Reach Twp. History
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The Age of Steamboats Begins
its Boom on Lake Scugog


By Paul Arculus
from the Sketches Of Scugog series

   The story of transportation over the waters of Lake Scugog began hundreds of years ago when the Huron, then the Iroquois and finally the Mississaugas made their way around the broad meandering river which was later expanded to become Lake Scugog.
   The focus of this article and the next is on more modern methods of water transportation; firstly the oar and sail powered vessels and later the steam powered ships which transported people and goods from place to place on Lake Scugog, laying the economic base for today's communities.
   When William Purdy obtained government encouragement to build a dam at Lindsay in 1827, his primary purpose was to create power for a mill. The eventual consequence of the dam was the increase of seven feet of water all over Lake Scugog, thus doubling its size. This increased depth, and the larger surface of water made navigation much easier, a factor not immediately accepted by the area residents.
   Initially there was an outbreak of opposition to the larger lake. Pioneers who had settled on the land around the lake and had begun to clear their acres on its shores were obviously outraged by the Purdy dam, so much so that in 1838 a group of farmers went up to Lindsay and destroyed the dam. But Purdy had the force of the government behind him and built a smaller dam lower down the river.    The first lock was built at Lindsay in 1844.
   Peter Perry's vision for developing Lake Scugog and drawing trade and commerce to the south end of the lake and then overland to his harbor at Whitby was gaining acceptance.
   This began to draw settlers into the area thus creating a need for adequate transportation.
   A number of sail and oar powered vessels moved people and goods around the lake, but the first to move into a mechanical phase were John Lasher and his neighbor Thomas Haywood. They had settled at the southeastern end of the lake and established a small settlement called Lasherville later to become Caesarea.
   In 1845, Lasher and Haywood built a scow with a horse powered tread mill. It carried freight and passengers from Lasherville (Caesarea) to sites on the lake including Lindsay.
   Around the same time Reuben Crandell, in competition with the Lasher boat, built a crude packet called the Firefly. It was propelled by oars and sails.


GEORGE CRANDELL

   Reuben Crandell's son George who had always shown an interest in boating helped his father to build the Firefly. George's time aboard this vessel was short because of his involvement in the Markham Gang (see August and September 1995, Port Perry Star). For his part in the crime spree, he was sentenced to five years in the penitentiary. After he had served his sentence and was released in 1850, he returned to his home in Borelia to hear talk of the building of a steam vessel at the waterfront of Scugog Village.
   Peter Perry persuaded James Rowe and Thomas Cotton to finance the building of the first steamboat in the region.
   James Rowe had become wealthy as a grain buyer in the Whitby area. He became reeve of Whitby in 1852.
   In 1853, he joined with John Watson to buy Peter Perry's road company which owned the road from Whitby to Lake Scugog. He formed the Port Whitby and Lake Huron Railway Company. He was later to play an influential role in bringing the railway to Port Perry.
   Cotton was also involved in grain buying.
   Rowe and Cotton hired Hugh Chisolm to build the steam powered vessel at Scugog Village. The keel was laid in the spring of 1850 on the waterfront. The vessel was to be called the Woodman.
   George Crandell had more experience in ships and ship building than most people in the area. When he approached Chisolm and expressed his desire to be involved in the building of the Woodman, he was hired immediately.
   No doubt, as he worked away, he would have expressed a desire to own such a vessel as the Woodman. Little did he realize how soon that dream would come true.
   As the huge hull began to take shape, it would have attracted the rapt attention of all the settlers in the area. It was an immense vessel for this period even rivalling the steamers on Lake Ontario. It was 96 feet long at the keel and had an overall length of 110 feet. Its huge 14 foot side paddlewheels gave it a width of 30 feet.
   The Woodman was launched on August 29, 1850. After the launch, the huge steam engine had to be installed. It was a 25 horsepower unit built in New York. This enabled her to chug along gracefully at over eight miles per hour.
   There were two main decks. The lower deck had a large lounge as well as separate cabins for ladies and gentlemen, all fitted with bunks. The upper deck was open except for the wheel house where Captain Chisolm commanded his vessel.
   Excitement ran throughout the whole of Lake Scugog and the Scugog River all the way to Lindsay when it was announced that the Woodman was to have its maiden voyage on April 25, 1851.
   Dignitaries from Toronto, Whitby and the small settlement of Oshawa came to Scugog Village to board the vessel. To add an even more festive air to the occasion, the Brooklin Brass Band was also invited.



WOODMAN MAIDEN VOYAGE

  The ship left her festooned moorings at Scugog Village at noon. She proudly steamed her way to Port Hoover and Washburn Island, the sound of her steam horn reverberating all over the lake. She finally wound her way up to the Scugog River to Lindsay where a gala reception was planned at Mitchell's hotel. She was scheduled to arrive in Lindsay at 3 in the afternoon, but logs, branches and all manner of debris in the river, delayed her arrival until 5 p.m. As she made her way up the last few miles of the river, excitement reached the pandemonium stage as the noise of her horn, the Brooklin Brass Band and the cheering of the Lindsay townsfolk greeted her arrival. A huge banquet in the hotel ballroom was accompanied by the usual speeches. This was followed by singing and dancing, led by what must have been a completely exhausted Brooklin Brass Band. The festivities carried on until the early hours of the morning.
   After her maiden voyage, she made the daily trip from Port Perry to Lindsay and then return. Along the way, regular stops were made at Port Hoover and Caesarea.
   The route along the river proved to be hazardous for many years. But there was a more serious danger in all steamboats of that era; fire. The potential for fire was always present on board these wooden steam vessels.

  The Woodman had her first major fire in 1854 as she lay at her wharf in Port Perry. She was so badly damaged that Rowe and Cotton decided to sell her. Her new owner; George Crandell. He immediately rebuilt her and in 1854 with her relaunching, began to build what was to become a steamboat empire on the Central Lakes.    As soon as he had acquired the vessel, Crandell rebuilt it and started into the business of shipping people and goods around Lake Scugog and Sturgeon Lake. Three times a week, Captain Crandell proudly navigated his steamship from Port Perry to Lindsay. On Lake Scugog it stopped at Port Hoover, Washburn Island and Caesarea. On Sturgeon Lake it made journeys to Bobcaygeon and Bridgenorth.
   In 1845 the road from Whitby to Manchester, and then east to Prince Albert was planked. Four years later it was extended to Scugog Village, now Port Perry. In 1850 the Nonquon road from Oshawa through Prince Albert to the Nonquon River was planked and opened to the public. These accomplishments, coupled with the Woodman, plying its regular route to Lindsay, resulted in an economic boom for this region. New mills opened and land values skyrocketed.
   In the decade from 1851 to 1861, Reach Township enjoyed its greatest 10 year population growth for the entire century! Its population grew from almost 3900 to over 6200, an increase of over 60 per cent! In the following decade it only increased by 10 per cent and then the population actually declined until after the turn of the century!
   But it wasn't until the 1860s that Port Perry finally began to outgrow its closest rival community, Prince Albert.
   In 1853, James Wallis at Fenelon Falls launched a vessel, the Ogemah to tow lumber from his sawmill at Fenelon Falls to Port Perry. Wallis and Crandell shared the growing traffic from Port Perry to Bobcaygeon, taking turns running on alternate days from Port Perry to Lindsay. Wallis captained the Ogemah for 20 years.

   1857 was a landmark year for shipping on the Central Lakes. As a result of the phenomenal growth of the trade on these lakes, the government agreed to rebuild the Bobcaygeon lock out of stone. Thus the Ogemah and the Woodman could venture into Buckhorn, Pigeon and Chemong Lakes. But that journey was short-lived, for later that year, a petition was presented to the government requesting that (1) the Scugog River be dredged; (2) that a new wharf be built at Lindsay and (3) that the lock at Lindsay be improved.
   The government carried out the first two items but when they removed the decrepit lock they built a timber slide instead! This ridiculous situation meant that goods and passengers from Port Perry had to change vessels at Lindsay.
   This did not discourage growth on the isolated Lake Scugog. At the waterfront in Port Perry, George Crandell commissioned the steamship Lady Ida. It was built at the Port Perry waterfront and launched there in 1861. (Three years later, he sold the Lady Ida to W.J. Trounce in Port Perry).  By 1863, traffic on Lake Scugog was undergoing astounding growth. There was enough work in towing lumber to keep at least one vessel occupied full time. Crandell decided to assign this role to the Woodman. To handle other goods and passenger traffic beyond Lindsay, he commissioned his third vessel the Ranger, to be built at Lindsay. It was launched in May 1864. The Ranger was an 80 foot long side paddlewheeler powered by a 26 horsepower engine.
   The Crandell's growing shipping business was carefully watched by all. Its success and potential attracted the interest of that most enterprising of entrepreneurs, Joseph Bigelow. Along with W.J. Trounce, Bigelow commissioned a vessel to be built for the Port Perry to Lindsay traffic. They hired Elias Rogers to build the vessel at Port Hoover.
   Progress of the construction of the new boat received constant press coverage. In April, 1867, the Port Perry Standard reported:
   "Elias Rogers of Port Hoover has a new steamer on the stocks...She measures 70 feet at the keel, has an 18 foot beam and is to be propelled by a 35 horsepower engine from the establishment of A.M. Gibson. She is expected to make her first trip in early May."
   On May 16, the Standard reported:
   "The new steamer was launched at Port Hoover on Tuesday last. (April 14, 1867). The unfavorable weather prevented many from being present. She was named the Anglo Saxon. We understand that she will be towed to Port Perry on Saturday next to receive her machinery."

 

  On May 23:
   "The boat recently launched at Port Hoover, intending to ply between Lindsay and Port Perry on Lake Scugog was towed to Sexton's wharf by the Lady Ida on the 22nd instant. She is a rather nice looking craft and reflects considerable taste upon the man who got up her model."
   The machinery of the Anglo Saxon was designed and built at Gibson's Foundry in Port Perry. In the fall of 1866, A.M. Gibson built a huge foundry and factory on Perry Street. This was on the east side of Perry Street opposite the end of Paxton Street, the site of what was later to become the Pure Springs Bottling works. Today a lovely reproduction Victorian home, built by Peter and Nancy Hvidsten occupies the site. Gibson's facility occupied nearly an acre of ground. Here he built an 18 by 36 foot engine shop, a 20 by 40 blacksmith shop and two 36 by 60 factories. He employed 23 workers who fabricated agricultural implements as well as machinery for mills and steamboats.
   Another man who ventured into the lucrative shipping business was the lengendary lumber baron, Mossom Boyd. Boyd had settled in Bobcaygeon in 1833 and bought a sawmill from Thomas Need in 1849. He enlarged the mill and expanded his lumber business, but he had always hired ships to tow his log booms. In 1864, Boyd bought his first vessel, the Novelty.
   In 1867, Crandell launched his third steamer, the Commodore, a 96 foot long paddlewheeler. It was built by Thomas Walters in Lindsay.
   At the time of Canada's Confederation, the lumber trade had expanded to 10,000,000 feet per year on Trent. However, most of this was still shipped to Port Hope from Lindsay on the Port Hope Railway.
   At Port Hoover, Elias Rogers, not to be outdone by Crandell, Bigelow and others, decided to build a steamship of his own. Up to this point, all the steamboats on the Central Lakes had been side paddlewheelers. Rogers decided to innovate. He built a vessel with the paddlewheel at the back. No doubt he had been influenced by the success of the sternwheelers on the Mississippi. The Ontario, built at Port Hoover, was the first sternwheeler on the Central Lakes. It made its maiden voyage to Lindsay and then to Port Perry in July 1868.
   To keep up with the increase in traffic on the lakes, response, Crandell commissioned his fourth steamer. Again, Crandell hired Thomas Walters of Lindsay to build his new sidewheeler, a 73 ton, 95 foot long vessel which he named the Champion. It was launched in the spring of 1869.
   With the launching of the Champion, George Crandell had the largest and busiest fleet on the Central Lakes. But Crandell's empire had only begun.

THE JOY OF STEAMBOATING ON LAKE SCUGOG IN THE 1800s

  Beginning with the launch of the Woodman in 1850, Lake Scugog enjoyed over a half century of romance with the steamboat. It began purely as a need to transport people and goods around the lake. The main commodity being logs from various sites, particularly in Victoria County. They were towed in booms down to the mills at Port Perry. Most of the finished lumber was then shipped to Lindsay to be loaded on to trains and shipped to Port Hope.
   The railway from Port Hope to Lindsay had been completed in 1857. The Port Whitby and Port Perry Railroad was not operational until 1871-72.
   Bigelow and Trounce's vessel the Anglo Saxon set a record for towing on the Central Lakes. On one journey from Lindsay in 1874 the Anglo Saxon towed one scow-load of stave bolts, three loaded scows of logs and three cribs of logs! The steamship frequently towed booms containing 20,000 saw-logs to the mills at Port Perry.
   By the early 1860s, Port Perry was becoming a sizeable settlement. Although there were two main roads linking the settlement to the outside world, mud, swamps, fallen trees and the discomfort of the corduroy surface, made any journey a challenging experience. Port Perry's only reliable and comfortable link with the outside world was by the steamboat.
   With Port Perry's growth, various social groups began to be formed. Churches, Sunday Schools, Lodges and sports clubs organized picnics and other outings to fill the growing social needs of the community. The steamboat was a logical and pleasant way to organize excursions for various occasions. A number of destinations around Lake Scugog developed. The most popular resort was Washburn Island. Beginning in 1864, a non-denominational social committee was created to organize a steamboat excursion.
   This event became an extremely popular annual event.
   The third annual excursion, took place on Friday, July 19, 1867. This event was delightfully reported in the Port Perry Standard of July 25, 1867 as follows:
   "The third annual excursion on Lake Scugog from this place, which came off on Friday last, was, on the whole a very pleasant affair. Some difficulty existed previous to the start, owing to the fact that opposition was got up by the working men, because the fare had been raised from 25c. to 50c. a ticket this year; but when all got "underway" everything passed off "as merry as a marriage bell." The Lady Ida started first, with one scow and probably 100 or 125 on board, accompanied by the Prince Albert band. She was followed by the Anglo Saxon with two scows, and probably 300 on board, accompanied by Freeman's and the Whitby bands. Nothing worthy of note transpired during the trip on board either boat, other than that some passed the time in dancing while others participated in games and amusements usual to such occasions.
   The Anglo Saxon called at Port Hoover and took quite a number on board, but the Lady Ida went straight to her destination. Both boats however reached the island within a few minutes of each other; and immediately after the shore was lined with the excursionists, their boxes, baskets, parcels &c., &c., -- Groups wended their way here and there, each selecting a suitable spot on which to prepare their repast.

   Having satisfied the cravings of the inner man, a number strolled about the island in quest of Indian relics and curiosities, some fine specimens of which were secured. Others sang, some enjoyed swinging, some went fishing, swimming, boating &c., & c. Meantime, the bands did their part towards making the visit agreeable. Freeman's Band was "the admired of all admirers." We were delighted with their performance, as so rare a musical treat is seldom in store for us. Each one of the family is so proficient that comparisons would be odious; and we question that they can be beaten by the same number in the province.
   At about four o'clock the whistling of the boats indicated that the time had come for returning. All hands having been safely embarked, the Lady Ida backed out and started for home. In a few minutes the Anglo Saxon followed, giving three cheers for Messrs. Washburn, Unger and the Islanders generally. She left passengers at Port Hoover and reached Port Perry at eight o'clock, just a few minutes after the Lady Ida.
   The time during the return was occupied by amusements similar to those which had absorbed the attention of passengers on the outward trip. Large numbers were present from all parts of the county; and we doubt not that many enjoyed themselves exceedingly."
   This annual excursion continued to hold for many years.
   In the summer of 1868, eight such excursions from Port Perry to Washburn Island were reported in the Observer and the Standard.
   That same year another excursion began. The Port Perry Standard of July 30, 1868 reported it as follows:
   "An excursion from Lindsay. The steamer Anglo Saxon brought an excursion party from Lindsay to this place on Tuesday last. There were about a 100 on board, of whom the principal number dined at Shaw's Hotel. Dinner over, 'a look at the place' was decided upon, after which the company retraced their steps to the boat at 3 p.m.
   On their arrival they were received by a number of our residents, and also escorted to the boat on their return. The excursionists seemed to enjoy themselves exceedingly well and we hope it may not be the last interview we shall have of them."
   As a pathetic post script, after a glorious career of shipping on Lake Scugog, the Anglo Saxon met a somewhat ignominious fate. In 1888, it made its way to the foot of the lock under construction at Fenelon Falls. The Anglo Saxon was to be the first vessel through the new locks.
   Unfortunately someone overlooked the fact that the railway bridge at the top of the lock was too low to allow such vessels through. The Anglo Saxon waited patiently at the foot of the Fenelon Falls lock until this was rectified.
   Unfortunately the conversion of the railway bridge into a swing bridge was not completed until 1894. By this time the poor Anglo Saxon had rotted beyond redemption. The Anglo Saxon was stripped of all useful machinery and decorations and then towed through the locks. The hull was taken out into Cameron Lake and sunk. Somewhere at the bottom of Cameron Lake, the rotten hull of the once proud Anglo Saxon remains to be relocated by fearless divers.

GEORGE CRANDELL'S EMPIRE GROWS

  The Steamboat "Woodman" was launched on August 29, 1850. It was the first steamboat on Lake Scugog and it was the first steamboat to be launched on the "Back Lakes" (Balsam, Scugog, Sturgeon, Chemung and Buckhorn Lakes). George Crandell was one of several men who helped to build this vessel for Cotton and Rowe at the Port Perry waterfront. After it was seriously damaged by fire in 1854, Crandell purchased the remains and promptly rebuilt it and began to establish himself in the shipping business. He carried people and commodities all over Lake Scugog and Sturgeon Lake.
   In 1857, as a result of the increased water traffic, a petition was presented to the government requesting that the Board of Works dredge and straighten the Scugog River, improve the lock at Lindsay and build a new wharf there. That year the government workers removed the decrepit timber lock which had been completed in 1844. Surprisingly they built a timber slide in its place. This meant that goods and passengers had to change at Lindsay.
   In spite of this dilemma, Crandell could see that shipping business on the Port Perry, Lindsay, Fenelon Falls and Bobcaygeon routes held considerable potential. He moved to Lindsay and built a house there so that he could be at the heart of his expanding operations.
   Crandell then increased his fleet thus allowing him to maintain vessels on Lake Scugog and Sturgeon Lake. Each vessel he built was bigger than the previous one, always bearing in mind that he had to build vessels which permitted maneuverability through the locks. The original lock at Lindsay was one of the longest at 131 ft.

   He commissioned his second steam vessel in 1861, a side paddlewheeler, the Lady Ida. It was built at the waterfront in Port Perry. In May 1864, The Ranger was launched at Lindsay. This was also a side paddlewheeler 80 feet long.
   George Crandell launched his fourth steamer in 1867. This was the Commodore, a 96 foot long paddlewheeler, built by Thomas Walters at Lindsay.
   By this time serious efforts were finally underway to build the railway from Whitby to Port Perry. Beginning in the spring of 1868, Joseph Bigelow of Port Perry began an extensive letter writing campaign to the government's Board of Works trying to convince them of the need to rebuild the lock at Lindsay. Aiding Bigelow in applying pressure was the M.P.P. for Ontario North, Thomas Paxton. Bigelow was the provisional director for the proposed Port Whitby and Port Perry Railway.
   They argued that the success of the proposed railway was largely dependent upon moving goods, particularly lumber, rapidly from Sturgeon Lake and Lindsay, down to Port Perry where it would be loaded on to the train. Their campaign led them to meet with the Premier of the newly established province of Ontario, Sandfield MacDonald. Their ability to argue successfully was no doubt due in part to the fact that Paxton was also a Railway board member as well as being Bigelow's brother-in-law.
   In February 1870, master shipbuilder Thomas Walters, who had built Crandell's prize steamship, the Commodore, was awarded the contract to build a new lock and a swing bridge at Lindsay.
   Walters completed the construction ahead of schedule and in the spring of 1871, the lock was completely operational. Sadly, George Crandell's father Reuben passed away in September of that year.
   The completion of the lock brought to an end the fourteen years of loading and unloading goods at Lindsay for the traffic between Lake Scugog and Sturgeon Lake. In its peak year of 1876, 456 steamers, 867 scows and 521 cribs of timer passed through the lock at Lindsay.
   Steamboat traffic and rival companies continued to increase on the Central Lakes. In 1873, in response to the competition, George Crandell decided to build the finest vessel on the Central Lakes. He hired Thomas Walters to build the Vanderbilt at Lindsay. It was not only the finest vessel on the Central lakes, it was also the largest at 112 feet and 180 tons. The Vanderbilt was built primarily as a passenger ship.
   It carried passengers and some goods between Port Perry, Port Hoover, Caesarea, Lindsay and Bobcaygeon.
   Economic difficulties plagued the ninteenth century just as much as they do in our times. In 1873, the bottom fell out of the lumber market in the U.S. This triggered an economic depression as serious as the 1929 crash. By 1860, the lumber industry had become the major employer in the industrial economy of Upper Canada. It provided the major source of revenue for the province. Shipping and railway businesses were almost entirely dependent upon lumber for their existence. The majority of this lumber was shipped to the northern United States.
   In 1871, there were 44 sawmills in operation employing 409 workers in the northern riding of Ontario County. This included the townships of Reach and those to the north. There were several sawmills in operation in and around the Port Perry waterfront.
   Daniel Way purchased lots 126 and 127 on New Year's day, 1846. This was the property directly to the north of the present library. Here he built the first sawmill in the settlement. He sold the mill and the property to Thomas Paxton 11 months later.
   Samuel Hill bought the property across the road on Water Street in June 1848 and erected another mill. This was later purchased by W. Sexton. Stephen Doty's mill, which had been purchased by Joseph Bigelow was located just south of the present baseball diamond on Water Street. Across from that was a stave factory established by J.C. Bowerman and later also purchased by Bigelow.
   Other area sawmills include Daniel Hoover's at Port Hoover, Beare's mill which was located east of Utica and Deans on the first concession of Cartwright. At Cadmus there were the Fallis and Brown mills. There were three sawmills at Greenbank and one at Seagrave. All were drastically affected by the 1873 depression. Even in 1875, cash sales for any form of lumber were non-existent.
   The economy did not revive until 1878 and many went bankrupt. Crandell had to tie up the Ranger and the Samson for two years. The Ranger never sailed again.
   George Crandell, however was never without ambition and ideas. In 1875, he decided to drum up business by building a summer hotel at Sturgeon Point. He launched a stock company to finance the venture. Crandell's previous economic record was beyond reproach. In spite of the severe economic conditions, Crandell had little difficulty in raising the necessary capital.
   He purchased a 100 acre property at Sturgeon Point. A hundred yards from the water's edge, in the middle of a stand of trees, he built a stately 40 roomed three storey frame palace with a two storey verandah running around three sides and an elegant mansard roof. It was officially opened on June 15, 1876. Later the hotel complex was expanded to include a dance hall, shuffle board courts and bath houses.

Crandell's Sturgeon Point Hotel of 1876

   Crandell's Sturgeon Point Hotel was extremely popular for picnics, dances and, of course, boating regattas. Prospects improved further when the closet rival hotel, the Couchiching Hotel near Orillia burned down.
   As with all of Crandell's previous ventures the Sturgeon Point Hotel was a phenomenal success. Boating regattas of various types were held regularly. On one occasion in 1878, special trains ran from Port Hope and Toronto, bringing 2,000 to Lindsay. They were then taken by boat to the hotel. An Oddfellow's excursion in 1881 drew 3,000 visitors. This occasion was climaxed by the production of Gilbert and Sullivan's new operetta, Pirates of Penzance.
   Boyed by the success of the Sturgeon Point Hotel, he built another hotel at Fenelon Falls, but it burned to the ground in 1884.
   Crandell sold the Sturgeon Point Hotel after seven seasons to J. "Ebe" Dunham of Cobourg, but, ever the canny businessma,. Crandell kept much of the waterfront acreage which he sold off as lots to the wealthy.
   The status of Crandell's boats was as follows: the Ranger had rotted away while out of commission as a result of the depression of 1873; in 1879, the Champion was stripped of her machinery and allowed to rot in the Scugog. Shortly afterwards same with the Commodore. Crandell kept the Samson and built the Stranger to replace the other two. The Stranger was the first screw steamer owned by Crandell. It was a smaller vessel at a length of only 60 feet. It weighed 19 tons and had a 35 h.p. engine. The Stranger was later sold to the Carnegies in Port Perry.
   September 23, 1881 Vanderbilt caught fire at her dock at Lindsay. The Canadian Post of Lindsay (later to become the Lindsay Post) reported: "...Fire broke out between four and five o'clock and burnt to the water's edge in an incredibly short time...What caused the fire is a mystery... the loss to Captain Crandell was heavy as he only had $25,000 insurance on her."
   The remains of the Vanderbilt lay at the bottom of the Scugog River for nine years.



GEORGE CRANDELL'S STEAMSHIP CRANDELLA
  

  Last month's article chronicled the rise of George Crandell's steamboat empire and ended with the loss of his prize steamship, the Vanderbilt. The Vanderbilt burned at its berth at Lindsay in September, 1881.
   To replace the Vanderbilt in the spring of 1885, George's sons Frank and Fremont bought Eva from Captain Elijah Bottum. Eva had been launched in 1881. It was a 71 foot screw steamer of 11.6 tons. Eva continued Vanderbilt's route, from Lindsay to Fenelon Falls and Bobcaygeon with regular stops at Sturgeon Point.
   Eva was remodelled, the boiler was moved forward, a new lounge was built amidships to hold 75 passengers to keep the rains out. A Palace scow also built. Palace scows were huge flat bottomed barges to be towed by the steamers. Palace scows started out as mere flat bottomed barges used to carry cargo during the week and then seats were placed on board for the weekend and holiday traffic. Later they became used exclusively for passengers and some were improved by adding an enclosed lower deck and an open upper deck.
   The Palace scow, Paragon was built for the steamer Dominion. These vessels were owned by the Burke brothers. The scow was 90 feet by 20, and licensed for 400 passengers. In 1887 a new upper deck was added and later enclosed to create cabins. In 1888, Crandell, sensing that travel by steamboat held more potential bought the Dominion and Paragon. As usual, his judgement was correct and business continued to grow.

   To capitalize on this economic boom, Captain George Crandell took an even wilder gamble. The Canadian Post of Lindsay reported the following on Friday, Nov. 20, 1890:
   "Captain Crandell is proceeding vigorously in his preparations for building a steamer this winter. Thinking that the hull of the old Vanderbilt might be utilized, he has had a force of men at work for some timepast extricating it from the muddy bed where it has reposed for years, and when drawn out upon the ways below Rathbun's mill and cleaned, the bottom was found to be as sound as ever. Accordingly a new vessel will be built on the same lines in the main and will have an extreme length of 120 feet and a beam of 32 or 33 feet...The craft will be ready for her trial at the beginning of navigation next year."
   On June 5, 1891, the Lindsay Post reported:
   "Captain Crandell's new steamer, 'Lindsay Chief' was launched Thursday afternoon last, that is partially so, for a hitch took place somewhere and it was not until next day that the craft floated proudly on Scugog's bosom. The machinery is now being placed in her and it will not be long before a trial trip is made."
   Whether the hitch in her launching aroused a sailor's superstition or not, we have no way of knowing, but the name of the vessel was changed. The new vessel was by far the finest steamship of her day on the central lakes. As the crowning glory of George Crandell's steamboat empire, he chose his own name to grace its hull. It was renamed the Crandella.

   The Crandella was finally a little short of the newspaper report's projected measurements. The finished vessel was 112 feet long, and had a 20 foot beam. The engine of the old Commodore was rebuilt and installed in her.
   On July 8, 1891, The Lindsay newspaper reported:
   "Steamboat in-spectors Donnelly and Adams visited Lindsay on Tuesday to look over the 'Crandella' as Captain Crandell's new vessel is to be called. They pronounced her a light and well built craft and rated her capable of carrying 450 passengers with safety."    Captain George Crandell gave way to his feelings of charity for the Crandella's first voyage. After he had moved to Lindsay, he made a firm commitment to his community, becoming a pillar of the Presbyterian Church there. For the Crandella's maiden voyage, on July 16, he organized a free excursion to Sturgeon Point for senior citizens and other needy people in the community.
   On July 23, 1891, the North Ontario Observer reported the following in Port Perry:
   "The new commodious and magnificent steamer 'Crandella,' built and owned by the most popular and affable steamboat captain on the inland waters - Captain George Crandell of Lindsay, visited our wharf on Saturday last. She is the largest and best appointed steamer on this chain of lakes and is a credit to the enterprise of her owner and Lindsay has every reason to be proud of so fine a craft. An extensive patronage awaits her wherever she may ply."
   The Crandella was strictly an excursion steamer, running on a regular schedule from Lindsay to Sturgeon Point and Bobcaygeon. Initially, there was no roof over the upper deck. As a result, a number of ladies complained after sparks had burned holes in their hats. Over the winter of 1891-92, the vessel was again refitted with a roof or hurricane deck, a new dining salon and larger cabins.
   In 1899 the Crandella was the busiest and most successful steamship on the Central Lakes. That year it carried 40,000 passengers and 100 tons of freight. Its closest rival was the Esturion which that same year carried only 27,000 passengers and 500 tons of freight.


   In 1898, Charles Stewart along with Reeve W.H. Bottum, son of the late Captain Elijah Bottum decided to give the central lakes a new collective name. Hitherto they had been known variously as the Trent Lakes, The Back Lakes, the Midland Lakes, the Newcastle Lakes, or the Peterborough Lakes. Bottum and Stewart went to the Curve Lake Reserve to get suggestions. The Indians there suggested the Mississauga name KAWATHA meaning "bright waters and happy lands." Bottum and Stewart campaigned throughout the region for the acceptance of the name. Councils of Bobcaygeon, Fenelon Falls, Lindsay, Peterborough and Lakefield agreed. The newspapers and the Grand Trunk Railway began to use it but somehow an "r" got into it. By 1900, the name KAWARTHA was established.
   The year 1890 marked the height of passenger steamboat traffic on the central Lakes. That year there were 21 steam vessels in active service on the lakes between Port Perry and Bridgenorth. This was the golden age of steamboats on the Kawarthas. Unfortunately, Port Perry's role in this boom was a minor one. The extension of the Port Whitby and Port Perry Railway to Lindsay in 1876 began the rapid demise of the importance of Port Perry as a significant port.


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MERCHANTS OF OLD PORT PERRY
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UXBRIDGE: THE
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