The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 10 Mar 1906

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p.2 To Fit Out Steamer - A.R. Milne returned today from Ottawa where he was present at a meeting of the marine engineers. Mr. Milne will leave next week for Toronto, to commence work in fitting out the engine of the steamer Kingston, upon which he is chief engineer.


The fleet of the Kingston & Montreal Forwarding company, with headquarters at Portsmouth, has been purchased by the Montreal Transportation company. The deal was put through last evening. The M.T. company is now in full control of the grain barge carrying trade of the river between Kingston and the metropolis. During the past few years, the K. & M.F. Co. barges have been leased by the Grand Trunk railway to carry grain from Coteau to Montreal. Now it is likely the elevator at Coteau will be closed and the Grand Trunk run their grain cars through to Montreal.

The Kingston & Montreal Forwarding company was organized in 1878. Frank Ross, of Quebec, is president; J.B. Carruthers, Kingston, vice-president, and James Stewart, of this city, agent. William Stewart, of Montreal, is a director. For some time the M.T. company has had an eye on the barges of its sister transportation company. The taking away of the barges from the Portsmouth bay will be a considerable loss for the "penitentiary metropolis."

Would Be Beneficial - Speaking of the marine school in Kingston, the Montreal Star recommends it and says: "If mutual American-Canadian efforts at instructing captains, mates, and sailors of the lakes and rivers were promoted it would be beneficial and stimulate the already well established friendly relations between the two countries. The Pittsburg Steamship company has already issued an order to its seventy lake captains requiring them to attend a school of instruction in the use of the compass and rules of the road. Similar efforts in larger lake border cities would improve the marine service in keeping with the constantly increasing commerce of the lakes.

Day's Episodes - The business men of Rochester, Oswego, Ogdensburg and Prescott are subscribing liberally to the stock of the Rochester and Ogdensburg Navigation company. We trust that our merchants will not overlook the fact that their subscription to this stock is necessary, no matter how small as the city will be benefitted generally by the excursion business. The stock promises a twenty per cent dividend.



As Captain On The Lake And River.

Fifty years as captain in St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario navigation was the unique record, completed by Capt. Elisha Biscoe Smith, when the steamer Alexandria went into winter quarters, in Picton harbor, last fall. Capt. Smith is one of the best known of river captains, a general favorite with young and old, winning the confidence and esteem of all his passengers, and ever commanding the respect and love of his crew. His evenful half-century, spent on the water, has been remarkably free from disaster or accident, his shrewd foresight and carefulness preventing much of what "might have been." Capt. Smith was born in Wheatley, Oxfordshire, England, in February 1833, the son of a doctor and youngest of a family of ten. His education was received in a boys' school near Oxford. At the age of sixteen he ran away from home, with enough money which he had saved, to buy his passage across the Atlantic. And a long, tiresome trip of six weeks, in a sailing vessel, it proved.

He spent a year in Montreal, then came to Kingston to live with Miss Smith, his sister. Another sister of his was Mrs. Pope, wife of Rev. Mr. Pope, rector of Barriefield. She was later married, on the death of her first husband, to James McCuaig, for many years M.P. for Prince Edward county. While in the Limestone City he entered Quill's private boarding school for boys, which was then situated on Johnston street, across from St. Mary's cathedral. Leaving Kingston, he went again to Montreal, to learn the wholesale dry-goods business, but his outdoor spirit fought against the confinement, and he went to New York, and Long Island for two years. Then he returned to Kingston and bought land, selling it shortly afterwards to move to Picton, and go boating. With Mr. McCuaig he bought the steamer St. Helen and was in command of her until she was wrecked in the Cedar rapids. The engine and boiler were taken out of her, and the hull abandoned.

Speaking of this, his only serious accident, in which he nearly lost his life, Captain Smith, when talking to the writer, recently said: "In running the rapids, the rudder chain separated, and the boat ran on a bar, on the outside. We had horses and cattle on board, but got a scow, and landed them safely. To communicate with the mainland, we lowered a yawl to row to an island close by, then attached a line from the island to the yawl. One time in going to the island from the steamer, two others and myself, the terrific current caught, and capsized the boat, and we were left struggling in the wild waters. One of my companions was drowned."

Captain Smith built the steamer Picton, in Deseronto, sailing her for several years. She was wrecked in Lake Ontario, but not while he was in command. The steamer St. Lawrence, owned by Captain Smith and his brother-in-law, J. McCuaig, was the next boat on which he was master. At this time A.W. Hepburn went into the forwarding line, and purchased the steamer Alexander. Captain Smith superintended the building of a new hull in Montreal, of the Alexander. Coming out after her extensive repairs she was christened the steamer Alexandria, and has since been captained by Captain Smith.

When King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, came to Canada in 1861 (sic), Captain Smith took a large excursion from the Bay of Quinte to Quebec, on the steamer St. Helen, to see our present ruler. He also took a big crowd on his boat. In Quebec, at the time, the Great Eastern, the largest steamer at that time to cross the Atlantic, arrived on this side of the ocean.

At the time of the Fenian Raid his steamer entered Kingston harbor, in a fog, and when the citizens heard the "toot-toot," they became much alarmed, fearing the Fenians were landing, as the steamer Watertown had been gone overnight and had not returned.

It is expected that Capt. Smith will be in charge of the Alexandria, when she starts out in the spring, on her Rochester-Montreal route, entering upon his fifty-first year to call into Kingston, as captain.

p.5 Personal Mention - Hugh McWilliams, Picton, will be second engineer of the steamer Arabian this season. Mr. McWilliams is a former Kingstonian and a son of Charles McWilliams, of this city.

p.8 A Boat's Arrival - Toronto, March 10th - Navigation opened in Toronto harbor by the arrival of the Hamilton Steamboat company's steamer Macassa, which reached here from Hamilotn shortly before noon. The vessel tied up at the Queen's wharf first, and is now cutting her way through the ice in the harbor to her usual dock. This is the earliest opening in fifteen years past. The first arrival last year was on April 4th.

Thieves At Work - Thieves have been carrying off articles from the steamer Island Queen lying at Portsmouth, and doing damage to the vessel. Capt. T.J. Craig has a detective engaged to find the offenders.

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10 Mar 1906
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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), 10 Mar 1906