The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), Sept. 6, 1881

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Another Contribution To The Imperfect History Of Our Early Navigation.

We yesterday gave a brief sketch of the early marine experience of Capt. W.R. Taylor and the circumstances which led to his engagement in the navigation of the Canadian inland waters. We left him officiating as second mate of the steamer Queenston, owned by Hon. John Hamilton. We now supply the subsequent incidents of his life, beginning with the second season of his residence in this country. Said he, in conversation with our reporter:

"Our steamer, the Queenston, was laid up at Prescott during the winter, and in the next spring I was promoted to the position of first officer, but I did not officiate in that capacity long. I quarrelled with Capt. Coy, left the boat, and shipped upon the steamer William IV. She was then (in 1832) quite new, having been just built at Gananoque. I remained on her for two years, and accompanied Capt. Painter in taking command of the steamer Cobourg, owned by a Toronto joint stock company. Capt. Painter was only commander of her for one year, a difficulty arising which led to his removal and the appointment of Capt. Colclough, who had formerly been purser, the owers making me the sailing master. The steamer was laid up that fall (1835) in Toronto, but previous thereto I made arrangements with Messrs. Hooker & Henderson to sail for them, during the next season, the Sir Frances Bond Head. The schooner being laden with merchandise the firm prevailed upon me, late in November, to deliver the cargo before navigation closed. I did so, and loaded flour for down freight. On the lake I encountered a severe gale, which carried away the yawl and split the sails, but I managed to make Prescott all right on the 23rd of December. I sailed this vessel for four years. In 1836 she was chartered to carry presents from the Government to the Indians on one of the Manitoulin islands. The cargo was

Loaded At Our Dockyard

and consisted of blankets, rifles, clasp knives, dirks, calicos, 250 barrels of powder and other goods. At that time there was no chart of the Georgian Bay, and a voyage up it was considered somewhat dangerous. Lieut. Bayfield, R.N., had on tissue paper, certain sketches which he loaned me. I sailed as far as Amhertsburg without a pilot, and then secured the services of Capt. Hackett, an expert sailor, who afterwards became keeper of the light house on Bois Blanc Island. The rest of the passage, with the cabin in possession of social officers, was enjoyable and successful. I was kept at Manitowaning for 14 days, receiving as a kind of demurrage fee $16 per day for twelve days, and a freight bill of 150 pounds. (450 pounds ?). From Manitowaning I went to Bear Creek, where I loaded pipe staves for Prescott at $62 per M., while now $35 per m. is considered a fair rate. At Bear Creek, too, I contracted fever and ague, from which I suffered severely for six years. Subsequently (in ?) I made another voyage on military business, but was not paid so well for my service, only receiving 400 pounds. In the winter of 1840 I engaged with Messrs. Macpherson & Crane to sail next season, a schooner or a steamer, at their option. I was assigned the command of the schooner Thistle, which traded between Kingston and Lake Erie ports. In 1839, the forwarders removed from Prescott to this city, and in 1840 a big fire occurred. It destroyed a great deal of valuable property along the harbour, including the wharf and storehouse belonging to the late ex-Mayor Counter and leased to Messrs. Macpherson & Crane. There was much litigation over this fire, Mr. Counter gaining several suits instituted in Canada, but losing them on the appeal of Mr. Macpherson to the Privy Council.

First Propeller Experience.

I was in charge of the schr. Thistle for three years, at the end of which time I went into company with a party who was building two small propellers, the London and the St. Thomas. The latter had the locomotive engine of the steamer Niagara put into her, was schooner rigged, and had side fixtures which served the purpose of a centre board. I commanded her. She was laden with flour at Port Stanley, and was the first boat to run into the harbor of Montreal from the upper lakes by steam. Her masts were so constructed that they could be lowered and hoisted at pleasure, and so she was specially adapted for the navigation of the Ottawa as well as St. Lawrence rivers. She had a carrying capacity of 950 bbls. of flour, and was capable of making about 7 miles an hour. I quickly ? the propeller, and returned to the employment of Mr. Macpherson on the schr. William Cayley, which a year later was sold to Capt. ? who in turn was killed while the ? was working through the Welland Canal, the hook of a block breaking and striking him in the temple. Capt. Burns then bought the schr. Thistle and took command, and I was transferred to the schr. Shamrock. The Thistle that fall was caught in a gale and perished, where or how no one could ever tell. On my second trip up Lake Erie the Shamrock was upset, the deck cargo of pork and one man being lost. In my 48 years' sailing this was the only fatal accident which occurred on my vessels. I was now half owner of the Shamrock and had to make good one-half of the loss of cargo valued at about 240 pounds. Though capsized the

Schooner Was Not Lost

however, but being righted and brought to Kingston, was refitted and chartered to go to Chicago for a cargo of 4,800 bushels of wheat, upon which I received a freight of 14 cents. Then I was chartered to go to Gould's mills, Gananoque, (owned by Hon. John Macdonald, father of the wife of Prof. Mowat) and carry the engine of a steamer (which had been purchased from the Americans, and ran as a cruiser on the lakes) to Detroit. In unloading the machine I nearly lost my life. I was leaning upon a purchase which had been well sprung by the weight resting upon it. It slipped, rebounded and threw me about 60 feet into the air. I fell on the wharf, was stunned and believed to be dead, and the accident attracted about 1,000 people to the spot. Singular to say, my elevation into the air and fall frightened a horse, which ran away, and the driver, being thrown out, had his leg broken. In 1846, while carrying grain from Cleveland to St. Catharines, I mistook the beacon at Long Point and ran the vessel ashore. I saved a portion of the cargo, and abandoned the rest and the vessel which was insured. Then I supervised the building of the schooner Governor, at Portsmouth. Her keel was laid on Jan. 1st, 1847. She cost $14,000 and could carry 12,000 bushels of wheat. I had a quarter interest in her. In 1856 Messrs. Macpherson & Crane sold the front route forwarding business to Messrs. Holcomb & Henderson, who had been their clerks, and the Rideau canal business to Messrs. Robinson & Jones. Two years later I purchased the whole of the vessel, paying for the three quarters interest 1,000 pounds, but on condition that the vessel was to be chartered for three successive cargoes of grain from Chicago at 15 cents, 13 cents and 10 cents respectively. I was fortunate to get up freights each time and as a result actually bought the vessel on terms more advantageous than I at all expected. Of the vessel

My Son Became Mate,

(T.F. Taylor,) and in his second year captain, purchasing a quarter interest in her. She belonged to us for 19 years, and then we sold to Captain Fitzgerald, of Oswego. In 1866 I purchased the schr. Mary Taylor, on the stocks at the marine railway, 9,500 bushels capacity. We ran her one year and sold her for $200 more than we paid for her. She is still running on the lake, a good vessel, owned by Capt. George, of Brighton. I had the schr. Annie Falconer built in 1867 at the shipyard, then owned by Messrs. Foster & Jenkins, and managed by Mr. Geo. Thurston. My son went captain of her again, and is still in command. In 1868 the schr. Annie Minnes was built to my order by Mr. Edward Beaupre, at Portsmouth. I sailed her for four years, selling her then to Capt. James McCallum, Whitby. I bought the schooner Dundee for $14,500, but times were bad, and over and above her earnings I lost money on her every year until I parted with her at a sacrifice to Kelly Bros. of Toronto. Eleven years ago, having retired from vessel sailing I was appointed Inspector for the Marine Association. When I applied for the office I had not much expectation of getting it; in fact, after posting my application I forgot all about it and only began to feel hopeful when I was summoned to meet the underwriters at Toronto. My services were accepted, and I am happy to say that since then until now I have not heard complaint in regard to my reports and recommendations. Of the six by whom I was first employed but two remain, Mr. R. Scott and Capt. Dou__. Four insurance companies form the Association, but I represent five companies, including the Royal Canadian, the British American, the Anchor and Marine, and the Phoenix. Some 22 years ago

I Visited My Mother,

whom I found in the same house in which she had lived for 39 years at Blyth. She was in the door, watching for me when I landed, but not thinking of her although I saw her looking at me I knocked at the next door to enquire if that was her residence. She laughed at my mistake and was delighted to see me. After a stay of seven weeks I returned to Canada on the same steamer on which I had crossed to England, the Canadian, of the Allen line. It is remarkable that the steamship only made another round trip and then was lost, together with seven of her crew. When I saw my mother last she was 81 years of age. Five years later she died. My father was killed when 44 years of age by falling down stairs. Of a family of six, including two sisters and a brother, but one of the former survives, and about ten years ago my wife passed away. Thus you have my career, and it, I hope, has interested you.



The schr. Eureka left this morning for Portsmouth, where she will load stone for Charlotte.

The schr. B.W. Folger loads iron ore for Charlotte. She has arrived from Jordon with a load of wheat.

While transporting the Campana up the canal on Saturday a leak was discovered in one of the compartments. A siphon was borrowed from the Harbor Commissioners and men set to work to pump her dry. The task was successfully accomplished and the ship proceeded on her way to Lachine yesterday.


Str. Armenia, Ogdensburg, pass. and fgt.

Str. Gipsy, Ottawa, pass. and fgt.

Str. D.C. West, Westport, pass. and fgt.

Str. Passport, Hamilton, pass. and fgt.

Str. Magnet, Charlotte, pass. and fgt.

Prop. City of Montreal, Toronto, 14,500 bu. wheat.

Welland Canal - Bound Down.

Russia, Rondeau, Kingston, wheat.

Samana, Chicago, Kingston, corn.

D.G. Fort, Chicago, Kingston, wheat.

J.B. Sloan, Chicago, Kingston, wheat.

Mary Jane, Point au Sauble, Collinsby, timber.

Niagara, Leamington, Kingston, wheat.

Belle Wilson, Chatham, Kingston, wheat.

Dromedary, Toledo, Montreal, wheat.

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Date of Original:
Sept. 6, 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), Sept. 6, 1881