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A Century of Sail and Steam on the Niagara River

[Illustration: Barlow Cumberland]

A Century of Sail and Steam on the Niagara River

By Barlow Cumberland




Although the book is published about two months after the author's death, it will be gratifying to many readers to know that all the final proofs were passed by Mr. Cumberland himself. Therefore the volume in detail has the author's complete sanction. We have added to the illustrations a portrait of the author.


This narrative is not, nor does it purport to be one of general navigation upon Lake Ontario, but solely of the vessels and steamers which plyed during its century to the ports of the Niagara River, and particularly of the rise of the Niagara Navigation Co., to which it is largely devoted.

Considerable detail has, however been given to the history of the steamers "Frontenac" and "Ontario" because the latter has hitherto been reported to have been the first to be launched, and the credit of being the first to introduce steam navigation upon Lake Ontario has erroneously been given to the American shipping.

Successive eras of trading on the River tell of strenuous competitions. Sail is overpassed by steam. The new method of propulsion wins for this water route the supremacy of passenger travel, rising to a splendid climax when the application of steam to transportation on land and the introduction of railways brought such decadence to the River that all its steamers but one had disappeared.

The transfer of the second "City of Toronto" and of steamboating investment from the Niagara River to the undeveloped routes of the Upper Lakes leads to a diversion of the narration as bringing the initiation of another era on the Niagara River and explaining how the steamer, which formed its centre, came to be brought to the River service.

The closing 35 years of the century form the era of the Niagara Navigation Co., in which the period of decadence was converted into one of intense activity and splendid success.

Our steam boating coterie had been promised by Mr. Chas. Gildersleeve, General Manager of the Richelieu & Ontario Navigation Co., that he would write up the navigation history of the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River sections upon which he and his forbears had been foremost leaders. Unfortunately he passed away somewhat suddenly, before being able to do this, and they pressed upon me to produce the Niagara section which had been alloted to myself.

The narration has been completed during the intervals between serious illness and is sent out in fulfilment of a promise, but yet in hope that it may be found acceptable to transportation men and with its local historical notes interesting to the travelling public.

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