The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Comet (Owen Sound, ON), May 3, 1867

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Now-a-days we hear plenty of talk about shipping – new navies - the old "Wooden walls" – to be done away with - vague ideas about iron clads - "hydraulic propulsion" tumble abut promiscuously on our minds and "Great Eastern", grim old warriors – side launches – Gridirons are all mixed together, still ‘tis too far away across the Atlantic that we forget it, and somehow we expect such things over there.

But we have had the hammers clinking here in our midst –a hundred busy hands have raised the great ribs – driven the iron bolt and patiently fitted timber upon timber until a fine ship has stood out against our evening sky and we too “know the ropes” The 30th ult. Was the time appointed for the launch, and was looked for with expectation, though many a wiseacre shook his head and ventured “ she would not get off so soon,” but the hammers clinked and the on Tuesday the people began to pour in.

As the hour 2 p. m. approached every available spot near the launch was occupied. Long dense crowds lined each side of the river. Downstream lay the Algoma with excursionists from Collingwood. Across from the town the new vessel broadside to the stream and resting on a series of great timbers which sloped away to the water – a broad basin unbroken, save here and there a skiff shot across as though pleased with its own temerity. Half past two the last blocks were knock (sic) away – a dozen axes cut a dozen cables - the great mass with a tremor – a groan – moved off and gliding down took her plunge , surging back the water in a huge swell – down came the halyard and up went the flag, unfurling to the breezes the name “Frances Smith” - while on the deck, the bandsmen recovering their legs blew lustily, as though each himself thought he had done it.

The vessel was then moored and the crowd dispersed well pleased with a sight so novel to most.

The new steamer is a fine boat and reflects great credit on the enterprise of her builders.

Previous to the launch a deputation consisting of T. Scott Esq. Mayor, A. M. Stevens Esq., ex-Mayor, Judge McPherson and H. Secord Esq., presented to Capt. Smith Colors for his new steamer, purchased by subscription of the citizens of the town. His Worship the mayor read following the address which was beautifully engrossed on parchment, by Wm. Armstrong, Es., Clerk of the Pease in presenting the colors:



Proprietor and Commander of the Steamer


Dear Sir

We your fellow townsmen beg to say that we participate in the pleasure which you must this day enjoy, in the successful completion of a project, which for some time has been the object of your ambition, i.e. the construction of this splendid vessel.

Your efforts heretofore in providing us with a speedy and commodious means of transit, conferred upon us as a boon possessed by few other towns, we beg to assure you that we are not unmindful of the favours received, and that we feel much satisfaction in witnessing in the launch today, the substantial results of the enterprising spirit possessed by you. During your residence among us, the exhibition of the spirit, by you, has elicited our warmest commendation, That same ambition has built our cities and towns, made fine farms of the wilderness, intersected our country with railroads and canals, and erected into a wealthy and prosperous Dominion - a land that was comparatively recent, one gloomy forest.

Your preserving and honourable efforts for the advancement of your personal interests have been such that we as a community have shared the benefits accruing therefrom, our labouring men and mechanics have been largely employed, the business of our town increased, and the farming community of the surrounding country have been enabled to obtain an increased reward for their labour.

We have met today to acknowledge our appreciation of those qualities, which we see in you, those qualities have secured you to our respect and admiration and in testimony of the esteem in which we hold you, we beg to present you with

THIS SETT OF COLOURS, to be borne by this splendid steamer, the launch of which we are this day to witness, her beautiful model, great strength, the superior workmanship displayed upon her, attest to the skill and ability of her architect and under the command of yourself THE TRAVELLING PUBLIC may rest assured of safety, speed and comfort, together with kind and courteous attention.

To conclude - We heartily wish you success in this undertaking, We hope and trust that it may prove profitable to you and that your esteemed family may long enjoy the fruits of your preserving energy.

Done at Owen Sound

The thirtieth Day of April

AD 1867

Captain Smith replied:

Mr. Mayor and fellow townsmen,

For the appropriate and highly esteemed present as well as your kind address, either of which would in itself be sufficient to inspire with feelings of grateful remembrance of the many kind favours I have already received at your hands - accept my heartfelt thanks and I trust that the future will not find me unmindful of what can, and must of necessity be done, in order to develop even some of the great natural resources of our town and surrounding country. In fact, this is the only place in which there can be a dockyard conveniently established for the construction and needy repairs of the merchant marine, which is likely at no distant day to spring up in this north-westerly portion of the great Dominion of Canada.

I feel, gentlemen, that my first effort at building may and will be followed by many others; and should this noble vessel astonish the finny tribes of Georgian Bay, by her speed, as I am sure she will, the entire credit will be due to her designer and builder, Mr. Simpson.

Gentlemen, I again most cheerfully thank you for your magnificent present, and kind wishes for myself and my family, and I trust that the new ship may long be spared to float those beautiful colours to the gentle breeze.

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May 3, 1867
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Scott Cameron
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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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Comet (Owen Sound, ON), May 3, 1867