Safe Passage: Aids to Navigation on the St. Lawrence
S.S. "Admiral", Gaspé, QC, 1898 (?)
Wm. Notman & Son
Probably 1898, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords: harbour (624) , Photograph (77678) , steamer (448) , Transportation (2516)
Keys to History
In addition to buoy tenders, the government operated several other types of ship whose purpose was to improve the safety of navigatation on the St. Lawrence River. Its tugboat service, for example, towed sailing ships on the river and generally served to improve maritime transport.
In the summer of 1854, three paddle wheel steamboats, the Doris, the Advance and the Admiral, were chartered by the Department of Public Transport to assist merchant ships (at the time, mainly sailing vessels) to negotiate the St. Lawrence. These steamers and their successors were put into service in response to the demands of shipowners, who had seen steep increases in the cost of insurance because of the frequent accidents on the river.
The Admiral measured 47 metres in length. Note the presence of masts on the deck and paddle wheels on the sides. Dual propulsion was typical in steamboats of this era, when steam power was gradually replacing sail power.
Steamboats like the Admiral were designed to operate in rivers and could not handle the open sea. Nonetheless, the Admiral served in the Lower St. Lawrence, where the water can get very rough.
The Admiral was built by the Niagara & Harbour Dock Company in about 1854. The government sold it to S. & C. Peters in 1861.
François Baby, a well-known shipowner who later turned his hand to politics, won the government contract to operate the navigation steamers the Admiral, the Doris and the Advance in 1854.