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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of a small boat in the attempt to put a passenger on board his steamer
in the Niagara river. This characteristic letter contains some excellent
directions as to the proper method of boarding a steamer when under way.

"To the Editor of the _U. E. Loyalist_. - Sir, according to your request,
and to prevent misrepresentation, I herewith furnish you with the
particulars of the little accident that occurred to a Ferry Boat in
Niagara River, in attempting to board the _Canada_. On Saturday last as
the _Canada_ passed the lower ferry, coming out of Niagara river, a boat
put off with a passenger, and contrary to the rule laid down to admit of
no delays after the hour of departure, I ordered the engine to be
stopped, to take the passenger on board. The Ferryman, instead of rowing
to the gangway of the _Canada_, pulled the boat stem on to her bow
before the water wheel. The vessel going through the water, all
possibility of retreat from that position was precluded, and the
inevitable swamping of the boat ensued. Fortunately the engine was
entirely stopped: the Ferryman had the good luck to get hold of the
wheel and ascend by it. The passenger, after passing under it, clung to
the floating skiff. No time was lost in going to his relief with the
boats of the _Canada_, and both escaped uninjured. Any comment upon the
impropriety of boarding a steam vessel before the water wheel would be
absurd; but I may be allowed to advise this general rule to all persons
going alongside of a steam vessel, viz.: always to board to leeward,
never to attempt to cross her hawse, but to bring the boat's head round
in the same direction with the vessel under way; row up on her lee
quarter double oar's length distance, until abreast of the gangway; then
gradually sheer alongside, keeping as much as possible in parallel line
with the direction of the vessel you are boarding. I am, sir, your very
obedient servant, Hugh Richardson, Master of the _Canada_."

A passage from Captain Richardson's "Report on the Preservation and
Improvement of the Harbour," to which in 1854 a supplementary or extra
premium of £75 was awarded by the Harbour Commissioners, may be quoted
as a further example of the neat employment of a sailor's technical
language. (He is arguing against cutting a canal into the Harbour at the
Carrying Place, where the great irruption of the waters of the lake
subsequently took place.) "With wind at S. W., and stormy," he says,
"(such a canal) would be valuable for exit, but for entrance from the
east, every nautical man would prefer making a stretch out into the open
Lake, weathering the Light at one long board, and rounding into the
Harbour with a fair wind, to hauling through the Canal, coming in dead
upon a lee shore, and having to beat up the Bay in short tacks." Some
twenty years previously similar views had been expressed in a printed
essay on York Harbour - a production in which, in his zeal for the
well-being of the Bay, Captain Richardson said some hard things of the
river Don, which we may here notice. The person who had uttered an
imprecation on the North Pole, Sidney Smith pronounced capable of
speaking evil next even of the Equator. Of what enormity of language
must not the dwellers by the stream which pours its tribute into the
Harbour of York, have thought Captain Richardson capable, when they
heard him in his haste call that respectable stream "a monster of
ingratitude," "an insidious monster," "the destroying cancer of the
Port?" "From the moment that the peninsula raised its protecting head
above the waters, and screened the Don from the surges of the Lake, the
Don," Captain Richardson says, "like a monster of ingratitude, has
displayed such destructive industry as to displace by its alluvial
disgorgings by far the greater part of the body of water originally
enclosed by the peninsula. The whole of the marsh to the East, once deep
and clear water, is," he asserts, "the work of the Don, and in the Bay
of York, where now its destructive mouths are turned, vegetation shews
itself in almost every direction, prognosticating" as he speaks, "the
approaching conversion of this beautiful sheet of water into another
marshy delta of the Don." Fothergill, too, in an address to the Electors
of the County of Durham, in 1826, indulges in a fling at the river which
pays its tribute to the Harbour of York. After quoting some strong words
of the elder Pitt in the British House of Commons on the subject of
public robbery and national plunder, he adds: "Perhaps the very quoting
of such language will be deemed treasonable within the pestilential
range of the vapours of the marsh of the great Don, and of the city of
many waters," meaning York, the head-quarters of the Government. "But
the Don, the poor unconscious object of all this invective, is in
reality no more to blame than is the savage because he is a savage, not
having had a chance to be anything else. In proceeding to lay the
foundation of a delta of solid land at its mouth, the Don followed the
precedent of other streams, in conformity with the physical conditions
of its situation. When at length the proper hour arrived, and the right
men appeared, possessed of the intelligence, the vigour and the wealth
equal to the task of bettering nature by art on a considerable scale,
then at once the true value and capabilities of the Don were brought out
into view. Speedily then were its channel and outlet put to their proper
and foreordained use, being transformed by means of cribwork and
embankments into a convenient interior harbour for Toronto, an
arrangement of high importance to the interests of a now populous
quarter, where some of the most striking developments of business
activity and manufacturing enterprise that the capital of Ontario can
boast of, have been witnessed."

But to return. We were tracing the fortunes of Captain Richardson's
boat, the _Canada_, in 1827.

In July, 1827, the _Canada_ met with an accident. She broke her main
shaft on the Lake. The _Loyalist_ of the 4th of August says: "We regret
to state that the steam-boat _Canada_, while crossing the Lake from
Niagara on Tuesday last, unfortunately broke her main shaft. The
accident we hope is not of such a nature as to deprive us any great
length of time of the convenience which that excellent Boat has afforded
us of daily communication with Niagara." In the paper of August 18th it
is announced that the _Canada_ is all right again. "The _Canada_, we are
happy to state, has again commenced making her usual trips to Niagara:
she left the Harbour yesterday afternoon." Towards the close of the
season we have a record of the brave buffetings of this vessel with an
easterly gale on the Lake. "On Monday last," says the _Loyalist_ of the
27th October, "we were visited by one of those violent gales of easterly
wind, accompanied with torrents of rain, not unusual at this season of
the year. The Steam-Boat _Canada_, at 10 o'clock in the morning, when
there was an appearance of the storm moderating, left the Niagara river
for York. She had not proceeded far on her voyage however, when the gale
increased with greater violence than before, and in a short time both
her masts were carried away, and some damage done to her chimney.
Fortunately her engine remained uninjured, and enabled her at about
five in the afternoon to reach the wharf in safety. The _Canada_ has
made some of her trips in the most boisterous weather, and deservedly
bears the name of an excellent sea boat. She suffered no delay from the
damage she had sustained, and left the Harbour the following morning for
Niagara. The weather since Monday continues boisterous and cold."

On December 1st, the _Loyalist_ announces that "the _Canada_ Steam Boat
made her last trip from Niagara on Tuesday, and is now laid up for the
winter." In the following spring, on the 27th of March, she takes over
Sir Peregrine Maitland. "His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor and
family left York," says the _Loyalist_ of March 29, 1828, "on Thursday
morning for Stamford. His Excellency embarked on board the _Canada_
Steam Packet under a salute from the Garrison." A communication from the
Captain appears in the _Loyalist_ of the 12th of April, having reference
to this trip. He replies to some strictures in the _Colonial Advocate_
on some alleged exclusiveness exhibited by Sir Peregrine while crossing
the Lake in the _Canada_. "Having observed in the _Colonial Advocate_ of
the 3rd of April, under the head of Civilities, that His Excellency the
Lieutenant-Governor engaged the whole of the two cabins of the _Canada_
for himself and family, and would not allow even the Members of Assembly
who were returning home to go over that day, except as deck passengers,
I have to declare the same an impudent falsehood. His Excellency having
condescended to intimate to me his desire to remove his family and
household as early as possible, I hastened the equipment of the _Canada_
expressly on His Excellency's account, contrary to my intentions, and
the requisite delay for outfit until 1st April. To all applications for
passage on the day fixed for His Excellency's embarkation I replied, I
considered the vessel at His Excellency's orders. The moment His
Excellency came on board, and understood that I was excluding
passengers, I received His Excellency's orders to take on board every
passenger that wished to embark. The only further intimation I received
of His Excellency's pleasure was, on my application to know if I should
stop at Niagara, I received for answer that His Excellency had no desire
to stop there, but if I wished it, it could make no difference to His
Excellency. Born and bred under a Monarchical Government, educated in
the discipline of a British seaman, I have not yet learned the
insolence of elbowing a desire (in right, an order) of the
Representative of my Sovereign, by an impertinent wish of my own. I have
only to say that as long as I command the _Canada_, and have a rag of
colour to hoist, my proudest day will be when it floats at her mast-head
indicative of the presence and commands of the Representative of my
King. Hugh Richardson, Master and Managing Owner of the _Canada_
Steam-Packet. April 11th, 1828. P.S. Perhaps Dr. Lefferty being a Member
on the right side, who embarked on board the _Canada_, and who did me
the honour of a call a night or two before, for information, may confirm

Captain Richardson, as we can see, was a man of chivalrous temperament.
His outward physique, moreover, corresponded with his character. His
form was lithe, graceful and officer-like. It was not alone when the
Governor of the Province happened to be present that established
distinctions in society were required to be observed on board the
_Canada_ steam-packet. At all times he was particular on this point.
This brought him into collision occasionally with democratically
disposed spirits, especially from the opposite side of the Lake; but he
did not scruple to maintain his rules by main force when extreme
measures were necessary, calling to his aid the stout arms of a trusty





The _Canada's_ advertisement for the season of 1828 appears in the
_Loyalist_ of April 2. It differs a little from the one previously
given. "The British steam-packet _Canada_, Captain Hugh Richardson,
plying between York and Niagara, weather permitting, leaves Niagara,
&c., &c., as before. N.B. - A gun will be fired and colours hoisted
twenty-five minutes before starting."

It is interesting to observe that the traffic of the harbour carried on
by schooners is still such as to require additional vessels of that
class. In the _Loyalist_ of April 19, 1828, the following item
appears: - "A new schooner called the _Canadian_ was launched here (York)
yesterday morning. She is owned by Mr. Gamble and Capt. Bowkett, the
latter of whom, we understand, takes command of her." From the same
number of the _Loyalist_ we learn that "the launch of Mr. Hamilton's new
Steam Boat at Niagara was expected to take place on the 21st instant. In
the paper of the 17th, the launch of another schooner at York is
recorded. "A fine schooner called _George the Fourth_ was launched here
on Wednesday last. Burthen about 70 or 80 tons." In June this schooner
is bringing emigrants to York. "During the last week," the _Loyalist_ of
June 7th says, "several families of emigrants, arrived from Great
Britain by the spring shipping at Quebec, have reached York. The new
schooner _George the Fourth_ landed nearly one hundred persons, besides
those which have been brought up by the steam-boats and other vessels."
The case is then mentioned of the very reprehensible conduct of the
master of one of the Lake schooners (the name is withheld), "who,
regardless of the consequences to several families who had taken passage
from Prescott to York on board his vessel, landed a body of emigrant
settlers on Gibraltar Point, during the last week, instead of putting
them, with their baggage, on one of the wharves in the Harbour - in
consequence of which, women and helpless children were exposed during a
whole night to the violence of a tremendous storm of rain, without any
shelter, and, from ignorance of their situation, unable to get to the
town. On Thursday morning the schooner _Catherine_, Captain Campbell,
relieved them from their uncomfortable situation, and landed them safely
in York.

In the _Loyalist_ of June 28, 1828, the arrival in York Harbour of the
steamer lately launched at Niagara as successor to the _Frontenac_ is
noticed. She is named the _Alciope_. "The new steam-boat _Alciope_,
lately built at Niagara, owned by Robert Hamilton, Esq., and under the
command of Capt. McKenzie, late of the _Frontenac_, with a number of
ladies and gentlemen on a party of pleasure, made her first entry into
our Harbour on Thursday last. She is a fine model, and fitted up in a
most elegant and convenient manner for passengers. She commences her
regular trips, we understand, next week: and under the command of Capt.
McKenzie, so well known for his skill and experience as a seaman, and
for attention to his passengers, we have no doubt the _Alciope_ will be
found a valuable acquisition to the regular communication which is now
afforded by means of the several steamboats plying on the Lake; and that
she will receive a share of that public patronage which is so deservedly
bestowed upon the owners and commanders of other boats, whose public
spirited exertions are deserving of the highest praise."

_Alciope_ is a singular name, taken as we suppose from the Greek
mythology, betokening, it may have been thought, one of the Nereids,
although we are not aware that the name occurs on the roll of that very
large family. One of the several wives of the mighty Hercules was a
daughter of Alciopus; she consequently may be conceived to have been an
Alciope. But how Mr. Hamilton, of Queenston, or Captain McKenzie, came
to think of such a recherché name for the new steamer is a mystery which
we wish we could clear up. It is certain that the selection led to
mispronunciations and misconceptions on the part of the general public.
By the unlearned she was usually spoken of as the _Alci-ope_, of course.
By a kind of antagonism among the unwashed she was the _All-soap_. In a
similar way, Captain McIntosh's vessel, the _Eunice_, which frequented
the harbour at an early period, was almost always popularly and
excusably termed the _Euneece_.

In the year 1828, Commodore Barrie was in York Harbour. "His Majesty's
schooner _Cockburn_," says the _Loyalist_ of June 7, "bearing the broad
pennon of Commodore Barrie, entered this port on Monday last, and on
landing at the Garrison, the Commodore was received by a salute, which
was returned from the schooner. The yacht _Bullfrog_ was in company with
the _Cockburn_. Commodore Barrie," it is added, "proceeds by land to
Lake Simcoe, and thence on a tour of inspection at the several Naval
Depots of the Lakes."

In the _Loyalist_ of June 21, Capt. Richardson is taking time by the
forelock and advertising for dry pine to be supplied as fuel for the
_Canada_ in the following season of 1829. "Steam-boat Notice. Persons
willing to supply the _Canada_ Steam-packet with dry pine for the
ensuing season of 1829, will please make application immediately to the
subscriber for the contract. Hugh Richardson, Master and Managing Owner
of the _Canada_ Steam-packet. York, June, 20, 1828." On the 30th of
August we have: - "Until further notice the _Canada_ Steam-packet will
leave York as soon after her arrival as she has received her supply of
wood, firing a gun, and hoisting colours half an hour before starting."
We have also a notice in regard to the _Alciope_ in the _Loyalist_ of
Sept. 6: - "The steam-boat _Alciope_ will take freight and passengers
from this port (York) during the remainder of the season, every Saturday
morning at 6 o'clock, on her way down from Niagara to Prescott, to
commence to-morrow. York, 20th August."

From the _Loyalist_ of Sept 27, 1828, we learn that Mr. George Savage
has been appointed to the Collectorship of the port of York. He himself
announces the fact to the public in the following advertisement: - "His
Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor having been pleased to appoint me to
the Collectorship of Customs for this port, I beg leave to acquaint the
merchants, shipowners, and others having business to transact with this
branch of the revenue after the first day of October next, that I have
temporarily established an office in part of the premises fronting on
Duke Street, occupied by Mr. Columbus. George Savage, Collector. York,
26th September, 1828." Bulky in form and somewhat consequential in
manner, Mr. Savage was a conspicuous figure in York down to the time of
his death in 1835, when he was succeeded by Mr. Thos. Carfrae. Mr.
Savage was, as his office required him to be, vigilant in respect of the
dues leviable at the Port of York. But the contrabandists were
occasionally too adroit for him. We have heard of a number of kegs or
barrels, supposed to contain spirits, confidentially reported to him as
sunk in the depths of the bay, near one of the wharves, which kegs or
barrels, when carefully fished up and conveyed to Mr. Mosley's rooms to
be disposed of by auction, were found, on being tapped, to contain
harmless water; but while Mr. Savage and his men were busily engaged in
making this profitless seizure, the real wares - teas, spirits, and so
on - which were sought to be illicitly introduced, were landed without
molestation in Humber Bay. The practice of smuggling was, we believe,
rather rife in and about the harbour of York in the olden time. In a
_Gazette_ of 1820 (Nov. 30), we observe the schooner _Industry_
advertised for sale by the Custom House authorities as having been taken
in the act; and on the 17th of October, 1821, Mr. Allan reports to the
magistrates, at Quarter Sessions, that he had seized ten barrels of
salt, in which were found concealed kegs of tobacco to the value of five
pounds and upwards, brought to York from the United States in an
American schooner, called the _New Haven_, A. Johnson, master. The
Magistrates declared the whole forfeited to the "King." At the same time
a system of illicit reciprocity was in vogue, and the products of Canada
were introduced, or sought to be introduced, into the domain of the
United States, sometimes in singular ways. On one occasion Daniel
Lambert, a gigantic wax-figure, returned from Canada to the United
States replete with articles designed for import without entry. The
Albany _Argus_ of the day thus describes the adventure: - "Daniel Lambert
turned smuggler. - This mammoth gentleman of wax, who is exhibited for
the admiration of the curious in every part of the country, was lately
met on his way from Canada by a Custom House officer, who, remarking the
rotundity of Daniel's corporation, had the curiosity to subject it to a
critical inspection; when, lo! instead of flesh and blood, or even
straw, the entire fabric of this unwieldy gentleman was found to be
composed of fine English cloths and kerseymeres."

Towards the close of the year 1828 we have Capt. Mosier's marriage
mentioned in a number of the _Loyalist_ (for Dec. 13), thus: "Married
at Prescott, on the 20th ult., Capt John Mosier, Master of the _Niagara_
Steam-packet, to Miss Caroline F. Munro, second daughter of Major Munro,
of Edwardsburgh."

In January, 1829, the schooner _George Canning_ was plying between York
and Niagara, the weather being open. In the Niagara _Herald_ of Jan. 29,
1829, we have the notice, "Conveyance to York, Upper Canada, by the
fast-sailing schooner _George Canning_, commanded by Capt J. Whitney.
The public are respectfully informed that during the continuance of the
present open season the above schooner will ply as a Packet between York
and Niagara. From being perfectly new and thoroughly found, she is with
confidence recommended as a safe and easy mode of conveyance to the
capital of Upper Canada. For information in regard to time of departure,
application to be made to Capt. Whitney on board, or at Chrysler's Inn,
Niagara. January 22, 1829." The _Loyalist_ of April 4 in this year,
1829, reports that "the steamboat _Canada_ is ready to commence her
trips to and from Niagara as soon as the ice is out of the bay. It has
broken up a good deal," the _Loyalist_ says, "within the last few days,
and from its appearance after the late rain we may hope that the
navigation will soon be open. Schooners have been crossing the Lake for
some time past. Last year the first steamboat from Kingston arrived here
on the fifth of April." The usual advertisement of the _Canada's_
movements for the season appears in this number of the _Loyalist_.

In May the steamer _Niagara_ brought up Bishop Macdonell. The _Loyalist_
of May 9, 1829, notes his arrival at York: - "The R. C. Bishop, the Rev.
Mr. Macdonell, arrived here in the steamboat _Niagara_ on Tuesday last,
accompanied by the Rev. W. Macdonell." It is added: - "The Rev. Messrs.
Fraser and Chisholm arrived on the Thursday following in the _Alciope_."
In this month the _Queenston_ takes away troops from York. In the
_Loyalist_ of May 16, 1829, the following item appears: - "The first
division of the 68th Regiment, under the command of Capt. Macdonell, _en
route_ to Montreal, left York on Tuesday last, on board the _Queenston_.
The _Alciope_, from Kingston, brings intelligence of their having
arrived at that place on the following day." The same paper reports that
"the steam-boats have some difficulty in getting into the Niagara River
from the large quantities of ice passing down from the Upper Lake." And
again in the same paper, under date of Niagara, May 11: - "The ice from
Lake Erie has been running most of the last week, and continues to run
to-day - so much so that the river, we believe, has not been passable
since nine o'clock this morning."

A notice of the opening of navigation at Buffalo this year appears in
the _Loyalist_ of May 23, copied from the Buffalo _Republican_ of the
16th of May. The scene is graphically depicted. "The schooner _Eagle_,"
the _Republican_ says, "was the first vessel that entered our harbour
this season. She ploughed her way through three or four miles of
floating ice to the gratification of about a thousand spectators." The
_Republican_ also gives the following, which presents us with even
grander spectacles: - "On Thursday morning the steamboat _Pioneer_
started through the ice on her first trip to Dunkirk, with a full load
of passengers. In the afternoon the steamer _William Penn_, Capt.
Wright, commenced her first trip to Detroit, having on board upwards of
400 passengers destined to Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan." "On Friday,
about noon," the Buffalo paper then adds, "the steamboat _Henry Clay_,
Norton, having previously arrived from Black Rock, left our harbour in
fine style, having a heavy and full load of passengers. The steamboat
_Niagara_, Pease, will leave on Monday for Detroit, as we understand."

A casualty in York Bay is noticed in the _Loyalist_ of Oct. 4, 1828.
"Mr. William Crone, contractor for gravelling the streets of the town,
was unfortunately drowned on Saturday last. It appears that Mr. Crone
was knocked overboard from the Durham boat, in which he was bringing a
load of gravel from the Island, by the sudden shifting of the boom, and,
being stunned by the blow, sunk before assistance could be rendered to

In Oct., 1828, Sir Peregrine Maitland arrives in York Harbour on board

Online LibraryHenry ScaddingToronto of old; collections and recollections illustrative of the early settlement and social life of the capital of Ontario → online text (page 55 of 59)