The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Gananoque Reporter (Gananonque, ON), Aug. 7, 1861 p.2

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Excursion to Ogdensburgh - The steamer Bay of Quinte is advertised to leave Gananoque for Ogdensburgh, on Friday morning next at eight o'clock - returning the same evening. The Gananoque Brass Band will accompany her, and Wood's string band has also been engaged for the accommodation of dancers. The Boat will call at Darling's Wharf, Rockport, Brockville and Prescott. Fare to Ogdensburgh and back 50 cents.

Aug. 21, 1861 p.2

Excursion to Ogdensburgh

To the Editor of the Reporter.


Although the inhabitants of Gananoque are pretty thoroughly acquainted with the low effusions which too frequently accompany the editorials of the British Whig, they were hardly prepared for the cool effrontery displayed in Saturday's issue, and which must have emanated from interested motives alone.

But Sir, said editor was very careful not to examine too minutely the truth of the Reporter's statement, and wished no doubt, to mystify the minds of his Kingston patrons, fully expecting that his words would produce such a powerful impression upon his Gananoque readers, that none of them would be willing to contradict them.

Why did he not call into requisition his superior mechanical genius, to invent by some chance, a new method of resting without seats, and thus be a source of profit to his employer, enabling O.S.G. to preserve the good order of his steamers furniture for the special accommodation of such a worthy friend as Dr. Barker.

In justice to the originators of that excursion it would not be amiss to describe some of the treatment received from Mr. Gildersleeve and the officers of the boat.

Previously to the Bay of Quinte leaving Kingston, there was an agreement made with its owner to keep the bar closed during the day, and the faithful manner to which he adhered to his promise was made apparent by the quarrels which frequently occurred during the trip, and the alarm necessarily created among the fair sex. These disturbances would never have arisen if the express wishes of the committee had been carried into effect; and although the captain was frequently solicited to close the bar, he preemptorily refused, and it was not until some severe injuries had been inflicted that he thought proper to accede to them.

Knowing as Mr. Gildersleeve certainly did that the pleasure of the excursionists would be marred, unless the ladies were provided with suitable accommodations, still he did not hesitate to remove as far as possible the seats belonging to the boat, and the captain even refused to allow the staterooms to be opened for their use. Such conduct in connection with the disgraceful act of detaining the boat in Prescott until the amount for hiring it had been obtained from the committee, reflects anything but credit upon Mr. Gildersleeve, and will teach the people of Gananoque that whatever may be the opinion held of the would be representative for Kingston in that city, they at least consider him anything but a gentleman, and in future will most likely think twice before soliciting one of his steamers upon another occasion.

The Ogdensburgh Excursion

The Kingston Whig copies our article on the Excursion to Ogdensburgh, and adds:-

"The above is one tissue of falsehood and misrepresentation, and if we show that to be the case in one particular instance, the reader can judge how far the other assertions are correct. When the steamer left on the Excursion, Mr. Gildersleeve saw preparations made for selling whiskey and beer, on a large scale, in the forward part of the vessel. He remonstrated against this singular privilege at a Temperance Excursion, and ordered the temporary Bar to be taken down, and the whiskey and beer taken ashore. For the Party then to complain of his Steward's opening the Bar of the boat was an absurdity."

Now with all due respect to the Whig's evident satisfaction for anything and everything in the whiske line, we distinctly and emphatically repeat what we said last week - That Mr. Gildersleeve positively agreed to keep the bar on the Boat closed during the trip, and that, notwithstanding this agreement, the bar was kept open. And also that Mr. Gildersleeve accepted two notes, payable after the return of the Excursion, in payment for the use of the Boat, and when the party had got part of the way, the captain stated he had received a telegram from Mr. Gildersleeve, ordering him not to proceed any further until the Boat was paid for. The truth of these charges does not depend on our word, but they can be proved by witnesses who are conversant with the whole transaction.

The Whig's statement, that "Mr. Gildersleeve saw extensive preparations for selling whiskey and beer in the forward part of the vessel, and ordered the whiskey and beer taken ashore," is a deliberate lie, as Mr. Gildersleeve saw and did no such thing. It was agreed between the parties, while in Kingston, that no bar should be allowed, and consequently when the Boat reached Gananoque, the captain (with the approval of the committee) prevented the erection of a bar in the forward part of the Boat, and ordered the articles intended for sale to be taken ashore, but he took good care not to interfere with his own bar.

The Whig says, "For the party to complain of his Steward's opening the bar of the boat was an absurdity." That is, in other words, it was aburd for the committee to expect Mr. Gildersleeve to do as he agreed to. We hope Mr. Gildersleeve duly appreciates this compliment from his whiskey champion.

Aug. 28, 1861 p.1

The Late Gananoque Pic-Nic

(To the Editor of the British Whig)

Sir, - In the Whig of the 17th is an article from the Gananoque Reporter relative to the late trip to Ogdensburgh, and which, in justice to the proprietor of the boat, to myself, and to those under my command, I cannot allow to go unanswered.

The Steamer Bay of Quinte was chartered by parties in Gananoque for an Excursion to Ogdensburgh. It was requested that the Bar would be closed, and it was understood that it was to be a Temperance affair, and no intoxicating liquor was to be sold, or drunk on board during the trip. I had written instructions from the proprietor before the boat started to keep the Bar closed, to keep order, and, in all reasonable respects, to do as the committee desired. No extra preparations were made by me, as I understood all details were under the control of the committee; nor had I the slightest intimation that they intended crowding 600 or 700 persons on board without providing for them or in any way anticipating their wants and comforts. Indeed, the only information relative to the number of excursionists I had was by a letter from the Secretary to Mr. Gildersleeve, when he states that about 50 excursionists would come on board at Kingston, instead of which there came 150; and if all the calculations relative to the trip were made by the same head, it is no wonder that there should have been dissatisfaction. On the morning of the Excursion, preparations were made by parties not belonging to the boat to open a bar on board. I at once stopped them. Mr. Gildersleeve, who was present told Mr. Charles E. Britton, an active member of the committee, who appeared anxious that the bogus Bar should be opened, that none could be allowed on board but that belonging to the boat, as a license was necessary to sell liquor, and that those who sold without one were liable to a heavy penalty, but, should the excursionists demand it, the Bar of the boat was at their service. And the first intimation I received that it was open was on being invited by one of the committee to go and take a drink, and upon my saying that I could not, and that no Bar was open, he remarked - "O yes, the Bar is open - all right."

By special arrangement, it was agreed to take a good endorsed note or notes at ten days, or the cash, for the amount of the charter money. And Mr. Charles E. Britton, upon being asked for the amount on the morning of the Excursion, stated that he had the day  before sent by mail two notes made and endorsed by the best men in Canada; and, taking his word for it, we started. The notes were received after the boat started, and were found to be made payable to the order of O.S. Gildersleeve, and, of course, maker of one of them, and writer of both, was the same Mr. Charles E. Britton, who, from his appearance, is only a boy, and certainly his conduct that day shows that he has not yet arrived at years of discretion. The maker of the other note was, I am informed, perfectly unknown to Mr. Gildersleeve. Is it to be wondered at that a transaction so suspicious in appearance, so unbusiness like, to say the least of it, in every respect, should prove unsatisfactory, and that the only means of obtaining the amount, that of demanding the cash before going further, should have been resorted to?

As to numbers getting drunk on the boat, the first drunken man I saw came on board at Gananoque. Numbers from there came provided with black bottles, and it was amongst these that the rows occurred. The man who was hurt came on there quite drunk, and I presume he did nothing towards getting sober at Brockville and Prescott, where we lay some time, and it was at the last named place that he again staggered on board, and opening the first door he came to happened to enter the crank room just as the boat was leaving the wharf - had not the engine been worked by hand at the time, he would have been killed instantly. Altogether, I must say, with the exception of several most respectable persons, that during an experience of over twenty years on these waters, I never saw a more disorderly and ruffianly lot than those who came on board at Gananoque. From the time we left Ogdensburgh until we arrived at Gananoque it was one continued riot. The lamps in the cabin were smashed, chairs and tables broken, the gilt mouldings and cornices torn down, the state-room doors broken open, and even the Ladies' Cabin was invaded by a crowd of blackguards who were ejected by me with difficulty at the request of the ladies on board, who were both terrified and disgusted at their language and manners.

Several times during the day I closed the bar, and it was never opened except at the request of numbers of the gentlemen who had been inveigled on board, but from Ogdensburgh to Gananoque it was kept closed. Of this I am sure, that many of the members of the committee were as often found practising at the bar, while it was open, as any others on board. Indeed, I can only account for what has appeared in the Gananoque Reporter, by supposing that those most concerned in it were so thoroughly ashamed of the incompetency exhibited by the committee, that they wished to throw some of the blame from off their own shoulders upon others; and probably, had they not received a bill for damages done to the boat and furniture by them and their friends, the public, at least, would never have been the wiser. Numbers of the respectable parties who were on board left the boat at Brockville or Prescott, disgusted by the utter want of anything like arrangement for the comfort and wants of the excursionists exhibited by the Committee, whose sole object appeared to be a determination to make all the money they could out of the unfortunates they had enticed on board. How true it is that "People who live in glass houses should not throw stones."

Yours truly,

John Trowell,

Capt. Steamer Bay of Quinte.

Kingston, 19th Aug., 1861


The Late Excursion

In compliance with a request from Capt. Trowell, we publish a letter, on the first page, from him to the Whig, and as he singles out C.E. Britton from the committee, as the one to all the blame for the mismanagement should attach, we give herewith a statement signed by Mr. Britton, and which, we are assured by other members of the committee, can be depended upon as correct.

"When I first wrote to Mr. Gildersleeve relative to Chartering his Steamer, I stated that she would be required to take on about 50 excursionists at Kingston; we did not limit ourselves to that number, and at a subsequent meeting of the committee, we decided to issue one hundred Kingston Tickets. When the Steamer first left the Wharf we had two of these tickets remaining, but Capt. Trowell, upon his own responsibility, returned to the Wharf and received twenty five more passengers.

The agreement with Mr. Gildersleeve was, that he would charter his boat for $100, close his Bar, and allow the committee, as far as was reasonable, whole control of the boat.

It was evident from the extensive preparations he made on the morning of the Excursion, that he did not intend to close his Bar, and upon me reminding him that the Charter provided it would be closed, he replied, "That if his was closed, none other would be allowed on board, as he would be liable to a penalty of $200, for allowing us to have one." I agreed that we should have none aboard, and was glad to have an excuse to keep the other Bar ashore, as I was opposed to it from the beginning. Mr. Gildersleeve then instructed the Capt. to close it. All that was very good, but after we left Kingston I found the Bar was in full blast, and when I requested the Steward to close it he replied that he had orders from Mr. Gildersleeve to keep it open and that he intended to do so.

I stated the case to the captain, and he came down and found it locked, but after he went away it was again opened and kept so until after the row occurred, and it would not have been shut then had not the committee threatened to use physical force. Which one of the committee it was, who asked Capt. Trowell to drink I cannot ascertain, as they all deny it, and notwithstanding his reply that he could not drink, he managed to pour down about as much as any man on board. However, he knew the bar was open against the expressed wishes of the committee, and also, that he was violating the charter by allowing it to remain open. With regard to the notes, I was the maker and the writer of but one. The first Note - the one made by Mr. Richardson, was handed to me with the request that I would make another, and enclose them both to Mr. Gildersleeve; I made an exact copy of the first one, not thinking at the time, that being payable to Mr. G.'s order rendered the endorsations useless, but that was an oversight and not done with the intention of defrauding him of the charter money, and when I enclosed them I only asserted that they were endorsed by two of the best men in Canada.

In regard to the "ruffianly lot etc.," I heard several Ladies of this lot remarking what a ruffianly, rowdy looking Captain we had, and they are as capable of judging from appearance as Captain Trowell is, although they may not have had twenty years experience.

The man who was hurt by the crank did not have the trouble of opening the door, as it was left open all day, for the purpose, I suppose of allowing drunken men and children free ingress.

When we engaged the Steamer we expected to get her furniture, but Mr. Gildersleeve it appears did not consider this included, as he completely stripped her of every movable article except one Table and a few chairs, which (the chairs) were kept stowed away in the lower cabin, and when a few were brought upon deck for the use of the Ladies, the waiters considered it their duty to carry them back again, leaving those upon deck without a seat. Had we anticipated so large a crowd, or supposed that Mr. Gildersleeve intended removing the furniture, we would have made arrangements to provide seats, for some of our passengers at least.

The "black-guards," whom Capt. Trowell says he ejected from the Ladies' cabin, were Gentlemen who are in every way his superiors, and were attending upon their wives at the time he requested them to leave. The reason he assigned for wishing them to retire was a far different one from blackguardism.

One of the committee was stationed at the door of the cabin to prevent the entrance of rowdies, and so far as I can ascertain he discharged his duty faithfully.

It was in putting a drunken man out of the cabin that a lamp was smashed - the only one that was broken during the day. The mouldings of the Saloon and one stateroom door, were broken before the committee took charge of the boat. If any other damage was done, Captain Trowell has himself to blame, as he allowed the Whisky to be sold. He got parties drunk and then expected the committee to control them.

The committee has received a bill for damages done the boat, and if they pay it they will also pay costs.

As to those who left at Brockville and Prescott, I think Capt. Trowell has drawn upon his imagination, as I have heard of but one gentleman who left at Brockville, and it was his intention to do so when he first came on board.

The above are all facts and can be proved if necessary."

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Aug. 7, 1861 p.2
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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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Gananoque Reporter (Gananonque, ON), Aug. 7, 1861 p.2