Henry Scadding.

Toronto of old; collections and recollections illustrative of the early settlement and social life of the capital of Ontario online

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promise that the article will before long be added to the list of the
staple productions of our country, and afford not only a sufficient
supply for home consumption, but also form an important item in the
schedule of Canadian exports."

In the same number of the _Loyalist_ we hear again of Capt. Richardson's
new steamboat, the _Canada_. We read of her first passage across from
York to Niagara, thus: "The new steamboat _Canada_, Capt. Richardson,
made her first trip to Niagara on Monday last, and went out of the
harbour in fine style. Her appearance reflects much credit on her
builder, Mr. Joseph Dennis; and the machinery, manufactured by Messrs.
Wards of Montreal, is a specimen of superior workmanship. The combined
excellence of the model and machinery of this boat is such," says the
_Loyalist_, "as will render her what is usually termed 'a fast boat.'
The trip to Niagara was performed in four hours and some minutes. Her
present route, we observe, is advertised from York to Niagara and the
Head of the Lake. In noticing this first trip of another steamboat,"
continues the _Loyalist_, "we cannot help contrasting the present means
of conveyance with those ten years ago. At that time only a few
schooners navigated the Lake, and the passage was attended with many
delays and much inconvenience. Now there are five steamboats, all
affording excellent accommodation, and the means of expeditious
travelling. The routes of each are so arranged that almost every day of
the week the traveller may find opportunities of being conveyed from one
extremity of the Lake to the other in a few hours. The _Niagara_ and
_Queenston_ from Prescott, and the _Frontenac_ from Kingston once a
week, and the _Canada_ and _Martha Ogden_ between York and Niagara and
the Head of the Lake every day, afford facilities of communication which
the most sanguine could scarcely have anticipated at the period we speak
of. Independent of these boats, it must be mentioned that the _Cornwall_
on Lake St. Louis makes a trip every day from Côteau du Lac to Cornwall;
the _Dalhousie_ runs between Prescott and Kingston twice a week and
conveys the mail; the _Charlotte_ and _Toronto_ once a week from
Prescott to the Head of the Bay of Quinté; thus affording to every part
of the country the same advantages of convenient intercourse. These are
some of the evidences of improvement among us during the last few years
which require no comment. They speak for themselves, and it must be
pretty evident from such facts as these, that those who cannot, or will
not, see the progress we are making, must be wilfully blind." (The
closing remark was of course for the benefit of contemporary editors at
York and elsewhere, who, from their political view of things, gave their
readers the impression that Canada was a doomed country, going rapidly
to perdition.)

From the _Loyalist_ of Aug. 19, 1826, we learn that "the steamboat
_Niagara_, on her trip from York to Kingston, had her machinery injured,
and has put back into Bath to repair." In the same number of the
_Loyalist_, we are told that the proprietor of the _Frontenac_ had
fractured his leg. "We regret to hear," the _Loyalist_ says, "that an
accident happened last week to John Hamilton, Esq., the proprietor of
the steamboat _Frontenac_. In stepping out of a carriage at the Falls,
he unfortunately broke his leg." In a _Loyalist_ of the following month
(Sept. 2, 1826), we hear again of Sir Peregrine Maitland's movements in
the _Frontenac_. The _Loyalist_ says: "His Excellency the
Lieutenant-Governor and suite arrived in town (York) from Kingston
yesterday morning, on board the _Frontenac_, and after remaining a few
hours, proceeded to Stamford." The next _Loyalist_ (Sep. 9, 1826) speaks
of an expeditious trip made by Capt. Mosier's _Niagara_. "The Steamboat
_Niagara_, Capt. Mosier, made," it says, "her trip last week, from York
to Prescott, and back again, in something less than four days, touching
at the ports of Kingston, Gananoque and Brockville, going and returning,
independent of the usual delay at Prescott. The distance is nearly five
hundred miles."

From the _Loyalist_ of Sept. 30, 1826, we hear of the steamboat
_Queenston_, Capt. Whitney. A notice appears that "The steamboat
_Queenston_, Capt. W. Whitney, will, during the remainder of the season,
leave Niagara for Kingston and Prescott every Thursday at eight o'clock
a.m., instead of 10 o'clock as heretofore. Queenston, Sept. 8, 1826."
From a number of the _Loyalist_ in the following month (Oct. 7, 1826),
we gather that an accident, which might have been very disastrous, had
happened to the _Queenston_. "With pleasure," the Editor says, "we state
that the steamboat _Queenston_ arrived here (York) on Thursday last,
without having sustained any serious injury in consequence of the late
accident which happened by her getting aground near Kingston. The
apprehensions which were entertained for the safety of this fine boat
are therefore happily removed. After getting off she returned to
Prescott, where the necessary repairs were immediately made, and brought
up several passengers and a full cargo."

A communication from Hugh Richardson, Captain of the _Canada_, appears
in the _Loyalist_ of Oct. 14, 1826. A passenger has leaped overboard
from his vessel and been drowned. "To the Editor of the _U. E.
Loyalist_. Sir, - On Friday evening a passenger on board the _Canada_, on
her way from Burlington Beach to Niagara, was seen by the man at the
helm to jump overboard. On the alarm being given, in an instant the
sails were in, engine stopped, and boat lowered, into which I jumped
with two hands, and rowed a quarter of a mile in our wake, but, I am
sorry to say, without success. On returning aboard, his hat was found,
as if deliberately placed near the gangway whence he jumped. The hat is
a new white one, and beside the maker's name is written 'Joseph Jewell
Claridge, Jersey City.' The hat contained a new red and yellow silk
handkerchief, a pair of white cotton gloves, and three-quarters of a
dollar in silver. He was a good-looking young man, well dressed, in blue
coat, yellow waistcoat, black or blue pantaloons and boots. He had
neither bundle nor luggage, and came on board at Burlington Beach. I am
inclined to think from all appearances, and the trifle of money left in
the hat, that distressed circumstances had pourtrayed, in a too
sensitive mind, insurmountable evils, producing temporary derangement,
during which the barriers of nature were broken down; and he rushed in
frenzy before his Maker. Perhaps by your kindly inserting this it may
meet the eye of some relation or friend, to whom, on application, the
little articles he left will be restored. I am, Sir, your most obedient
servant, Hugh Richardson. York, Oct. 3, 1826." (We shall have other
communications of Capt. Richardson's brought under our notice shortly.
They are always marked by vigour; and are now and then pleasantly racy
of the profession to which the writer belonged.)

The _Loyalist_ of Nov. 11, 1826, notices a second accident which has
befallen Captain Mosier's vessel. It says: "The steamer _Niagara_, on
her way from Prescott last week, unfortunately struck on a reef of rocks
off Poplar Point, about fifty miles from Kingston, where, at the latest
dates, she was lying on her beam ends, in about five feet of water. The
_Queenston_ brought her passengers up," it is added, "on Saturday last;
and we are informed that, owing to the exertions of Capt. Mosier, the
greater part of her cargo has been forwarded to York. Yesterday a person
who came from the _Niagara_, stated that she had received no damage from
the late gales of wind, and as she has weathered these, we sincerely
hope that she may be got off without much difficulty or injury." In the
next number it is noted that "at the latest dates the steamboat
_Niagara_ was still aground. The greatest exertions are making by Capt.
Mosier to get her off. The weather has been tempestuous; but we are
happy to hear that the _Niagara_ has not received any material injury."

In this number is a notice that "a meeting of the stockholders of the
Steampacket _Canada_ will be held at York, on board of the Boat, on
Monday, the 4th of December, at 12 o'clock. By order of the Committee of
Management. J. W. Gamble, Treasurer, York, 15th Nov., 1826." - One result
of the meeting thus advertised is an address to the stockholders from
Capt. Richardson, which appears in the _Loyalist_ of Dec. 9. The Captain
is plainly uneasy in view of the possibility of the majority deciding
that he shall not be in the sole charge and management of the _Canada_
in the ensuing year. He announces his intention to visit England during
the winter, for the purpose of raising funds among his friends which may
enable him to buy out the few persons who are associated with him in the
ownership of the boat. "Gentlemen," he says, "it having been decided at
a Meeting of the Stockholders, held on board the _Canada_, that I should
be invested with the sole charge and management of the boat the ensuing
year, unless at a Meeting to be held the first Monday in March, other
arrangements take place, I seize this opportunity, on the eve of my
departure for England, to assure the Stockholders that I have made
every arrangement for the safety of the boat and the necessary repairs.
And at the same time I respectfully submit to them the ostensible motive
of my voyage. Gentlemen, I am so deeply embarked in the speculation I
have entered into, that the prospect of the stock depreciating, and of
the boat's services and my own labours being rendered abortive in so
lucrative a ferry as that betwixt York and Niagara, mainly by a
plurality of the management, fills me with dismay. And, as I trust I am
entitled to the confidence the Stockholders generally placed in my
abilities, and am convinced that unless the power of management be
invested in one person to act with all his energies in the scene of
profits, to seize the advantages of market in the economy of the outlay
with the discretion of a sole owner, loss and ruin to myself must ensue.
With this view of the subject I embark for England to endeavour to raise
funds and relieve those gentlemen who are averse to my management, and
to take up the remainder of the stock, that they who so kindly confided
in my assurances of individual profit, and placed implicit reliance in
my integrity and abilities, may not be disappointed in their fair
expectations. Confident that I possess the hearty wishes of success from
many valuable patrons, in taking leave, I am happy to subscribe myself,
Gentlemen, your most obedient humble servant, Hugh Richardson. York,
Dec. 6, 1826."

By the 24th of March in the following year (1827) he is back again in
York. In the _Loyalist_ of the date just given is a second address to
the stockholders, preparatory to the meeting which is to take place on
the 2nd of April. He recounts his proceedings in England, and urges
again his own appointment as sole manager of the _Canada_. As
illustrative of the anxieties attendant at an early period, and at all
periods, on individual personal enterprise, insufficiently supported,
the document possesses an interest.

"To the Stockholders in the _Canada_ Steamboat. Gentlemen, it must be
fresh in the memory of you all that I am the original projector of the
_Canada_; that my abilities, in whatever light they may be viewed, were
wholly employed in planning, constructing and fitting her out. Facts
have already proved that I led no one astray by false theories in her
construction; and her engine is upon the model of the very best now
generally in use in England. I have been all along by far the largest
shareholder, and nearly the whole of the shares were taken up by
gentlemen upon my personal solicitations, in doing which I did not fear,
in the strongest language I was master of, to pledge the success of the
undertaking, not only on the prospect of the lucrative ferry, but also
upon the faith of my own personal exertions. Then do I infer too much by
saying that a friendly disposition towards me, a confidence in my
abilities and my integrity (with very few exceptions), was the basis
upon which I met with such general patronage? However, after a certain
period it was no longer possible to raise sufficient stock to complete
the vessel; the expedient of borrowing was resorted to, and a debt of
£1,200 contracted with the Bank. Upon this the boat commenced her
operations, and ran from the 7th of August, a period of 98 days; during
which time, Gentlemen, I look upon it as a matter of congratulation that
at her very first starting, having an American boat to oppose her, the
proceeds of the _Canada_ not only paid her current expenses, but also a
sum of upwards of £200 in extraordinary outfit, including £40 insurance
on money borrowed, also the interest thereon; £50 nearly for replacing
her wheels repeatedly destroyed, and considerable repairs. I see nothing
but what is most flattering in this her first outset. Thus it would have
appeared had I made my report: and had I done it in the most favourable
light, I should have thought, as one of the guardians of the property
entrusted to my charge, that I was only fulfilling a duty I owed the
Stockholders when I enhanced, rather than depreciated, its value. At the
end of the season, from disappointments and expenses in collecting the
amount of the shares taken up, there was found still wanting a sum of
£400; and at the last general meeting this further sum was borrowed,
hampering the boat with a debt of £1,000. At this crisis, at a very
great personal expense, and at a greater sacrifice of domestic comfort,
I set out for England to trespass upon my own immediate friends; and now
return prepared to relieve the embarrassments of the boat, and am
willing, in the face of representations that went to disparage the
stock, to invest a much larger capital in the _Canada_; in doing which I
confer a benefit upon the whole, and trust I give further proof of the
sincerity of my professions, when I undertook the arduous task of
getting up a Steamboat. But, Gentlemen, things have not gone as I
wished, or as I intended; and, perhaps, I am the only person who will
have property invested in this vessel to such an amount as to make it of
vital importance that success should attend the adventure. Therefore,
upon this ground, upon the ground of my being the projector of this
vessel, upon the responsibility of my situation as Master, ostensible
agent, and possessing owner, I most earnestly solicit your particular
support to my appointment as managing owner of this vessel; and to that
effect may I again solicit the most general attendance of the
Stockholders at the meeting to be held on board the _Canada_ the second
of April. I am, Gentlemen, your very obedient and very humble servant,
Hugh Richardson. York, 24th March, 1827."

It is to be supposed that Capt. Richardson's views were adopted at the

In the _Loyalist_ for May 5, 1827, we have him subscribing himself
"Managing Owner," to the following notice: "The _Canada_ British
Steam-Packet, Capt. Hugh Richardson, leaves Niagara daily for York at 7
o'clock in the morning, and starts from York for Niagara every day at 2
o'clock in the afternoon. The _Canada_ crosses the Lake in the short
space of four hours and a half, and affords travellers arriving at the
Falls an expeditious and convenient opportunity of visiting the Capital
of Upper Canada. Fare: Cabin passage, two dollars; Deck and Fore Cabin,
one dollar. Passengers returning immediately with the boat will only pay
half the above prices for the return. Hugh Richardson, Managing Owner.
York, April 21, 1827."

In 1827 Capt. Richardson was the recipient of an honorary present of a
Key Bugle. In the _Loyalist_ of June 30, '27, we read the following
card: - "Mr. Richardson takes this opportunity of acknowledging the
receipt of a Key Bugle from the young gentlemen of York, accompanied by
a letter expressive of their esteem and approbation of his conduct in
the management of the _Canada_. In returning his sincere thanks for the
above mark of their valued esteem and the high compliment paid him in
the accompanying letter, he must look upon the warm and friendly
colouring which they have been pleased to give to his conduct, as a
picture drawn by the free and generous hand of youth, rather to emulate,
than having semblance to the original. Nevertheless, his aim has ever
been, and ever will be, to do credit to those who placed him where he
is, and to support the character of a British seaman. York, 30th June,

From a preceding number of the _Loyalist_ in this year we learn that on
the 20th of April the mate of the _Canada_ was accidentally drowned. The
paper just mentioned says: - "George Reid, mate of the Steamboat
_Canada_, was last night drowned by falling from the plank leading from
the wharf to the vessel. It is painful to hear that the unfortunate man
leaves a wife and five children to deplore his sudden loss."

The _Loyalist_ of the 7th of that month says: "His Excellency the
Lieutenant-Governor and family left York for Stamford on Wednesday
morning last, on board the Steamboat _Queenston_. His Excellency's
departure was announced by a salute from the Garrison."

On May the 12th the _Queenston_ has returned from Niagara, and meets
with a casualty at York. The _Loyalist_ of the 19th says: "The Steamboat
_Queenston_ met with an accident while lying at the wharf here on
Saturday last. In raising the steam before proceeding to Niagara, the
boiler was partially burst. The accident was not attended with any
serious consequences. The _Queenston_ was delayed until the following
Thursday in making the necessary repairs, before she proceeded on her

In June this year (1827) the _Niagara_ has been removed from the spot
where she was run ashore last year, and is undergoing repairs at
Kingston. In the _Loyalist_ of June 16, 1827, we read: "We are happy to
hear that the Steamboat _Niagara_ has been got off the rocks near Long
Point, and that she is now lying in the harbour at Kingston, undergoing
repairs. She is stated to have received but little damage; and it was
expected that in the course of a month she would commence her regular
trips across the Lake."

In the _Loyalist_ of May 26, 1827, we hear once more of the _Frontenac_.
She is laid up, we are told, and a steamer to succeed her is to be
built: "We are happy to hear," the _Loyalist_ says, "that Captain
McKenzie, late in command of the _Frontenac_ (now laid up), has made
arrangements for building a new boat, to be propelled by an engine of
greater power than that of any other now navigating the Lake. The
acknowledged ability of Capt. McKenzie while in command of the
_Frontenac_, the regularity with which her trips were performed, and the
attention he at all times bestowed to the comfort and convenience of his
passengers, induce us to hope that the undertaking he has commenced will
be speedily carried into effect."

In the _Loyalist_ of June 9th, 1827, the _Frontenac_ is offered for sale
by auction at Kingston. In the advertisement, the historical machinists
Boulton & Watt are named as the makers of her engine: "By Public
Auction. Will be sold on Monday, the second of July next, at Kingston,
as she now lays (_sic_) at the wharf, the Steamboat _Frontenac_, with
her anchors, chain-cables, rigging, &c. Also the engine, of 50 horse
power, manufactured by Messrs. Watt & Boulton. Sale to commence at 10
o'clock a.m., on board. For any further information application to made
to Mr. Strange, Kingston, or to John Hamilton, Queenston. June 1, 1827."

Possibly no sale was effected, for we learn from the _Loyalist_ of Sept.
1 that the _Frontenac_ was to be removed to Niagara by Mr. Hamilton. The
_Loyalist_ copies from the Upper Canada _Herald_, published at Kingston,
the following paragraph: "Yesterday the old _Frontenac_, under the care
of R. Hamilton, Esq., left Kingston for Niagara, where, we understand,
she is to be broken up. Mr. Hamilton is preparing materials for a new
boat of about 350 tons."

We then gather from a _Loyalist_ of Sept. 29, 1827, that while lying at
the wharf at Niagara, the _Frontenac_ was mischievously set fire to. The
paper just named says: "The Messrs. Hamilton, proprietors of the
Steamboat _Frontenac_, have offered a reward of £100 for the discovery
of the persons who set fire to that vessel some time ago. The
_Frontenac_, after being fired, was loosed from her moorings, and had
drifted some distance into the Lake, when she was met by the _Niagara_,
Capt. Mosier, who took her in tow, and succeeded in bringing her to the
wharf at Niagara, where after some exertions the flames were

This, as we suppose, terminates the history of the _Frontenac_, the
first steamboat on Lake Ontario.

As associated with Boulton & Watt's engine, spoken of above, we must
mention the name of Mr. John Leys, for some years Capt. McKenzie's chief
engineer on board the _Frontenac_. At the outset of steam navigation,
men competent to superintend the working of the machinery of a steamboat
were, of course, not numerous, and Captains were obliged in some degree
to humour their chief engineer when they had secured the services of
one. Capt. McKenzie, it would be said, was somewhat tyrannized over by
Mr. Leys, who was a Scot, not very tractable; and the _Frontenac's_
movements, times of sailing, and so on, were very much governed by a
will in the hold, independent of that of the ostensible Commander. Mr.
Leys, familiarly spoken of as Jock Leys, was long well known in York.

In July, 1827, the _Queenston_ was engaged in the transfer of troops.
In the _Loyalist_ of July 21, 1827, we read: "Detachments of the 68th
Regiment for Amherstburg, under the command of Captain North; Fort
George, Captain Melville; and Penetanguishene, Ensign Medley, were on
board the _Queenston_, and proceeded on Tuesday last to their several
destinations. On Thursday the _Queenston_ returned to York from Niagara,
when the first division of the 70th Regiment embarked to proceed to
Lower Canada." In her next trip the _Queenston_ brought more troops, and
took more away. In the _Loyalist_ of the 28th of July we read: "The
first division of the 68th Regiment for this Garrison arrived by the
_Queenston_ on Tuesday, and on her return a second detachment of the
70th proceeded to Lower Canada. The exchanges are now we believe nearly
completed," the _Loyalist_ adds. In the number for August 4, the
_Queenston_ is once more spoken of as engaged in the conveyance of
troops to and from York. "The head-quarter division of the 68th
Regiment, under the command of Major Winniett, arrived on Tuesday
morning, and on Thursday that of the 70th Regiment, under Lieut.-Colonel
Evans, embarked on board the steamboat _Queenston_. During the short
stay made by the 70th Regiment in this garrison," the _Loyalist_ says,
"their conduct has been such as to secure to them the same kind feelings
which have been expressed towards them by the inhabitants of the towns
in both Provinces where they have at different times been stationed.
They are now on their return to their native country, after a long and
honourable period of service in the Canadas, and they carry with them
the best wishes of the inhabitants for their future welfare and
prosperity." When thus announcing the departure of the 70th Regiment,
the _Loyalist_ adds: "We cannot but notice with pleasure the arrival of
so distinguished a corps as the 68th amongst us." The standing
advertisement of the _Queenston_ for this year may be added: "Lake
Ontario Steam-Boat Notice: The Public are informed that the Steam-Boat
_Queenston_, Captain James Whitney, has commenced making her regular
trips, and will during the summer leave the different Ports as follows:
Leave Niagara for Kingston, Brockville, and Prescott, every Thursday
morning at 8 o'clock precisely; and leave Prescott on her return for
Brockville, Kingston and York, every Sunday, at 12 o'clock, noon.
Arrangements have been made with Messrs. Norton and Co., Stage
Proprietors, Prescott, by which passengers going down will arrive at
Montreal on Saturday evening; and passengers proceeding upwards will,
by leaving Montreal on Saturday morning, arrive at Prescott in time to
take the Boat. Every endeavour has been made to render the accommodation
and fare on board of the best description. Queenston, May 25, 1827."

In a _Loyalist_ of this period we have a communication from Captain
Richardson, of the _Canada_, giving an authentic account of the swamping

Online LibraryHenry ScaddingToronto of old; collections and recollections illustrative of the early settlement and social life of the capital of Ontario → online text (page 54 of 59)