario ran for some years, but does not seem to have met with much success and, having gone out of commission, was broken up at Oswego in 1832.

In the spring of 1817 the first mention of the Frontenac is in Kingston of her having moved over on 23rd[Pg 23] May to the Government dock at Point Frederick, "for putting in a suction pipe," the Kingston Gazette further describing that "she moved with majestic grandeur against a strong wind." On 30th May the Gazette reports her as "leaving this port for the purpose of taking in wood at the Bay Quinte. A fresh breeze was blowing into the harbor against which she proceeded swiftly and steadily to the admiration of a great number of spectators. We congratulate the managers and proprietors of this elegant boat, upon the prospect she affords of facilitating the navigation of Lake Ontario in furnishing an expeditious and certain mode of conveyance to its various ports."

It can well be imagined with what wonder the movements of this first steam-driven vessel were witnessed.

In the Kingston Gazette of June 7, 1817, entry is made, "The Frontenac left this port on Thursday, 5th, on her first trip for the head of the lake."

The opening route of the Frontenac, commanded by Capt. James McKenzie, a retired officer of the royal navy, was between Kingston and Queenston, calling at York and Niagara and other intermediate ports. The venture of a steamer plying on the open lakes, where the paddle wheels would be subjected to wave action, was a new one, so for the opening trips her captain announced, with the proverbial caution of a Scotchman, that the calls at the ports would be made "with as much punctuality as the nature of lake navigation will admit of." Later, the steamer, having proved her capacity by two round trips, the advertisements of June, 1817, state the time-table of the steamer as "leaving Kingston for York on the 1st, 11th, and 23rd days," and "York for Queenston on 3rd, 13th, and 25th days of each month, calling at all intermediate ports." "Passenger fares, Kingston to Ernestown,[Pg 24] 5s; Prescott, £1.10.0; Newcastle, £1.15.0; York and Niagara, £2.0.0; Burlington, £3.15.0; York to Niagara, £1.0.0." Further excerpts are: "A book is kept for the entering of the names of the passengers and the berths which they choose, at which time the passage money must be paid." "Gentlemen's servants cannot eat or sleep in the cabin." "Deck passengers will pay fifteen shillings, and may either bring their own provisions or be furnished by the steward." "For each dog brought on board, five shillings." "All applications for passage to be made to Capt. McKenzie on board." After having run regularly each season on Lake Ontario and the Niagara River her career was closed in 1827 when, while on the Niagara River, she was set on fire, it was said, by incendiaries, for whose discovery her owners, the Messrs. Hamilton, offered a reward of £100, but without result. Being seriously damaged, she was shortly afterwards broken up.

Such were the careers of the first two steamers which sailed upon Lake Ontario and the Niagara River, and from the data it is apparent that the Frontenac on the British side was the first steamboat placed on Lake Ontario, and that the Ontario, on the United States side, had been the first to make a trip up lake, having priority in this over her rival by perhaps a week or two, but not preceding her in the entering into and performance of a regular service.

With them began the new method for travel, far exceeding in speed and facilities any previously existing, so that the stage lines and sailing vessels were quickly eliminated.

This practical monopoly the steamers enjoyed for a period of fifty years, when their Nemesis in turn arrived and the era of rail competition began.

The ONTARIO. 1817. The second Steamer on Lake Ontario.

From the original drawing by Capt. Van Cleve page 21 The ONTARIO. 1817. The second Steamer on Lake Ontario.
From the original drawing by Capt. Van Cleve page 21

By courtesy of Mr. John Ross Robertson reproduced from his "Landmarks of
Toronto." page 29 The GREAT BRITAIN. 1830.
By courtesy of Mr. John Ross Robertson reproduced from his "Landmarks of Toronto." page 29

[Pg 25]


More Steamboats and Early Water Routes.

The River the Centre of Through Travel.

The Frontenac was followed by the Queen Charlotte, built in the same yards at Finkle's Point, by Teabout and Chapman, and launched on 22nd April, 1818, for H. Gildersleeve, the progenitor of that family which has ever since been foremost in the ranks of steamboating in Canada. He sailed her for twenty years as captain and purser, her first route being a round trip every ten days between Kingston, York and Queenston. The passage rates at this time were from Kingston to York and Niagara £3 ($12.00), from York to Niagara £1 ($4.00).

In 1824 appeared the first "City of Toronto," of 350 tons, built in the harbor of York at the foot of Church Street. Her life was neither long nor successful, she being sold by auction "with all her furniture" in December, 1830, and broken up.

Passenger traffic was now so much increasing that steamers began to follow more quickly. The Lewiston "Sentinel" in 1824, in a paragraph eulogizing their then rising town, says:—"Travel is rapidly increasing, regular lines of stages excelled by none, run daily by the Ridge Road to Lockport, and on Fridays weekly to Buffalo. The steamboats are increasing in business and affording every facility to the traveller." The Hon. Robert Hamilton, who for so many years afterwards was dominantly interested in steamboating, launched the "Queenston" in 1825[Pg 26] at Queenston. His fine residence, from which he could watch the movements of his own and other steamers, still stands on the edge of the high bank overlooking the Queenston dock.

In 1826 there was added the "Canada," built at the mouth of the Rouge River by Mr. Joseph Dennis and brought to York to have the engines installed, which had been constructed by Hess and Wards, of Montreal. Under the charge of Captain Hugh Richardson, her captain and managing owner, she had a long and notable career. The contemporary annals describe her as "a fast boat," and as making the trip from York to Niagara "in four hours and some minutes."

Her Captain was a seaman of the old school, dominant, and watchful of the proprieties on the quarter deck.

On one occasion in 1828, when Sir Peregrine Maitland, the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, and Lady Maitland, had taken passage with him from York to Queenston en route to Stamford, a newspaper item had accused him of undue exclusiveness on the "Canada" to the annoyance of other passengers.

To this the doughty "Captain and Managing Owner" replied by a letter in which he denied the accusation and added: "As long as I command the "Canada" and have a rag of colour to hoist, my proudest day will be when it floats at the masthead indicative of the presence and commands of the representative of my King."

The departure of his steamer from port was announced in an exceptional manner, as stated in the concluding words of his advertisement to the public: "N.B. A gun will be fired and colours hoisted twenty-five minutes before starting."[Pg 27]

In another controversy, which arose from the contract for carrying the mails on the Niagara route having been withdrawn from the steamer "Canada," it was developed that while the pay to the steamer was only 1s. 3d. per trip, the Government postage between York and Niagara was 7d. on each letter. This charge the captain considered excessive, but as the postmaster at Niagara now refused to receive any letters from his steamer he regretted he had to make public announcement that he was obliged (in future) to decline to accept any more letters to be taken across the lake.

The captain-commander of a lake steamboat in those days was a person of importance and repute. Unquestioned ruler on his "ship," he represented the honour of his Flag and obedience to his Country's laws.

Most of them had been officers of the Royal Navy and had served during the 1812 War, having been trained in the discipline and conventions of His Majesty's service, and similarly on the American boats had served in the United States Navy.

At the present day on our Muskoka and inland lakes, the advent of the daily steamer is a crowning event, bringing all the neighbourhood down to the waterside dock, in curiosity or in welcome. Still more so it was in those early times when the mode of steam progression was novel and a source of wonder, and the days of call so much more infrequent.

The captain was no doubt the bearer of letters to be delivered into the hands of friends, certainly the medium of the latest news (and gossip) from the other ports on the lake, and was sought for tidings from the outside, as well as in welcome to himself. In particular evidence of the confidence reposed in him and in his gallantry, he was[Pg 28] the honored Guardian of ladies and children, travelling alone, who were with much empressment confided to his care. Being usually a part owner his attentions were gracious hospitalities, so that a seat at the commander's table was not only a privilege, but an appreciated acknowledgement of social position.

These were the halcyon days of Officers on the lakes, when the increased speed of the new method was enjoyed and appreciated, but the congenialities of a pleasant passage, were not lost in impatient haste for its earlier termination.

There were in 1826 five steamers running on the Niagara River Route. The "Niagara" and "Queenston" from Prescott; "Frontenac" from Kingston; "Martha Ogden," an American steamer from the south shore ports and Ogdensburg, and the "Canada" to York and "head of the lake," presumably near Burlington, and return.

On this "Martha Ogden," built at Sackett's Harbour, in 1824, Captain Van Cleve, of Lewiston, served for many years as clerk, and afterwards as captain. In a manuscript left by him many interesting events in her history are narrated. In 1826 she ran under the command of Captain Andrew Estes between Youngstown and York. Youngstown was then a port of much importance. It was the shipping place of a very considerable hardwood timbering business the trees being brought in from the surrounding country. Its docks, situated close to the lake on an eddy separated from the rapid flow of the river, formed an easily accessible centre for the batteaux and sailing craft which communicated with the Eastern ports on Lake Ontario.

A considerable quantity of grain was also at that time raised in the district, providing material for the stone[Pg 29] flour mill built in 1840. This mill, grinding two hundred barrels per day, was in those days considered a marvel of enterprise. Though many years ago disused for such purpose it is still to be seen just a little above the Niagara Navigation Company's Youngstown dock.

In the way of the nomenclature of steamers, that of the "Alciope," built at Niagara in 1828 for Mr. Robert Hamilton, and first commanded by Captain McKenzie, late of the "Frontenac," is unusual. This name in appearance would appear to be that of some ancient goddess, but is understood to be taken from a technical term in abstract zoology. Possibly it may at the time have attracted attention, but was evidently not considered satisfactory as it was changed in 1832 to the more suitable one of "United Kingdom."

More steamers come now in quick succession. The Hon. John Hamilton in 1830 brought out the "Great Britain" (Captain Joseph Whitney), of 700 tons, with two funnels, and spacious awning deck.

The route of the "Martha Ogden" had reverted back to the lake trip between Lewiston and Ogdensburgh. It was her ill luck to run ashore in 1830 and having sought repairs in the British Government naval establishment at Kingston, Captain Van Cleve mentions, with much satisfaction the cordial reception given to the American crew by Commodore Barrie, and the efficient work done for the ship in the Royal Dockyard. The "Martha Ogden" closed her days in 1832 by being lost off Stoney Point, Lake Ontario.

The sailing times of the through boats from the river at this time are given as "the steamer Great Britain leaves Niagara every five days, the Alciope, every Saturday evening, the Niagara every Monday evening at 6 o'clock, and[Pg 30] the Queenston every Tuesday morning at 9 o'clock for Kingston, Brockville and Prescott (board included) $8.00."

On the American side the United States and Oswego made a semi-weekly line between Lewiston and Ogdensburg, calling at all intermediate ports.

In 1832 added "William IV.," an unusual looking craft with four funnels; 1834 "Commodore Barrie," built at Kingston by the Gildersleeves, and sailed by Captain James Sinclair between (as the advertisement stated) "Prescott, Toronto (late York) and Niagara." Commodore Barrie, after whom the steamer was named, had a long and creditable naval career. As lieutenant he had been with Vancouver on the Pacific in 1792, served at Copenhagen in 1807, and as captain of "H.M.S. Dragon," 74 guns, had taken part in the successful expedition at Penobscot Maine in 1814. In 1830 he had been appointed to the command of the Royal Navy Yard at Kingston.

Ship building on the lake began now to take a more definite and established position. The "Niagara Dock Company" was formed in 1835. Robert Gilkison, a Canadian, of Queenston, who had been educated in shipbuilding at "Port Glasgow, Scotland," returned to Canada and was appointed designer and superintendent of the works at Niagara.

A number of ships were built under his charge. The first steamer was the "Traveller," 145 feet long, 23.6 beam, with speed of 11 to 12 miles followed by the "Transit," "Gore," and the "Queen Victoria," 130 feet long, 23.6 beam, with 50 horse power, a stated speed of 12 miles, and described as having been "fitted in elegant style." This steamer, launched in April, 1838, and commanded by Captain Thomas Dick, introduces a family which for many[Pg 31] years was connected with steamboating on the Niagara River Route.

In her first season Robert Gilkinson, her builder, noted in his diary, June 29th: "On the celebration of Her Majesty's coronation the Victoria, with a party of sixty ladies and gentlemen, made her first trip to Toronto, making the distance from Niagara to Toronto in 3 hours and 7 minutes, a rate scarcely met by any other boat."

"July 2. Commenced trips leaving Niagara 7 a.m., Toronto 11 a.m., and Hamilton 4 p.m., arrived here (Niagara) 8 p.m. Accomplished the 121 miles in ten and a half hours, a rate not exceeded by any boat on the lake."

The advertisements of the running times as then given in the press are interesting.

"The 'Queen Victoria' leaves Lewiston and Queenston 8 o'clock a.m. and Niagara 8.30 o'clock for Toronto. The boat will return each day, leaving Toronto for these places at 2 o'clock p.m."

A further enlargement of the running connections of this steamer on the route in 1839 stated:

"Passengers will on Monday and Thursday arrive at Toronto in time for the "William IV." steamer for Kingston and Prescott. Returning. On arrival at Lewiston, railroad cars will leave for the Falls. On arrival at Queenston stages will leave for the Falls, whence the passengers can leave next day by the steamer "Red Jacket" from Chippawa to Buffalo, or by the railroad cars for Manchester."

The "Railroad Cars" were those of the "Buffalo and Niagara Falls Railroad" opened in 1836, then running two trains a day each way between Buffalo and the Falls, leaving Buffalo at nine in the morning and five in the afternoon. Manchester was the name of the town laid out[Pg 32] in the neighborhood of the Falls, where, from the abundance of water power it was expected a great manufacturing centre would be established.

An advertisement in a later year (1844) mentions the steamer "Emerald" to "leave Buffalo at 9 a.m. for Chippawa, arrive by cars at Queenston for steamer for Toronto, Oswego, Rochester, Kingston and Montreal."

The "cars" at Queenston were those of a horse railroad which had been constructed along the main road from Chippewa to Queenston, of which some traces still remain. The rails were long wooden sleepers faced with strap iron.

During one season the "Queen Victoria" was chartered as a gunboat for Lake Ontario, being manned by officers and men from the Royal Navy. She presented a fine appearance and was received with great acceptance at the lake ports as she visited them.

A more direct route from this distributing point at the foot of the rapids on the Niagara River direct to the head of Lake Ontario and the country beyond, instead of crossing first to Toronto, was evidently sought. In 1840 the steamer "Burlington"—Captain Robert Kerr—is advertised to "Leave Lewiston 7 a.m., Niagara 7.30 a.m., landing (weather permitting) at Port Dalhousie (near St. Catherines, from which place a carriage will meet the boat regularly); Grimsby, and arrive at Hamilton about noon. Returning will leave at 3 p.m., and making the same calls, weather permitting, arrive at Lewiston in the evening."

The 30th July, 1841, was a memorable day in steamboating on the Niagara River. A great public meeting was held that day on Queenston Heights to arrange for the building of a new monument in memory of General[Pg 33] Brock to replace the one which had been blown up by some dastard on 17th April, 1840.

Deputations from the military and the patriotic associations in all parts of the province attended.

Four steamers left Toronto together about 7.30 in the morning. The "Traveller"—Captain Sandown, R.N., with His Excellency the Governor-General, Lord Sydenham, on board; "Transit"—Captain Hugh Richardson; "Queen Victoria"—Captain Richardson, Jr.; "Gore"—Captain Thomas Dick. At the mouth of the Niagara River these were joined by the "Burlington"—Captain Robert Kerr, and "Britannia" from Hamilton and the head of the lake, and by the "Gildersleeve" and "Cobourg" from the Eastern ports and Kingston.

Amidst utmost enthusiasm, and with all flags flying, the eight steamers assembled at Niagara and marshalled in the following order, proceeded up the river to Queenston:—


The sight of this fleet of eight steamers must have been impressive as with flying colours they made up the stream.

Judge Benson, of Port Hope, says that his father, Capt. Benson, of the 3rd Incorporated Militia, was then occupying the "Lang House" in Niagara, overlooking the river, and that he and his brother were lifted up to the window to see the flotilla pass by, a reminiscence of loyal[Pg 34] fervor which has been vividly retained through a long life. Is it not a sufficient justification and an actual value resulting from special meetings and pageants that they not only serve to revivify the enthusiasm of the elders in annals of past days, but yet more to bring to the minds of youth actual and abiding touch with the historic events which are being celebrated?

The meeting was held upon the field of the battle, the memories of the struggle revived and honour done to the fallen.

The present monument was the result of the enterprise then begun.

Much rivalry existed between the steamers as to which would open the season first, as the boat which got into Niagara first before 1st March was free of port dues for the season. In this the "Transit" excelled and sometimes landed her passengers on the ice.

The Niagara Dock Company in 1842 turned out the "Chief Justice Robinson" commanded by Captain Hugh Richardson, Jr.

This steamer, largely owned by Captain Heron and the Richardsons, was specially designed to continue during the winter the daily connection by water to Toronto, and so avoid the long stage journey around the head of the lake. For this purpose her prow at and below the water line was projected forward like a double furrowed plough, to cut through the ice and throw it outwards on each side.

This winter service she maintained for ten seasons with commendable regularity between the outer end of the Queen's Wharf at Toronto (where she had sometimes to land passengers on the ice) and Niagara. On one occasion, in a snowstorm, she went ashore just outside the harbour[Pg 35] at Toronto, and was also occasionally frozen in at both ends of the route, but each time managed to extricate herself. After refitting in the spring she divided the daily Lewiston-Toronto Route after 1850 with the second City of Toronto, a steamer with two separate engines, with two walking beams built at Toronto in 1840, which had been running in the Royal Mail Line, but in 1850 passed into the complete ownership of Captain Thomas Dick.

The steamer "Rochester" is also recorded as running between Lewiston and Hamilton in 1843 to 1849.

[Pg 36]


Expansion of Steamboating on the Niagara—its Decline—a Final Flash and a Move To the North.

During this decade the Niagara River was more increasingly traversed by many steamers, and became the main line of travel between the Western and Centre States by steamer to Buffalo, and thence, via the Niagara River to Boston and New York via Ogdensburg and Albany, or by Montreal and Lake Champlain to the Hudson.

Lewiston had become a place of much importance, being the transhipping point for a great through freighting business. Until the opening of the Erie Canal all the salt used in the Western States and Canada was brought here by water from Oswego, in thousands of barrels, from the Onandaga Salt Wells. Business in the opposite direction was greatly active, report being made of the passing of a consignment of 900 barrels of "Mississippi sugar," and 200 hogsheads of molasses for Eastern points in the United States and Canada.

In addition to the sailing craft five different steamers left the docks every day for other ports on the lake.

A new era was opened in 1847 by the introduction with great eclat and enterprise of the first iron steamers. The "Passport," commanded first by Captain H. Twohey and afterwards by Captain Thomas Harbottle, was constructed for the Hon. John Hamilton, the iron plates being moulded on the Clyde and put together at the Niagara shipyard by James and Neil Currie. The plates for[Pg 37] the "Magnet" were similarly brought out from England and put together for J. W. Gunn, of Hamilton, the principal stockholder, with Captain J. Sutherland her captain. Both these steamers in their long service proved the reliability of metal vessels in our fresh water. Both formed part of the Royal Mail Line leaving Toronto on the arrival of the river steamers.

In the early "fifties" the "American Express Line," running from Lewiston to Toronto, Rochester, Oswego and Ogdensburg, consisted of the fine upper cabin steamers "Cataract," "Bay State," "Ontario," and "Northerner."

The "New Through Line," a Canadian organization, was comprised of six steamers: the "Maple Leaf," "Arabian," "New Era," "Champion," "Highlander," "Mayflower." The route they followed was: "Leave Hamilton 7 a.m.; leave Lewiston and Queenston about half past 8 p.m., calling at all north shore Ontario ports between Darlington and Prescott to Ogdensburgh and Montreal without transhipment. Returning via the north shore to Toronto and Hamilton direct." The through time down to Montreal was stated in the advertisement to be "from Hamilton 33 hours, from the Niagara River 25 hours."

A good instance of the frequency of the entrances of the steamers into the harbours is afforded by an amusing suggestion which was in 1851, made by Captain Hugh Richardson, who had become Harbour Master at Toronto.

The steamers running into the port seem to have called sometimes at one dock first, sometimes at another, according, probably, to the freight which may have been on board to be delivered. Much trouble was thus caused to cabmen and citizens running up and down the water front from one dock to another.[Pg 38]

The captain, whose views with respect to the flying, and the distinctive meanings, of flags, we have already seen, proposed that all vessels when entering the harbour should designate the dock at which they intended to stop by the Following signals:—

For Gorrie's Wharf—Union Jack at Bowsprit end.
For Browne's Wharf—Union Jack at Masthead.
For Maitland's Wharf—Union Jack at Staff aft.
For Tinnings Wharf—Union Jack in fore rigging.
For Helliwells Wharf—Union Jack over wheel-house.

It is to be remembered that in those days the "Western" was the only entrance to the harbour and Front Street without any buildings on its south side, followed the line of the high bank above the water so that the signals on the steamers could be easily seen by all. The proposal was publicly endorsed by the Mayor, Mr. J. G. Bowes, but there is no record of its having been adopted.

In 1853 there was built at Niagara for Mr. Oliver T. Macklem the steamer "Zimmerman," certainly the finest and reputed to be the fastest steamer which up to that time sailed the river. She was named after Mr. Samuel Zimmerman, the railway magnate, and ran in connection with the Erie and Ontario Railway from Fort Erie to Niagara, which he had promoted, and was sailed by Captain D. Milloy.

In this same year there was sailed regularly from Niagara another iron steamer, the "Peerless," owned by Captain Dick and Andrew Heron, of Niagara. This steamer was first put together at Dunbarton, Scotland, then taken apart, and the pieces (said to be five thousand in number) sent out to Canada, and put together again at the Niagara dockyard. These two steamers thereafter divided the services in competition on the Niagara Route to Toronto.[Pg 39]

These years were the zenith period for steamboating on Lake Ontario and the Niagara River, a constant succession of steamers passing to and fro between the ports. Progress in the Western States and in Upper Canada had been unexampled. Expansion in every line of business was active, population fast coming in, and the construction of railways, which was then being begun, creating large expenditures and distribution of money. The steamers on the water were then the only method for speedy travel, so their accommodation was in fullest use, and their earnings at the largest.

The stage routes around the shores of the lakes in those days were tedious and trying in summer, and in winter accompanied by privations. The services of the steamers in the winter were greatly appreciated and maintained with the utmost vigour every year, particularly for the carriage of mails between Toronto, Niagara, Queenston and Lewiston, for which the steamer received in winter £3 for each actual running day, and between Toronto and Hamilton, for which the recompense was £2 for service per day performed.

In 1851 the Chief Justice Robinson is recorded (Gordon's Letter Books) as having run on the Niagara River during 11 months of the year. The remaining portion, while she was refitting, was filled by the second City of Toronto.

It is mentioned that at one time she went to Oswego to be hauled out on the marine cradle there at a charge of 25 cents per ton.

In 1852-53 the services were performed by the same steamers. In 1854 the Peerless made two trips daily during ten months, the Chief Justice Robinson taking the balance of this service and also filling in during the other[Pg 40] months, with the second City of Toronto on the Hamilton Route.

The winter service to the Niagara River for 1855 was commenced by the Chief Justice Robinson on 1st January, the steamer crossing the lake on 22 days in that month. February was somewhat interrupted by ice, but the full service between the shores was performed on 23 days in the month of March.

So soon as the inner water in the harbour of Toronto was frozen up all these services were performed from the outer extremity of the Queen's Wharf, and in the mid-winter months mostly from the edges of the ice further out, the sleighs driving out alongside with their passengers and freight. It seems difficult for us, in these days of luxury in travel, to comprehend the difficulties under which the early travellers laboured and thrived.

There was a wonderful and final exploit in the winter business of the Niagara River Route.

The "Niagara Falls and Ontario Railway" was opened as far as Lewiston in 1854 and by its connection at the Falls with the New York Central Railway brought during its first winter of 1854-55 great activity to the Niagara steamers.

The Crimean War was in progress and food products for the armies in the field were being eagerly sought from all places of world-supply and from America. Shipments were accordingly sought from Upper Canada. In summer the route would be by the Erie Canal to Albany or by the St. Lawrence and Montreal, but both routes were closed in winter.

The New York Central had been connected as a complete rail route as far as Albany, where, as there was no bridge across the Hudson, transportation was made by a ferry to the Hudson River Railroad, on the opposite shore for New York, or to the Western Railroad for Boston.

The WILLIAM IV. 1832.

From the "Landmarks of Toronto." page 30 The WILLIAM IV. 1832.
From the "Landmarks of Toronto." page 30
From the "Landmarks of Toronto." page 84

[Pg 41]

There was, at that time, no railroad around the head of Lake Ontario so a Freight Route by steamer across the lake was opened to Lewiston, from where rail connection could be made to the Atlantic.

In January, 1855, large shipments of flour made from Upper Canada mills along the north shore of Lake Ontario began to be collected. The enterprising agent of the Peerless (Mr. L. B. Gordon) wrote to the Central that he hoped to "make the consignment up to 10,000 barrels before the canal and river opens." This being a reference to the competing all-water route via the Erie Canal and Hudson River.

The first winter shipment of a consignment of 3,400 barrels was begun by the Chief Justice Robinson from the Queen's Wharf on 17th January.

The through rates of freight, as recorded in Mr. Gordon's books, are in these modern days of low rates, remarkable. Not the less interesting are the proportions accepted by each of the carriers concerned for their portion of the service, which were as follows:

Flour, per barrel, Toronto to New York—

Steamer—Queen's Wharf to Lewiston12-1/2c
Wharfage and teaming (Cornell)  6
New York Central, Lewiston to Albany60
Ferry at Albany  3
Hudson River Railroad to New York37-1/2
Through to New York$1.19

What would the Railway Commissioners and the public of the present think of such rates![Pg 42]

The shipments were largely from the products of the mills at the Credit, Oakville, Brampton, Esquesing, and Georgetown, being teamed to the docks at Oakville and Port Credit, from where they were brought by the steamers Queen City and Chief Justice Robinson at 5c per bbl. to the Queen's Wharf, Toronto, and from there taken across the lake by the Chief Justice Robinson and the Peerless.

The propeller St. Nicholas took a direct load of 3,000 barrels from Port Credit to Lewiston on Feb. 2nd. Shipments were also sent to Boston at $1,24-1/2 per bbl., on which the proportion of the "New York Central" was 68c, and the "Western Railroad" received 35c per bbl. as their share.

Nearly the whole consignment expected was obtained.

Another novel route was also opened. Consignments of flour for local use were sent to Montreal during this winter by the New York Central, Lewiston to Albany, and thence by the "Albany Northern Railroad" to the south side of the St. Lawrence River, whence they were most probably teamed across the ice to the main city.

Northbound shipments were also worked up and received at Lewiston for Toronto—principally teas and tobaccos—consignments of "English Bonded Goods" were rated at "second-class, same as domestic sheetings" and carried at 63c per 100 pounds from New York to Lewiston.

It was a winter of unexampled activity, but it was the closing effort of the steamers against the entrance of the railways into their all-the-year-round trade.

Immediately upon the opening of the Great Western Railway from Niagara Falls to Hamilton in 1855 and to Toronto in 1856, and of the Grand Trunk Railway from Montreal in 1856, the steamboating interests suffered still[Pg 43] further and great decay. In the financial crisis of 1857 many steamers were laid up. In 1858 all the American Line steamers were in bankruptcy, and in 1860 the Zimmerman abandoned the Niagara River to the Peerless, the one steamer being sufficient.

The opening of the American Civil War in 1860 opened a new career for the Lake Ontario steamers, as the Northern Government were short of steamers with which to blockade the Southern ports.

The "Peerless" was purchased by the American Government in 1861 and left for New York under command of Captain Robert Kerr, and by 1863 all the American Line steamers had been sold in the same direction and gone down the rapids to Montreal, and thence to the Atlantic. A general clearance had been affected.

The "Zimmerman" returned from the Hamilton Route to the Niagara River, which had been left vacant by the removal of the "Peerless," but, taking fire alongside the dock at Niagara in 1863, became a total loss. During the winter the third "City of Toronto" was built by Captain Duncan Milloy, of Niagara, and began her service on the river in 1864 and thereafter had the route to herself. In 1866 the "Rothsay Castle" brought up by Captain Thomas Leach from Halifax, ran for one season in competition, but the business was not sufficient for two steamers so she was returned to the Atlantic. The "City" then had the route alone until 1877, when the "Southern Belle," being the reconstructed "Rothsay Castle," re-entered upon the scene and again ran from Tinnings Wharf in connection with the Canada Southern Railway to Niagara.

Such had been the courses of navigation and steamboating on the Niagara River from its earliest days—the[Pg 44] rise to the zenith of prosperity and then the immeasurable fall due to the encircling of the lakes by the increasing railways. The old time passenger business had been diverted from the water, the docks had fallen into decay, only one steamer remained on the Niagara River Route, but it was fair to consider that with more vigor and improved equipment a new era might be begun.

The decadence of trade had been so great, and the prospects of the Niagara River presenting so little hope that Captain Thomas Dick had turned his thoughts and energies into the direction of the North Shore of Lake Huron, where mining and lumbering were beginning, and to Lake Superior, where the construction of the Dawson Road, as a connection through Canadian territory, to Fort Garry was commenced. He had several years previously transferred the second City of Toronto to these Upper Lake waters, and after being reboilered and rebuilt, her name had been changed to Algoma, commanded at first by his half brother, Capt. Jas. Dick, and in 1863 he had obtained the contract for carrying the mails for the Manitoulin Island and Lake Huron Shore to Sault Ste. Marie.

If ever there was a steamer which deserved the name of "Pathfinder," it was this steamer "Algoma." It was said that all the officers, pilots and captains of later days had been trained on her, and that she had found out for them every shoal along her route by actual contact. Being a staunchily built wooden boat with double "walking beam" engines, working independently, one on each wheel, she always got herself off with little trouble or damage. One trip is personally remembered. Coming out from Bruce Mines the Algoma went over a boulder on a shoal in such way as to open up a plank in the bottom, just in front of the boilers. Looking down the forward hatch the water[Pg 45] could be watched as it boiled up into the fire-hold, but as long as the wheels were kept turning the pumps could keep the in-rush from gaining, so the steamer after backing off was continued on her journey.

When calling at docks the engines were never stopped, one going ahead the other reversed, until after Sault Ste. Marie had been reached and the balance of the cargo unloaded, when the steamer, with the men in the fire-hold working up to their ankles in water, set off on her run of 400 miles to Detroit, where was then the only dry dock into which she could be put.

After a long and successful career the brave boat died a quiet death alongside a dock, worn out as a lumber barge.

This transference of Captain Dick's interests to the Upper Lakes was, strangely enough, the precursor to the events which led to the creation of another era in navigation on the Niagara River. This "North Shore" route, although for long centuries occupied by the outposts of the Hudson Bay and North West fur companies, was so far as immigration and mercantile interests were concerned, an undeveloped territory. Along its shores was the traditional canoe and batteaux route from French River to Fort William on the Kaministiqua River for trade with the great prairies by the interlacing waterways to Lake Manitoba and the Red River. At intervals, such as at Spanish River, Missassaga, Garden River, Michipicoten and Nepigon River, were the outlets for the canoe and portage routes, north to the Hudson Bay and great interior fur preserves. This ancient rival to the Niagara River route had remained little varied from the era of canoe and sail. The secrets of its natural products, other than fur, being as well kept as were those of the fertility of the soil of the "great Lone Land," under the perennial control of the same adventurers of Charles II.[Pg 46]

The creation of the "Dominion of Canada" and of the "Province of Ontario" under Confederation in 1867 and its establishment as the "District of Algoma" brought it political representation in the Provincial Legislature and a development of its unoccupied possibilities.

The size of the constituency was phenomenal. Its first representative in the Legislature of Ontario used quizzically to describe it: "Where is my constituency? Sir, Algoma, is the greatest constituency on earth, and larger than many an Empire in Europe. On the east it is bounded by the French River, on the south by all the waters of Lakes Huron and Lake Superior, on the west by Manitoba, with an undecided boundary, and on the north by the North Pole, and the Lord knows where."

Its permanent voters were few and sparsely spread along a line of nigh 500 miles. By the Act of Confederation, Algoma was given a special qualification for its voters being for every male British subject of 21 or over, being a householder. Thus it has sometimes been averred that during hotly contested elections the migratory Indians for a while ceased to wander, that "shack towns" suddenly arose in the neighborhood of the saw mills, composed of small "slab" sided dwellings in which dusky voters lived until election day was over. It may be from these early seedlings that the several constituencies which have since been carved out from their great progenitor, have not been unremarkable for eccentricities in methods of ballot and in varieties of voters.

Further diversion of vessel interests from the Niagara Route to the Upper Lakes, and the circumstances which, within personal knowledge, accompanied it, are a part of the history, and a prelude to the return to the river.

[Pg 47]


On the Upper Lakes With the Wolseley Expedition and Lord Dufferin.

The way having been opened by the Algoma between Georgian Bay and the Sault, with sundry extra trips beyond, N. Milloy & Co., of Niagara, brought up from Halifax, in 1868, the even then celebrated steamer Chicora to increase the service to Lake Superior. No finer steamer was there on the Upper Lakes than the Chicora, and none whether American or Canadian, that could approach her in speed; she could trail out a tow line to any competitor. She had arrived opportunely and had greatly increased her renown by carrying the Wolseley Expedition, in 1870, from Collingwood to the place on the shores of the Thunder Bay where the expedition for the suppression of the Riel Rebellion at Fort Garry was landed.

It was in the arrangements for the movement of this Wolseley Expedition that some difficulties arose which were due to a want of harmony between the local government of the State and that of the National Cabinet of the Federal Government at Washington, a condition which is liable to occur at any time under the peculiar provisions of the American Constitution.

Having been compiled in the time of stress for the avoidance of an autocracy and for the development of the individual rights of the several component States, the relations between States and Federal authority were strongly drawn. While in the Canadian Constitution any power[Pg 48] which has not been specifically allotted to the Provinces remains in the Dominion Government, which is thus the centre of all power, in the United States the reverse condition exists.

Speedy dealings with foreign nations are thus somewhat hampered on the part of the United States Federal Government.

The only canal lock at that time at the Sault by which the rapids of the Sault River could be overcome and the level of Lake Superior be reached from that of Lake Huron, was on the Michigan side, and owned and controlled by the State of Michigan. As an armed force could not be sent by rail through the United States, it was necessary that all supplies and the men of the Canadian forces for Fort Garry should be forwarded by this water route to the head of Lake Superior, from where they were to take the "Dawson Route" of mixed road and river transit to Lake Winnipeg and the scene of action. A cargo of boats, wagons, and general supplies for use by the troops had been sent up by the "Chicora" (Captain McLean), leaving Collingwood on the 7th May, but the steamer was not permitted by the Michigan authorities to pass through the Sault Canal. Owing to this action immediate steps were imperatively necessary, pending negotiations, to obtain additional tonnage to carry forward the expedition.

Col. Cumberland, A.D.C., M.P.P., was sent on a secret duty to Detroit, where he succeeded in chartering the American steamer Brooklyn, which was at once sent off with instructions to report for orders above the canal at Point Aux Pins, to Col. Bolton, R.A., Deputy Adjutant General. Being passed up the canal, without obstacle, the difficulty was immediately relieved. Fortunately the "Algoma"[Pg 49] was at the upper end of the route and on Lake Superior. The supplies and stores were accordingly unloaded from the Chicora at the Canadian Sault, portaged across by the twelve miles road to the wharf at Point Aux Pins, on the Canadian side above the Rapids, and sent on up Lake Superior by the "Algoma," and "Brooklyn."

A similar course was obliged to be adopted with the cargoes of supplies for the expedition brought up on the Canadian steam barge Shickluna, and on the schooners Orion and Pandora towed by her.

This was in other ways a remarkable event, as being one in which the "Coasting Laws of Canada" were for a time, cancelled by the action of a citizen. The "Brooklyn" being an American boat could not legally carry cargo between two Canadian ports, such as Point Aux Pins and the Landing, so Col. Cumberland gave Captain Davis a letter[1] to Mr. Joseph Wilson, the Collector of Customs at the Canadian Sault, authorizing him to permit the American vessel to trade between Canadian ports. As Mr. Cumberland was member of Parliament for the district, the local authorities gave immediate attention, especially as everyone on the Canadian side was ready to run all risks and do everything in their power to help the expedition along.

[Pg 50]

Returning to Collingwood the "Chicora" left again on the 14th May with two companies of the Ontario Contingest recruited from the Volunteer Militia of the Province, twenty-four horses and more arms and stores. Refusal was again given and the same portaging took place as before, the men during the transfer being encamped near the old Hudson's Bay Fort. Urgent representations had been made to the local State authorities, pointing out that the expedition was pressed for time, much loss might be occasioned, and the rebellion spread if the troops were delayed. The British Minister at Washington was using every endeavor to obtain the necessary permission, but without avail. The "Chicora" returned to Collingwood and left again on 21st May with Col. Garnet Wolseley (afterwards Viscount Wolseley), a detachment of the "60th Rifles" of the Regulars (the Regiment of H.R.H. Prince Arthur) and the balance of the expedition. In the absence of the expected permission the same procedure was again followed, and when everything on board had been unloaded the Chicora was passed empty through the canal, and reloading the soldiers and all the equipment at the Point aux Pins proceeded up the lake to her destination.

Canada has since then, for her self control and the protection of her trade, built a great canal on her own side, through which ever since it was constructed the United States vessels have been freely allowed to pass upon exactly the same terms as her own.

Navigation upon the Upper Lakes was in those years in the most primitive condition.

When the "Chicora" landed the Wolseley Expedition at Prince Arthur's Landing there was no wharf large enough[Pg 51] for her to be moored to, so she had to anchor off the shore, and the men and cargo were landed in small boats.

As Col. Wolseley came ashore in a rowboat he was met by Mr. Thomas Marks, a principal merchant, and Mr. William Murdock, C.E., who was then in conduct of the Government Railway Exploration Surveys from the shores of Thunder Bay to Fort Garry for what afterwards became the Canadian Pacific Railway. The Colonel, finding on enquiry that the place had no particular name beyond that of "The Landing," proposed that it should be called "Prince Arthur's Landing." This was to be in honour of Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, who was then serving in his battalion of the Rifle Brigade at that time stationed in Montreal. The name was immediately adopted and was kept unchanged until 1883, when, to mark the eastern end of the Canadian Pacific and to correspond with "Port Moody," the then accepted terminus at the western end, it was changed to "Port Arthur." The name and reminiscence of the Royal Prince is in this way still happily retained.

Rivalries had begun between the long established hamlet clustered around Fort William, the ancient post of the Hudson Bay Company on the banks at the mouth of the Kanistiqua River, and the newly created village on the shores of the Lake at the "Landing." To appease the vociferous claimants of both, the expedition was divided, one part being sent up by the lower river from "Fort William," the other by waggon on land from the "Landing," to join together again at a point on the Kaministiquia above the Falls, from where they proceeded together by the mixed transport of water and waggon on the "Dawson Route" to Fort Garry.

There were then few lighthouses on the lakes, and no buoys in the channels. When a steamer left the shores of[Pg 52] Georgian Bay nothing was heard of her until she came in sight again on her return after being away ten days, for there were no telegraphs on the North Shore nor even at the Sault.

The hamlets were few and far spread, being mainly small fishing villages. Bruce Mines with its copper mines, then in full operation, was perhaps the most important place, with a population of 2,500. The Sault had perhaps 500, Silver Islet, with its mysterious silver mine, 1,500, and Prince Arthur's Landing about 200 residents, with whatever importance was given by its position at the head of the lake, and as being the starting place of the Dawson Road to Fort Garry, and the supply point for the developing mines of the interior.

Whatever meat, flour, or vegetable foods the people ate had to be carried up to them from the Ontario ports. Westwards the decks were filled with cattle, hogs, and all kinds of merchandise, but there was little freight to bring back east except fish and some small quantities of highly concentrated ores from the mines.

The business had not developed as had been expected, and the "Chicora" was found to be too good for the Lake Superior route as it then existed. Her freight-carrying capacity was light, cabin accommodation in excess of requirements, and her speed and expenses far beyond what was there needed. So the boat had to be withdrawn from service, dismantled, and laid up alongside the docks at Collingwood in the season of 1873.

One splendid and closing charter there had been in the season of 1874, when the "Chicora" was chartered for the months of July and August to be a special yacht for the progress of the Governor-General, Lord Dufferin, and[Pg 53] his suite, through what were then the northern districts of Ontario and through the Upper Lakes.

Col. F. W. Cumberland, M.P., General Manager of the Northern Railway, was also Provincial Aide-de-Camp to the Governor-General and thus in general charge of the arrangements for the tour, particularly on the Northern Railway, through whose districts the party was then travelling. The further portions of the tour were through the district of Algoma, comprising all the country along the north shores of Lakes Huron and Superior, which Col. Cumberland then represented in the Provincial Parliament, being the first Member for Algoma.

Washago, at the first crossing of the Severn River, was then the "head of the track" of the "Muskoka Branch," which was under construction from Barrie. Beyond this point the party were to proceed through the byways and villages of Muskoka by mixed conveyance of boats on the lakes and carriages over the bush roads to Parry Sound, where they were to join the "Chicora."

Every minute of the way had been carefully planned out to satisfactorily arrange for the reception en route, stopping places for meals and rest, stays over night, and allowance for all possible contingencies, for the Governor-General insisted that he should make his arrival, at each place on the way, with royal precision.

There was therefore no room for the insertion of the many special demands for additional functions and time, which increasingly arose as the days drew near, for the fervor of the welcome became tumultuous.

The Presbyterian clergyman at Washago had been particularly insistent and had called to his aid every local influence of shipper and politician to obtain consent that the Governor-General should lay the corner-stone of the[Pg 54] new church which the adherents of the "Auld Kirk" were erecting at the village. The ceremony was whittled down until it was at last agreed that it should be sandwiched into the arrangements on condition that everything should be in readiness, and that the proceedings should not exceed fifteen minutes, for there was a long and rocky drive ahead of fourteen miles to Gravenhurst, where an important afternoon gathering from all the countryside and a reception by His Excellency and the Countess of Dufferin had been arranged.

The Municipal and the local Society receptions at the Washage station had been safely got through when the Governor and party walked over the granite knolls to where the church was to be erected. The location of the village, which is situated between two arms of the Muskoka River, is on the unrelieved outcrop of the Muskoka granite, which, scarred and rounded by the glacier action of geological ages, is everywhere in evidence.

On the knoll, more level than the others, was the church party expectant. At their feet, perched upon a little cemented foundation about a foot and a half in diameter, built on the solid granite, was the "corner stone," a cube of granite some three inches square. A miniature silver trowel, little larger than a teaspoon, was handed to the Governor, who, holding it in his fingers smoothed down the morsel of mortar and the corner stone was duly laid.

The Minister then announced "Let us engage in prayer," and raising his hands and closing his eyes he at once began.

It was a burning hot noon-day in July. Having got fairly started the minister seemed to be in no way disposed to stop. At five minutes a chair and umbrella were brought for Lady Dufferin. At ten minutes motions were[Pg 55] made to pluck the minister's coat tails, but no one dared. The fervid appeal covering all possible contingencies, and meandering into varied "We give Thee thanks also" still continued so the Governor and Lady Dufferin and their Suite quietly slipped away from the group and going to the carriages, which were waiting in readiness near by, drove away.

Shortly afterwards the minister ceased and, opening his eyes, took in the situation.

He at least had succeeded in having his corner-stone laid by a Governor-General and was satisfied, even though he had lost that portion of his audience. There were others also who were satisfied as one of the devout congregation who said as we walked away, "Wasn't the Meenester powerful in prayer?"

Lord Dufferin's private secretary and myself, having seen our duties to this point satisfactorily completed, returned to the cars and proceeded back by the special train to Collingwood, where the outfit and arrangements of the "Chicora" for the long cruise were being completed, and active operations had for some time been going on.

The ship was a picture, resplendent in brightened brasses, new paint and decorations. The staterooms had been re-arranged and enlarged so that they could be used in suites with separate dining and reception rooms arranged for various occasions. Strings of flags of all varieties, and ensigns for every occasion were provided, including His Excellency the Governor-General's special flag, to be raised the moment he came on board. Captain James C. Orr, his officers, and the picked crew were all in naval uniform, and naval discipline was to be maintained.[Pg 56]

About ten o'clock one night we sailed out of Collingwood to make an easy night run across the Georgian Bay and arrive in the morning at Parry Sound, where the Governor-General was to join the steamer in the afternoon.

We were naturally anxious that nothing should occur on our part to mar the arrangements for the much heralded tour, and so I turned out early in the morning, called up by some indistinct premonition. Of all the evils that can befall a ship's captain it is that of a too supreme confidence in his own powers; a confidence which leads him to take unnecessary risks and so incur dangers which a little longer waiting would avoid. Of this we now met a most striking instance.

There are two routes from Collingwood to Parry Sound. The outer passage, outside the islands, longer but through open lake and safe, the other the inner passage winding through an archipelago of islands, tortuous and narrow. This latter was also known as the "Waubuno Channel," from its being the route of the steamer of that name, a vessel of 140 feet and the largest passing through it. As a scenic route for tourists it is unsurpassable, threading its way amid many islands with abrupt and thrilling turns.

Captain McNab, one of the most experienced and oldest navigators of the Upper Lakes, had been engaged as pilot for the tour of the "Chicora."

In the early morning, instead of being as had been expected, out in the open lake, we were heading into a bay with the shore line expanding far on each side both east and west.

The ALGOMA. 1862.

The 2nd CITY OF TORONTO. 1840. Rebuilt. page 44 The ALGOMA. 1862.
The 2nd CITY OF TORONTO. 1840. Rebuilt. page 44
The 3rd CITY OF TORONTO. 1864.

From an old drawing. page 123 The 3rd CITY OF TORONTO. 1864.
From an old drawing. page 123

[Pg 57]

Going forward, Captain McNab, in reply to questions, said he intended going through the Waubuno Channel, and admitted that he had never taken a boat as large as the "Chicora" through the channel, but was sure he could. Amiable suggestions that he might like to bet $10,000 that he could, being promptly declined, he accepted instructions and the steamer was at once turned around to go by the outer channel for which there was plenty of time. He might have done it, but there was a doubt in it, and supposing he had not, what then? It is better for a captain to be sure, than to be sorry.

The tour was a great success. Wherever the bonnie boat went, whether in Canadian waters around the northern shores of Lakes Huron and Superior at Sault Ste. Marie, Nepigon, Prince Arthur's Landing, or in American waters, at Mackinac, Lake Michigan and Chicago, her trim appearance, beautiful lines, and easy speed, won continued admiration.



Detroit, 18th May, 1870.


The Steamer Brooklyn proceeds to Point Aux Pins on special service.

In case you may not have been advised by the head of your department, I am authorised to inform you that she is to have free access to all Canadian Ports on Lake Superior, moving under orders from Col. Bolton.

I am, etc.,
(Signed) F. W. Cumberland.

Jos. Wilson, Collector of Customs,
Saulte Ste Marie, Ont.

[Pg 58]


A Novel Idea and a New Venture—Buffalo in Sailingship Days—A Risky Passage.

After the tour with Lord Dufferin had been concluded the "Chicora" was returned to Collingwood and laid up again to rest her reputation great and widespread as it was before, having been still more enhanced. At last early on a gray morning of August, 1877, under tow of a wrecking tug, there stole gently away from Collingwood the steamer which had been the greatest glory of the port, her red paddles trailing lifeless in the water like the feet of a wounded duck.

Where was she being taken to? What had taken place? It was the beginning of a bold and sporting venture.

As General Freight and Passenger Agent (Oct., 1873 to Jan., 1878) of the Northern Railway of Canada, the "Chicora" as she lay at Collingwood was much under my notice, and in travelling to Buffalo on railway business the water route by the Niagara River was most frequently taken. There was no route on the Upper Lakes upon which the "Chicora" could be successfully employed. It was considered that she could not be returned to the Lower Lakes because it was said that having been brought up the canals from Montreal, the "guards" added at Buffalo, which made her width fifty feet at the main deck could not be removed without serious damage in order to reduce her to the then Welland canal width of only 26 feet. As under the then trade conditions she could neither be profitably[Pg 59] run nor be returned to the Lower Lakes, the steamer was of little worth to her owners, and could be readily purchased. It had for some time appeared to me that there was an opening for a good boat upon the Niagara River route. The "City of Toronto" plying to Lewiston and the New York Central was getting insufficient and out of date in equipment. The Canada Southern Railway at Niagara-on-the-Lake was not satisfied with the "Southern Belle." Why not get the "Chicora" and strike out for a career of one's own? So I started to study the position having always had a mechanical turn and had practical experience in railway and machine construction.

Keeping one's ideas to one's self the boat was examined and careful scrutiny ascertained that the "guards" could be removed and replaced without interference with the hull, so that this first obstacle to her being brought to the Lower Lakes could be overcome.

But there were other obstacles which cropped up. To begin with, a pier of one of the smaller locks in the Welland (150 × 26) was said to have inclined inwards so that there was not sufficient width even after the "guards" had been removed, for the 26-ft. hull to pass through.

Again, Chicora was 230 feet long. If the vessel was brought down in two pieces through all the locks to Lake Ontario, there was no dry dock on the lake of sufficient length into which she could be placed so that these parts might be put together again. A further obstacle and a fatal one. The only place where the two parts could be put together again her full length of 230 feet long was Muir's dry dock, at Port Dalhousie, but that was above the last lock of the canal, which required to be passed to get down to Lake Ontario, and this lock was only 200 feet long![Pg 60]

The game was apparently impracticable. It was not more impossible to put a quart into a pint bottle, than it was to put the full-sized 230-foot Chicora into the 200-foot Dalhousie lock and lower her to Lake Ontario. No wonder other people had given the job up, and the steamer could be easily bought.

Just about this time I noticed an announcement in the press that in order to provide for the construction of the lower locks at the Ontario end of the new Welland Canal, the Canadian Government intended, after the close of navigation the next autumn, to draw off the whole of the water in the five-mile level above the Port Dalhousie lock between there and St. Catharines.

The idea at once arose, why not put the Chicora into the 200-foot lock with the upper gate open, so that although she would extend 30 feet beyond the regular lock, she would then be in a total actual lock of five miles long.

Going over again to Port Dalhousie, the whole position was carefully surveyed. It was found that on the troublesome lock there was three-quarters of an inch to spare, so that trick could be turned successfully. Closer investigation developed that the 200-foot lock problem at Port Dalhousie was, as will be stated later, more capable of being solved than appeared on the surface. It was now evident that the practical part of the work could be done successfully. The next thing was to provide for connecting support. My first railway service had been in that of the Great Western Railway in 1872-73 in the divisional office at London, and afterwards in charge of the terminal yard and car ferries at Windsor, under Mr. M. D. Woodward, Superintendent.

During that time the General Manager was Mr. W. K. Muir, who had transferred, and was now General Manager[Pg 61] of the Canada Southern Railway, operating the branch line between Buffalo and Niagara. Enquiry led to an understanding that a contract could be made for a full service by a first-class steamer between Toronto and Niagara-on-the-Lake in connection with the route to the Falls and Buffalo, as the size of the Southern Belle was not satisfactory.

Armed with all this information, and having made up the estimates of cost and possible earnings, the whole matter was laid before the Hon. Frank Smith, who then had a part interest in the Chicora. The proposition was that we should buy out the other owners, bring the Chicora through the canal and put her on the Niagara Route, where she could earn good money.

One was to do the work and the other to find the backing for the funds required. In this way for him a dead loss would be revived and a good future investment found, while the junior would enter into a work in which with energy he would be able to secure a lasting reward for his enterprise and ability in transportation business. He agreed and we proceeded to carry out the project. The purchase was made early in 1877, the original purchasers and registered owners of the steamer being Hon. Frank Smith and Barlow Cumberland.

In this way began a partnership which lasted through life. Sir Frank (knighted in 1874) was a man of quick decision, of great courage, and indomitable will. Every company with which he became identified felt the influence of his virile hand. A charter for the Niagara Navigation Company, Limited, with a capital of $500,000, was obtained from the Dominion Government.

The first issue of the stock of the Company was entirely subscribed by the Frank Smith and Cumberland representatives[Pg 62] and the transfer of the boat to the new company made in 1878. The first Board of Directors were: President, Hon. Frank Smith; Vice-President, Barlow Cumberland; Directors, Col. Fred. W. Cumberland, John Foy, and R. H. McBride; Barlow Cumberland, Manager; John Foy, Secretary. Preliminary work had been actively in progress at Collingwood in dismantling the steamer and preparing her for a long and eventful journey. As the engines had been laid up and would not be required until after the reconstruction at Toronto, they were not again set up, but the tug, J. T. Robb, was brought up from Port Colborne to tow the vessel to Buffalo.

Here began the closing era of this century of steam navigation in the Niagara River. The story of the next and final thirty-five years is the story of the rise and expansion of the Niagara Navigation Company, its vicissitudes and competitions, and the final success of the enterprise. Reminiscence of the series of hot competitions which were worked through and of the men and methods of the period are set out as matters of record of an eventful series of years on the route.

The long cabins on the upper deck were removed and parts sent to Toronto, where they now are the upper drawing room of the Chicora.

The cabins on the main deck were left undisturbed to be used by the crew, while coming through the canals.

Captain Thomas Leach was in charge of the voyage to Buffalo, where Captain William Manson, of Collingwood, took charge of the crew with some carpenters and the engineers. Mr. Alexander Leach was purser and confidential agent. A more faithful officer and devoted servant never was found. He had been purser of the steamer[Pg 63] Cumberland until she was wrecked on Isle Royale, Lake Superior, 5 August, 1876.

The tow from Collingwood was uneventful and the steamer arrived at Buffalo and was placed in the Buffalo Dry Dock Company's Works, they having put her together when brought up from Halifax. Two barges were purchased and put alongside the guards, unriveted and lowered upon the barges in single pieces.

The paddle boxes were removed, the wheels taken to pieces, numbered, and put on the barges, and everything stripped off the sides of the hull, so that she was reduced to her narrowest width, cleared of everything, to go through the canal. The steamer was then put into dry dock, cut in two and the parts slid apart.

It was intended to take the steamer across Lake Erie to Port Colborne as a single tow. Two long sixteen-inch square elm timbers were placed on deck across the opening and strongly chained to smaller timbers; timbers were also put fore and aft to take the pull and keep the two parts of hull from coming together. It all reads easily, but took much consideration and time in working out the problems. And as the enterprise was unusual and not likely to be repeated the details are given as matters of interesting record. It was a strange looking craft that came out of dock. Two parts held far apart from one another by the big timbers, and the water washing free to and fro in the opening between. It was a tender craft to moor in a narrow river where heavily laden vessels coming and going banged heedlessly against one another. We were fortunate, however, in obtaining the permission of the United States Marine Department that we might lie unmolested and alone alongside Government wharf on the west side of the river while waiting for weather. A[Pg 64] great deal of public interest was being taken in the venture and on every hand we received cheerful and ready assistance. Mr. David Bell, whose daughter had married Mr. Casimir Gzowski, of Toronto, was especially helpful, doing good work for us in the foundry and machine shops. The Dry Dock Companies seemed like old friends, the curious public often visited us, and the enterprising newspaper reporters kept us well in the readers' view. So we towed out of dock, dropped down the river and tied up at our allotted berth. The barges with their strange-looking cargo had been sent separately across to the canal to Port Colborne at the first opportunity.

It was the beginning of October when the weather was uncertain, the water restless, and we had to be very careful in selecting a day to take such a crazy craft as a steamer thus separated in two parts across the thirty-four miles of the open lake.

Buffalo in the seventies was a very different place from what it is at present. The lower city alongside the river and Canal Street, crowded with cheap boarding houses for sailors and dock gangs, reeked in ribaldry and every phase of dissolute excitements. The vessels frequenting the ports in those days were mainly sailing vessels, the era of great steam freighters not having come. The stay of the vessels was much longer, their crews more numerous, and being less permanent, were easy victims to the harpies and the drink shops which surrounded and beset them. The waterside locality of Buffalo had then a reputation and an aroma peculiarly of its own.

Crazy horse cars jangled down the main Main Street to the docks. The terminus of the Niagara Falls Railway operated by the New York Central, was at the Ferry Station, the cross-town connection to the Terrace and Exchange[Pg 65] Street not having been put in. The Mansion House was the principal hotel of the city, and its lower storey on the street level, entirely occupied by the ticket offices of all the principal railway and steamship companies of the United States. The business centre of the town was in the vicinity.

Arrangements had been established with the United States Weather Bureau, whose office was well up town, to give us earliest advice of when they thought there would be from six to eight hours of fair weather ahead. Many a messenger trotted between, and many an hour was spent in their office, waiting for news, for there were no telephones to convey information.

The elements seemed against us. For a fortnight we had a succession of blows from almost every direction, one following the other without giving a sufficiently calm interval between. It was wonderful to see how quickly the water rose and fell in the harbour. A steady blow from the west would pile the water up at this east end of the lake and we would rise six feet alongside the wharf in a few hours, to fall again as the wind went down or changed, the outgoing water creating quite a rapid current as it ran out of the river.

It was during this waiting time an incident occurred which came within an ace of putting an end to one career. The last thing in the evening a visit was always made from the hotel to the boat to see that all was well. In front of the face of the Government Wharf there was a continuous line of "spring piles" for its protection, with the heads cut off to the level of the dock. One dark and rainy night, when stepping from the deck of the steamer, mistaking the opening in the darkness for the edge of the wharf the next step put the leader into the opening and he dropped through into the river. Soon Manson's voice[Pg 66] was heard calling, "Are you there, Mr. Cumberland?" A lamp was lowered; the distance from the floor of the dock to the water was some six or eight feet, and many iron spikes projected through the piles.

A storm was subsiding and the water running out fast, but by holding on to the spikes a way was worked up until a hand was reached by Manson and the adventurer was hauled up to the top. Sitting on the edge of the wharf with dripping legs dangling in the opening Manson's exclamation was heard, "Sakes alive; he's got his pipe in his mouth still!" They say the reply was, "Do you suppose I'd open my mouth when I went under?" It was a close call, and Mrs. Cumberland was always anxious until at last we got the Chicora safely to Toronto.

At length advice was received from the Bureau that we could start, so the tug was called and about 6 a.m. we were under way. We had tried to get some insurance for the run across, but the rate asked was excessive that we determined to go without any, a determination which added zest to the enterprise. We didn't want to lose the boat and wouldn't have taken any the less care or precaution even if the insurance companies would have carried the risk for nothing. In this connection it is open to consideration whether the moral hazard of a marine risk is not of more importance even than the rating of the vessel, and that good owners are surely entitled to better rates than simply the "tariff schedule" which their vessel's rating calls for. The prevailing inconsistent system is very much like that of the credit tailor whose solvent customers pay for his losses on those who fail to pay their bills.

The morning was cold and calm. We made down the river and rounded out into the lake, on which there still remained some motion from previous gales. It was curious[Pg 67] to stand on the edge of the deck and see the chips and floating debris carried along in the wide opening between the two parts.

We had come by a slanting course down and across the lake, reaching in under Point Abino in good shape and were rejoicing that the larger portion of the crossing was well over. As we rounded from under the lee of the Point and passing it, changed our course for Port Colborne, a nasty sea come down from the northwest with an increasing breeze. We were soon in trouble, the bow-part began to roll and jump on its own account at a different rate than the more staid and heavy after-part, sometimes rising up on end and then seeming to try and take a dive, but held from going away by the long elm timbers which writhed while their chains squealed and rang under the strain.

The worst sensation was when the seas, coming in on the quarter, swept through the opening between the two parts, swishing between the plates and dashing against the after bulkhead made it resound like a drum, sending the spray up over the deck while they coursed through the rower side. It was very exciting, but not at all comfortable. The pace of the tug seemed to get slower and slower, but all we on board could do was to keep the long timbers and their fastenings in their places, see that the bulkheads held their own, and stand by and watch the contest with the waves.

At length, as we got more under the lee of the land, the waves subsided, the pace increased, and at last we were safe between the piers at Port Colborne.

Making all arrangements for the next few days, the leader hurried home, fagged out, but exultant, for the worst part of the journey was over and we had put the rest of the way fairly under our own control.

[Pg 68]


Down Through the Welland—The Miseries of Horse Towing Times—Port Dalhousie and a Lake Veteran—The Problem Solved—Toronto at Last.

The barges with the "guards" on them had been sent down through the canal as soon as they had crossed the lake, and were now safely moored at the Ontario level in the outer harbour at Port Dalhousie, there to await the arrival of the united boat. The men in charge returning up the canal to join the main expedition.

Starting from Port Colborne, the two parts of the steamer were separated to go down the canal. The bow part was kept in the lead, but both as near one another as possible, so that the crews could take their meals on the after part, on which they also passed the nights. The stern part was taken down the long upper level by a small tug, but teams were employed in towing for all the remaining portions of the canalling. Memories of things as they then existed on the old Welland are in striking contrast to the conditions obtaining at the present day.

The miseries of human slaves on the "middle passage" of the Atlantic have been dilated upon until sympathy with their sufferings has abounded, but it is doubtful if they were in any way worse than those of the miserable beings then struggling on the canal passage between Lakes Erie and Ontario.

The canal bank and tow paths were a sticky mush, which in those autumn months was churned and stamped[Pg 69] into a continuous condition of soft red mud and splashing pools. From two to six double teams were employed to haul each passing vessel, dependent upon whether it was light or was loaded, but in either case there was the same dull, heavy, continuous pull against the slow-moving mass, a hopeless constant tug into the collars, bringing raw and calloused shoulders.

Poor beasts, there was every description of horse, pony, or mule forced into the service, but an all-prevailing similarity of lean sides and projecting bones, of staring unkempt coats, gradually approaching similar colour as the red mud dried upon their hides. Rest! they had in their traces when mercifully for a few moments the vessel was in a lock, or when awaiting her turn at night they lay out on the bank where she happened to stop. It was the rest of despair.

The poor devils of "drivers," boys or men, who tramped along the canal bank behind each tottering gang, were little better off than their beasts. Heavy-footed, wearied with lifting their boots out of the sucking slush, they trudged along, staggering and half asleep, until aroused by the sounds of a sagging tow line, with quickened stride and volley of hot-shot expletives, they closed upon their luckless four-footed companions. What an electric wince went through the piteous brutes as the stinging whip left wales upon their sides! A sudden forward motion brought up by the twang of the tow line as it came taut, sweeping them off their legs, until they settled down once more into the sidling crablike movement caused by the angle of the hawser from the bow to the tow path.

The new Welland, with its larger size and tug boats, has done away with this method of torturing human and horse flesh. One wonders whether it is the ghosts of these[Pg 70] departed equines, that, revisiting the scenes of their torture, make the moanings along the valley, and the whistlings on the hills, as they sniff and whinny in the winds along the canal.

We had a good deal of difficulty at first in our canalling, especially in meeting and passing vessels. The after-part took every inch of the locks, and was unhandy in shape. However, by dint of rope fenders, long poles and a plentiful and willing crew we got along without hurting anyone else or ourselves.

It was in one of these sudden emergencies which sometimes arise that Captain Manson was thought to have got a strain which developed into trouble later on. He was a splendidly-built fellow, over six feet in height, in the plenitude of youth, handsome, laughing, active, and of uncommon strength, the sort of man who jumps in when there is something to be done, throws in his whole force and saves the situation.

The bow-part, being short and light, went merrily on, its crew chaffing the other for their slower speed, for which there was much excuse.

One day on a course in the canal below Thorold we rounded the corner of the height above the mountain tier of locks. It was a wondrous sight to see laid out before us the wide landscape of tableland and valley spread out below, through which we were to navigate and drop down 340 feet on the next four and one-quarter miles. To the left was the series of locks which circled, in gray stone structures, like a succession of great steps, down the mountain side. These were separated one from the other by small ponds or reservoirs with waste weirs, whose little waterfalls tinkled, foaming and glinting in the sun. Directly in front, and below us, were the houses and factories of[Pg 71] Merritton, with trains of the Great Western and the Welland Railways spurting white columns of steam and smoke as the engines panted up the grade to the heights of the Niagara Escarpment from which we were about to descend.

Beyond these came glimpses of the canal as it wound its way toward St. Catharines. Still lower down the Escarpment, spires and towers of the city itself, and yet lower and still further away lay on the horizon the blue waters of Lake Ontario. How beautiful and hopeful it was!

As the Greeks when emerging from the strife and struggles of their long and painful homeward march, hailed the sea with shouts of happy acclaim, for beyond those waters they knew lay home and rest. So, too, it might have been for us, or at least for one of us, for another link had been gained in our long and trying voyage. Far away, from the height, we could see Lake Ontario, the goal of the expedition, the ardently sought terminus of our labours, and on the other side of its waters lay Toronto and the future for the bonnie ship. But times to-day are more prosaic, so, taking a hasty but satisfying look, we turned to negotiate the next lock.

That night at the bottom of the tier, the stern part moored in one pond and the bow in the next below, a "jubilation" was held in the after-cabin by the combined crews. We had safely got down all the steps, and had passed the large boat safely through, so that we might well rejoice.

Beyond this day there was not much that occurred; the way was simple and we had got the "hang" of things. At St. Catharines half the city came out to see the strange[Pg 72] looking hulk wending its way down the canal, and through the locks, close to the town.

At length we came down through the five mile level where the "Canadian Henley" is now held, with its floating tow path to carry the teams, and arrived at Muir's Dock, just above the final lock at Port Dalhousie, after five days occupied in coming through the Canal. The two parts were moored alongside the gate while waiting for the dock to be made ready for our turn to enter.

The position of the village now known as Port Dalhousie was originally, in 1812 days, being called "Twelve Mile Creek." The creeks, or river openings being then named according to their distances in miles from the Niagara River. This name was afterwards changed to "Port Dalhousie," in honour of Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General at the time the first canal was constructed. The "Port" in those days of the horse canal when we arrived at it was mainly a turning place for the canal crews. Its one principal street facing the canal basin, had houses on one side only, mostly drink shops, with or without license, with a few junk and supply stores intervening. Its immediate inhabitants, a nomad collection of sailors and towing gangs, waiting for another job. Around and in its neighborhood there was a happy district prolific of fruit and flowers, but in itself, with its vagrant crews culled from the world over, it was a little haven not far from the realm of Dante's imaginations. Times, methods and circumstances have all since changed.

Plan of Lock at Port Dalhousie with Upper Gate closed, only 200 ft. long
The Lock at Port Dalhousie with Upper Gate open—233 ft. 6 in. long.
"Chicora" 230 ft. long as placed in Lock and lowered to Lake Ontario
Level. page 74 Plan of Lock at Port Dalhousie with Upper Gate closed, only 200 ft. long
The Lock at Port Dalhousie with Upper Gate open—233 ft. 6 in. long.
"Chicora" 230 ft. long as placed in Lock and lowered to Lake Ontario Level. page 74

[Pg 73]

Capt. D. Muir, the proprietor of the Dry Dock, with whom both now and later many a pleasant hour was spent, was a fine old character, and although then on the far side of sixty he held himself with square-set shoulders upright and sprightly. He had sailed the lakes until his face had taken on a permanent tan; eyes a deep blue with shaggy overhanging brows, a strong mouth and imperturbable countenance. He was not greatly given to conversation and had a dry, pawky humour which gave much point to his slowly spoken words, but when, as sometimes, he was in narrative mood, he would string off incidents of early sailing days on the lakes the while he chewed or turned from side to side, some sliver of wood which was invariably held between his teeth. He had no fancy for metal vessels, or "tin-pots," as he called them. "Give me," said he, "good sound wooden vessels, built right," (as he said this you would glean from his emphasis he meant "as I build them.") "If ye hit against anything in the Canawl, ye don't dint; if ye go ashore ye don't punch holes in your bottom, and ye ken pull yer hardest without enny fear uv rippin' it out."

There is this to be said that whatever work was done in his dock, was well done.

As soon as possible the two parts were put into the dock, the bulkheads taken out, the parts drawn together on launching ways (very cleverly done by Muir's men), and the plates and beams rivetted together again by rivetters brought down from Buffalo. The hull, both inside and out, was diligently scraped in every part and thoroughly oiled and painted. The main deck was relaid and Chicora was a ship again.

While all this was going on, Mr. J. G. Demary, the "Overseer" of this section of the canal, and I, had been carefully looking over the canal lock and arranging the procedure for putting the boat in for the final lowering down to Lake Ontario level.

Close examination had proved that the conditions of the Port Dalhousie lock, under water, were much more[Pg 74] favorable than appeared on the surface. The lock had been built about thirty years previously and there was very little local knowledge about it.

The lock itself was 200 feet on full inside measurement, with both gates closed. The upper gates opening to the upper level, instead of being half the height of the lower gates, were of the same height, and the lock itself was continued at its full size and depth for 33 feet further beyond these upper gates until it came to the "breast wall" of the upper level. With the upper gates open and pressed against the sides, there was thus created an unobstructed length of 233 feet, into which to place and lower the 230-foot steamer, as is shown in the accompanying drawing. It was a very welcome and satisfactory solution which investigation below the water level disclosed.

Like many other problems, it all seems very simple when once the unknown has been studied out and the results revealed, and so it was in this case. The project and the plan of the whole enterprise of bringing the Chicora down had been created by close search into conditions, by the adapting of a sudden opportunity which happened to become available, and thus rendered practicable that which all others had considered to be, and was, impossible.

It was a trying risk and worthy of a good reward.

In an undertaking so exceptional as this was it was unavoidable that unexpected difficulties should from time to time arise, as they often did, yet only to be overcome by decision and pertinacity. Another, at this stage, cropped up which for a time looked most unpleasant and caused much anxiety.

The 230-foot steamer was to be placed in the 233-foot lock, and the water run off so as to bring her to the Lake Ontario level, or 11 feet 6 inches below the upper canal[Pg 75] level. It was now found, when trying out every inch of the proposition, that under the water in front of the breast wall there was a big boom, or beam, extending across the lock from side to side.

Demary did not know how it was held in position, for it had been there before he came into the service, but he understood it had been intended to stop vessels laden too deeply from coming up the canal and striking and damaging the stonework of the breast wall.

Enquiry at the Canal Office at St. Catharines resulted in learning that there were no records of it, although Mr. E. V. Bodwell, who was then the Canal Superintendent, gave us every aid. That beam had to be got out of the way or difficulty might be caused, so permission was obtained from Ottawa for its removal at our own expense.

First we thought we would saw it through, but soon found that it was sheeted from end to end with plates of iron, so we had to begin the long job of cutting the iron under water. Many a pipe was smoked while watching the progress, when one day it was noticed that heads of the round rods which held up the beam in the grooves were square, suggesting screws on the lower end. So huge wrenches were forged, blocks and tackle rigged up, and after an afternoon's work with a team and striking blows with sledge hammers, we succeeded in getting the screws moving and, happy moment, the beam dropped to the bottom of the lock, where, no doubt, it still remains. So another kink had been untwisted.

Navigation ceased for the year, the canal was closed for the passage of vessels and the upper gates of the lock were opened and firmly secured. The Chicora was brought from her mooring, and placed in the lock with her bow up-stream. The water in the lock was now the same level[Pg 76] as that of the upper level. On the 5th December, 1877, the process of drawing off the water of the five-mile level was begun, unwatering the canal as far as St. Catharines. It took ten days or so before the wider areas of the drowned lands were uncovered.

We watched the waters falling lower and lower until at length the steamer began lowering into the lock. Being fully secured, she was held in position clear of all obstacles. All was going well, but slowly, the time taken for the last few feet seeming to be interminable. At last suspense was over and on the 20th December we opened the lower gate and Chicora floated out into the harbour at the Lake Ontario level! The barges were quickly brought alongside, the guards were jacked up and fastened back into place to be completed after we reached Toronto, and the material which had been brought along in the expedition collected and loaded.

Arrangement had been made with Capt. Hall to keep the tug Robb in commission to be ready to tow us over. Being telegraphed for the tug duly arrived, and about noon on 24th December, started out from Port Dalhousie with Chicora in tow.

Navigation had long been closed and we were the only boats out on the lake.

The air was cold but clear, and we had a fine passage, delighting greatly when the buildings of Toronto came clearly into view—soon we would enter the haven where we fain would be. As we crossed the lake a smart and increasing breeze rose behind. As we came abreast of the shoal near the New Fort (now called Stanley Barracks), and rounded up to make for the entrance to the harbour, suddenly the Robb stopped. Something had evidently gone wrong with the engine. Carried on by our way we swung[Pg 77] broadside to the shore under our lee. A quarter of an hour, half an hour, three-quarters of an hour passed as we were steadily drifted by the breeze nearer and nearer to the beach. We could not do anything for ourselves—still there was no movement from the tug—would she never start again? A little nearer and we would go aground among the sand and boulders, to stick there perhaps through the whole of the winter which was so close at hand. After working out our enterprise so far, were we to be wrecked just when safety was less than a mile away? It seemed hard lines to be so helpless at such a stage. But fortune had not abandoned her adventurers, for just in the nick of time we saw the tug moving, the engine had started again and in half an hour the Chicora was inside the harbour, tied up alongside the old Northern Railway Dock, her journey from Collingwood ended on this the afternoon of the day before Christmas Day.

Capt Hall, who was on his tug, had suffered as much from anxiety as had we, for he knew that every other tug on the lake had been laid up, so there would have been nothing left to pull the Robb off had she, as well as we, been carried upon the bouldered shore.

The Robb was the largest Canadian wrecking tug then on the lakes. She had done service in the Fenian Raid of 1866 at the time of the engagement at Fort Erie between the Welland Battery and the Fenians, some of the bullet marks still remaining on her wheel-house. After a long and honourable career she was grounded at Victoria Park, where her hull was used to form a portion of the landing pier, and where some of her timbers may still remain.

What a happy relief it was to be back on old familiar ground again, to meet the cheery greetings and congratulations of the "Old Northerners" of the yards and machine[Pg 78] shops who took the utmost interest in this enterprise of their President, Hon. Frank Smith, and their General Manager, Mr. F. W. Cumberland, and formed an affection for the Chicora which is lasting and vivid to the present day.

Christmas was a happy and well-earned rest. We had completed the first part of the undertaking, but not for unmeasured wealth would the experience be repeated. Youth is energetic and looks forward in roseate hope, so the anxieties and risks were soon forgotten, and all nerves turned toward the business engagements and profits, which, now that we had her safe in hand, the boat was to be set to earn.

The balance of that winter, and the spring of 1878 were fully occupied in rebuilding the upper works of the steamer in their new form adapted to her service as a day boat and in overhauling and setting up the engine after their long rest. Not long after our arrival, Captain Manson developed a severe inflammation, which confined him to his room in the Richmond House. Here, bright and cheerful to the last, he died on 29th February and was buried in Collingwood on March 2nd, deeply regretted by all sailorfolk and particularly by our crew. Five others of that crew, lost with the Wabuno and Asia, found watery graves in the waters of the Georgian Bay. The writer is now the sole survivor, and Mr. R. H. M. McBride, and he the only remaining members of the original company.

For the interior work a party of experienced French-Canadian ship joiners were brought up from Sorel, no centre of ship carpentering existing in Ontario at that time.[Pg 79]

The comely main stairway which gives such adornment to the entrance hall was then erected in all its grace of re-entrant curves, ornate pillars, and flowing sweep of head-rail and balustrade. When one thinks of the unnumbered thousands of travellers who have passed up and down its convenient steps, ones admiration and respect are raised for the French-Canadian Foreman who designed its form and executed it with such honest and capable workmanship, that to-day it still displays its lines of beauty without a creak or strain.

The octagonal wheel-house of the upper lakes which had been brought by rail from Collingwood was re-erected with its columned sides and graceful curving cornice under which was again hung the little blockade-running bell, lettered "Let Her B."

[Pg 80]


The Niagara Portal—History of Names at Newark and Niagara—A Winter of Changes—A New Rivalry Begun.

On the south side of Lake Ontario, opposite Toronto, is the Niagara Portal, where the mouth of the Niagara River, with high banks on either hand, makes its entrance into the lake, forming the only uninterrupted deep water harbour on that shore.

Here the rapid waters, outfall of all the gatherings of the inland Upper Lakes, pour out in fullest volume, enabling entrance even in winter, when all other harbours are closed in the grasp of ice. It is worthy of its mighty source, the product of the greatest Fresh Water Lakes in all the world.

Over the west bank floats the Union Jack on Fort Missasuaga, and over the east on Fort Niagara, the Stars and Stripes, each the emblem of the British and United States nationalities, between whose possessions the river forms the boundary line.

The first port of call on the Canadian side at the mouth of the river, now known as Niagara-on-the-Lake, had in olden times an importance and a past, which much belies its present outlook of quiet and placidity. Once it was the principal and most noted place in the Province of Upper Canada, and the centre of legislative power, making its surrounding neighborhood full of reminiscence.[Pg 81]

The successive changes in the name of this ancient lakeside town, as also those of the settlement on the opposite shore, are interesting, as in themselves they form footprints in the paths of history.

The French had entered the St. Lawrence in 1534, and, as we have seen, had fully established their first route of connection to the Upper Lakes and the inner fur-trading districts, via the Ottawa and Lake Nipissing. The Niagara River route, via Lake Erie, had been learned of by them in 1669 under Pere Gallinee, and followed by the enterprise of the Griffon in 1678, but then, and for long after, was too fiercely occupied by hostile Indian tribes to be greatly available for commercial use. A first advance from Montreal intending to occupy the route, under Chevalier de la Barre, was intercepted by the Indians at Frontenac (Kingston) and driven back to Montreal.

In 1687 another advance for possession of the river succeeded in creating a foothold and the French erected a wooden fort and palisade upon the projecting point on the east bank of the river at its junction point with the lake. This outpost they named Fort Niagara, the name by which the place has ever since continued to be known.

The little garrison was not long able to keep its foothold. Beset by Indians and cut off by the failure of food supplies expected from their compatriots in the east, they were in dire straits, but yet boldly holding out in hopes that relief might yet arrive. At this juncture, Col. Thomas Dongan, Governor of the English Colony of New York, then loyal subjects of James II., made demand that the French should evacuate the fort, as it was in British territory. The British colonists of New York and New Jersey had recently joined hands with the Colonies of New England, in a British union, for united defence against[Pg 82] the French. Upon the English Home Government having indicated to the French authorities its support of the Colonial demand, the Marquis de Denonville, Governor of Canada, ordered the garrison to retire. This they reluctantly did, but before leaving raised in the centre of the fort, under the influence of Pere Millet, their Jesuit Missionary, a great wooden cross 18 feet in height, upon which they cut in large letters:

Regnat; Vincit; Imperat; Christus;
(Christ Reigns, Conquers, Rules.)

The place was being for a while abandoned as a military post, but by this they left notice that it was still held as on outpost of their religion.

Here again at Niagara an episode was being repeated exceedingly similar to that which had been developed at Quebec a century and a half before.

Jacques Cartier and his explorers had entered the St. Lawrence and endured their first winter at Stadacona (Quebec). Decimated by scurvy and privations, and in extreme danger from the hostility of the Indians, he determined to return to France, taking with him the remnants of his expedition. On 3rd May, 1536, three days before leaving, he raised upon the river bank a cross 35 feet in height, on which was a shield bearing the Lilies of France, and an inscription:

"Franciscus Primus Dei Gratia Francorum Regnat."

As Cartier had returned and established their strong-hold at tidewater, near Quebec, so the survivors of the party of Pierre de Troyes at Niagara, in 1688, hoped they, too, might again return and repossess for their nation this centre from which they were so reluctantly retiring. These two events so far separated in time, are striking evidences[Pg 83] of the constancy with which these pioneers of France, even when seemingly overcome, showed their hopeful fidelity to King and to their religion.

The French in 1721 were, according to Charlevoix, once more in occupation.

The position of Fort Niagara, commanding the route to their series of forts on the lines of the Ohio and Mississippi, was considered by the French as second in importance only to that of Quebec, and consequently great store laid upon its possession. Under Jonquiere they added four bastions to the fort and erected a stone storehouse, called "The Castle," which is still to be seen. Further strengthenings were added by Capt. Puchot, of the Battalion of Bearne.

In 1759, notwithstanding Puchot's gallant defence, the fort was captured by the British, under Sir William Johnson, and thus both sides of the river came under British rule.

Three nationalities in succession had striven for its possession, the Indians, the French and the British, from whom it was never again taken by assault.

At the conclusion of the War of the Revolution the forts along the northern frontier were, by the Treaty of Paris, 1783, to be transferred to the United States. Fort Niagara, with some others, was held in hostage for the fulfillment of the reparations promised by the Federal Government of the United States to be made by the several States to the United Empire, and other Loyalists who had stood by the King during the Rebellion.

These reparations were never made, but after the guns had been removed to Fort George, on the Canadian side, the Union Jack was hauled down, and the fort handed over on 11th July, 1796.[Pg 84]

The Stars and Stripes then remained in possession until the War of 1812, when in retaliation for the burning of Newark, the fort was assaulted and taken by storm by the British under Col. Murray on the night of 18th December, 1813, and the Union Jack was once more raised above it.

Matters remained in this position until in February, 1814, under the Treaty of Ghent, Fort Niagara was once more gracefully given over and again, and in peace, the Stars and Stripes took the place of the Red Cross Jack.

The name Niagara appears during the opening period of the British occupation to have been used generally for all parts of the neighborhood, but applied particularly to the old village on the east bank close under the walls of the old French fort.

Population now began to cross the river to the western side, and Abner Gilbert reports in 1761, the beginning of a village called Butlersberg, on the west shore, named after Colonel Butler, the Commander of the celebrated "Butler's Rangers" of the Revolutionary War, and which was afterwards largely settled by United Empire Loyalists.

This name was early changed to West Niagara in order to distinguish it from Fort Niagara.

At the advent of Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe, in 1791, and presumably at his instance, a new name Newark, after a town in Nottinghamshire, England, was given to this town on the west bank, and in 1792, by royal proclamation, the name Niagara was officially transferred from the town to the surrounding township.

Newark then became the seat of Government, and Capital of the Province of Upper Canada, and the place of residence of the Lieutenant-Governor. This distinction and advantage it enjoyed unrestrictedly until 1793, when[Pg 85] Governor Simcoe removed his personal headquarters to the north side of the lake at Toronto, where he again indulged his fancy for changing names, by changing the then original name of Toronto, to that of York, in honor of a recent victory of H.R.H. the Duke of York in Flanders. Although Governor Simcoe had himself removed his residence to York, he received and entertained the Duc de Liancourt in 1795, at Newark. The Parliaments of Upper Canada continued to hold their sessions at Newark, and the town to be the official centre of the Province, until 1796, when Governor Russell, the successor of Governor Simcoe, finally removed the Provincial headquarters to York.

The loss of its prestige and official importance so incensed the inhabitants that they refused to continue the new name imposed upon them by Governor Simcoe and reverted at once to the name of West Niagara. The official Niagara Gazette, which had hitherto been dated from Newark, changed its heading to West Niagara, and so continued until October, 1789, when it was first published from York. Finally in 1798 an Act of Parliament was obtained by the municipality restoring to the town its old name of Niagara.

Old names die hard, so we find John Maude, in 1800, mentioning the name of West Niagara, late Newark. Common usage seems to have generally retained the name of Newark, at all events as used by strangers. John Mellish, writing in 1811, says "I came down the opposite side of the river, the wind was blowing so hard that I could not cross to Newark."

On the 10th December, 1813, when every house in the town, except one, was burned by the American troops, who had obtained possession in the previous spring, but were[Pg 86] now retreating from it in consequence of the advance of the British troops under Col. Murray; the American General writing on the spot to the United States Secretary of War at Washington and describing in his official report of the position of affairs writes: "The village of Newark is now in flames." This destruction and the infliction of great privations upon the inhabitants and children, in the midst of a severe winter may have been justified under the plea of military exigency, but has always been considered inhuman. General McLure and his forces, however, retired so precipately across the river to the United States side that they left the whole 200 tents of their encampment at Fort George standing, and the new barracks which they had just completed untouched, so that we may hope that some of the women and children were not without temporary shelter.

With this total destruction in 1813 seems also to have passed away the name Newark, and the town arose from its ashes as Niagara.

In after times, as the towns and villages in this Niagara district increased in number, not a few difficulties were occasioned by a similarity of names, such as Niagara Falls, Niagara Falls Centre, Niagara South, Niagara, etc. In 1900 the name of Niagara-on-the-Lake was introduced as being a geographical and distinctive name, appropriate to the lakeside position. This, while not at first accepted by some of the older citizens, yet having been authorized by the Post Office Department, is now the correct address. The name is certainly one expressing the individuality of the town and its unexampled position as an interesting place of resort, and perhaps is better than that of Old Niagara, which some people still use in speaking of it.[Pg 87]

It was into this Niagara River Realm, with all its historic past and passenger possibilities that we were about to enter.

Negotiations for the running arrangements had been continued during the winter months. The Chicora having been brought to Lake Ontario, and accepted as satisfactory for the Canadian Southern Railway, a term of years contract for the performance of the service in its combined rail and water route between Buffalo, Niagara and Toronto was negotiated, and after much debate and consideration had been drafted and settled with the officers and engrossed for final execution. An arrangement was also made by Hon. Frank Smith with the representatives of the Milloy Estate, the owners of the City of Toronto, that the two steamers, the City and the Chicora should run in concert, dividing the business between them and avoiding competition.

Everything looked well. The steamer herself as she approached completion increased in approbation, and the details for the traffic working had been satisfactorily arranged.

The writer resigned his position as General Freight and Passenger Agent of the Northern Railway of Canada, and received appointment (26th April, 1878), as Manager of the Niagara Navigation Company. In the preceding year Mr. Robert Kerr had been promoted from the charge of the through grain traffic to be Assistant General Freight and Passenger Agent of the Northern, and now succeeded to the full office, a position which he held with increasing satisfaction until 1884, when he transferred and entered into the service of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

A ticket office was opened by Mr. Cumberland for the Niagara route and the Upper Lakes, with Captain Thomas[Pg 88] Wyatt of the Inman Line, and C. W. Irwin, Customs Broker, at 35 Yonge street, under the then American Hotel on the north-east corner of Front and Yonge streets, now covered by the building of the Toronto Board of Trade. The agencies of all the ocean and inland steamship companies were at that time located either on Front or on Yonge streets, in this neighborhood. Donald Milloy, the agent of the Richelieu and Royal Mail Lines and the City of Toronto was on the Front street side of the American Hotel, while this for Upper Lakes and the Chicora was on the Yonge street front.

In the beginning of May came a bolt from the blue. The opportunities for another steamer in the Niagara River route had evidently attracted the attention of other people as well as ourselves. There had been rumors that Mr. R. G. Lunt, of Fredericton, New Brunswick, might bring his fast river steamer the Rothesay up to Lake Ontario, or the St. Lawrence River. His route on the St. John River between Fredericton and St. John had been spoiled by recent railway construction; he was thus open for a new route. Mr. Donald Macdonald of Toronto was his brother-in-law, so that he was not without local advice and influence. The announcement was now made that an arrangement had been come to between the City of Toronto and the Rothesay to run together on the Niagara route. The Hon. Frank Smith at once sent for Mr. Donald Milloy and was surprised to be told that the undertaking which had been made to run the City of Toronto in connection with the Chicora, would not be fulfilled and that it was not binding on the owners of the steamer. Needless to say Mr. Smith was enraged, and bringing his hand down with a decisive smash declared that he would see them through various places for their perfidy.

The CHICORA on Lake Ontario page 94 The CHICORA on Lake Ontario page 94

[Pg 89]

Mr. Donald Milloy was then leaseholder from the Freeland Bros. of the Yonge street dock, Toronto, and refused to allow us to have a berth in it. The Milloy Estate owned the dock at Niagara, and at first would not let us in but satisfactory arrangements were made.

Here we were within six weeks of the opening of business without either dock or partner.

Arrangements for our connection at Lewiston were next sought. The only dock was owned by Mr. George Cornell. This was the connecting point with the New York Central Railway whose station was in the Upper Town about a mile distant from the landing; the passengers and baggage being transferred in the bus line run by Mr. Cornell. The City had the exclusive rights of this dock at its upper end, close to the staircase, up and down which connection was made between the busses on the upper level and the steamers.

Cornell was not disinclined to favour the increased business which the new steamer would no doubt bring to his hotel and busses. We were thus enabled to lease the lower end of the dock, which was at once repaired and replenished, it not having been in use for many years—in fact, not since 1864-65, when all the large lake steamers were withdrawn and run down the rapids to be employed in service during the American Civil War.

Then began a permanent and friendly relation with the Cornells, father and son, which has been continued without a hitch or interruption through all these intervening years.

At Toronto, Mr. Donald Milloy still refused to allow us to run from his Yonge Street dock in connection with the other steamers, although we would have been very glad to do so. This dock is in many ways a much superior[Pg 90] boating point than any other, but as the next best place we secured entry at the west side of Yonge Street at "Mowat's Dock," afterwards called "Geddes' Dock," and now the "City Dock," our berth being along the face fronting the bay.

Another bolt was now to come. All the details of our contract with the Canada Southern had been settled early in the spring, the documents drawn and requiring only the signature of the President. Unfortunately at this juncture a change of control came and the Canada Southern passed into the hands of the Michigan Central, and under another President, who, on being interviewed at Cleveland, was quite pleasant, sent for the contract, read it over, but said decisively that it had not been signed and there would be no contract! In his opinion it was not desirable to make a term of years contract, tying his company to any one boat, but under the special circumstances, agreed to give us a connection. I pointed out that we had gone to all the risk and expense and had brought the Chicora down on the faith of that contract, but as he said he wouldn't adopt it, he was at once assured that we would work just as hard for expansion of the traffic and would earn and win his company's support, so we parted on friendly terms.

There was nothing else for it. We might just as well take it pleasantly for it was good to have even half a connection with one of the railways on the river. It certainly felt a disappointment not to have contract control of that section of the traffic, but one is disposed to think that it was for the best, and indeed has so proved. We have built our way up by providing, at the instance of the railways, all the requirements that that water traffic needs. It is better to deserve a route and hold it by efficient service for[Pg 91] mutual advantage, trusting to just and amicable endeavor on both sides, rather than to the rigid terms of a formal contract.

The importance of the ownership of landing places had been so impressed by the recent events that I availed of an opportunity, which offered to purchase the dock and water lot at Queenston, although the traffic at that point was then so light that it could scarcely be considered a port of call.

This British port at the head of Lake Ontario navigation at this upper end of "Queen's-ton" was the loyally-named co-relative and partner of "King's Ton" at the lower end. Its glory had been great, but had long departed, leaving little but the noted "Queenston Spring," whose pure and running waters still pour perennially from the side of the bank alongside the dock.

The purchase did not at that time receive much approval by some, but fully justified itself later on, and was the first step in that policy of acquiring the wharf properties at all points on our route, which has ever since been consistently followed by the company.

As we had expected that our intended partner would provide us with railway connections on the river and with ticketing arrangements for foreign business, we had not done much except in local preparations. The "City" refused to present us to the railway companies and tendered the "Rothesay" as her partner, as the railway companies loyally stood by their old connection, we were left out to do the best we could on our own account.

We had now to prepare all these matters for ourselves, a pretty considerable work of organization, but with energy and much overtime it was at length pushed through. The main difficulty was in the railway connection[Pg 92] via Lewiston, and beyond Buffalo, where the railways would neither accept tickets for us, nor issue tickets over us. The New York Central authorities determined to stand by their old connections with the "City," and would not have any dealings with us. The Hon. Frank Smith interviewed Mr. Tillinghart, who was Superintendent and in charge of the Central interests in this district, placing before him the position which had been anticipated but had been disrupted, with the "City," but to no avail. It was a serious position and seemed well night unsurmountable. Some would have quailed and laid down.

The Rothesay arrived. She proved to be quite an impressive looking boat, about 180 feet in length, good beam, very roomy decks and central cabin; a more commodious boat than the City. She was particularly well arranged as a "day" boat and was reputed to have a high rate of speed, as she soon proved she had. The Chicora shortly afterwards moved down the bay from the Northern docks to her station. The contrast between the two steamers was most noticeable, the Rothesay with high walking beam engine and broad skimming dish appearance, with the sea-going ability, and double red funnels of the Chicora. It was evident that the main contest would be between these two boats.

The City of Toronto, as had for many years been usual, a custom coming down from the time when there were no railways around the head of the lake, opened the season on April 18th, leaving Toronto at 7 a.m., making only the one morning trip.

We had made our appointments in March, Captain Thomas Harbottle, the leading favorite of the Royal Mail Line, was placed in command. A ruddy-faced, jovial personage, with flowing Dundreary whiskers, inclining to grey,[Pg 93] cordial manners, a good seaman, who held with ever-increasing respect and confidence the good-will of the Royal Mail Company and of the travelling public. Mr. J. Ellis, who had a good connection in Toronto and held full marine certificates, as captain on both Atlantic and Inland lakes, was appointed First Officer, and George Moore Chief Engineer. Alex. Leach continued as Purser.

The bookstand and lunch counter on the steamer were leased to a young man then in the employ of Chisholm Brothers, the proprietors of the similar privileges on the Richelieu & Ontario, and River St. Lawrence steamers.

As steamers were added by us, T. P. Phelan grew with the line. Subsequently he was entrusted with all the catering for the company. From this he advanced to similar business at all the refreshment stations of the Grand Trunk and Grand Trunk Pacific Railways, so that now the Canada Railway News Co. (which is T. P. Phelan) is the largest news and catering company in Canada.

[Pg 94]


First Season of the Niagara Navigation Co.—A Hot Competition—Steamboat Manoeuvres.

The work of preparation had been completed and we drifted down to record the opening day of our first season. Our hats were in the ring.

A complimentary excursion to Niagara, leaving at 2.30 p.m., was given by the company on May 10th to a large list of guests, an introduction of the steamer which was much appreciated and approved.

The boat race in Toronto Bay between Hanlan and Ross on 15th May was availed of for an excursion to view the race.

We were still solving the problems on the Niagara River so our first business operation was in another direction, and it is somewhat interesting that this first trip was to Hamilton, being introduced by the following advertisement:

24th May, 1878
Magnificent Steamer

Will leave Mowart's dock at 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. Returning will leave Hamilton at 10.15 a.m. and 6.15 p.m., calling at Ocean House, Burlington Beach, each way.

Splendid Band of the Royal Engineer's Artillery Battalion.

For the convenience of passengers the Steamer will call at Queen's Wharf on the outward trip in the morning. Single Return Tickets 75c. Double Return Tickets $1.00.

Barlow Cumberland, Agent, 35 Yonge Street.

[Pg 95]

The results were highly satisfactory, the public being anxious to see the steamer and interested in its progress. Another charter which was declined may be mentioned as being the establishing of a principle which was not departed from. A new Roman Catholic Church had been erected at Oakville, which was to be consecrated and opened with much eclat on a Sunday. At that time there were no trains run on Sundays on the Hamilton and Toronto Branch of the Great Western Railway, and the only way by which any very large contingent from Toronto could be expected to join in the ceremonies would be by making arrangements for an excursion by water. There would have been no legal objection to this, as the rigidity of Sunday legislation had not then been introduced. The Oakville authorities made application to charter the Chicora, and as the President of the company was a Roman Catholic, and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Toronto strongly supported the application, they felt assured of compliance. A goodly offer was made for a trip on the Sunday afternoon from Toronto to Oakville and back. The matter was considered by the Board and it was unanimously resolved that the Chicora would not be run on Sundays. One will not say that this decision was entirely due to religious considerations, although these, no doubt, were not without weight, but it was also settled upon plain business principles.

The steamer was entering a considerable contest and would need every care. In a competition with two steamers we needed to have our men and the boat keyed up to the highest efficiency. This could not be done if we ran the steamer across the lake on every day of the week. The maintenance of the regularity of the steamers and the reputation of the Niagara River Line has without doubt been considerably gained by confining the running to[Pg 96] "week days only." The increasing requirements for through connections, particularly from the American Railways on the south shore, where Sunday trains have greatly increased, may some day bring about a change.

On Saturday, 1st June, Chicora left Toronto dock at 2.30 p.m. for a first regular afternoon excursion to Niagara, and on Monday, June 3rd, began her regular double trip service leaving at 7.05 a.m. and 2.05 p.m.

As matters on the Niagara River were still in process of organization we did not at first run beyond Niagara except on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, when the full trip up the river to Lewiston was made.

It was very early found that the trip up the river is the main attraction to the route, giving, as it does, scenery unusual and without compare, a respite from the open lake and allowing a stroll on shore, either at Niagara or Lewiston, while awaiting the return journey.

From the very beginning the competition was a whirlwind. Mr. Lunt was an adept at steamboat competition and it was our business to go him one better, and also to have our steamer and facilities made as widely known as possible to the travelling public.

At Toronto the entrances to the two docks, alongside one another on the Esplanade, were trimmed with "speilers," who finally expanded up Yonge Street to Front, and even to King Street. One thing insisted on, so far as our men were concerned, was that there should be no decrying of the character or condition of the rival boats.

Our tickets were put into the hands of every Ticket Office, Broker, Insurance or Real Estate Agent in Toronto, whether up-town or down-town, who would take them in, provided one thing only, that he had an office opening on[Pg 97] the street. Every hotel porter, with his sisters, his cousins, and his aunts, was created a friend, and the itinerant cab was just as welcome as the official bus. We were out to get business from every quarter.

The City in previous years had issued a ticket at $10 to members of one family for ten round trips on any afternoon. We put a general rate on of $1.00 without any restrictions, and by gradual reductions it reached 50 cents on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. This was a round trip rate which had been introduced by the Southern Belle in 1877 for the afternoons of Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday on her route from York Street (Tinning's Wharf) to Niagara and return. We now extended it to Lewiston and return, giving a view of the really splendid scenery of the river which had never previously been opened at reduced rates. The public quickly took in the idea and gave us business. In addition to general business, we energetically worked up the Society and Church excursions, becoming an unpleasant thorn in the sides of those who had so summarily thrown us over and whom we were now obliged to attack. It was in this season that the Caledonian Society made their first excursion with us, a connection and comradeship which in all the thirty-four years has never once been interrupted.

Matters on the other side of the lake were somewhat different. We had no railway connections to issue tickets over us or direct passengers to our boat. We had to provide for this entirely of ourselves, having thus to promote business on both sides of the route. Printer's ink was extensively used by newspaper advertisements, descriptive folders, dodgers and timetables. A large and excellent framed colored lithograph of the Steamer was issued with the lettering:[Pg 98]

President.                          Manager.

These being largely distributed to the hotels and ticket offices introduced the steamer in her new conditions. There was no use running the boat unless we fully advised the public of herself and movements, but all this advertising, and introduction, cost much expense in money and energy.

The ticketing arrangements on the south shore were somewhat difficult. Passenger business thirty years ago was conducted under very different conditions from such as exist at present. There were no official regulations, no State or Inter-State, Authorized Tariffs, no Railway Commissioners. Each railway and each passenger department was a law unto itself to be guided and regulated by whatever conditions or rates might at the time be considered most desirable for the promotion of its own business by the officers in charge.

Ticket "scalping" abounded, being looked upon by the public as a protection against the uncontrolled ratings by the railways, and a promoter of competition where combination might otherwise be effectual. There were several Associations of "Ticket Scalpers," some of much power and reliability, but all were equally denounced by the railways. Yet there were in fact not a few instances where the regular issues of some of the (for the time-favoured)[Pg 99] railway companies might be found in an under drawer of some of these unauthorized servants of the public. These energetic workers were our opportunity. All the principal Scalping Offices between Cleveland, Pittsburgh, New York, Albany, Rochester, and Lewiston, were stocked with books of tickets reading over our steamer, or to Toronto and return. The rates were, of course, such that they could obtain both profit and business. There was no use mincing matters, we were in the fight to win out. Through these sources we managed to get quite a business, being represented in each town by from two to four scalp offices, in large cities even more, and, tell it not in Gath, with very friendly arrangements in some of the regular offices as well.

The amount of personal travelling and introduction was laborious, but was pleasant, in renewing acquaintanceships and connections formed as General Passenger Agent of the Northern Railway when working up the new Couchiching and Muskoka tourist business introduced in the several preceding years.

It was in this season of 1878 that the converging railways in the districts spreading from the south and southwest towards Buffalo, began a system of huge excursions for three days to Niagara Falls and return, on special trains both ways, and at rates for the round trip not far from, and often less, than single fare. Most of these separate railways have since been merged into some one or other of the main Trunk Lines, but then they were independent and each sending in its quota on its own account to make up a "Through Special." The most successful excursions of these were the series which came every week from the then Wabash District, from Indiana and the[Pg 100] southwest, and were known as the "Friendly Hand" excursions. The name arose from a special trade mark which appeared in all the Wabash folders and announcements, of an outstretched hand with the thumb and fingers spread, on each of which was shown the line and principal stations of each one of the contributing railways that fed their excursions into the main stem. The excursionists were energetic, and although the "Falls" was the focus of their route, we induced large numbers of them to cross over to Toronto. A prevailing slogan was:

"One day to Falls,
One day to stay,
Next day Toronto
And then 'get away.'"

When the long special excursion train slowly came down the curve from the town station at Niagara to the dock to join the steamers, it was gall and wormwood to the City or the Rothesay, lying in waiting, to see the crowd of linen duster tourists as they poured out of the train make straight for the Chicora, "The boat with the two red funnels." We got them all, for we had many and right good friends.

In those early days, before the "Park Commissioners" on both sides of the river had taken public possession of the surroundings, there were few places at the Falls from which either the river or the rapids could be seen without paying a fee. The proprietors of these places issued tickets in little books, containing coupons for admittance to all, or to a selection, of these "points of interest," and put them all in the hands of the managers of the excursions. The advertisement "dodgers" announced:[Pg 101]

Special Inducement for this
Excursion to the Falls

{Suspension Bridge and Return25c.
The regular prices{Prospect Park25c.
for Admission are to{Art Gallery25c.
{Museum and Operators50c.
{Garden of Living Animals25c.

One ticket purchased on the train for $1.00
Admits the Holder to all these regular prices.

A good round commission on these sales was a helpful "find" or "side cut" to the energetic young railway men who personally accompanied these excursions, through their trains, on the way to the Falls, carrying large satchels with their selections of "Points of Interest" and other tickets, and answering the multitude of enquiries made by their tourist patrons. An extension ticket to "Toronto and Return" was a pleasant addition to their wares, and a satisfactory introduction to us. Some of these travelling passenger men, by their energy and successful handling of these excursions, brought themselves into notice, and afterwards rose to be heads of Passenger Departments, and even into Presidents of Railways! As a reminder of their trip each tourist was given by us a souvenir of Toronto, and even if excursionists struck a rough day and rendered up their tributes to Lake Ontario, it was of novel interest to many who had never before seen a lake wide enough to have been "out of sight of land," and sailing over waves big enough to make a large steamer rock.

In this way began what has since been so greatly developed, the Reduced Rate Excursions to Toronto, via the Niagara River, and the making known of the features of the City as a Summer Resort by this advocacy, and the thousands of dollars which the Niagara Navigation Company[Pg 102] has devoted to its advertising in all parts of the United States.

At Lewiston we took everyone on board that wanted to come; in fact, our "runners" strenuously invited them. The moment the dusty two-horse "stages" from the New York Central station unloaded their still more dusty travellers in front of Cornell's Hotel at the top of the bank at the staircase, they were appealed to by the rival touts of the competing steamers, either to take the "black funnel" steamer at the foot of the staircase, or the Chicora, with the red funnels further down the dock. It was a little bit of pandemonium.

No tickets were collected by us at the gangway—it was "come right on board," the tickets being collected while crossing the lake after leaving Niagara.

If the traveller had no ticket, we collected fare from him at full tariff; if he had a ticket over the other boats we accepted it and graciously carried him across free; if he had one of our own tickets we almost embraced him. What difference did it make to us whether the tickets reading over the other boats were cashed to us or not, we had the more ample space and better accommodation on ours. Perhaps the passenger might esteem the compliment and be a paying traveller over us on some other day. Besides, people like following the crowd, and the larger number helps to make a show. Times have been known in competitions on the Upper Lakes where the central cabins prevent both sides of the steamer being seen at once, when in addition to the available passengers, everyone possible of waiters and crew have been spread out on the passing side of the upper cabin, when meeting a rival boat. It gives an appearance of prosperity and suggests the approval of the public.[Pg 103]

Just here let me bear testimony to the ability and fidelity of Purser Aleck Leach, who had been purser with me on the Cumberland, and had now been transferred to the Chicora. Kindly and courteous, yet firm, he never dissatisfied a passenger. Untiring, accurate, faithful, he never divulged anything of the company's business, and won and enjoyed the confidence and good-will of every member of the Board and Staff. A condition which was only severed by his death. At no time were these abilities more displayed than in this first strenuous year on this route.

The competition grew hotter as the season progressed. The odds were greatly in favour of two boats with an established connection against a single boat without any, yet Chicora was gaining, and every point in the passenger ticketing game was being played against them by her management.

The acrimony and the rivalry of the contest is fairly indicated by an advertisement in "The Globe" on 5th August, 1878:


The Public are warned that spent checks of the Steamers City of Toronto and Rothesay of their line, collected and issued by the Steamer Chicora, will not be accepted for passage on either of the steamers of this Line.

Passengers going over by the Chicora on Saturday last were furnished with such by the Chicora, and were consequently deceived, as these checks were refused by this Line.

D. Milloy, Agent.

[Pg 104]

The galled jade was wincing and inventing stories, for they could not and did not afterwards refuse their unused tickets whenever we found it advisable to use them.

As the months passed Chicora improved herself in the good-will of the travelling public, being admirably handled by Captain Harbottle.

At Niagara it was a ticklish job to get into and away from the lower dock. The Rothesay always moved down in order to get as close as she could, frequently we had to warn her to keep further away.

When coming into the river Chicora had to be driven sharp across from the point at the Fort, on the United States side, to the dock on the Niagara side, to be brought up, all standing, with her bow only a few feet below the Rothesay's stern. Often it looked as though she must run into the other before the way could be stopped, and that a collision must take place.

Coming down the river it was a less dangerous, but a more difficult manoeuvre. The steamers always move swiftly in the quick current which sweeps past Fort George to the docks. As on or each day, both the other steamers lay at the same time in front of their dock, their hulls extended far out into the stream, and Chicora coming down had to make a double curve, like an S, to get her place at the lower dock. It was a pretty thing to see, but Harbottle always managed it by just skimming, but not touching, the other boats' side. The harmony between him on the bridge and Monroe in the engine room apparently being complete, and besides, Chicora steers like a yacht.

At Lewiston things went easier, yet even here the Rothesay would edge back down the front.

Niagara Navigation Co. Steamer "spinning" in the Rapids
below Queenston Heights. Page 105 Niagara Navigation Co. Steamer "spinning" in the Rapids below Queenston Heights. Page 105

[Pg 105]

In order to avoid all possibility of touching the steamer ahead when he was leaving Lewiston dock, Captain Harbottle, instead of going up-stream and afterwards turning down-stream, always sprung the stern of his steamer out from the dock and backed over towards Vroomen's Bay on the opposite side of the river.

It was from the upper point in this bay that the British battery played with much success upon the American boats as they crossed the river to attack Queenston on 13th October, 1812.

From here he turned and went down stream. It is said that this was the course which had been adopted in olden days by the large steamers Cataract and Bay State when leaving this Lewiston dock.

Another manoeuvre introduced by Captain Harbottle is still continued. After making a first call at Queenston the steamer on leaving the dock moves further up the river keeping in the eddy which here runs up along the shore to the foot of the Queenston Heights. When close under the Heights, the steamer turns quickly outward towards the centre of the river and the engines are stopped. Forging slowly ahead the bow enters into the whitened boilings and swirls of the surging currents of the rapids pouring out from the Gorge. The bow is caught by the current and the steamer then rapidly "spun round" by its swiftness, almost as though on a teetotum, the engines meanwhile backing up. Just as soon as the bow heads down the river the engines are at once sent ahead again and the steamer sweeps at an express train rate past the jutting points of the shore, and makes her landing at Lewiston. It is a very pretty manoeuvre and surprising to see the rapidity with which the stern circles round.[Pg 106]

On the open lake Chicora by degrees won her way. Being much the faster boat she could hold or pass the City of Toronto at any time or in any weather—with Rothesay it was different. On a fine smooth day there was little between them; on a hot, sultry day, without any wind to assist a draught for the fires, the Rothesay could beat the Chicora by one, to one and a half minutes Toronto to Niagara, but if there was even the slightest motion, Chicora could walk by her, and on a rough day Rothesay couldn't run at all. She was a very light tamarac hull, built purely for enclosed river service in perfectly smooth water, and therefore in no way fitted for outside wave action. We set out by starting behind the time of the other steamers. When running a competition, it is not a bad thing to let the other boat get away first. It makes the fellow in front uneasy. He doesn't know when the boat behind may be going to have a dash at him, it makes him fretful and it is hard to tell how fast he is going. Both engineers and firemen feel the strain.

Boats often run better on some days than they do on others; it may be the character of the coal, the direction of the wind, or the disposition of the firemen, thus the boat behind can choose her own day for a spin. Watches are sometimes different, yet from all one hears the fastest trips of boats are generally made when there is no other boat near. We had determined, and had given instruction, that there was to be no racing done by Chicora. We were aiming at regularity of service. One presumes the rule as to speed was kept, but the public generally fancies a race whether there is one on or not.

One breathless Saturday afternoon trip is remembered. Instead of, as on most days, giving us a wide berth, on this one being such as suited her, the Rothesay came over[Pg 107] close alongside. For some time it was neck and neck between the boats but gradually the Rothesay began gaining an inch or two and, and after see-sawing back and forwards for a while growing to a foot or more. Sitting in the after deck among the passengers, listening to Marcicano's orchestra, one could not help noting the relative positions, as marked by the lines of the stanchions. Just then a little knot of men came over and one of them bringing out a roll of bank bills said:—"Mr. Cumberland, we know there is no racing, but if you're keeping down the speed for sake of the price of coal, we'd like to pay for an extra ton or two." Of course the kindly offer was declined with thanks, but with much appreciation. Whether they were more successful on the lower deck where the firemen cool off, or whether it was a little riffle that sprang up, that made the difference, I do not know, one cannot say, but the Chicora that afternoon entered the river first.

So the season waxed and waned. Chicora did her work well and winning, it might almost be said, the affection of the travelling public. Her appointments so far exceeded those of any other steamer at that time as to make her a specialty, but it was through her sea-going qualities which won their favor.

The regular "pat-pat" of her feathered paddles almost framed themselves into rhythmic melody with the full mellowed tone of her whistle whose clear resonance carried its sound for miles through the city every evening, with such regularity as almost to be accepted in the homes as the signal for the children's bedtime.

When rough days came the Rothesay stopped in port and the City completed her trips, while the Chicora's fine qualities as a seaboat, easy on herself, grew more and more into acceptance.[Pg 108]

At length the season closed and we made our last trip on 29th September, having maintained the two trips per day throughout without any cessation.

Every one concerned in the competitive boats, no doubt, glad when the season's contest was over. It had been, for us, one of intense activity, and never ending labor and anxiety. A whole system, both within the steamer, and for outside solicitation, and ticketing arrangements, had been devised and installed, as well as the sufficient work of the daily running duties.

A new company had to be introduced on an old route. We had fairly succeeded in getting into it, but it had been at a pretty expense. The Chicora was laid up at the Northern Railway docks, and accounts for the year were made up. What the competition had cost the others one does not know, but Chicora was a long way on the wrong side as the result of the season. This was a very serious thing for one of the undertakers, for instalments had to be paid up on the investment and at the same time the losses met.

[Pg 109]


Change Partner—Rate Cutting and Racing—Hanlan and Toronto Waterside—Passenger Limitation Introduced.

During the winter of 1878-79, changes came. The City of Toronto had tired of her partner. The railway companies had recognised the value to their route of the steamer of the Niagara Navigation Company, and the ability of its organizers to promote additional business.

Thus in the new negotiation the Rothesay was dropped by the City and the line for 1879 was to be the City of Toronto and the Chicora. We had lost money but had won our way into the route.

To enable obligations to be fulfilled monies had to be earned elsewhere, so another position was sought and obtained as General Traffic Manager of the "Collingwood-Lake Superior Line" to Sault Ste. Marie and Lake Superior, at the same time continuing the General Ticket and Freight Agency, at 35 Yonge street. In April, Mr. Cumberland resigned his position as manager of the Niagara Company, retaining the original position and salary as vice-president and assistant in passenger and executive work and Mr. John Foy, the secretary and son-in-law of Sir Frank Smith, was appointed manager as well as secretary. Sir Frank Smith, recognizing the good work done, in bringing the steamer down, the organization of the company, and in the strenuous contest which unexpectedly had been forced on us, but had been won by active ability,[Pg 110] carried the liabilities created, which in course of time were duly shared and met.

Mr. John Foy, who hereafter gave his whole time to the company, although not technically educated in the passenger business, had very many excellent qualities and a genial personality which did much in subsequent years for the advancement of the company's interests, and in the new connections which arose. As each new connection developed, he was able to enlist their good-will, and so harmonize and satisfy them by effective service.

The season of 1879 was a comparatively easy one, so far as executive work was concerned, for with City of Toronto as a partner we were included in direct connection with all the railway companies, who therefore provided all the passenger requirements, and in the regular route with her from the Yonge street dock, the trips being divided between the steamers, and each taking its own earnings.

The time tables for the season 1879 were:—May 16, Chicora 7 a.m., single trips. June 9, Chicora 7 a.m., 2 p.m. June 16, Chicora, or City of Toronto, 7 a.m., 1.45 p.m., 3 p.m.

The steamers in summer time tables alternated, the one leaving at 3 p.m., remaining over night and making the early trip from the river in the following morning.

The Rothesay having been dropped by the City still continued running to Lewiston, but afterwards only to Niagara and Youngstown, communicating with Lewiston by a small river steamer. Captain Wm. Donaldson was in command; she sailed at 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. from Yonge street dock, the same dock as the other two steamers, a concession in her favor made by Mr. D. Milloy as lessee.

From the very beginning Mr. Lunt adopted a policy of rate-cutting, and created a lively excitement in passenger prices. His opening rates were:[Pg 111]

In books good for all regular trips.

20 round trips$ 5.00
50 round trips11.00
100 round trips20.00

These tickets were unrestricted and were available to any holder.

To this policy of unremunerative prices was developed that of annoyance, by too close proximity of the steamers both at the docks or when running, which had in some degree been introduced in the previous season.

So noticeable and dangerous did this become that the directors of the Niagara Company felt it necessary to make public protest and the following announcement was published in the Toronto morning papers of August 6th, 1879:


Efforts of Her Owners To Prevent Racing and Avoid Collision.

Minutes of a meeting of the directors of the Niagara Navigation Company, held Monday, August 4th, 1879:

President, Hon. F. Smith; Col. F. W. Cumberland, Barlow Cumberland, John Foy.

(1) Captain Harbottle made a full report respecting the occurrence of Saturday, August 2nd, and of the circumstances in which the Rothesay twice crossed the course and bow of the Chicora.

That in the first occasion he was obliged to slow the engine, and in the second he stopped in order to prevent collision.

(2) That before the season opened Capt. Harbottle proposed to Mr. Lunt, the owner of the[Pg 112] Rothesay, that in order to prevent all possibility of racing the first steamer clear of the Queen's Wharf, or Niagara river should be allowed to keep her place across the lake, but this Mr. Lunt declined.

(3) That as there seemed to be a determination on the part of the Rothesay to provoke racing, the above offer was repeated by the directors in a letter dated 16th June, and then Mr. Lunt in his reply dated 19th June, again declined to accept the proposition.

(4) That under all the circumstances the solicitor be instructed to take all known and possible proceedings at law to put an end to the dangers arising from the action of the captain and the owners of the Rothesay.

(5) That the thanks of the Board are due to Capt. Harbottle for the care and skill he has exercised in avoiding the Rothesay, and that he be requested to continue on the principle that safety is the first consideration.

(6) That these orders of the Board be published for the information of the public.

(Sgd) John Foy Frank Smith,
Manager President.

It is to be remembered that the present eastern channel from the harbor did not at that time exist, but that the western channel, by the Queen's Wharf, was the only one which was open, and was not then wide enough for two steamers to pass out together. The proposition was that the first through this channel should hold its lead.

Toronto had then a population of only 70,000. There were very few steamers running out of the harbor, lake[Pg 113] excursion business may be said to have been only in its introduction and infancy, so that very much personal and family interest was taken in the several steamers on the routes, thus accounting for the public announcement of the regulations proposed.

The publication had the desired effect of preventing the Rothesay from coming into too close proximity, but did not reduce the monetary competition, in fact only increased it.

The City and Chicora were running three trips daily, 7 a.m., 1.45 p.m., 3 p.m., and on Saturdays four trips, the advertisements announcing "No overcrowding, as both steamers return in the evening." On the four trips being made the alternating steamer left at 8.30 p.m. for Niagara to make the first trip from there at 8 a.m. on Monday. While other rates were maintained, a special excursion rate of 25 cents was made for round trip on Saturday afternoon.

In early August Rothesay put on a return rate at 25c. for every afternoon, heading its announcements "Keep down the rates." The Milloys were averse to reduction and favored holding up the rates, considering that better equipment deserved better money. In this mid-summer season the Rothesay was getting a pretty good batch of passengers every afternoon, a process which would help her to continue the competition. She was then running from the Yonge street slip on the west side of Milloy's dock, the City and Chicora both being on the east side out of sight behind the buildings. We had the next move under consideration. The Hon. Frank Smith came down on the dock one hot afternoon when the people were swarming down the street for the 2 p.m. steamers. We were standing and watching the streams dividing to go on[Pg 114] board the two steamers, the Chicora and the Rothesay, the latter being in sight in the Yonge street slip, the other further down the dock and behind the buildings.

There was quite a stream taking the Rothesay. "By heavens," said the Hon. Frank, suddenly and decidedly, "there's one of the men from my own warehouse going on board the Rothesay, he's holding down his umbrella, so that I shan't see his face, but I know his legs."

We forthwith called and held a joint meeting with the Milloys in the office on the dock, when the round trip rate of 25c. for every afternoon was at once adopted, and all other rates were thereafter to be the same at the Rothesay.

One of the most eventful days in this season was the reception given to Edward Hanlan on his return from winning the sculling championship of England from Edward Trickett on the Thames in July, 1879, thus becoming the champion oarsman of Canada, the United States and England. Many champions have since been welcomed but never such a welcome as this, for it was the city's first offence, her first World's Champion.

The Civic Committee headed by Mayor Jas. Beatty, Jr., Ald. A. R. Boswell chairman Reception Committee and the members of the Hanlan Club, a coterie of men of standing and sporting instincts, who financed and managed Hanlan's early career, met the Champion at Lewiston, on July 15th. It was one of the most wonderful scenes ever occurring on Toronto Bay. The Chicora had been specially chartered to bring the Champion into Toronto at 5 p.m.

We were met outside the harbor by a fleet of steamers, Filgate, Empress of India, Maxwell, Jean Baptiste, and many others, crammed with excited and shouting people. Headed by Chicora, the procession entered the bay, which was covered by a crowded mass of boats of every description,[Pg 115] sailing, rowing or steam, making it necessary to bring the steamer down to dead slow. Hanlan was put by himself on the top of the pilot house, where he stood, easily seen, holding one hand on the pinnacle and waving a return to the enthusiastic greeting of his fellow citizens. Never was there such a din of welcome. Every steam whistle on the boat and on shore that could speak, shrilled its acclaim, bells rang, guns fired, the city, half of which was afloat, hailed its Island born son and Champion who had brought laurels and renown to both himself and them.

The citizens of Toronto had always been partial to boating and taking their pleasure in water sports, but these victories of Hanlan gave a renown to the city and a zest to rowing which greatly increased that interest in boating and rowing races which has ever since been a dominant feature in the sports of the city and the pleasurings of its young people.

Yet it is open to question whether in these later and more mechanical days, the leisure-rowing and paddling section is not somewhat on the wane, under the influence of the puffing, stench-spreading and lazy-luxury motor boat. At the same time it is a matter of congratulation that the competitor in the racing shells and canoes become still more numerous, and in every way energetic as of yore, mainly under the splendid influences of the Argonaut, Don, and other amateur boating clubs.

The Rothesay held on through the season. Mr. Lunt being an energetic and capable opponent, apt in attack and with much experience in the ways of steamboat competition. He was hard to shake off and while making no money himself he prevented others from making any. The managers of the City were now reaping the reward of their[Pg 116] broken faith and their having introduced him to the route. Her owners were obliged to make an assignment toward the close of the season and Chicora finished alone on October 18th.

Competitions such as was this, carried on with intention, only, of doing damage to an opponent's investment, and without any regard as to the number of passengers who might be induced by low rates to go on board the steamer cannot be conducted at other than with greatest risk. This was further intensified by the fact that the Government inspection limited itself to inspection of engines and boilers and no discrimination was exercised as to the service in which a boat was to be employed.

Such a condition would seem strange in these present days when all routes are specified and regulated, but in those days it was different. Once physical inspection was passed it made no difference as to the passenger service in which the boat was to be run, whether on the open lake or in river service, nor was there any limitation upon the number of passengers who might be taken on board.

This condition was not a fair one, either for the Public, who are not always discriminating and look mostly at the lowness of the rate, or for the Owners, who were not being given any consideration for their larger expenditures in producing steamers fit for the routes upon which they were to be employed. This gave the Rothesay a good handicap and one which enabled her to longer continue a contest.

Movements were, therefore, initiated by us for the introduction of regulations for the limitation of numbers, and restriction of steamers to appointed routes, but it took much time to bring about any result.[Pg 117]

The season of 1886 found the City of Toronto under Capt. Donaldson and Chicora under Capt. Harbottle, still running together between Milloys wharf and Lewiston; the Chicora opening the season on 4th May.

The Rothesay opened her season with renewed vigor on the 24th May, 1880. Mr. Lunt announced:

"The Steamer Rothesay having been thoroughly refitted will on and after Monday the 24th leave Yonge street wharf at 7.15 a.m., and 2.30 p.m. for Niagara connecting with the Canada Southern Railway for Falls, New York and all points.

"Quick Time.—Five hours at Falls and return same day, arriving at Toronto 7.15 p.m.

"Picnic parties will be taken by train to Niagara Grove. Tickets on sale by W. A. Geddes, Custom House Wharf, and Charles Morgan, 64 Yonge street."

In addition to running to Niagara, Rothesay this year dropped over to Youngstown on the American side, from where connection was made to Lewiston by a small American steamer. She also worked up an excellent excursion business for the Youngstown and Fort Niagara Park.

The City and Chicora divided the route as previously with one trip and a half each, all trips being run the full length of the river to the foot of the rapids at Queenston and Lewiston.

During this season an opportunity offered for the purchase of a dock frontage alongside the Lewiston dock. The New York Central had not then been extended from its upper station to the edge of the river above the dock, and it was also under consideration whether the railway would make a new move to reach the bank of the river at Lewiston[Pg 118] nearer to the steamers, or would replace the rails and again operate its seven miles extension branch to Youngstown. If they should resume this latter route to the mouth of the river, conditions at Lewiston would be changed. It was, therefore, considered best to await further developments before making any purchase.

The strain of the competition was beginning to tell. The Steamer City of Toronto was in August advertised for sale at Niagara, "thoroughly equipped, handsomely furnished and inspected ready for sea."

Rothesay ended her season on 15th of September, and Chicora on the 8th of October, having run the latter part alone and kept up the connections for the railways. The public had enjoyed the pleasures of lake travel to the utmost, but the steamers were none the better off, for the magnitude of steamboat business is not to be gauged by the crowds carried on the boats, but by the net results in the purser's accounts.

During the winter 1880-1881 the negotiations for limitation were continued and met with success, and as the Rothesay, in the spring of 1881, could only get a certificate for "river" work, for which she had been constructed and was well adapted, she was withdrawn to the St. Lawrence River, where she ran between Kingston and the Thousand Islands until in 1882 she grounded and was abandoned.

At length our competitor was gone, having made no money for himself and having caused much loss to others, including his first partners who had introduced him.

[Pg 119]


Niagara Camps Formed—more Changes and Competition—Beginnings of Railroads in New York State—Early Passenger Men and Passenger Ways.

The Chicora opened the season of 1881 on May 21st, connections being made with both Canada Southern, and New York Central Railways.

During this season the first "Niagara Camp" was held. On the 5th of June, the Chicora took over on the morning trip the Toronto Field Battery, Mayor Gray, Lieut. Beatty, Surgeon McDonald, sixty-five non-commission officers and men, twenty-seven horses, four guns and five companies of the 31st Battalion, Col. Brown, Major Cameron, Capt. and Adjt. Pollard and Surgeon Barnhart.

From modest beginnings began this annual gathering of the volunteer militia of Ontario, which has since assumed such considerable proportions and greatly extended in its sphere of operations. It has been found by experience that the attraction of a visit to the "Falls," which is possible while at this camp, brings more willing recruits, and the coming into actual touch with the battle fields of the defence of Canada in 1812, creates a sense of duty and of fervour which is very helpful to the service. Many lessons are learned from the remarkable collection of relics of early days, and of stirring times, contained in the Museum of the Niagara Historical Society.[2] Recently the acreage of[Pg 120] the camp has been largely added to and Fort George the embanked ancient fortress, just above the steamboat dock has been repaired and renewed.

Just below the ramparts is to be seen a long one story wooden building—the last remaining portion of the old "Navy Hall," the headquarters of Lieut.-Governor Simcoe, where the meetings of the first Parliament of Upper Canada were held in 1792 and where he entertained the Duc de Liancourt in 1795. The other buildings of the group, as shown in the drawings of Mrs. Simcoe, were destroyed or removed in the construction of the Erie & Ontario Railway.

The business on the Collingwood Line had so much increased to Lake Superior that another steamer was now needed, and the Steamer Campana was purchased in England. Her career had been a romantic one. While running on the River Plate in Brazil, she had been chartered to take a cargo of 700 mules to South Africa for the Kaffir War of 1878. The mules were landed at Capetown, but the supercargo, or purser, who was in charge, collected the purchase money and the freight earnings and then disappeared. The steamer was summarily sold to pay the wages of the crew and was then brought to the Thames, where she was purchased by Mr. A. M. Smith, President of the company, and brought out to Montreal. As the Campana was 225 feet long, 45 ft. beam, with tonnage of 2000, and all the lower St. Lawrence canals had not been completed to Welland Canal size, four being still of the old length of 180 ft. only, Mr. Cumberland was engaged to superintend her cutting in two and bring up the two sections.

The CIBOLA in the Niagara River off Queenston. page 153 The CIBOLA in the Niagara River off Queenston. page 153

[Pg 121]

With a vessel of such size this entailed great difficulties, she being the largest ship that had been up till then brought up the canals and rapids, but the novel problems were solved and the way paved for the Canadian Pacific Steamers, Alberta, Algoma, Assiniboia, built in Scotland, which next followed on the same methods.

Campana was the first twin-screw iron passenger and freight steamship to ply on the Upper Lakes, and introduced the system of making a round trip a week between Ontario ports and Lake Superior.

In this year the Maid of the Mist, 72 ft. long, 17 beam, depth 8 ft., startled the vessel world. Her business from the elevator stairways to the foot of the Horse Shoe Falls had fallen off. It was said that behind was the sheriff, in front the Whirlpool Rapids and beyond on reaching Lake Ontario a satisfactory sale. Capt. Robinson determined to run the risk and on 15th June started down the river. The first huge wave of the rapids threw the boat on her beam ends sending the smoke stack overboard, almost submerged by the next she righted, and by a quick turn evading the whirlpool emerged from the Gorge in little over ten minutes. The watchful collector at Queenston seized the opportunity for fees and had the Maid enter with him the Customs, the first and probably the last steamer ever to register as having come down from above the Rapids.

In August we met our first loss by the death of Col. F. W. Cumberland, General Manager of the Northern & Northern Western Railways, and our senior director. Having taken the utmost interest in the enterprise, his technical knowledge, energy and judgment had been throughout of infinite value, and his hearty personality was greatly missed not only in business but in comradeship. He was a man who had the forceful faculty of engaging the affection and loyalty of men who worked with or under[Pg 122] him; severe but just, exacting yet encouraging, good service was sure to be noted by him and to receive his approval and reward.

After his death the employees of the Northern and North-Western Railway, since absorbed by the Grand Trunk Railway, erected a monument to his memory at the Junction station at Allandale, presenting an excellent likeness in bronze of their late chief.

Mrs. Seraphina Cumberland, wife of the Vice President, was appointed to the vacancy on the Board.

During the winter of 1881-82 further changes took place in the ownership of the City, whereby Mr. Donald Milloy, who had been in charge of her up to this time, ceased to be her managing agent, and Mr. William Milloy and his mother, Mrs. Duncan Milloy, of Niagara, came into control.

The new management declined to renew the previous arrangement and determined to run on their own and separate account on a new arrangement made with the Canada Southern.

On May 20th, 1882 the City with Mr. William Milloy as captain, opened the season with regular trips—"Leaving Niagara on the arrival of the Canada Southern train 9.45; returning leave Toronto 3 p.m., connecting with Canada Southern at 5.30 p.m. Tickets from D. Milloy, Agent, 8 Front street, East."

On Monday 22nd May, 1882, Chicora resumed the usual trips from Toronto at 7 a.m. and 2 p.m., connecting at Niagara with Canada Southern and at Lewiston with New York Central Railway.—"Tickets from W. R. Callaway, 20 King street, East, and 25 York street, or Barlow Cumberland, 35 Yonge street, and 24 York street."[Pg 123]

Mr. Callaway then represented the Credit Valley Railway in Toronto, and on their company being absorbed by the Canadian Pacific Railway as part of a through line from Windsor to Montreal, he became its Western Passenger Agent. His wonderful faculty for attractive advertising and catching phrases had immediate effect in creating the company's passenger business against its older rival, and when the "Soo" road was added to the C.P.R., Mr. Callaway's genius for developing traffic was transferred to Minneapolis, where he achieved similar results. The ticket offices at York street were principally for steerage, and Italian business. Passenger business toward the west was at that time exceedingly active. The Canadian Pacific then under active construction around the north shore of Lake Superior, and to the further west, called for large importations of laboring men, making the beginning of our Italian population. Manitoba and our North-West were attracting much attention and the railways beyond Chicago, not having been merged into large corporations but working independently, were offering large ticket commissions, each acting on its own account.

The contest across the lake now created was not pleasant, there being an introduction of a certain amount of local rivalry which was undesirable. The season was a rough one and towards its close the City grounded on the boulders at the entrance to the Niagara River, and was successfully pulled off, but did not finish out the season. Notices were inserted in the public papers that the City of Toronto "would be rebuilt for next season and that work would commence directly navigation closed." Chicora therefore finished the season alone.

The season of 1883 found the steamers running in the same manner—Chicora under Capt. Harbottle to Niagara[Pg 124] and Lewiston: the City, Capt. W. Milloy to Niagara only. The season was an unfruitful one, weather cool and disagreeable.

For sake of notoriety the steamers under the leadership of the City were often sent across the lake on days when they had better have remained in port and saved money. It was this mistaken course which led to close of the competition.

A heavy storm from the east was blowing, toward the end of September. The seas were running heavily on the Island, and even sweeping up on the dock fronts in the harbor, no business offering and weather cold with sheets of rain and sleet at intervals. The City had come across from Niagara but Chicora had not been sent out for the morning trip, nor had we any intention of sending her out for the afternoon.

About 3 o'clock it was noticed that the City appeared to be firing up. I was at the time in charge and had given instruction that if the City went out Chicora was to follow but on no account to pass her. Capt. Harbottle and self were walking up and down the front of Mowat's dock, where the Chicora lay, watching the other steamer which was lying at Milloy's Yonge street dock, from which we had for the third time been ousted at the beginning of the season. "By the Lord," said the captain, "she's moving; I'm off."

There were few or no passengers to go, but the City started out down the bay followed by Chicora.

They had a very rough passage and when about two miles out from the river the City rolled out her mast and was otherwise damaged, but managed to make her way into port.[Pg 125]

This was her end, for she was sent to Port Dalhousie for repairs, and while lying up in the dock she was burned at 9 p.m., 31st October, 1883, and so closed a long and eventful career.

1884 found us without any further partners and alone on the route. It had been a long strife. No wonder we had loved the Chicora for like a good lass she had always cheerfully responded to whatever she was called upon to do.

Her seaworthiness gained the confidence of the public to such an extent that there were not a few families in the city who preferred the rough days for their outings, and some men, among others, Mr. Wilson of the Bank of Montreal, who always had notices sent to them when "there was a real heavy sea on," so that they might make the afternoon 2 p.m. excursion.

Capt. Harbottle having been appointed to a position on shore in the Marine Department, his place on the Chicora was given to Capt. Thomas Leach, of Halifax. It was he who in 1866 had brought up the blockade runner Rothesay Castle and had run her between Toronto and Niagara in competition with the City under arrangements with the Canada Southern.

The season of 1884 had barely begun before we learned of another intended competitor. The steamer Rupert was being brought up to run in connection with the Canada Southern at Niagara-on-the-Lake.

This steamer duly arrived at Milloy's dock and was found a good-looking sizable boat, with much deck accommodation for many travellers. Going on board the sand barrels on the broad deck seemed somewhat numerous. One of these was held at midship at blocks. Taking out the wedge and turning the barrel a kick set it rolling toward the ship side. As it went the boat keeled over to it.[Pg 126] Without saying or seeing anything more, the investigator walked off and going up to the office told Mr. Foy, "John, you needn't be afraid of the Rupert. She'll frighten her passengers some day, she's crank,"—and so she was.

The competition did not last the whole season, but business was increasing on the route, so the small steamer Armenia was chartered to make an early morning trip from the Niagara River to Toronto. It was not a success, but she was useful when the fruit season opened.

This year 1884 began also another route in competition. The Welland Railway had passed into the hands of the Grand Trunk, and the Empress of India was engaged to make the lake service between Port Dalhousie and Toronto in connection with a fast train from Buffalo and Niagara Falls. No doubt this diverted some business from the through route, but the principal earnings were from its own local district. With the superlative attractions of the scenery of the Niagara River, this Port Dalhousie route will never successfully compete for through or excursion travel with the Niagara River route, but it has the City of St. Catharines and an aggregate of thriving towns which will give a fine local and paying business with Toronto.

In 1885 we were at last in sole possession, having won the established connection with both the railways, at Niagara with the Michigan Central, which had absorbed the Canada Southern, and at Lewiston with the New York Central.

It had been eight long years of anxious and intense application of wits, energy and expense. One year in bringing the steamer down, and seven in constant competition, in wearing out competitors and winning the route.

We were now able to turn all our energies to the more pleasant work of development. The officials of the railways[Pg 127] had learned to have confidence in us and appreciated that we were not only ready to give good service, but to add to it, and to improve as the traffic needs of the route showed to be requisite.

When we entered upon the route, Mr. C. B. Meeker was General Passenger Agent of the New York Central—a man patterned after the old Commodore's taste, namely, that there was only one railroad in the world and that was the New York Central. This faith permeated not a few of the minor officials, so that in their opinions, to be permitted to travel on the N.Y.C., was to be considered by a passenger as a high privilege, and the utmost courtesy was to be used toward the immaculate and superior conductor, who honored him by taking up his ticket. Yet there was some reason for it. It was the beginning of great things in railway enterprise and service, for out of a series of small separated local roads it had been from between 1853-55, gathered together under a master hand and thereafter was continuing to be built up into a great and united system, giving the travelling public facilities they had never dreamed of, advantages which would have been impossible without the combination.

In the earlier days of steam railroad enterprize, there was little thought of the possibility of creating communication between far distant centres, as was afterwards found practicable, when the working of the steam engine became better understood. Building short local railroads by local subscriptions joining neighboring towns, appears to have been the method most prevalent. These railroads were in fact only improved stage routes. Some idea of the then conditions is afforded by the list of railroads opened or under construction in 1836 in the State of New York, given in Tanner's American Traveller, 1836:—"Buffalo and[Pg 128] Niagara Falls Railroad, 14 miles; Mohawk & Hudson Railroad, from Albany to Schnectady, 16 miles; Schnectady & Sartoga Railroad, 20 miles; Ithaca & Oswego Railroad, 20 miles; Rochester Railroad (now in progress) from Rochester to a point below the Falls of Geneva; Schnectady and Utica Railroad (now in progress), 80 miles: Rochester & Batavia Railroad (in progress), 28 miles; Troy & Ballston Railroad (now in progress), 22 miles. Several other railroads are proposed."

These and others were gradually brought into combination, in the one Central System for their mutual advantage and the convenience of the public.[3]

It seems strange to think that in the sixties there had been no sleeping cars and no through trains between Buffalo and New York. The trains stopped and started at Albany, where the passengers either laid over at an hotel for the night, or leaving the cars walked along the station platforms to the decks of a large ferry steamer, on which they were taken across the river to join the connecting trains on the other side. On reaching the outskirts of New York the railway cars were uncoupled, and then each drawn separately by six horse teams some miles down Sixth Avenue on the horse car tracks to the terminus at Twenty-Second street, then only a simple two-storey brick building.[Pg 129] With the construction of the railway bridge at Albany in 1870, the railway had sprung up at once into a great through route, the only one landing its passengers in the City of New York, and thus over-passing and over-topping all its competitors. It is not surprising, therefore that there was some pride and self esteem in those employed upon it.

When sleeping cars were first introduced on the New York Central it was in the most primitive fashion. The cars were the same coaches in which the passengers rode during the day. The whole of one corner was occupied by a great pile of mattresses and blankets and a number of posts and cross bars. When sleeping time came the posts were brought out, the berths built up and bolted together before the eyes of the passengers. It can be well understood how these improvised constructions creaked and groaned during the night. They supplied a need, but were soon supplanted by the Pullman inventions.

With Mr. Meeker we had the most personally pleasant relations, but when we had made our application to him for a connection, he was staunch to the old steamboat connections of his company and would only deal with us through them, even if he did think we had been hardly treated, but when we had won and deserved our way into an official connection he was equally staunch toward us; recognizing the continuous interest which the steamboat lines have in the mutual business which they have aided the rail in building up. To him succeeded in May, 1883, Mr. E. J. Richards, his highly efficient and much younger assistant, whose knowledge of the passenger business of his railway was unsurpassed by any. From this time began an association with the principal officers of the New York Central, which has widened and deepened with years.[Pg 130]

This year, 1885, Capt. McCorquodale was appointed to the Chicora, succeeded Capt. T. Leach, whose business engagements rendered it necessary for him to return to Halifax.

Having come into assured position the railway officers willingly co-operated with us when we spent considerable time and money in sending out travelling representatives and distributing advertising matter respecting the route and Toronto, to all parts of the United States. Mr. Steve Murphy being the efficient Travelling Passenger Agent since 1888. I question very much whether the City and the Citizens of Toronto have any conception of the wealth of advocacy in advertisement and expense which the Niagara Navigation Company has given to the City and its attractions, and particularly to its "Exhibition" during the past twenty-five years.

One after another the, then separate, railways were induced to put lines of tickets on sale reading over the Niagara River Line to Toronto, the list of these having been added to each year. In mentioning this it is to be remembered that in these early years, in the "eighties," there were a very large number of minor railways operating on their own and separate account. The great consolidations into the fewer hands and control of the main trunk lines had not then been effected, and yet more, the system of general traffic associations, joint rate meetings and combined agreed traffic associations had not been devised.

The officers of each railway did what each thought was best for the interests of his own line, and were controlled only by their being open to the possibility of adverse competition from some other line.[Pg 131]

The grand field day was the Spring Meeting usually held in Buffalo, to consider "Summer Excursion Rates." As there were many more independent roads the attendance was considerably greater and perhaps there was more of conviviality and social intercourse than in the more staid and business meetings of these subsequent days. Moreover it was a battle of wits between the newer and weaker roads striving to create and attract business from their more longly established competitors.

Will anyone who was present at them, forget the mental activity and agility of the General Passenger Agent of the Ogdensburgh and Lake Champlain Railway, then a little one "on its own," striking into the middle of its great competitors; a menace, ambitious, and played with a free hand. Its able representative was like a little terrier snapping in the midst of a surrounding crowd, and he frequently got his way.

The claims for "differentials" by some roads not so well established as others, or where representatives thought their earnings might be thus increased, were perennial, and the demands for more Special Excursions at "cut rates" voluminous. The discussions were lively and well worth hearing.

In the hours of relaxation of this annual gathering which brought men of the fraternity from distant places into friendly contact, there were men who since have risen into the restraining influence and stateliness of highest offices, but who in those younger days did not disdain to dance a can can in a night shirt, or snap fingers in a Highland fling, with an elderly but active steamboater from Montreal. All could sing in a chorus or join in a rout. The foundations of the present great lines of passenger trade were laid in those days, but the railway world[Pg 132] to-day does not find quite so much fun in its work as it used.

The days of individuality of minor roads have gone, and for all railway officers those of over pressure against increasing costs of expenses have come. The demand of the public of the day is not only for lower rates but for greater facilities, so that the increasing strain of business needs absorbs all time and attention, although at the same time much pleasant intercourse prevails.

Gradually the scope of our courses of traffic leading to the Niagara River were thus widened but not with ease; what in these present days can be done in a single joint meeting, or by the issue of a single joint rate sheet, required in those days, years of work, visiting the distant parts, and much personal address. It was in these last that Mr. John Foy particularly shone. He had a happy way of gaining and keeping new friends and allies.

In our own local and home city sphere we began working for new business. "Book Tickets" for families, with coupons for the trips, were introduced, an entirely new development, enabling citizens of Toronto to live at home during the summer and yet give their families lake travel and fresh air at remarkably cheap rates.

In this we received the aid of the medical profession. One doctor is remembered as putting it this way: "I tell my people," said he, "that when they want to wash their hands clean they must use clean water, and similarly if they require, as I wish them, to clear out their lungs, they must get fresh air where the clearest and freshest air is to be got, by crossing the lake on your steamers to Niagara."

Another doctor with a large family practice said: "When I find the digestion of the children of any of my families getting out of order I prescribe a 'book ticket on[Pg 133] the Niagara route.' It provides in such cases a splendid natural emetic." There is many a well grown citizen in Toronto whose vigor has been promoted or life saved in infant days by the pure air gained by these trips across the lake. Excursions by societies, Sunday schools, national and benevolent bodies were sought out and encouraged to devote their energies to providing outings for their associations and friends. Every possible method was employed to get new business. We certainly needed it, as we certainly had not, so far, a very profitable time.

Gradually the business on the route showed signs of growth until we saw that if we were to deserve our position with the railway companies and meet the increasing traffic we must add to our equipment. The railway officials had also expressed their opinion that another steamer would soon be needed and stated that in adding it the Navigation Company would receive the continued support of their companies. The first year of peace closed satisfactorily, and 1885 was marked in white upon the milestones of our progress.


[2] Which in itself is a monument to the energy and years of faithful service of Miss Janet Carnochan, the valued Historian of the District.

[3] Passenger Train Schedules—

Local Railways, 1843.
Lv. 6.00 a.m.Arr. 5.15 p.m.Arr. 7.00 a.m.
1.30 p.m.2.00 a.m.3.00 p.m.
7.30 p.m.8.00 a.m.9.00 p.m.
New York Central, 1855.
Lv. 6.30 a.m.Arr. 12.00 noon.Arr. 7.00 p.m.
7.30 a.m.1.25 p.m.7.00 p.m.
9.00 a.m.3.50 p.m.1.00 a.m.
6.00 p.m.12.30 a.m.6.30 a.m.

[Pg 134]


First Railways at Lewiston—expansion Required—The Renown of the "Let Her B"—A Critic of Plimsoll.

The original terminus of the Lewiston branch, after it had emerged from the cuttings in the Gorge, was at the upper end of the town, about a mile and a half from the steamboat dock at the shore of the river. During the season of 1886 the New York Central began again to consider the advisability of extending their rails so that the trains might be brought to the steamer's side.

This location had been a relic from the earliest travelling days. The rills of travel from all parts of the West converged at Niagara Falls and then passed on to join the steamboats for Lake Ontario.

Davison's "Travellers' Guide," published at Saratoga Springs in 1834, says:—"A stage leaves Buffalo every morning at 6 o'clock, passing through the village of Black Rock, 3 miles; Tonawanda, 9 miles; Niagara Falls, 11 miles. Fare $1.60. This line, after giving passengers an opportunity of witnessing the Falls for two or three hours, proceeds to Youngstown, or Fort Niagara, passing through Lewiston."

The Buffalo and Niagara Falls Railroad had been organized and surveyed, and the first steam trains commenced running in 1836 with a speed of 15 miles per hour, a rate which was considered notable. The track was laid on wooden sills faced with scrap iron, and during the first[Pg 135] winter was so heaved by the frost, that the steam engines had to be taken off, and horses used to haul the cars, these being only little ones with four wheels each, modeled largely after the stage coaches of the period. In 1839, this railway having been equipped with all-iron rails, had grown to two steam trains per day each way, between Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

A further extension followed when another small railway company, the Niagara Falls and Ontario R.R. was organized in 1852 to build a railway of 14 miles from the Falls to the shores of the Lake at Youngstown, where the steamers would be joined. Benj. Pringle, president; John Porter, vice president; Bradley B. Davis, secretary. The company, at an expense relatively much greater in those days than at the present, excavated the rock cuttings and cut the shelf in the side of the cliff upon which the New York Central Railway now runs through the Gorge, alongside the courses of the Niagara River, and the railway was graded and opened to Lewiston in 1854. Construction was continued further to Youngstown and the track laid in 1855, but only one train was run down to the lower port. It has been said that this was necessary in order to complete the terms of the charter, and appears to have been a final effort. The means of the company were no doubt impaired, so that shortly afterward all further work on this extension was suspended, the track taken up, and thus in 1855 the balance of the line being leased to the New York Central, the Lewiston station had become the terminus of the railroad, where it had ever since remained. As the transfer to the steamers was originally intended to be made at Youngstown, there had been no need, at that time, for the station at Lewiston being constructed any nearer to the River bank.[Pg 136]

From the very first the break in connection between train and boat had been found inconvenient, and in the fall of 1855, Mr. Gordon, of the steamer Peerless wrote to the superintendent of the New York Central Railway, saying:—"You must get the road down alongside the water at once."

This unpleasant transfer of passengers and their baggage in both directions by road and bus had existed all these years. The extension now proposed, would, it was expected, certainly be of advantage both to railway and to steamboat, as facilitating travel. It would mean a considerable expenditure to the New York Central Railway, yet they stated that if we would undertake to put on another boat, they would build the extension. The Michigan Central at Niagara-on-the-Lake, which had now become one of the New York Central lines, had had quite enough trial of their "any boat" arrangement and now desired a permanent service, which the putting on of another boat would supply.

Decisions had, therefore, to be come to by both parties. "The first thing for us to decide," said the Hon. Frank, "is whether Chicora is good enough to build a partner for her. This settled, we will then do our share on the water, for advancing the traffic of the route while the railways do theirs on the land."

The CORONA leaving N. N. Co. Dock at Toronto. page 178 The CORONA leaving N. N. Co. Dock at Toronto. page 178

[Pg 137]

Immediately on the season closing in October, 1886 the steamer was put into Muir's dry dock at Port Dalhousie and every atom of lining in her hull removed so that the plates could be seen from the inside as well as from the outside. The Government hull inspector, and W. White of Montreal, shipbuilder, were brought over to make the inspection. From the beginning and throughout as well as assisting in traffic matters the charge of the hulls and engines had been my particular care. Led by Webster, the chief engineer of Chicora, we entered the hull. Webster was a quiet sort of fellow, sometimes nervous and at times excitable, perhaps a bit over-intense in his work. He was lean and with a loose waistcoat. It has been said by some that a steamboat engineer, to be successful, should have a decent sized stomach to help steady him through the changing conditions in his running days. The suggestion is well founded.

We went under deck. Webster was striking somewhat lightly on a plate which showed some signs of inner scale when White broke out at him. "Mon ar' ye feart o' goin' through? Gie ma t-hammer." Whereupon he rained his forceful blows upon the plate with such vigor as to make the din ring. "Hoot," said he as he stopped, "I'd 'a got through gin 'a could, but 'a couldn't."

At the end of the afternoon the inspecting party came out. "Well, White," was asked, "what's the verdict?"

Wiping the sweat off his forehead with the sleeve of his shirt he answered: "Wull, ye may tell Mr. Smith that when he, and I, and you are 'a in our graves Chicora will still be runnin' gin ye keep her off the rocks."

We therefore accepted the position set out by the railway companies and undertook to build a new steamer to be ready for the season of '88, and run the risk of profit on the investment while waiting for more traffic to grow up. We determined that speed was the essential requisite. First to perform the service with ease and regularity. Second to meet any competition which might afterwards arise.

There were then in Canada no builders of fast marine engines of the size we required. These were only to be found on the Clyde, so Mr. John Foy and I sailed the next[Pg 138] week on the Lahn of the North German Lloyd for Southampton.

We inspected the principal day boats on the lower Thames, and English Channel, making notes and enquiries. Thence to Liverpool for Isle of Man steamers. Here we called on the head office of "Lairds," the builders of the Chicora, and made enquiries of her from the manager. "Chicora: Chicora, I don't remember any steamer of that name—Ah: did you say the Let Her B? Yes, she was the best ship of her class we ever built. There she is," and raising his hand he pointed to the model of the Let Her B, still hanging on the wall. He said they had built several steamers for service in blockade running into the ports of the Confederate States during the American Civil War. Three of these were named Let Her Go, Let Her Rip, Let Her B. Of all the steamers which they had built the last named and the last turned out was the most successful. Fast, seaworthy, of a model which was a thing of beauty, she had not been surpassed. He was quite enthusiastic about her and added "She had a stronger frame than usual, so that she would be worth replating should it ever be desirable.[4]" He gave us every attention and much information and for the requirements which we detailed to him, advised us to go to the Clyde, giving us letters to some of the best yards there.

In travelling one makes strange acquaintances. On the day express between Liverpool and Glasgow when we were running at high speed down the grades into Carlisle and the carriage was banging from side to side a gentleman, the only other occupant with us, who had never said a word since we started suddenly broke into speech, at the[Pg 139] same time throwing his feet up on the seat opposite to him. "Pit yer legs up! Quick!" The necessity for doing this he explained by adding "Gin we leave the line yer legs might be cut off by the seats comin' tegither." A good laugh at his fears and earnestness dispelled the silence which had previously reigned. He was a Scotch shipowner, and finding we were in the same line became communicative.

How earnestly he blamed Plimsoll for his legislation in putting his "mark" for load line on British ships but leaving the foreigner free, with all the privileges of trading between British ports, and of loading as deeply as he pleased. The effect, he said, on the British coasting trade was, that as the foreigner could load as far as he liked, and therefore carry larger cargoes, he could accept lower rates. Many British vessels were in consequence of this competition sold out, and transferred to foreign ownership.

"I suppose he thinks it's not his business to keep the furriner from bein' drooned, yet he ties our hands and helps him take our trade, and noo he's at it agin."

Mr. Plimsoll was just then introducing a new Bill into the House of Commons at Westminster, proposing to make it illegal for Marine insurance companies to insure the hulls of vessels for more than two-thirds of their value.

With this legislation our Scotch friend was very irate.

"Does the man think I want to lose my vessels. I'm in the business as my fayther was, and I want to stay in the business. As things are I can insure for full value. If I meet an accident either I get my vessel back again, fit for her service, or I get the money and build a new and larger one. If every time I have a total loss I am to be docked of one-third of my capital, then it wouldn't be long[Pg 140] before I'd be out of business. Ye never can keep up the British merchant marine that way."

But wouldn't it be better for the insurance companies?

"No, not at all. The insurance companies make their money, not on the ships' hulls, but on the cargoes which the ships carry. A single ship in one season will carry dozens of cargoes. We are the shuttles which carry backwards and forwards the cargo values on which the companies earn their rates. In fact, we help to earn their money for them. Where would be the cargoes without the ships? 'Gin Plimsoll had his way he'd wipe all the British ships off the seas, but we're no so bad as he wad paint us."

There was a good deal of truth in what he said, for given that the repute and moral hazard is good, it matters little so far as the owners exercise of care for the avoiding of loss is concerned, whether the insurance carried is for total value or only partial.

Needless to say the Plimsoll Bill did not carry. As evidence of our faith I may mention that in the early days, when the Niagara company was simply a family ownership, we insured only against fire and collision, carrying the whole of the marine risk ourselves. But we watched with infinite closeness the ships and our men, as is equally done now when the company insures for a portion of the value.

November in Glasgow! A mixture of smoke, fogs and grime. Never was such gloomy weather experienced. A soot of blue murkiness seemed to pervade the atmosphere. We visited and consulted with the builders of the fast steamers particularly the Fairfield Co. at Govan and the Denny's of Dunbarton. Nothing could exceed the freedom with which the fullest information was laid before us.

We also inspected the fast day steamers of the David Mactryne and the Caledonian S.S. companies among them[Pg 141] the Columba and Lord of the Isles, whose repute as day steamers for speed and equipment stood on the highest scale and are still (1912) performing their regular service.

While there was much to admire in them, yet we found they were lacking in many things in both exterior and interior fittings which our summer lake passengers would consider important.

For instance—in making a trip one day on one of these steamers there was a nasty drizzling rain. It dribbled down the main stairway which was open to the sky, and there were no awnings or coverings over the upper deck. As a result the passengers, who wished to have fresh air, sat along the deck seats, either huddled together under umbrellas, or wrapped up in the Scotch plaids with which almost everybody seemed to be supplied.

"What for why?" said the captain in reply to a suggestion that a deck awning might be a good thing. "To keep off the rain," was the reply. "Ah mon," said he, "it wad keep aff the sun."

Perhaps in the contrast between the Scotch climate and ours in Canada, he was right, for they cannot spare any of the glimpses of the sun so sparingly vouchsafed to them.

After fullest enquiry and consideration, we came to the conclusion that the best thing we could do was to repeat a highly successful day passenger paddle steamer, the Ozone which had been built on the Clyde, and sent out to Australia a year and a half previously, and had there obtained a splendid record for speed and commercial success.

She was just the size we wanted, 250 feet long, 28' 6" beam in hull, or 52 feet over guards, draft 6 ft. 6 in. Compound engines with two cylinders of 47 inches, and 87 inches, developing 2000 horse power, and sending the steamer at the officially certified speed of 20 miles per hour[Pg 142] on the Scotch trials on the Clyde between the Cloch and the Cumbrae.

This would be a step larger and a step faster than Chicora. We arranged with Mr. Robert Morton, the designer and supervisor of the Ozone, for a set of plans and specifications for the hull, which, constructed of Dalzell steel, would be put together on the shores of Lake Ontario, where the upper cabin works would be added according to our own requirements.

They offered to deliver a fully completed steamer at Montreal in four months, but we would have had to cut her and take off one of the guards to get her up through the canals. For my part, I had had quite enough of bringing steamers in parts up the St. Lawrence River on which the smaller canals were still incompleted, so we decided to erect our new steamer on the shores of Lake Ontario.

The engines would be built by Rankin, Blackmore & Co., of Greenrock, from whose shops had come some of the fastest engines on the Clyde. These would be a repetition of the engines which had been so successfully built by them for the Ozone and would be shipped out in parts to Montreal by the first steamer in the spring.


[4] Chicora was put in dry dock at Kingston in the winter of 1904 and largely replated at an expense of $37,000.

[Pg 143]


Winter and Whiskey in Scotland—Rail and Steamer Alongside at Lewiston—How "Cibola" Got Her Name—On the Route—The U.E. Loyalists Ongiara Added.

After decisions had been made it still took some time for the arranging of tenders and completion of contracts.

During this wait we whiled away the time by seeing football played in seas of mud, and half lost in fogs, women by the thousands with heads uncovered except when they pulled their shawls over them, and children innumerable with feet entirely bare. Poor kiddies how they suffered when on one day there was a fall of snow. Such snow, damp, heavy clots, which moistened as they touched anything, exuding cold, and slobbering over the stone pavements.

The children wrapped their red frosted feet with rags, or bits of carpet, to keep them off the stones, while their elders hunched themselves together and shivered. No wonder these people feared the snow and cold of Canada, for they thought that if they felt such suffering in a temperature only just at the freezing point, what must it be when the thermometer went below zero.

Yet did they only know it, as many have since learned, the dry salt-like winter snow of Canada is pleasant for the children to play in, and the sensation of cold not to be measured by the figures on the thermometer. It is the dampness which brings the suffering, which, needing to be[Pg 144] met by heat from within, inclines to the suggestion, expressed by some, that whiskey is a natural beverage for Scotland. That it is a usual one I learned in actual experience.

In our "steamboat samplings" we had made a trip through the "Kyles of Bute" and to Tarbert, where we took carriage across the Mull of Cantire to the outer sea. Stopping for lunch at a neat little inn about half way across. The mid-day meal was being served in a large room with one long table down the centre. At this all the company sat, one, apparently a commercial traveller, occupying the seat at the head and doing the carving. A large open fireplace with glowing fire gave comfort and pleasant radiance.

The one maid, a cheery looking young girl, did all the serving and was busy in her attentions to the guests. When she had got them all served I asked her, as she passed by, if she would please get me a cup of tea. Pausing for a moment she gave me a searching look and then without speaking passed on. A little while later I again caught her attention and suggesting that perhaps she had not understood me, said that I would like to have a cup of tea. Bending forward over me with a puckering of the forehead she said abruptly, "Where do ye coom frae?" "From Canada," I answered.

"Dye ye hae tea 'i the noon in Canada?" "Yes," said I in my most pleasing tone, "we have tea three times in the day in Canada—at morning, mid-day and evening."

With a sniff she retorted, "Wull, y're no in Canada the noo, y're in Scotland. Y' cannot hae tea i' the middle o' the day in Scotland—ye can hae whiskey."

I didn't so I'm afraid Canada fell greatly in her estimation.

Sir Thomas Lipton on CHICORA. page 175 Sir Thomas Lipton on CHICORA. page 175
H.R.H. the Duke and Duchess of York going on board CORONA.
page 183 H.R.H. the Duke and Duchess of York going on board CORONA. page 183

[Pg 145]

The contracts were at length completed and we hastened for home, taking the Guion Line Alaska as the fastest ship on the Atlantic. She held the "record" for the then fastest passage, 6 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes from Queenston to New York.

We had a frightful passage, during one 24 hours making only 52 miles. When the captain of a first-class Atlantic liner enters on his log, as ours did next day, "dangerous sea," one may feel satisfied that something unusual had been going on.

Instead of not over eight days, as had been expected, we took twelve days, much to the alarm of our families, and reached Toronto only three days before Christmas.

So Chicora and her successor had twice run the home-coming festival pretty close.

In 1887 the services were opened by Chicora alone, with Capt. McCorquodale in command.

Construction of the new steamer was begun early in April in the yards of the E. W. Rathbun Company, at Deseronto on the Bay of Quinte, there being then no other shipyard on the shores of Lake Ontario. The facilities here were excellent, in convenience of access by rail to the waterside, and in complete iron and wood-working factories for the cabin construction.

The hull was erected by W. C. White, of Montreal, who also had built the steamer Filgate, and the wood-work done by ourselves and the Rathbuns under the charge of our foreman carpenter, Mr. J. Whalen.

The engines arrived in good shape and were erected in the hull by Rankin, Blackmore & Co., who sent out men for this purpose.

The cabin work was being made in sections in the workshops, so that it could be erected as soon as the decks were ready.[Pg 146]

In the early part of the season of 1887 the New York Central completed the extension of its tracks to the shore line at Lewiston, just above the steamer dock. The relief to the traffic was welcome and immediate. The passengers were saved the weary jolting for the mile and a half transfer through enveloping dust, or of red bespattering mud, according to the varying conditions of the weather, and the through time between Niagara Falls and the steamer was also much shortened.

Ever since the branch railway had emerged from the Gorge this trial of temper and nerves had continued just in the same state as it had when Lewiston was the focus centre for the quickest routes to Rochester, Ogdensburgh, and to Albany and New York, via Lake Champlain, and the only route to Toronto, Kingston and Montreal.

At length, after a meritorious service of so many years, their duty being over, the lumbering old Transfer Coaches, which looked as though they had never felt another coat of paint since their first, were consigned to the retirement of broken bottles and old tins. No traces of them are now to be found. There are, however, some notable memorials still left in the old town of its earliest days of tourist and travel activities.

On the old road between Lewiston and the dock, once traversed by the transfer coaches, and part of the main road from Bataira when the village was known as "Lewis-Town," is the "Frontier House," built in 1825, and for many years considered the "finest hotel west of Albany." It was once the stopping place of many early celebrities, and with its broad stoop and great pillars is still a very prominent building. The residence of Captain Van Cleve, one of the earliest navigators on the lakes, and who sailed[Pg 147] from the port on the Martha Ogden, is on the hillside not far from the present terminus of the railway.

At last the railway and the steamers had been brought alongside. This facility of interchange, and the shortening of the schedule time much improved the volume of traffic in both directions and a start was made which indicated that, when made more fully known to the general public, would justify the expenditures being made by both the railway and the steamer interests.

A new era was being opened for the Niagara River route. We had brought about the first steps, had taken part in the bringing of the railways and the river together, and now were to add the new steamer.

Consideration of what should be the name of the new addition was much occupying the attention not only of ourselves but of many others.

It was conceded that the name must begin with a "C," and end with "A," and not exceeding eight letters in length, so that proper balance in advertising display might be preserved. A good deal of public interest was taken in the matter and many names suggested.

A number of these were selected, and a somewhat novel method adopted for coming to the final decision.

The members, both male and female, of the two families interested in the company, were invited by Hon. Frank Smith, to dine at "Rivermount," his residence on Bloor street. We sat down about twenty-five in number, being all the adult members of the Frank Smith, Foy and Cumberland connections, and at a splendid repast good fortune to the new steamer was heartily toasted.

I had had some twenty posters printed in the same size and wording as we then used for street advertising purposes. On each of these was displayed the name[Pg 148] Chicora together with one of the new names which had been suggested. These posters were then set in a line along one side of the spacious hall, so that the exact effect of the contiguity of the two names could be seen.

After dinner a sort of Dutch auction was held. The adherents of each name stated the reasons for their preference, promoting some amusing discussion. Each of the posters was then voted on in succession and with varying majorities ordered down until finally the one with Chicora and Cibola gained the preference.

There would seem good reason for this selection, for in addition to the suitability in appearance and emphony of the two names, a very interesting historical connection between them had been unearthed in the archives and annals in the beginning of Spanish-American history, after following up the exploits of Pizzaro in South America.

The early Spaniards had made a foothold in the island of Cuba. Ponce-de-Leon had visited the shores of Florida, but it was not until 1539 that Hermando-de-Soto, heading an expedition from the Island, established the first permanent occupation upon the mainland for the Spanish nation.

A settlement was formed and a fortress built at Ste. Augustine. Spanish influence thereafter gradually extended around the northern shores of the Gulf of Mexico toward the Mississippi and inland through the intervening Indian country which was then called the Chicora Country—"The land of pretty flowers."

Beyond this and on the other side of the far shores of the Mississippi lay the widespread grazing territories where the Spanish adventurers conceived would be opportunity for further exploits.[Pg 149]

Somewhere about the year 1580 a coterie of these venturesome ones carried over with them to Spain a party of the native Indians including among them the principal Chief of the Chicora Indians, the occupants of the country between Florida and the river. These they presented at their sovereign's court as visible evidences of their travellings and enterprises.

In those early days of discovery on this Western hemisphere, and for long years afterwards, it is noticeable in how lordly a manner the Sovereigns and Magnates of Europe parcelled out the new found territories, making wholesale grants of land to their own followers with or out the leave of the original Indian occupants. In this case the representative Chief was present. The King created him "Don Francisco de Chicora," and a grant was confirmed to his introducers of all the country lying adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico, on the far side of the Mississippi.

Returning with this authority the Spaniards extended their enterprises to their new opportunities. As they advanced westward they found on the terraces of the great plains, and on the foothills of the mountain ranges, the countless "Cibolos," or Buffalo, ranging in mighty bands over the nature pastures.

It was in consequence of this that when giving a name to the new Province which was being added to their previous domain, they named it "Cibola," "the Buffalo country." This name is still preserved by a ranching hamlet in a part of that territory now in the State of Texas.

As another steamer was to be added in partnership with Chicora "the pretty flower," what more appropriate name could we give to her than that of "Cibola," "the Buffalo," in reminiscence of the old time territorial expansion.[Pg 150]

So Cibola it was to be. There was also a further propriety in the selection that this "Buffalo boat" was to be one of the line of steamers which were to form the greatly improved connection between Toronto, and the great and modern city of Buffalo.

On 1st of November the steamer was successfully launched in the presence of a large party brought down by special train from Toronto, the name Cibola being given, and the traditional bottle of champagne smashingly broken on the bow, by Miss Constance Cumberland, the youngest sister of the Vice-President, and who subsequently married Mr. A. Foy, a brother of the Manager.

The firms engaged on the construction were:—Designer, Robert Morton, Glasgow; steel hull, Dalzell Co., Dalzell, Scotland; erection of hull, W. White & Co., Montreal; marine engines, Rankin Blackmore & Co., Greenock; wood-work, Rathbun Co., Deseronto; interior mahogany and decoration, Wm. Wright & Co., Detroit; electric lighting, Edison Co., New York.

The Chicora season of 1887 had been exceedingly active. The opening of the New York Central to the bank of the river largely increased the facilities and the movement of traffic.

The steamer Hastings was chartered to make the early trips from Niagara and late from Toronto, and to carry the increasing fruit business. We had acquired the rights of the International Ferry between Queenston and Lewiston and chartered the small steamer Kathleen to perform the service and to transfer passengers to the main line steamers.

A new excursion feature in connection with the extension of their line was introduced by the New York Central by "shuttle trains" with observation cars run frequently[Pg 151] between the Falls and Lewiston. These cars were open on the side next the river and the passenger seats set length-wise, facing the view, were raised in tiers one above the other, securing an unimpeded view of the scenery of the wonderful rapids and Niagara Gorge.

The Kathleen ran in connection with these trains, giving the tourists the full length of the Lower River to Niagara and also calling at Youngstown for the Fort and Town passengers.

Business at Queenston, where we had improved the dock, was much increased, due to our working up the excursions which were rendered more attractive by the great improvements made by the Queen Victoria Niagara Park Commissioners in the park upon the Queenston Heights and around Brock's Monument.

An excellent season closed without further incident.

During the winter of 1887-88 the cabin work had proceeded assiduously on Cibola. During this period we came much into personal contact with Mr. E. W. Rathbun, the head of the Rathbun Co., and, one might say, the physical embodiment of Deseronto and of everything within its borders. In the prime of life, genial, incisive, he was the focus centre of vibrant energies.

It seemed to be his ambition that no by-product in his enterprises should escape undeveloped.

He was interested in every public and benevolent project in the vicinity and although not himself entering into parliamentary duties, his opinion was much sought and valued in political development. With intense devotion to his work, and much continuous strain on his energies it was not to be wondered that his years were not many.

At length the spring of 1888 had come. The work was well advanced but, as usual, the carpenters and painters lingered on in possession.[Pg 152]

Chicora had opened the season and it was absolutely necessary that Cibola should be on hand to take part in moving the troops to Niagara Camp on 10th June.

The only thing to do was to bring the whole working force away with the steamer. Capt. McCorquodale was in command, Capt. McGiffin having been appointed to the Chicora.

A small party of friends had come down for the trip up, among them Alderman John Baxter, of Toronto a genial soul, whose girth was not far from equalling his height, he was the very embodiment of merriment and was a most excellent singer. As the most elderly member we dubbed him The Chaplain, although perhaps he was not the most sedate. Mr. Ross Hayter, a Tea Planter cousin, lately Come from Assam, and who was the first to introduce Indian package tea to Canada, was installed as the Doctor, and Mr. Gus Foy, brother of Mr. John Foy, ably acted as Steward.

We left in the morning with the decks encumbered by every description of material for all trades.

As each rounded point, and changing turn of this island-studded channel came in view one could not but recall that along these waters once came from Montreal, and Cataraqui, the fleet of canoes carrying the families of the Six Nations Indians to the new homes, which had been given them by the British Government, to replace those in the State of New York, which they had lost by their loyal adherence to the King's cause during the War of the Revolution. One party under Chief Deseronto had determined to stop at a reservation which had been selected on the shores of the Bay of Quinte. Before leaving Cataraqui, the communion service which had been given to their ancestors by Queen Anne in 1712, for their chapel in the Mohawk Valley in the Colony of New York, had been divided between the bands, the larger share being given to the more numerous party under Chief Brant, which separating from their Deseronto companions went onward up Lake Ontario to their reservation upon the banks of the Grand River.

The CHIPPEWA in Toronto Harbour. page 174 The CHIPPEWA in Toronto Harbour. page 174

[Pg 153]

These reservations are still occupied by their descendants, who are ardent militia men, serving with intense activity in the Indian companies of the 37th Haldimand Rifles, one of the most efficient in the Canadian Militia. All Canadians, should remember that these quiet featured men are the lineal descendants of those steadfast ancestors, who gave up their homes and all for the British cause, and were the first United Empire Loyalists to come to Canada.

Later after 1783, other migrations came up these inner channels.

These were the United Empire Loyalists, descendants of the British pioneers and settlers who had founded the English colonies in America, but who having fought on the King's side in the Revolution were driven out of their homes and their property confiscated, but who chose, rather than foreswear their allegiance, to come north into the forests of Canada where they could live beneath the British flag under which they and their fathers had been born.

It was a meeting, too, with the first steamboat ventures of Upper Canada, for on "Finkle's Point," which we passed, the Frontenac, the first steamer to sail on Lake Ontario, had been built in 1815.

Chicora and Cibola together carried the troops to camp and performed the services of the route for 1888. The leaving times from Toronto were 7 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 4.45 p.m., the Chicora taking the morning trip from Lewiston.[Pg 154]

This was a very considerable increase, being in fact a doubling of the previous service, and although the traffic did not at first justify it, the trade soon began to show signs of building up, the new steamer proving herself a valuable addition by her higher speed, larger capacity for passengers and with running expenses practically the same.

The arrangements for the militia at the camp at Niagara in these early days were in the charge of Lt.-Col. Robert Denison, one of the Denison family, who have taken so large a part in the military annals of the country, and an uncle of Lt.-Col. George T. Denison.

Col. "Bob" as he was most frequently called, was the Brigade Major for the Western District with his headquarters in the "Old Fort" at Toronto in the original "Officers Quarters" building which had been military headquarters for the Province since 1813. This old building is still in existence and is to be preserved as part of the restoration of the Old Fort.

Unconventional and breezy in his ways, he used, referring to the fact that he had entirely lost one eye, to say that he "had a single eye to Her Majesty's Service," and sitting straddled, as was his habit, on a four-legged saddle shaped sort of seat that "he was always in the saddle, ready for a call to action."

In 1889 Cibola and Chicora, continued their usual services with satisfaction and regularity.

The Observation Train service of the New York Central Railway increased much in importance as also the transfer between Lewiston and Queenston. A smart little steamer was purchased to specially fill these services.

Following our habit we searched for some name which would be appropriate to the conditions.[Pg 155]

The "Relations des Jesuits" are the reports sent back to France between 1616 and 1672 by the devoted Jesuit priests who had come over in the early French Regime and worked among the Indians for their Christianization. Much information is given in these conditions among the tribes, and concerning the geography of the country.

One of these, Pere Lallement, reports that in 1642 an "Onguiaara" tribe of Indians were living between the two lower lakes on a river bearing the same name as the tribe. Later on the Great Falls on this river are mentioned as the "Ongiara Cataractes." This name of Ongiara, which was the earliest by which the river was known among the Indians, has since been transmuted by the whites into its present name Niagara.

We therefore named the little steamer Ongiara as being appropriate to the history of her surroundings, and to her duties between the original portage routes of Indian and historic periods at the landings at Lewiston and Queenston.

[Pg 156]



During 1889 we had the pleasure of a visit from Captain George B. Boynton, the former owner of Chicora in her blockade running days, who was delighted to renew acquaintance with his early ally. He gave us many reminiscenses of that stirring period, the narration of them cannot be done better than by giving extract by courteous permission of the publisher from his narrative as afterwards contained[5] under the heading "Looking for Trouble." Copyright, 1911, by Adventure Magazine, the Ridgway Company.

After giving an account of his earlier life and share in the American Civil War, and of a project to join some adventures in Cuba he says, "While I was wondering how I could get into communication with Cespedes, my interest was aroused by a newspaper story of the new blockade runner Let Her B. The Let Her B., whose name was a play on words, was a long, powerful, schooner-rigged steamship, built by Lairds on the Mersey. Though classed as a fifteen-knot ship she could do sixteen or seventeen knots (19 miles) which was fast going at that time. There was so much money in blockade-running that the owners of one could well afford to lose her after she had made three successful trips.

[Pg 157]

"In five minutes I decided to become a blockade-runner and to buy the new and already famous ship, if she was to be had at any price within reason. I bought a letter of credit and took the next ship for Bermuda. On my arrival there I found that the Let Her B. had been expected in for several days from her second trip and that there was considerable anxiety about her. A fresh cargo of munitions of war was awaiting the Let Her B, and a ship was ready to take to England the cotton she would bring.

"I got acquainted with the agent for the blockade-runner, and offered to buy her and take the chance that she might never come in. He wanted me to wait until the arrival of her owner, Joseph Berry, who was expected daily from England.

"After waiting several days I said to him one morning, "It looks as though your ship had been captured or sunk. I'll take a gambler's chance that she hasn't and will give you $50,000 for her and $25,000 for the cargo that is waiting for her; you to take the cargo she brings in. I'll give you three hours to think it over."

"It looked as though I was taking a long chance, but I had a "hunch" that she was all right, and I never have had a well-defined "hunch" steer me in anything but a safe course, wherefore I invariably heed them. At the expiration of the time limit there was not a sign of smoke in any direction and the agent accepted my proposition. In half an hour I had a bill of sale for the ship and the warehouse receipts for the cargo of war-supplies.

"At sunset that day a ship came in from England with her former owner. He criticized his agent sharptly at first, but when two more days passed with no sign of the anxiously-looked-for ship, Mr. Berry concluded that he had all the[Pg 158] best of the bargain, and complimented his agent on his shrewdness.

"On the third day the Let Her B. came tearing in, pursued at long range by the U.S.S. Powhatan, which proceeded to stand guard over the harbour, keeping well off shore on account of the reefs and shoals that were under her lee.

"The Let Her B. discharged a full cargo of cotton and was turned over to me. I went over her carefully while her cargo of arms was going in and found her in excellent condition. She was unloaded in twelve hours, and all her cargo was safely stowed in another forty-eight hours. I took command of her, with John B. Williams, her old captain, as sailing master, and determined to put to sea at once.

"I knew the Powhatan would not be looking for us so soon, and planned to catch her off her guard. There was then no man-of-war entrance to the harbor and it was necessary to enter and leave by daylight. With the sun just high enough to let us get clear of the reefs before dark, and with the Powhatan well off shore and at the farthest end of the course she was lazily patrolling, we put to sea.

"The Powhatan saw us sooner than I had expected, and started but she was not quick enough. The moment she swung around I increased our speed to a point which the pilot loudly swore would pile us up on the rocks. But it didn't and when we cleared the passage we were all of four miles in the lead. As I had figured, the Powhatan did not suppose we would come out for at least a week, and was cruising slowly about with fires banked, so it took her some time to get up a full head of steam. She fired three or four shots at us, but they fell far short.

"At sunrise we had the ocean to ourselves.[Pg 159]

"I started in at once to master practical navigation, the theory of which I knew, and to familiarize myself with the handling of a ship. I stood at the wheel for hours at a time and almost wore out the instruments taking reckonings by the sun and stars. Navigation came to me naturally, for I loved it, and in three days I would have been willing to undertake a cruise around the world with a Chinese crew.

"We arrived off Charleston late in the afternoon and steamed up close inshore until we could make out the smoke of the blockading fleet, which was standing well out, in a semi-circle. Then we dropped back a bit and anchored. All of the conditions shaped themselves to favor us. It was a murky night, with a hard blow, which came up late in the afternoon, and when we got under way at midnight a good bit of a sea was running.

"With the engines held down to only about half speed, but ready to do their best in a twinkling, we headed for the harbor, standing as close inshore as we dared go. We passed so close to the blockading-ship stationed at the lower end of the crescent that she could not have depressed her guns enough to hit us even if we had been discovered in time. But she did not see us until we had passed her. Then she let go at us with her bow guns and, while they did no damage, we were at such close quarters that their flash gave the other ships a glimpse of us as we darted away.

"They immediately opened on us, but after the first minute or two it was a case of haphazard shooting with all of them. The first shells exploded close around us, and some of the fragments came aboard, but no one was injured. When I saw where they were firing I threw my ship farther over toward Sullivan's Island, where she could go on account[Pg 160] of her light draft, and sailed quietly along into the harbor at reduced speed. At daylight we went up to the dock and were warmly welcomed.

"Before the second night was half over we had everything out of her and a full cargo of cotton aboard, and we steamed out at once. I knew the blockaders would not expect us for at least four days, and we surprised them just as we had surprised the Powhatan at Bermuda. It was a thick night, and we sailed right through the fleet at half speed, but prepared to break and run for it at the crack of a gun. Not a shot was fired or an extra light shown.

"As soon as we were clear of the line we put on full speed and three days later we were safe at Turk's Island, the most southerly and easterly of the Bahama Islands, off the coast of Florida, which I had selected as a base of operations. These islands were a haven and a clearing-house for the outsiders who were actively aiding the Confederacy for a very substantial consideration.

"Most of the blockade-runners, including the Banshee, Siren, Robert E. Lee, Lady Sterling, and other famous ships, were operating out of Nassau, which had the advantage of closer proximity to the chief Southern posts, being within 600 miles of Charleston and Wilmington, while Turk's Island was 900 miles away, but I never have believed in following the crowd. It is my rule to do things alone and in my own way, as must be the practice of every man who expects to succeed in any dangerous business. The popularity of Nassau caused it to be closely watched by the Federal cruisers that patrolled the Gulf Stream, while the less important islands to the south and east were practically unguarded.

"Though precarious for the men who made them so, those were plenteous days for the Bahamas, compared with[Pg 161] which the rich tourist toll since levied on the Yankees is but small change. The fortunes yielded by blockade-running seemed made by magic, so quick was the process. Cotton that was bought in Charleston or Wilmington for ten cents a pound sold for ten times as much in the Bahamas, and there were enormous profits in the return cargoes or military supplies. The captains and crews shared in the proceeds and the health of the Confederacy was drunk continuously and often riotously.

"By the time I projected myself temporarily into this golden atmosphere of abnormal activity, running the blockade had become more of a business and less of a romance than it was in the reckless early days of the war.

"Before leaving Bermuda I had ordered a cargo of munitions of war sent to Turk's Island. We had to wait nearly a month for this shipment to arrive, but the time was well spent in overhauling the engines and putting the Let Her B in perfect condition.

"My second trip to Charleston furnished a degree of excitement that exalted my soul. While we were held up at Turk's Island the blockading fleet had been strengthened and supplemented by several small and fast boats which cruised around outside of the line. Without knowing this I had decided—it must have been in response to a "hunch"—to make a dash straight through the line and into the harbor. And it was fortunate that we followed this plan, for they were expecting us to come up from the south, hugging the shore as we had done before, and if we had taken that course they certainly would have sunk us or forced us aground.

"We were proceeding cautiously, but did not think we were close to the danger zone, when suddenly one of the patrol ships picked us up and opened fire. Her guns[Pg 162] were no better than pea-shooters, but they gave the signal to the fleet, and instantly lights popped up all along the line ahead.

"In the flashing lights ahead I saw all of the excitement that I had been longing for, and with an exultant yell to the helmsman to "Tell the engineer to give her ——l," I pushed him aside and seized the wheel. I fondled the spokes lovingly and leaned over them in a tumult of joy. It was the great moment of which I had dreamed from boyhood.

"I had anticipated that when it came I would be considerably excited and forgetful of all of my carefully-thought-out plans for meeting an emergency, but to my surprise I found that I was as cool as though we had been riding at anchor in New York Bay. The opening gun cleared my mind of all its anxieties and intensified its action. I remember that I took time to analyze my feelings to make sure that I was calm and collected and not stunned and stolid and that I was silent from choice and not through anything of fear.

"As though spurred by a human impulse, the little ship sprang forward as she felt the full force of her engines and never did she make such a race as she did that night. In the sea that was running and at the speed that we were going we would ordinarily have had two men at the wheel, but I found it so easy and so delightful to handle the ship alone that I declined the assistance of Captain Williams, who stood behind me.

"Though I am not tall, being not much over five feet and eight inches, nature was kind in giving me a well-set-up frame and a powerful constitution, devoid of nerves but with muscles of steel, and with a reserve supply of strength that made me marvel at its source.[Pg 163]

"The widest opening in the already closing line was, luckily directly in front of us, and I headed for it. The sparks from our smokestack gave the blockaders our course as plainly as though it had been noon-day, and they closed in from both sides to head us off. Shot and shell screamed and sang all around the undaunted Let Her B.

"First the mainmast and then the foremast came down with a crash, littering the decks with their gear. A shell carried death into the forecastle. One shot tore away the two forward stanchions of the pilot-house, and another one smashed through the roof, but neither Captain Williams nor I was injured. All of our boats and most of our upper works were literally shot to pieces.

"From first to last we must have been under the terrific fire for half an hour, but it seemed not more than a few minutes, and it really was with something of regret that I found the shots were falling astern. When we got up to the dock we found that five of our men had been killed and a dozen more or less injured. The ship had not been damaged at all, so far as speed and seaworthiness in ordinary weather were concerned, though she looked a wreck.

"The blockaders expected we would be laid up for a month. Consequently when we steamed out on the fourth night, after making only temporary repairs, they were not looking for us and we got through their line without much trouble.

"We refitted at Turk's Island, where we laid up for three weeks.

"I made two more trips to Charleston without any very exciting experiences, though we were fired on both times, and then sold the ship to an enterprising Englishman at Turk's Island. I made a comfortable fortune with her and sold her for more than I paid for her."[Pg 164]

The Let Her B. was never captured, but the war closed the year after her arrival and upon its conclusion she was brought North and registered as a Canadian vessel at the Port of Pictou, Nova Scotia, and her name at the same time changed to Chicora.


[5] "Adventure Magazine," New York, Jan. 1911.

[Pg 165]


The Canadian Electric to Queenston—An Old Portage Route Revived—History of the Two Portages—The Trek to the Western States—Chippewa Arrives—Notable Passenger Men.

No wonder that after his recital of her prowess, much as we had esteemed the bonnie ship, we now thought all the more of her, for as ill the times of her previous owners, so now in ours, there appeared to be a sort of living sprite within her frames, evidencing a spirit of life, and consciousness, as that of a fond friend, as well as a faithful servant. Perhaps it is this very affection which arises between a man and his ship that has led to all vessels being spoken of in the feminine, and familiarly as "she." Perhaps, however it may be that it comes from their kittenish "kittly-cattly" ways, for you never know what a vessel will do, until you have tried her.

1890 brought us still further on the way to success. The business was fast increasing, under the more frequent services and the spread of advertising, and solicitation. So much was this the case that the possibility of placing another steamer on the route began to be debated, not only by ourselves, but by other people who were looking on.

A small American steamer had been running between Lewiston and Youngstown, and there was some talk of putting on another. Rumors also spoke of an electric line to be built between these points to more closely connect the troops of the American Garrison at Fort Niagara with the[Pg 166] forces of the State of New York. We thought, therefore, it would be as well to obtain the dock at Youngstown, to which rail connections could be made, and also to create an American company, under which American steamers could be owned and operated by us, should it at any time be thought well to do so.

The "Niagara River Navigation Co., Limited," was then formed under a charter obtained from the State of New York, and the stock subscribed and paid up by members of the Niagara Navigation Co. families, the Board being,—John Foy, President; Barlow Cumberland, Vice-President, and three gentlemen of Buffalo, directors.

The Youngstown Dock, which had been privately purchased, and is the dock down to which the railway track of 1885 ran, was taken over by this American company, and some people, whom it had been suggested might put on American steamers to run in competition with the Niagara Navigation Company, were informed that we were empowered, and quite ready to meet them under their own condition, so they drew in their horns and nothing more was heard of the matter.

A policy was formulated which has ever since been maintained, of adding steamers as the traffic, and new developments showed might be required and to add them even in advance of actual requirements.

From the position of its ports, and the variable requirements of the connecting lines, the Niagara River Line can be best handled by one stable company, in full control of docks at all the landing places, and with a number of steamers sufficient to meet all possible emergencies of sudden demands of travel as they arrive at different times on the several railway connections on both sides of the lake. The very flexibility of the service ensures adequate provision[Pg 167] to keep the largest excursion business moving without delay, and with convenience from whatever quarter or connection it may at any hour come.

In 1891 Captain McGiffin was promoted to command of Cibola in succession to Captain McCorquodale, who after having given fullest satisfaction and faithful service, had died during the previous season. Captain W. H. Solmes, of Picton, was now appointed to Chicora.

In this year began the project for the construction of the Niagara Falls Park and River Railway on the Canadian side, following the bank of the river from Niagara Falls to Queenston and being the first electric railway to be built in this vicinity on either side of the river.

Electrical traction was then in its infancy. No better evidence of this can be given than the fact that although the Canadian Electric Railway Company had ample surplus power in their development at the Horseshoe Falls, yet the electrical engineers of the day, reported that the cost of wiring and the loss in transmission of power for the only seven miles to Queenston, would be prohibitive to commercial economy. An additional equipment for development of electricity by steam was therefore installed on the river side at Queenston to help the power current from the Falls in operating the cars up the zig-zag to the top of the Queenston Heights.

This power house is shown in the view taken from the Heights and continued to be used until 1898, when the improvements in electrical transmission enabled it to be abandoned and full power brought from the company's water power house at the Falls.

The zig-zag series of curves by which the double track railway winds its way up the face of the Niagara escarpment from the dock to the summit at Brock's Monument[Pg 168] is considered one of the achievements of Mr. Jennings, who was the engineer for the construction of this Canadian Power and Electrical R.R. Company, and had previously done some notable work for the Canadian Pacific Railway on the Fraser River and Rocky Mountain sections. As the cars wind up and approach the summit, a splendid and far distant landscape is opened to the view, one which the Duke of Argyle considered to be one of the "worthy views of the world." Below are the terraces and color-chequered fields of the vineyards, the peach and fruit orchards of this "Garden of Canada." Through these variegated levels the Niagara River curves in its silvered sheen to Lake Ontario where the blue waters close in the far horizon.

From Queenston Heights this electric railway skirts the edges of the cliffs above the great gulf in the depths of which the Niagara rapids toss and foam, and then circling around the sullen swirlings of the fatal Whirlpool, lands the tourist within the spray of the great Cataract itself.

Our ownership of the dock and the waterfront at Queenston, purchased so many years before, now proved its foresight and facilitated the making of arrangements with the new Electric Railway for an interchange of business. As a result it was now determined that a fourth steamer should be added to the Niagara River Line, and thus provision was made for the new connection and the increased business which would arise from its introduction.

This new connection apparently to the river was, after all, but the revival of the old Portage Route on the Canadian side, which had so long existed between Chippawa and the head of navigation at this point, but not exactly on the same location and had passed away upon the diversion of business to other routes.

The CHIPPEWA in Drydock at Kingston, Bow. (page 184) The CHIPPEWA in Drydock at Kingston, Bow. (page 184)
The CHIPPEWA in Drydock at Kingston, Stern. The CHIPPEWA in Drydock at Kingston, Stern.

[Pg 169]

As the steamer lies at the Queenston Dock, the eye naturally sweeps upward over the cedar clad slopes of the Niagara escarpment toward the striking monument which crowns its heights. The reminiscences are those of martial strife, when on the 13th of October, 1812, contestants met in mortal conflict. In fancy we can see the foemen moving upon the slopes, the American forces gain the Heights, the heroic General Brock leads his men in bold attack to regain possession, and falls at their head mortally wounded. Reinforcements under General Sheaffe come from the west along the summit of the cliffs, the contest is renewed; Indians are seen gleaming among the trees, they drive the invaders over the brink to fall into the rapids below, and at length the American forces with two Generals and seven hundred men lay down their arms and are taken prisoners. But there are other phases much more ancient of this head of navigation and its portages.

Under the hill there can be discerned beneath the shadow of the Height the old road leading up from the lower level of the dock to the upper level upon which, what is left of the Town of Queenston stands. It is marked and scarred with the ruts of many decades and full of memories. Upon these slopes the Indian made his way to the waterside at the Chippewa creek. Here came the trappers with their bales of furs brought down from the far North-West. Here came the voyageur traders of France with beads and gew-gaws for barter with the Indians, and later the English with blankets and firearms.

In the earliest days two portages were available, one on each side of the river, but during the French period and for long, long after the one on the past side from Lewiston was mainly used, its terminus at Lake Erie being called[Pg 170] Petite Niagara as distinctive from the great Fort Niagara at its lower end.

With the end of the war of the Revolution, Capt. Alexander Campbell of the 12th Regiment, was sent by Lord Dorchester to report on the portages. In reporting in 1794 he mentions that the American portage was at a steep bank just below the rapids, to the foot of which the batteaux were poled with difficulty and the contents raised by winch and hawser to the upper level some 60 feet above. On the Canadian side at Queenston the eddy was more favorable and there were, he said, four vessels waiting to be unloaded and sixty waggons working on the portage. In consideration of the expected transfer of Fort Niagara he thought it would be better to improve the mouth of the Chippewa Creek and adopt the all-Canadian side instead of sending up supplies on the Fort Niagara side to Schlosser to be boated across to Fort Erie.

Mr. Robert Hamilton, afterwards Hon. Robert, sized up the situation and built a new dock and storehouse on what afterwards turned out to be Government property at the Chippaway River. He had early appreciated the value of the portage and had established a large transfer business across it. Becoming the chief personage of the neighborhood he had in 1789 changed the name of its northern terminus to Queenston instead of the West Landing by which it had previously been known.

With these increased facilities and to his own great profit he in time secured the bulk of the portage trade.

In 1800 John Maude mentions that three schooners and 14 teams were lying at the dock at Queenston on one day, and that from 50 to 60 teams a day passed over the Portage, the rate for freight being 20 pence New York currency per hundred pounds between Queenston and Chippewa.[Pg 171]

When the great trek from Maine and Massachusetts began to the Western States of Michigan and Illinois, this Queenston road was mostly taken by the wandering land seekers, it being adopted by them then as the short cut across the Peninsula to the Detroit River instead of the long detour along the south shores of Lake Erie, just as at present the Michigan Central, Wabash and Grand Trunk Railways cross from the Falls on this shortest route to the west.

The waggons with their horses, having come to Lewiston from Albany and Rochester by the Ridge Road, were placed upon the batteaux to cross the river, and although at first carried far down by the current on the eastern side were easily taken by the eddy up the west shore to the landing place at Queenston. Up this inclined road to the upper tier, in imagination one can see the lines of immigrants, with their teams and canvas topped wagons, in long extended line seeking the far West for their new homes and great adventures.

So great was the traffic in this direction that, in 1836 a "horse boat" was employed on the ferry and the first Suspension Bridge at Queenston was promoted in 1839 to accommodate the movement from the East towards the West. At present except when a Niagara Navigation Co. steamer is alongside, all is so quiet it seems scarcely possible that this landing place could at one time have been the centre of such busy movement.

The re-opening revived also the memories of an oft told narrative of a little family, which years before had arrived over the portage route, at this same dock at Queenston, and made their first acquaintance with the Niagara River and its navigation.

Mr. Fred W. Cumberland, our late Director, and his wife had come to the opinion that the position which the[Pg 172] held on the Engineering Staff, in Her Majesty's dockyard at Portsmouth, did not represent such a future as they would desire, and therefore they determined to emigrate to Canada. In the spring of 1847 they took passage on a sailing ship, bringing with them their ten-months-old baby. After a voyage of six weeks they reached New York, from where they came by Hudson River steamer to Albany, where they spent the night. From here they came by steam railroad at the unexpected speed of "twenty miles an hour." And again, as was usual, for there were no night trains, broke their journey and stayed over night at Syracuse, 171 miles, where there was a fine large hotel, and the following day leaving 8.00 a.m., arrived at Buffalo at 9.00 p.m. Leaving Buffalo next morning they came by steamer down the Niagara River to Chippawa, where they took the "horse railroad" for Queenston to join the steamer for Toronto.

The terminus at Queenston of the horse railroad was at the end of the "stone road," near the hotel above the road leading down to the steamer. Just when arrived at this, the car went off the track, and while Mr. Cumberland was endeavoring to extract their belongings, Mrs. Cumberland, the baby, and a young clergyman, the Rev. G. Salter, who had crossed the Atlantic on the same ship with them, were carried off on the steamer for Toronto, and the father was left behind. It was amusingly told, how, after they had landed at the foot of Church Street, and were walking up into the town, Mr. Salter, who had been consigned to an appointment under the Rev. Dr. John Strachan, then Bishop of Toronto, wondered what his Bishop would say if he should chance to meet his new curate with another man's wife and carrying a baby as he entered his Diocese. The baby was Barlow Cumberland, who then made his[Pg 173] first steamboating on the Niagara River, on which he was afterwards to be so actively engaged.

It was determined that the new steamer should be a further advance in size and equipment to prepare for the increased traffic now to be fed from both sides of the river. Additional capital was therefore required, of which part was provided by the Niagara Company, and part by the introduction of new stockholders, including Mr. E. B. Osler, and Mr. William Hendrie.

Here, in 1892, the purely family relationship of the first members of the Company closed, the stock holdings being more widely spread and the Board increased from five members to seven.

The services of Mr. Frank Kirby, of Detroit, the most accomplished designer of passenger steamers, were engaged, the plans made, the tenders of the Hamilton Bridge & Shipbuilding Co. accepted for the hull, boilers and upper-works, and the engines contracted for with W. Fletcher Co., of New York, the builders of the fastest marine engines on the Hudson and the Upper Lakes. Mr. Geo. H. Hendrie left the next day for Scotland to arrange for the materials.

Cibola, Capt. McGiffin, and Chicora, Capt. Solmes, conducted the season 1892 with good success. Work on the new steamer was commenced at Hamilton.

Again the question of a new name arose, and this time it was considered that the name should still be Indian, but of Canadian origin. Thus the name Chippewa was selected as that of a renowned Canadian tribe of Indians which had flourished in the Niagara River District, and also as a renewal of the name of H.M. sloop Chippewa, upon which General Brock had sailed on Lake Erie. It will be noted that the name is not that of the village and[Pg 174] postoffice of Chippawa, but is spelled with an "e," being that of the Indian tribe. A fine carving of a Chippewa Chieftain's head, taken from Catlin's collection of Indian portraits, is placed on the centre of each paddle box, similarly as a rampant Buffalo had previously been placed on those of the Cibola. On 2nd May, 1893, the steamer was successfully launched in the presence of many of the citi-townsman, Mr. William Hendrie, and of a number of visitors from Buffalo, Toronto and Montreal. The name was given and the bottle gallantly broken by Miss Mary Osler, daughter of Mr. E. B. Osler, and Miss Mildred Cumberland, daughter of Mr. Barlow Cumberland. Chippewa, the Indian Chief, was the first of our vessels to be constructed of steel. Her tonnage is 1,574 tons. Length, 311 feet; beam, 36, and is authorized to carry 2,000 passengers in lake service. The interior arrangements were more convenient and spacious than any previously, and an innovation was the addition of a hurricane deck, upon which ample space for passengers is provided. The Chippewa had satisfactorily passed through her trial trips, and in May, 1894, the steamer, completed in every respect, sailed from Hamilton to take up her station on the Niagara Route. A goodly number of railway and steamboating officials and friends were on board under the leadership of Sir Frank Smith.

Our steamers were that year running from Geddes' (now the City) Dock, as we had again, for the fourth time, been turned out of Milloys. Mr. William Fletcher, the builder of the engines, had come up from New York and was in charge of the motive department. It was a Saturday afternoon. Chicora was occupying the face of the dock, so Chippewa had to come in on the west side. By some mischance she was not stopped soon enough and[Pg 175] made her entry into Toronto by driving her nose some five or six feet into the wooden timber of the side of the Esplanade. The steamer seemed scarcely in motion, yet cut into the heavy timbers as though they had been matches. When backed out no damage was done excepting the loss of a little paint on the bow. The party landed, the Buffalo and New York visitors with Mr. Fletcher going off on Chicora amid hearty exchange of greetings.

The introduction of a third boat on the Main Line made an exceeding difference in the frequency of the services, and again was at first a good deal in excess of the demand, or of business offering.

A new trip was introduced by the Chicora leaving Toronto at 9 a.m., staying over at Lewiston and returning in the afternoon, making one round trip. The whole departure being five trips; 7.00 a.m., 9.00 a.m., 11.00 a.m., 2.00 p.m., 4.45 p.m. This 9.00 a.m. trip was not a success during its early years, but gradually gained in importance.

Chippewa (Capt. McGiffin), Cibola (Capt. W. H. Solmes), Chicora (Capt. Jas. Harbottle), closed the season of 1894, in which much more activity was produced, and good evidences given of growth to be expected in the future.

In effecting its growth the route continued to be exceedingly assisted by the energies and assistance of the connecting Railway Company's officers. Mr. D. M. Kendrick had succeeded Mr. Meeker, and he in turn, in 1887, followed by Mr. Henry Monett. A most notable advance was begun during this regime, an entirely new idea being evolved. The reputation of the New York Central Railway for the regularity and character of its trains and service had been well created, but up to that time the Erie Railway, by persistent advertising, had been established in the minds of the public as "the only scenic" route between Buffalo and New[Pg 176] York. Mr. Monett instituted a series of descriptive and illustrative announcements developing the Mohawk Valley, through which the New York Central runs, as being "the really most beautiful" route, passing through the scenery of the romantic valley of the Mohawk and the mountain heights of the Hudson with all the advantages of "a water-level line" following the coursings of the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers, and so giving a perfect night's rest.

It was a novelty and an inducement which caught the public idea, and added attraction to efficient service.

Owing to the early death of Mr. Monett in 1888, Mr. E. J. Richards followed as Acting General Passenger Agent to 1889, with his intimate knowledge of the passenger requirements he gathered in and secured the business which Mr. Monett's methods had begun to attract. During his period Cibola was added to our line.

With the career of his successor Mr. George H. Daniels, (1889 to 1905) there was a still further expansion of the advertising method of attracting business to the great railway, whose train service was of the highest development. The celebrated pamphlets known as the "Four Track" series under Mr. Daniels led the way in railway advertising publications, introducing methods which since then have been so extensively followed and applied by all the principal railways. As an instance of widespread advertisement, no less than four millions of the one issue of the "Four Track" series which contained "The Message to Garcia" were distributed to the public, the demand for copies exhausting edition after edition. Chippewa and Corona were both added during Mr. Daniel's term.

During the later changes in the Head Offices the local passenger representation in the Buffalo and Western district had been held in succession by Mr. E. J. Weekes and[Pg 177] Mr. H. Parry. No railway was ever better served, nor its patrons more firmly secured in friendship.

Equally successful assistance was given by Mr. A. W. Ruggles and Mr. Underwood of the Michigan Central Railway, which with its quickest route to Buffalo direct from Niagara-in-the-Lake was specially developed.

Thus in a series of years, steamer after steamer had been added, each of the highest capacity, so that by mutual energy the good reputation of the route had been advanced and traffic gradually created, for, as each steamer was put on it created at first a surplus of accommodation, and an increase of running expenses until later the passenger trade had again worked up to the capacity. It is beyond question that the character and satisfaction of the steamers provided on a combined rail and water route have more to do with the attracting of business than even the land facilities on the railways. It is to produce this result that the railway companies steadily support the established steamboat lines in private ownership which have been developed in connection with them, as being the best way to secure fullest facilities for the public, and efficient service for themselves.

[Pg 178]


"Cibola" Goes; "Corona" Comes—The Gorge Electric Railway Opens to Lewiston—How the Falls Cut Their Way Back Through the Rocks—Royal Visitors—The Decisiveness Of Israel Tarte.

With three "Line" steamers and five trips a day, the route kept on steadily developing, the service being attractive, and the line kept well before the public, but the season's traffic produced nothing of particular notice.

During 1895 came a set-back, and unfortunate loss, by Cibola taking fire one night when lying alongside the dock at Lewiston. The upper works were entirely burned off and the hull, having been set adrift, floated down the river as far as Youngstown, where it was secured and brought to the dock. Cibola during her career had proved herself an efficient steamer, fast, economical, and satisfactory in all weathers.

Business had not so greatly increased that the remaining two main line steamers could not continue to sufficiently meet the service, so far as it then required, but immediate steps were taken to replace her loss and make ready for the requirements of the new electric railway then contemplated on the American side from the Falls to Lewiston. Mr. Angstrom, who had already done some excellent work as a marine architect, made the new design, and a contract was let to the Bertram Engine and Shipbuilding Company, Toronto, for a steamer 272 feet in length, 32 ft.[Pg 179] 6 inches beam, 2,000 horse-power, with a capacity for 2,000 passengers, being larger than the Cibola. There was not this time so much difficulty in the selection of a name, as that of Corona suggested by Lady Smith, was readily adopted. This name was all the more appropriate from the fact that the "halo of bright rays" which are shot out and appear on a total eclipse of the sun is called the "Corona of the Sun." In this instance the new steamer Corona was succeeding the eclipse of the Cibola, and represented the hopes and new conditions of the "bright sun ray."

The steamer was successfully launched at the yards at the foot of Bathurst street, on the 25th May, 1896, the sponsors being Miss Mildred Cumberland, daughter of the Vice-President, and Miss Clara Foy, daughter of the General Manager.

The season of 1897 with three steamers all making double trips brought the introduction of the six trips a day, a service which fully provided for the new connection then opened, and for the increases which gradually came in several subsequent years.

The Niagara Falls Park Electric Railway, then already in operation on the Canadian side between the Falls and Queenston running on the upper level follows the river banks of the Gorge, overlooking it from these heights and adding views of the far vistas of the surrounding country and up and down the river.

The new Electric Railway, on the American side, put into full working operation in this year, and known as the Gorge Line, was constructed far down in the Gorge, just a little above the waters edge, following the curvings of the river, beneath the cliffs, and giving opportunity for coming[Pg 180] into immediate proximity with the tossing rapids on this lower part of its torrents.

The construction of this railway from the Falls to Lewiston was the work of Messrs. Brinker & Smith, of Buffalo, and in boldness of conception, and overcoming of intense difficulties in construction, is a record of great determination and ability.

How the FALLS have cut through the GORGE. How the FALLS have cut through the GORGE.

A round trip on both these lines, going up on one and returning by the other, and crossing the river on the cars at the Upper Bridge, reveals all the glorious scenery of the Niagara River between the Falls where they now are and the Niagara Escarpment at Queenston Heights, where the geologists tell us the Falls once fell over the cliffs to the[Pg 181] lower level. It is estimated that from this place of beginning of the chasm which they have cut out of the strata of the intervening rocks, from 16,000 to 25,000 years, according to different views, have been spent in reaching to their present position and they are still continuing to cut their way back further up the river.

The process by which this has been done can be clearly seen by noticing on the sides of the cliffs that the several layers of limestone strata lie flat above one another, with large softer layers and deposits between each. The waters of the river at the upper level pour over the edge of the topmost rock ledge, and the reverberations and spray then wash out the intervening sand and softer layers, so that the rock strata becoming unsupported break off, and fall down into the gulf. In this way the chasm has year after year been bitten back.

When leaving the dock on the Niagara River Line steamers at Lewiston, or coming up the river from Niagara-on-the-Lake, it is enthralling to look up at these great cliffs, and in imagination casting the mind back into the centuries, see the mighty river as it once poured its torrents direct in one concentrated mass from the edge of these heights into the open river lying at their feet.

What a stupendous spectacle it must have been; yet, though wondrous, not more beautiful than the distant glimpses now gleaming through the shadowed portal between the cliff-sides clad with verdure and cedar, dominated by the shaft of the monument to the heroes of the Queenston Heights.

The acquiring of landing terminals on the Niagara River was further expanded in 1899, by the purchase from the Duncan Milloy Estate of the docks at Niagara-on-the-Lake. In addition to the wharves this property includes[Pg 182] the shipyard of the old-time Niagara Dock Company, whose launching slips for the many steamers which they constructed are still in evidence. On the doors of the large warehouse alongside the wharf, there were then still to be traced the faint remains of the names of some of the vessels, which of old time used to ply to the port. The ground floor of the building appears to have been divided into sections, in which space for the freightage or equipment of each of the several vessels was allotted. Over the door of each section were the names for the occupants, as originally painted.

Schooners—Canada, Commr. Barrie, Cobourg, United Kingdom, St. George, William IV., Great Britain.

These names were now carefully restored. The steamers which ran regularly on the Niagara route have already been mentioned, these others used the port as convenient for laying up for the winter, with the advantage of the proximity of the dockyard for repairs. The Cobourg built at Gananoque in 1833, ran between Toronto and Kingston, with Lieutenant Elmsley, R.N. in command. The St. George was built in Kingston in 1834, and was mainly occupied between lake ports on the North Shore Route.

These doorways and the names now easily read above them bring us into immediate contact with the early enterprises on the river and form connecting links between the navigation interests under the opening conditions and those of the present time. The route has the charm of a constant unravelling of history.

Another wraith there is in connection with this Niagara dock which cannot be omitted. For many years a passenger on the incoming steamers would see a man in conductor's uniform standing on the dock watching the arrival. This was Mr. Miles, conductor of the Mail Express train,[Pg 183] which ran on the Erie and Niagara branch between Buffalo and Niagara-on-the-Lake twice each day; on which with never failing regularity he made his double round trip each day for almost twenty years. Through three changes of ownership and several passenger agents "Paddy" Miles, as he was generally called, held his position and so dominated conditions that the train came to be known as "Paddy Miles' train," and the Branch as "Miles' Railway." He was superintendent, train dispatcher, and general passenger agent, in his own opinion, all moulded into one, and acted accordingly. As he stood on the dock with hands thrust deep into his breeches pockets and a scowl upon his forehead, he seemed to consider it was rank treason for anyone to pass up the river and not get off and use his train. Yet this was only on the surface, for Paddy was at heart a good soul, who took a very personal interest in the earnings of his Branch.

The Buffalo Exposition of 1900, bringing together as it did tourist business from all parts of the continent and of the world, threw exceptional business over the line. It may be said with certainty that every tourist who visits the American continent visits without fail the Niagara Falls, as one of the great wonders of the world. With the expanded facilities which have been given him, a very large proportion also visit the Niagara River and its water attractions, and cross the lake to Canada at Toronto. This was clearly evidenced at the Buffalo Exposition, and the largely increasing traffic then arising, all of which was satisfactorily dealt with, without any shortcomings or mishap.

In January, 1901, Sir Frank Smith died, being the second of the original Board to pass away. His judgment, forceful determination, and large capital, had been main-springs[Pg 184] in the creation and establishment of the line of steamers whose beginnings he had promoted. Mr. J. J. Foy was elected President in his place.

It was during this year, (1901) that their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of York (now King George V. and Queen Mary) made their remarkable tour through the overseas part of the British Empire. One portion of their visit to Canada included the Niagara district, and a rest of several days in privacy and quiet at Niagara-on-the-Lake, the Queen's Royal being specially set apart for their use. On October 10th, they visited the Queenston Heights, Brock's Monument, and the Niagara Falls, by special cars of the Niagara Falls Park Electric Railway. The Corona was used by the Royal visitors as a private yacht from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Queenston and return.

It is a fact worthy of noting that both here and during the whole of their nine months of travel around the world, their Royal Highnesses never placed foot on any other than British ship or British soil.

During the time the Chippewa was under construction in 1891, the Dominion Government had become proprietors of the dry dock at Kingston, and were making considerable improvements. The attention of the department was drawn to the fact that if completed as then designed, the dock would not be of sufficient length to take in the Chippewa, which would, when launched, be the largest steamer on Lake Ontario. Further construction had therefore been made, by which the pontoon gate which closed the entrance, could be moved fifteen feet further out when required, to enable the steamer to be taken in.

The CAYUGA in Niagara River off Youngstown. page 188 The CAYUGA in Niagara River off Youngstown. page 188

[Pg 185]

In the spring of 1902 the time had come for the Chippewa to be placed in dock for the usual inspection. It was then found that the outer place for the gate had never been used, the local authorities stated that they could not change its position and that, therefore, the Chippewa could not be taken into the dock. This was a poser for the steamer was too long for the dock as it existed. With Captain McGiffin I visited Ottawa to see if any influence could be brought up on the local authorities to get them to furnish us with the full length. We here met with a reception which was a specially valued reminiscence of an able parliamentarian. The Hon. Israel Tarte, a French-Canadian, had recently been appointed to be Minister of Public Works, and here he fully sustained the wide reputation he had elsewhere acquired for quick decision and immediate instruction. We suggested that if the gate could not be moved back, a space could be cut out of the stone steps at the inner end of the dock, so as to enable the prow of the Chippewa to extent between them.

On hearing our request, Mr. Tarte called in his Chief, asked if it could be done, being assured that it could added "Can you go to Kingston to-night and arrange for it?" The next morning work was begun in the dock so that the steamer could be taken in. Vessel men who had been accustomed to the slow and deliberate methods which had previously existed, greatly appreciated the changes which for the improvement of our local business from the City of Toronto.

It has often been noted that a Saturday half holiday is almost universally taken by the citizens of Toronto. In fact not a few of the travelling men from the United States have said that there is no use coming to Toronto to do business on Saturday, as everyone is closing up for their afternoon trip. In the attaining of this condition the Niagara Navigation Company has had much to do, as the result of persistent advocacy.[Pg 186]

With the increasing steamers we had abundant deck room which we desired to fill, particularly for the afternoon trip. This might be effected by getting the employers of some of the specific lines of business to close their establishments at 1 o'clock on Saturdays.

An "Early closing movement" was quietly inaugurated, groups engaging in the same business were canvassed and agreements arranged for simultaneous closing. The retail music stores were the first to put up the notices, and were followed by other lines of trade, as the public took gladly to the idea, until in four or five years the practice became well nigh universal and a "Saturday afternoon for Recreation, Sunday for rest" had been obtained. That it has been a boon to many is without doubt, and the City is the better for the many outings which are now available for the Saturday afternoon holiday.

Thus do great things from little movements grow.

Mr. John Foy was appointed President in February, 1902, and Mr. B. W. Folger, who had done splendid service in the steamboating interests in the Thousand Islands and St. Lawrence River was appointed General Manager. With him began a whole series of improvements and of expansion, which has continued with increasingly good results.

The regularity with which the steamers of the Niagara Line have made their passages has always been proverbial, contributed to by the seaworthiness of the vessels and the seamanship of their officers. From earliest days, but since somewhat modified, we had adopted the principle learned from the Kingston and Holyhead mail steamers, whose route was somewhat analogous to ours, a quick run across open water with a narrow entrance at each end, that it was best to run the steamer at a regular gait and even[Pg 187] in fog except in the vicinity of other vessels to hold her course, and when off the port to stop until certain.

Sometimes there have been longish passages. One Saturday morning in August, 1903, the Chippewa left Toronto at 7 a.m. during a strong gale with a heavy sea from the east. A thick fog was found enveloping the south shore extending some five miles out. On gaining the Bell Buoy off Niagara and not being able to see anything, Captain McGiffin, rather than run any risk, determined to keep close to the buoy ready to run in should the fog lift. Here during all day and evening he remained within sound of the bell, coming up to and dropping away again under the heavy sea, until at last the lights on the land could be seen and Chippewa came alongside the dock at 11.50 p.m., 16 hours from Toronto! No other steamer was on the Lake that day. McGiffin kept his passengers well fed and for his carefulness and judgment was advanced to position of "Commodore."

A similar episode of carefulness had taken place in 1886, on the Cibola under Captain McCorquodale, when he similarly held his place off the port in a fog from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. Both considered it was better to be sure than to be sorry.

In those early days the engines of the Michigan Central, would in emergency be placed with their head lights facing out on the river, and their whistles blown to guide the steamers in, but since then the large range lights have been installed by the Government, and made entrance easier.

It was under the leadership of such men as these that the officers of the company were trained up, its rules and traditions formed, and stability of service encouraged. There are not a few officers and men who have been from[Pg 188] ten to twenty years in the service, earnest in their profession, careful of the public and loyal to the company, which from the time of its inception has endeavored to treat them as members of a family gathering.

On the death of Mr. John Foy in December, 1904, he was succeeded in the Presidency by Mr. E. B. Osler (knighted 1913), who ever since he had entered the company, had always taken a very active interest in its progress and hereafter took a still more intimate share in directing its policy and development.

[Pg 189]


Cayuga Adds Her Name—niagara and Hamilton Joined—The Niagara Ferry Completed—ice Jams on the River—Once More the United Management From "Niagara to the Sea."

Under virile management the business on the route kept fast increasing and it became evident that more accommodation should be supplied even before it might become absolutely necessary. It was therefore determined to build another steamer, which in speed and size would be a still further step forward and would be ready for any adverse competitors should any happen to arise. Mr. Folger visited Great Britain to make inquiries and on his return Mr. Angstrom was again engaged to prepare the designs for the new steamer. Contracts were let to the Canadian Ship Building Co., of Toronto, for a steamer 317 feet long, 36 feet beam, 4,300 horse-power to carry 2,500 passengers.

We were again faced with the necessity of a choice of a new name. Requests were made for suggestions, and "Book Tickets" offered as a prize to those who might send in the name which might be accepted. Two hundred and thirty-three names beginning with "C" and ending with "A" were contributed to us by letters and through the public press. Out of these names the name Cayuga was selected in recognition of the Indian tribes on the south shore of Lake Ontario, the district of the inner American lakes, in the State of New York, one of which bears the name of Lake Cayuga.[Pg 190]

It is also the name of an old and flourishing town in Ontario, near the shores of Lake Erie, adjacent to the land reserved for the Mohawks under Brant, and still occupied by their descendants. A very interesting annal was at that time exhumed, being the record kept by the first Postmaster of this town of Cayuga, of the spellings of the name of his post office as actually written upon letters received there by him during a period of some twenty-five years. The list is curious. It seems strange that there could have been such diversity of spelling, but it is to be remembered that in the "thirties" there were not many schools, and by applying a phonetic pronunciation to the names in this list, and particularly by giving a K sound to the C and splitting the word into six syllables and pronouncing each by itself, some appreciation may be acquired of a similarity in sound, although the spelling is so exceedingly varied. The adherents of spelling reform will perhaps be heartened by the result of everyone spelling as they please.

List of Mr. Isaac Fry, the Postmaster at Cayuga, in the County of Haldimand, giving 112 ways of spelling Cayuga, "everyone of which" he wrote "have been received on letters at this office."


[Pg 191]

The steamer was successfully launched in the company's yards at the foot of Bathurst street, Toronto, on the 3rd of March, 1906. Miss Mary Osler, daughter of the President, conferring the name.

After the completion of the steamer, the speed trials which were of a most interesting and important character, were engaged in. The contract was that the steamer, under the usual conditions for regular service, should make the run between Toronto and Charlotte, and return, a distance of ninety-four miles each way, at an average speed of 21-1/2 miles per hour. A further condition was to make a thirty-mile run, being the distance between Toronto and Niagara, at a maintained speed of 22-1/2 miles per hour. Both conditions were exceeded, greatly to the credit of the designer and of the contractors.

When put upon the route in 1907, the Cayuga received the commendation of the travelling public, her weatherly capacity and speed enabling the leaving hour to be changed from 7 a.m. to 7.30.

A competition which had been anticipated now developed itself, and the fast and able steamer Turbinia was in 1908 placed by her owners upon the Lewiston-Toronto route, making two trips per day. She put up a gallant fight, but, against a company making six sailings at each end of the route per day, there was no room left into which she could squeeze without finding a competitor alongside. It was found, too, that although her speed was greater[Pg 192] than that of any of the other steamers on the lake, she was exceeded in speed by the Cayuga. Her attack upon the route was met, as the Niagara Navigation Company intended it should be, by frequency of sailings and strict fulfillment of service, leaving no room for any competitor to find an opening, and by the high average speed maintained by all its steamers and particularly the new one. After keeping up a gallant struggle until the end of the mid-summer season, the Turbinia retired to her previous route between Toronto and Hamilton.

Another addition to our dock properties was now effected. We had for many years been lessees of the dock at Lewiston, but now, in 1908, became its full owners by purchasing the whole frontage from Mr. Cornell, our lessor, with whom we had for so many years been in cordial working. The dock had fallen somewhat out of repair and very considerable improvements were requisite for the convenience of the increasing numbers of our passengers and for their comfort. Fortunately the larger part of these improvements were postponed to the next season, for during the winter 1908-09, which was exceptionally severe, an extraordinary freshet and piling up of ice on the river occurred.

The lower Niagara River rarely freezes over in all places, much running water being left in evidence and as a rule the ice which has anywhere been formed during the winter goes out into the lake in the spring without any trouble. There are records of two great "Ice Jams" which had happened during the previous history of the river. The earliest of these was in 1825. During this winter the steamer Queenston was under construction in the ravine on the Canadian side which opens up from the river just below the Queenston dock. In the spring the preparations were being made ready for the launching when an exceptional ice jam suddenly formed, causing the waters of the river to rise. The pressure of the floes which were now carried by the water up against the steamer became so great and dangerous that it was necessary to block her up and by extending the ways inland to move her further back into the gully, from here, after the waters had subsided, she was successfully launched.

The ICE JAM. 1906, at Lewiston. page 192 The ICE JAM. 1906, at Lewiston. page 192
The ICE JAM. 1906, at Niagara-on-Lake. page 193 The ICE JAM. 1906, at Niagara-on-Lake. page 193

[Pg 193]

Another instance was in 1883, when the waters and ice rose exceptionally, but beyond sweeping the sheds off the Lewiston docks no exceptional damage was done.

This latest ice jam of 1908-09, was according to past records, and the traditions of the oldest inhabitants, the worst that had ever been experienced. The winter had been severe and much ice had formed in Lake Erie and on the upper river. This was brought down in successive rushes in the spring during alternating frosts and thaws, so that, the river between Lewiston and the mouth had become jammed from bank to bank with huge floes of ice, heaving and heaping up on one another, and binding together with serracs, and crevasses much like the ice river of an Avalanche. As the successive ice runs came down they were driven under the floes until at length the masses grounded on the shallows at the mouths below Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The river being now blocked up, the waters gradually rose fully twenty feet higher than usual bringing the ice floes with them. With the exception of a few places where small sections of water could be seen, the whole Rapids from the Whirlpool to the outlet of the Gorge at Lewiston was packed with ice and the rapids eliminated, a condition never previously known. As the spring thaws came, the ice mounds, being unable to get exit below, mounted still[Pg 194] higher with mighty heavings and struggles, rounding up in the centre of the river, as had been noticed to some extent in 1883, and pushing and piling up on the banks but not making any progress down the river, until it became evident that Nature was unable to break the barrier and immense injury was likely to occur.

At that juncture the Engineer Corps of the United States Regular Army, at Buffalo, initiated a series of explosions of dynamite, by electric mines, in the main blockade down near the river mouth opposite Fort Niagara. After several days of very difficult and dangerous work, as much as 4,000 lbs. of dynamite being exploded at one time, the blockade was broken, the seven miles of ice began to move in alternate rushes and haltings, until at length the river was clear.

The situation had been at times alarming. At Lewiston the docks were completely engulfed under 60 feet of ice, the ice pinnacles sweeping up high above the level of the swollen water and carrying away a portion of the gallery of the hotel. On the Queenston side a mark has been placed about thirty feet above the usual water level showing the height to which the ice hummocks rose. At Niagara-on-the-Lake the ice mounted high above the level of the dock, but by happy fortune a good sized iceberg had grounded in the channel at the end of the dock leading into the inner basin. Here it held out as a buffer outside the line of the "piling" along the bank, withstanding all the attacks from above, and thrusting the floes out into the stream, thus preserving the dock, lighthouse and buildings from destruction.

When the waters subsided the shores of the river for twenty to thirty feet above the usual level were found to have been swept clear of every bush and tree from the[Pg 195] rapids to the lake, a condition from which they have scarcely yet recovered. It was not until the end of May that the river was entirely free from ice. In reconstructing the dock we were able to introduce new improvements which would not have been previously possible.

1909 brought no further changes in the steamers, but a gradual increase in the travelling due to increased energy in the cultivation of new business and careful attention to the convenience and comfort of passengers by the management and efficient staff.

For many years, from time to time, the company has been endeavoring to purchase the Toronto docks which were the Northern terminal of their system. Four times we had been turned out of its occupation and obliged to find landing berths elsewhere. The necessity of holding their Toronto terminal was constantly before the Company and was the only and complete sequence of the holding of the several terminals at the ports upon the Niagara River. At last, in 1910, the opportunity of purchase arose and was immediately availed of. With this purchase the Company completed the policy which had been initiated from its very beginning. This Yonge Street dock property, extending from Yonge Street to Scott Street, has ever been the steamshipping centre of the city, for traffic to all ports on the lake. Its facilities can be still more expanded so that, for the convenience of the public, all the lake passenger lines can be concentrated at its wharves to the mutual advantage of all, a policy which the Niagara Company desired to promote and which has been contributed to by the purchase and concentration of the steamers of the Hamilton Line. This, effected in 1911, concentrates into one management an important passenger business and brings direct connection, as of old, between Hamilton, the Head of[Pg 196] the Lake, and the Niagara River. These, together with the opening of a new route to the south shore by service between Toronto and Olcott, in connection with the International Electric Railway, will open a new era of contributing traffic.

Beginning with one steamer, the "Mother of the Fleet," the Line from one trip a day has, in its 35 years of endeavour, grown to be nothing short of "The Niagara Ferry," served by swift steamers, of increasing size, making six trips from each side, leaving every two hours during the day, and by persistent advertising and increasingly reputable service, the Company has made the "Niagara River Line" known throughout the travelling world, and created a business and carrying capacity which has risen on heavy excursion days to no less than 20,000 to 26,000 passengers moved on one day. What the "Kyles of Bute" route is to the tourist public of Great Britain and Europe, the Niagara River Line is to the tourist public of America. Toronto has trebled its population and in great industrial enterprises is forging ahead of all other cities in Ontario. Niagara Falls, with its wonderfully increasing factories created by the concentration of the electric power in its midst, has grown from being solely a summer hotel town to a great manufacturing community. Buffalo, with a population at present of 500,000, is expanding marvelously. The Richelieu & Ontario Company, for which the Niagara Company collects the passenger business of the south shore through the gateway of the Niagara and places it for them in Toronto, has exceedingly increased their accommodation and made known their service as a contributor to the route from the St. Lawrence to the ocean.

Whatever success there has been in the past, the prospects of the future shine brighter still.[Pg 197]

In 1912, while these pages were being written, has come the final phase.

It will be remembered that in the early days the steamers for Montreal sailed direct from the Niagara River and that the guiding minds of the Royal Mail Line were at Queenston in 1847 and for subsequent decades.

In the slump of steamboat traffic and the decadence of the river business the Montreal steamers had shortened their route, and had made Hamilton, for some time, and afterwards Toronto, the starting point for their steamers for Montreal.

The introduction of the Niagara Navigation Company had produced a change of conditions on the river, and by energy and bold investment, had created an effective local organization, as has been detailed in this narrative.

Gradually passenger business had been attracted and centralized until Niagara Falls had been created in their Annual Rates Meetings by the Railway Companies as the starting point of all "Summer Rates Excursions," and "The Niagara Portal" as the nucleus basing route for all summer tours.

At the same time the Richelieu & Ontario Navigation Co., which succeeded to the Royal Mail Line, has grown in scope and equipment to be the premier steamboat organization of Canada, the controller of the passenger lines of the St. Lawrence system of river, lakes and rapids, and operating the longest continuous route of any Inland Navigation Company in the world. In all, this interval of years its old advertising heading of "Niagara to the Sea" had been continuously maintained, it was not unreasonable therefore that there should be a desire to make the old caption a present fact and by acquiring the local organization restore the old-time conditions.[Pg 198]

Negotiations had for some time been in progress and at length in June, 1913, at a Board meeting, presided over (in the absence of the President, Sir Edmund Osler in England) by Vice-President Cumberland, the originator of the company, and its continuous Vice-President during all its existence, the Niagara Navigation Co. was formally transferred as a working enterprise in full operation to the Richelieu & Ontario Navigation Co. The directors of the company at this time and for several years previously were: President, Sir Edmund Osler; Vice-President, Barlow Cumberland; Directors—Hon. J. J. Foy, K.C.; Hon. J. S. Hendrie, C.V.O.; W. D. Matthews, F. Gordon Osler, J. Bruce Macdonald. These in succession transferred their seats to the nominees of the new owners and Sir Henry Pellatt, C.V.O., became President of the company.

The two systems were thus joined into one. The Company operating the St. Lawrence system came back to its old starting point at the head of navigation on the Niagara River. With this is completed the century and this story of the early days of passenger movement on the river, and of the origin, rise and establishment of the Niagara Navigation Company in its contribution to the records of sail and steam on the Niagara River.

Another cycle of steamboat navigation has passed, another era has closed and a new one has begun, and once again there is one Company and one Management under the Richelieu & Ontario Navigation Company for the Niagara River and the St. Lawrence Route, from Niagara to the Sea.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of A Century of Sail and Steam on the
Niagara River, by Barlow Cumberland


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