The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), Aug. 5, 1881

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The yacht Gracie will probably compete in the Clayton regatta.

A raft of timber from Collinsby went down the river this forenoon, in tow of the McArthur.

Propellers are carrying iron rails from Montreal to Chicago and Milwaukee at $2.75 per ton. Reasonable rate!

The prop. Argyle and consorts Sligo and M. McRae have cleared for Toledo when they will load grain for Kingston.

Freights have become very dull. The season has not been nearly as good as it was expected to be. Even the lumber trade, which promised so well, has almost collapsed.

The success of the Merchants' Line between Cleveland and Montreal has been so decided the Cleveland Herald says, that the managers of the company have decided to build two new propellers to be put on the route.

The rate on corn from Chicago to Kingston is believed to be 4 1/2 cents. The following have been chartered at that figure: steambarge Lincoln, 17,000; barge Lisgar 19,000; barge Gibraltar, 25,000; schooner Millard Fillmore, 19,000; Comanche 19,000.

The work on the schr. Flora Emma, at Port Hope, is being rapidly pushed forward. The masts have been put in and the wire rigging was added yesterday. She is receiving a thorough overhauling. The loss of her sails will delay her getting away as soon as was expected.

Welland Canal - Bound Down.

G.M. Neelon, Toledo, Collinsby, timber.

Bismarck, Wheatley, Kingston, timber.


Str. Gipsy, Ottawa, pass. and fgt.

Str. Corsican, Montreal, pass. and fgt.

Str. Corinthian, Hamilton, pass. and fgt.

Str. Armenia, Deseronto, pass. and fgt.

Str. City of Belleville, Prescott, light.

Prop. Armenia, Toronto, pass. and fgt.

Prop. Cuba, Ogdensburg, pass. and fgt.

Prop. Africa, Montreal, pass. and fgt.

Prop. Celtic, Chicago, lightened 3,000 bush. wheat.

Tug Carlyle, Ironsides, barges iron ore.

Schr. Flora, Fairhaven, 160 tons coal.

Str. Passport, pass. and fgt.

Overloading Pleasure Steamers.

On Sunday last the officers of the revenue cutter Manhattan, en route from Charlotte to Oswego, noticed, says the Oswego Times, that the pleasure steamer Charlotte and City of Rochester, running between Sea Breeze and Charlotte, were carrying such a number of passengers as to cause them to believe that the law was being violated. Lieut. Clayton went ashore at Sea Breeze, and when the steamers come back and were partly loaded, he required every passenger to land; and as they re-embarked they were counted until the number allowed by the law to be carried were on board, when further embarkation was stopped.

The affair created considerable excitement and one of the captains was inclined to be a little fractious, but upon being informed that he was liable to a fine of $50 a head for every passenger above the legal number carried, and a further fine of $1,000 for interfering with a revenue officer, he cooled right down. When it becomes generally known that the Manhanttan is on the watch for violaters of the law in this respect there will be less danger in pleasure travel hereabouts.



A Brief And Readable Sketch Of Several Steamboats.

Those who have been accustomed to cross the channel have frequently contemplated what is called the graveyard, lying between Garden and Goose Islands and containing the sunken, abandoned hulls of several old steamboats and vessels, whose exposed parts, weather beaten and fearfully delapidated, serve as so many monuments marking the resting places of the pioneer craft. The decayed wrecks of the steamers Cobourg, Gildersleeve, Traveller, Chieftain, Charlevois, Sir C. Napier, Hercules and Bay of Quinte, (all of which have done good service) lie in close proximity. All of them had been employed in the passenger and freight traffic of the lakes and river when such had been but fairly developed - before trade and pleasure travel had began to assume its present immense dimensions - though some of them ran at a time when, in the absence of railway communication, speedy navigation was valued, perhaps, more highly than it is now.

Having served their original purpose well and profitably these old steamers passed into the possession of Messrs. Calvin & Breck, were generally repaired, in some cases rebuilt, and utilized for towing purposes, constituting in their day the line towards which the Dominion Government for many years contributed a handsome annual subsidy. The old hulks we had viewed many a time, but until Capt. Donnelly imparted the information we knew little of their interesting history. "During my residence on the island, extending over 30 years," said he, "I have assisted in burying most of the old boats. The machinery was taken out of those which it was not the intention to again repair or divert to other purposes. Some of them are older than I am, and all have been good and satisfactory investments."

Going Into A Few Details.

"What is the name of this boat, and what is being done to it?" we asked, pointing to a dark and ancient looking craft which had been hauled out on the island ways.

"That is the old Wellington. She was launched in 1856. I helped to build her, and in the same place where her old hull has now been drawn out. She was run as a freight boat between St. Catharines and Montreal for several years, and was afterwards engaged in towing on Lake Ontario, under command of Capt. Miller, and subsequently of his son, now on the Chieftain. For seven years the Wellington had been in the graveyard. Last month she was raised and hauled out, her upper works taken off, and it is the purpose of Mr. Calvin, I believe, to fit her out and use her for towing on the lakes. Capt. Miller, who was on this boat for a while, was captain of the old Hercules when she was blown up."

"When did that event happen?"

"In 1858, the fall of the same year in which she was launched. Her boiler exploded about four miles above Morrisburg, and D.D. Calvin, eldest son of the county member in the Local House, and six others, lost their lives. The tug was raised, brought to Garden Island and rebuilt, and was known to be one of the strongest tugs operating on the lakes. In the fall of 1871 she and the Highlander were burned at the Island dock, having just gone into winter quarters. The fireman of the latter, who was aboard, acting as caretaker of the steamers, perished in the conflagration, the first news of which Mr. Calvin read early next morning in Toronto, when he picked up a paper on entering for breakfast the dining hall of the hotel at which he stopped. He was then attending the Legislature.

The Highlander was formerly a freight boat running between Toronto and Montreal, and, after her purchase by the firm who owned her at the time of her destruction, as a tow boat on Lake St. Francis, her limit being from Cornwall to Valleyfield. The loss by the burning of the two steamers could not have been less than $50,000.

A Very Strong Boat.

"Which is the strongest of all the tugs now in service?"

"The Hiram A. Calvin, in the construction of which I also assisted. Her machinery is that of the old Sir Charles Napier, which formerly plied as a passenger boat on the South shore, and which was permanently retired when relieved of her engine and boiler. The Calvin is undoubtedly the most powerful tug on Lake Ontario today. I have seen her repeatedly break a fourteen inch hawser, double, (the rope being made especially for wrecking purposes) and, in lifting sunken crafts, snap two parts of a one and a quarter inch chain.

"What have been the peculiarities of the other boats? Each has had some distinguishing feature, has it not?"

"Yes, the old William IV was the only four pipe boat which ever ran on the inland waters. She was built at Gananoque about 1860 (sic), rebuilt some ten years later and called the William, and, as I said before, ran until four or five years ago, when her machinery was broken up for old iron.

St. Lawrence Service.

"The old Traveller was a remarkable boat. She was in service when I settled on Garden Island, so that I can't tell where she was built or how old she was. She had two engines, one of which was subsequently put in the Silver Spray, and the other into what has since been known as the Young Traveller. The Silver Spray will be remembered by many as a comfortable passenger steamer, which for many years ran between Toronto and Niagara and Toronto and Hamilton, thence on Georgian Bay, but which was finally burned while lying at her dock at Collingwood. The Traveller has been towing on the lower St. Lawrence. Formerly the Highlander towed barges across Lake St. Francis, and then after passing through the canal, they were taken by the old William from Malochville to Lachine. The Bay of Quinte, so long a popular passenger boat, making daily trips to Kingston and Belleville, after having her cabin removed and receiving false sides to strengthen and stiffen her, took the Highlander's place, and the old system of river towage continued for eleven years. Then the William became disabled and the trade falling off the forwarding company obtained tugs of their own. The Traveller was required to do a service which formerly was sufficient for two barges.

Other Boats Of The Line

"What other boats belong to Messrs. Calvin & Son's tug line?"

"The Chieftain and J.A. Macdonald. The old Chieftain I suppose you have not seen. Her remains are in the graveyard. She ran between the Cascades and Montreal. She was one of the first of the line and did good service. Her usefulness being gone the machinery was taken out, sold to Montreal parties and used in another steamer.

"The young Chieftain is about six years old, and has been running altogether between the city and Dickinson's Landing. She has been engaged in rafting, and has already made this season some seven or eight trips between Hamilton and Prescott, which is remarkably good work. Her machinery is that of the old H. Gildersleeve, one of the pioneer steamboats.

"The J.A. Macdonald is about 13 years old, and is engaged in towing rafts between Montreal and Quebec. She is the smallest of the fleet, and contains the engine of the old Charlevoix, which was for many years a freight and tow boat on the St. Lawrence.

"What, beside the old steamboats you have named, have been placed in the island graveyard?"

"Some of the pioneer vessels of the lakes, including the Sarah Cornelia, the Lord Seaton (upon which I first shipped as mate) and the Dexter D. Calvin."

Oldest Captains Of The Firm.

"The Captains have been experienced men, some I suppose being longer in the employ of the Garden Island firm than yourself?"

"Oh yes. Capt. S. Booth, who died at Defiance last year, having retired, was the oldest navigator in the service of Mr. Calvin. He was a careful and courageous sailor and commanded the first and best vessels commissioned in the timber trade.

"Capt. Sughrue is another tried and trusty man. He has been, perhaps, the most successful steamboat commander on the lakes. He was for a long time in charge of the steamer Reindeer, belonging to Macpherson & Co., and running between Kingston and Lake Erie ports. Capt. Sughrue is nearly 70 years of age, but is yet quite hearty, and as fit for duty as at any period in his life.

"Capt. W. Miller lately on the Edsall was from his boyhood until last year employed on the tug line. He commanded in turn several of the steamers, was in fact regarded as the Commodore of the fleet. He was longest attached to the Hercules and old Chieftain.

"Capt. Geo. Miller has been in the same service and many years has sailed the Wellington and Chieftain and is regarded as very expert in lake navigation.

"Capt. Anderson was a good man, having charge of the steamer Hiram A. Calvin, from the time she came out until last year when he left to take command of the steamer Armenia.

"Capt. J. Miller, Prescott, was a cautious and reliable commander. He ran the Highlander from the time she was built until she was lost by fire in 1871. He is now retired."

Capt. Donnelly's Prospects.

"It's time you were retired yourself, Captain," we observed.

"It is indeed, but I don't like idleness and believe I have some years of good work before me yet. I may not act much longer for the present firm, having been elected superintendent of a new wrecking company which will commence operations shortly, upon the lakes and river, upon an extensive scale. The new concern will certainly have the finest boats and most approved appliances procurable."

Aug. 6, 1881


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Aug. 5, 1881
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Rick Neilson
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), Aug. 5, 1881