The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Argus (Kingston, ON), April 17, 1846

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Steam Marine on the Lakes.

The Buffalo Commercial Advertiser has a very interesting article on this subject, from which we make some extracts and compile some statistics: -

"The introduction of steam upon the lakes was gradually, yet commensurate with our wants. From the building of the second boat in 1822, to the launch of the Sheldon Thompson, at Huron, in 1830, six or seven small steamers had only been put in commission, and for the ensuing four years a press of business kept in advance of the facilities. But the zeal and extended desire to invest capital in new steamers was reached in 1837-8, when no less than thirty-three boats with an aggregate of eleven thousand tons were built at an outlay of $1,000,000. This period points to the maximum, and then came the reaction. In 1840, only one steamer came off the stocks, and the same prostration and dearth in this department, continued for three years, when it again received a new and fresh impulse, and now presents one of the leading characteristics of investment in our inland trade. The sum of $1,000,000 has been diverted from other channels of business to this branch within the past two years, in addition to a very large outlay in sail vessels, and as the wants of commerce develop some marked changes may be observed. The small or medium sized boats, into which the merchant farmer and foreign immigrant were indiscriminately huddled, have given place to capacious, swift and stately vessels, in which are to be found a concentration of all that is desirable in water conveyance. Such is now the characteristic of steamboat building on the Western Lakes."

The following is the number and value of vessels owned and exclusively engaged in the trade of Upper Canada, in 1844:

51 Steamer valued at $1,220,000

5 Propellers " 46,000

80 Sail Vessels " 114,000

Total 136 Vessels $1,380,000

Having employed thereon 3,000 men.

The whole number of men employed between Buffalo and Chicago is estimated at about 5000. During the season of non-navigation, half of these are employed upon farms in Ohio.

Demonstrable evidence from many sources is at command to show the progressive change and accumulative power of the lake trade. In 1827 a steamer first visited Green Bay for government purposes, and the Black Hawk war in 1832 drew two boats to Chicago for the first time. Now the trade of the latter place in connection with the business growing out of the rapid settlement of Wisconsin sustains a daily line. A glance at the trade of Chicago for last year, will illustrate the change that has taken place there.

The gross tonnage of the lakes above the Falls, in 1845, was 100 vessels and 80,000 tons. This Spring it will be found to have augmented from 5,000 to 10,000 tons.

In 1845, the whole number of arrivals at the port of Buffalo was 1,700. Last season, 1,320 entries were made at Chicago. The entries at the port of Buffalo for 1845, were:

Steamers 42 tons 18,000 Arriv 1,000 Ag. ton. 385,167

Propellers 9 2,550 76 " 23,477

Brigs 46 10,000 1,625 " 50,818

Schooners 211 40,000

Total 308 70,550 611,235

From a valuable table given by the Com. Adv. we learn that the available Steam Marine of the lakes is 60 Steamers and a tonnage of 30,000 tons. This is irrespective of 20 propellers.

Opening of Navigation - The levels on the Welland Canal were all full on Monday, and about noon on that day we saw the first vessel up, pass the town. It was the Cuba, of Oswego. [St. Catharines Journal]

p.3 On Sunday morning the Steamboat Canada, Capt. Bowen, will take her place on the River St. Lawrence, leaving Kingston at 7 o'clock.

Yesterday was the day appointed for the launch of Captain Patterson's Propeller Steamboat the Ireland. At 5 minutes past 3 o'clock the order was given to consign her to the watery element, and in less than a minute from that she was seen floating on the broad bosom of Lake Ontario. The launch was the prettiest we ever saw. There was no fuss made, and none of that bungling we have witnessed elsewhere. The whole business reflects great credit upon Messrs. Fowler & Hood, the Builders. - We trust that the success of the Ireland will be as great as the enterprise of her Commander merits.

Steamboat Collision.

Yesterday morning, as the two rival steamers on the Niagara route were passing out of the Bay, Mr. Bethune's boat, the Sovereign, ran foul of Captain Richardson's vessel, the Transit, in the channel opposite the Queen's Wharf, and completely disabled her, by smashing the starboard wheel to pieces, besides otherwise damaging her bulwarks. The Sovereign received no injury by her collision, but afterwards, in backing off and turning ran her stern upon the shoal, and broke her rudder, and was obliged to lay up. As usual in such cases, the one lays the blame on the other. The steersman of the Sovereign, which is the swifter vessel of the two, charges the Transit with an attempt to cross her bow, and the captain of the latter charges the former with deliberately running on board of him, as the closeness of his vessel to the shoal did not admit of his rounding off to the south, while the channel was sufficiently wide to the north, to have allowed the Sovereign to pass without coming in contact. It is more than probable that the lawyers will be called upon to board and punish the guilty party in this case, and we sincerely hope that any one who could be foolhardy enough to endanger the lives and property of others by deliberately running one vessel into another, or wilfully exposing it to be run into by another, will receive a punishment adequate to the nature of the offence. [Toronto Examiner April 15th]



Will leave Kingston for Cobourg, Port Hope and Toronto, Daily, (Sundays excepted) at six o'clock, P.M., on the arrival of the Mail Steamer from Montreal. The steamer Eclipse leaves Toronto daily, (Sundays excepted), for Hamilton, at half-past 2 o'clock, P.M.

Fare from Kingston to Hamilton, Cabin $4 1/2

Deck $2

Fare from Kingston to Niagara, Cabin $4 1/2

Deck $2

Fare from Kingston to Toronto Cabin $4

Deck $2

Fare from Kingston to Cobourg Cabin $2

and Port Hope Deck $1

Returning, will leave Toronto Daily, (Sundays excepted,) on the arrival of the Mail Steamer Eclipse, from Hamilton, at 12 o'clock, noon.

John H. Greer, Agent.

Royal Mail Packet Office, Greer's Wharf,

Kingston, April 16th, 1846.


It will be seen that the Telegraph, under the command of Capt. John Masson, will commence running on the 15th from this port to Lewiston, and the intermediate ports on the Niagara. The Telegraph is a superior boat, and has been thoroughly repaired. Capt. Masson made himself so favourably known on this line last year, that it is not necessary for us to say more than that he is a gentleman, a discreet commander, and a good sailor. We congratulate the travelling public on the establishment of this line of steamers, and trust that it will receive the support which it deserves. The importance of having a boat running regularly in connection with the boats on the American side, is heightened by the unaccommodating spirit and extortionate demand of the Toronto monopolists. [Hamilton Express]

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April 17, 1846
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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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Argus (Kingston, ON), April 17, 1846