The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 25 Aug 1896

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Steamer Ontario Thought To Have Been The First.

A discussion has arisen in Montreal as to the first steamer to run the rapids. William Farr, of Hemmingford, Que., writes:

"Messrs. Milloy and Miles, jr., are correct in their statement that the steamer Ontario - afterward named Lord Sydenham - was the first upper deck steamer that descended the Lachine rapids, in the year 1840. In the spring of 1842 I was called on to make, and did make, doors for the ladies' cabin and saloon, to be veneered on the face side with mahogany for the steamer Montreal, then lying at Hochelaga, getting fitted up with machinery, etc. So that nearly two years must have elapsed from the time the Ontario shot the rapids, before the Montreal was in shape to do the same. In connection with that subject, during my residence in Kingston, Ont., I was informed by J.F. McIntyre that his deceased father was the discoverer of the lost channel, that he piloted the Ontario through the channel on her first trip to Montreal. I do not think J.F. McIntyre is in Kingston at present. His cousin, J. McIntyre, ex-mayor of Kingston, might be able to verify what I say."

E.F. Dartnell, 180 St. James street, Montreal, gives the following extracts taken from "The Wreck of the Transport Premier," by Geo. Russell Dartnell (at that time surgeon of the 2nd Batt. 1st Royals), published in London, 1845, may be of interest:

"The right or headquarter wing of the Royals, under Major Bennett, ..... leaving Toronto on the 9th of October, (1841), in one of the Ontario steamers for Kingston - 180 miles - where it arrived next morning. A delay of some hours occurred here, the steamer destined for our conveyance down the rapids not being in port; but before evening we were again under way, in the only available boat at hand - a small schooner rigged steamer, with an Ericcson propeller, vulgarly denominated a 'puffer.'.....

"The upper rapids, the Cascades, the Cedars, and the Long Sault - have for many years past been navigated by bark canoes and large batteaux, and latterly even by steamers, with comparatively little risk; but the lower or Lachine rapids, until the year 1843, have never, I believe, been shot, except by Indians or other adventurous individuals."

Capt. T.F. Taylor, when spoken to about the matter, said that long before 1842 small steamers, including the Otter, Beaver, Bytown, Charlotte and Ontario, used to run the rapids and return by way of the Ottawa river and Rideau canal. Capt. William Power was of opinion that the steamer Ontario was the first of the upper deck crafts to make the trip down all the canals to Montreal.


The str. Armenia left Garden Island yesterday for Toledo.

The S.S. Bannockburn cleared this morning for the upper lakes.

The schr. Acacia has arrived from Charlotte with a cargo of coal.

The str. Inter-Ocean is in the canal with grain from Chicago to Kingston.

The schr. Annie Falconer is at present at Charlotte loading coal for Swift & Co.

So far this season the Prescott elevator has handled over 3,000,000 bushels of grain.

T. Gaskin, mate of the Bannockburn, has been transferred to the new S.S. Rosemount.

The tug Reginald came up from Montreal yesterday with two barges. One barge had 400 bags of salt for A. McLean.

The tug Bronson arrived, light, and went down again with four barges for Montreal. The tug Thomson took a like tow down.

The str. Varuna struck going up the bay yesterday and bent her shoe. She will be docked at Picton and have the damage looked after.

The tug Reginald left last night with six barges for Montreal; five have 100,000 bushels of wheat and the other is loaded with pulp wood.

The prop. Aberdeen and John N. Glidden are in at Portsmouth, from Duluth, with 113,000 bushels of wheat. The prop. Tilley has 30,000 bushels of wheat and 20,000 flour.

The str. Bigelow arrived in port this morning. She has had a party of Americans down the canal camping for a couple of weeks. She took them back to Alexandria Bay.

Capt. Gordon Rean, formerly of the prop. W.B. Hall, has been made captain of the prop. Glengarry. This is due to Capt. Maudsley being promoted to the Bannockburn and Capt. McMaugh taking the new str. Rosemount.

General Paragraphs - The steamer Spartan went down as far as Brockville this morning and transferred her passengers to the str. Algerian. She returned and left for Toronto to bring dpwn a special party of American newspaper men.

A Great Cargo of Grain - The prop. Oregon arrived today with the largest cargo of grain that has ever been brought into this port by any one vessel. She had 78,000 bushels of corn. The last trip she had 75,500 bushels of wheat. She only draws thirteen feet nine inches.



Toledo, Ohio, Aug. 24th - yacht Canada leading the Vencedor when the light winds died and the race was declared off.

Aug. 25th - better winds, Canada leading by an eighth of a mile (details).

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25 Aug 1896
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
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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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 25 Aug 1896