THE S.S. CANADIANA IN THE BEGINNING

Chapter 1

The following is a draft of the Canadiana history... ~ There will be re-writing and corrections. ~ We will be adding detail and many photographs as we go along. ~ We intend to publish the completed book in a hardcopy form in the future but at this time it is presented here, without cost, to anyone who finds an interest in our project. ~ In return, we would ask that anyone with corrections, additional information and/or suggestions for inclusion in the final version, please do contact us.

The first chapter, "The Early Days", is in place below.. ~ Others are already written and will follow, as we can prepare them for the web.

We are writing the final chapter at this time. ~ The S. S. Canadiana is to either sail again, or because of the prevalence of ignorance and self-interest in our area, she may be scrapped. ~ We are writing that chapter as it is happening. ~ It will tell of what and who helped, and those who did otherwise.

We pray the book has a happy ending...

We retain all copyright rights to this text and what develops from it.

S.S. CANADIANA

"The Crystal Beach Boat"

The Prelude

There is silence and it is black... ~ Until the screeching starts...

It din grows and the parts of it become more audible. ~ Grinding, grating sounds... ~ Steel on steel. ~ Chains clanking. ~ Motor noises. ~ What is happening here.

A sharp crack and a brilliant star appears above. ~ A flame streaming from it like a vicious comet in the sky.

A gray dimness is comes into being. ~ Where are we.., what is this? ~ We cannot feel anything. ~ Is this dawn coming on? ~ Is this a dream? ~ Shapes are coming into view. ~ People, men, workers; scurrying about with some pressing duties. ~ A monstrous engine is cranking in large chains. ~ The chains are going where?? ~ Down a concrete grade to an enormous object that is bring pulled up this incline and..., out of the water...

No!!! ~ This can't be. ~ It's the Canadiana that's being inched up the ramp by the chains and cables. ~ The steel hull gouging into the concrete as it advances. ~ The great bow is now fully clear of the water and will be the first to be sliced off. ~ Is this the end of this beautiful ship? ~ Is she to be scrapped like some worthless piece of iron? ~ The comet in the sky starts to cut into her skin. ~ The flood of melted steel, blown off by this cutting torch, cascades down her side like blood from a mortal wound.

No! ~ This can't be happening. ~ Is this what comes of all the effort? ~ Is this what comes of all the hope? ~ Who allowed this tragedy? ~ Why????

It is a nightmare... ~ It's a terrible place to be, whether it is the real world or a dream. ~ They are the same when ignorance rules. ~ A pitiful place where the greedy take all, and work to prevent what they cannot profit from. ~ Now the Canadiana is being sacrificed by that clan of back slappers. ~ The self servers who see her as competition. ~ Even worse are those who sell lies for profit; with no conscience or regard for the decades of good they are destroying. ~ Even our "guardians" who aid and abet. ~ These people are just as much to blame. ~ Those who were empowered and in place to watch and protect. ~ In this sick world of newspaper rule, they simply turn their backs and look away. ~ Smugly telling each other what is best. ~ Best to stay out of the spotlight of bad press, best to work with people you "know". ~ Best not to encourage the unusual. ~ Don't do anything and you won't do anything wrong. ~ We have a flash though of a girl named Alice and of a strange tea party.

We jerk and twist, trying to physically fight the tragedy that is unfolding. ~ We are bound. ~ We fight some more and then it's mercifully over. ~ It has disappeared from sight. ~ The thoughts, however, remain strong in our mind. ~ Were we dreaming a very bad dream or was it an actual vision of the future that we had seen? ~ This re-occurring and agonizing foreboding brings the question to bear once again as we angrily tear ourselves from bed to continue our efforts to save her.


In earlier years it was a beautiful, storybook tale...


In bygone years, there was a grand and majestic treasure ship that plied the waves of a great inland sea called Erie. ~ The ship sailed daily from the river and harbor of the Queen City known as Buffalo and it carried immeasurable wealth on voyages across the water to foreign lands. ~ It carried riches of happiness, joy and wonder for millions of people, young and old. ~ Those trips brought pleasure to many lives for nearly half a century. ~ They were a way to get away; to leave your present life and go to another land; even beyond, to another world. ~ This treasure ship was in fact the S.S.Canadiana; a regal and stately cruise ship, designed and built in a Victorian era with three decks of elegant Victorian beauty. ~ She was a magnificent structure of mahogany and brass; of stained & leaded glass; of sculptured and gilded ceilings; of grand staircases with imposing newels; of opulent salons and festive dance floors; of craftsmanship and hand painted artwork that is seldom seen today. ~ Over the years as it carried us to the excitement and thrills of a fantasy land called Crystal across the lake, this masterpiece drew affection from all. ~ It was our beloved "Canadiana" and she became affectionately known to all as "The Crystal Beach Boat"

She was unforgettable. ~ If you have ever ridden this boat, even once, you are forever connected to millions others who have smelled the smells and seen the visions you have in your head right now just from hearing her name. ~ Of standing at the bow watching the boat plow through the giant waves, the resounding bursts of spray reaching you two decks up. ~ She was magnificent; her size overwhelmed you, even if you weren't among the young anymore. ~ Everyone remembers their fingers gripping the wire screen and their nose protruding through it, looking down to the mammoth engine pounding away below. ~ Brightly lit and painted, it stood 15 ft tall. ~ The giant crank shaft covered with glistening oil and rolling over and over to the push of the pistons. ~ The smell of the steam and the oil, the deep throbbing sound and the vibration of the deck are embedded memories that will never be forgotten.

This is not just a story of a boat. ~ This book is the tale of the compelling and vibrant life this boat has had. ~ We also want to tell of the people who rode her; those lives that overlapped or paralleled the Canadiana's and were made better for it. ~ We were among those who were fortunate enough to have made some of those magic trips across the water and can remember them from at least our younger days. ~ Many were able to go through their entire lives with this boat providing a setting for pleasure over the years. ~ Children; running the decks; having as much or more fun than what awaited them at the end of the trip. ~ Young lovers on warm and moonlit nights looking across dark sparkling water in the most romantic setting you can imagine. ~ Later; perhaps in married life, couples escaping the everyday and dancing across the lake to music of orchestras with names that will live forever. ~ They, and perhaps you, were part of a history and a way of life we will never see again.

We want, most of all, to convey the thought of the immense happiness this boat gave. ~ It was after all, built to bring pleasure to people and people to pleasure. ~ Built to carry people in magnificent and glorious style to a fascinating amusement park across the lake in Canada. ~ A park that made people happy for a hundred years. ~ A park that in its day was the biggest and best in nearly half the continent. ~ We had it all right here; in Western New York and our neighbors in Canada. ~ We had this grand old boat and this wonderland to grow up with.

The almost physically painful nostalgia that grips those who have ridden the Canadiana is a tribute to those happy days. ~ Before they started selling the hole in the donut. ~ Before things speeded up going nowhere. ~ The thought that she is no more is a fist gripping our hearts.

The Crystal Beach Boat came into being in 1910; having been conceived much earlier in the mind of a brilliant maritime architect by the name of Frank Kirby. ~ Frank Kirby created and evolved the design that was to become classic. ~ Through many earlier ships, the curves and lines that went into the Americana and finally with further improvement, the ultimate and the last; the Canadiana.

The Americana and Canadiana were built right here on the Buffalo river at the Buffalo Dry Dock Company. ~ It was a very significant dry-dock in those days of heavy traffic on the Great Lakes. ~ It played a major part in Buffalo's maritime history and that of the entire Great Lakes and the rest of the country. ~ It was located just up river from the Michigan Avenue bridge at 191 Ganson Street, just across the river from the historic Harbor Inn on the corner of Ohio and Chicago Streets. ~ The Harbor Inn closed in 1996 when it was sold and the previous owners retired. ~ Hopefully it will open again to continue its status as an unofficial museum of the waterfront. ~ While the docks across the river have been filled in, the concrete abutments which formerly held the huge watertight gates, are still clearly visible along the riverbank. ~ The Canadiana was the last passenger ship constructed there and years later, she was the last ship to be serviced within the dock. ~ With her life spanning nearly all of the twentieth century, the Canadiana is a symbol of Buffalo's greatness in the maritime era. ~ Now, after the many ordeals and tribulations endured in later life she awaits her destiny. ~ Is she to be a symbol of rebirth; a centerpiece for the Buffalo waterfront, or will she die.

Crystal Beach park was the reason our ship was born. ~ The two are so inseparable we must tell of it also. ~ In the beginning it was simply a long stretch of beautiful sandy beach sloping gently into clear Lake Erie water. ~ The park began in the 1880's as a religious gathering place with a few attractions thrown in for entertainment. ~ It is widely understood to have been a Chautauqua. ~ There were several others scattered around the Canadian Niagara peninsula and they were run by the people who founded the original Chautauqua, now the world famous Chautauqua Institute, near Jamestown NY. ~ The concerts, talks and religious services slowly gave way to the amusements and in 1890 The Crystal Beach Company was formed by Mr. John Evangelist Rebstock and some associates. ~ That company bought more beach, developed the park and built a pier. ~ These improvements soon brought on a procession of large ships to accommodate the growing crowds. These started with the Dove in 1896 and ending with the State of New York in 1907. ~ There were a total of 17 ships that made their way across the lake between Buffalo and the beach during those years. ~ They were either leased or owned outright by the park. ~ They ran for various numbers of years, individual ships often overlapping with others to manage the needed capacity. ~ The crowds were tremendous and kept growing. ~ When the Lake Erie Excursion Company was formed and took over the park, they were persuaded and convinced by Frank Kirby, to commission him to build boats for them. ~ So the Americana, the 18th boat to the park, came into being in 1908 and it was followed shortly thereafter by the Canadiana. ~ This brings us to the real start of our story. ~ It is March 5th 1910.

This was the year of the census where Detroit had just edged Buffalo, with 423,723 people, out of being the 8th largest city, to make us number nine. ~ San Francisco was coming from behind in 10th position. ~ The New York Central R. R. was planning its Exchange Street Station, Denton Cottiers & Daniels was already pedaling organs on Court Street and the Larkin Soap Company had everything from soup to nuts available as premium gifts for using their bubbly products. ~ Their catalog was almost as varied as the newly started Sears catalog. ~ President Taft was in office and statehood was being proposed for Arizona and New Mexico. ~ The "Thomas Flyer" was being built by the Thomas Motor Company of 1200 Niagara Street, Al Jolson was playing at Sheas that week and Haley's comet was about to flick its tail across the earth in what some expected to be the end of the world. ~ Now with age comes perspective; all that just wasn't that far back at all.


It was the day of the long awaited launching; a day of spring like temperature and bright sunshine. ~ Thousands of cheering spectators swarmed over every nearby dock. ~ They crowded onto the deck of the nearby steamer Gilchrist and filled the windows of the Mutual and other adjacent grain elevators. ~ The launching of a large ship was a tremendous sight to see. ~ Massive hulls, hundreds of feet in length, careening down the ways and over the edge of the dock into the water. ~ As the ships plunged down into the slip, they often rolled and some seemed as though they would go completely over and capsize. ~ When the ships hit, the deluge that inundated the far side was a sight to behold. ~ The people that turned out to witness this launching ceremony had been gathering for hours. ~ The crowd was so great that Captain Miller and a large detail of police from the Louisiana St. station had their hands full.

A large platform, that was filled with people, had been built at the bow of our ship to hold the dignitaries and guests; its rickety appearance somewhat camouflaged by bolts of white cloth strung along the railings. ~ The launching privilege was given to Mrs. Edward Smith, wife of a man who was both a director of the Lake Erie Excursion Co. and president of the Buffalo Dry Dock Co. ~ Gathered around her on the platform were Messrs. Edward Smith and Edward Smith Jr., President and superintendent respectively of the Buffalo Dry-Dock Company. ~ Mr. & Mrs. H. P. Rogers, Captain & Mrs. J. J. H. Brown, Mr. & Mrs. Harry L. Brown and his wife, Captain Benjamin A. Cowles, Captain William Fox, Captain Hugh McAlpine, of the steamer "City of Erie", Harry V. Bisgood, Vice-Commodore of the Interlake Yachting association; C. H. Bradley and other Cleveland directors of the American Shipbuilding Company. ~ Distinguished Canadian visitors included Alfred Wilson, Reeve and Mr. John Young of Ridgeway Ont., W. E. German, K. E., M. P. & H. M. Morwood of Welland Ont., Mr. & Mrs. George A.Ricker, Mr. & Mrs. J. H. Brain, Mrs. Joseph McGuire and others. ~ The General Manager of the Lake Erie Excursion Company, Mr. Henry S. Fisher, was unable to attend because of illness.

At 3:30 p.m. the S. S. Canadiana was launched. ~ Mrs. Smith breaks the bottle of Champaign against the hull and the Canadiana slides gracefully down greased ways and into the water in one of the most successful launchings Buffalo had ever seen. ~ As the new steamer hit the water, a flag bearing the name "Canadiana" unfurls from her masthead, and the crowds ashore cheer.

Carmella M. Boland of 53 Roble Avenue was cheering especially loud and she had more reason than most. ~ She submitted the winning entry in a name-the-boat contest, winning $10.00 in gold and a seasons pass to Crystal Beach. ~ "Britannia" submitted by Miss Agnes Crowley of 335 Vermont St. and "United Shores" submitted by Mrs. George A. Bomm of 414 Hoyt St. took second and third prize, but "Canadiana" is to live in the hearts of Western New Yorkers for the next half century and beyond.

(pictures of launching to be placed here.)

As was the practice, the Canadiana was launched minus the superstructure. ~ The steel hull was complete; painted white above and black below the waterline. ~ The engine was installed and skeletal steel supports for the upper decking were in place. ~ There was still the entire three decks of wooden superstructure to add with all interior finishing; the boilers, the stack housing, stack and other steel work, the rest of the plumbing and piping, the electrical, wood staining and painting and many other jobs too numerous to mention. ~ When the ship was totally built, the time would come to outfit the ship with hardware. ~ The lifeboat davits and lifeboats along with all the other necessary items to be attached, mounted and stored throughout the ship. ~ With all this, it will take just three and a half months to complete the job. ~ It is constant construction with three shifts of all the men necessary to get it done.

Crystal Beach opened on May 28th in 1910. ~ This was always an exciting day and was looked forward to every summer. ~ The big pier at the park had been extended another 30 ft. to enable the handling of the additional large boat in the coming season. ~ General manager Fisher has appointed Mr. George H. Stagg as Excursion Agent for the Lake Erie Excursion Co. ~ George had previously been the ticket agent for Mr. Rebstock and the Crystal Beach Line. ~ The Canadiana's construction was progressing with the boilers in place and the salon work finished. ~ There had been hopes that the launching could have occurred earlier and she would have been ready to sail at this time but it was not to be.

After sea trials in May and the construction finally completed, the Canadiana made her initial voyage to Crystal Beach on June 30th. ~ About three thousand invited guests of the Lake Erie Excursion Company were to enjoy the first trip of the Canadiana from the foot of Main Street across the lake to the park that afternoon. ~ The weather was simply perfect for the excursion, there being only the faintest of breezes on an almost mirror-like lake. ~ It was warm, but the swift, easy action of the big steamer created an added breeze that rendered dancing on the two roomy decks delightful. ~ On both the Americana and the Canadiana, the music is furnished by the 74th Regiment Orchestra and their dancing decks are very smooth and spacious. ~ The Canadiana and her sister ship have the largest dance floors of any passenger steamers on the Great Lakes. ~ One of the numbers played by the orchestra under the direction of John W. Bolton was the march "Canadiana". ~ This tune was especially composed in honor of the new boat and for this maiden voyage by Irving Tallis. ~ Mr. Tallis ran a well known music publishing house in Buffalo and copies of the march were presented to ladies as a pretty souvenir of the trip.

* * photo of the sheet music to be placed here. * *

The Buffalo Times reported the next day; "On both the trip over and the return, the mechanism worked with satisfying regularity; not a screw nor a nut gave trouble. ~ The steamer left the dock at the foot of Illinois Street at 2:40 p.m. and pushing her prow through all types of craft in the harbor, each giving off its own toot, shriek or wheeze, she received a bedlam of gratifying salutes from all sides. ~ Her progress down the river was greeted enthusiastically by bustling tugs and motorboats and as she turned into the lake and headed for the Canadian shore, huge freighters paid her homage by deep-toned blasts. ~ She put in at Crystal Beach one hour and twenty minutes later. ~ Her sister ship, Americana, was leaving the Canadian side as the new steamer headed for the pier. ~ Salutes filled the air for several minutes accompanied by a frantic waving of handkerchiefs. ~ The guests were given an hour ashore, and the return trip was then made.

Her fittings are beautiful, the arrangements perfect, her seaworthiness unquestioned and the entire apportionment all that could be desired in an excursion steamer. ~ Even the most timid may enjoy a ride on these steamers which are absolutely safe. ~ They are fitted out with automatic fire and man-overboard signal stations at various points so that the captains and engineers can be immediately notified in case of accident."

Among the guests were many men prominent in transportation circles both in this city and in Cleveland. ~ Most of the officials of the Lake Erie Excursion Company were aboard, including Henry S. Fisher who had a busy time showing off the good points of the boat. ~ The Canadiana, was a near duplicate of the steamer Americana, which was brought out two years earlier and had proven to be very satisfactory in every way. ~ The boat is 216 feet long, 45 feet across the hull and 56 feet wide over all. ~ Her steel hull is number 215 and the ship is licensed to carry 3500 passengers. ~ She has a Detroit built, triple-expansion engine and boiler combination, number 1225, putting out 1446 horsepower, six water tight bulkheads, four trimming tanks and two Scotch boilers, 13'2'' by 11'6'', equipped with force draft. ~ Scotch boilers being the type that drew fire through piping placed horizontally through the water tank. ~ The cylinders are 20, 32, and 50 inches across, with a 36 inch stroke. ~ She weighs in at 974 tons gross and cost $250,000 to build. ~ Her official U. S. boat number is 207479. ~ Designed by Frank Kirby, the Canadiana is only slightly different from his previous creation, the Americana. ~ Most of the plans for building the Canadiana were in fact, Americana blueprints that had that ships name crossed out and Canadiana written in. ~ Some differences to look for if attempting to tell them apart were that the Canadiana had a Captains quarters attached to the wheel house and the Americana did not until one was added in 1920. ~ The Canadiana had ten windows along the enclosed section of the first deck and the Americana had twelve on the one side and thirteen on the other. ~ There were also vent locations and other minor changes made by way of improvement when building the Canadiana.

The salons and lounges are furnished in mahogany with all painted decorations being done by a local Buffalo artist. ~ The crew's quarters are complete with a large galley and mess, showers and four bathrooms; three ahead and one astern. ~ The estimated speed is eighteen to twenty miles an hour. ~ She was lighted with over one thousand D. C. voltage 8 candle power lights and, as we know, it was designed specifically and especially for the Buffalo to Crystal Beach route.

(Interior shots of the Canadiana to be placed here.)

George S. Riley, who has been captain of the Americana for the last two seasons, has been appointed Captain of the Canadiana. ~ Edward K. Carmichael is purser and William Steen, First Engineer of the new boat.

Manager Fisher said "Our many patrons naturally take great pride in the Canadiana and the Americana, which are the finest and largest excursion steamers on the lakes. ~ The management of the Lake Erie Excursion Company, owners of Crystal Beach, extended a cordial invitation for all Buffalonians to visit the steamer to view her superb furnishings and equipment. ~ Many of the public did visit the ship after its return between 7 and 10 p.m. that evening.

The Lake Erie Excursion Company ran the boat and the park until the economy caused their downfall in 1924. ~ They were then bought out by some local businessmen; George C. Hall and Charles A. Laube (of Old Spain fame) and Mr. Diebold. ~ These three men formed the Buffalo and Crystal Beach Company and operation of the park and the ship was transferred. ~ Laube's Midway Restaurant continued to operate at the park for years but as the bonds were being paid off, George was also buying out the other men and he had taken the park over completely by 1950.

The Canadiana was to sail the lake over many years bringing happiness to all. ~ There were many days with rough seas, and other exciting and dramatic moments but over the years, she came through it all with what amounts to no problem to ship or passenger. ~ It is this very reason our Canadiana, the "Crystal Beach Boat", has become so loved. ~ She was always there to brighten our lives and to give us the ever lasting pleasure of remembering good times gone by.

The tales to tell of the ship and its riders seem to be endless. ~ We have collected a number of stories of happenings that occurred over the years on and about the ship. ~ We're sure every one of you could add one more. ~ We're sorry the collecting had to stop to get the book published. ~ Collecting these personal bits of history was one of the most enjoyable parts of putting it together. ~ The events and other information was gathered mostly by word of mouth; interviews and such, then later verified where possible through newspaper archives, etc. ~ A few are still in the domain of simply "probable" but it really matters little. ~ The ship was here and the tales are what the ship produced. They are akin to "folklore".

Our ship performed and assisted in many life saving operations during her lifetime. ~ People overboard from boats and similar dire circumstances. ~ On July 7th in 1913, a close call developed, for two men in a canoe, when their canoe was swamped by waves and they were both put into the lake. ~ Their rescue involved both the Canadiana and Americana. ~ As the events unfolded it was, by way of bad weather and the almost slap-stick events which transpired, to be as dangerous for the rescuers, their ships and passengers as it was for those in the water. ~ The two canoe club members; Earl Zahn and Russell E. Kief, were finishing a three day canoe trip that had started at Delaware lake. ~ They had gone down the Scajaquada Creek to the lake and over to Port Colborne on the Canadian side. ~ On their return trip they stopped at Crystal Beach for a few hours and then started out for Buffalo on the last leg of the trip. ~ When they were a fair distance out on the lake they found the storm they had heard was coming was really there and it was quite a bit nastier than they had anticipated. ~ The two men were being blown along toward Buffalo without even needing to paddle but they could barely keep the craft from being flooded by the waves. ~ They were about a mile and a half off Ft. Erie, and attempting to make for shore, when a huge wave broke over the canoe and they were swamped. ~ The two men were in the water for two and a half hours. ~ They were weary and numb with cold. ~ Capt. Johnson of the Americana spotted them clinging to the overturned canoe as the boat was sailing towards Buffalo. ~ At the same time a women passenger aboard the Americana saw them and started yelling, "they're sinking, they're sinking". ~ Now all the other passengers thought she meant their boat and when the engine stopped, it convinced everyone they were. ~ Passengers started yanking down the orange vest style life-preservers strung overhead and began rushing for the upper decks. ~ As the Americana lost its forward motion, the big ship began to roll and toss in the crests and troughs of the waves. ~ A good many of the women among the two thousand people aboard became hysterical. ~ Five fainted away and had to be cared for in the ship's hospital. ~ First Mate Brooks, Patrol McMullen and Purser Paul tried in vain for several minutes to quiet the passengers and finally got the crowd to settle down.

Capt. Johnson gave the order for a lifeboat to be lowered and Watchman Fred Macy, Wheelsman Thomas Ryan and deckhands Jack Frankenberg, Robert Bailey and Frank Diamond, along with an unidentified passenger went to the task. ~ All of the men jumped into the lifeboat as it was suspended from the davits on the top deck. ~ As the ship was lowered down the side of the ship toward the water and with the waves tossing the Canadiana all around, the lifeboat was repeatedly smashed against the hull and the men ended up battered and bleeding. ~ That was the first try but they were not done in. ~ In lowering a second boat, the rope broke dumping them onto the deck. ~ On a third attempt they were smarter; a boat was lowered to the water first and then men jumped in. ~ The Americana stood away from the canoe about 1000 ft while the lifeboat made the attempt in the rough sea to reach it. ~ The Canadiana just out of Buffalo on a moonlight cruise with about 1500 people aboard, came off route to assist. ~ Later, the United Shores of the Erie Beach Line arrived and Capt. Hugh Harrity of the lifesaving station heard of the trouble and he sent out the power boat. ~ They all circled and stood ready to help where needed. ~ As the lifeboat attempted to get close, the Canadiana turned her stern towards the canoe and with a high prop speed, washed the canoe within ropes length of the lifeboat. ~ The lifeboat threw a line to the men and began hauling one of them in. ~ While this was going on, the lifeboat and the canoe with the other man again separated by quite a distance.

The Canadiana at this point, was in a protective broadside position affording some calm area of sea to the small boats and was taking the brunt of the waves herself and under minimal forward motion. ~ An additional danger she was in was the crush of passenger spectators to her one side making for an unstable situation. ~ Crew members say she shipped water on her lower deck. ~ It took another twenty minutes of maneuvering before the second man was aboard the lifeboat. ~ Capt. Johnson not daring to take the lifeboat aboard in the heavy sea, ordered a thick rope to be thrown to the boat and strung them out 50 ft behind the Americana. ~ The rescuers and the rescued were then given the ride of their life. ~ One time poised on the crest of a wave above the deck of the Americana, then out of sight in a trough, they were towed into the harbor with the passengers cheering words of encouragement to the little boat all the way back. ~ At the dock the rescued pair was rubbed down, given "stimulants" and put to bed in the crews quarters to heat back up and recuperate. ~ They remained there while their clothing dried and the Americana made another round trip to the beach. ~ Everyone finally walked off the ship smiling and shaking hands all around.

In the 40's and during the war years, another rescue came about when the Canadiana retrieved one of her own passengers from the drink. ~ A pretty young lady in a print dress had received some distressing news about her fiancé on the front and decided to end it all. ~ Once on the lake, she climbed over the railing and jumped. ~ It was a nice day and calm water so she was saved on that attempt with little problem. ~ Hopefully she decided against any further tries.

In the early thirties there was a man who enjoyed throwing handfuls of change to the kids on the ship. ~ The children would be gleefully laughing and squealing as they scrambled around on the deck for the nickels and dimes and they would get to enjoy a little extra fun at the park with their share of this unexpected treasure. ~ The time came though when someone chased a rolling coin right to the side of the ship. ~ A young girl was in the way of the lad who was after it and she got bumped right into the drink. ~ Jerry Kelleher, a deckhand, saw her go over and not wasting a moments time; dove right into the lake behind her. ~ Because of his instant action she was saved and back on the ship in no time, but we don't know if the girl made it to the beach that day.

An unfortunate story to tell is that of a small yellow plane which dove into the lake less than 100 feet from the Canadiana; killing the pilot. ~ The plane left an oil slick to mark where it entered the water off Windmill Point and it disappeared into the 50 foot depth. ~ It was an RCAF Harvard trainer, out of Dunville, Ont., on a routine training flight with a young English pilot at the controls. ~ The Canadiana immediately radioed the authorities and two Coast Guard boats were dispatched to the scene. ~ One was a high powered rescue launch and one containing grappling and rescue apparatus. ~ Thomas Fagan, the First Officer of the Canadiana, said the plane or one similar to it had been "stunting" around the boat several times during the day and frequently during the last week. ~ "A couple of times we thought he was trying to knock off our flagpole." ~ It was June 21st 1943 and the Canadiana was carrying a large crowd of weekend passengers, many of whom had been cheering the plain and its antics but then witnessed the crash. ~ First Officer Fagen who was on watch at the time, said the plane stunted for some time before it "apparently hit an air pocket". ~ There was no explosion. ~ It went into the water by dropping unexpectedly as it flew alongside the ship."

It never came up and in a minute or so the oil slick started to form on the water. ~ The Canadiana stopped, backed up and hove to. ~ They lowered a boat but there was no sign of the plane or pilot. ~ An oil tanker came off course to be of assistance but there was nothing either could do. ~ They remained on site until the Coast Guard boats arrived.

Watchman Frank Diamond, who was stationed forward on the starboard side of the Canadiana's main deck had the closest view of the accident. ~ He said that "the pilot had circled around the boat seven or eight times and the kids and other passengers were all waving to him.". ~ "He was very low. ~ I saw the plane raise itself up a little, then it dropped and hit the water like a cannon going off. ~ It made a huge splash, and I saw the wings bend and rip off. ~ It was between 75 and 100 feet away. ". ~ Everyone said later that while it certainly was a shame, such a young man had been killed, he could have hit the ship with all the kids aboard and with the gas liable to explode, it could have been a much more terrible disaster.

Lieutenant Theodore C. Merckens, who had been preparing to take off from the Buffalo airport on another mission, was dispatched to the crash site. ~ He cruised the area for 45 minutes but was unable to see any trace of the plane or it's occupant through the lake water.

When the Coast Guard arrived, the Canadiana departed, along with the tanker, for the remainder of their trips. ~ The cutter Crocus under Lieut. Russell H. Berg, continued to grapple on through the day and, under powerful lights, until 12:30am that night when they located the plane with the pilot still in it. ~ The body of the young pilot was turned over to the Canadian authorities the next day.

The war was reason for much remorse at home as well as on the front but our boat was there to provide some degree of relief. ~ During the war there was gas rationing which kept people from driving anywhere for entertainment but the boat gave them an alternative, and people made big use of it. ~ Memorial Day of 1943, for instance, saw the largest crowds at the beach and on the boat to that date. ~ An extra run was made to bring them all home at the end of the day and a large police force from the Franklin Street precinct was kept busy late into the night directing the crowds and traffic on lower main.

The war years also saw the Production Division of the U.S.O. doing their thing here at home. ~ People like Margaret H. Dunn, Rita Magner and Joan Nasca provided entertainment and events for the war workers in this area in what were to the war effort essentially moral boosters and pep rallies. ~ One such event occurred on the Canadiana in July of 1943 as it had been advertised on the backs of busses for many weeks. ~ Several hundred shift working women from the aircraft plants along with their servicemen quests were treated to a 3 hour nighttime cruise on the Canadiana with music by Gene Regan and his orchestra. ~ "Rosie the Riveter", as the aircraft plant women were called, relaxed and danced on the lake from 2 until 5:00 am while the rest of Buffalo slept.

Then one memorable day, August 15th 1945, as the Canadiana was returning from the beach, the passengers were presented with all kinds of noises from shore and the ship itself. ~ Every siren, bell and horn in Buffalo was going off and the people on the bridge of the Canadiana were pulling the rope for the whistle. ~ Everyone on board had to wait till reaching shore to find out what was going on. ~ It was V-J Day; the end of the war, but the Canadiana crew members apparently thought it best if the crowd got on shore before they found out what the noise was all about.

There were three hour lake cruises over all the years that went up towards Port Colborne and turned around. ~ A nice slow trip on the lake for dancing and romancing. ~ These were most remembered as Sunday nights but they also occurred on occasional Thursday and Friday nights. ~ The cruises offered not only dancing but vaudeville entertainment. ~ Floor shows that were produced by Wally Cluck during the thirties and forties featured many of the likes of Dan Stranger and Tommy Reed an RKO comedian and impressionist. ~ Stranger played 2 part harmony on a clarinet and sax while simultaneously dancing to his own music. ~ There were singers, acrobatics dancers, baton twirlers, tumblers and Emcee's like Myra-Jeanne, Rita Parker, Cheryl & Phillips, Margaret Jones, Betty Collins, Eleanor Kaye, Val Williams, Terry Lane, Janice Reise, Joe Little and many more. ~ The ship had been equipped with an Auditorium Orthophonic Victrola by the late 20's to fill in while the orchestra was on break and also to provide the special background music sometimes needed for these groups. ~ The two large square speaker horns were mounted high on either side of the stage and they remained, although unused in later years, until the end.

Cruises on the lake are beautiful and peaceful ways to spend your time. ~ They have always been desirable and always will be. ~ We here in Buffalo were the luckiest in having such a ship for the entire summer but cities down the lake however, did not. ~ So when the Canadiana's work was done here, groups in those cities often commissioned her to come and give them some time. ~ Many times the Canadiana booked cruises and visited those other cities like Erie and Cleveland for a period of post Labor Day cruising. ~ She would keep going if she was wanted, until the down bound temperatures sent her home.

There was a once-a-week 3 hour cruise provided for the Canadians as well as the one that was provided for us. ~ Theirs was on Sunday also; ahead of ours, between 3 and 6 p.m. ~ This had been the practice for many years. ~ It started because of the religious background of the park and the Canadian Blue Laws which kept the beach closed on Sundays. ~ Later, when the rules were loosened, it adjusted to accommodate the beach trips and sometimes combined a return trip with the cruise. ~ With the Canadian shipping regulations and Canadian Customs requirements, there were some unusual stipulations for the boat to comply with. ~ It was allowed to operate as a trans-lake ferry only. ~ It was not permitted to go from point to point along the Canadian shore. ~ Only from the U.S. to one point on the Canadian shore and back to the U.S. ~ This concept also applied to those trips that originated on the Canadian side. ~ The load of Canadians could leave their shore but they could not return. ~ That is; directly. ~ They had to first go to another country and this of course amounted to the U.S. and Buffalo. ~ They accomplished the technicality of touching the U.S. shore by coming in the river and nosing the Canadiana into the dock. ~ Then; using the dock as a pivot point, they swung the rear of the ship around in the river and headed right back out.

On these trips, with the Canadian liquor laws being what they were, there were many who used the trip as the equivalent to a visit to the local pub. ~ To that end, it was about their only option. ~ Canada; up through the fifties, had separate, male only, beer rooms and you sat at a table, there were no bars nor stools nor 'stand up' drinking. ~ They even closed down for dinner hour. ~ The patrons were supposed to go home for a good meal and then perhaps come back again later if they were able to get out. ~ We think a good many did not go home.

In hotel and other dining rooms, mixed drinks and couples were allowed. ~ Food was required as part of this deal so here, if the dining room was mainly used for drinking purposes, there was usually a dried out sandwich sitting in front of everyone. ~ You were billed for a sandwich but many were around so long they may have been passed from customer to customer. ~ On these 3 hour Canadiana cruises; it is said by some and refuted by others, the usual whiskey glasses were replaced with ones of slightly smaller capacity because the people weren't going to argue about some minor detail; they were just happy to be there.

Music and dancing was always provided as a major attraction of the boat over the years. ~ You paid to dance at the beach but it was free on the boat. ~ It was the ONLY place to dance for some. ~ The big name bands who appeared on her stage were all the greats such as Cab Calloway, Eddie Duchin, Paul Whiteman, Duke Ellington, Guy Lombardo and Harold Arlen. ~ Arlen; ie Hyman Arlick, was a Buffalo native who had lived on Spring Street. ~ After starting his career as a singer, piano player and arranger aboard the Canadiana; he moved to New York City and made his fame by composing such tunes as Stormy Weather, all the music of The Wizard of Oz, That Old Black Magic, It's Only A Paper Moon and many other great pieces. ~ Warner Bullock played in Arlens South town Shufflers Orchestra on the Canadiana in 1925 and 1926. ~ He was probably the longest living member of Arlens orchestra when we talked in 1988 but has since then, joined the rest of the group. ~ The men played every night and made $80.00 a week to divide, plus their dinners on the boat. ~ Warner played the Soprano Sax among other horns. ~ He would set the clarinet and the others on their flared ends in front of him when not in use and they stood there, like tall tin soldiers in a row. ~ Warner said it was their Captains nightly effort, as he docked the ship for the final time, to try and knock down those horns with a little extra heavy bump on the dock. ~ (Include photo.) Warner is on the left in the photo and the rest of the group to his right consisted of Ray Wisler, Stan Meyers, Arlen on the piano, Joe Rosen on drums and Ralph LaGardia holding the uke.

Over the years many different dance types and styles went through their vogue. ~ Even "Jeep"; you may remember as a big footed character from the Popeye cartoon strip had his own dance for a period in '39-'40. ~ There were "Jeep" shoes to go with it and it was a rowdy type of dance where couples made jumping type steps as they erratically traversed the dance floor. ~ The "NO JEEPING" sign is well remembered. ~ "Jeepers" were a hazard to themselves and all the other couples on the floor.

We all of course remember Harold Austin's band. ~ In giving due mention; Harold was preceded by Angie Maggio and his group, the Four Horsemen. ~ Angie held sway on the boat for some years through prohibition but it was Austin's orchestra who became the boats' "official" music makers from the early thirties and on till the end in 1956. ~ Harold's orchestra consisted of from 10 to 16 pieces at various times; all fitting very snugly along with the piano on the small Canadiana stage. ~ They had their own singers too, a girl by the name of Pat Gallagher in the forties and earlier there was Lorna Layne and also the very popular Herman "Tiny" Schwarz. ~ "Tiny" who sang with Austin in the mid thirties for $2.00 a night is well remembered from his years on the boat. ~ He is as well known for his appearances at the Delwood Ballroom on Main and Utica, the Auf Wiedersehen at Harlem and Cleveland Drive, the Sheas and Chez Ami downtown and other spots around town. ~ There were many beautiful Sunday nights on the lake that were made all the more memorable by Mr. Austin and his ensemble. ~ The big red posters used to say; "Take your date dancing under the magic stars. ~ A 3-hour moonlight lake ride every Sunday at 8:15 p.m. Enchanting music by Harold Austin's Orchestra. ~ Refreshments served aboard! Boat leaves foot of Commercial Street.".

That first summer of 1910 began what were to become annual outings on the Crystal Beach Boat for many groups and neighborhoods around Buffalo. ~ The Buffalo Times newspaper "Children's Day at Crystal Beach" was held on July 8th of 1910 with the children's fare being 10 cents for a round trip and those under 7 traveling free. ~ From there it grew. ~ Once each year the Canadiana would be sailing up the river to the foot of Robinson Street at the Bennett Lumber dock in North Tonawanda and pick up everyone for "Crystal Beach Day". ~ It did the same thing for Black Rock as well as South Buffalo, the combined four Genesee/Jefferson/Walden/Moselle Streets businessmen associations and many other neighborhoods, churches, businesses and clubs who had their special day with their special friends. ~ An interesting sidelight regarding these outings developed rather early. ~ With all the free and reduced price benefits available to these groups, there was an obvious attempt to limit the "scalping" or resale of unused tickets and passes to the general public coming down Commercial St. to the dock and the boat. ~ This cut into the normal profits expected from the regular business and the practice would certainly grow if permitted. ~ As early as 1922, special group tickets included the stipulation "Must be purchased north of Seneca St. or east of Washington St., otherwise ticket is void.". ~ By 1929 this had been revised to include all of Buffalo; "on day of picnic".

These tickets and many other items that were put out by the boat and the beach over the years have become collectors items today. ~ A few of the unique handouts were pennants, photo folders, matchbooks, commemorative coins, olive fork stir sticks, playing cards, license plate plaques hankies and china. ~ Anything from tickets for the boat rides as well as photographs, postcards and anything else connected to the boat and beach are now in the realm of the collectible.

Many of you will remember Jack Eno, of WEBR radio. ~ He was on the air until 1975 but went back into the 1940's. ~ Jack had a variety of programs over the years from the station and also from places like the Westbrooke Hotel with "Listen While You Lunch" or the Alpine Village with "The German Jamboree". ~ He had everything from current events and interviews to music and questions, quizzes and puzzles where listeners could call in and win prizes. ~ You might remember "The Sound of the City" or The Musical Food Basket" where the prizes was food. ~ Jack had a large family; it grew to be five girls and three boys. ~ This brought on the desire so he had a day at the beach for all families in Buffalo with six or more children. ~ It was totally free with everything paid for by WEBR.

Those everyday departures from the foot of Commercial Street and elsewhere over the years brought people to the boat in every way imaginable. ~ Walking, horseback, carriage, car, trolley and bus. ~ Many people even came by train. ~ This was the DL&W with its large and grand terminal at the foot of Main Street; now mostly gone and what's left is the home to Metro-rail. ~ The tracks to the depot crossed Commercial Street and the train would stop topside to discharge large crowds of fun seekers who walked down the ramp to Commercial Street and the boat. (Photo here)

The Canadiana dock at the foot of Commercial street was not in the best of neighborhoods. ~ The history of that area is documented in another book by the W.N.Y. Heritage Institute. ~ You can read in that book that when the Erie Canal was in full swing, with a peak around 1870-75, Buffalo's Canal Street, tobacco spitting distance from our dock, was known to be the most dangerous few blocks in the entire world. ~ Murder was an everyday thing. ~ There were something like 75 saloons in 50 buildings. ~ This is where the end of the Erie Canal met the end of the Great Lakes, and where everyone got paid. ~ It was on a par or worse than Shanghai and all the other hell holes of the world. ~ Things got somewhat better over the years as the waterfront activity declined and the dilapidated tenements, saloons and 'houses' were torn down but it retained it's basic attitude for quite some time. ~ It was a baaad place. ~ We came later and in crowds and seeking fun, so most of us perhaps never looked too closely at Commercial Street or the neighborhood itself but it was predominantly an Italian neighborhood and it was poverty stricken. ~ The depression and other problems had devastated areas like these. ~ On quieter nights when crowds were small, the people who ran the boat used to carry on, what amounted to, a little public relations with the local people. ~ We would rather think it wasn't exactly for that slightly crass reason but rather that the crew and their neighbors actually got to know and like each other. ~ That also certainly seems very likely. ~ The crew would take on a group of people they knew from the area and hustle them up to the Texas deck; the very top of the ship, for a free ride to the beach and back. ~ There might be a dozen or so up there having a grand old time throwing their fingers at each other and yelling loudly as they played the Italian game "Mora" the entire round trip. ~ No one can say what problems this jewel of a ship may have encountered being tied up on the river at night without the friendship that existed between the locals and the crew. ~ As is was, neither the boat now the passenger autos parked nearby, ever become the targets for the vandalism or theft that one may have expected. ~ But then again; it was a better time.

Nickel slot machines were on the boat for quite some time prior to 1950 and perhaps even from the beginning. ~ They would be covered and locked from sight when the ship was at the docks, on either side of the lake, but when out on the water a ways, these "One Arm Bandits" were a popular form of entertainment. ~ They were in the 2nd deck salon and on the 1st deck along the stretches of wall that formed the rest areas and cabins on either side of the ship. ~ With those across the aisles from the enclosed beer counter; you could hop up on the chair provided, plug and pull for the entire trip and yell for a beer if you got thirsty. ~ We always had the thought of hopping up there ourselves and trying to pull that arm, but for me, it was "not for children".

Each afternoon the boat would leave the dock in Buffalo with its load of children and mothers for some fun at the beach. But, by the time many of them got there, the moms were broke. ~ Lots of those kiddies went without their kiddy land and simply stood around watching others, during their day at the beach. ~ The Courier Express(?), upon hearing of this problem, did some editorializing on the issue and the three lemons, cherries, bells or bars were never to line up again.

George Hall Sr., shrewd one that he was, had always maintained that the central area of the lake was the equivalent to the high seas; that out there they were in international waters and under neither countries laws. ~ That had allowed him some freedom with the alcohol and gambling regulations, which George would have had to comply with sooner rather than later. ~ Apparently there were many people on both sides of the border hereabouts who didn't care to argue the point about "open seas". ~ Everyone was enjoying the boat and the alternatives it offered. ~ Not until there was a problem was anything said. ~ The newspaper had no difficulty in pointing out that there was, in fact, just a line drawn in the water, just as on land, dividing the two countries. ~ You are in one country or the other; never neither. ~ The Buffalo police showed up at the boat the next day or two, with sledgehammers in hand, the slots were taken off and smashed to pieces on the dock. ~ Some say that a few that made it into the ticket office building and that these are still around today.

Early on; before the Americana left for Rye Beach in New York City in 1929, during the winters and because of space problems with two ships at their dock, the Canadiana was brought to the "Little River", between Tonawanda Island and the mainland. ~ It tied up at the foot of Thompson Street near an ancient wooden swing bridge. ~ That old bridge used to be the only connection to the island and carried everything across its span. ~ Trains, automobiles, tractor-trailers and pedestrians. ~ It was only one lane wide and everything had to wait for the other direction to clear in order to use it. ~ That bridge partially burned in 1971 and everything on the island had to stay put for awhile. ~ Businesses went into neutral and people went without their cars for a day or two. ~ That incident pointed out the need for a more reliable connection and it has since been replaced by a modern span. ~ This new bridge now traverses the old docking area of the Canadiana. ~ It is a few blocks from Robinson Street, where the Canadiana picked up the North Tonawanda Day people in the summer. ~ The Canadiana went up the canal that extended from the upper end of the Buffalo Harbor, all along the Niagara River, into Tonawanda. ~ This canal has since been filled in; it took twenty years. ~ This filled in and flat path is now put to various uses by the Niagara branch of the Thruway, Isle View and Niawanda Parks and others over the entire length.

In the little river, the Canadiana was looked after, repaired and cleaned up for the coming season. ~ There were people by the name of William and Mary Ann (O'Neil) Hadden who every year from 1910 until 1927 put a prefab house on board and moved into it over the winter. ~ William was a Millwright at Bennett Lumber and had contributed greatly to the construction of the ship. ~ Members of his family say the boat "was the love of his life". ~ They moved into this house which was a very substantial structure and lived aboard the Canadiana during the winter, as though it was their normal home. ~ The kids went to school from it, it was their mailing address and everything was as normal as any other home. ~ There was a living room, dining room and there were bedroom areas with bunk beds and a kitchen with a big stove. ~ They had guests at times and Mrs. Hadden even gave birth to a baby boy on board the Canadiana. ~ His name was George and George was one of three sons and four daughters. ~ At the time of this writing, Robert, Angeline and Loretta are deceased while Francis and Marion are living in Florida. ~ Clara is still here in North Tonawanda. ~ Unfortunately they do not look pleasantly on these memories. ~ Apparently they were mocked in school about living on a boat, and in the past a journalist who interviewed them, made references to their "cardboard" house.


The Canadiana originally burned coal for fuel and then later was converted to oil. ~ While it was still using coal the Yates Coal Company truck would pull up to the foot of Commercial street in the early mornings or in later years it was the West Shore Fuel Scow, loaded with coal, that would tie up alongside the Canadiana and the big motorized wheelbarrows were brought out. ~ The coal was soft coal and in size it consisted of everything from pieces needing two hands to hold down to slack dust. ~ Each wheelbarrow load was in the neighborhood of 500 pounds but were easily handled by one man. ~ He would turn on the power and run it up the forward gangplank to the center of the first deck and dump the coal into the bunkers through hatches in the steel deck. ~ Even though each held a quarter ton, it took many, many wheelbarrow loads to fill those bunkers. ~ Our ship used quite a bit of coal in running back and forth on those short trips as it did. ~ Smoke was the biggest reason it was not run as efficiently as possible. ~ Buffalo was not as tough on the ships in the harbor as other cities like Chicago and Cleveland but there were still regulations to require ships to keep the smoke down to a minimum. ~ There could be heavy fines imposed if they didn't. ~ In doing so; much coal was wasted.

The usual routine was that, as our ship was returning from Crystal Beach and about two thirds of the way home, the firemen would throw about 5 or 6 ton of coal into the furnaces. ~ Each firebox was about 6 ft. deep by 4 ft. wide and there were four of them, two under each boiler. ~ Coal was brought from the bunkers by men called coal passers and dumped it on the floor of the boiler room in front of the furnaces. ~ The firemen would then shovel it into the fireboxes when and where needed. ~ This five ton was put in on the lake specifically to burn off the smoke before reaching Buffalo and was the process known as "banking". ~ While differences in coal sometimes defeated the timing, this 'green' coal would usually be done smoking as they passed the breakwater and entered the harbor. ~ While the ship was in the harbor, no new coal could be placed on the fires or it would smoke like mad again. ~ The large supply of hot coals would keep the boiler up until they got back out on the lake and were heading to the beach again. ~ If they needed more or less heat to maintain the required 185 pounds of steam pressure while in the harbor, draft plates were opened or closed and a blower could be turned on when needed. ~ Once on the lake again and immediately after passing the breakwaters, these large beds of burning coal had to be broke up and removed from the furnaces before they snuffed themselves out. ~ They were by this time, about done with their ability to do any good. ~ The coal had been turning to ash but in the bank situation the ash was not removed. ~ Sometimes some of the coal even melted down and formed stone like deposits. ~ All of this was packing down on the grates and eliminating the air flow. ~ All four fireboxes had been banked. ~ Now, in staggered sequence, the fire in one firebox, then the other, of each boiler was pulled out onto the floor. ~ This was the still burning coal along with all the ashes. The whole pile was immediately doused with water hoses. ~ The grates had to be cleared of ash and clinkers; the melted coal was broke off with bars. ~ It was a real "hell of a place". ~ Red hot coals, black soot, sparks, steam, heat, and sweat but they all loved it. ~ The crews took pride in their work. ~ As oil fuel became to be used more and more, the coal burning crews wanted to make their ship "look like an oil burner"; coming in with no visible smoke. ~ When oil was first coming into use, many of those engineers and firemen of coal burners on the lakes would strive to 'show up' the oil burners. ~ If they saw a oil burning, passenger liner coming over the horizon, they would work the fire to eliminate the smoke. ~ They wanted those oil burning crews to be impressed and not able to make remarks about them and their smoke as they passed. ~ The Canadiana engineers and boiler crew did receive compliments about their ability to keep it down in the harbor.

Most of the old 'banked' fire was taken out after leaving the harbor except for a small portion which was kept in place to start the new coal. ~ With all the heat that was retained in the firebricks inside the furnace it didn't take much. ~ In no time, a good new fire was burning hotly and the boat was smoking mightily. ~ These new fires were hot and they could be stoked and raked to clear the ashes as needed. ~ They could be kept going indefinitely without wasting unburned coal, as was done with banking, but on the way back, it started all over again.

To eliminate all that unburned coal and ash from the floor of the boiler room there was a system devised to raise it above the water line and to dump it overboard. ~ A very high- pressure pump and water nozzle shot a powerful blast of water up from the center of the boiler room floor, through a 6" casing placed at a 45 degree angle to the top of the hull and through to the outside. ~ There was one of these water cannons on each side of the ship. ~ Above the nozzles were hoppers in which the ashes and unburned coals were thrown. ~ As they fell through a small opening at the bottom and into the powerful blast of water, they were shot up the casing and out of the ship. ~ At the top and on the outside there was a heavy deflection plate which all the coal and ash hit, to be sent down into the lake. ~ This plate had to be replaced quite often because of the heavy abrasion it incurred. ~ The high pressure pump was equivalent to a modern day fire hose in the amount of water it moved and when the casing got plugged by the ashes and coal as sometimes happened, the water would blow out of that hopper like some giant fountain gone berserk. ~ There would be water all over the that boiler room. ~ That same hopper would also spout more water when there was rough weather. ~ The waves would hit that deflection plate on the outside and come flooding down the casing and into the boiler room. ~ It was a real fun place to work.

All those coal burning ships had high stacks and when underway with the breeze carrying it away, the engine smoke was hardly noticed. ~ In the harbor and the river though, where the ships collected, it was a real problem. ~ Just about everything on the lake belched thick black and dirty smoke in those early days. ~ When oil burning equipment was introduced, the ships slowly upgraded. ~ They even repainted ships like the Greater Detroit in 1949, from very dark colors which hid the soot to pure white, after being converted to oil. ~ During the winter of 1950-51, the Canadiana was converted from coal to oil. ~ It was done at a cost of $30,000 by Oldman Boiler works. ~ This eased a little more of the smoke problem that lower Main Street had suffered with for many years. ~ As all the coal burners were converted to oil this problem subsided and ceased, but then those boats became gone too. ~ Now we would like a little smoke back I think. ~ The trial run with the new oil burning boilers had Captain W. F. Malloy and Chief Engineer George Hans in charge. ~ Don Macpherson was with the boat at that time, as 2nd engineer. ~ It was on May 5th 1951 and all went well.

Somewhere in 1954 or 1955 there was a leak on one of the safety valves on a boiler. ~ When the attempt was made to tightened it, it got worse. ~ This meant to leave it alone and stay away. ~ A stripped fitting on a steam boiler was extremely dangerous. ~ The boiler was taken down for a week for repairs and the job turned out to include re-piping the main steam lines to both boilers. ~ Up till then there had been an expansion-slip joint in the steam line and this was removed. ~ This type of joint allowed for the movement of the engine and expansion and contraction of the piping. ~ It was packed with hemp or asbestos for a steam seal. ~ This is the same type of packing used where the tail shaft goes through the hull to the propeller. This type of packing had to be replaced every year or so. ~ To eliminate this maintenance, the slip joint was replaced with a few extra elbows and pieces of pipe which produced a longer path but one that had flexibility similar to that of a coil.

In 1955 the boat was run aground at the beach. ~ This was not much of a problem and apparently it was freed with little damage. ~ Later that same year however; in the Buffalo river, the Canadiana's propeller hit a log. ~ This was much worse. ~ It sent a jolt through the ship as the engine torqued the thirty foot tail shaft around causing it to end up bent. ~ The ship was taken to Buffalo Dry-dock for repairs and shaft replacement. ~ The lathes and other equipment at the yard could only handle 29 foot shafts so the needed replacement was made and shipped in from Lorain Ohio. ~ An entire engine and shaft alignment was done on this visit to the dry dock, along with a new propeller on the end. ~ The engine mounts were adjusted and shimmed and all the shaft bearings were corrected to the line drawn through the ship. ~ Everything was in tip-top shape when it left the dry-dock and entered its 1956 season.

One of the most dramatic points of each season was the last trip of the year at the end of the Labor Day weekend. ~ The great ship would take on its final load of Crystal Beach revelers returning by boat and pull away from the pier. ~ When it got out in the lake it turned parallel to shore and stopped. ~ With her lights sparkling and reflecting on the water and music from the ship flowing back across the lake to the beach, they would put up a beautiful fireworks display from the top deck of the pier, as their farewell to summer. ~ Thousands would line the shore to watch the display and see the ship off. ~ Many were crying as the ship departed with taps being played from its top deck. ~ Summer was over.

Things were about to change. ~ Generations had watched her come and go, sailed on her cruises and took her presence for granted; as much a part of Buffalo as the lake, the grain elevators and city hall. ~ Used much for commuting by those with cottages at the beach, as well as the throngs headed for the midway, the Canadiana and her sister ship, Americana, had dependably stuck to their schedule. ~ In those early years they departed Buffalo at 5:45 and 10:15 a.m., 12:15, 2:15, 3:15, 5:15, 6:15, 8:15, 8:45 and 10:15 p.m. ~ When the Americana was retired from the run in 1928, just after the Peace Bridge opened, the number of trips were cut in half, and now the end was coming for the Canadiana.

(Copy of May 31 1956 newspaper article along with follow up study by mayor, Capt of police, clergy, etc. which detailed what actually happened.)

The "Riot".

A "gang fight" was supposed to be had at the beach but one of the groups of toughs never showed up. ~ It didn't come off. ~ The disagreement had been brought about by an argument over a girl. ~ During the day, the crowd at the park had seen and heard the bunch as they talked and walked around the park in a menacing manner. ~ There was a general feeling of uneasiness by everyone at the park. ~ Later in the day, an unconnected accident necessitated an ambulance racing into the park with its siren wailing. ~ It was immediately thought by many to be the results of the gang fight; the fight that never happened. ~ It became part of the excitement keeping everyone fearful and the bad guys, with unvented tempers, on the edge. ~

It came to the end of the day. Customs and the Park Police could do nothing more than to warn the gang members to behave themselves on their way back home, aboard the Canadiana. ~

Everyone remembers that there was trouble that trip. ~ There are many stories that seem to have been blown entirely out of proportion and others which are seemingly, closer to the truth. ~ Members of the crew of the Canadiana at that time and the Mayors study of the incident, state that women and girls were put below on the trip back, at their request, and that a reporter, writing the story, also stayed below. ~ Moreover; these sources conclude, whatever rowdiness happened on the passenger decks, it was likened to "toughs" acting tough, but certainly not a "riot", with "flashing knives", as first described in the newspaper. ~ While this was not the incident that took the Canadiana away, it left an impression that surely hastened the end of our Canadiana sailing from the Buffalo Harbor.

Shortly after the 1956 season ended, the Crystal Beach Amusement Park management announced that the Canadiana was being retired from her run. ~ The "riot" had been the last straw but there were other reasons that precipitated her demise. ~ Changing times; the automobile and the economy had been slowly cutting into their ability to continue sailing the ship. ~ The loss of the slot machines was one of the major factors contributing to the increasing amount of red ink and by 1956 the management was living with an on-going operating loss that was nearing $30,000 a year. ~ That was the maximum amount they had previously decided would be all they could handle, and when reached it would mean the end of the boat. ~ There was still the money to be spent at the park by all those passengers and it was necessary to provide a method for them to get there. ~ They were constantly comparing the cost of renting the needed number of replacement busses and other such considerations. ~ The actual end came when Fillmore Hall, the son who had the most to do with the boat came aboard one day very mad and started telling everyone to "get off! get off!". ~ Understandably upset and not thinking everything through, the engineers had to convinced him they couldn't just leave the ship. ~ They needed and got another three days to perform all the long term shutdown work and to button it up. ~ Along with everything else; nature had put down a lot of rain that summer and there were no riders. ~ The ship lost somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 thousand dollars during the summer of '56.

Many missed the Canadiana sailing the lake the next year. ~ Instead of bringing the usual joy to Western New Yorkers, she idly spent 1957 tied up at the Crystal Beach slip, waiting.....


Then it was gone. ~ The end of an era had come. ~ The shame is; and this happens all to often in such cases, no one realized what they had lost. ~ As the years went by and those new distracting things, TV. and such, were not so new any more, people started to remember. ~ What they remembered of the Canadiana follows and is based on an 1975 article by Ed Cuddihy of the Buffalo News. ~ Ed reminisced and related his experiences as a boy and it is certainly typical.

She was a queen but they called her a boat; never a ship. ~ Sure parents said she had a name, the S. S. Canadiana they called her, but to the kids on the block, she was just the Crystal Beach Boat.

Some days in the summer everyone on the Kensington trolley would be going down to board her. ~ The walk from Main Street down to the end of Commercial Street where she was docked seemed to take forever when your legs were small. ~ You passed the popcorn man and the man with a million balloons. ~ You saw the old wooden huts, one opened in front to make a seafood stand, clams maybe, but most of the people had their own lunches in baskets. ~ You went through a short tunnel and there she was. ~ You could see her now, white and shiny and big. ~ Some people said they painted her every year to hold her together. ~ You enter the building under the big sign "Entrance to STEAMERS" to the waiting room and ticket window. ~ The room with wire screens that kept you there until the people coming in got off and the boat was made ready to go back with more people. ~ You waited in line for tickets if you hadn't already bought them at the little stand at Kensington and Bailey. ~ You counted your copper and steel pennies, shuffled your feet and anxiously waited. ~ They finally open the screen to let you and your fellow voyagers out into the sunlight again. ~ It was a magical place to be. ~ Among the giant hawsers and pilings. ~ Traversing the ominous looking water surging below as you crossed the gangplank; moving with the motion of the ship. ~ It was an experience that added to ones life way beyond the excitement of the moment."

Ed goes on to say "Three thousand, they used to say. ~ That's how many could get on her at one time." What was not well known is that often, an excess of four thousand people we loaded onto the boat at the end of the day. ~ All day long people walked uphill over the gangplank to get on the boat to the beach. ~ Everyone had their day of fun in the sun and waited for the last boat to go home. ~ When you got back to the dock in Buffalo, you walked uphill again to get off the boat. ~ It was not that the dock got higher.

"Those trips began with the traditional blasts which told the last people at the ticket window to hurry. ~ You found a spot on the rail and looked at the city. ~ City Hall, the County Hall clock, the Old Cathedral. ~ A final blast and you were off. ~ The sights of the waterfront kept you spellbound. ~ Past the big black towering erector set of track and structures where they dumped coal into railroad cars. ~ Then you swung around, past the lighthouse and into the open lake.

Now the queen swayed and you hoped you wouldn't get seasick like before. ~ Inside some kids bought popcorn and peanuts in their shells but not you. ~ You plugged your nickel into a machine that promised a wristwatch if you were skillful enough with a claw crane, but most of the time, it delivered nothing. ~ If you tired of that it was always fun to try and print your name on an aluminum good luck charm that had a penny in the center. ~ This was a machine that pressed letters into the metal and you had to be very careful or you would make a mistake and mess it all up. ~ The usual results were three bad ones for every one that was almost right.

Outside, you sat on one of the park benches on the open deck and watched the Canadian shore. ~ You watched the waves the boat made and the great churning wake. ~ You watched, fascinated by the engine that was so big and powerful. ~ The 75 minute ride would have been too short if the beach wasn't waiting. ~ Still to come was the first glimpse of the roller coaster, the rides on the Caterpillar and the powdered waffles bought from the lady in the pink uniform.

Laughter was subdued on the return trip. ~ Everyone was tired, a little dizzy maybe, almost wishing the day was over, but not wanting it to end. ~ The city looked big over the breakwater. ~ They tied up the queen and opened the gates. ~ Fathers carried the little kids, mothers dragged the others, up the hill toward the Terrace, Main Street and the trolley. ~ You could look back and see the Canadiana's lights like a symbol of happiness on the waterfront.

Times would change and many years would go by before you'd ask: "I wonder what ever happened to the Crystal Beach Boat?" and; "I wonder why?".


A collection of crew members over the years.
(As yet unmentioned in this chapter.)

Ralph Green - 1st mate late 40s early 50s.

Herb Hewitt - Purser same period.

Ed Hettich - Assistant Purser.

C DeForest Cummings - Bartender

Fran Coughlin - Storekeeper

Fred Larson - Wheelsman/Quartermaster c1935

Marvin White - Fireman 1920's - Born 1909 16 yrs old.

Marvin Jr

Frenchy - Oiler 1920's

Dugan - 1920's No one knows what Dugan did. :-)

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