2007 Lecture Series
STEAMBOAT DAYS ON THE RIDEAU CANAL
by Coral Lindsay and Mark Jodoin
September 16, 2007

Rideau QueenDuring its first century the Rideau provided an essential link for people, freight, lumber, mail and produce moving between the Atlantic and the Great Lakes. In the seventh Rideau 175 Lecture Series, Coral Lindsay and Mark Jodoin presented stories and images of early commercial navigation and westward immigration during the 1830s to the 1850s and on through the Victorian period. Through images collected by Coral Lindsay, whose family operated the Lindsay Warf in Kars, for over 100 years, we were able to relive this romantic era until its demise when, in 1935, the last steam vessel, the graceful Ottawan made its final passage back to Ottawa. Through Mark Jodoin’s clever superimposing of old and new images, shadowy old steam vessels appeared like ghosts in modern canal lock settings.

We heard stories of the early forwarders some of whom flourished for several decades while others went bankrupt. Accidents in the uncharted waters of the Rideau were expensive and often unavoidable, while fires caused by sparks from the smokestacks were frequent – boats were burned to the water line. In the early days paddle-the Ottawan - photo courtesy Lenore Newmanwheelers with names like SPEED, MERCURY and METEOR , slow-moving by our standards set records in traversing from Kingston to Ottawa. To speed their passage through the locks, the steamers sometimes engaged four native canoes to accompany them through the locks to compose a flotilla of five vessels which assured immediate passage.

In the second half of the 19th century more dual-purpose boats and self-propelled barges were built with better and larger steam engines to improve speed and reliability. New standards of safety improved comfort and assurance. Palace steamers such as the ELLA ROSS or the RIDEAU BELLE and luxury liners like the RIDEAU KING or QUEEN provided amenities, such as hot water and running toilets not found in most homes of the day.

In their presentations rich with images and anecdotes, Captains Coral Lindsay and Mark Jodoin provided their “passengers” with an unforgettable voyage through the era of steam.

Denis Faulkner presents commemorative plaque to Coral Lindsay and Mark Jodoin


Back to 2007 Lecture Series Page



Merrickville and District Historical Society
PO Box 294
Merrickville, Ontario K0G 1N0
email: info@merrickvillehistory.org

Home | About Us | News | Publications | Projects | History | Blockhouse Museum | Walking Tour | Links

website maintenance & design donated by Ken W. Watson

©2007 The Merrickville and District Historical Society