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The steamer Geronia (1911)


Port of Picton Registry, Number :

Name: Geronia Type: Twin screw
Official Number: 111964 Other names: Syracuse (1914), Cape Trinity
Tons (gross): 2105 Tons (net): 1469
Where Built: Collingwood, Ont. Port of Registry / Hail: Picton
Build Year: 1911 Value: $250,000
Builder’s Name & Date of Certification: Collingwood Shipbuilding Co., 7 June 1911
Master’s Name: Subscribing Owners: A.W. Hepburn
Length; 219 feet and 6/10ths. Breadth; 42 feet and 0/10ths
Depth of Hold; 10 feet and 2/10ths Masts: None
Stern: round Bowsprit: None
How Built: Carvel How Rigged: Unrigged
Figure-head: NoneDecks: Three

NOTATIONS: Sold Jarvis and Associates, operating as Norcross; sold Richelieu and Ontario Company, later CSL, 1914. Renamed Syracuse (1914), Cape Trinity (1915).


Geronia, on trials, 18 July 1911. (photo R. Campbell collection)

See also the entry for the steamer Geronia in our ships Database.

It is generally accepted that the Geronia was a failure. She was very much underpowered, and could only reach about 10 knots in service (15 knots design speed) despite adding auxilliary boilers. Under CSL ownership as Syracuse, then Cape Trinity, her boilers were scrapped and much larger ones installed. Secondly, she was designed as a lake and river steamboat, but experienced difficulties in the St Lawrence rapids.

Newspaper and other transcriptions

  1. Willis Metcalfe reports ("Canvas and Steam") that on the maiden voyage of the Geronia, 18 July 1911 (beset by extremely bad weather) passengers included Mr and Mrs B.R. Hepburn, Mr and Mrs J. deC. Hepburn and family, Mr and Mrs R.G.K Hepburn, Miss Gena Hepburn and Miss Tottie Hepburn.
  2. Picton gazette July 29, 1911 : "After several delays the new Str. Geronia of the Ontario and Quebec Navigation Co., is expected to arrive in Picton Friday, from Toronto, on her first trip to Quebec. She made her maiden trip from Collingwood to Toronto last week; a large number of invited guests taking the trip."
  3. GERONIA was then placed in service between Toronto and Quebec City, with advertised way stops at Charlotte, Brighton, Trenton, Belleville, Deseronto, Picton, Kingston, Gananoque, Prescott, Brockville, Iroquois, Morrisburg, Cornwall and Montreal. With all those stops, it is evident that the O & Q intended to operate a service of convenience rather than speed. (Scanner, v. 14, n. 6 (March 1982))
  4. Next on the growing list of Geronia's bad luck was a collision on Aug. 22 with a ferry near Brockville. Since the summer season was waning, repairs to the superstructure were undertaken in Picton's shipyard, along with slightly successful adjustments to the temperamental boilers. (Ian S. Robertson, The turbulent history of Picton Steamboat Geronia, The County Magazine, no. 180, Summer 2021.
  5. The Geronia Sunk in Lachine Rapids. (British Whig (Kingston, ON), 15 Jul 1912)
  6. The steamer Geronia, which formerly belonged to Hepburn Bros. of Picton, and which is now managed by the Norecross company of Toronto, cleared from the wharves of the Kingston Shipbuilding company for Toronto on Wednesday morning. The Geronia has been in town for about 6 weeks. A new boiler has been installed as an auxiliary to the present ones, and the steamer has been fitted up. The new one is a Roberts Water Two boiler, manufactured at Red Bank, N.J. and put in under the supervision of T.P. Thompson, the government boiler inspector of this district. Mr. Thompson went to Toronto with the Geronia. It is estimated that up to date the steamer has cost upwards of a quarter of a million dollars. She was finished at Collingwood last year and is now considered one of the finest on these waters, built largely for passenger stateroom accommodation. She was run on the Picton-Quebec route last season.
    When the Geronia reaches Toronto it is understood that she will make a trip back to Picton, and that some of the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation company's officials will be aboard. It will later be decided what lake and river route she will be placed on. There has been talk of the Geronia running between Montreal and Quebec and again between Toronto and Montreal. (British Whig (Kingston, ON), 23 Jul 1913)
  7. GERONIA TIED UP at Picton For Repairs.
    The steamer Geronia, managed by the Norcross company of Toronto, which has been tied up at the Kingston Shipbuilding company's wharf having a third boiler installed, had a slight fire on her trial trip from Picton to Toronto on Friday. Although the fire was not of a serious nature, it will cause her to be tied up at the wharf at Picton for about two weeks for repairs. The new boiler had been installed for the purpose of trying to increase her speed to sixteen miles an hour. As soon as the speed was increased to the limit, it caused a blaze in the boiler room just under the bar. The floor of the bar was heaved as a result. It was the intention of the R. & O. company to purchase the steamer providing that she proved speedy enough. (British Whig (Kingston, ON), 28 Jul 1913)
  8. The steamer Geronia, on Friday, came down from Charlotte, N.Y. and Bay of Quinte points and was taken off the run. The steamer North King, which has been lying near Folger's wharf since the early part of the week, was put back again, and will with the steamer Caspian, finish the season on the lake, bay and river run. The steamer Geronia is here [Note: in Picton, not Kingston. Ed.] and will be laid up for the winter in this port.
    As far as the season of 1913 is concerned, the Geronia is a failure. It will be remembered she was built at the Collingwood yards for the Hepburn company of Picton, a couple of years ago, to run the same route the steamer Alexandria has navigated for years. She is fitted up splendidly, and cost upwards of $250,000. But, it is understood, that difficulty is experienced in getting up the steam necessary to attain her speed, about eighteen miles an hour. Auxiliary boilers were put in her this spring at the Kingston Shipbuilding yards, but, it appears that they have not remedied the trouble. She made one trip to Toronto some weeks ago, and returned to Picton, where she lay until this week she was put on the North King's run, to give her a try out. It is said on it she did not attain a speed of over ten or twelve miles an hour.
    The Geronia, with the other vessels of the Hepburn fleet, which were managd this season by the Norcross company of Toronto, were absorbed by the Richelieu and Ontario Company, with the Toronto concern's interests, a few weeks ago. It is likely that the R. & O. will put the Geronia into shape this winter, and operate her next season on one of its lines. (British Whig (Kingston, ON), 29 Aug 1913)
  9. (List of Vessels on Registry Books of the Dominion of Canada on the 31st. Day of December, 1920) Propeller CAPE TRINITY [[a] GERONIA, [b] SYRACUSE, [c] CAPE TRINITY] Official Canadian Number 111694. Built at Collingwood, Ont., in 1911. Of 2105 tons gross; 1469 tons reg. Home port, Picton, Ont. Owned by Canada Steamship Lines, Montreal. 219.6 x 42.0 x 10.4.
  10. (Undated) Canadian Steamship Line Fleet Record : SECTION : CAPE TRINITY : OFFICAL NO.: 111964 : TYPE: R3 (Lake and River Pass. Ship) : YEAR BUILT: 1911 : BUILDER: Collingwood SB. Co. Ltd. : LOA: 219.6 ; LBP: 205.75 ; BEAM: 42 ; MOULDED DEPTH: 11.5 ; DRAFT: 6 : GROSS TONNAGE: 2105 ; NET TONNAGE: 1468
    SECTION B : CSL OWNERSHIP DATES: 1914-1937 : Comments : 1911-14 Geronia Ontario & Quebec Nav. Co., Picton Ont. Ca. : 1914-20 Geronia C.S.L. : 1920 Re-named Cape Trinity : 1920-37 Cape Trinity C.S.L. : 1937 Broken Up North Tonawanda, New York.
    COMMENTS : This ship was ordered by ship owners who were not experienced in larger pass. vessels and requested a ship that was to be able to operate in too many specialized trades: result she was almost useless in all of them. The designers and builders certainly did not acquit themselves well with this one. The designers included F.E. Kir by of Detroit the premier N.A. (Naval Architect) of the Great Lakes, who had very few "dogs" to his account but this was one. Also Mr. H. Calderwood the N.A. of the Huronic and Hamonic was the principal local designer on the project. The engineers also were at fault the boiler plant was too small to allow the two engines to achieve 18 Knts., the contracted speed. The vessel was a poor looking ship which rolled terribly in the open Lake, struck the bottom on many rapids transits, could not carry a paying number of pass. on the Saguany run, in short a mess, an ever worse mess than the Rapids King which at least could steam very well. She broke her original owners [A surprising statement, unsupported by fact. Ontario & Quebec Nav. Co. (Hepburn) was never even close to "broke." Ed.] CSL laid her up after the 1928 season, she never ran again.
    SECTION C: CONSTRUCTION : SHIPYARD: Collingwood Shipbuilding Co. : SHIPYARD LOCATION: Collingwood, Ont. : HULL NUMBER: 29 : DATE OF LAUNCH: 1911 (07/06) : DATE OF DELIVERY: 1911 (29/06) : HULL: Steel to Main Deck Curved Stem Flared Stern to prevent squatting in the rapids. 1 deck in hull. 4 WT Bhds. : HULL CONSTRUCTION: Rivetted long framing : SUPERSTRUCTURE: Steel and Wood. Cabins brought out to side on Prom. deck 2 decks in all, tubby looking, no style.
    SECTION D: REBUILDS AND ALTERATIONS : This ship's boiler plant was inadequate in that she had to be reboilered in 1913-14 winter and new W.T. Boilers fitted. There after she steamed better, however, her other design failings were against her operating efficiently.
    SECTION E: ENGINE AND MECHANICAL : ENGINE TYPE: SR (Twin Screw Quad. Expans.) : CYLINDERS: 8 (2@18, 2@22.5, 2@26, 2@40) : STROKE: 18 (short stroke high speed engines) : HORSEPOWER: 1500, IHP, AT (RPM): 200 : YEAR BUILT: 1911 : YEAR INSTALLED: 1911 : ENGINE BUILDER: Collingwood SB. Co. Ltd. : PLACE BUILT: Collingwood, Ont. : NUMBER OF BOILERS: 2 : TYPE: Cyl SE FD : SIZE: 12x11 : YEAR BUILT: 1911 : YEAR INSTALLED: 1911 : BOILER BUILDER: Collingwood SB. Co. Ltd.

References and source notes

(1) Metcalfe, Willis Canvas and Steam on Quinte Waters, Prince Edward Historical Society, 1965 (and subsequent minor revisions.)
(5-9) Many of the contemporary newspaper cuttings can be found at Maritime History of the Great Lakes, Newspaper Transcriptons
(10) Attributed to Marine Museum of the Great Lakes

Picton built ships

The research and preparation of these data sheets was carried out by K.C. We extend our thanks to him.

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Source notes are listed at the end of the data.


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