Steamboats in Canada

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A painting of the SS Royal William, 1834

Steamboats in Canada have a long history, both freshwater and ocean going.

The Canadian paddlewheeler PS Accommodation was the first successful steamboat built entirely in North America in 1808. The PS Frontenac was the first on the Great Lakes. The Rideau Canal, St. Lawrence River, and large rivers of the west provided ample areas to work in.

Samuel Cunard of Nova Scotia developed the successful Atlantic Steam Liner service in the 1830s with the SS Royal William. While shipbuilding and huge fleets of lakers on the Great Lakes proliferated in the nineteenth century. Their success led to penetration deep into the central continent, with the Anson Northrup in 1859 which became first steamer to cross the U.S.-Canadian border on the Red River, via the US Mississippi River system. Steamboats would also be involved in major political events, as when Louis Riel seized the International at Fort Garry, or Gabriel Dumont was engaged by the vessel Northcote at Batoche.

On the Pacific Coast the SS Beaver was the first steamer in the Northwest waters; it worked for the Hudson's Bay Company from 1835. The Vancouver was a steamboat built and operated by the Hudson's Bay Company to serve on the route to and from London, England to Fort Victoria on Vancouver Island. It was built in 1845. Shipbuilding continued into the next century with the Imperial Munitions Board and the Victory Ship of later years.[1]

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The Keewatin at rest in Saugatuck, Michigan.

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