Paddle wheel steamer WHITE STAR.* Official Canadian No. 103961. Built at Montreal, Que., in 1897; rebuilt Cornwall, Ont., in 1905. Of 629 gross tons; 313 tons reg. and 37.5 horse power. Home port, Montreal, Que. 167.2 x 41.8 x 8.2 Owned by Oliver Gillespie, Cornwall, Ont.
List of Vessels on Registry Books of the Dominion
of Canada on the 31st. Day of December, 1905

1897 Illegally renamed COLONIAL

1899 Owned Oakville Navigation Company

1903 Burned, Toronto, ONT; repaired; owned W. W. Paterson, Oakville, ONT

1905 Rebuilt, Cornwall, ONT; 308 gross/112 net tons; 158.1 x 25.3 x 8.2; owned Oliver Gillespie, Brockville, ONT

1906, Aug 5 Struck by steamer MUNCY, Buffalo, NY

1906, Sep 5 Removed from Crystal Beach route, sent to Montreal

1909 Owned St. Lawrence Canadian Navigation Co., Ltd., Montreal

1916 Owned A. Cartier, Montreal

1920 Owned Canada Steamship Lines, Ltd.

1926, Jan 3 Burned, Hamilton, ONT; rebuilt as barge, John F. Sowards, Kingston, ONT; 160 x 25.33 x 7.42; 224 gross tons

1942 Out of commission; sank, Brockville

1950 Raised, rebuilt as sand dredge; 160.5 x 25.33 x 8; 286 gross tons; owned Simpson Sand Co., Ltd., Brockville

1976 Used as breakwater, Brockville  raised 1980?

1896 Towed out to Main Duck Island and Scuttled.

Barge WHITE STAR.* Official Canadian No. 103961. Built at Montreal, Que., in 1897; rebuilt Cornwall, Ont., in 1905. Of 224 tons register. Home port, Montreal, Que. 160.0 x 25.4 x 7.5 Owned by John F. Sowards, Kingston, Ont.
* Formerly a steamer.
List of Vessels on Registry Books of the Dominion
of Canada on the 31st. Day of December, 1933

Paddle wheel steamer WHITE STAR. Official Canadian No. 103961. Built at Montreal, Que., in 1898; rebuilt Cornwall, Ont, in 1905. Burnt at Hamilton, Ont., March 1, 1926 and rebuilt as a barge. Rebuilt as motor vessel. SM. DOUGLAS at Brockville, Ont., in 1950

Some of the lake passenger steamers of the late nineteenth century proved to have extraordinarily long lives, many of them lasting, albeit not in their original condition, well into the second half of the present century. One of these was the famous little steamer WHITE STAR whose active career on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River spanned a period in excess of seventy years.

WHITE STAR (C.103961) was an iron-hulled, beam-engined passenger vessel built in 1897 at Montreal by W. C. White whose shipyard was located on the Lachine Canal above the St. Gabriel Lock. The new steamer was 167.2 feet in length, 25.3 feet in the beam (hull only) and 8.2 feet in depth. We do not have a record of her beam over the guards. Gross tonnage was 451. Her engine came from the Allan Line tug ROCKET which had originally been fitted with two beam engines. In 1892 ROCKET was rebuilt as the passenger steamer BRITANNIC and at that time one of her engines was removed. It was held for five years until its installation in WHITE STAR.

The first owner of WHITE STAR was W. W. Paterson of Oakville, Ontario, who operated the Oakville Navigation Company. Her original route was from Toronto to Oakville and then on to Hamilton. During 1901 she operated under charter to the Pan American Exposition at Buffalo, New York, while her place on Lake Ontario was taken by the former Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company steamer RICHELIEU (C.33476). The fair at Buffalo over, WHITE STAR returned to her original service in 1902.

The date of July 11, 1903 was a bad one for WHITE STAR. She was seriously damaged in a “very suspicious” fire while moored at her dock at the foot of Bay Street in Toronto. Hedley Shaw of Toronto and St. Catharines held a large interest in the ship at the time. While WHITE STAR was insured, it is said that the underwriters refused to settle the claim and the hull was abandoned.

WHITE STAR was later purchased by Charles Mignault of Montreal and the St. Lawrence and Ontario Navigation Company. She was towed to Cornwall, Ontario, and was rebuilt there in 1905 by Oliver Gillespie. She emerged from the reconstruction with revised dimensions of 158.1 x 25.3 x 8.2, her Gross Tonnage being reduced in the process to 308. The rebuilt WHITE STAR was quite a handsome little steamer. Sporting a single tall funnel and mast, she had a long cabin on the promenade deck but, of course, no overnight accommodation as she was a dayboat only. Her paddleboxes were very elaborately decorated and her pilothouse was a masterpiece of Victorian architecture in wood. A six-sided affair with the front corners chopped off, it carried an ornate nameboard not under the windows but rather mounted on the railing above the pilothouse.

In 1908 WHITE STAR was owned by the St. Lawrence Canadian Navigation Company Ltd. of Montreal, of which Alexandre Desmarteaux was the manager. She was placed on the Montreal – Quebec run with IMPERIAL (C.121945) which had earlier served as SOVEREIGN (C.94887), and the two operated in opposition to the long-established service of the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company Ltd. By 1910 WHITE STAR was in service for Desmarteaux’s King Edward Park Company, operating from Montreal to King Edward Park which was located on an island a few miles down the St. Lawrence from the city. It is interesting to note that the same firm also operated on this route the former Lake Ontario steamer GARDEN CITY which was purchased in 1918 and ran to the park into the twenties.

In 1915 WHITE STAR was acquired by Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal, in an exchange involving the ferry BOUCHERVILLE (C.90546), (a) HOCHELAGA (I). C.S.L. placed her on the service from Toronto to Lorne Park, Hamilton, and Jordan Harbour. She later operated for C.S.L. between Hamilton and Wabasso Park, a short run across Hamilton Bay.

But once again WHITE STAR fell victim to the scourge of fire which struck while she was in winter quarters at Hamilton on March 1st, 1926. The vessel was virtually destroyed in the conflagration. The burned out hull was purchased in 1927 by Kingston coal dealer and vessel operator John F. Sowards who cut her down and had her registered as a barge of 224 tons for use in the Lake Ontario coal trade. She was finally abandoned in 1940 and her registry was closed, the hull being laid away in the inlet back of the De Wattville Island range lights.

But this was not the end of WHITE STAR. In 1949 her remains were purchased by the Simpson Sand Company Ltd. of Brockville, Ontario. Towed to the Brockville yard of her new owner, she was rebuilt as a stemwinder and was fitted with diesel power in 1950, the intention being to use her as a sandsucker. She was reregistered as (b) S. M. DOUGLAS, her dimensions now officially revised to 160.6 x 25.4 x 8.1. Her new tonnages were listed as 286 Gross, 230 Net. The DOUGLAS served the Simpson firm well for almost two decades and was to become a familiar sight as she went about her new duties in eastern Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River.

S. M. DOUGLAS was sold in 1968 to Black Douglas Contractors Ltd., Ivy Lea, Ontario, and she operated five years under this ownership. She remained idle at Brockville during 1973 and, her 77 years telling on her, was dropped from the Canadian register in 1974. It is reported that the iron hull of the ageing vessel became a breakwater at Kingston during 1975.

And so ended the active life of a small steamer which for many years served the travelling public of the Lake Ontario region. Already cast aside once, she was treated to a new lease on life when well into her second half-century. Her tired bones deserve a bit of rest now.
Preliminary List of Canadian Merchant Steamships
Inland and Coastal, 1809 to 1930

In our Ship of the Month article last month we featured the passenger steamer WHITE STAR and with the help of Lorne Joyce we can now pass along a bit more information. WHITE STAR was built in 1897 at Montreal and in our last issue we stated that the Oakville Navigation Company was her first operator. As it now develops, this was not so. She was not purchased by that firm until 1899, so we are now faced with the problem of not knowing what she did during her first two years of life.

The Oakville Navigation Company was formed in the spring of 1899 when the sum of $25,000 was subscribed by a group of local merchants and fruit growers in order to ensure the existence of a regular steamship service for Oakville. The existing service operated by the steamer GREYHOUND was very unsatisfactory and the ships of the Hamilton Steamboat Company were unable to call at Oakville regularly because of the shallowness of the harbour. The founding group consisted of Allan S. Chisholm, T. C. Hagaman, George Andrew, John McDonald and W. H. Speers. Hedley Shaw of Foulds and Shaw who owned the flour mill at Oakville was named president of the Oakville Navigation Company at its formation. The company bought WHITE STAR, apparently from a St. Lawrence River operator, and placed her on the Oakville service under the command of Capt. William Boyd. Her purser was W. S. Davis who in 1902 became general manager, secretary and treasurer of the company.

Later in his career, Hedley Shaw set up a flour mill at St. Catharines using machinery and materials taken from a dormant mill at Oakville. This was the beginning of the Maple Leaf Milling Company and Hedley Shaw was its founder. Mills were soon set up at Thorold and Welland, and in 1911 the big mill at Port Colborne was opened.

WHITE STAR – (CITY OF DUNKIRK) – (EMPIRE) – A 229 ton, paddlewheel steamship, built in 1879 at Montreal and registered there (#103961). She was owned by the Oakville Navigation Co. of which W.H. Speers was a director. She ran regularly from Oakville and Bronte to Toronto and Hamilton. She was sold to Buffalo owners for the 1900 Exposition there, and renamed CITY OF DUNKIRK. After the exposition she was brought back to Oakville and her old name returned. In 1905 she was owned by Capt. Gilphie, of Cornwall and was named EMPIRE. She was listed in the 1913 American Blue Book as WHITE STAR, 629 tons, 167′, built in 1897 and rebuilt in 1905 (likely after the collision with the stm. HOSANNA); owned by the St. Lawrence Navigation Co. Ltd. of Montreal.
From the notes of Gerry Ouderkirk