The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), 7 April 1851

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Spring Walk

Contrary to general expectation, the opening of Kingston Harbor has been greatly accelerated by favorable circumstances, and the consequence is, that it has taken the shipping interest somewhat by surprise. Every body is therefore doing everything in double quick time, and we have to get through "Our Walk"; maugre the fact that things done in a hurry are never well done, in the best and quickest way we can. The subjects of the present number will be the River Mail Line of Steamers, the British Lake Mail Line, and the Bay of Quinte Line.

THE RIVER MAIL LINE. --This well-known Line will be composed of three, or perhaps four boats: --the Ottawa, the Lord Elgin, the Highlander, and the New Era. The position of the latter vessel is not definitely settled, the matter being now under consideration. The Hon. John Hamilton, the River Mail Contractor, thinking that three vessels will be too much crowded in their time to do the work effectually, is anxious to, put on a fourth boat, but the views of his cooperatives, the owners of the Highlander and Lord Elgin, may be different. Time will tell.

THE OTTAWA.--This steamer, the swiftest of the River Line, has had an Upper Saloon placed upon her promenade deck during the winter. Being quite a new vessel, with boilers and engine equally perfect, she has stood in need of no repairs; but the greatest pains have been taken to decorate her and render her as commodious and comfortable, as her size will permit. The lamented death of Captain Lawless having created a vacancy in the command of the Ottawa, it has been judiciously filled by the appointment of Mr. Putnam, long time a Purser in Mr. Hamilton's employment. This steamer is nearly ready and will make a few trips up and down the St. Lawrence, until the condition of the river below Cornwall allows her to proceed the whole length of Montreal. The Ottawa will stop regularly at the Commercial Wharf.

THE LORD ELGIN.--This steamboat is also a new vessel, and has stood in need of no repairs, either to hull or engine. She is beautifully painted and re-fitted for the coming season, and is in apple pie order. The removal of Captain O'Connor to the Comet has afforded an opportunity to the owners, to place Mr. Farlinger, the former Purser, in command of the Lord Elgin. This steamer has an Upper Saloon, the entire length of the promenade deck, and her accommodations are such that the most fastidious traveler will have no cause of complaint. She lies at the foot of Princess Street ready for immediate service. Her wharf will be at Hooker & Holton's.

THE HIGHLANDER.--This elegant Upper Saloon vessel has not refitted at Kingston this winter, but lies at the wharf in Lachine. She was built last year and ran a good part of the season, but her accommodations were not then completed. During the winter recess, every pains have been taken to perfect her and render her the crack boat of the Line. That favorite old public servant, Captain Steares [Stearns],.will command her as usual; for though quite a new boat, yet the associations of the old Highlander, his former command, are so strong, as to beget a forget fulness as to the identity of the boats. Being hemmed in the ice at Lachine, the Highlander cannot move until Lake St. Louis is open, which commonly happens about the middle of April. The Highlander will stop regularly at Hooker & Holton's wharf.

THE NEW ERA.--This steamer, under the command of her active master, Captain Maxwell, is already in float and doing business on the river, making trips between Kingston and Ogdensburgh. When the season fairly opens, she will be placed in the River Line, if Mr. Hamilton's wishes prevail; if not, she will be employed in the Emigrant Trade between Kingston and Quebec, for which service, she is eminently well qualified, being commodious, roomy and very swift. The New Era has an Upper Saloon, is also almost a new boat, and is altogether one of the finest Canadian craft on the provincial waters. She stops at the Commercial Wharf.

The River Mail Line of Steamers will make daylight passages to Montreal, leaving Kingston at six o'clock in the morning, and arriving at Montreal by six or seven in the evening. Thus, the Thousand Islands, the various rapids of the Long Sault, the Coteau, the Cedars, the Split Rock, the Cascades and the Lachine Rapids will be properly seen and rightly enjoyed.

From the time the boats commence running, until late in the fall, this day-light passage can be assured, and the practice will only fail at the period when the traveler himself would wish it to cease for his own comfort and safety. Taken as a whole, the River Line for the present year, should it be composed of four vessels, will be the most complete and the most commodious of any that has run since the Rapids of the St. Lawrence were first navigated.

THE LAKE LINE.--There is to be no Through Line this season, consequently no regular opposition. The mail business of the year will be done by five steamers, viz.: the Passport, the Magnet, the Princess Royal, the City of Toronto, and the Chief Justice. The three first named boats will do the business between Kingston, Toronto and Hamilton; and the two latter will connect the Line at Toronto with Niagara and Lewiston. Thus, the passenger embarking at Kingston will be assured of reaching Buffalo or Hamilton at the earliest possible opportunity. Each day in the week, (Sundays excepted) a late steamer will leave Kingston at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and arrive at Toronto at 6 o'clock the following morning, after touching at the intermediate ports of Coburg, Port Hope, Darlington and other places, weather permitting. At Toronto, the traveler can step on board the Lewiston boat, or proceed in the lake boat to Hamilton, both leaving Toronto at 8 o'clock precisely. A short mention made of the five vessels comprising the Lake Line may not be unnecessary.

THE PASSPORT --This most superb steamer, the very Corypheus of steamboats, takes her place for the first time in the Regular Lake Line. She is unquestionably the most elegant vessel afloat in these inland waters; for although not so large as the monster American boats, she has no equal in the elegance of her fitments. She is an iron boat, and fully proved her capacity to make lake voyages, by her uniform success in the Through Line of last year. Her days of leaving Kingston are Mondays and Thursdays, and she is to be commanded by the most gentlemanly of all lake seamen, Captain Henry Twohy, late of the Princess Royal. She leaves on her first trip to-day at 3 o'clock. She stops at the Commercial Wharf.

THE MAGNET.--This is the well known iron steamer of the lake, commanded by Capt. Sutherland, both favorably recollected by all who have travelled in her. This season she has the addition of an Upper Saloon, the only thing wanted to render her accommodations complete. Her days of leaving Kingston are Tuesdays and Fridays, and her place of stopping is the St. Lawrence Wharf, now occupied by Mr. Bowen, formerly of the Passport, who has leased the premises.

THE PRINCESS ROYAL.--Since last year great improvements have been made in this favorite steamboat, the only one now remaining of-what used to be called the "Black Mail Line." Her speed is vastly improved, her Upper Saloon accommodations greatly increased, and much labor and expense have been incurred to render her in every respect a fit competitor for the patronage of the public. Her days of leaving Kingston are changed from Mondays and Thursdays, to Wednesdays and Saturdays, and alteration made to allow the crews of all the lake steamers to spend the Sabbath with their families, for the Passport belongs to Kingston, the Magnet to Hamilton, the Princess Royal to Toronto, and they will all be at home on Sundays. She is commanded by Capt James Dick, a younger brother of Capt. Dick of the City of Toronto, and who sailed that steamer during the greater portion of last season. The Princess Royal has already made one trip, and will make another this week. Her stopping place is at the St. Lawrence Wharf.

THE CHIEF JUSTICE, commanded by Capt. Colcleugh, and the City of Toronto in charge of her owner, Capt. Dick, will form the Junction Line from Toronto to Lewiston; leaving Toronto every Morning and Evening, and returning at like intervening periods. The traveller arriving at Toronto can make choice of either boat to continue his passage to Buffalo and the Far West. Both these steamers are full-sized lake boats, and both favorably known to the travelling community.

THE BAY OF QUINTE LINE - This season the Bay of Quinte people will have no reason to complain of steamboat accommodation, for a Regular Line of two good boats, working into each other's hands, has been appointed for that route, the Henry Gildersleeve, and the Prince of Wales. One of these vessels will leave Kingston, every working day, going up to Belleville by the River Trent during the night, and returning the following day. A strange kind of non-descript boat, appropriately called the Novelty, now lying at Quebec, is advertised by Capt. Bonter, of Belleville, to make a Day trip to Belleville and return within the 24 hours; but the Novelty has been taken up and handled so often during the past winter to suit the interested views of parties, that until she actually arrives in these waters, we will not believe in her purchase. She is said to be a 14 (11?) miles an hour boar, a very clipper in fact, and may do an infinity of mischief to the Regular Line without benefitting herself. Meanwhile, we will allude to the two boats, forming that Line, and wait patiently for events. The Henry Gildersleeve - This long remembered favorite of the public, the most fortunate steamer ever launched, has been made "better than new," during the winter. Always kept in the best of order, she has needed no great repairs; but every attention has been paid to the completeness of her passenger accommodations. The whole of her main deck has been thoroughly covered in, and her deck passengers will be well protected from the inclemency of the weather. Other alterations and improvements have been made, under the supervision of her new commander, Capt. Chambers, than whom no more popular steam-boat Capt. can be found on the Bay of Quinte. The Henry Gildersleeve is not yet quite ready for duty, but when she is, her regular days of leaving Kingston will be Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, after the arrival of the Montreal and Oswego Steamers. Her stopping place will be Brown's wharf. The Prince of Wales - This favorite vessel has been refitted, and has already departed on her first trip to Belleville. She has been carefully repaired, where repairs were needed, and increased accommodation forward been given to Deck Passengers, by extending her forward bulwarks. Capt. Nosworthy, her former commander, has again taken charge of her, a gentleman whose obliging disposition daily gains him friends, and-his regular days of leaving Kingston will be Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Her stopping place is Brown's Wharf.

We shall now pause from labor, with the intention of resuming "Our Walk" some time this week.

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7 April 1851
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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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Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), 7 April 1851