(copied from Whig by Montreal Gazette, May 20, 1841)
p.2 The additions making, from time to time, to our facilities of forwarding to Upper Canada, and more especially, those offered by means of steamboats, are so generally interesting, that we gladly make use of the information on the subject, picked up by our contemporary of the Kingston Whig, on a late visit to Prescott and Brockville, by quoting at some length from his published letters:-
Prescott, May 11th.
The Henry Gildersleeve, the Mail Packet, on board of which I made my passage to this place, is one of the fastest and best appointed boats on these waters. Although the wind was dead ahead, and blowing strongly, when I timed her speed, she went the distance of fourteen miles, viz. from the dilapidated Block House to the wharf at Brockville, in one hour less three minutes; and she did this without the engineer's being made aware of the timing.
Prescott is a busy bustling place, despite its great loss of the Forwarding Business, a loss which a new Forwarding firm, Messrs. Ferguson and M'Gibbon, is endeavouring partially to restore. During the past week, heavy shipments of Flour and other produce have been made below, and some few packages of goods have arrived upwards.
There are no less than six steamboats, launched, building, or fitting in this town. The Canada, belonging to the Hon. J. Hamilton, is intended for the River Line. She is not quite so large as the Brockville, but will be of somewhat similar accommodation. She is launched, has her engines on board, and can be made ready by July next. Capt. Lawless, late of the Brockville, will command her. The Prince Albert, belonging to Messrs. Hooker & Henderson, is also launched, and has her engines on board. This vessel is intended for the Rideau Canal, but is of the very extreme size the locks will admit. She is fitted with two new low pressure engines of fifteen horse power each, and her build is such, as to promise speed; but her being suitable to the Canal I question greatly - she is too large, too lofty, and altogether too good a vessel for the simple purpose of towing loaded barges. Had I any voice in this matter, I would build boats without guards, promenade decks, ladies' cabin, or top harnesses of any kind whatsoever - in fact, I would build what are wanted, steam tugs; and I shall live to see the day, when with the exception of one or two passenger vessels, the only steam vessels on the Rideau Canal will be of the description I mention. Mark my words! There are here two other steam boats, of a small size, nearly finished. These vessels have less than twenty feet beam, and are intended to make the entire tour of the River and Canal, going down the Rapids to Lachine, and ascending the Ottawa, via the Grenville Canal, to Bytown, and so on to Kingston and Prescott again, via the Rideau Canal. Of the success of this scheme I cannot speak, but I think it extremely doubtful, maugre the good authority in its favour - Capt. Hilliard for instance, to whom one of these boats belongs. The other, belonging to Messrs. Hooker & Henderson, is fitted with a high pressure engine of twenty horse power, and seems almost ready for a start. This firm is building a good sized steamboat, to receive the engine of the late Burlington, destroyed by fire at Toronto. The William IV treated in the manner I would serve the greatest portion of the canal boats, viz., despoiled of every thing on deck that can catch or hold the wind, is being fitted up for a steam tug between Dickinson's Landing and Kingston, in the employ of the river forwarders. The old William has recently undergone a most thorough repair, been hauled out on the railway, and bids fair to last as a steam tug, a dozen years or more. Capt. John Cowan, formerly sailing master when running as a steam packet, is to command. He is one of the oldest and best seamen on the lake or river.
I paid a visit to Messrs. McPherson & Crane's steam mill, and a very excellent establishment of the kind it is. Nearly one hundred barrels of flour are daily manufactured, and the brand stands A no. 1, in England. Adjoining the mill is a large distillery, and the two work into each other's hands. Kingston has nothing of the kind.
Brockville, May 12th
I left Prescott this morning about nine o'clock, and came up the river as far as this place. Brockville, although a handsomer town than Prescott, does not seem to be doing as much business; and the little that is done is entirely of the forwarding kind. There are two steamboats here nearly ready: - one, the Vulcan, built for Messrs. Sanderson & Murray; and the other, a singular looking craft, belonging to Messrs. H. & S. Jones, called the St. David. The Vulcan is of the largest sized canal boats, but her size will be a great bar to her usefulness. She is an excellent good looking vessel, and it seems a pity to put her on the canal. Capt. R. Johnson, a brother to the master of the Albion, is to command her. The St. David is a much smaller boat, intended to make the entire voyage to Lachine and Kingston, via the St. Lawrence and canals. Although very small, she will be of great power, carrying two engines of fifteen horse each, high pressure. The difference between her build and that of the Kingston boat, the Beaver, consists in this. In the Beaver, a recess is made in the sides of the vessel for the paddle wheels; whereas in the St. David, the fore part of the boat is of the full breadth of the locks through which she is intended to pass, and the afterpart is narrowed to admit of the paddle wheels. The steam engines of the latter have been made at the state prison, Auburn, and her boilers is on the locomotive principle, occupying much less room than boilers on the usual construction. The test of experience has yet to be applied to it. I could not see the action of Messrs. Sanderson & Murray's propellers, inasmuch as they had not arrived from New York. When speaking of the steamboats at Prescott, I omitted to mention, indeed I did not then know it, that Messrs. Ferguson & McGibbon have also a steamboat on the stocks, intended for the river. I believe I have now enumerated, and partially described all the steam vessels, both of Prescott and Brockville, of which we Kingston people have heard so much of late.