Thursday, February 14, 2019

Rideau Canal steamboats

The Rideau King
Friends of the Rideau
The Rideau King was built in 1890 in Kingston Ontario by the Davis Dry Dock Company. A thoroughly modern boat, she had electric lighting and steam space heating and many other modern conveniences. The dining room is described as, "beautifully appointed" and the interior "throughout, the interior was finished in white and gold paint and fabrics". 
 The steamer RIDEAU KING is aground on White Island in Mud Lake near Newboro, in a driving wind storm, accompanied by thunder and lightning. The boat was blown out of her course and under full steam ran high and dry on the land. The KING had on a large cargo of freight, and several passengers. The latter were taken off. 
      Buffalo Evening News 
      October 16, 1909 

Remarks "Got off"
The Rideau Queen
From The picturesque route between Kingston and Ottawa

The Rideau Queen, launched in July of 1901, is quite up to, and in not a few respects superior to, any passenger craft at present plying on the inland waters of Canada. Her length over all is 112 feet, extreme beam 28 feet, and though 7 feet 6 inches depth of hold, has a draft of but 4 feet 6 inches forward. 
Her power is supplied by a triple expansion engine with cylinders 8}4 x 13 x 21, and a stroke of 14 inches. She is thus enabled to easily obtain a speed of twelve miles per hour and maintain it evenly throughout the run. Hard coal is burned in her grates, and passengers, therefore, are not called upon to suffer annoyance from hot cinders and grimy smoke, always attendant upon the use of soft coal. 
Her upper works as so constructed as to allow a promenade, outside the cabins, the whole length of the boat while, exclusive of the cabins, 25 feet clear is afforded forward and twelve feet aft. She is lighted through- out with electricity, a plant furnishing 350 lights having been supplied by the Canadian General Electric Company. In fact, nothing seems to have been neglected by the company which was considered as at all likely to add to the comfort of passengers. The dining room seats comfortably over fifty people, is a model of neatness, and quite in keeping with the sleeping apartments provided. These include twenty-two double and twenty-two single berths. Some of these are ensuite and all are provided with running water, lavatories, electric bells, and, in fact, all the accessories of a modern hotel or private dwelling. Another important feature is the ventilation of all the rooms. This is accomplished by the use of steam fans, by means of which the passenger can practically gauge the temperature to suit himself. These features, together with the really elegant furniture supplied throughout, brought the cost of the " Queen " up to nearly $40,000. 

Both of these boats were owned by the Rideau Lakes Navigation Company which operated on the Rideau Canal around the turn of the last century, Their fleet seems to have consisted of only the "Rideau King" and the "Rideau Queen", both the same 112 foot length, built especially for fitting through the locks.

The Canal

The War of 1812 fresh in their minds, the 126 mile Rideau canal was constructed by the British government as a military project during 1825 to 1832 at a cost of five million dollars. Running from Kingston to Ottawa Ontario, it was built as a bypass of the St. Lawrence river. In case of war this route, in conjunction with the Ottawa river, would furnish an alternate water passage between Montreal and the Great Lakes. 
It was soon obsoleted by the arrival of the railways and other factors.  By 1900 the Rideau was already a tourist attraction, the route consists of a string of remote lakes and rivers connected by a series of locks, twenty three in total. Only about 12 miles is man-made. 
The canal was designated as a historical site in 1925 and has been restored and maintained and is still a popular attraction for boaters. 


Canajun said...

Interesting history. With the growth in river cruising vacations I sometimes wonder if a version of this might be viable again on the Rideau. Could actually do a Kingston/Ottawa/Montreal/Kingston loop in about 10 days or so.

Mister G said...

They actually tried a modern tourboat experience in the 1980s (I believe). They holed the hull when they hit a rock at Kingston Mills. I'm looking for the news story.

Mister G said...

An interesting bit of trivia when considering that trip is the distances involved. A quick Google map search shows Kingston to Montreal is about 300km, Kingston-Montreal via Ottawa is only 50 km further.