The Steamer Ontario
Something About the Boat That is Bound for Cuba
Alexandria Bay latter in Watertown Times: There is a bit of interesting history connected with the steamer Ontario, which left this port yesterday for Cuba, by way of the St. Lawrence River. She was built at Charlotte and launched in 1880 as the "Flower City." her first commander was Milo D. Estes, now captain of the St. Lawrence, and she was owned and built by John H. Barry of New York, who is now summering at the Bay.
She ran excursions out of Charlotte until 1881, when she was chartered by A.F. Barker, of Clayton, to run in connection with the Rome, Watertown Ogdensburg Railroad on the Cape Vincent-Alexandria Bay route. In those days the visitors to the Thousand Islands came by way of Cape Vincent instead of Clayton. The Flower City took the place of the Island Belle. On Aug. 6, 1882, she caught fire while laying at the Clayton dock, and after Captain Estes and his son narrowly escaped with their lives, she was cut adrift and floated down the stream.
The tug Arthur of the Collins Bay Towing Company extinguished the fire with her pumps and towed the wreck back to Clayton. Martin Barney of Clayton bought the wreck for $4,000 and rebuilt the steamer, which came out in 1884 as the Ontario. Mr. Barney was unable to pay the mortgage on her and she was sold to George Sweet of Carthage on a foreclosure sale. For the past few years she has been running from Oswego to the Bay in connection with the D.L. W. railroad. Martin Barney's attorneys in the foreclosure proceedings were the Fullers, of Syracuse, and last winter he obtained a judgment of $2,000 against those lawyers for charging him with excessive fees. The Ontario has caused many legal battles, and they are still being fought.