Kingston Chronicle Sept 14 1816


   On Saturday the 7th of September, the Steam Boat FRONTENAC was launched at the village of Ernest Town.  A numerous concourse of people assembled on the occasion.  But, in consequence of some accidental delay, and the appearance of an approaching shower, a part of the spectators withdrew before the launch actually took place.  The Boat moved slowly from her place, and descended with majestic sweep into her proper element.  The length of her Keel is 150 feet;  her Deck 170 feet.  Her proportions strike the eye very agreeably;  and good judges have pronounced this to the best piece of naval architecture of the kind yet produced in America.  It reflects honor upon Messrs. TIEBOUT & CHAPMAN, the contractors, and their workmen, and also upon the proprietors, the greater part of whom are among the most respectable merchants and other inhabitants of the County of Frontenac, from which the name is derived.  The machinery for this valuable boat was imported from England, and is said to be of an excellent structure.  The FRONTENAC is designed for both freight and passengers.  It is expected she will be finished and ready for use in a few weeks.  Steam navigation having succeeded to admiration on various rivers, the application of it to the waters of the lakes is an interesting experiment.  Every friend to public improvements must wish it all the success which is due to a spirit of useful enterprise.

   A Steam Boat was lately launched at Sacket’s Harbour.  The opposite sides of this Lake, which not long ago vied with each other in the building of ships of war, seem now to be equally emulous of Commercial superiority.




Kingston Chronicle Aug 16 1828


   On Saturday last the Team Boat Dalhousie, Captain McDonell, in order to oblige a number of the inhabitants of Kingston, made a trip to Bath.  About 7 o’clock in the evening, the Dalhousie left Mr. Ham’s wharf, and steered for Kingston.  A few minutes afterwards, the Toronto, Captain Sinclair, got under way from a wharf a short distance to leeward of the Dalhousie, and proceeded towards Kingston also.  When opposite to a point of land below Bath, the Toronto came within hail of the Dalhousie, and Capt. McDonell, perceiving that danger was at hand, requested Captain Sinclair to stop his engine.  This request, however, was disregarded, and the next minute the stem of the Toronto struck the Dalhousie on her larboard quarter, carrying away the  stanchions, railing, &c.  The Toronto then shot ahead, and the two boats became wedged together, in which situation they ran more than half a mile.  Here again Captain McDonell intreated Captain Sinclair to stop his engine, and he would do the same, in order that the boats might separate without doing further injury to each other;  but all to no purpose - the Capt. of the Toronto continued obstinate and unyielding.  At length Capt. McDonell, fearing that serious consequences might ensue, stopped the Dalhousie’s engine, and allowed the Toronto to escape.

   The foregoing is a plain relation of the facts as the occurred under our immediate observation, and in the presence of twenty or thirty other passengers.  We abstain from comment, as they affair will probably hereafter become the subject of legal investigation.  Herald.




Kingston Chronicle Aug 9 1828


   This boat, which was recently built at the village of Bath, under the superintendence of Captain Gildersleeve, was launched on Monday last - and on Wednesday Morning was brought in tow to this place by the Toronto.  She is to ply between Prescott & the head of the Bay of Quinte.  Her engine is 45 horsepower.  She is handsomely fitted up for the accommodation of passengers, and is to be under the command of Captain Gildersleeve, formerly of the Charlotte, a gentleman well known for the urbanity of his manners, and his unremitting attention to the comforts of his passengers.





Weekly British Whig May 7 1885


   The steamer Hero had a great display of bunting on Tuesday. She took on an immense load of general freight at Swift's wharf, and started on her trip up the Bay of Quinte about midday. This steamer has been thoroughly overhauled, having been repainted and re-lettered on the outside and repainted inside. Her saloon is fitted out elegantly. New carpets have been laid, and the chandeliers and radiators beautifully bronzed. In the lower panels of the saloon there are French plate glass mirrors, and over the top panels are landscape paintings by noted artists. The dining saloon has received new glassware and crockery, and the machinery has been put in first-class shape.

   The officers this year are: C.H. Nicholson, captain, S. Cox, steward; N. Bloomfield, mate; R. McColl, engineer, an efficient staff






Weekly British Whig Oct 8 1885


   On Thursday a collision of steamboats occurred on the Bay of Quinte, about a hundred yards off Bath. The Quinte, the property of Rathbun & Co. was running on the South Bay and Kingston route in place of the Armenia, which broke her rudder the day before. the Hero was on her regular trip and en route to Kingston, from Belleville and intermediate ports. When yet some distance apart the boats whistled, and still they approached a point at which their meeting was certain. the captain of the hero was not on watch when the danger first appeared, but he was at the pilot house in time to take in the situation, to perceive that he was on the Quinte's starboard bow, and that he should have the right of way. He says he whistled to the Quinte to this effect and go no response. Presently the boats came together, the Quinte striking the Hero in the side and forward the gangway. The shock was a violent one, and displace the steampipe on the Quinte. The escape of steam caused considerable excitement among the passengers on board, but they were quickly calmed and landed at Bath. Then the true nature of the injury was ascertained. Both hulls were the worse of the collision, but the damage was not of a serious character.  The break in the Quinte's steampipe, however, prevented her continuing her trip, and the Hero brought most of her passengers to Kingston. Capt. Nicholson regrets the accident, but says it would have been much worse had he not abandoned his rights, put the wheel hard to port, changed the course of the Hero, and reversed the engine.

   The purser of the Quinte was in the city Thursday, and contended that that boat had the right of way, that the Hero run into her. It is a question of law which the courts may decide. The Quinte came to the city late yesterday, the injury to her having but temporarily disabled her.






Daily British Whig July 28 1892


Mrs. Pappa, Cook, was from Kingston -

A Sailor From Belleville Sleeping in the Forecastle -

The Sad Circumstances Detailed -

A Heavy Loss to the Captain


   The steamer Hero's crew brought sad news to Kingston this morning. The intelligence had reference to another drowning accident which occurred at 5:30 o'clock this morning when the schr. Kate capsized just abreast of Thompson's Point in the reach. Capt. Johnston, of the str. Hero was on watch at the time of the accident. He says he was about one mile and a half from the schooner when a regular tornado sprung up and swept by his craft on to the Kate with the speed of lightning. The squall hid the vessel from view for a while and when Capt. Johnson next perceived her all that was visible of the schooner was her quarter stick out of the water. She had been upset without a second's warning. The anchors located in the bow fell out and held her down. The Hero immediately headed for the distressed vessel and in about seven minutes time was abreast of the Kate. Most of the Hero's crew was up and about and Capt. Johnson, owing to perfect discipline, had a lifeboat lowered and at work three minutes after his arrival. Capt. DeWitta and two of his sailors were found clinging to the boat which was laying on its side. The yawl then floated around the wreck until finally Capt. DeWitta abandoned all hope of securing the bodies of the already drowned persons. Mrs. Pappa, cook, was in the cabin up and about preparing breakfast for the crew while sailor James Salmon was in the forecastle sound asleep at the time the storm broke. The vessel was forced headfirst into the sea and filled with water in a second. The poor unfortunates being hemmed in on all sides, escaped was impossible and were drowned with succor but a few yards distance.

   In telling the story to Capt. Johnston, Dewitta said that the squall struck him before he had time to make the slightest preparations for it. He called to the men to raise the main gaft topsail, but they were so slow in getting word that he left the wheel himself to attend to it. The hurricane caught the vessel on her beam and she went over like a shot. Capt. Dewitta says he could hear the cook in the cabin as the vessel went down shrieking for help. Under the circumstances this, of course, was out of the question. Capt. Dewitta says that the accident meant ruin to him.

   The Hero headed for Kingston after assured that nothing more could be done, and left Capt. Dewitta and his men there.

   Capt. DeWitta purchased the schr. Kate from M. Clark of Milford, for about $1,600, three weeks ago, and extensively improved her. He had left Belleville for Oswego the afternoon previous light. Capt. Johnston says the Kate is a vessel of probably 8,000 bushels.

   The scene of the accident is about six miles from Picton. Capt. Johnston says that he was never more surprised in his life than when struck by the squall. He had just remarked to one of this wheelmen that he believed it was going to be a windy day when the terrific gust of wind struck them. It lasted about ten minutes. Singular to say the storm did not reach Picton. The Kate was a two masted schooner.

   Capt. DeWitta is a well known mariner and looked upon as a first class seaman but it is thought his crew consisted of green hands. He is a resident of Picton and has telegraphed the Donnelly salvage wrecking company from there to come up with their appliances at once. The schr. Gearing, burned a year ago was owned by Capt. Dewitta. He has also sailed the schr. R.W. Folger.

   Mrs. William Pappa, cook, was well known here. She was a daughter of Isaac Asselstine, and married a printer, who worked for many years in the WHIG office. He had to retire from work and is now an invalid. His wife and children have had to work for some years to maintain themselves. Their eldest daughter me the same fate as the mother, having been lost three or four years ago off the prop. California, sunk in one of the upper lakes. Mrs. Pappa was about thirty-five years of age. Six children are living. The blow will be a terrible one to the afflicted family.  






Daily British Whig May 14 1897


   The steamer North King completed its first week's service of the present season yesterday. Between $7,000 and $8,000 has been expended for improvements during the winter. The most noticeable change from the outside is that the vessel has but one smoke stack, instead of two as formerly. A ton of white lead is what constitutes her new suit, as it required that amount, with the colorings, to complete the artistic appearance and interior decorations.

   There is a welcome increase of deck room. A large portion of the money expended was used in a pair of steel boilers, which are wholly below the main deck, while the old boilers rose above it and occupied considerable room. The new boilers give fifty per cent more steaming power than the old ones, making the North King the fastest passenger craft afloat between the Welland canal and Montreal. The great speed is necessary to meet the increased service which her schedule requires her to carry out. Besides making daily trips to Cobourg and Port Hope and return, making sure connections with trains on either side, and in all weather, on Tuesday and Thursday nights, the boats will make trips to Brighton, connecting there with the steamer "Hero," of the same line, for Bay of Quinte and the Thousand Islands, and on Saturday night going through herself as far as Kingston, and in the summer as far as Alexandria bay, returning on time to make her regular trip out of Charlotte on Monday morning.

   It is seldom if ever that the North King has to stay in port on account of bad weather, and when she is not out, it is safe to wager that there is not another passenger craft on the lake. The great strength in the hull of the boat comes from the numerous steel knees, arches and other braces with which the ship's hold is filled.

   All in all, the boat is a model of neatness, the  immense saloon and dining room being the chief attractions. Life boats, life preservers and life rafts are provided, and passengers under the protection of captain Jarrel may feel sure of a pleasant voyage, rather than a leaky boat and slow time. The boat is handled under the direction of the manager of the company, H.H. Gildersleeve, and there is a competent corps of officers, as well as a first-class crew.


North King 1.jpg

The "North King" from an old postcard.





Daily British Whig June 14 1901


Caught Fire at Belleville Early This Morning - And is a Total Loss - Origin of Fire Unknown - Loss $25,000 -

Partially Insured - A Short Sketch of the Staunch And Popular Steamer


   The steamer Hero, of Kingston is no more. At two o'clock this morning while lying at the Rathbun company wharf, Belleville, she caught fire in a manner yet unknown, and was burned to the water's edge. It was midnight when she reached Belleville, and the crew and few passengers could not have been asleep long when the fire broke out. When the blaze was discovered it had made great headway and all efforts to save the steamer were unavailing. A watchman was supposed to be on the wharf, but the atmosphere of Belleville may have put him to sleep.

   Those aboard had barely time to get off the steamer and left much of their clothing behind. So necessary was it to hurry that the purser had not time to take seventy five dollars in cash from the till. There were several narrow escapes, some of those aboard jumping into the water; all, however were rescued. The Hero's lines were burned, and she drifted in the harbour before a south wind, bringing up against some small crafts to which the flames did a little damage. At daybreak what remained of the Hero a smouldering ruin was lying ashore. The boat is a total loss.

   The steamer Hero was built at Sorel, Que., seventeen years ago. In 1887, she was purchased by H.H. Gildersleeve for the Bay of Quinte route, and has been running between Kingston, Picton and Belleville ever since.

   The Hero was one of the staunchest vessels on these waters, her hull being exceptionally strong. The Gildersleeves were very particular about keeping their boats in first class shape, every spring having them thoroughly overhauled. Capt. Crawford can bear testimony to this, and he told a reporter this morning that when the inspectors came to examine the Hero they found the hull so hard that their augurs were often broken in trying to bore a hole. No Gildersleeve boats were ever allowed to get out of repair, the dry dock often being used for the slightest damage done after a stormy trip.

   No steamer was more popular with the people of Kingston than the Hero, the pride of the Bay of Quinte. She and the old steamer Maud, now the America, were rivals twelve years ago and their river excursions will be ever remembered. Let a tear fall over the remains of the gallant little Hero.

   H.H. Gildersleeve, general manager of the Bay of Quinte line, received a telephone message at an early hour in the morning, telling of the catastrophy. He lost no time, and before eight o'clock this morning had chartered the steamer Aletha to take the Hero's  place next week. After that it is likely he will bring the company's steamer Richelieu down from Toronto to go on the route for the season.

   The Hero was valued at $25,000, and is insured for $15.000.

   The officers of the burned steamer are Capt. Bongard, Samuel Newman, mate, George Boyd, first engineer M. Redmond, second engineer, James Bartlett, pursor.

The Crew are Here

   The crew of the Hero arrived in the city this afternoon by the G.T.R. Capt. Bongard stated that the fire was discovered by the steward, Henry Wemp, near his stateroom. Wemp immediately awoke all on board, and rushed up town in his night dress to give the alarm to the fire hall. The captain thinks that the fire may have originated from lightning as there was a severe electric storm on the Bay of Quinte last night. Miss Lettie Ga-----, jumped from  the saloon deck to the wharf in her night robe, not having time to put on anything but a pair of shoes. James Bartlett, purser, had his foot badly cut in trying to gain access to the office.






Daily Whig Oct 2 1901


Took a Lurch in Heavy Swell - Crew Got Into Lifeboats and Reached Kingston

Story of the Disaster


   The steamer Richelieu, running on the Bay of Quinte route, between Kingston and Picton, foundered while crossing the lower gap at noon today. She was bound down from Picton on her regular daily trip, and had a cargo of fifty tons of tomatoes on her deck, consigned to a Rochester N.Y. firm. Long swells were rolling as the Richelieu entered the gap. Suddenly the steamer gave a lurch to one side, the cargo shifted, and the vessel began to fill rapidly. The fate of the vessel was sealed; nothing could save here. The crew were on deck in an instant, two life-boats were swung out, and all aboard the doomed vessel jumped into them. There was no time to waste for the Richelieu sank inside of two minutes after making the lurch which heeled her over. The life-boats reached here about half past one o'clock.

   There was but one passenger aboard - J.A. Lalonne, traveller for the Reinhardt manufacturing company, Montreal. The steamer's officers consisted of: Capt. VanVlack; S. Newman, mate, H. Windel, purser; George Boyo, chief engineer; M. Redmond, assistant engineer; T. Harrison, fireman.

   The deckhands were H. Danard, W. Robinson and H. Newman; maid Annie Switzer; cook, Jane Perry. E.E. Horsey, of the Bay of Quinte navigation company was also aboard. Most of the officers and crew belonged to Kingston.

   So quickly did the whole affair occur that the captain and those aboard could tell nothing beyond the bare facts. They simply made for the life-boats, cut away, and that's all there was about it. On arriving here the depositions of those aboard were taken separately by J.L. Whiting, K.C.

   The place where the Richelieu foundered is 100 feet in depth. This afternoon the Donnelly wrecking company were to send a steamer to see if the Richelieu  can be located, and to determine if she can be raised. The Richelieu is owned by Capt. Filgate, Montreal, and was chartered last spring by H.H. Gildersleeve. She ran during the summer from Toronto to Oakville. Last May she was partially rebuilt above decks. Her value would be about $8,000.

   "We haven't anything to say," said a member of the crew. "We had a most miraculous escape, and hardly yet realize the terrible danger we passed through. You can see how quickly we had to leave the steamer. We didn't have time to pick up a hat or coat."

   The men appeared on the streets in their shirt sleeves and bare heads afterwards going to outfitters to get enough apparel to keep out the weather.

   The Richelieu was built at Montreal in 1845. She was very light draught. Mr. Gildersleeve has been very unfortunate this season with his boats, the Hero having been burned at Belleville last June.





Weekly British Whig  April 20th 1911


Pierrepont and Island Wanderer Had to Return to Kingston on Sunday

Scout Arrived in Port on Saturday Afternoon

Marine Notes of Interest.


   The steamers Pierrepont and the New Island Wanderer had a big battle with ice, in their endeavor to make Cape Vincent, on Sunday, and had to give up the task, and return to Kingston, after getting within a couple of miles of the Cape.  A big ice jam was encountered, which made it impossible to get any farther.

   The steamers made a trip both by the head, and by the foot of the island, and both stood the test well.  In another day, it is believed, there will be no trouble in making the route.

   The government boat Scout arrived in Kingston, on Saturday afternoon, after a great trip from Prescott, breaking the ice.  She cleared, this morning, to look after the buoys in this district.

   The Scout left Gananoque on Saturday morning, and for the first five hours out, made only about a quarter of a mile.  This was the worst experience of the entire trip.

   The government boat Speedy went on the Kingston dry dock to-day.

   The steambarge Sowards will be one of the first of the local vessels to clear for Oswego. The Sowards would have cleared on Sunday, but could not get away, owing to the fact that some last-minute repairs had to be looked after.

   The harbor is now practically free of ice.

   Capt. James Roach, of the steamer Rosemount, has arrived from his home in Ottawa.

   The steamer Reindeer is undergoing a thorough over-hauling and being painted and out in shape for the opening of navigation at Napanee.  The work is being rushed, and when navigation opens she will be placed on the same route as last season.

   Navigation in Chaumount Bay will be safeguarded this summer by the installation of two tower lights by the United States government.  One light will be erected off Independence Point, warning mariners against coming too close to the shoals, and the other of Cherry Island.  The lights will be of the acetylene gas flash variety and will not necessitate a caretaker. 

   The Wolvin line boats that wintered at Ogdensburg are fitted out ready to leave and after they coal up they will steam for the Welland canal, leaving probably this week.  The work of loading the first boats of the Rutland line that will be started westward will begin to-day.  The Hall fleet of coal carriers will begin to move on the 20th, and the Hannon fleet will start for Oswego on the 25th, according to present calculations.

   The Picton Gazette says:  Mr. Kirwood, who has been trying unsuccessfully to establish a daily line of steamers along the north shore, and asked the municipalities to assist, is, we understand, going to run the steamer Algerian between Toronto and Picton.

   The steamer Alexandria has had many improvements made to her during the winter, and will start the season April 30th, with a trip to Rochester.  On May 2nd, she commences her regular run to Montreal. 

   The steamer St. Joe loaded coal at Oswego for Toronto.

   The steamer Aletha, now on the ways at Picton, had a good deal of work by way of improvement.  The steambarge Waterlily has had a new boiler installed.

   There will be no change of the routes of the several steamer taken over by the merger, says the Picton Gazette.  The work on the new boat being built at Collingwood is going rapidly ahead.  She will start on her route July 2nd.  She will leave Picton, Mondays, for Quebec.  Steamer Alexandria will leave Fridays during July and August.  No name has as yet been selected for the new boat.





Weekly British Whig , April 20th 1911


   Officers appointed to the Picton fleet are announced as follows:

   Steamer Alexandria - Joseph Renfret, captain;  Joseph Ledue, mate;  T.J.S. Milne, engineer;  H. Vandusen, steward, except during July and August, when he will transfer to the new boat.

   New Steamer -  M. Heffernan, captain;  Raoul Chatel, mate;  John McFaul, engineer;  H. Vandusen, steward;  C. Wilson, purser.

   Steamer Lloyd S. Porter - Nelson Hudgins, captain;  Louis Smith, engineer.

   Steamer Aberdeen - William Dulmage, captain;  Hugh McWilliams, engineer

   Steamer Waterlily - Nelson Palmateer, captain;  K. Demille, engineer.

   Steamer Brockville - D. B. Christie, captain, Charles McWilliams, engineer.

   Steamer Aletha - M. Palmateer, captain, Thomas Hazlette, engineer.

   Steamer Veruna - J. Rathbun, captain;  Walker, engineer.

   Barge Isabel Reid - P. McManus, captain.

                Barge Roy Roy - Nelson Kellar, captain.

                Yacht Madge, - Harry Brooks, captain


Alexandria.jpeg   Brockville.jpeg





Daily Whig, April 18th 1911


   Captain Reid, of the Baker & Reid Wrecking Co., is now at the steamer Sharples, on Galloup Islands, to wreck the stranded vessel.  It is believed among Oswego mariners that the boat will not be damaged very much about the hull as the heavy coating of ice which formed during the winter months protected it from the severity of the waves.  The upper portion of the boat is a mass of ruins, according to reports, her cabins being washed away, as was her smoke stack. 

   The officers of the steamer St. Lawrence have been announced as follows:  Master, Capt. D. H. Kendal,  first mate;  G. H. Grown;  second mate, D. E. Grandee;  quartermasters, John Cree and Richard Grandee;  chief engineer, Barney Farrell.  Work fitting out the steamer will begin May 1st and she will start on her regular trips on June 1st.

   A new and direct rail and water route between central New York and Toronto is proposed by the Beebe syndicate.  A new company called the buffalo, Lockport and Rochester Transit company has been formed and has purchased a large steel steamer that is to run between Olcott, on the American shore, and Toronto.  This is an independent company but traffic arrangements have been made with it by the Beebe syndicate which will connect with the boat via the Buffalo, Lockport and Rochester railway and the Buffalo, Rochester and Eastern.

   The government quarantine boat Polana, being built at the Kingston dry dock, will be finished on May 7th.  The engine is at the station now and will be installed as soon as possible.  Everything is going along fine, and barring accidents, the boat will be finished on scheduled time.

   The government boat Speedy is in the Kingston dry dock having two new screws put in and other repairs made.

   The government boat Scout is at the Kingston dry dock charging the gas buoys and painting them.  When they are charged and painted she will drop them in their respective places.

   The steamer City of Hamilton, at the Kingston dry dock, slip, is undergoing extensive repairs. A large number of men are engaged working on her.

   William Harris, late of the Congress hotel, will be steward on the steamer City of Ottawa this season.

   That veteran ice-breaker, the steamer Pierrepont, succeeded in getting through the ice, on Monday afternoon, and reached Cape Vincent.  As a result, the route to Cape Vincent has been officially opened.

   Capt. John Fleming, Newboro, is her to commence his duties with the Rideau Lakes Navigation company for the season.

   The members of the crew of the steamer City of Montreal, have arrived in the city.

   The schooner Ford River will clear on her first trip across the lake in the course of a day or so.

   Cap. Lefevre has returned to the city after spending a few days at his home in Valleyfield.

   The crews of several more of the M. T. Co’s barges have arrived in the city.

   W. M. McNeil, Jr., has left for Windsor, where he will represent the Inland Navigation company.





Weekly British Whig, April 20, 1911


   The steamer Marshall cleared from Brockville for Oswego.

   Ice is packed up the lake from Buffalo for a distance of thirty miles.

   J. C. Eaton’s beautiful yacht Florence will clear from Toronto for Ogdensburg, N.Y., in a few days to go on the Main dock there.

   The steamers Senator Derbyshire and Samuel Marshall, left Brockville, on Tuesday, for Oswego, the first boats to clear from that port this season.

   The Sowards went over to Oswego on Monday night and had a fine trip.  From now on the Sowards will keep the line warm between Oswego and Kingston.

   Capt. Henry Matthews, acquitted at Cobourg of murder, sailed into this port as master of the steamer City of New York last year, and on the schooner Oliver Mowat the year previous.

   Capt. Byron J. Estes, mate Henry Burtch, and several sailors, of Alexandria Bay, are in Oswego fitting out the steamer Island Belle, which had new boilers installed there.  Capt. Estes expects to get away this week.

   An offer of 1¾ cents on grain, Fort William to Buffalo, has been made for spot tonnage.  This is one-fourth higher than has been offered this spring.  Vesselmen do not consider the price worth the chance under present condition, as there is too much uncertainty of a return cargo.    

   Several of the Rutland boats which wintered at Chicago are being loaded there and will start for Ogdensburg this week. The outlook for package freight business has improved considerably within the past few weeks, and while the season will not be a record-breaker, it will average up will with recent seasons, despite the pessimism which has existed in marine circles.

   The steamer Britannic is being fitted out for the season’s work and will make her first trip from Montreal to Kingston on Thursday, May 4th.  The Britannic will have the same run as last year and will be manned by the following officers:  Captain, F. S. Andress;  mate, C. Hart; first engineer, I. F. Marchand;   second engineer, Eugene Marchand; purser, A. N. Smith.

   The honor of having brought the first cargo of coal into the city this season goes to Commodore Max Shaw, of the speedy little steamer Sowards.  The Sowards arrived from Oswego on Wednesday morning and is now being unloaded of her cargo at Crawford’s slip.  It would be in order for the harbor master to present Commodore Shaw with a fine new hat - that is, providing the rules in other places were carried out.




   The officers of the Rideau Navigation company steamer this season will be:

   Rideau Queen - Edward Fleming, captain;  William Fleming, mate;  W. F. Noonan, purser;  George Tuttle, engineer.

   Rideau King - William Scott, captain;  Thomas Lynch, mate;  George Shannon, engineer;  D. G. Donovan, second engineer.

  The Rideau King will make her first trip Monday, May 1st.  She has been thoroughly overhauled and repaired and has new furnishings.  Everything about her is in first-class shape.





The British Whig, April 20 1911


The Launching Will be on Wednesday Afternoon -

Boat Built by the Davis company, of This City


   The new steamer Buena Vista, which is being constructed by the Davis Dry Dock company, of this city, is about completed, and will be launched on Wednesday afternoon, at three o’clock.

   The boat is ninety-feet keel, ninety-six feet over all, eighteen feet beam and six and a half feet depth of hull amidships.  It is a composite built boat. The keel, stem, stern post and deadwood are of selected white oak.  The planking of white oak, two-inch sides and two and a half inches bottom.  The bilge strakes are three inches thick.  The frames are 2 ½  x 2 ½  steel angles and the shear strake is plate one-quarter inch thick, and two feet wide, running the entire length.

   The centre keelson is 12 x 5 girder iron.  The boiler and machinery keelsons are 12 inches by 3 inches channel iron, and the bilge keelsons are three inches by three inches angle iron.  In addition to those keelsons there are two six inch by three inch angle iron sister keelsons running the entire length of the bottom.  Thus making a very strong and substantially built hull.

   The deck beams are also 2 ½ by 2 ½ angle steel and the decks are of white pine.  The coamings are of steel reinforced by oak.  The main deck is clear, leaving the entire space for freight.

   On the promenade deck there is a very comfortable and commodious salon cabin with circular front and with two state rooms in connection. The entrance to the cabin and staterooms is from the forward deck only.  Immediately aft of the staterooms are two well-arranged toilet rooms, and on each side.  The staircase and landing from the main to the promenade deck is well arranged for the convenience of those using the steamer.  Aft of the staircase and landing is arranged a galley and mess room for the accommodation of the crew.

   The stern portion of the cabin enclosure is taken up by a restaurant, where all the necessities of life are to be obtained.

   A very neat little wheelhouse and stateroom is arranged on the upper or hurricane deck.  Also life boats and water tanks.

   The power used in this steamer will be steam.  The boiler is of the Fitzgibbons type, built for a working pressure of 150 lbs. And the engine is a fore and aft compound with cylinders 9 and 18 by 14 inches stroke.

   The boat is well equipped with the necessary fire appliances consisting of pumps, piping, hose, etc., and has in addition to the regular pumping outfit, connections from the condensor to the bilge, which insures splendid means of keeping water out of the boat in case of accidents.

   The work on the new steamer was started on January 1st, 1911, and considering the cold stormy weather in which the work was carried on much credit is due to the builders for the despatch they have made in completing the boat.

   The steamer will be christened the Buena vista and launched on Wednesday, the 19th, at three o’clock.  The boat will be launched stern first.  The public is invited to attend.

   This boat was first named Venture.  Later, the marine department found that another vessel flying the British flag bore the same name, and so the new vessel was obliged to find a new appellation - the Buena Vista.  The new steamer is for the Rideau route, between Kingston and Smith’s Falls.







The Picton Times,  November 10 1932


   It is going on forty-five years since the Blanche of Colborne, vanished with all hands.  Yet still Cat Hollow men stare hard towards the Scotch Bonnet of moonlight nights, to catch, if may be, the gleam of her bone-white hull under the proud arching of her silver-sable sails.

   The Bonnet is a little block of an island outside of Nicholson’s off the Prince Edward County shore.  It flashes nightly across the water to the tall lighthouse at Presqu’Ile, where the bay runs up to Brighton and swings east to the Murray Canal, replacing the old Carrying Place, which once afforded access to the Bay of Quinte.  Colborne and Cat Hollow are to the west of the little peninsula which gives Presqu’Ile its name. A famous corner for wrecks, since the government schooner Speedy’s finding of the Devil’s Hitchingpost there in 1804.  The Belle Sheridan’s was another famous wreck near by, eighty years afterwards.  Among them all, the Blanche’s will be remembered long, both from the mystery of it and from the completeness of the tragedy it involved.

   It was fitting out time, in the spring of 1888, and Captain John Henderson, of the schooner Blanche of Colborne, was outward bound from his winter home in Cat Hollow.  Colborne lies inland from Lake Ontario, a little town of importance, named after the lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, whose name was later tagged on to Gravelly Bay on Lake Erie;  making it Port Colborne, to some confusion with the Ontario place.  From Colborne a road winds down to Cat Hollow, the settlement by the shore, which has since become the village of Lakeport.  Officially vessels from this vicinity hailed from the Port of Cramahe, but Cramahe or Cramha was only the Highland name for the township.  Harbor there was none.  Once they had to scuttle the Katie Eccles where she lay loading at the pier there, to save her from pounding to pieces in a westerly.  Schooners did a brisk trade in grain and lumber from the two wharves and storehouses at Cat Hollow, but they wintered in Cobourg or Brighton, sheltered in the Bay of Presqu’Ile.

   Captain Henderson’s bag and his seaboots and oilskins had gone on before, and he was striding uphill through the thawing slush to meet the Brighton stage.  This would carry him to where the Blanche lay, shimmering in her new white paint, at her winter quarters in Presqu’Ile Bay, eight miles away.

   At the hill crest, Captain Henderson turned.  He untied a parcel he had held tightly in his young brown fist.  A pair of heavy woollen socks sprang from the released covering.  They were gay and hand-knitted;  sailors’ socks, the kind that keep sea boots from “drawing the feet.”  He whirled them high above his head.

   “Good-bye, mother, good-bye!” he called, in a voice of spring gladness matching the cheery chirrup of the roadside robins.

   At a door down in the Hollow a grey haired woman waved a freshly ironed apron of pink and white checks.  Tears brimmed her eyes.  Captain Henderson could not see them.  But he could see, or believed he saw, the glad smile behind them.  A sailor’s eyes are keen.  A lover’s eyes see farther.  Johnnie Henderson was a good sailor and a loving son.

   Then he went over the hilltop and out of his mother’s sight, and out of the ken of the small boy who passed him, whistling.  It is from him comes this tale, forty-four years afterwards.  He is Harold Batty, and he helps get out the Port Hope Guide.  The facts are his.  Whose the telling does not matter. 

   Two months later, Captain Tom Matthews was swinging down the lake in the old black-and-green schooner then in her prime.  Older Toronto folk may remember her when she used to bring stone for the cribs of the Eastern Gap, in the 90’s, when Captain “Mack” Shaw had her.  Younger Toronto folk may remember her putting in here in distress one August day in 1906, when she was on her very last legs.  Her sheer was humped then, and her mastheads sprung and she had a permanent reef in her much patched mainsail.  She had been to Charlotte with a load of cedar posts, and ran for shelter here in the light half of a summer gale, with eighteen inches of water in her hold and her crew in despair.  She was owned then in South Bay, and after she limped away for home with moderating weather no one on the waterfront here knew what became of her.

   In 1888, however, the Fleetwing was still a good vessel, and her master was proud of her.  Captain Matthews was Harold Batty’s uncle.  Mrs. Matthews, Harold Batty’s aunt, was the cook of the Fleetwing.  Captain Matthews had with him as mate, James Henderson of Cat Hollow, a brother of Captain John, of the Blanche.  Jim Henderson later became Captain of the steamer Macassa and carried thousands of Toronto and Hamilton passengers between those two ports.  Poor Jimmy is no more now, and his well-known command went to the bottom of Georgian Bay two or three years ago under the name of Manasoo.

   At midnight on May 27th, Captain Matthews was called to relieve the mate, it being the custom in lake schooners for the captain to stand watch at night.  In salt water ships, the second mate does this work for the Old Man, and the latter only turns out when he feels like it – which is pretty often.

   Captain Matthews glanced at the barometer and it seemed to him the glass had dropped materially since he had gone below.  He emerged to find a perfect moonlight night with a fine steady breeze blowing and the schooner gushing along quietly in smooth water.  The Scotch Bonnet was winking away in the moonlight bearing north-north-west, about five miles distant.

   “I haven’t been drinking, Jimmy, but my eyes must be playing tricks on me,” said Captain Matthews to his mate, as the latter prepared to go below.  “I thought the glass was away down, but I come up to as fine a night as man ever set eyes on.  Wait a minute till I have another look at her.”

   He popped into the cabin.  The glass was assuredly “down.”  The mercury had sunk even while he was talking.

   He emerged in a moment.  All hands were now on deck, standing by for the order “Go below, the port watch.”

   “Get the gaff topsails and jibtop sail off her,” shouted the master to the waiting mate.  “Haul the flying jib down too, and we’ll reef the mainsail!”

   “What’s wrong, captain?” asked the mate, amazed.

   “Plenty,”  said Captain Matthews.  “The glass is down all right, as if the bottom had dropped out of it, and I never knew her to fool me yet.”

   With a rattle of complaining blocks, hoops and downhauls the light sails were clewed up and furled, and the main sheet was hauled aft for reefing the mainsail, when a vessel hove in sight.

   “It’s Johnny, in the Blanche.  He’s got a load of screenings from Oswego for Brighton,” commented Mate Henderson.

   “He may make it before anything hits him,” agreed Captain Matthews,  “Two hours will about put him inside Presqu’Ile Light.  Look at him come!”

   The Blanche was booming along, her sails sharp black and white in the moonlight, wing-and-wing with the breeze, a white roll of foam sparkling like diamonds before her white bows.  She had a saucy sheer, and she swam towards them like a snowy swan in a hurry.

   Captain Matthews hailed, “This is a fine night, Johnny!”

   “Yes,” hailed back Captain Henderson, “It’s a dandy.  We’re making hay while the moon shines.  Is everybody all right?”

   He could not understand the Fleetwing shortening down in such fine weather.  His question showed it.  Capt. Matthews called something about the glass having dropped suddenly.  Captain Henderson, now almost beyond earshot, hailed back.  “Goodnight Tom!  Goodnight Jimmy!”  and vanished from sight and hearing.

   Half an hour later the squall struck without notice form the northwest.  It was a gagger.  The Fleetwing was not a stiff vessel.  She was a shoal American bottom, built at Wilson, N.Y., near Niagara. In 1863, for Captain Quick, and she capsized and drowned her crew while he had her.  After that she had her masts shortened, and passed into Canadian ownership.

   She rolled down under this squall till they thought they’d lose her, although she was already shortened to the reefed mainsail, foresail, and staysail.  She came through safely.  The same squall must have caught the Blanche with every stitch set, her boom guyed out to the soft southerly “feeder” that was bringing on this tiger out of the north west. It must have driven her clean under for nothing was ever seen of her or her crew after she passed the Fleetwing. 

   Months afterwards the lake gave up one body.  It had been battered by so many weeks of tossing that it was quite unrecognizable.  Even the clothing had been torn from it.  All except the boots and socks on the swollen feet.

   They brought the pitiful pieces of knitting to a grey-haired woman in Cat Hollow.  She dried her hands on a pink-and-white checked apron before putting on her glasses.  The pink-and-white checked apron had faded with many washings since fitting out time in the spring.  So too had the grey-haired woman’s eyes, since Captain John Henderson passed over the hill.

    She looked at the socks and her fingers shook as she held them.

   “Yes,” said she, “it must be Johnny,  I knit them.”

   One tombstone in Lakeport, gives the names of all the village sailors lost in the Blanche.  They are:

   Captain John H. Henderson, William Seed, mate,  Wm. E. Haynes, before the mast, Annie Smith, cook.

   The other man before the mast was William Auckland.  He came from Trenton, on the Bay of Quinte.