The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Advertiser (Owen Sound, ON), June 17, 1875

Full Text

Immense Enthusiasm


TUESDAY last was a red letter day in our town for the third steamer built on our waters was launched. The City of Owen Sound was built here last winter. She is a fine Propellor, built on the same ways as the Frances Smith by Mr. Simpson the builder of the latter vessel , for a Toronto Company, of which Mr. A.M. Smith is we believe Chairman. Previous to the launch of the City of Owen Sound, the Bella McPhee, which had been on the stocks beside her to be lengthened, was launched for the second time. The Bella McPhee has been lengthened over twenty feet, and had another mast put in her. During the day there were crowds from the county in wagons, buggies and other vehicles. The Okonra brought up a large number from Keppel, while the train from Toronto brought a large company, including the owners and their friends. The steamer McCarroll also brought an excursion party from Meaford. The afternoon was beautifully bright and the heat not too oppressive. Long before the hour the banks of the river were lined with an immense crowd of spectators. The wharves formed standing room for many and every vantage ground was occupied. Around the shipyard, where the newly-built vessel was being prepared for the launch, there were also crowds, among whom the boys insisted on being in every place where their presence was not required, to the great annoyance of the men working. As the Bell McPhee was laying at the stern of the City, in such a position that the latter would be in danger of touching her stern in her descent. It was deemed necessary to launch her first. She was accordingly wedged up and the dogshores knocked away, but owing to some fault in her ways she did not stir. Many means were tried, but still she did not move. At last the tug Hand came up the river, and she was asked to give a pull. A hawser was accordingly carried to her, and she put on full steam, when the cable snapped and the Hand was driven by the force of her way upon the east bank. Nothing daunted however, another hawser was again made fast, and with one or two pulls the mass of the Bella McPhee began to move slowly, slowly. Gradually her speed quickened, and with graceful haste she glided into the water, and was brought to just in time to avoid striking the Frances Smith's wharf. While she was moving a ringing cheer rose from either bank - a cheer of relief and rejoicing that she was safely launched.

All the time the Bella McPhee was being launched Mr. Simpson, the builder of the City of Owen Sound, was with his men, busy making preparations. The clank of hammers and closing rivets up, knocking away the blocks which impeded the launch, was heard. A platform was erected near the stern, where a number of ladies and gentlemen from Toronto and Owen Sound, including Miss Wyatt, who had the graceful duty of naming the vessel, A. M. Smith, Esq., Ald. Baxter, and a number of other gentlemen; also the Mayor and many of the Town Councillors. One after another the blocks were knocked away; but still she moved not. At last the word was passed along, "she moves, ' but it was only almost about half an inch. Still more exercise of skill and muscle, and slowly and majestically the "City of Owen Sound, " with all her flags flying, began to slip down the ways. Then a beautifully decorated bottle of wine was dashed against her bow by Miss Wyatt daughter of Captain Wyatt, and careening over on the incline of the ways the noble vessel rushed into the water, then she rose, healed over to the other side, then steadied herself and sat like a swan on the water. Then again arose the ringing cheers, from both sides, repeated and repeated. The water displaced by her as she rushed into the river forced its way up the further bank, to the great dismay, and in some cases annoyance, of spectators whose anxiety to see prevented their calculations as to the exact force a solid body of a certain specific gravity would exert upon a liquid of considerably less specific gravity. We should not omit to say that the Band of the 31st Battalion played a number of select pieces.

After the vessel was safely launched Thomas Scott, Esq., Mayor , attended by the other members of Town Council, formed a meeting, and approaching Mr. A. M. Smith, read the following Address, which was beautifully engrossed, presenting the City of Owen Sound with a set of flags for her use, and wishing her success in the future. The Following is a copy of the Address;

To the Owners of the Propellor City of Owen Sound.

The citizens of the Town of Owen Sound being desirous of showing their appreciation of the compliment which you have conferred upon them by naming the fine vessel which you are this day to consign to the proper element, after their town, destined are long to become a city, have concluded to express that feeling by presenting you with this set of colours for her future decoration and use.

They wish to express the hope that your noble craft may long continue to bear them aloft and that she may have such a lease of existence that notwithstanding the many perils and dangers of the deep which may beset her in the navigation of our inland seas, she may be found staunchly and stoutly braving the breeze and the billow, when it shall have become needful to replace the tatters of these emblems by others such as these.

In the name of the people of Owen Sound I present you these flags, and most heartily congratulate you upon the completion of your noble vessel, and in their behalf I accept the omen involved in the name as an augury that at some day in the not remote future their town shall be entitled to assume the name which they this day with pride and pleasure see bestowed upon the gallant ship so soon to be committed to her home in the deep.

In their name also, I venture to express a further hope that a great ship-building industry may rise in this place out of the beginnings which have been made, and that, as years roll by, the interest of the people of Owen Sound and the builders and owners of vessels intended for service on the inland waters of Canada may become so closely welded that no intrusive hand shall be able to rend them asunder.

May He who holds the winds in the hollow of His hand, and whose control the waters are subject, speed and prosper the "City of Owen Sound, " in all her voyages and undertakings an that she may abundantly satisfy the desires and expectations of all interested in her welfare, and for many years to come, reflect credit upon her designer and builder.


To which Mr. A. M. Smith replied as follows;

To the Mayor and Corporation of Owen Sound.

MR. MAYOR AND GENTLEMEN - On behalf of the Owners of the vessel which we are now about to consign to her native element, I beg to return you my sincere thanks for the handsome and complete set of flags which the good citizens of Owen Sound have so kindly presented to her.

But more especially do I thank you for the hearty expression of your good wishes for her future success and for the hope that He who controls the elements to which she moves, may with his strong arm prosper the City of Owen Sound.

The ship-building interests, owing to the depression of the carrying trade on our inland waters, is at present very dull; so much so that in some of our oldest shipyards the sound of the adze has not been heard for some time; but with the revival of trade I trust that Owen Sound may have a continuation of this branch of industry which may be increased to very large proportions in the future

We are standing on the deck of a vessel built of timber as fine as can be produced ion this Continent, and there are large forests of such timber in the neighborhood, such being the fact and taking into account the position of your town in the centre of a fine agricultural district, with a fine water power, and a harbor surpassed by none, on any of our inland waters. I trust and hope the day is not far distant when your beautiful and thriving town may be entitled to assume the name waving from the mast head of the City of Owen Sound.

Thus ended the launching of the City of Owen Sound , and we may add our congratulations to the owners for processing such a fine vessel, to the builder for his skill and drafting and finishing her, and to Owen Sound on the reputation of the proof that this town is admirably fitted for being a ship-building town, and we may add, for having a Dry Dock, which we hope will speedily be realized. We and our children will often recall to memory the 15th june, 1875.

Afterwards the owner entertained the Council and some of the leading men to dinner in the Queen's. In the evening there was a moonlight excursion on the Frances Smith around the Bay. A great many availed of this first excursion of the season.

MOONLIGHT EXCURSION - this (Thursday) evening on board the steamer Frances Smith, at 8 o'clock.

STEAMER FRANCES SMITH - This favourite steamer sails from Collingwood every Friday evening at 2 p.m. and from Owen Sound the same evening at 11p.m. after the arrival of the Toronto, Grey and Bruce special express train. She calls at all the ports between this and Prince Arthur's Landing. Arrangements are being made to run direct to Duluth, saving any transfer of freight or passengers. The Frances Smith is the only steamer running direct through

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Original:
June 17, 1875
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Bill Hester
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
WWW address
Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.

Advertiser (Owen Sound, ON), June 17, 1875