• Sidewheeler
  • 10ffw 3m
  • 179ft Lengths
  • Garden Island, Lake Ontario
  • N44 11 893 W76 27 651

Chronological History #

  • 1850 Launched
  • 1851 Accommodations finished over winter 1850-51 at Lachine PQ
  • 1852 Rebuilt Upper saloon extended and four new staterooms
  • 1853 Lake Ontario and Upper St. Lawrence mail steamer, towboat latterly. Broke crosshead and wrecked engine 14/04/53 Kingston, out for six weeks.
  • 1861 Torn from moorings and sunk by squall Garden Island.
  • 1871 Destroyed by fire 19/12/71 in winter quarters Garden Island with “Hercules”.

Selection of News Articles for more www.maritimehistoryofthegreatlakes.ca #

Kingston Daily Whig 9 Dec 1871 #


Burning of Steamers Highlander and Hercules.

One Man Burned To Death.

Last night the steamers Hercules and Highlander, belonging to Messrs. Calvin & Breck, were totally destroyed by fire at Garden Island. The fire broke out on board the Highlander and was first discovered by Mr. Watt, a resident shoemaker, about fifteen minutes to ten o’clock, and before the alarm was fairly given the vessel was enveloped in flames, and the Hercules, which was lying alongside, was in a similar condition. The two vessels were tied up side by side, on the north side of the wharf, which is large, in the usual manner to pass the winter, while the steamers Wellington and Hiram Calvin were in a like manner tied up on the south side. The fresh breeze prevailing at the time added to the fury of the fire, and destroyed all prospect of saving the vessels; the efforts of all present were consequently directed to prevent the flames from extending to the wharf and thence to steamers on the south side. This was done with some difficulty, as the flames communicated to the wharf several times and a good deal of it is destroyed. The vessels continued to burn until they sunk. We regret to have to report that one man perished in the fire on board the Highlander, he was the only person on board, and had only gone there a short time before the fire was discovered, having been until then on board the Hiram Calvin; and it is supposed – although it must remain a matter of pure supposition – that when he went on board he repaired to his sleeping quarters – the engineer’s room, built a fire and immediately went to sleep, and while in that condition, from some cause, the fire from the stove communicated to the vessel. The unfortunate man’s name was Charles Kelley, a native of Cornwall, and was, we are informed, an unmarried man. The steamers Watertown and Pierrepont were brought over from Kingston Patrick Devlin with one of the city fire engines and members of the fire brigade, who lent their assistance in preventing the spread of the flames. His Worship the Mayor was also present, as several prominent citizens of Kingston. The vessels were uninsured, and the loss has been variously estimated from $13,000 to $25,000.

It should be mentioned in connection with the subject, for the benefit of the friends of the parties at a distance, that there is a William Kelley from Cornwall residing at Garden Island, who must not be mistaken for the unfortunate man who was burned. The fire on the steamers burnt out very rapidly, but it was several hours before the wharf and the other steamers were considered safe.

Buffalo Commercial Advertiser Saturday, December 9, 1871 #

BURNED – We learn by special despatch that the tug steamers HERCULES and HIGHLANDER, owned by Messrs. Calvin & Breck, of Garden Island, were totally destroyed by fire at Kingston, Ont., last night. One of the firemen was burned to death. Loss $30,000; no insurance.      

NOTE:- Both vessels were burnt at Garden Island while laid up. Half a dozen sunken hulks could still be seen in the shallow waters off the Island in c1970.

British Whig 18 Nov 1895 #

An Old Time Sailor – John Marsh, spent seven years on British man-of-war; “During the threatened Fenian invasion in 1867, he was on board the gunboat St. Andrew, one of four similar boats that were fitted out at Montreal to protect the frontier between this city and Montreal. He put in the summer of that year on board that boat, and afterward did duty on the old steamer Highlander that now lies in the graveyard back of Garden Island. This boat was owned by the Calvin company and was fitted out by the government as a gunboat to patrol the river. The other boats which done similar duty were Canada, Royal, Mohawk, and St. Andrew. Mr. Marsh can relate many amusing incidents that occurred while he plied St. Lawrence in defense of Canada.”

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