Maritime History of the Great Lakes
America (Steamboat), 1 Jun 1855
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THE GREAT LAKE STEAMERS. - The steamers CANADA and AMERICA, built last year at Niagara for the Great Western Railroad Company, have been chartered by Mr. Zinnerman, who will run them between Toronto and Ogdensburgh, calling at Darlington, Cobourg and Cape Vincent. These boats are by far the largest ever launched upon Lake Ontario. They are each 300 feet long and 40 feet wide. The are alike in every particular and furnished in a supurb manner. The total cost of the two boats was $300,000. The engines of these boats are of great power, and it is reported that their speed will be proportionately great. - Rochester Union.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      Thursday, April 12, 1855

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      THE WESTERN RAILWAY STEAMERS. - The Hamilton (C.W.) Banner contains a lengthy description of the two steamers, "CANADA" and "AMERICA" now lying at the docks of the Great Western Railway Company at that place, and soon to commence their regular trips. The CANADA is to be commanded by our old friend Captain George Willoughby, formerly connected with the Michigan Southern Line of steamers, who will doubtless add to his already high reputation in the new position he has assumed.
      The boats above mentioned have been fitted up in princely style, and will compare with any steamers that float on our waters. Among the names of the mechanics engaged in fitting up these "palaces" we notice the following from this city.
      The painting and decorations were executed by Mr. James Smith, of Buffalo, whose name stands high, as a steamboat decorator, and we assure Mr. Smith this last effort will not detract from his previous fame.
      The plumbing work, which embraces the most complete and convenient arrangements we have yet seen, is from the extensive establishment of Mr. James E. Thompson, of Buffalo, who has lately added to his former business, a branch at Dundas, and is now about opening another in Hamilton.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      Saturday, June 9, 1855

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      From Our St. Catharines Correspondant -- March 31, 1855
      I took a stroll through Mr. Shickluna's celebrated shipyards and establishment today, and perhaps it will interest some of our readers to hear of the doings of this great shipbuilder, who has been established in St. Catharines since 1837, and who is so famous for the beauty and excellence of his vessels, from the pleasure boat up to the mammoth steamer of upwards of 1,000 tons.
While other shipyards have been closed during the Winter Mr. Shickluna has kept constantly employed at his several establishments 190 men. He has now on the stocks four new vessels of the largest class, three of them here and one in Niagara, the dockyard at Niagara being leased to him for ten years. The vessels on the stocks are the HELLIWELL, three master of 420 tons; the WELLAND CANAL of 300 tons; these Mr.S., has built for himself, and they are already chartered to Mr. Reid, timber merchant of Hamilton. Then we have another ship
of 400 tons to be named the SIR EDMUND W. HEAD, in honor of the Governor General, and at Niagara the THERESA of 400 tons.
The schooner W. H. MERRITT, launched here last Fall by Mr. S., for the owners, Messers. Battle & Smith, is almost finished, and promounced by good judges the prettiest vessel ever built at St. Catharines.
As you are aware, the mammoth steamers belonging to the Great Western Railway, namely the CANADA and the AMERICA, each of which is of 1561 tons measurement, and 1000 horse-power, were built by Mr. Shickluna. These vessels are the best on Lake Ontario, and are 300 feet in length, with a breadth over-all of 17 feet, and a depth of hold of 14 feet. He also built the clipper steamer ZIMMERMAN at the same place, and finished the three vessels in about six months. He said that last year he launched vessels to the ammount of 5000 tons, and paid to wordmen &c. nearly $200,000. These latter figures will show why the people of St. Catharines so highly prize Mr. S.; he is in fact the main stay of our town. He expects to have a busy season, and declares that if business does not come, "He will make business." He is prepared to contract for vessels of any size, and have all finished in twelve weeks.
      Toronto Globe
      April 4, 1855
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      (From the Democracy)
      On Monday last about noon, a large party of Buffalonians left the city, by the cars of the Niagara Falls Railroad for the Suspension Bridge, enroute for Hamilton, to partticipate in the enjoyment of the first trip of the splendid new Steamer CANADA, just completed at Hamilton, and, with her consort, the AMERICA, destined to form the new " Great Western International Line" of steamers, running daily between Oswego and Hamilton. The party was accompanied by Mr. C.J. Brydges, of Hamilton, Managing Director of the Great Western Railway, Mr. Julius Movius, the General Agent of the Company, Mr. John Corning, Receiver, at Buffalo, of the same road, and Mr. H.H. Whitcomb, one of the traveling Agents, to each of which gentlemen, as well as to others connected with the management of the Great Western, the party was indebted for unnumbered courtesies and kindnesses while on the way going and returning.
      After a pleasant hour at the Falls, and an examination of that magnificent structure, the Suspension Bridge, the party embarked upon the special train over, the Great Western Railway, and arrived at Hamilton in about two hours. Here the guests were at once conducted on board the CANADA, and were welcomed by Capt. George E. Willoughby, a gentleman too well known on the Lakes to require any special commendation at our hands. The Captain was thoroughly in his element on the quarter deck of this truly elegant vessel. A description of the boat is given below. The officers of the CANADA, as far as we were able to ascertain them, are:- Capt. Geo. E. Willoughby; J. Malcolmson, 1st. Officer; Wm. Fizzette, 2nd. Officer; W.H. Bradford, Purser; G. Timmerson, Steward; Geo. Trueman, Engineer.
      After getting fairly embarked and comfortably bestowed the guests being made free of the entire craft, the word was given to "cast off," and with banners flying, and amid the cheers of the assembled multitudes on the docks, the CANADA glided away and laid her course for Toronto. The day was calm and pleasant, and the trip was enlivened by the presence of the band of the 65th. Regiment, which accompanied the party from Buffalo. In two hours the CANADA arrived at Toronto where the cheering, congratulations and hospitalities were renewed, or rather continued. After remaining in Toronto for a short time, the noble steamer again put out to sea, and amid constant festivity and hilarity made her way towards Oswego, off which port she arrived in about 11 hours, in the midst of a dense fog. This was early in the morning, but owing to the fog the CANADA was not able to make the harbor until nearly 10 o'clock, A.M., when she went in, welcomed by salutes from Fort Oswego, and the Revenue Cutter HARRISON, and by the reiterated cheers of the assembled crowds on dock, house top and green slope.
      We have not the space to detail the circumstances of the reception. Suffice it to say, that the people of Oswego out-did themselves in hospitality. Banners streamed from every available point, and in scores of places, the red cross of St. George, and the meteor flag of the Republic coquetted with each other in tranquil confidence. Long may it be ere that confidence shall be broken by any untoward strife, or unnatural warfare among children of the same descent. To Lieut. Grier Talmadge, of the U.S. Army, the pary is indebted for much of the brilliance of its reception at Oswego. He directed the artilery on shore, while the officers of the cutter HARRISON, made the waters of the lake tremble with the vibrations of their heavier guns.
      The party remained at Oswego seven hours, and then re-embarked for the return trip. An addition of a number of ladies and gentlemen citizens of Oswego was made to the party, and the voyage back was equally agreeable with that down the lake.
      The time made, was we believe, the fastest ever known in those waters. On the up-trip (returning) the boat left Oswego at 8 P.M. on Tuesday, and arrived at Hamilton at 8 A.M. of the following day, thus making the whole run, with a new boat, officers and crew, and including stoppages in just 12 hours.
      In conclusion, we can only reiterate our thanks to the gentlemen concerned in getting up this splendid fete for the attention and lavish hospitality bestowed upon the members of the party, and to express the extreme gratification we enjoyed in making the trip, over a route unsurpassed for beauty and historic interest.
      The whole length of the hull is 298 feet, breadth of beam, 38 feet 6 inches depth of hold 13 feet 9 inches, and built in whole of Canadian white oak and fir. The water lines are on the wave principle, universally conceded to be the best for the attainment of high speed.
      The frames are double and of oak, floor timbers 16 1/2 inches in the throat sides 4 1/2 inches and diminishing to the gunwale to 5 inches, placed on the keel 24 inches from centre to centre of frame. The keel and main keelson is also of oak, and bolted with 1 1/2 inch iron; three bolts on each frame. On each side of the main keelson are three others of pine, faced with oak, making altogether seven keelsons, called respectively, main, spring and bilge keelsons all being closely fitted and securely fastened. From the bilge keelson start seven streaks of oak, five inches thick by eight inches broad, fitted in the turn of the bilge and extending to the extreme ends forward and aft. The sides of the boat are secured with a complete net work of iron, four and a half inch, placed diagonally across seven frames from the head of the top timbers to the floor timbers, with two seven-eighth bolts bolts through the frames at each crossing, and rivetted together where the bars intersect each other. Over the diagonal bracing is fastened the clamps, consisting of two streaks of oak, altogether thirty four inches deep, bolted together on edge and secured to the top shear streak with screw bolts innumerable.
      Beneath the clamps is sprung an arch also of two streaks of oak, spanning a distance of 180 feet, and stepping on the bilge streaks of oak before mentioned this is also bolted edgewise, and with screw bolts through the sides.
The deck frame is principally composed of fir, dovetailed into the clamps and top shear streak, and secured outside and inside, with hanging knees, fir, firmly bolted.
      The planking is 3 1/2 inches thick on the bottom, diminishing to three inches above the turn of the bilge.
      The engine is a lever beam condensing engine, 70 inches diameter of cylinder, 12 feet stroke of piston, wheel 36 feet in diameter, 11ft. face wrought iron cranks and shafts; the cut-off or expansion gear is Stevens' patent, and the whole workmanship of the highest finish, manufactured by R.P. Parrott & Co., of the West Point Foundry.
      The Main Deck forward is devoted to freight entirely, the officers rooms, smoking saloon, kitchen, and offices occupying the guards, or that part of the ship extending beyond the sides.
      Abaft the Engine on this deck, is the Ladies Saloon, in which are ten state rooms, furnished with French bedsteads, richly curtained, the wash stands with marble tops, and water supplied from tanks on the hurricane deck, the water being admitted on slight pressure in a very ingenious valve, got up expressly for the purpose, to guarde against forgetfulness of passengers, who, with the old fashioned faucit, permitted the water to overflow, greatly to the destruction of state-room carpets, if by chance the attention should be diverted by a passing object, which in this case is obviated by its closing itself instantly upon the removal of the finger.
      Inasmuch as this is a complete fixture the uncomfortable noise of ewers and basins flying about in a sea-way, is entirely done away with. Abaft the state-rooms are three length of berths divided from the state-room cabin by folding doors, and enclosed by drapery of blue and gold; the style of finish throughout the saloon being Corinthian, with heavy gold capitols.
      On the second or Promenade deck is the upper cabin, or saloon, extending the length of 250 feet, unbroken except by the space occupied by the working part of the engine. This cabin contains 56 state-rooms, 10 of which are furnished with rosewood beadsteads, carpeting, and drapery in keeping with the general magnificence - the rest of the rooms have each a bed sufficiently wide for two persons, with a berth over that 33 inches wide making them all desirable family rooms.
Abaft the paddle box, on the starboard side, is the Ladies' Bath Room, nicely furnished, supplied with hot and cold water; also that luxury to a railway-worn traveller - a shower bath. This room will be attended to on the arrival of passengers on board, by one of the maids. Forward of the paddle-box, on the same side, is the Barber's Shop and Gentleman's Bath Room, furnished equally well, with all the appurtenances of a similar establishment on shore.
      On the port side, immediately opposite, is the Pantry, and beneath it, on the main deck, is the Kitchen. The interior decorations of the Upper Saloon consists of Canadian and other scenery, enclosed in a gilt frame of composition the mouldings being also gilt, and the panels painted to imitate damask of light peach color.
      The after part of the Saloon is furnished with rosewood furniture, upholstered with dark crimson velvet. and consists of sofas, tete a tetes, conversationes, Ottomans, &c. In this part also stands the piano.
      The Carpet is of Brussels, and with the massive chandeliers suspended from the arched ceiling, will give it the appearance of a magnificent drawing room. The use of light in state-rooms being entirely prohibited, does away with the risk of fire, nor will they be required, as the door of each state-room has, in the upper panel, a window of semi-transparent glass, on which is an appropriate device, with a border of flowers stained in the glass. The forward part of this saloon will be the dining room, in which can be set two tables, 100 feet in length, capable of dining 200 passengers at one time; the furniture of this part consists of dining tables, side tables, side boards, and dining room furniture generally.
      The whole of the upper saloon is lighted in the day time by a trunk light of stained glass, unsurpassed for extent or beauty of color.
      As a tribute to Buffalo artists, it is appropriate to say that the exquisite paintings, together with the rich glass staining which adorns the cabins of each boat, were executed by our very talented artist, James Smith, and reflect the highest credit upon him, both as to his taste as a designer and skill as an artist.
      The plumbing which includes conveniences equal to our Niagara Water Works, and by means of which a fine flow of water is secured for each State room, was performed by Mr. Thompson, and if by consulting still more the luxury of the passengers, the Company have had prepared seperately, a lady's and gentleman's bathing and showering saloon, from which, together with other conveniences, all the comforts of a well-regulated home may be secured.
      It is unnecessary to speak in detail of the furnishment and upholstery of the Cabins, for it was all done by Messrs. Hersee & Timmerman, than whom none more skillful in their line can be found in this or any city. Its gorgeousness must continually remind the beholder of that species of oriental grandeur which is so graphically described in the "Arabian Nights." Every thing is complete - nothing is out of taste - for, as all was made to "match," every part harmonize in its particular sphere in making up the whole.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      Saturday, June 30, 1855

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William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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America (Steamboat), 1 Jun 1855