Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Last of the Stonehookers: Schooner Days CXVII (117)
Toronto Telegram (Toronto, ON), 3 Dec 1933
Full Text
Last of the Stonehookers
Schooner Days CXVII (117)

All things come to an end sometime and somewhere, and the list of the stonehooker fleet which was once the characteristic of Port Credit, here continues from those under the letter S to the final Zebra.


"BARQUE SWALLOW," so christened and registered, was not a barque, but a pioneer sand scow, fitted as a top-sail schooner by a salt water captain, John Sponton by name, in Port Credit. He took great pride in her appearance. She was afterwards owned by Capt. W. D. Pollock, Capt. Stephen Peer, and other Port Credit mariners, and with the Ann Brown, was the most ancient of the Port Credit fleet. She had been used in the late 1830's filling in the site for the third Toronto Jail, completed in 1840, and she was in service in 1910 in the Cobourg harbor works expansion.

Sunshine, fast, full-ended scow of similar model to the Mary E. Ferguson. Owned by Capt. Aaron Walker, Port Credit, and later by Capt. Dolph Corson. At one time she had the distinction of carrying the mails from Niagara to Toronto. She was swept out of the Credit and wrecked in the great flood of 1878.

Shamrock, schooner of 45 tons, owned and sailed by Capt. T. Pelton, Port Credit, 1856

Samson, scow of 42 tons, built in Port Credit, 1850, and owned by Caleb Giles. The stonehookers which centred upon Whitby and Frenchman's Bay and the Highlands of Scarboro, localities where granite "hardheads" were plentiful, were known as the "Highland Rangers," while those based upon Bronte, Oakville and Port Credit were called the "Samson Fleet." The name was derived either from this scow Samson of Caleb Giles, or from Capt. George Blowers, whose nickname was Samson in the stonehooker trade, and who was a prominent exponent of the craft, in the schooners Lillian and Coral. He it was who first saw the possibilities of auxiliary power from the internal combustion engine. His Lillian was the first stonehooker to fit a propeller, Only a few followed her example.- the Newsboy, White Oak, Northwest, and one or two others.

Swift, scow of 40 tons, owned by A. Taylor, Toronto, and sailed by W. E. Tench, 1852. She was built at Port Credit in that year. Later Henry Ferguson, sailmaker, owned her. She was 52 feet long, 14 feet 7 inches beam and 5 feet 5 inches deep.


Traveller, small schooner of 30 tons owned and sailed by Isaac Moore in 1856. She was built at Toronto in 1832.


Una, scow stonehooker, built at Port Nelson, wrecked at Oakville, 1893.


Viking, deep draught sloop built at Port Dover, brought to stone trade 1899 by Capt. Harry Mitchell.


John Wesley of Port Hope, built in Oakville 1838, and in the stone trade up to 1897, when she was burned by skaters as she lay in the ice in Whitby harbor; a very old vessel of homely schooner model.

John Wesley of Picton, nicknamed "The Punchy," built at Picton, 1869, of puncheon-head bow and stern, scow model with round bilges, She was very strong, and was sailed by Capt. George Marks, in the stone trade and wrecked near Jordan about 1890.

William Wallace, schooner of 60 tons, owned and sailed by Capt. W. McCabe of Whitby, where she was built in 1848. Lost off Toronto Point with all hands.

White Wings, a famous racing sloop, built by Alexander Cuthbert at Trenton in 1886, and sailed to a remarkable number of victories, local and international, by Aemilius Jarvis. In 1894 she was bought by Capt. Lewis Naish and converted into a stonehooker. Bought in 1900 by C.H.J. Snider and Roy Snider and sailed by the latter brother. Rebuilt in 1901, and sold to Capt. H. Fowler, Port Credit who sailed her until 1910, when she was broken up. White Wings was 53 feet long and 15 feet 6 inches beam, but until rebuilt she could only carry two toise of stone. Stonehookers of similar dimensions but of scow model carried four toise or more, but the White Wings was the fastest of the fleet working to windward.

(1) Wood Duck, earliest stonehooker recorded. Built in the Rouge River, 1822, and owned and sailed by M. Niblock, Toronto, 1856. Frequent visitor to Port Credit.

(2) Wood Duck, small shoal schooner yacht "resurrected" at Port Dalhousie in 1900 by Capt Harry Fowler, Port Credit and there rigged and equipped for the stone trade. Bought by C.H.J. Snider and Roy Snider 1901, rebuilt 1903, broken up 1906. Fifty-two feet long drew 18 inches of water with the centreboard up.

White Oak, small scow of 30 tons burden, named after the schooner White Oak of Oakville owned and sailed by Capt. Al Peer of Port Credit. In commission up to 1910.


P. E. Young of Port Dover, schooner scow of 125 tons burden, rebuilt with spoon bow. Sailed by the Naish brothers of Port Credit, before they got the Newsboy, and later by Capt. James Blowers and his brothers. Blown up at Toronto Exhibition, 1898.


Zebra, small fast schooner of 15 tons burden, rebuilt from semi-open wood boat Merrimac, which had a maximum capacity of 5 cords. Capt. Abram Block rebuilt the Merrimac in Port Credit and gave her a schooner's stern and topmasts. Originally her rudder was outboard. She was owned for a time by Capt. W. Hinds, and was wrecked at Victoria Park 1899, after he had sold her. She was then nearly 40 years old.



Sir,-There's two stone men up here, Harry Hill and Bob Crosby, now living retired.. Yes, I've known some fine men in the stone trade. My last was in the Good News of Sarnia- but save the old Lyman M. Davis if possible. I knew her last captain, when we both were in the South Bay-Toronto stone trade. Well ain't you the brother of the lad who sailed the Wood Duck? That's how I remember the name. With best wishes.

A.E. Maude

Port Moody, B. C.

Ans.,- Guilty with a strong recommendation for mercy.


Sir- Sincere thanks to writer of Schooner Days for description of the "Reuben Doud" I had been waiting for a long time and at last it came. "Wild, Speedy and Erratic." the enclosed sketch was sent to me by a friend as he saw it at Ward's Island.

Mrs. C. Inwood

386 Bleecker set.


Dear Sir, In a great many respects I have a deep admiration for the Telegram. I read the paper when R. H. Fleming ran for Mayor, and I have been reading it ever since.

I would never, willingly miss reading the articles written by C.H. J. Snider. My blood just tingles with his realism, but unfortunately this very realism so upsets the other factors in my make-up that I actually suffer.

Twice, while reading "Sampling Superior" I had to go down to the cellar to see if there was any fire in the furnace. The thermometer in the room stood at 70 degrees. Fah., but that didn't mean anything when it was below zero when Mr. Snider had compelled me to go. Lord-that was a cold trip.

Will you ask Mr. Snider to either moderate his enthusiasm or let me know of an efficient preventative of mal-de-mer, so that I can read his articles and not only enjoy them, as I always do, but so that if he insists on my presence by his side on the dizzy deck I shall suffer no discomposure? Yours Truly

S. Smith.


Sir- Your articles as published on your trip on the Assiniboia were very interesting, as well as educational for those who may not be able to enjoy an upper Lakes trip in either winter or summer. I wish to congratulate you. I have travelled up and down several times and was on the Assinboia on her maiden trip (when I was only a kid), as well as several times since, and for some reason or other I like her very much better than her sister, the Keewatin. Why, I could not tell you as crews on both are as attentive and courteous as would seem possible. I hope you will receive many favorable comments.

(Dr.) J. W. Golding Brampton. Ont.

Snider, C. H. J.
Media Type
Item Type
Date of Publication
3 Dec 1933
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.5500477922822 Longitude: -79.5844549523926
Richard Palmer
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Last of the Stonehookers: Schooner Days CXVII (117)