Steamboat Mail Contracts on the Ottawa and Rideau Rivers
Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec in the 1800's



December 24, 2009:

Dear Sirs:
 
I recently located this site via Google. 
 
I would draw your attention to a privately published book entitled "The Steamboat Mails of Eastern Canada",   by Robert Parsons. 

It goes into some detail on the steamers operating on the river and the mail contracts awarded to steamboat companies . Steamboats began 
operating on the Ottawa River in 1823 with the launching of the Union. Mail very likely was carried privately on board steamers that plied 
the river.There was a formal contract to carry the mails from Montreal to Bytown by 1836. The mails went by light cart from Montreal to
Grenville and from Grenville to Bytown via steamboat. 
 
The first known steamboat marking is a manuscript "Str. Phoenix" dated 1858. The first steamer handstamp appears in 1859.  These were used 
on the Grenville - Ottawa mail contract route.

I collect steamboat mails to and from Ontario , the Ottawa River and Rideau Canal are areas where more research is needed on steamboat mail 
contracts and the steamers that carried the mails.  
 
I would appreciate any and all information pertaining to steamboat mail contracts on the Ottawa River both above and below Ottawa. Nothing 
is known about steamboat mail contracts on the Rideau . Information on this would be most welcome too.
 
I could provide scans of the ship markings if you wish.
 
... Bruce Graham 
bruce.sue.graham@gmail.com
__________________________________________________________

This is a page taken from an American tourist guide for 1874 . It is an adverisement for summer excursions by The Ottawa River Navigation Company 
( Montreal to Ottawa).
 
... Bruce. 
Steam Boat Tourism on the Ottawa River, 1874 Steam Boat Tourism on the Ottawa River, 1874
Steamer Peerless, Captain A. Bowie Steamer Prince of Wales, Captain H.W. Shepherd Steamer Queen Victoria, Captain P. Y. MacDonnell Steamer Princess, Captain P. McGowan
December 27, 2009: Hello All: Here are three more scans. The first announces the first sailing of the UNION - the Archive reference & notation must be included. This is a copy of a letter written in 1823 from Hawkesbury, Ontario, to Philomen Wright. Two persons are mentioned in the letter: Mr. Grant and Mr. Mears (O'Meara). Mr. O'Meara was the premier boat builder in Upper Canada -- he worked out of Hawkesbury. The next two show the known postal markings for Ottawa River steamboats. Bob Parsons was kind enough to allow me to send them for inclusion on the web site. He should be acknowledged as the author ."The Steamboat Mails of Eastern Canada", Robert Parsons , pages 83-84. I hope these will generate some interest and feedback. Bruce.

Announcement of the maiden voyage of the Steam Boat Union on the Grand River (Ottawa River), 1823 Source: Library and Archives Canada, Wright Collection, MG 24 D8, Vol. 10, page 3278 Steam Boat Union on the Grand River (Ottawa River), 1823

December 29, 2009:
Source: "The Steamboat Mails of Eastern Canada", published privately by Robert Parsons, page 83. Steam Boat Markings on the Ottawa River -------------------------------------
Source: "The Steamboat Mails of Eastern Canada", published privately by Robert Parsons, page 83. Steam Boat Markings on the Ottawa River -------------------------------------
Source: "The Steamboat Mails of Eastern Canada", published privately by Robert Parsons, page 84. Steam Boat Markings on the Ottawa River -------------------------------------
Hi Bruce & Al: Here is a copy of some payments made for Mail Transportation made in 1858. Some of the conveyances were by boat or combinations of boat, horse & vehicle. Unfortunately the name of the boat is not given but the contractor and their routes are. .. Linda Falls Payments for Mail Delivery Surnames for Search Engine: Blackburn, Keenan, Brisard / Brissard, Workman, Joseph Green, Kirby and Pattee, Quirk, Schneider, Farrell (Farrell's Landing in Renfrew County), Proulx, Graham (Carp and Stittsville), Riddell (Castleford and Pakenham) and Gerrard. ________________________________________________________________________ Thanks very much Linda. It would appear that there is more to this list than what was received . I think it would have gone from A to Z , listing all the postal routes for Canada in 1858. If I knew your source for this list, I might be able to expand on this one. What was really great about your list was the Carillon listings. As you know, Carillon was a transhipment point on the Ottawa. I think most steamboat mail contracts would have been on the Grenville - Ottawa route. I assume informal carriage of the mails occured on the river as a matter of expedience . A search of the archives in Ottawa is needed to locate mail contracts for the Ottawa steamboats. I have made attempts with no sucess. I will look on the Marine Museum Site here in Kingston to track down the contractors for the mails on the Bruce Mines - Sault Ste. Marie route. I know the steamboats Rescue & Ploughboy carried mail on this route in 1858. The Ploughboy was part of the North-West Transit Company and contracted to carry mail tri-monthly between Collingwood and Fort William. This company also held the winter contract for this route. This is a very early listing of postal routes for the upper lakes , the first Canadian registered steamer to reach Lake Superior was the Collingwood on July 27, 1857. American steamboats carried the Canadian mails between Detroit and Sault Ste. Marie before 1858 Bruce Graham.

Steam Boat on Lake Superior, Ontario, Canada Image Source: Selections from Picturesque Canada, plate 46 Steamboat on Lake Superior, 1860's

January 18, 2010:
Rideau Passage and Freight Line Steamship Line operated by Moss Kent Dickinson (Mayor of Ottawa at one time) Image Source: King of the Rideau, page i Rideau Passage and Freight Line on the Rideau Canal, 1800's

March 14, 2010:
The Steamer Olive at Lindsay's Wharf, Kars, Ontario (previously called Wellington) Steamer Olive at Lindsay's Wharf, Kars, Ontario

January 19, 2011: See also Some Early Post Offices and Postmasters in Carleton County, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada New July 31, 2014: new e-mail for Bruce Graham added to the link below.

E-mail Bruce Graham, Linda Falls and Al Lewis

Back to Steamboats on the Ottawa and Rideau Rivers - part of History and Genealogy in the Ottawa, Canada, area