(from Montreal Gazette, May 8th, 1848)
LAUNCH OF THE NEW STEAMER, THE OTTAWA.
This splendid steamer, which is destined to ply in place of the Oldfield, between Lachine and Carillon, on the route from this city to Bytown, was launched on Saturday afternoon, from Mr. Merritt's ship yard, near the Cross. The day being delightfully fine, a large number of spectators were congregated, amongst whom we noticed many gentlemen interested in the Ottawa route, as well as numerous personal friends of the popular commander of the new vessel, Captain Shepherd. The Ottawa was gaily rigged out with flags and streamers, and looked remarkably well upon the stocks. Her model is admitted, by competent judges, to be a faultless specimen of steamboat architecture, and will add considerably to the reputation of her builder, Mr. Merritt. Her length over all is one hundred and sixty feet, and twenty-six feet beam, these being the extreme dimensions admissible by the locks at St. Anne's; but this capacity is an immense improvement on that of the vessel she is about to replace. The cabins, which are not yet completed, but of which we have seen the plans, will be fitted up in a superior style, and will be replete with every convenience; the dinner saloon will afford accommodation to seventy-five persons, with ease. The engines, which are of 75-horse power, and 10 feet stroke, are manufactured by the well-known firm of Messrs. Brush & Co., of this city, and will doubtless, by their satisfactory performance, maintain the deservedly high character of that establishment.
Very shortly after the hour advertised, two o'clock, the preparations being completed, the word "down daggers" was given, and the beautiful vessel glided gracefully and majestically into her destined element, amidst the loud cheers of the spectators. The Rev. Joseph Abbott, was requested to officiate as sponsor, in right of his being the oldest resident on the Ottawa River present; and at the words "Success to the Ottawa" the customary bottle of wine was broken on her bows, with all due solemnity.
The buoyant swan-like appearance of the vessel on the water excited the admiration of all present, as viewed from the shore her draught did not appear to exceed eighteen inches at most. After the launch a number of guests sat down to an excellent collation at the residence of Mr. Merritt, and several interesting speeches, illustrative of the gradual improvements in the class of vessels navigating the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers, were delivered by gentlemen connected with the forwarding trade. Several toasts were drank, amongst which "The Ottawa," "Her skilful and courteous commander, Captain Shepherd," "Mr. Merritt," and "The Owners," occupied a prominent position, and were most enthusiastically received.
The Ottawa will be ready to take up her station in two months, and is expected to make the trip through to Carillon in about three hours, which, by the co-operation of Messrs. Macpherson and Crane's splendid new steamer Speed, Captain Lighthall, will afford to the inhabitants of Bytown and the Upper Ottawa the long wished for boon of being able to make the journey, between Montreal and Bytown, by daylight, and in half the time the performance of the same distance until lately occupied. Travellers to the Caledonia Springs will now reach their destination early in the day instead of, as heretofore, in the evening; in fact, there is nothing now required but the construction of a railroad to abolish that horrible jolting and imminent danger of dislocating all the bones in one's body, between Carillon and Grenville, in order to complete the last link in the chain of improvement and place travelling on the Ottawa, either for business or for the sake of viewing its beautiful scenery on a footing as perfect as that of any route, either in this or any other country.