by Coral Lindsay and Mark Jodoin
September 16, 2007
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-wheelers 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.
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