Announcement of the maiden voyage of the Steam Boat "Union" First steamer on the Grand River (Ottawa River), 1823 Source: Library and Archives Canada, Wright Collection, MG 24 D8, Vol. 10, page 3278Thanks to Mr. Bruce Graham for sending the above letter
Some assisted passengers who travelled upriver to various destinations in 1845. This steamer left either Bytown, or Aylmer (Quebec) and travelled as far west as Fitzroy Harbour. Passengers disembarked on either side of the river on the way. Some went to Huntley, March, etc. on the Ontario side. Others went to the Quyon and Onslow area of Quebec. Michael Welch / Walsh (to Pontiac County) Mary Kennedy +2 Sheehan Mrs. Collins (March) D. Moriarty Robert McNeil Gauvin M. Moriarty Mary Lyons M. Smith William Shakel James Dolan Sabby? Tracey M. O'Brien (2) D. Sullivan (2) J. Grace (2) J. Driscoll (2) Biddy Joyce (Bridget) Maurice Barr David Price (2) Jane Donahue (2) Thomas McKennip 3 and Charles Piper / Pyper 2 Mathew Ryan 3.5 and W? Cunningham 2 Robert Saddler 3 Pat Launon? 1 Wm. Halferty 3.5 Mathew Smith 2 Thomas Egan 4.5 John Dolan 2 Pat Ryan 2 W or M Phee / Fee? John Gubbins or Gribbons or Gibbons Catherine Kelly Pat McGuire Thomas Costello Catherine Reilly Widow McLaughlin Catherine Cassidy and Johnston B. Ryan and sister Curry / Currie
From the book The Upper Ottawa Valley by Clyde Kennedy: "From 1833 to 1846 the steamer Lady Colbourne had taken passengers and supplies for lumbermen up the 32 mile long Lake Deschenes (from Aylmer, Quebec) to the Chats Falls at Fitzroy Harbour. Beginning in 1836 the George Buchanan ran from above the Chats Falls at Fitzroy Harbour up to Renfrew. During the 1850's a "Horse Railway" transported passengers and supplies around the Chats Falls. A hydro-electric dam was built here in the 1930's.
Thanks to Taylor Kennedy for the following: (Feb. 24, 2001) Hi Al: Thought I'd provide you with some actual accounts of steamers on the St. Lawrence, that one would surmise similarties to those that travelled the Rideau Canal. My ggrandmother was on the Chicora. A larger vessel for sailing the Great Lakes, and one would expect too large for the Rideau Canal. I speculate she travelled down the Rideau on a smaller steamer and met the Chicora in Kingston, where she boarded and sailed on to Toronto, where she became ill. From Toronto they headed west towards Niagara Falls where she died on board in 1913. She was Catherine (Costello) Kennedy. Please enjoy. This information is out of those $5.00 books I bought at a flea market. "On Friday, August 19, 1864, George Tuthill Borrett, a fellow of King's College, Cambridge, wrote to his father in England this description of the St. Lawrence river boat that had just taken him from Quebec City to Montreal. This was my first introduction to the river steamers of the New World, and truly they are an institution to which nothing that we have can for a moment be compared for comfort and speed combined. The American river boat of which the Canadian is a copy is nothing more nor less than an immense floating hotel, a characteristic type of the people themselves, a curious combination of democratic follies and aristocratic propensities; a mixture of every kind of life - fast life, slow life, busy life and lazy life, all under one roof. The saloon is a fine handsome room of great length and good height, fitted up with exaggerated decorations, extravagant and, as I think, tasteless. Along either side are state cabins, each and all a good bedroom in itself, comfortably arranged and very well ventilated ; and around them, on the outside, runs a sort of open deck or platform, where the passengers sit and promenade at their pleasure. At 6 p.m. dinner was served in the saloon, at the lower end, which is set apart as a dining room, a handsome "high tea" ; and after tea there was music, cards, chess and so on, till late in the evening, when, after a final moonlight walk outside, the passengers turned in. In 1871, Mrs. Thomas Brassey, daughter-in-law of the Grand Trunk's builder and later a baroness, wrote with some disdain of the eating habits of "second and third rate Americans" as she called them, aboard a St. Lawrence river steamer just out of Kingston Everybody stood around the room, leaning against the side of it, each with a chair behind them, which they had brought down from the deck ; no one being allowed to approach the table till the stewards in a loud voice announced, " Breakfast is now ready, ladies and gentlemen," upon which announcement they all flew at the table like a pack of hounds, and before we had time to approach, had cleaned (I can use no other word) the contents off every dish near them and to their own plates ; and the gentlemen, in spite of the steward's remonstrance's, paid no attention to any ladies - or females, as they call them here - but to those in their own party. Luckily the captain knew us, and after a little delay we had a separate breakfast served to us. It was the custom in those days to sneer at the Yankees. In 1876, John J. Rowan, an Englishman writing for the benefit of those of his peers who might want to emigrate, echoed the Baroness Brassey's words ; Even the American tourists who travel in Canada for amusement and economy - for strange as it may seem, it is cheaper to travel in Canada than to live at home in the United States - are not of a stamp likely to charm Canadians into annexation. The better classes of Americans do not travel on the beautiful Canadian lakes, for fear of the rough and motley crowd of their own countrymen that they encounter on the steamboats. I do not think this latter people derive much enjoyment from the scenery of "Kennedy", as they call it, although they undoubtedly enjoy the good living. I recently had the pleasure of travelling in company with some four hundred of these tourists. One hour before dinner, though at the time our boat was running down one of the finest reaches of the St. Lawrence, these people crowded the dinner tables in the saloon. The waiters told them that unless they left the tables, the cloth and cutlery could not be laid. Upon this they drew back their chairs a foot or two to enable the waiters to pass to and fro, and there they sat for one hour, their hungry regards fixed on the table, their blackpanted extremities tucked under their chairs, like rows of carrion crows waiting for a dying horse. At last dinner was put on the table, and a fierce joy lit up solemn, yellow faces of the four hundred, and in the words of the captain they "went it strong", so strong indeed that the outsiders preferred bread and cheese on deck to partaking of that horrid repast. In 1881 Lady Duffus Hardy, another titled Englishwoman, travelling on another St. Lawrence river steamer, described her first encounter with one native Canadian dish ; I lean back on my luxurious lounge in a rather sleepy state, and am fast drifting away into a land of dreams, when I am roused by the long prolonged sound of the dinner gong, and we all crowd, helter-skelter, to the dining saloon, where our captain, a big burly man, sits at the head of the table, with sundry roasts and fancy dishes smoking before him. We speedily spoil our appetites, and leave but a mere wreck of bare bones and skeletons. One dish contains Indian corn cobs about a quarter of a yard long, looking white and tempting with their granulated covering. Believing that they are some stuffed delicacies, I ask for a small piece. A smile goes around, and I receive a whole one on my plate. What am I to do with it? I glance at my neighbours. Every one is holding a cob with two hands, and beginning at one end, nibbles along as though he were playing a flute till he gets to the other, repeating the process till the cob is stripped of it's pearly corn. I don't think it is worth the trouble of eating, though it is considered a great dainty on this side of the Atlantic."
Also from Taylor Kennedy on March 1, 2001: In 1831, the entrance locks and the Rideau stretch of the canal were complete, allowing a steamboat to travel in a few hours what has taken McTaggart / Taggart (John) days on foot. Colonel By celebrated with a banquet and an ox "properly prepared and roasted whole." He expected to complete the entire project by the end of 1831 but was forced to postpone the opening until the spring of 1832, after a local miller damned the Rideau River in order to repair his mills. Finally on May 24, 1832, Colonel By, his wife, two daughters, and a small party of contractors and dignitaries boarded the steamer "PUMPER" (later renamed The RIDEAU .. Taylor) at Kingston, and over the next five days made their way triumphantly up to the entrance of the locks at Bytown. At each lock, By was given an enthusiastic greeting, and at the Chaffey's Lock, 40 Indians gathered in their canoes to salute him. Colonel By died February 01, 1836. Source: The Canal that Colonel By Built, by Charles Magill published in The Old Farmers Almanac 2001.
From Bob Blackburn: Hi... I may have some info. My g-g-grandfather (James Blackburn) was a captain on the Lady Colborne, George Buchanan, Ann Scisson, and the Emerald between 1840 - 1846/47. The boats he was on ran between Aylmer and the Chats Falls. Captain James Blackburn settled in the Aylmer area about 1832, shortly after arriving from Scotland. James was one of the early pioneers of the Aylmer, and Ottawa areas. He was one of the first members of parliament from Aylmer, representing the County of Ottawa in the Lower Canada Assembly, from 1834 until the suspension of the constitution of the province in 1838. To make the journey from his constituency to the provincial capital in the city of Quebec required riding a full week on horseback each each way. In the book "Pioneers of the Upper Ottawa" by Angus Gard, James is mentioned in the Aylmer section as having been one of the town's officers, and that he and his son-in-saw Henry Chepmell were among the first to establish a store in Aylmer with one of James' brothers being the town baker. James was also one of the first steamboat captains to navigate the waters of the Ottawa River between Aylmer and the Chats, calling at March, Torbolton, and Quyon. He captained a number of the steam boats, primarily the Lady Colborne, but also the George Buchanan, and the Emerald, as well as the Ann Scisson for a brief period during 1844-1845. Few other details are available related to the historical significance of this as navigation records were not generally kept up until the Ottawa Forwarding Company was established. Some historical records of Canadian ships are contained in an online database by the Canadian Heritage Information Network for archaeological research purposes. Both the Lady Colborne and the George Buchanan are recorded in this database; the original reference source being John Mills’ Canadian Coastal and Inland Steam Vessels 1809-1830. The LADY COLBORNE was built in Aylmer, Quebec in 1833. She was 100 feet long with a 34 foot beam. The registration number was 9033933, and the Mills Number was 2405. The GEORGE BUCHANAN was built in 1836 in Arnprior, Ontario. She was 77 feet long with a 27 foot beam. The registration number was 9033818, and the Mills Number was 1597. The first references I found on any of the boats that James captained was in copies of the “Bytown Gazette and Ottawa & Rideau Advertiser” on micro-film at the University of Waterloo Dana Porter Library. One of the June, 1836 editions carried the following notice: NOTICE The Steamboat LADY COLBORNE, now plying between AYLMER and FITZROY Harbour, (touching at the intermediate stations, viz: MARCH and TORBOLTON, Upper Canada; and EARDLEY and ONSLOW, Lower Canada, as business may require) will continue her regular trips, until further notice, every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, leaving AYLMER on each of the said days a Six O’clock, A.M. and the CHATS, or FITZROY HARBOUR, at One O’clock, P.M. and arriving at AYLMER the same day, where Stage Coaches will be in readiness to convey the Passengers to Bytown, the same evening. The Steamer LADY COLBORNE, with an engine of thirty-two horsepower, is fitted up in a style to ensure the comfort of her passengers, equal to any boat on the Ottawa River, and from the above arrangement, will afford Ladies and Gentlemen who visit this part of the country, an opportunity of seeing the beautiful scenery surrounding the Chaudiere and the Chat’s Rapids, with only one day’s delay. On the days not specified for her regular trips as above mentioned this Boat may be engaged for towing Rafts, or for pleasure parties, if required. N.B. The Company will not be answerable for any Goods or Parcels sent by the LADY COLBORNE unless delivered in charge to the purser when shipped, for which a receipt will be given guaranteeing their being safely landed, as directed when the Company’s risk ceases. For Freight and Passage, apply to George Clifford, Captain, on board, or to the undersigned Agent in AYLMER; CHAS. SYMMES Aylmer, June 3, 1836. The first reference to James Blackburn as Captain is found in the paper the following May (1837). Immediately beneath this advertisement is one for a new boat, the GEORGE BUCHANAN, which James also captained at some point in his career. Other references to James as the captain appear in advertisements in almost every issue of the paper during the seasons that the waterway was open. The first reference found that included his first name in the advertisement was in the April 16, 1840 issue. In the “History of Steam Navigation” by James Croil, there is mention that in 1840 the LADY COLBORNE became the mail boat between Montreal and Quebec (This conflicts with newspaper advertisements I found that show the ship was still travelling above Ottawa as late as 1845). And then around 1856 the Tate Brothers, ship builders in Montreal, purchased the LADY COLBORNE and renamed her the CRESCENT. They also owned the LADY ELGIN, and with these two boats they started the fourth line of steamers plying between Montreal and Quebec. The market simply wasn’t there for this many businesses and boats. The competition became very cutthroat, with full cabin fare being $1.00, including meals and stateroom, and regular steerage passage was down to 12.5 cents. This all came to an end with the tragedy of the MONTREAL, in June 1840. While sailing from Quebec with over 400 passengers, most being recent emigrants from Scotland on their way to their new homes, a fire broke out on board and 253 of the passengers were killed in the fire or by drowning in the cold waters of the St. Lawrence. On the Ottawa River it was quite different as the rapids on the river made it impassable for any boats with cargo to reach Ottawa from Montreal. The original Grenville Canal was completed in 1832, the same year as the Rideau Canal was completed. This canal still couldn’t handle the larger steamers so passengers disembarked at Carillon, took a train 13 miles to Grenville, and then got on another steamer for the remainder of the journey to Ottawa. With this increased traffic on the Ottawa came the formation of the Ottawa and Rideau Forwarding Company by businessmen in Montreal. The first steamer on the upper part of the Ottawa (between Grenville and Ottawa) is believed to have been the UNION, Captain Johnson, built in 1819 and first in service in 1820, between Grenville and Hull. It took 24 hours for the steamer to travel the 60 miles between the two communities. Although the “History of Steam Navigation” provides an extensive review of the early days of steamboats between Quebec, Montreal, and Ottawa, I have so far only been able to find limited information on steamboat travel above Ottawa itself, between Aylmer and Fitzroy Harbour, where James captained. Although James’ name appears in the advertisements right up until 1840, another Captain took over the Lady Colborne during 1841-1843 and James re-appears as Captain, starting in April 1844 through the last copies of the paper found on file, dated during the summer of 1845.
Hi Taylor: The "Rideau" - now there's a steamboat I remember. (Not that I was there). But I remember seeing the name before. ----- Original Message ----- From: "Taylor Kennedy"
To: Sent: Saturday, March 03, 2001 5:18 AM Subject: Steamers > Hi Al > I'm going to the Archives tommorrow so I was searching for a piece of paper > that had the reel # for Pinhey's diaries. During the search, I flipped > through another book I bought, published in 1955 about the Rideau Canal. > Inside some stories on Steamboats, I know you'll enjoy. I'll see some time > this weekend to get them to you. By the way, the "Pumper" that Colonel By > travelled up the Rideau was renamed "The Rideau" for the trip. That update > and more. Take care > Taylor
January 29, 2002: Do you know anything about the old Louise apparently a ferry boat from Pembroke Ontario to Sheenboro area. My father's brother Michael John Tierney called Jack lived in Sheen and was apparently captain on this ferry. He was born 1868 first child of Denis Tierney and Catherine McDonald in Renfrew County married Ellen D'Arcy / Darcy of Sheen. Thanks, Eileen Boardman, oldest living grandaughter of Denis and Catherine. ================ Eileen: One of the best books on this subject is Clyde Kennedy's The Upper Ottawa Valley. ... Al
May 18, 2002:
Grenville and Carillon Canals Early Canals in QuebecI was wondering if any of you might have information or advice for locating information on the Grenville and Carillon Canals, specifically the Lock masters employed there. Thank you, Patrick Masson ================ Hello Patrick: I don't have much information on the Grenville and Carillon Canals. I'd like to find out more as I believe that some of the men who worked on them also came to work on the Rideau Canal. There were quite a few people who came to Bytown in the late 1820's from a place called St. Scholastique, near the Oka Reservation (Kanesatake) which may be near the canals (sorry, my geography is not great this early in the morning). I remember reading that there was a man named Mears who had a boat building business near Hawkesbury -- he built steamboats for use on the Ottawa River and possibly also for the St. Lawrence River. Robert Legget has written a book called The Ottawa Waterway. It may have some information, but I don't have a copy of it yet. I'm posting your query to this page in hopes that someone may have information regarding early activities on this part of the Ottawa River. ... Al ---------------------------- May 18, 2002: Al, Thank you for your reply. I actually have a few books by Robert Legget, the most relevant being "Ottawa River Canals and the Defence of British North America." In this, Mr. Legget provides a detailed history of the construction of the Grenville, Carillon, Chute a Blondeau and Anne-de-Bellevue projects and their overall relationship to the "alternate route" from Montreal to Kingston. Unfortunately he does not include much on post construction. Another text, "History of the Counties of Argenteuil Quebec and Prescott Ontario From the Earliest Settlement to the Present" which was written in 1896 by Cyrus Thomas, provides more information on the locals. One particular story included in the book you may be interested in is an account of a steam boat and its crew (a husband and wife) going over the Carillon Dam. My GGGGrandfather, as the lock master was involved in the rescue. The story is written in classic 19th century language. I would be happy to pass it on if you like. Thanks again for your assistance, Patrick
May 27, 2008:
The Steamship Wanakewan at Long Island Locks, 1920's Source: Gloucester Roots, edited and compiled by Lois Kemp
July 9, 2008: Here is a photo of the steamboat "Olive" built in Smiths Falls on the Rideau Canal system in 1875 by William O'Mara. I believe that the first steam boat builder on the Ottawa River was an O'Mara who worked at Hawkesbury in the 1820's. A possible relation.
The Steam Boat "Olive" Photo Source: On a Sunday Afternoon: Classic Boats on the Rideau Canal, page 54
See also an excerpt from Robert Legget's book "Rideau Waterway"
August 27, 2008:
The steamer ALBERT at Quyon Photo Source: Hurling Down the Pine, page 107
February 16, 2009: My name is Peter Connors and I am originally from Ottawa. I have been researching my mother's family "Kilduff" for some years. Recently I found information about my great grandfather Peter Kilduff. In a reference to a book titled "Great Lakes Ships We Remember" by Peter J. Vander Linden and John H. Bascom of the Marine Historical Society of Detroit, there is reference to Peter Kilduff supervising the building of the steamship "Peerless" for the Ottawa River Navigation Company. He is mentioned as an iron worker in Ottawa and I am certain this individual is my great grandfather. He operated from a shop on York Street and among his works, was the erection of the roof on the Library of Parliament in Ottawa. All the other works I have discovered, were building related projects in Ottawa. The vessel was built by "White" of Ottawa and launched on the 16th of May 1872. She was licensed for 800 passengers. She was badly damaged by fire on June 9th 1885 at Montebello, the upper works were destroyed and the vessel scuttled to save her. She was rebuilt in Montreal, Quebec in 1886 and shortened from 202 ft to 185 ft. She was finally broken up in 1935. The vessel was re-named Empress in 1886. It appears she sailed the from Ottawa south to Grenville. In the little I have been able to discover so far is a reference to her as follows: "" Travel by steamboat was often luxurious and steamboats such as the Peerless and the Empress (see photo below on December 15, 2010) have been described as palatial, boasting their own brass and string band and equipped with mahogany cabins and bars (Lamirande 50). Steamboats carried the social elite, and must have been considerably more comfortable than 19th century travel by rail. The christening of these steamers was a social event attracting the "beauty and fashion of the Town" and inspiring local pride in the craftsmanship (VMC:" Champlain Trail Museum")"" Source: Steamboats and Canals on the Ottawa River - Cultural Heritage. I have been unable to find any information on the steamship in any Ottawa newspaper reference. I found a picture of the vessel, the source being "William James Topley / Library and Archives Canada/ C-0002259."
I would welcome any assistance/ guidance you could provide, in uncovering more information for my family tree project. Thank you ... Peter Connors
May 7, 2009: Thanks to Bob Carswell for the following: Saw this site with your names on it and so I email this information I came across elsewhere to you to pinpoint the information mentioned about the Steamer called the Shamrock. This must have appeared in a Montreal or Lachine paper around 1875 or 1876. DEATH OF AN OLD RESIDENT – In another column will be found a notice of the death of Mrs. Cousens, one of the oldest inhabitants of the city. She was born at Northallerton, Yorkshire England, and emigrated to Canada in the summer of 1842 with her husband and seven children. After reaching Montreal, the family took passage on the ill-fated steamer Shamrock for Kingston and while passing through the Lachine Canal the boiler exploded and out of the whole crew and passengers only 66 persons were saved, no less that 54 persons were lost, among whom where Mr. Cousens and all his children. The survivors were distributed among the persons residing in the neighbourhood of the accident and Mrs. Cousens was taken into the employment of Colonel Penner who then resided at Lachine, and lived with him until the day of her death a period of almost 34 years. The old lady was very intelligent, and upright and was a faithful and devoted member of the Church of England. The funeral will take place tomorrow morning at ten o’clock. Enjoy, Bob Carswell
October 19, 2009: Hi Al: I've transcribed the 1847 Diary of Hugh Falls, a Provincial Land Surveyor with his survey of Bennett's & Bissett's creeks. He refers to a few men he hired as well as a few he encountered during the survey. I thought these names might be of interest to anyone researching these families. Feel free to post any of the diary that might be of interest. I'm not certain that I've transcribed all of the place names correctly as I'm not too familiar with the geography of the area. Perhaps you can correct any mistakes I've made if you notice any. I was surprised that it only took Hugh Falls one day to travel from Bytown to Montreal-thought it would take longer than that. I think he was paid 114 pounds for this survey. Linda Falls
October 22, 2009:
Photo Source: The Upper Ottawa Valley - A Glimpse of History, page 31. The Steamboat E.H. Bronson was named after Erskine Bronson (Bronson Avenue in downtown Ottawa) keywords: Erskine Bronson, Oiseau Rock, Deep River, Ontario, Thomas Dunbar, Des Joachims (Da Swisha), Pembroke . Photo Source: The Upper Ottawa Valley - A Glimpse of History, page 139.keywords: Portage du Fort, Union Forwarding Company, Batson, Pembroke
October 26, 2009:
Image Source: The Upper Ottawa Valley - A Glimpse of History, page 143. Advertisements for Steam Boat Transportation on the Ottawa River, Canada, in 1854 and 1868keywords Ann Sisson, Alliance, Emerald, Oregon, Calumet, Jason Gould, Pontiac, Pembroke, Snow Bird
November 13, 2009: Now, we wouldn't expect steamboats to be running the Lachine Rapids at Montreal but apparently they sometimes did, even after the construction of the Lachine Canal. Here's a picture of a steamer, possibly owned by the Molson Company of Montreal, descending the Lachine rapids. It was customary for the steamers to take on a native Canadian guide to steer safely through the rapids. One of the persons who died tragically when the boiler of this steamboat exploded in 1842, was Mr. Thomas Cousens / Cousins.
Picture Source: Selections from Picturesque Canada, Plate # 95
November 23, 2009:
This map shows the original fur trade post called "Chats House" manned by Mr. Mondion of the Hudson's Bay Company c. 1810. Also shown are the route of the Horse Railway built c. 1850 to take steamboat passengers around the Chats Rapids. Map Source: The Upper Ottawa Valley, by Clyde C. Kennedy, page 141.
December 24, 2009: Bruce Graham is interested in early mail contracts and mail delivery by steamboat on the Ottawa and Rideau Rivers.
January 26, 2010: In 1912, the steamboat Mayflower, owned by John C. Hudson, sank in Lake Kamaniskeg (Aboriginal name for "Wild Goose") near Barry's Bay, Ontario. There is an excellent write-up of this event on page 180 of The Upper Ottawa Valley - A Glimpse of History, including the names of the nine persons who lost their lives.
The Ottawa Citizen ran an article about the accident on November 16, 1912 The complete article is available in the Ottawa Citizen Archives.
February 3, 2010: Hi Al: Here is an interesting letter from 1834 (from The Ship’s List) ... Linda Falls
Extract of a Private LetterSteamer Rideau Rideau Lake, May 20th 1834 "I left Bytown in the Enterprise, of Perth, on Thursday night, and you may suppose how much this route is now travelled, when you learn that we had upwards of thirty cabin, and about one hundred steerage passengers ; also about seventy-five tons of goods. The boat was completely crammed, and being so heavily laden got on very slowly and only reached Perth Landing at two o'clock on Saturday. Being obliged to go to Perth upon business, I had to remain there until today, waiting for the arrival of this boat (the Rideau) and I find it almost as much crowded as the former one was. — There are seven cabin, and upwards of 150 steerage passengers, besides nearly 100 tons of goods. The boats are all of them quite too small, and not of sufficient power to carry the quantity of goods they do, besides towing a large barge ; they cannot possibly reach Kingston from Bytown in less than three days, which with the two days coming up to Bytown, will make five days in reaching Kingston. — It is by far the best route for Emigrants ; being in a covered barge, they are quite independent of the weather, and are not subject to such delays and fatigue as in coming up the St. Lawrence. As they have lowered the freight of goods to 2s. 9d. it is by far the cheapest and easiest way of getting them up, and they must arrive in much better order than by the river. The route by the Rideau is a most interesting one — the sail up the Ottawa, to any person who has not seen that noble river, is most attractive, and with the fine scenery about Bytown he will be delighted. As far as I have proceeded along the Rideau Canal, I have been very much pleased with it — the locks are the finest and most substantial I have ever seen — the Canal is generally 200 yards in width, and looks more like a navigable river than a Canal, we having only passed through as yet about a mile of excavation, the rest having been formed by damming up the Rideau river. While at Bytown I visited Mr. McKay's mills near that place, and I certainly think they are the finest in Canada."
March 22, 2010:
The Steamer Olive at Lindsay's Wharf, Kars, Ontario (on the Rideau River). Kars was previously called Wellington
April 8, 2010:
The Rideau Queen This was a luxurious passenger steamer Photo Source: Carleton Saga, by Harry and Olive Walker, page 379
June 19, 2010: Thanks to Peter Connors for the following: These are a couple of stories I found in the Ottawa Press regarding the paddle wheeler PEERLESS. ... Peter Connors LAUNCH OF THE PEERLESS Thursday, May 16, 1872 The launch of the Peerless: This afternoon, the new iron steamboat, Peerless, belonging to the Ottawa River Navigational Company, was launched near the Queen’s Wharf, in the presence of several thousand people. She was launched from sideways, and named by Mrs. J.M. Currier, who gave the beautiful vessel her worthy name, amid cheers from the people on the cliffs. Capts. Bowie and Shepherd were present and Mr. Girard, superintended the workmen engaged in the mechanical arrangement. The Peerless measures 200ft. overall; 28ft beam, 8ft 6in. hold, and will draw, when loaded, 4ft. 6in. of water. Beam Engine 150 horsepower. It having become known yesterday that the new iron steamer, built at this city and Grenville, would be launched in the afternoon, an immense crowd assembled on the cliffs above the place, where the vessel stood upon the ways, ready to take her first plunge. All who examined her expressed their admiration of the beauty and correctness of her lines. She was modeled upon the most improved modern principles of iron shipbuilding. All the plates having been wrought in England were conveyed to this country and put together in this city. Since early last season, workmen have been employed in her construction, and nothing that science could foresee was neglected in making the Peerless unmatched on Canadian rivers, for safety and speed in the necessarily brief notice of the launch, given in our issue of yesterday the measurements were correctly given. A large number of ladies and gentlemen assembled onboard the vessel to enjoy the sensation of the launch. Among these were several prominent members of Parliament, city dignitaries, leading merchants and representatives of the capital and provincial press. The Minister of Marine and Fisheries also honoured the occasion by his presence, and expressed himself well pleased with the appearance of the new craft. The interesting ceremony of the naming of the vessel was performed by Mrs. J.M. Currier. The traditional bottle of wine was suspended from the bow by cables of red and white ribbon, and in honour of the occasion, the British Ensign and the flag of the Dominion (the Union Jack) floated from all parts of the rigging. At last the word was given, the blocks were knocked away, and slowly and gracefully the huge boat glided down the sideways into the bosom of the great river which was henceforth to be her home. Then from the thousands of spectators assembled on the cliff, loud cheers arose, and were replied to by those on board, as she glided into the water. Mrs. Currier dashed the bottle of wine into fragments upon her bow, and gave her the name Peerless. In a few minutes she was safely moored at the wharf, and at the invitation of Capt. Bowie, her future commander a number of ladies and gentlemen partook of a Champagne lunch. In proposing the toast to the Ottawa River Navigational Co., and success to the Peerless, Mr. J.M. Currier, M.P. said that the Company who had added this magnificent vessel to their line, had justly won a high position in the estimation of the public, not only for the care which they looked after the business and well-being of those committed to their charge, but also for the enterprise they had exhibited in aiding the progress of the Ottawa county. He was sure he echoed the sentiments of the community when he wished the Company all prosperity and the fullest of success to the Peerless. Capt. Shepherd responded. He thanked Mr. Currier for the kind manner in which he alluded to the Company and their efforts to accommodate the rapidly increasing traffic on the river. Any enterprise that was shown was owing to the people on the shores of the great river they navigated, who had extended to them their confidence and patronage. Capt. Bowie, on being called upon, said he was not prepared to say much on this occasion, as the excitement of the launch had somewhat affected him. He could not, however, allow this opportunity, kindly afforded him, to pass without paying a deserved tribute to Messrs. Shepherd who created the line of steamers, and successfully conducted it since the year 1839. He regretted the incomplete state of the vessel, which he would have wished to have in a more forward state, that he might entertain its guests in a better style. But the launch at the present time was a necessity, as she had to be got in the water, or the water would have got into her. He concluded by hoping that he would have the pleasure, at some future day, of having those now on board with him, on a trip up or down river. He then proposed the health of Mrs. Currier, who had kindly performed the ceremony of naming the vessel. Mr. Currier responded on behalf of his lady. Mr. Tilton next proposed the health of Capt. Bowie. He referred in warm terms of eulogy to the commander of the steamer, as one who, place in a difficult and responsible position, fulfilled his duties in a way to win friends throughout the country. In conclusion, he hoped that the successful way the Peerless was launched would be typical of her future, and that of her Capt. Capt. Bowie responded in befitting terms, remarking that he had always striven earnestly to do his duty, and would endeavor, as in the past, to deserve the confidence of the people and the company with which he was identified. Capt. Bowie proposed the “Press” to which M. P. White of the Montreal Gazette and Mrs. Carroll Ryan of the Ottawa Citizen responded, the toast to the ladies by Mr. Nathan, M.P. after which the party dispersed. July 12, 1873 A Purser on the Steamer Shaking a Dead Man for his Ticket: Last evening a single occurred on board the steamer Peerless, while on her way from Grenville to the city. An old country man hot on board at the former place, apparently in good health, but somewhat intoxicated. After a short time he lay down on the boiler deck as passengers often do when they feel drowsy. He remained there undisturbed until the Purser started his rounds to collect tickets. When he came to where the stranger lay, he tapped him lightly on the shoulder and demanded the fare; but there was no response. Thinking that the man was asleep, the purser shook him again and again, but no amount of shaking could wake him from his sleep of death. When the steamer arrived at this city, Coroner Beaubien received intimation of the death, and held an inquest on the body. The jury returned a verdict of death from heart disease.
December 15, 2010:
The steamer Empress Photo Source: Ottawa Waterway, page 160
December 19, 2010:
Canals on the Ottawa River, completed in 1834 Source: Ottawa Waterway: Gateway to a Continent, by Robert Legget, page 140
May 30, 2014: Book: Steamboating on the Rideau Canal, by Mike Nelles, Historical Society of Ottawa, Bytown Pamphlet Series No. 71, August 2007, ISBN 0-920960-84-7.
Send e-mail to Taylor Kennedy, Bob Blackburn, Patrick Masson, Peter Connors, Bruce Graham and Al Lewis
Back to Bytown or Bust - History and Genealogy in the Ottawa area