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The steamer Niagara (1856) (ex-DRUID)


1. Original build

Name: DRUID Type: side paddle
Official Number (Later Canadian register: 53589 Later name: NIAGARA
Tons (registered): 220 Tons (net):
Where Built: Partick, Scotland. Port of Registry / Hail: Glasgow
Build Year: 1856Value:
Builder’s Name & Date of Certification: Todd and McGregor, Partick, Scotland, 1856
Master’s Name: Subscribing Owners: Cambria Company
Length: 161.1 feet. Breadth: 21.6 feet
Depth of Hold: 9.7 feetMasts: Two
Tons gross: 229.32tons net:
Original engine: Steeple, single cylinder 50 h.p.
Replacement engines (1857): Steeple, twin 2 cyl 44" - 52" 170 h.p.
Engine builder: Barclay Curle, Whiteinch, Scotland
Stern: squareBowsprit: Standing
How Built: Carvel How Rigged: Schooner
Figure-head: NoneDecks: One

paddle druid

The paddle steamer DRUID, 1856, Liverpool to Nassau, early 1864.
Civil War Naval Chronology, part VI, p. 341.

See also the entry for the steamer Niagara ex-Druid in our ships Database.

2. History

The Hepburn steamer Niagara in Picton Harbour
(Metcalfe fonds.) Click for enlargement.

  1. Part of this mataerial adapted from article in Argonauta, v. 22, no. 2, Robin H. Wyllie, which contains details of the Druid's activities during the American Civil War.
  2. 1857: Her builders appear to have suffered considerable financial loss and the vessel was sold to James Robertson of Greenock, who was involved in the Islay trade via Campbeltown and a major shareholder in the Campbeltown and Glasgow Steam Packet Joint Stock Company.
  3. Robertson's first act was to have her re-engined by Barclay Curle and Co of Whiteinch (details in 1. above.)
  4. An excellent sea boat with ample hold and deck cargo capacity Druid proved to be the ideal vessel for the year-round Greenock-Campbeltown trade.
  5. 1864, Bought by Herbert Charles Dunkwater of Manchester, she was put into lucrative service during the American Cilvil War.
  6. 1864-65: Druid made eight runs Nassau-Charleston, departing Charleston for the last time on or around February 4th, 1865, ending up in the Bedford Basin (Nova Scotia.).
  7. 1866: The Provincial Government of Nova Scotia purchasied Druid, for use as a fisheries protection cruiser. Registered Canadian O/N 53589.
  8. 1867-92: Served in various assignments, including lighthouse and buoy duties, mostly for various agencies of the Federal government.
  9. 1893: Tired from years of service, it was decided to have Carrier Lane & Co convert her into a screw steamer.
  10. 1901: Druid lasted until December 1901, when she underwent a comprehensive survey, was declared unseaworthy and quickly sold to A.E. Pontbriand of Sorel for $2,150.
  11. 1902, 20 February: Ownership was transferred to A.W. Hepburn, of the Ontario and Quebec Navigation Company of Picton, Ontario who converted her into an excursion steamer. An upper deck, deckhouses and a shelter deck were added, more than doubling her tonnage and the vessel's name was changed to Niagara.
  12. 1914: Niagara was stripped, her machinery was removed and she was used as a barge on the Great Lakes until October 1936, when she sank in Thunder Bay.
  13. 1936: Niagara foundered in Lake Superior on Oct. 1, 1936 at Thunder Bay. She was raised and towed to the boneyard, off Thunder Bay and sunk. Not bad for an old iron hull which had been declared unseaworthy thirty-five years earlier and had remained pretty well intact.

Newspaper and other transcriptions

  1. Glasgow Herald, Saturday 3rd May 1856: [The iron side paddle steamer Druid was launched from Tod and McGregor's yard at Meadowside on the upper Clyde. Ordered by the Cambria Company for its excursion traffic between Liverpool and the Menai Straits.] The ship was "admirably adapted for sailing fast and carrying a large number of pleasure seekers. It was also mentioned that her machinery was to be installed the following week, after which she would leave to take up her station."
  2. Amherstburg Echo, June 18, 1875 : This week Mr. Andrew Hackett was notified by the Department of Marine and Fisheries of the Dominion that the lightship for Bar Point left Quebec and is now on its way here in tow of the Government steamer DRUID. She will be here next week and put in charge of Andrew Hackett to be properly placed without any delay. The craft [lightship] is the old government schooner DUNSCOMBE, formerly used to supply the Canadian lighthouses off the Gulf of St. Lawrence. When properly placed particulars in reference to her will be published.
  3. Daily News (Kingston, ON), June 29, 1876 p.2 : The Countess of Dufferin - The Mail of yesterday contains the following despatch from Quebec: "This afternoon a new jibboom was placed in position on the Countess of Dufferin, and she will leave port at the turn of the tide tonight for sea. A pilot has been taken on board. If the weather is fair the course to be followed will be outside of Prince Edward Island, to the Gulf of Canso. Unless something unforseen happens, there will be no further delay. Lord Dufferin has expressed a desire to have a sail on the craft, and as he leaves here in the morning on the Druid for Gaspe, it is expected he will overtake the yacht and come on board. The wind now is from the east, and the weather has a dirty appearance. Later - The yacht sailed yesterday."
  4. 1878, from various press reports: The Druid was occasionally used for the transportation of Governors General and other personages on tours of the Lower Provinces. In the case of Princess Louise and the Marquis of Lome's visit to Charlottetown in 1878, it is recounted that they refused to leave the ship and stay at Government House as Druid had flush toilets and the official residence did not.
  5. Marine Review (Cleveland, OH), 4 Jul 1901, p. 28 : The Toronto Navigation Company has been organized to run steamers between Toronto, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Youngstown, N.Y. The company has purchased the steamboat Queen City and the old Dominion government cruiser Druid. The Queen City will be renamed Canada and the Druid [renamed] Niagara.
  6. British Whig (Kingston, ON), 20 Feb 1902: The S.S. Niagara, formerly the dominion government cruiser Druid, has been sold by the assignee of the Toronto Navigation Company, Limited, to A.W. Hepburn, Picton, Ont.

References and source notes

(1) Picton Register
(2) Argonauta, v. 22, no. 2, Robin H. Wyllie proved to be most helpful.
(16-21) Online Resource, Maritime History of the Great Lakes, Newspaper Transcriptons.

Picton built ships

The research and preparation of many 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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