Safe Passage: Aids to Navigation on the St. Lawrence
S.S. "The Island Wanderer" among the Thousand Islands, ON, 1902
Wm. Notman & Son
1902, 20th century
Silver salts on paper
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords: boat (1192) , Photograph (77678) , steamer (448) , Transportation (2517)
Keys to History
By the 1850s, the pressure on the government to improve the navigation signals on the St. Lawrence River had mounted. A powerful group of shipowners in the new Province of Canada joined with colonial authorities in London to lobby for the upgrading. In a letter dated April 13, 1847, the secretary of the Board of Commissioners for the Department of Public Works called for the completion within one year of work on the Upper St. Lawrence section. The work was all the more urgent, he stated, because several businessmen were making plans to transport flour and other products from Lake Ontario to Lachine in boats that drew too much water for the existing canals.
Finally, he requested immediate permission from the government to install lighthouses. The request must have been granted because the official report for 1855 describes the Thousand Islands region as being "lit up like a street."
As its name suggests, The Island Wanderer was an excursion boat that operated in the Thousand Islands region. It had a draft of 58 tons (net tonnage) and measured 30.5 metres in length.
The Island Wanderer was built at Alexandria Bay in 1879. The town, which was also the boat's home port, is on the American side of the St. Lawrence River in the Thousand Islands.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, river excursions were very popular, especially those that sailed the Thousand Islands region.
The Island Wanderer was, in 1884, owned by a certain E.W. Bisger. Several years later he enlarged the boat and renamed it The Island Belle.