The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), Aug. 8, 1834

Full Text


Mammoth Race Between The Splendid Steam Boats Great Britain and United States,

From Toronto To Niagara, On The Morning Of The 1st Inst.

The latter boat, in order to put to the test the speed of the Great Britain, departed from her regular course the evening previous, crossed to Youngstown, on the American shore, discharged all her passengers, baggage, luggage, cables, anchors, and every other article of weight, except the bare crew, a few gentlemen spectators, and the necessary quantum of the very best pitch pine wood. On Friday morning, the first instant, while the Great Britain was taking in her freight, the United States arrived at Toronto, fully prepared for the race, light as a feather, and buoyant as a cork. On the other hand, the Great Britain had 150 passengers, a heavy cargo of goods and luggage, and the usual quantity of wood to serve her back to Kingston. We mention these things, in order to show the respective state of the rival boats. At 1/2 past six in the morning, the United States sheers off, confident of success, cuts a few flourishes. About 3 minutes afterwards the Great Britain pursues. The awfully dense rolling columns of pitch pine smoke emitted from the huge pipes of the United States, filled at this moment the atmosphere with a fearful black tartarean grandeur. The Great Britain, regardless of pitch or smoke, heaves ahead, the water foams at her bows, the lake groans beneath her, the waters pass her side like a mighty torrent, Neptune is awakened from the slumbering deep, mounts the billows, beholds the contest, waves his trident over the Great Britain, and instantly disappears. The States keeps her distance, hoists her banners in proud defiance, the lake roars beneath her bows, all hands to the fire, Vulcan's bellows and the Genius of Columbia are invoked, but to no purpose: the Britain gains, gains still, still gains, closes up, divides the waters like an island in a wide, roaring foaming cataract; now abreast, six miles from York; the United States, in the strength of her power and means, plying for honor and victory: a grand match; can't tell at present which gains; the States snores awfully at her bows, crackles fearfully at her fires, and groans at her wheels; still abreast; majestic sight - what an awful rolling of the waters in the wake of each! The jolly tars of Great Britain at work, splitting wood and feeding the furnace; the Britain cleaves the water with more power, foams at her bows with an appalling grandeur; the States, alarmed, takes a little more sea room; the Britain gains, heaves ahead, gains still, still gains. The States, like a skilful and valiant racer, holds on as tenaciously as a Dutch lobster: exerts every nerve and means. Sublime sight! The rivals Great Britain and the United States struggling with the might of fierce giants for the palm of victory ! Ah ominous, certainly ominous! Close running: well-matched; the Britain becomes warm, gains fast, faster still; now a-head; the foam at the bow, & the mighty rollings of the waters by her sides quite deafening; runs at the rate of nearly 15 miles an hour; the Britain gains at every evolution: now a mile a-head. Niagara in sight: the States keeps to her purpose. The Britain 2 miles a-head; still gaining, victory is sure; within 9 miles of Niagara. Ah, what loud crack is that? Unfortunately the shaft of the Great Britain is Broken: she stops, lets off steam; the United States heaves a-head. With sterling British courage the Britain, although maimed and disabled, gallantly resumes her course. The States comes up like an enraged boar; passes by. The Britain, like a wounded John Bull, hobbles on with one leg for about 49 minutes. The United States entered Niagara only 5 minutes before her. The States acknowledges herself beaten; that is honest. Had the shaft held out 30 minutes longer, the Britain would have arrived 15 minutes before the States. With one wheel, after stopping at Kingston 4 1/2 hours, and 1 hour at French Creek, the Britain arrived at Prescott in 24 hours from Niagara. Let every British mother's son, who reads this, hurrah for Great Britain, Great Britain, mistress of the ocean. Hurrah! hurrah!! hurrah!!! Long life to Capt. Whitney. Success to Great Britain. Hurrah! hurrah!! hurrah!!! We guess Mr. Jonathan will hardly challenge Mr. Bull in a hurry. What do you think, uncle Sam? Guess not, sir. [Grenville (Prescott) Gazette]

Steam Boat Race - The last Kingston Chronicle contains a thrasonic account of the trial of speed, which took place on Friday last, between the United States and Great Britain, in coming from Toronto to Niagara. If the circumstances had been known to the writer of the article, he would probably have told his tale in a less boasting style. The fact is that the Great Britain was beaten, though it is contended her loss of victory was in consequence of an accident. This may be true, but it is equally true that it is owing to accident that she came within miles of beating. The facts in relation to the United States are, that she had procured some wood which was supposed to be of a superior quality, but, upon trial, it was found unseasonable, and consequently altogether unfit for use on such an occasion. In confirmation of the fact that the States was not put to her usual speed, it will be sufficient to say, that in coming from Toronto to Niagara with the Britain, she was three hours and twenty minutes, a distance she has frequently accomplished in less than three hours. and which on the same morning, she performed in TWO HOURS AND FORTY FIVE minutes, being thirty-five minutes less than when running with the Britain and time, sufficient to have brought her out at least five miles a-head.

The Chronicle remarks that the Britain performed the trip in true British style. Does the editor mean to be understood by this, that the British usually come off second best? Or that they are always bested by accident. [St. Lawrence (Ogdensburgh) Republican]

Plans to join Lake Huron and Lake Simcoe by canal - two meetings have been held.

For the British Whig:

On the morning of the 1st of August, the United States, Steam Packet, came from Niagara to Toronto in two hours and forty-five minutes; she returned on what is called by the Kingston Chronicle, a "trial of speed," in three hours and twenty minutes, a distance which is performed in less than three hours. Comment is unnecessary.

A desire for a "race" was not "manifest" on the part of the United States, for it is well known that both owners and captain have always deprecated racing. Ogdensburg, August 3d, 1834 ONE ON BOARD


Will be sold by Auction, on Wednesday, the 13th day of August next, at Mr. John Strange's Wharf, the following Schooners, in complete sailing order, and now lying in the port of Kingston, viz.:

Lord Nelson, with Boat, Sails Rigging etc complete; Richard Cartwright, do. do. do. and smack; Robert Bruce, do. do.

Terms to be made known at the time of sale. Sale to commence at 1 o'clock, P.M.

HUGH SCANLAN, Auctioneer.

Kingston, 29th July, 1834.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Original:
Aug. 8, 1834
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Rick Neilson
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
WWW address
Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.

British Whig (Kingston, ON), Aug. 8, 1834