History of Toronto Yonge Street From Yorkville To Hogg's Hollow
Of long standing is the group of buildings on the right aft...
The Harbour: Its Marine 1815-1827
Soon after the close of the war with the United States in 1...
King Street From John Street To Yonge Street
After our long stroll westward, we had purposed returning t...
King Street Digression Into Duke Street
On passing George Street, as we intimated a moment ago, we ...
In French colonial documents of a very respectable antiquit...
From Brock Street To The Old French Fort
Returning again to the front. The portion of the Common tha...
The Harbour Its Marine 1800-1814
On the 15th of May, 1800, Governor Hunter arrives again in ...
King Street: St James' Church Continued
It is beginning, perhaps, to be thought preposterous that w...
The Harbour: Its Marine 1793-99
The first formal survey of the harbour of Toronto was made ...
King Street: St James' Church Continued
At the southern end of the Church, in which we are supposin...
Queen Street From George Street To Yonge Street
--MEMORIES OF THE OLD COURT HOUSE.
When we pass George S...
King Street From George Street To Caroline Street
We now retrace our steps to King Street, at its intersectio...
King Street From Yonge Street To Church Street
Where Yonge Street crosses King Street, forming at the pres...
King Street: Digression Southwards At Church Street: Market Lane
Across Church Street from Clinkunbroomer's were the wooden ...
King Street From Church Street To George Street
We were arrested in our progress on King Street by St. Jame...
Yonge Street: From Bond's Lake To The Holland Landing With Digressions To Newmarket And Sharon
We now speedily passed Drynoch, lying off to the left, on e...
Queen Street From The College Avenue To Brock Street And Spadina Avenue
Pursuing our way now westward from the Avenue leading to th...
In 1869, the survivors of the early occupants of York, Uppe...
King Street: St James' Church
The first Church of St. James, at York, was a plain structu...
Queen Street From Yonge Street To College Avenue Digression Southward At Bay Street Osgoode Hall Digression Northward At The Av
Leaving now the site of our ancient Court House, the spot a...
The Harbour: Its Marine 1828-1863
The Canada's advertisement for the season of 1828 appears in the
Loyalist of April 2. It differs a little from the one previously
given. "The British steam-packet Canada, Captain Hugh Richardson,
plying between York and Niagara, weather permitting, leaves Niagara,
&c., &c., as before. N.B.--A gun will be fired and colours hoisted
twenty-five minutes before starting."
It is interesting to observe that the traffic of the harbour carried on
by schooners is still such as to require additional vessels of that
class. In the Loyalist of April 19, 1828, the following item
appears:--"A new schooner called the Canadian was launched here (York)
yesterday morning. She is owned by Mr. Gamble and Capt. Bowkett, the
latter of whom, we understand, takes command of her." From the same
number of the Loyalist we learn that "the launch of Mr. Hamilton's new
Steam Boat at Niagara was expected to take place on the 21st instant. In
the paper of the 17th, the launch of another schooner at York is
recorded. "A fine schooner called George the Fourth was launched here
on Wednesday last. Burthen about 70 or 80 tons." In June this schooner
is bringing emigrants to York. "During the last week," the Loyalist of
June 7th says, "several families of emigrants, arrived from Great
Britain by the spring shipping at Quebec, have reached York. The new
schooner George the Fourth landed nearly one hundred persons, besides
those which have been brought up by the steam-boats and other vessels."
The case is then mentioned of the very reprehensible conduct of the
master of one of the Lake schooners (the name is withheld), "who,
regardless of the consequences to several families who had taken passage
from Prescott to York on board his vessel, landed a body of emigrant
settlers on Gibraltar Point, during the last week, instead of putting
them, with their baggage, on one of the wharves in the Harbour--in
consequence of which, women and helpless children were exposed during a
whole night to the violence of a tremendous storm of rain, without any
shelter, and, from ignorance of their situation, unable to get to the
town. On Thursday morning the schooner Catherine, Captain Campbell,
relieved them from their uncomfortable situation, and landed them safely
In the Loyalist of June 28, 1828, the arrival in York Harbour of the
steamer lately launched at Niagara as successor to the Frontenac is
noticed. She is named the Alciope. "The new steam-boat Alciope,
lately built at Niagara, owned by Robert Hamilton, Esq., and under the
command of Capt. McKenzie, late of the Frontenac, with a number of
ladies and gentlemen on a party of pleasure, made her first entry into
our Harbour on Thursday last. She is a fine model, and fitted up in a
most elegant and convenient manner for passengers. She commences her
regular trips, we understand, next week: and under the command of Capt.
McKenzie, so well known for his skill and experience as a seaman, and
for attention to his passengers, we have no doubt the Alciope will be
found a valuable acquisition to the regular communication which is now
afforded by means of the several steamboats plying on the Lake; and that
she will receive a share of that public patronage which is so deservedly
bestowed upon the owners and commanders of other boats, whose public
spirited exertions are deserving of the highest praise."
Alciope is a singular name, taken as we suppose from the Greek
mythology, betokening, it may have been thought, one of the Nereids,
although we are not aware that the name occurs on the roll of that very
large family. One of the several wives of the mighty Hercules was a
daughter of Alciopus; she consequently may be conceived to have been an
Alciope. But how Mr. Hamilton, of Queenston, or Captain McKenzie, came
to think of such a recherche name for the new steamer is a mystery which
we wish we could clear up. It is certain that the selection led to
mispronunciations and misconceptions on the part of the general public.
By the unlearned she was usually spoken of as the Alci-ope, of course.
By a kind of antagonism among the unwashed she was the All-soap. In a
similar way, Captain McIntosh's vessel, the Eunice, which frequented
the harbour at an early period, was almost always popularly and
excusably termed the Euneece.
In the year 1828, Commodore Barrie was in York Harbour. "His Majesty's
schooner Cockburn," says the Loyalist of June 7, "bearing the broad
pennon of Commodore Barrie, entered this port on Monday last, and on
landing at the Garrison, the Commodore was received by a salute, which
was returned from the schooner. The yacht Bullfrog was in company with
the Cockburn. Commodore Barrie," it is added, "proceeds by land to
Lake Simcoe, and thence on a tour of inspection at the several Naval
Depots of the Lakes."
In the Loyalist of June 21, Capt. Richardson is taking time by the
forelock and advertising for dry pine to be supplied as fuel for the
Canada in the following season of 1829. "Steam-boat Notice. Persons
willing to supply the Canada Steam-packet with dry pine for the
ensuing season of 1829, will please make application immediately to the
subscriber for the contract. Hugh Richardson, Master and Managing Owner
of the Canada Steam-packet. York, June, 20, 1828." On the 30th of
August we have:--"Until further notice the Canada Steam-packet will
leave York as soon after her arrival as she has received her supply of
wood, firing a gun, and hoisting colours half an hour before starting."
We have also a notice in regard to the Alciope in the Loyalist of
Sept. 6:--"The steam-boat Alciope will take freight and passengers
from this port (York) during the remainder of the season, every Saturday
morning at 6 o'clock, on her way down from Niagara to Prescott, to
commence to-morrow. York, 20th August."
From the Loyalist of Sept 27, 1828, we learn that Mr. George Savage
has been appointed to the Collectorship of the port of York. He himself
announces the fact to the public in the following advertisement:--"His
Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor having been pleased to appoint me to
the Collectorship of Customs for this port, I beg leave to acquaint the
merchants, shipowners, and others having business to transact with this
branch of the revenue after the first day of October next, that I have
temporarily established an office in part of the premises fronting on
Duke Street, occupied by Mr. Columbus. George Savage, Collector. York,
26th September, 1828." Bulky in form and somewhat consequential in
manner, Mr. Savage was a conspicuous figure in York down to the time of
his death in 1835, when he was succeeded by Mr. Thos. Carfrae. Mr.
Savage was, as his office required him to be, vigilant in respect of the
dues leviable at the Port of York. But the contrabandists were
occasionally too adroit for him. We have heard of a number of kegs or
barrels, supposed to contain spirits, confidentially reported to him as
sunk in the depths of the bay, near one of the wharves, which kegs or
barrels, when carefully fished up and conveyed to Mr. Mosley's rooms to
be disposed of by auction, were found, on being tapped, to contain
harmless water; but while Mr. Savage and his men were busily engaged in
making this profitless seizure, the real wares--teas, spirits, and so
on--which were sought to be illicitly introduced, were landed without
molestation in Humber Bay. The practice of smuggling was, we believe,
rather rife in and about the harbour of York in the olden time. In a
Gazette of 1820 (Nov. 30), we observe the schooner Industry
advertised for sale by the Custom House authorities as having been taken
in the act; and on the 17th of October, 1821, Mr. Allan reports to the
magistrates, at Quarter Sessions, that he had seized ten barrels of
salt, in which were found concealed kegs of tobacco to the value of five
pounds and upwards, brought to York from the United States in an
American schooner, called the New Haven, A. Johnson, master. The
Magistrates declared the whole forfeited to the "King." At the same time
a system of illicit reciprocity was in vogue, and the products of Canada
were introduced, or sought to be introduced, into the domain of the
United States, sometimes in singular ways. On one occasion Daniel
Lambert, a gigantic wax-figure, returned from Canada to the United
States replete with articles designed for import without entry. The
Albany Argus of the day thus describes the adventure:--"Daniel Lambert
turned smuggler.--This mammoth gentleman of wax, who is exhibited for
the admiration of the curious in every part of the country, was lately
met on his way from Canada by a Custom House officer, who, remarking the
rotundity of Daniel's corporation, had the curiosity to subject it to a
critical inspection; when, lo! instead of flesh and blood, or even
straw, the entire fabric of this unwieldy gentleman was found to be
composed of fine English cloths and kerseymeres."
Towards the close of the year 1828 we have Capt. Mosier's marriage
mentioned in a number of the Loyalist (for Dec. 13), thus: "Married
at Prescott, on the 20th ult., Capt John Mosier, Master of the Niagara
Steam-packet, to Miss Caroline F. Munro, second daughter of Major Munro,
In January, 1829, the schooner George Canning was plying between York
and Niagara, the weather being open. In the Niagara Herald of Jan. 29,
1829, we have the notice, "Conveyance to York, Upper Canada, by the
fast-sailing schooner George Canning, commanded by Capt J. Whitney.
The public are respectfully informed that during the continuance of the
present open season the above schooner will ply as a Packet between York
and Niagara. From being perfectly new and thoroughly found, she is with
confidence recommended as a safe and easy mode of conveyance to the
capital of Upper Canada. For information in regard to time of departure,
application to be made to Capt. Whitney on board, or at Chrysler's Inn,
Niagara. January 22, 1829." The Loyalist of April 4 in this year,
1829, reports that "the steamboat Canada is ready to commence her
trips to and from Niagara as soon as the ice is out of the bay. It has
broken up a good deal," the Loyalist says, "within the last few days,
and from its appearance after the late rain we may hope that the
navigation will soon be open. Schooners have been crossing the Lake for
some time past. Last year the first steamboat from Kingston arrived here
on the fifth of April." The usual advertisement of the Canada's
movements for the season appears in this number of the Loyalist.
In May the steamer Niagara brought up Bishop Macdonell. The Loyalist
of May 9, 1829, notes his arrival at York:--"The R. C. Bishop, the Rev.
Mr. Macdonell, arrived here in the steamboat Niagara on Tuesday last,
accompanied by the Rev. W. Macdonell." It is added:--"The Rev. Messrs.
Fraser and Chisholm arrived on the Thursday following in the Alciope."
In this month the Queenston takes away troops from York. In the
Loyalist of May 16, 1829, the following item appears:--"The first
division of the 68th Regiment, under the command of Capt. Macdonell, en
route to Montreal, left York on Tuesday last, on board the Queenston.
The Alciope, from Kingston, brings intelligence of their having
arrived at that place on the following day." The same paper reports that
"the steam-boats have some difficulty in getting into the Niagara River
from the large quantities of ice passing down from the Upper Lake." And
again in the same paper, under date of Niagara, May 11:--"The ice from
Lake Erie has been running most of the last week, and continues to run
to-day--so much so that the river, we believe, has not been passable
since nine o'clock this morning."
A notice of the opening of navigation at Buffalo this year appears in
the Loyalist of May 23, copied from the Buffalo Republican of the
16th of May. The scene is graphically depicted. "The schooner Eagle,"
the Republican says, "was the first vessel that entered our harbour
this season. She ploughed her way through three or four miles of
floating ice to the gratification of about a thousand spectators." The
Republican also gives the following, which presents us with even
grander spectacles:--"On Thursday morning the steamboat Pioneer
started through the ice on her first trip to Dunkirk, with a full load
of passengers. In the afternoon the steamer William Penn, Capt.
Wright, commenced her first trip to Detroit, having on board upwards of
400 passengers destined to Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan." "On Friday,
about noon," the Buffalo paper then adds, "the steamboat Henry Clay,
Norton, having previously arrived from Black Rock, left our harbour in
fine style, having a heavy and full load of passengers. The steamboat
Niagara, Pease, will leave on Monday for Detroit, as we understand."
A casualty in York Bay is noticed in the Loyalist of Oct. 4, 1828.
"Mr. William Crone, contractor for gravelling the streets of the town,
was unfortunately drowned on Saturday last. It appears that Mr. Crone
was knocked overboard from the Durham boat, in which he was bringing a
load of gravel from the Island, by the sudden shifting of the boom, and,
being stunned by the blow, sunk before assistance could be rendered to
In Oct., 1828, Sir Peregrine Maitland arrives in York Harbour on board
of the yacht Bullfrog, compelled to put in by stress of weather. He
was on his way from the Lower Province to Niagara. "His Excellency Sir
P. Maitland, after having visited Quebec, returning by the route of the
Rideau Canal, arrived at York," says the Loyalist of Oct. 18, "on
Monday morning from Kingston, on board His Majesty's yacht Bullfrog,
Commodore Barrie, and on landing was received by a salute from the
garrison. It was His Excellency's intention, we understand, to have
landed at Niagara, but the Bullfrog having encountered a heavy gale on
the previous night, was obliged to make for York. His Excellency
proceeded to Niagara on Wednesday by the Canada, and Commodore Barrie
with the Bullfrog left the harbour on the same day on return to
Kingston." Sir Peregrine, we may observe, was on the point of leaving
Upper Canada, having been appointed to the Government of Nova Scotia.
The arrival of his successor at New York is announced in the same paper.
"The packet ship Corinthian arrived at New York on the evening of the
7th instant. Sir John Colborne and family were passengers in the
Corinthian, and may therefore be daily expected at this place (York)."
It is announced in the same paper that "a public dinner will be given to
His Excellency Sir Peregrine Maitland, previous to his departure from
this Province. Tickets of admission to be had at Messrs. Meighan's." In
the number for November 4, we have an account of the addresses which are
being presented to Sir Peregrine on the occasion of his departure, with
the remark:--"The expressions of respect for his administration of the
Government, and of personal esteem towards His Excellency and family,
which these addresses contain, afford the most satisfactory testimonials
that the sincere and anxious desire of His Excellency for the
improvement of the country and the happiness of its inhabitants are duly
appreciated when the period of a long and arduous administration is
about to terminate. These, together with the approbation of his
Sovereign, fully evinced by the more important Civil and Military
honours conferred upon him, cannot but be gratifying, as well to His
Excellency as to the inhabitants of the Province generally." And again
in the Loyalist of the 15th Nov., it is stated that "the last
Gazette contains addresses to His Excellency Sir Peregrine Maitland,
on his departure from the Province--from the Magistrates, Grand Jury,
and Bar of the London District, in Quarter Sessions assembled; from the
towns of Kingston and Brockville, and from Grimsby, all expressing the
same sentiments of personal regard and respect for his administration of
this Government, as those which were previously presented from other
places to His Excellency."
On Monday, the 10th of November, the new Governor, Sir John Colborne, is
at the Falls, making explorations there, while the steamer Canada is
taking the luggage on board at Lewiston, preparatory to the passage over
to York. The Niagara Gleaner, quoted in the Loyalist, says:--"On
Monday last His Excellency Sir John Colborne paid a visit to the Falls.
His own elegant carriage, drawn by four spirited horses, furnished by
Mr. Chrysler, carried his Excellency's lady, her sister Miss Yonge, and
five children. His Excellency went on horseback, accompanied by Capt.
Phillpotts, of the Royal Engineers. In the meantime the steamer Canada
went to Lewiston, took in His Excellency's luggage, and was ready to
receive His Excellency and family at an early hour on Tuesday morning.
On the departure of the vessel a salute was fired from Fort George. We
have been informed," the Gleaner adds, "that His Excellency was highly
gratified with the first view of the Province and the friendly reception
he met with; also of the good things he partook of at the hotel, much of
which was the produce of the Province."
Capt. McKenzie died August 27, 1832, aged 50. At the time of his death
he was engaged in the construction of a steamer at the head of the Lake,
and of another on Lake Simcoe. In 1832 Capt. Elmsley is offering for
sale his yacht the Dart. In the York Sapper and Miner of Oct. 25,
1832, we read the notice:--"For sale, the fast-sailing cutter Dart,
221/2 tons burden, with or without rigging, sails, and other furniture.
For particulars enquire of the Hon. John Elmsley. York, 24th May, 1832."
There is an accidental prolepsis in the "Hon." He was not appointed to a
seat in the Upper House until after 1837. Capt. Elmsley, with his
friend, Mr. Jeffrey Hale, afterwards of Quebec, left the service of the
Royal Navy about 1832. In 1837 Captain Elmsley was appointed to the
command of a Government vessel carrying two swivel-guns on the Lower St.
Lawrence. He subsequently settled for a time on his estate known as
Clover Hill, where he expended considerable sums of money in farming
operations. Later he again undertook the command of a vessel, the James
Coleman, trading on his own account between Halifax and Quebec. He
afterwards, for a time, commanded one of the mail steamers on Lake
Ontario, the Sovereign. (In several other connections we have had
occasion to give particulars of Captain Elmsley's career.) The Dart,
above named, was built at York by Mr. Purkis, a well-known shipwright
there. In 1834, we notice, in MacKenzie's Advocate of March 13, a
marine item following an observation on the mildness of the
season:--"The weather is very mild for the season," the Advocate says:
"occasional showers; plenty of sunshine and slight frosts. A schooner
sailed last Tuesday for Niagara, and is expected back to-morrow."
It was in 1834 the grand old name Toronto was recovered by the harbour
and town, whose early marine we have sought in some degree to recall.
We have evidence in the Toronto Recorder of July 30, 1834, that, at
that period, at least seven steamers were frequenting the harbour of
Toronto. In the paper named we read in succession seven rather long
steamboat advertisements. "The splendid low-pressure steamboat the
Constitution, Edward Zealand, master." She runs from Hamilton to
Toronto, touching at Oakville; thence to Cobourg, touching at Port Hope;
thence to Rochester, and vice versa. It is stated that "the
Constitution will afford a safe and expeditious opportunity for
merchants from New York and other places to forward their goods by way
of Rochester to the head of the Lake Ontario." Agents at Hamilton,
Messrs. E. and J. Ritchie; Oakville, Mr. Thomas; Toronto, James F.
Smith, Esq.; Rochester, Mr. Greene, forwarder; Cobourg, E. Perry, Esq.;
Port Hope, J. Brown, Esq. Captain Zealand had formerly been in the
command of an ocean-going merchant ship. "The steamboat William IV.,
Charles Paynter, Commander, propelled by a Low-Pressure Engine of a
Hundred Horse-power." She runs between Prescott, Niagara, and Lewiston,
touching at Brockville, Gananoque, Kingston, Cobourg, Port Hope,
Toronto, Hamilton, and vice versa. "For freight or passage, apply at
the Post-office, Toronto, or to the Captain on board." Four smoke
funnels rendered the William IV. recognizable at a distance. "The
fast-sailing steamboat, St. George, Lieut. Harper, R.N., Commander."
She runs between Prescott, Brockville, Kingston, Toronto, and Niagara,
and vice versa. "This beautiful vessel," the advertisement says, "is
propelled by a Low-Pressure Engine of Ninety Horse-power, is schooner
rigged, and has accommodation for sixty cabin passengers. The St.
George will wait the arrival of the passengers who leave Montreal by
Thursday morning's stage." "The splendid fast-sailing steamboat
Cobourg, Capt. Charles Mcintosh, Master, propelled by two low-pressure
engines of fifty-horse power each." She runs between Prescott,
Brockville, Kingston and Toronto, and vice versa. "This boat will be
found by the travelling community not surpassed by any on Lake Ontario
for elegance, comfort and speed. The Cobourg will wait the arrival of
the Montreal stage before leaving for her upward trip. For freight or
passage apply to the Master or Purser on board." "The Queenston, Capt.
James Sutherland." This is the Queenston of which we have heard
already. She runs, according to the advertisement in the Recorder,
between Toronto and Hamilton. "Cabin passage each way, two dollars
(meals extra). Deck passage each way, one dollar. All baggage and small
parcels at the risk of the owners, unless delivered to the Captain and
entered as freight. Freight payable on delivery. As the boat will be
punctual to the hour of sailing, passengers are requested to be on board
in due time." Captain Sutherland has been chief officer of the first
steamer which crossed the Atlantic to Quebec, the Unicorn. He had
before been engaged in the Hudson's Bay trade. "The splendid
low-pressure steamboat Great Britain, Capt. Whitney." She runs between
Prescott, Brockville, Kingston, Oswego, Cobourg, Port Hope, Toronto, and
vice versa. "The accommodations on board the Great Britain have been
much enlarged and improved during last winter, and every exertion will
be used to ensure regularity and comfort to the passengers. The above
boat will await the arrival of the passengers that leave Montreal on
Monday by the Upper Canada stage. Emigrants and others desirous of
taking this conveyance are requested to call at the Ontario Steamboat
Office in this town (Prescott), and procure tickets."
Finally, the Recorder displays the usual advertisement of the
Steam-packet Canada, Hugh Richardson, Master. She leaves Toronto daily
for Niagara, at seven in the morning, and Niagara daily for Toronto, at
one in the afternoon. The fares continue unchanged. "Passengers
returning to either of the Ports within the week will only be charged
half-price for the return. Accommodation for Horses, Carriages, and
Cattle." About the same period the Oneida, of Oswego, the Hamilton,
the Sir Robert Peel, and the Commodore Barrie, are other steamers
entering the harbour of Toronto.
Near the landing place at Niagara, a row of capacious warehouses is
still to be seen, disused and closed up, over the large double portals
of which, respectively, are to be dimly discerned the following
inscriptions in succession:--Great Britain; William IV.; St. George;
United Kingdom; Cobourg; Commodore Barrie; Canada; Schooners. This is a
relic of the period to which we are now referring. These warehouses were
the places of deposit for freight, tackling, and other property
appertaining to the vessels named, with a compartment for the
accommodation of Schooners collectively. Niagara was then the
headquarters of the shipping interests of the Lake, and the place where
the principal wholesale mercantile houses were situated.
Sailing craft visiting the Harbour in 1835, and later, were:--the Three
Brothers, the Superior, the Emily, the Robert Burns, the
Prosperity, the Fanny, the Perseverance, the Matilda, of Oswego,
the Elizabeth, of Lewiston, the Guernsey, the Peacock, the
Caroline, the Fair American, the Sovereign, the Jessie Woods,
the Erin, the Charlotte, the Winnebago, the Lord Nelson, the
Enterprise, the Boxer.
The Three Brothers was so named from the three brothers
McIntosh--John, Robert, and Henry. John commanded the Three Brothers;
Charles commanded the Superior, named second above; Robert commanded
the Eunice, of which we have heard already. Two other brothers of this
marine family were early owners of contiguous building lots on the east
side of Yonge street, south of Shuter street. Prosperous descendants of
the same name are still to be found in business on a portion of this
property. Modern improvements have caused the removal of many of the
original buildings of this locality; but one of the McIntosh family
residences yet remains, at the present time converted into the show
rooms of a carriage manufactory. (Capt. Wm. McIntosh, of the Minerva
Ann, a schooner of this period, was of another family).
The Fanny is noticeable as having been the first craft commanded by
Captain Dick of Toronto, who speedily afterwards became distinguished in
connection with the steam marine of Lake Ontario, not only as a builder,
large proprietor, and sailing master, but also as commander of a
Despatch vessel in the Public Service, especially during the troubles of
1837. The Fanny was the property of Mr. James Lockhart of Niagara, as
also were the Sovereign and the Jessie Woods. The Boxer was
commanded by a veteran Lake captain, Wm. Peeke. Capt. Peeke, it is
stated, supplied lime burnt at Duffin's Creek before the close of the
last century, for the foundation of the Lighthouse on Gibraltar Point,
and other structures in York.
In 1835, the harbour was visited by Capt. George and his barge from
Quebec. Capt. George--for so he was styled in these parts, although, as
we shall see, not a professional navigator--was a combined nautical and
mechanical genius, who vigorously urged on Government and the forwarding
community the adoption of a scheme of his for enabling loaded vessels to
overcome the rapids of the St. Lawrence, and reach the upper ports
without breaking bulk. Pulleys and chains were to be anchored at points
in the river, or along the banks of the stream. He contrived to get his
own barge in this way up to Toronto, well filled with merchandize, and
made the return trip with cargo of the upper country products, possibly
more than once, but the undertaking, being found too expensive for a
private individual, was abandoned; and soon after, the construction of
canals round the rapids rendered needless all such ingenious projects.
Mr. George had been long a merchant in Quebec; and it was simply his
inability to secure a satisfactory person for the superintendence of his
experiment, that induced him to take the command of his own vessel in
her perilous venture up and down the St. Lawrence. Mr. George continued
to reside at Quebec; and for an annual stipend of L200, he offered the
corporation of the city to create for them every winter a "pont," or
ice-bridge, opposite the city. From the action of the tides, the "pont"
fails occasionally to form, to the great inconvenience of the
inhabitants. Here again Mr. George gave ocular proof of the
practicability of his plan. Proceeding up the river above the influence
of the tide, he cut loose a vast field of ice and floated it down whole
to Quebec, where it fixed itself fast between Cape Diamond and the
opposite shore, and formed a "pont." It did not, however, prove
sufficiently durable. Some eccentricity in language is remembered as
characterizing Mr. George. A person conversing with him occasionally
found himself addressed in rhyming couplets, as if, of their own accord,
his words would run into doggerel. "Some chance of wreck between this
and Quebec! Mishap befall ere I reach Montreal! You're a fool! go to
school!" &c. His barge likewise is described as possessing a peculiar
rig. Its masts, or rather the two spars which served to support his
sails, formed above the deck, as we are told, a sort of large St.
Andrew's cross, such being, according to him, the most convenient
arrangement for working the leg of mutton or triangular sails which he
used. (We note here the two heroic captains who were the first to
encounter appalling risks on the waters of the St. Lawrence in vessels
propelled by steam. Captain Maxwell, in the employment at the time of
Messrs. McPherson and Crane, first discovered and navigated in a
steamboat the deep channel of the Long Sault; and Captain Hilliard, on
board the steamer Ontario, first descended the rapids at Lachine.)
In 1835 and years immediately following, additional names appear in the
Toronto harbour steam-marine lists--the Experiment, the Queen, the
Gore, the Princess Royal, the Traveller, the City of Toronto
(the first steamer so named), all of them boats built at Niagara under
the superintendence of Capt. Dick, and all of them, with the exception
of the Traveller, in the Royal Mail Service. The City of Toronto,
built in 1841, and commanded by Captain Dick, was the first steamer that
conveyed the mails westward. The mail-service previously had been
performed by Mr. Weller and his stage-coaches. The principal owners of
the vessels named were Mr. James Lockhart, of Niagara, Capt. Dick
himself, Mr. Andrew Heron, also of Niagara, and Mr. Donald Bethune. The
Experiment, above mentioned, was the Government Despatch boat which,
under the command of Capt. Dick, did such good service on the Lake
during the troubles of 1837.
When the steam-packet Canada was finally sold, Capt. Richardson
commanded and principally owned the Transit, on the route between York
and Niagara. This Transit was in reality the steamer Constitution,
of which we have already heard as being commanded by Capt. Zealand,
conjointly with the Transit. A steamer named the Queen was for a
time maintained by Capt. Richardson on the route between Niagara, the
head of the Lake, and York. The Queen was under the charge of Capt.
Richardson's son, Mr. Hugh Richardson, assisted by two brothers, Charles
and Henry Richardson. Simultaneously with the Transit and Queen, the
City of Toronto (the first steamer so named) also plied to Niagara,
under the command of Capt. Dick. After some years the Transit was sold
and became a tug-boat on the river below. The steamer Chief Justice
Robinson was then built by Capt. Richardson for the Niagara route, in
some respects after a model of his own, being provided, like the ancient
war-galleys, with a rostrum or projecting beak low down on a level with
the water, for the purpose, as was generally supposed, of breaking a way
through ice when such an impediment existed; but by Capt. Richardson
himself, the peculiar confirmation of the prow was expected to
facilitate the vessel's progress through the heavy surges of the Lake.
About 1850 the Chief Justice Robinson became the property of Capt.
Dick and Mr. Heron. This transfer closed the career of Capt. Richardson
as a commander on the Lake. From 1852 to 1870 he filled the post of
Harbour-master at Toronto, and on the 2nd of July, 1870, he died, in
the 87th year of his age. The Chief Justice continued to ply between
Toronto and Niagara, in company with the City of Toronto, until the
removal of the latter vessel to the waters of Lake Huron, where she
became famous as the Algoma.
In 1855 the Peerless was placed on the Niagara route. The Peerless
was an iron vessel, first constructed in the Clyde in parts, then taken
asunder and shipped to Canada, where she was put together again under
the eye of her owner, Capt. Dick, at Niagara. The number of pieces
entering into the composition of the Peerless was six thousand. Such a
method of transporting an iron ship from the Clyde to Niagara, if
complicated and troublesome, was shown to be, at all events, a dictate
of prudence by the fate which befell a vessel intended to be a companion
to the Peerless on Lake Ontario. A steamship of iron named Her
Majesty, built in the Clyde expressly for Capt. Dick, was lost in the
Atlantic, with all the men in charge on board, sixteen in number; so
that no clue was ever attained as to the cause of the disaster. We now
find ourselves treating of times which, strictly speaking, do not come
within the scope of these 'collections and recollections.'
For the sake of imparting roundness and completeness to our narrative,
we have ventured on the few details just given. We finish by simply
naming the successor of the Peerless on the route to Niagara, Capt.
Milloy's splendid steamer, the Zimmerman. It fell to our lot to
witness the last agonies of this vessel in the devouring flames as she
lay at the Niagara quay, near the mouth of the Niagara River. On that
never-to-be-forgotten occasion (Aug. 21, 1863), the long-continued
shrieking of the steam whistle, the resounding moans and convulsive
sighs issuing fitfully, in a variety of keys, from the tubes of the
boiler and other parts of the steam apparatus, gave to all hearers and
on-lookers the painful and most affecting impression of some gigantic
sentient creature helplessly undergoing a fiery death, suffering in the
process grievous pangs, protracted and inexpressible.
HOC OPUS EXEGI; FESSAE DATE SERTA CARINAE;
CONTIGIMUS PORTUM, QUO MIHI CURSUS ERAT.
Previous: The Harbour: Its Marine 1815-1827