Maritime History of the Great Lakes
"Live, Fight and Die Like Norsemen" Was on Her Paddle Boxes: Schooner Days CCCLXII (362)
Toronto Telegram (Toronto, ON), 10 Sep 1938
Full Text
"Live, Fight and Die Like Norsemen"
Was on Her Paddle Boxes
Schooner Days CCCLXII (362)


Steamboat Times Invade Schooner Days - Unlucky Kingston - Bavarian - Algerian - The Ship With the Concave Bottom.


FOLLOWING W.H. Woodward's query about the old Spartan last week, Schooner Days has had an interesting communication from a veteran of steamboat times, T. M. Kirkwood of 1914 Bloor street west. He writes:

Your schooner days every Saturday issue of The Evening Telegram are very interesting to myself, and I am sure to all who have sailed in schooners.

When in my teens I sailed on steamers and this letter is to give you some data with reference to the steamers that were operated in the 70's and some not in operation which you may print in your Saturday issues for the young "old timers" of steamboat men to remember. Perhaps when they read it they will send you their historical views of the Old Steamboat Days.

Here are my views of steamboats in operation in the 70's, some tied up and some wrecked by fires and foundering.


I sailed on the steamer Corinthian for several seasons. This steamer with the Magnet, Spartan, Corsican, Passport, Algerian, were a fleet of six steamers in operation between Hamilton, Toronto and north shore ports to Montreal. We left Hamilton at 9 a.m., arriving at Toronto at noon and left this port for Montreal at 2 p.m. on the arrival of the steamer City of Toronto from Niagara.

She used to transfer some 200 passengers daily to these steamers. They were Americans going to Montreal and Quebec. We arrived at Montreal next day at 6 p.m., therefore, these steamers made as good time 60 years ago as is now made by the Toronto to Montreal steamers. The reason was because we ran all of the rapids and did not transfer at Prescott as they now do.


This line was known as the Royal Mail Line, then the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Co., and now the Canada Steamship Lines. We used wood as fuel and wooded up at Hamilton which took us through to Montreal and back to Kingston. There we arrived at 4 p.m., took wood, passengers and freight and left at 5 p.m. for Toronto and Hamilton arriving at Toronto at 7 a.m. and Hamilton at about 11 a.m.

I am giving the names of the Captains and Engineers because some may be still alive and it may be of interest to them. The Corinthian had Captain Farrel with Wadsworth as chief engineer and Jim Galbraith as his second. The Magnet had Captain Baily and the Murray brothers as engineers. The Corsican had Captain Sinclair with Jim Smith as engineer, the Passport had Captain Sherwood and Somerville as engineer, the Spartan had Captain Dunlop with Mr. Bush as his first mate, the Algerian had Captain Trowel and Webster as engineer, and I believe that I he is represented yet in Toronto by A. F. Webster and Son, ticket agents.

All of these steamers were sidewheel steamers with walking beams excepting the Spartan, Corsican and Passport. The Corsican burned at Milloy's wharf, Toronto. The Algerian's hull was the Kingston, which was burned near Brockville, and rebuilt as the Bavarian, was burned off Port Darlington (Bowmanville). Again rebuilt as the Algerian, she was always an unlucky steamer until laid up.


What young old timers remember the steamer Osprey, a side wheel boat painted green? And the India, a propeller, both tied together just south of Brown's wharf, Hamilton, in the 70's?

Who remembers the Zealand, owned in Hamilton and built there, that foundered off Port Darlington? The Norseman, a side wheel boat that ran between Port Hope and Cobourg to Charlotte (Rochester) in the 70's? Painted on each paddle box was, "LIVE, FIGHT AND DIE LIKE NORSEMEN." Captain Sherwood sailed her and his wife was lost overboard from her. Then there was the Campana, passenger and freight steamer built overseas, with twin screws and concave bottom (two tunnels) and brought to Toronto by Messrs. Smith & Keighley, wholesale grocers on Front street, and finally sold for operation between Quebec and Prince Edward Island. She foundered on the north shore of the St. Lawrence. There was also the Steinhoff, a passenger steamer that sank at the foot of Yonge street when the ice pulled the oakum from her seams. The Cambria and Carmonia were both side wheel boats. One was lengthened at Collingwood and called the Pittsburg and owned by a Mr. Brown, a druggist ac Detroit.

The Matawan and Nepigon were two wooden propellers built by the Allan Line for moving freight from Montreal to Quebec to be transferred to the Allan Line ocean vessels because the river had not sufficient depth to load this freight at Montreal.

They also owned the side wheel steamer Meteor, which I bought and rebuilt at Owen Sound as the City of Owen Sound and operated her from Owen Sound to the Soo and north shore of Lake Huron.


Who remembers the steamer City of Windsor, which was rebuilt by Frank E. Kirby, naval architect of Cleveland, as the W. T. Robb, and which the late D. L. McKinnon and myself bought at a marshal's sale at Toronto because she busted a lock at the Welland canal and the owners could not pay the damage? Her captain was Sims.

And who remembers the C.P.R. steamers being built in England and called Alberta, Athabasca and Algoma in the early 80's? The Algoma was wrecked at Isle Royale with Captain Sims as her commander? Her machinery is now in the C.P.R. steamer Manitoba.

This steamer was built at Owen Sound by the Polson Iron Works and is in operation from Port McNicoll cruising around the lakes.

Captain Anderson was her commander and Lewis her chief engineer. The Alberta's Captain was McAllister and engineer Lockerby; the Athabasca captain was McDougal and her engineer Cameron. Mr. Kenny was her first engineer, and as a boy I sailed with him on the Allan Line steamer Matawan with Captain Taylor, and Scott as chief engineer and Kenny was 2nd.

These steamers were cut in two and brought to the upper lakes, so also the Assiniboia and Keewatin in later years. All going strong yet except the Algoma.


Who remembers the propellers, Dromedary, Lake Michigan, Cuba, Africa and Asia? These two last steamers were varnished yellow at the time. The Asia was lost in Georgian Bay. The Francis Smith was built at Owen Sound for operation to the lakehead and later called the Baltic with Captain Robertson as her commander.

The Majestic with Captain P. Campbell, the Germanic with Captain Foote, the Atlantic and Parry Sound, all were owned by the Northern Navigation Co., and operated between Collingwood and the Soo.


With the late D. L. McKinnon we owned and operated the steamer City of Windsor and City of Owen Sound from Owen Sound to the Soo, and with my sons we owned and operated the Kirkwood Steamship Lines, between Toronto and Hamilton to Montreal and Quebec, and were the pioneers to operate steamers between Toronto and Hamilton to Vancouver via the Panama canal.

When the late Sir Henry Thornton was imported to Canada to control the government railways and the Government Merchant Marine, 60-odd steamers built by the Union Government, he found that we were operating vessels in opposition to the railways to Vancouver and he established a line between Montreal to Vancouver. He succeeded in putting us out of business, and this after we had bought their steamer Torhamvan through Sir Thomas Wilson of Belfast for $100,000. She was the Canadian Logger.


I forgot the old steamers Abyssiniian and Athenian, two fine side wheel steamers operated between Toronto and Ogdensburg. I believe that they were American bottoms and Captain Esford or Estes commanded one of them in the early 70's. I remember that they were taken to Montreal through all of the rapids because they were too long for the locks and operated between Montreal and Quebec in opposition to the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Co. The rate went down to 25 cents per passenger and they each had a band aboard.

Then I remember the propeller Shickluna, owned by Sylvester Bros, of Toronto. Think she was built at Port Dalhousie at Muir's Dry Dock, in the 90's. Perhaps it was at St. Catharines, at Shickluna's yard. I took the steamer City of Windsor to Sault St. Marie and passed the Shickluna in Lake Huron, (in the 90's). Also recall the wooden steamer Rothsay, a side wheel vessel with a beam engine built at Montreal and taken to Toronto by the owner, but as he could not make any money with her here he took her back to Montreal.


" Who knows that the J. B. Reneaud, owned in Quebec city, grounded in the Lachine Rapids? Who remembers the Bohemian side wheel steamer that ran between Montreal and Quebec in the 70's. Perhaps this will meet the eye of some of the pioneer farmers at Grafton, (below Cobourg), who saw the steamer Corinthian go ashore in the 70's right at their doors.


Here is our old and dear friend, CAPT. JOHNNY WILLIAMS, master in steam and sail for sixty years. He is now eighty, and was recently "cut down to barge rig," amputation of his left leg above the knee being necessary on account of an injury to his foot very many years ago. He has so far recovered from this serious operation as to be able to use crutches, and, as always, is a fine upstanding sailorman. Everyone, from the jolly terrier in the picture to the Sea Scouts whose fleet Capt. Williams has built up, will "lay to that," as Capt. Cuttle used to say. The photograph is a cheery hail which greeted Schooner Days on returning from Russia.

Snider, C. H. J.
Item Type
Date of Publication
10 Sep 1938
Language of Item
Richard Palmer
Copyright Statement
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.


"Live, Fight and Die Like Norsemen" Was on Her Paddle Boxes: Schooner Days CCCLXII (362)