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Early History of the Glenora Ferry

[ Later Glenora ferries ] [Bibliography ]

Adapted from an article by Larry Turner, County Magazine

The Glenora Ferry has long been one of the lifelines of Prince Edward County. Glenora itself became the heart of community and industry, and Van Alstine's mill was often the first view of the County for early settlers. Through the years, several people have managed the vital ferry link with the mainland, until it became a government-operated, 24-hour, year round service in recent years. In this in-depth article, the author examines the roots of the Glenora Ferry.

When General Frederick Haldimand ordered the surveying of townships into the western wilderness from the old Province of Quebec to facilitate the settlement of United Empire Loyalists, it was only natural that the north shores of the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario would be chosen for this purpose. The Loyalists would be settled along water courses in 1784 which would accommodate transportation and communication. The protected shoreline of the Bay of Quinte and the powerful St. Lawrence River system determined this ribbon development into the interior. Waves of settlers following the early Loyalists maintained this pattern of settlement along river front and lake strand as long as this land was to be found.

The wilderness land of Upper Canada could only be traversed with great difficulty. The lakes, rivers and bays became pathways for people and goods in canoes, skiffs, scows and bateaux. An important element in the early marine network was the ferry, the link between path and road and the fording of river and bay. As land travel slowly evolved and developed, the business of ferrying goods and people grew more significant.

The Bay of Quinte spawned many early ferries along the shore to link roads and settlements, the Glenora ferry being one of the earliest and most important [1]. Currently bridging the Ontario Heritage Highway 33 across the Bay of Quinte, the Glenora ferry once linked the pioneer lakeshore road from Kingston to York.

The ferry is located at a very narrow part of the Adolphus Reach, less than a mile across this part of the Bay of Quinte. It runs from Ferry Point, also known as Dorland's or Young's Point in Adolphustown township, Lennox and Addington County to Glenora, formerly known as Van Alstine's Mills and Stone Mills in North Marysburgh township in Prince Edward County.

For almost two centuries the Glenora ferry in some form or other has linked County, town and township and today remains as a symbol to Prince Edward County's 'Island consciousness'.

Though most highway travellers take bridges for granted today, the Glenora ferry takes us back a few generations ... when the only things spanning rivers and bays were water crafts in all shapes and sizes operating for public use.

A ferry has bridged the Adolphus Reach at Glenora since the beginning of settlements by the United Empire Loyalists[2]. We know very little about how the ferries, looked, but documents have survived giving insight into how the ferries were owned and operated.

From the days of Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe, Upper Canada took an interest in developing a transportation network in pioneer settlements that included ambitious road building projects. The ferry was such an important stitch in the pattern that the Legislature in York passed an Act for Regulation of Ferries in 1797.[3]

Simcoe would not live to see the beginning of construction for the Dundas Road between Detroit and Montreal but like the crossing of many rivers in its path, the road would depend upon a ferry crossing the Bay of Quinte at Adolphus Reach.

In 1799, the American engineer Asa Danforth was contracted to blaze a "smooth and even"[4] roadway, forty-feet wide along the front of Lake Ontario. It was later called the Danforth (or Danford) Road and as part of the Province wide Dundas Road it became the first, if tortuous, path connecting important settlements in Upper Canada.

"At first, from Kingston, the road followed the bay shore to Adolphustown to Dorland's Point, where was established a ferry to communicate with Marysburgh at Lake on the Mountain; thence the road followed the shore to the head of Picton Bay, and soon to Bloomfield, Wellington, Consecon, by the Carrying Place, and continued to closely follow the lake shore. Subsequently this great highway was called the York Road when going towards York and the Kingston Road when going towards Kingston."[5]

The Glenora ferry was in a strategic location considering the development of the lakeshore road. There were other ferry crossings on the bay but the Glenora ferry was in proximity to the gregarious little village of Adolphustown, adjacent to a grist and saw mill built above the Marysburgh landing at Lake on the Mountain and directly in the path of the pioneer road as it wends its way west from Bath along the shore. It was a natural ferry location, one which, regardless of the road builders, was probably in operation to serve the mill before Danforth saw the bay.

Major Peter Van Alstine[6], the famous United Empire Loyalist leader of the Fourth Town (Adolphustown) company of settlers to the Bay of Quinte in 1784, was the first owner of the Glenora ferry and builder of the mills comprising the community of Van Alstine's Mills, now Glenora. Major Van Alstine petitioned for land, water and mill rights around Lake on the Mountain in 1793 and the subsequent development of a grist mill made it an important enterprise in the local pioneer economy as one of the earliest flour mills on the Bay of Quinte.[7]

The mill itself would have justified a ferry linkage and Van Alstine, to promote land access to the mill, probably had the ferry in operation before the Province of Upper Canada passed its regulations concerning ferries in 1797. Well aware of the importance of ferry communication, the Executive Council and Assembly passed an Act which gave permission to the Court of the Quarter Sessions to prevent abuse and exploitation by ferry owners against the public and to ordain rules and regulations and to assess ferry rates.[8]

Thus, when Captain Thomas Dorland[9], a distinguished Loyalist and large landowner in Adolphustown opposite Glenora, petitioned to operate a ferry from his land to Van Alstine's mill, he had to petition the Court of the Quarter Session of the Peace for the Midland District in Kingston on April 27, 1802 to receive permission.[10]

The Court ordered Captain Dorland to furnish proper and complete crafts for the ferrying of all passengers and that he be "equally attentive at all reasonable hours to the call of a single person as to that of a greater number and also be ready at a short notice and ferry such person or persons, cattle or carriages or wares". The Quarter Sessions set the following posted rate for Dorland's ferry.

single person   9d.
two or more persons   7 1/2 d. ea.
man and horse   ls.3d.
yoke of cattle   7 1/2d. ea.
sheep or pigs   3d. ea.
every bushel of grain   1d.
every carriage[11]    1s.10d.

Captain Thomas Dorland rounded out the ferry service at Glenora in 1802, the year the Danforth Road was completed, by operating from the Adolphustown shore while Major Van Alstine ferried from the Marysburgh shore. Dorland's ferry could have been earlier than 1802 because he was on record as having been "at the expense of creating and keeping crafts from the early part of Upper Canada being settled".[12]

Dorland was a Loyalist soldier in the Revolutionary War, a former member of the Legislature, justice of the Peace, Town Official in Upper Canada and was part of Major Van Alstine's Company when they arrived on the bay in 1784. He allegedly brought to Canada 18 slaves from the States.[13] The question begs to be asked whether any of Glenora's early ferry operators were Dorland's slaves.

Although the Glenora ferry was in an advantageous location, the early operation was by no means a valuable and profitable enterprise.

George W. Meyers, a son in law of Peter Van Alstine and part owner of his stone mill after 1812 and son of Belleville pioneer John Walden Meyers[14] reported that the ferry was kept up by the Van Alstines for a number of years and "that it was voluntarily thrown up, as not yielding a sufficient profit to make it an object of sufficient importance to occupy the time and attention of the proprietors".[15]

Captain Dorland also lamented the lack of profit for himself as well as Van Alstine. He claimed that the Van Alstines had kept their side of the ferry going for some years but "had abandoned it for lack of profit while your petitioner (Dorland) established the ferry when it was productive of no profit to him, only for the accommodation of the public, and has been kept by or under him ever since."[16]

The ferry was at a competitive disadvantage to other forms of marine traffic including carriers and private crafts. Captain John Walden Meyers established an early bateaux service which carried passengers and supplies to various points between the Moira River and Kingston.[17] There were a number of means by which travellers and supplies skipped from place to place by means of water and ice, and these remained the dominant form of transportation until 1850.[18]

The ferry, being dependent on roads and land travel, suffered due to the horrendous conditions of many byways. Mud and swamp as well as long stretches of abandoned or unkept roads restricted the vehicular traffic of the pioneers. Roads often acted as a feeder system to water routes, rather than as a viable method of travel.

"There is no indication, in fact, that the Danforth Road was ever of much use for long distance travel, and except for short distances, was not negotiated by carriage or wagon but on horseback or on foot. There was no demand at the time for stage travel, and it certainly could not have been met if there had been - though in winter it was often possible to travel anywhere, road or no road."[19]

If there was any significance in the Danforth Road running from Kingston via the ferry to Picton and beyond, it was reduced after the War of 1812 by the development of a road from Kingston to Napanee and along the north shore of the Bay of Quinte. Robert Gourlay describes the option facing the traveller heading west from Kingston.

"The great road from Kingston to York divides at Ernestown (Bath). One branch passes on the north side of the bay, crossing the Apanee (Napanee River) on a bridge at the mills, and the Trent by a ferry near its mouth. The other continues on the lake shore, passing the bay by a ferry from Adolphus Town over the peninsula of Prince Edward. They unite a little west of the head of the bay."[20]

Despite the Glenora ferry being a logical extension of the lake shore road, tortuous travel conditions and an alternative road running north of the Bay of Quinte would have determined irregular ferry traffic regardless of growing settlements in the area. With the Bay of Quinte being the major highway in winter and summer, there were other ways of getting grist to mill, flour to market and people to their destinations than the Glenora ferry and the land route. The ferry was useful but not necessary.

Early mill development by Van Alstine around Lake on the Mountain and below the escarpment near the ferry landing attracted a small group of people to the area.

A future ferry owner, Eliphalet Adams born at Cheshire, New Hampshire in 1775 and a relative of American President John Quincy Adams[21], built up a thriving lumbering and building business out of Picton and began buying land at Van Alstine's Mills. Adams bought parcels of land between 1807 and 1814 from Loyalist pioneer Matthew Steel, William Moore and David Rattan in lots 7 and 8 west of the ferry landing and began to build a tavern and hotel on this property.[22] This building may be the present white house or former Stage and Ferry Hotel at the lip of the hill before going down to the present ferry docks.

On January 20, 1812, Eliphalet Adams petitioned the Court of the Quarter Sessions being held at Adolphustown for a licence to operate a ferry from Marysburgh above Van Alstine's Mills to Dorland's Point.[23] Adams was attempting to fill the void of ferry service from Marysburgh with the abandonment of the enterprise by the Van Alstine family.

The Adams ferry licence wedded for the first time at Glenora a long standing tradition on the Marysburgh side, and indeed a tradition in Upper Canada, that the ferryman was also the tavern and hotel keeper.[24] Adams quickly learned the difficulty of making a profit as ferryman because the Quarter Sessions of April 1814, show Adams and Capt. Dorland's son Peter V. Dorland, applying for an increase in the rates of ferriage from Adolphustown to Marysburgh.[25]

Adams probably would have hired or put out a contract for a ferry operator while he owned it, similar to the Van Alstine and Dorland ferry operations. Evidently, Adams hired Alva Stephens from Jefferson County, New York to operate the ferry, hotel and tavern. Stephens, along with cousin Calvin Pier, were hatters by trade and arrived at the Stone Mills around the years 1815-16 after spending some time in British jails for being suspected as American spies during the 1812-14 War.

The anonymous author of Pioneer Life on the Bay of Quinte mistakenly claimed that Stephens had bought the hotel, tavern and ferry and wrote a glowing account of the importance of the ferry and the man - who plied between Stone Mills, across an inlet of the bay, to Adolphustown. His military training would enable him to see the importance of this point; equally important in times of peace for business, as in war from a strategic standpoint; for nearly everybody and everything that passed from Prince Edward County from east to west and vice versa went by this route".

Evidence shows that Alva Stephens paid rent to Adams and his estate but Stephens himself kept a fascinating ledger at the Stone Mills between 1816 and 1822 revealing important information on tavern life, its customers and references to the ferry.[26]

According to the Stephens ledger, David Way paid is 3d to ferry a bay and cart and 4s 10d to ferry Brooks' two bays on July 23, 1818. (Way also bought a hat for himself and his wife from Stephens). On September 23, Peter Switzer ferried one bay and one horse for is 3d and ferried himself and two horses for 1s 10d. On October 23, 1818, James Garrett ferried a horse and wagon for 2s 6p.[27]

Although no early records gave any idea how the Glenora ferry looked, a contemporary ledger kept by Simeon Washburn to handle the estate of Eliphalet Adams after he died on October 24, 1816, showed that claims made to the estate included one by Elisha Hill in 1818 for £12 10s for the building of a scow for the ferry and later £2 10s for repairing the scow and for supplying skiffs and oars. On November 25, 1820, Calvin Pier charged the estate £5 for a skiff for the ferry. This information suggest a skiff or rowboat was used to ferry single people or small groups and that a scow was used for carriages and animals.[28]

All was not well on the Marysburgh side of the Glenora ferry after the death of Eliphalet Adams. Alva Stephens and Calvin Pier continued to operate the ferry for the Adams family until at least 1822 when the Adams' estate was divided up and Lucy, a daughter of Eliphalet who had married Abraham Steele the same year, maintained control of the ferry, hotel and tavern along with five acres of land.[29]

Certain local persons however, were not pleased with the ferry service from Marysburgh either out of contempt for the owner, a lack of regulatory control, inconsistent service or failure to renew its licence. On February 7, 1824, Allen Van Alstine, a grandson of the Loyalist Major and part owner of the stone mills at Glenora, petitioned the Executive Council of Upper Canada in regard to the need for a more regularly established licensed ferry at the mills claiming that a number of inhabitants agreed with him. They were willing to show it in petition and that he himself would be willing to pay a licence for the privilege of operating the ferry.[30] The Van Alstine petition carried enough weight that Executive Council Clerk John Small issued a tender for the ferry to the highest bidder for the term of three years on March 4, 1824.[31]

Insight into the condition of the Marysburgh side of the ferry came from a very indignant and damaging letter written by Henry John Boulton, an ascending figure in Upper Canada's powerful ruling clique, the Family Compact.[32] Addressed to Major Hillier, the secretary to Sir Peregrine Maitland, the Lieutenant Governor, Boulton claimed that he found the Marysburgh side of the ferry in an abominable state.

"The attendance is shameful and the insolence and total disregard of the man on the Hallowell (Marysburgh) side quite intolerable. I am induced to write to you on this subject as I understand from Mr. ___ some time ago that the Ferry was not yet licensed.

"The people opposite Dorlands are a set of impudent low dirty Yankees and ought if possible to be removed from a situation where they have so much opportunity of annoying the public - when 1 went to the Ferry house the man who afterwards turned out to be the Proprietor said that the Ferryman was not there and when 1 mentioned that a person should always be within call and that I was in a hurry (him being cooly [sic] seated all the while on the door step) said no one could expect a person to give up all his time to such a nuisance - in about twenty minutes an American hired man came from the fields and got the boat ready when a woman came to the door and called after me to come back and pay my toll before I crossed, -to this I replied that they seemed to be in a much greater hurry to be paid before hand than to attend to the Public and that I should pay when I got over; whereupon the man who theretofore affected great unconcern came down and said the Ferry was his and he didn't care a damn whether I paid or not but unless I did I should remain where I was. I remonstrated against his impertinence and bad conduct but he said he earned no more for a gentleman than another and I might help myself and complain on as I pleased - If he had been legally appointed he might have been indicted for extortion but as it is I can only remonstrate against such impudent people getting the Ferry, which I understand they are anxious to do - The people who live there are Clute and Steele...."[33]

One can almost be sure that Stephens and Pier were no longer operating the ferry and that the 'Yankees' Boulton referred to were Abraham Steele and probably an assistant, Richard Clute. Boulton's biting letter would have certainly influenced the final decision regarding the tender to the ferry because the letter was found in Executive Council papers on the ferry decision.

Abraham Steele's petition to the Executive Council of Upper Canada for tender to the ferry was accompanied by a letter discrediting the former control of the ferry by the Van Alstine family and their failure to keep it up while "the owner of the place in which the petitioner now resides, for the accommodation of the public undertook it, where it has remained until this time"[34]

Steele argued in his petition that since he owned only five acres of land he depended on the ferry as a means of support while Allen Van Alstine as a part owner of the stone mills had sufficient means of support without it. Steele claimed that he had a wharf and craft ready to go as soon as navigation opened and that he had a house and premises -calculated in every respect for the accommodation of travellers". What Steele could not account for was the impression his operation had on the temperamental Henry John Boulton.[35]

In calling for a new tender for the ferry, the Executive Council put the squeeze on the elderly Loyalist Captain Thomas Dorland when it demanded the tender be for the whole passage on both sides. Dorland still owned the Adolphustown to Marysburgh portion of the ferry and was critical of the single ferryman idea as it would detain passengers and cause inconvenience and delay if the ferry was on the opposite shore.

In Dorland's petition for the ferry, he promised that if he was awarded the licence he would immediately let the Marysburgh side to ,,some person who will erect good crafts to be kept on that side of the water at the same rate as I may for the other". The old Captain also reminded the Council of his position when he recommended that the licence should be awarded to those (like himself) who "first established it, when no benefit could arise but to accommodate the Public at Large".[36]

Dorland had the political credentials and the right friends to support his line of argument. Four justices of the Peace from Lennox and Addington, Christopher German, John Emburry, Samuel Dorland and a Mr. Church, wrote the Executive Council stating that the public might suffer if the ferry is kept by one person only on both sides.[37]

Dorland also had a strange ally in George W. Meyers, a partner with Allen Van Alstine in the ownership of the stone mills at Glenora, who seemed to oppose his counterpart getting the tender. Meyers pointed out that "all the lands on the opposite shore in the township of Adolphustown are owned by Thomas Dorland, Esquire, for near one mile in both directions and also that the ferry from Adolphustown to Marysburgh has always been kept by Thomas Dorland, Esq. or some employed by him since the first settlement of the country until the present time and that it has always been regularly attended to".[38]

Support for Dorland's petition for the ferry also came from Hugh Robinson, a mail carrier from the Bath Post Office to the Cramahe (Brighton) Post Office in 1823, who maintained that he regularly crossed Dorland's ferry in Adolphustown "and the said Dorland was always ready when wind and weather would permit, night or day with a good craft without any delay and attended the ferry well to my satisfaction".[39] Despite the old Loyalist's long association with the ferry, his local stature and political support, the Executive Council of Upper Canada awarded the licence to operate the Glenora ferry to Allen Van Alstine.

The Van Alstine claim for the ferry not only received indirect support from the Boulton letter and the fact that he owned the mill at the ferry landing but he also had the backing of the Marysburgh Magistrate Council consisting of Alexander Fisher M.P., Colonel Archibald MacDonnell, Jonathon Allen, Henry McDonnell and Daniel Waugh.[40]

Support for the ferry tenders split along township and County lines, on opposite shores of the Bay, each supporting a ferryman from their side. Perhaps the real reason for the ferry being awarded to Van Alstine may be seen in the actual bidding for the ferry tender itself. Abraham Steele offered seven pounds and ten shillings a year for the exclusive privilege of running the ferry. Captain Dorland offered "as much as any person can afford to give" although aware that there would be higher tenders than his five pounds for three years and one half that sum if only from Adolphustown to Marysburgh.[41] Allen Van Alstine bid for and received a lease of the ferry from "the landing near the residence of Thomas Dorland, Esq., to the landing near Van Alstine's mill at a yearly rent of thirty-seven pounds".[42]

The astounding sum of £37 Halifax currency that Allen Van Alstine offered to pay each year was £20 higher than any other documented ferry lease in Upper Canada for the year 1826.[43] Van Alstine must have wanted the ferry licence very much, perhaps to improve access and service to his grist mill or in speculation of increased ferry usage and revenues arising from the toll.

At the time of Van Alstine's petition for a new and regular ferry, road traffic may have been improving and ferry service in greater demand. In the letter that Boulton sent to Hillier, he claimed that he had a very pleasant ride through the Bay of Quinte and being pleased at marking the great improvements that had been made in the roads within two years.[44] Nevertheless, oar, paddle, canvas and steam on, the Bay of Quinte must have presented the ferry and land travel with formidable competition.

It is hard to justify the large sum put out by Van Alstine for the ferry and he owned the Glenora ferry for only a short time before it changed hands. We know very little about the ferries as to how they looked, how frequent the service or how steady the demand, nor are there any records since 1802 giving the rates charged for ferriage.

The loss of the ferry privilege for Abraham and Lucy Steele meant the eventual sale of the tavern and hotel to an Uncle, Jacob Adams, a brother to Eliphalet. Purchased in 1827, it appears that Jacob Adams gained control of the ferry and four years later, the tavern, ferry and some land were up for sale.[45]

Look at This

"To be sold and possession given on the first of May next, the well known tavern situated near the Stone Mills in Marysburgh with the ferry across the bay of Quinty and 200 acres of excellent land. Its proximity to the Stone Mills and in the direct road from the thriving village of Hallowell to Kingston makes it a desirable stand for business."[46]

In 1832 a 36 year old Irishman, Timothy McGuire, acquired the Adams property. On August 15, 1833, McGuire took out a seven year lease on the ferry paying only a patent fee of one pound, twelve shillings and six pence yearly, as far as the records show.[47] For some time McGuire was to keep the tradition going of hotel, tavern and ferry duties belonging to the same person. McGuire established the legendary Stage and Ferry Hotel and ran it until 1871.

One can imagine that marine accidents were relatively common during the early years of settlement in Upper Canada with uncharted waters, flimsy craft and other difficulties but, as far as can be ascertained, McGuire was the first ferry owner at Glenora to have a fatal accident. A year before the ferry accident, a Rev. Mathew Miller from Cobourg had drowned after falling through the ice in February while trying to cross between Adolphustown and Marysburgh[48] but in October, 1835, another man from Cobourg, a Mr. Clark, actually tipped out of the ferry which was a bark canoe, while travelling to the Stone Mills. A small boy who was taking him over survived by clinging to the side of the upset canoe.

Under somewhat suspicious circumstances, a group of people found the body and with the help of Timothy McGuire, clandestinely removed and buried the man without any inquest. The British Whig newspaper in Kingston concluded sternly that "the public should sift through this matter to the bottom and know in what manner the ferry is attended to".[49]

The winds and tempests of the Bay of Quinte and Lake Ontario are legendary without trying to imagine a ferry crossing in a bark canoe. Phoebe Robert, a travelling Quaker missionary, wrote about one attempt to cross the ferry route to attend an Adolphustown preparatory meeting on a windy day in 1821.

"Two of our men thought they would go with the wagon and cross in the Ferry Boat and we to cross in another craft some distance for the ferry. We put out from shore some distance when our friends came running and said the ferryman would not take the wagon, the wind being too high: they put up the horse at the Inn so with some difficulty we returned to shore and took them in, - there were 10 on board, some thought it dangerously laden, the waves were exceedingly high."[50]

The only descriptions of the early Glenora ferry kept in any records are the terms bark canoe, skiff and scow. Elsewhere in Upper Canada, dug out or log canoes were used for ferrying passengers and small amounts of freight between Windsor and Detroit.[51] Old bateaux were sometimes used as ferries because they were flatbottomed and relatively easy to navigate and could be made adaptable to rowing or sailing.[52] The Durham boat was introduced to the Great Lakes in 1809 but was generally too large for ferry usage and steamboats did not make their mark as ferry-boats until later.

One form of ferry that is quite fascinating and was used at Glenora in the 1880's by Joe Thurston, and probably a lot earlier, was the horse-boat or team boat.[53] Edwin C. Guillet maintained that the horse-boat was commonly employed as a ferry in most parts of Upper Canada, succeeding the canoe and bateaux. Guillet quotes John Ross Robertson:

"The paddles which propelled the boat were set in motion by two horses who trod on a circular table set flush with the deck at its centre. This table as it revolved worked upon rollers, which being connected with the shaft, set the paddles in motion. The horses were stationary; the table on which they trod was furnished with ridges of wood radiating like spokes from the centre, which the horses caught with their feet, thus setting the table in motion.[54]

The horse-boat could also have been set up in a treadmill fashion rather than circular on the deck. Horse-boats were on the Niagara River and Lake St. Francis in 1793 at Longueuil on the St. Lawrence in 1819 and between Windsor and Detroit in 1825.[55]

Whether by means of a primitive dug out canoe or an innovative horse-boat, the early Glenora ferry between Marysburgh and Adolphustown served as an important tie that bound communities and a link in the early communications network of Upper Canada.

[1] [back] There were a number of ferries located at strategic points along the Bay of Quinte before 1820. From the Trenton end, or western end of the Bay of Quinte, there was Bleecker's ferry across the Trent River and John Smith's ferry from Murray Township by 1798. Benjamin Garrow had a ferry in 1802 from Ameliasburgh Township to Thurlow Township and, in 1811, Philip Zwick from Thurlow to Ameliasburgh. Along this stretch of the Bay, Caleb Benedict had begun a ferry between Thurlow and Sophiasburgh Townships by 1802.
There were a number of ferries located on the Long Reach: Job Bower's ferry between Sophiasburgh and North Fredericksburg was begun in 1785 and was later known as Bedford's, Munroe's or Cole's ferry. There was Roblin's ferry begun in 1817 between Casey's Point in North Fredericksburg Township and Roblin Mills or 'Princess Sophia's Ravine' in Sophiasburgh. Nicholas Wessel's ferry from Sophiasburgh to Thompson's Point in Adolphustown Township was begun in 1802 as well as Cyrenus Park's ferry across Hay Bay.
Also across the Long Reach were ferries known as Edward Barker's, N. Woodstock's, Scanlon's and Hazzard's ferry, perhaps later. See Adam Shortt, ed., 'Early Records of Ontario' Queen's Quarterly, Vol. 7, No. 1; Vol, 8, No. 3, 1899-1900; Alexander Campbell Osbourne 'Pioneer Sketches and Family Reminiscences', Ontario Historical Society Papers and Records, Vol. 21, 1924; and T.W. Casey Old Time Records: More Early District Court Records', Napanee Beaver, July 20. 1900 in Casey Scrapbooks, Lennox and Addington County Museum, Napanee, Ontario.
[2] [back] Abraham, Steele to Executive Council, April 20, 1824, Upper Canada State Papers, Vol. 27, page 80, RG1E3, Public Archives of Canada. (PAC)
[3] [back] An Act for the Regulation of Ferries, 37 G.III C.10 1797 (Second Provincial Parliament of Upper Canada), repealed, 12 V. c.80, 1849.
[4] [back] Margaret McBurney and Mary Byers, Homesteads.. Early Buildings and Families from Kingston to Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1979, page 3.
[5] [back] William C. Canniff, The Settlement of Upper Canada, Belleville, Mika reprint of 1869 ed., 1971, page 226
[6] [back] Peter Van Alstine (1747-1811) was born at Kinderhook, Albany County. New York and subsequent to taking up arms for the British cause in the Revolutionary War, led a group of United Empire Loyalists and Quakers leaving New York in 1783 for Sorel, Quebec and finally Fourth Town west of Cataraque (Adolphustown) in 1784. A Justice of the Peace, Land Board official. Lieutenant of Prince Edward County and member of the Assembly from 1793-1796, he was from Dutch extraction and spoke English imperfectly. He was a stout, robust man with a dark complexion, not one of military bearing although he served under Burgoyne, was a Captain of bateaux men and did duty as a Major of Associated Loyalists of Cuyler's Corps at Smith Town, Long Island during the war.
Peter Van Alstine, built the early mills at Lake on the Mountain and the stone mills at the Marysburgh ferry landing and was the earliest ferry owner at Glenora. Peter and his wife Allida, who died shortly before the settlement of Adolphustown, had three children: Alexander, Allida and Cornelius. Wm. C. Canniff, The settlement of upper Canada, op. cit.; E.A. Cruikshank, The Settlement of United Empire Loyalists, Toronto, 1934, pages 100-101; A.F. Hunter, 'Probated Wills', Ontario Historical Society Papers and Records, (OHSPR), Vol. 23, 1926, pp. 336-7; R.V. Rogers, 'The First Commission of the Peace for the District of Mecklenburg', OHSPR Vol. B, 1907, pp. 62-64;
Horace Hume Van Wart, 'The Loyalist Settlement of Adolphustown.. A Short History of Peter Van Alstine and His Company , The Loyalist Gazette, Vol. 2, No. 2, August 1932.
[7] [back] May 20,1793, the Petition was read before the Executive Council, June 6, 1793, Upper Canada Land Petitions 'U-V', Bundle 1, 1792-1796, RG1E3, Vol. 514, No. 22, Microfilm C2842, Public Archives of Canada. Lot 4 and 5 containing 400 acres were granted to Van Alstine on June 22, 1793, Marysburgh Township Papers, Public Archives of Ontario (PAO). A number of sources estimate the mills being built around 1796, Canniff, op. cit., p.209.
[8] [back] An Act for the Regulation of Ferries, 37 GIII, c.10, 1797.
[9] [back] Captain Thomas Dorland (1759-1832) was born in Beeknian, Duchess County, New York and served under Burgoyne in the Revolutionary War but escaped capture and later brought his family to Adolphustown with Major Van Alstine's company in 1784. Thomas Dorland served his community as Magistrate, justice of the Peace, Member of the Assembly and active in the Lennox Battalion of Militia.
Capt. Dorland was granted 3,000 acres of land, much of it opposite Glenora, and brought 18 to 20 slaves with him to Adolphustown. Disowned by the Society of Friends for taking up arms in the war, he nevertheless accompanied a number of Quakers in Van Alstine's Company including his brother Philip Dorland, elected to the first Legislation Assembly in Upper Canada. There were three children: Samuel B., Deborah and Peter V.
See Pioneer Life on the Bay of Quinte, Mika reprint from 1904, 1976, p.967, T.W. Casey, 'Personal Notes on the People of Adolphustown' in Appendix to the Report of the Ontario Bureau of Industries, Ontario Department of Agriculture, Toronto, 1897, p.60; G.A. Neville, 'The Quakers of Adolphustown', Families, Vol. 19, No. 1, 1980.
[10] [back] Court of Quarter Sessions, Kingston, April 27, 1802, Adam Shortt, ed. 'Early Records of Ontario', Queen's Quarterly, Vol. 8, No. 1, 1900, p.67.
[11] [back] Ibid., pp. 67, 68.
[12] [back] Thomas Dorland to Executive Council, April 20, 1824, Upper Canada State Papers, Vol. 27, p.78, RG1E3, PAC.
[13] [back] T.W. Casey, 'Personal Notes...', op. cit., p.60.
[14] [back] John Walden Meyers was a Captain in Major Jessup's Corps of Loyal Rangers with a distinguished military record during the Revolutionary War. One of the founders of Meyer's Creek, now Belleville, he built an early grist mill on the Moira River and subsequently became a legendary Bay of Quinte figure. His eldest son, George W. Myers, married Allida Van Alstine, the daughter of Major Peter Van Alstine and later shared ownership of the stone mills at Glenora with other members of the Van Alstine family.
See Pioneer Life on the Bay of Quinte, Mika reprint of 1904 ed., 1972, pp. 20-30; E.A. Cruikshank, 'Captain John Walden Meyers, Loyalist Pioneer', OHSPR, Vol. 31, 1936; Jane B. Goddard, Hans Waltimeyer, Grafton, 1980; Hazel Matthews, Mark of Honour, University of Toronto Press, 1965.
[15] [back] Thomas Dorland to Executive Council, April 20, 1824, PAC. op. cit.
[16] [back] Loc. cit.
[17] [back] Canniff, op. cit., pp144-145; Cruikshank, 'Loyalist Pioneer', op. cit.
[18] [back] Jacob Spelt, The Development of South Central Ontario, Carleton Library, McClelland and Stewart, p. 66.
[19] [back] Edwin C. Guillet, Pioneer Inns and Taverns.
[20] [back] Robert Gourlay, A Statistical Account of Upper Canada, Vol. 1, 1822, p.97, quoted from E. C. Guillet, Early Life in Upper Canada, University of Toronto Press, 1933, p.516.
[21] [back] McBurney and Byers, op. cit., p. 64. Birthplace and date from embroidery in the Prince Edward County Museum in Picton. Eliphalet Adams married Mary Washburn, the daughter of Loyalist Ebenezer Washburn. They had five daughters: Lucy, who married Abraham, Steele, Sarah married John Murney, Hannah married William Vance, Mary Ann married Lewis Minaker, and Eliza.
When Eliphalet Adams died in 1816, he was worth a considerable 2357 pounds. See Ledger of the Estate of Eliphalet Adams, 1817-1834, Washburn Family Papers, MU 3106, PAO. Mary Washburn Adams was remarried to the pioneer missionary Rev. Robert Sherriff who died at South Bay in 1821. See Pioneer Life on the Bay of Quinte, op. cit., p. 903. Both the original Adams and Washburn homes still stand in Picton, McBurney and Byers, op. cit., pp. 64, 65.
[22] [back] Matthew Steele who may have been a relation to later ferryman Abraham Steele, accompanied Major Peter Van Alstine to Adolphustown in 1784 and later settled in Marysburgh. T.W. Casey maintains that Matthew Steele and his sister Mrs. William Ruttan, had powerful voices and could call across the Bay and talk to each other, it being almost a mile wide. During the Revolutionary War, William Moore was a foreman or overseer of works with the Engineers Department of the Loyalist forces. A Carpenter and early Methodist, Moore has been credited with building the historic White Chapel or Conger's Church. See T.W. Casey, 'Personal Notes...', op. cit., p.64-66. David Ruttan was the third son of Loyalist pioneer Peter Ruttan who originally received the land grant although settled with Van Alstine in Adolphustown in 1784. See Pioneer Life on the Bay of Quinte, op. cit., pp. 715-718.
[23] [back] Adolphustown, Jan. 20, 1812, Adam Shortt, ed., Early Records of Ontario, Queen's Quarterly, January, 1901, Vol. 8, No. 3, p.226.
[24] [back] E.C. Guillet, Early Life in Upper Canada, University of Toronto Press, 1933, pp. 512-513. For further information on taverns and ferries, see Guillet, Pioneer Inns and Taverns, 5 Volumes.
[25] [back] Adam Shortt, op. cit., p.229.
[26] [back] See Pioneer Life on the Bay of Quinte, op. cit., pp. 735-737. Alva Stephens paid rent to the Adams' estate totalling 36 pounds, 13 shillings and 9 pence in one year. See Washburn Family Papers, 1801-1876, W 3104 PAO. Calvin Pier married Lydia Hill (first wife) Oct. 20, 1818 and later settled in Picton. See 'A Register of Baptisms by the Rev. Robert McDowall', OHSPR, Vol. 1, 1899, p. 80.
[27] [back] See Alva Stephens Ledger, Cherry Valley Women's Institute, p. 187 etc., David Way was the sixth son of American immigrants Daniel B. Way whose second wife was Elizabeth Brooks. This could explain Way ferrying two of Brooks' bays. Pioneer Life on the Bay of Quinte, op. bit., pp. 914-919.
[28] [back] Ledger of the Estate of Eliphalet Adams, 1817-1834, W 3106, Folio 12, Washburn Family Papers, PAO.
[29] [back] Abraham Steele and Lucy Adams marriage was reported in the Kingston Chronicle, April 12 1822, p.3. As the daughter of Eliphalet Adams, Lucy received almost 188 pounds in currency after the division of the estate as well as five acres, the tavern and hotel and, evidently, the ferry.
[30] [back] Allen Van Alstine to Executive Council Feb. 7, 1824. RG1E3, Vol. 27, p.80, PAC.
[31] [back] Advertisement issued by John Small 11, Clerk of the Executive Council, York, March 4, 1824, op. cit., p. 88, PAC.
[32] [back] Henry John Boulton (1790-1870) was the second son of important York politician D'Arcy Boulton. Henry was an ambitious and quick tempered lawyer, office holder, judge and politician during his career. Henry Boulton was destined to become Attorney -General in Upper Canada in 1829 and had strong Family Compact connections and influence within the Executive Council. Prone to outbursts, his attack on the Glenora ferry would not have been ignored. See The Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Vol. 9, pp. 69-72.
[33] [back] H.J. Boulton to Major Hillier, Aug. 4, 1824, op. cit., p. 93, PAC.
[34] [back] Thomas Cook, Jacob Adams and Matthew Patterson to the Executive Council, April 1824, op. cit., p. 80, PAC.
[35] [back] Petition of Abraham Steele to Sir Peregrine Maitland, April 24, 1824, op. cit., p. 80, PAC.
[36] [back] Thomas Dorland to Executive Council, April 20, 1824, op. cit., p.78, PAC.
[37] [back] Christopher German, John Emburry, Samuel Dorland and Mr. Church to Executive Council, April 17, 1824, op. cit., p. 75, PAC. Samuel Dorland was the eldest son of Captain Thomas Dorland, Pioneer Life on the Bay of Quinte, op. cit., p. 969; Christopher German fought with the Loyal Rangers during the Revolutionary War, was a trustee of the first Methodist Church built at Hay Bay and was a local Methodist preacher, see T.W. Casey 'Personal Notes...' op. cit., p. 62; John Emburry lived on the south shore of Hay Bay and was a nephew to the celebrated Philip Emburry, the first Methodist preacher in America and part of the palatine migration, see Canniff, op. cit., pp. 302, 397 and Eula Lapp, To Their Heirs Forever, Mika, 1977. Mr. Church was probably related to Lt. Church of the second battalion of Roger's Corps, see Canniff, op. cit., p. 442. All were justices of the Peace.
[38] [back] George W. Meyers to Executive Council, April 19, 1824, op. cit., p.76, PAC.
[39] [back] Hugh Robinson to Executive Council, April 1, 1824, op. cit., p. 74, PAC. Cramahe was the original name for the present Brighton township. There is now an autonomous Cramahe Township - the "Big Apple".
[40] [back] Alexander Fisher, M.P., Col. Archibald McDonnell, Jonathon Allen, Henry McDonnell and Daniel Waugh to the Executive Council, March 4, 1824, op. cit., p.89, PAC. Alexander Fisher was a Loyalist who served in the Commissariat at Carleton Island, settled in Adolphustown and was appointed the first District judge and Chairman for the Quarter Sessions of the Midland District. A Captain of Militia and son-in-law to Col. McDonnell, Fisher was also a member of the Legislature, see Canniff, op. cit., p. 649, and T.W. Casey 'Personal Notes...', op. cit., p. 61.
Col. Archibald McDonnell was an officer in the 84th Regiment who led a small group of his men to Fifth Town, or Marysburgh, to settle in 1784. See Canniff, op. cit., p. 463 and H. C. Burleigh, The Loyalist Settlement of Prince Edward County, United Empire Loyalist Association, p. 4.
Henry McDonnell was probably related to the Colonel. Jonathon Allen was only 14 years old when his father Captain Joseph Allen settled with Van Alstine at Adolphustown. The Allens built an early mill in Marysburgh (see County Magazine # 10, Winter 1978) and Jonathon.'s sister Ursala in 1798 married Alexander Van Alstine, a son of the Major and father to Allen Van Alstine. See Canniff, op. cit., pp. 91-92 and Casey, op. cit., p. 55.
[41] [back] Abraham Steele to Executive Council, April 20, 1824, op. cit., p.79, PAC; Thomas Dorland and Peter V. Dorland to Executive Council, April 20, 1824, op. cit., p.78, PAC.
[42] [back] Executive Council order to Allen Van Alstine Sept. 1, 1824, op. cit., p.90, PAC.
[43] [back] Mill and Mill Sites, 1792-1825, Vol. 47, Upper Canada State Papers, RG1E3, PAC.
[44] [back] Boulton to Major Hillier, Aug. 4, 1824, Upper Canada State Papers, Vol. 27, p. 93, RG1E3, PAC.
[45] [back] Prince Edward County Land Registry Office, North Marysburgh Abstracts, First Concession, South Bay of Quinte, Lots 7 and 8, 1827-1831
[46] [back] McBurney and Byers, op. cit., p.37.
[47] [back] Tender for Ferry No. 76, York, Oct. 12, 1833, Upper Canada State Papers, Vols. 29-30, RG1E3, PAC.
[48] [back] British Whig, Feb. 21, 1834, p.2.
[49] [back] British Whig, Oct. 20, 1835, p.3.
[50] [back] Leslie R. Gray, 'Pheobe Robert's, Diary of a Quaker Missionary's journey to Upper Canada', OHSPR, Vol. 42, No. 1, January, 1950.
[51] [back] Guillet, Early Life in Upper Canada, op. cit., pp. 148, 396.
[52] [back] Guillet, op. cit., pp. 416-417.
[53] [back] Willis Metcalfe, Canvas and Steam on the Bay of Quinte, Picton Gazette, p.12.
[54] [back] Guillet, op. cit., p. 466.
[55] [back] Guillet, op. cit., pp. 148, 465; and G. de P. Glazebrook, The History of Transportation in Canada, Vol. 1, Carleton Series, McClelland and Stewart, p. 67.


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