Ferry Steamers by William Oxford Story of the Detroit-Windsor Ferry Boats
Ferry Steamers by William Oxford Story of the Detroit-Windsor Ferry Boats
Ferry Steamers by William Oxford Story of the Detroit-Windsor Ferry Boats
Ferry Steamers by William Oxford Story of the Detroit-Windsor Ferry Boats
Ferry Steamers by William Oxford Story of the Detroit-Windsor Ferry Boats
Ferry Steamers by William Oxford Story of the Detroit-Windsor Ferry Boats
Ferry Steamers by William Oxford Story of the Detroit-Windsor Ferry Boats
Ferry Steamers by William Oxford Story of the Detroit-Windsor Ferry Boats
Ferry Steamers by William Oxford Story of the Detroit-Windsor Ferry Boats
Ferry Steamers by William Oxford Story of the Detroit-Windsor Ferry Boats
Ferry Steamers by William Oxford Story of the Detroit-Windsor Ferry Boats

Ferry Steamers by William Oxford Story of the Detroit-Windsor Ferry Boats

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Ferry Steamers by William Oxford Story of the Detroit-Windsor Ferry Boats
 
The Ferry Steamers by William Oxford  The Story of the Detroit-Windsor Ferry Boats
Soft Cover
126 pages
Copyright 1992
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Preface6
Acknowledgements9
I In The Beginning1800-1830 11
Ii The Argo1831-1835 17
Iii The Early Steamers 1836-1850 20
Iv The Railway Ferries27
V The Second Stage1851-1870 35
Vi Competition Grows 1871-1873 41
Vii The Company1874-1891 45
Viii The Ferry Docks55
Ix Fares & Franchise1892-1908 63
X The Ferry Question 1909-1928 75
Xi Walkerville Ferry87
Xii The End1929-1942 93
Xiii Reflections105
Appendix I To X116
Bibliography124
Chapter Endnotes125
Index127
PREFACE
ONCE UPON A TIME, in the not-so-distant past, there were ferry boats on the Detroit River. Like the trolley cars on city streets, the steam locomotives, and the five-and-dime stores, they have vanished from our midst, becoming another chapter in the colourful history of Windsor and Detroit. For many readers of this book, mention of the ferries will bring back memories of pleasant summer evenings crossing the river on a boat's upper deck, or stopping for a cream Vernor's at the foot of Detroit's Woodward Avenue, or patiently waiting for the next boat to arrive on a bitterly cold day in winter. I am speaking of a time when sturdy little ferry boats steamed constantly back and forth across the Detroit River, keeping pace with the two communities they served. Quite a few of them had wonderful, even exotic, names, which are still easy to remember: WALK-IN-THE-WATER; TASHMOO; GREATER DETROIT; CADILLAC; LA SALLE; ARGO; ESSEX. Who could forget those graceful steamers? They were like family, familiar, lovable, and central to our daily life.
The ferry business began very simply. When settlers on either side of the river wanted to cross to the opposite shore, they usually hired a skilled oarsman to take them, unless, of course, they used their own boat to ferry themselves. And the business did not end until well into its second century in the face of insurmountable competition from the Detroit River Railroad Tunnel (1910), the Ambassador Bridge (1929), and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel (1930). The last named was for vehicular traffic.
My purpose in writing this story is really twofold: to give my generation a look back upon our past, and to give present and future generations a glimpse into that part of our life affectionately referred to as "the ferry era".
This book spans a period of approximately 150 years during which Canada and the United States experienced vast changes as they grew from basically rural societies into complex industrial nations. Concerning Windsor and the province of Ontario, I would like to make two points:
1. The settlement located on the south shore of the Detroit river, the future site of Windsor, was initially called "South Shore" or "South Detroit". The local French inhabitants named the area "La Traverse", a crossing place. In later years, due to the ferry traffic to and from Detroit, what is now downtown Windsor became known as "Sandwich Ferry", "Ferry House" or just "Ferry". As business increased, the community around the docks expanded. Soon the inhabitants were looking for a new name. "Richmond" came into common but unofficial use. In 1834, there was a public debate over which name to choose, "Richmond" or "South Detroit". Neither one seemed to satisfy a majority of the locals, so an entirely new name was adopted, "Windsor", which has remained to this day. For the sake of simplicity, I will use "Windsor" to identify the Canadian side of the river, including Sandwich and Walkerville, regardless of the year. Windsor was incorporated as a village in 1854, as a town in 1858, and as a city in 1892.
2. Prior to 1791, the territory in which the settlement of Windsor lies was part of the old province of Quebec. After that date, the western portion of the province became Upper Canada. On 10 February 1841, by virtue of the Act of Union, Upper and Lower Canada were united as Canada West and Canada East into the Province of Canada. In 1867, the Province was divided into Ontario and Quebec. During the period leading up to Confederation, however, the old names of Upper and Lower Canada survived in popular use and sometimes appear in official documents. It is important for the reader to keep these historical distinctions in mind, and to realize that I am talking about the same territory when I speak of Upper Canada (the western portion), and the Province of Ontario.
In conducting my research, I examined books, theses, articles, and newspaper stories. I also made personal contact with a number of people who remember the ferries as I do and who share my love for the steamers. Memories are personal, however, and it is usually only the good feelings we recall, not necessarily the specifics of any given year or boat or incident. Lastly, I came across many conflicting pieces of information, especially with respect to dates. I have done my best to choose the date and information that seemed most likely to be correct. Any mistakes, of course, are my own responsibility. I ask the indulgence of my readers, and invite them to enjoy this history of the ferry boats.
W. OXFORD
April 1992


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