CANADIANA DOWNTOWN BUFFALO NEW YORK
To The Business People Of Downtown Buffalo NY
From The S. S. Canadiana Preservation Society, Inc.
To quote the Buffalo News...
"With attention shifting back to Buffalo's waterfront as a place for
recreation, the time is right for bringing back the Canadiana... "
"...because of the new attitudes growing about Buffalo's role as a lake
city, it has the potential to succeed and become an addition to a revitalized
waterfront. ~ It deserves help."
These remarks are from a Buffalo News Editorial of not so long ago... They are still very "today". On the Miss Buffalo Boats, they
"There is room for much more of this sort of thing."
On Buffalo's need to assist:"
"The City of Buffalo should give its support to a request by (the
Canadiana) for a $1.2 million federal grant. The City has been asked to file the
application for the money, which would come in the form of a low-interest
Regarding the Canadiana:
".., with its unique tie to Buffalo history, has something no other boat
can offer. ~ Restored and carefully marketed, it could become one of the most
popular amenities on the waterfront."
We are at the Crossroads in more ways than one. A new waterfront is
coming. A new era is beginning. The Canadiana is good for
Buffalo. Tell others you want it back.
Nothing has changed since the above Editorial and its comments. ~ The Canadiana
can still produce the exact same effects mentioned then and it will still be the
unique attraction on our waterfront that people are calling for now. ~ The
Buffalo News was RIGHT when it wrote this Editorial and the best part now is
that it is even more attainable.
It is the quickest, easiest and most
cost effective method of bringing thousands of people and activity into the
downtown area, all day and every day. ~ The Canadiana's ability to carry 2000
people, now at a time when the market for lake cruises is growing, along with
the coming revitalized Buffalo waterfront, is a formula that cannot be beaten.
The surrounding area will quickly grow with shops, food vendors and
others to satisfy the crowds. ~ When the Canadiana returns, Hooligans, Main
Place Mall and many other businesses will easily see an immediate upswing. ~ The
Canadiana will not only bring Western New Yorkers from their homes who would not
otherwise come, it will bring Canadians to Buffalo for the baseball games at the
Park and events at the new Arena or to "do" the theater district. ~ All this
will still pale against their ultimate reason; that of taking in the pure
pleasure of a summer's day cruise across the waters of our beautiful lake.
There is talk of several smaller ships being brought into the new
harbor. ~ We need all of this. ~ A one hundred passenger, tall ship will fill
its nitch market and the 2000 passenger Canadiana will take care of the
overflow. ~ That is to say, there are hundreds of thousands of potential sailors
and many of them will show up each day looking for a boat. ~ We will not have
enough ships when the activity commences. ~ Don't ever be satisfied with
just the Miss Buffalo boats.
Buffalo's waterfront was originally
referred to as the "Flats". ~ The land below the "Terrace" and on the lake and
river side of what is now roughly outlined by the Amtrak railroad tracks. ~
There recently was a reference in the News to a section of Cleveland Ohio that
is also known as the "Flats". ~ That area was more or less, a blot on
Cleveland's landscape, but was transformed, as described by Don Esmonde, "into
a vibrant bar-restaurant district. ~ Unlike the some other waterfront pieces,"
he continues, "it's actually a part of the traditional waterfront. Although
battered, it extrudes the authenticity people crave. ~ The best thing the city
can do (to develop our waterfront) is repave it in real cobblestones and let it
evolve, much as downtown's "Chippewa Street" has done."
This is exactly
the way to go according to many who understand city planning and development. ~
It applies very well to the City of Buffalo. ~ We are a city with a great past
and possibly a great future. ~ We must learn from others and make it happen. ~
What was done in Cleveland can indeed work here. ~ In that regard we can refer
to the vision of one Mr. Jim Vinci who is credited with bringing Cleveland's
"Flats" into being. ~ He saw the potential it held and started the first "Blues"
Club in that section. ~ This he followed up with several other entertainment
spots. ~ One thing that Mr. Esmonde may not be aware of is that Mr. Vincci was
one more of the many people who realized the grand potential of the Canadiana
and he worked very hard, physically and economically, toward turning the
Canadiana into a floating entertainment center and nightclub on the banks of
Cleveland's Cuyahoga River. ~ His vision was smashed when, during a power
outage, the bilge pumps stopped and the Canadiana sank to her second deck.
Jim Vincci had the vision that created the "Flats" and he would have put
the Canadiana on Cleveland's waterfront. ~ Fate stepped in so that now we have
that same opportunity but on Buffalo's waterfront. ~ The Canadiana is
historically Buffalo's boat. ~ This is where she belongs. ~ As efforts are made
to bring new life to the area, we must retain the cobblestone and historical
aspect of our waterfront and we must have the Canadiana.
This area of a few square blocks
is one of this countries richest in terms of historical significance and lore. ~
We would strongly urge that this be made the most of. ~ There is an extremely
detailed description of this area called "America's Crossroads; Buffalo's Canal
Street & Dante Place", (ISBN 1-878097-12-1). ~ Four hundred pages of
fascinating facts and amazing pictures. ~ The book is totally dedicated to this
area between lower Main Street and the Lake, including the harbor walks, the
soldiers monument, the high rises and the restaurants. ~ Reporter Mike Vogel of
the News is one of its three co-authors. ~ We would relate just one small
paragraph from the introduction by Marvin A. Rapp, Ph. D., as an example.
"But sadly, today all physical reminders of this lusty but prosperous
six block area lie buried beneath the parking lots of the high rise apartments
on the waterfront. ~ The pavement camouflages the wicked, brawling, hard
drinking, murderous, gambling yet bustling life that made this famous district
the Barbary Coast of the East, and Buffalo the Queen City of the Great Lakes. ~
In its day, "Canawlers" who sailed the Erie Canal from Buffalo to the New York
City harbor were often asked by sailors from around the world, "Is it true what
they say about Canal Street in Buffalo?""
We could do much worse than to
tell of this exciting past. ~ We certainly would retain as much of the
"traditional waterfront" as possible. ~ It would be a prime attraction if our
illustrious or infamous (take your pick) past were to be told and illustrated to
not only tourists but our own local Western New Yorkers. ~ Did you know that
more immigrants passed through the Port of Buffalo than did through Ellis
Island? ~ Tell of the gas explosion that leveled a tenement building on New
Years morning in 1936 leading to the final demise of the rat infested wooden
buildings crammed with 3 room dwellings. ~ Outline or recreate these streets and
the canals. ~ Describe the few blocks of Water Street which housed 50 taverns
and a hundred women. ~
Of course, there must be a monument commemorating
and marking the exact spot where the Erie Canal ended. ~ These are the things
that would bring the tourists. ~ This is the way it was. ~ People travel to see
things unique. ~ Concrete, chrome and plastic are not unique.
unused Memorial Auditorium should be our "heritage center" to top off this
area's focus on history and growing a country. ~ In it, sections would replicate
our Grain Mills and Lake Freighters and the Buffalo Dry Dock where the 600 foot
palatial steamships were built. ~ It could provide a home for a Steel Plant
museum, a Canadiana and Crystal Beach museum. ~ Industrial Heritage, Lower Lakes
and a host of other educational and historically oriented organizations have
much material to show but which is now languishing away in storage. ~ The steam
and mechanical age should be available to everyone to be seen, studied,
understood and marveled at. ~ Such a Heritage Center would be renound to the
In line with all of this, please do not put a rail
station on the waterline to block access and visibility to the water or to cover
this historic land. ~ Keep the end of Main open to the river as the City was
originally designed. ~ Put the Canadiana at its old dock location. ~ Replicate a
Canal boat or two. ~ The area is a meaningful place where people can come to
touch the past. ~ The Erie Canal, the Buffalo River, the Great Lakes and the
railroads all came together at this point on our waterfront; at one time the
"baddest" place in the world. ~ The maritime era lasted 150 years and when the
Canadiana was built here in Buffalo, the city was still the 8th largest in the
country. ~ Present day boats can be brought in but we must remember those that
rate a priority. ~ It would be folly to think that we should build new
ships to fill a need when we have the greatest and most impressive vessel one
could ever hope for, able to be put back at its old dock. ~ See the pictures we
have just put on the picture page.
We are now able to fulfill the dream
of returning the Canadiana to the Buffalo Harbor because of our New York State
I.S.T.E.A. award. ~ Hull restoration, the largest single expense of the entire
restoration, was a difficult nut to crack. ~ I.S.T.E.A. now makes it possible to
move ahead. ~ When it is completed and the ship returns to Buffalo in the spring
of 1997, all painted white and as safe and solid as any ship afloat, everyone
will want to come aboard. ~ It will be a simple matter to return the three airy
decks and even simpler to rebuild the engine for it to sail again. ~ It will
happen. ~ It will return 40 years from the year it left Buffalo. ~ The Canadiana
can sail again by 1999, to begin the new century together with our newly
developed waterfront. ~ The Canadiana can more than do its part, through the
many benefits we have detailed elsewhere, to help make this area, and all of
downtown, one of activity, excitement and prosperity.
Support the return
of the Canadiana. ~ It is one of the best things you can do to help the City of
Buffalo and yourself.
Progress of restoration effort.
Designations & Credentials
The Opportunity - Here and Now
The S. S. Canadiana Society, Inc.
The purpose of The S. S. Canadiana Preservation Society, Inc. is
exclusively educational in nature, to wit:
The operation of a museum under the auspices of the New York State
Education Department Board of Regents and relating to the history,
memorabilia and artifacts of the S. S. Canadiana. ~ To research and
document the S. S. Canadiana as a means to the awareness and
appreciation of it and our local maritime history in general. ~ To
publish and disseminate information on the Canadiana and related
subjects including Buffalo Dry-dock where it was built, Crystal Beach to
which it sailed and the Maritime Era of its heyday. ~ In addition we
work with educators to provide materials for use at various grade
levels. ~ These efforts include a soon to be published book length
history of the ship, field trips, slide presentations as well as other
grade-appropriate materials for instant classroom use.
To collect, preserve, and interpret objects relating to the S. S.
Canadiana, Buffalo Dry-Dock, Crystal Beach and the Maritime Era in
general. ~ To acquire, restore and refit the vessel Canadiana, using all
available construction drawings and documents from 1910, the year of her
construction, as the basis for re-construction to sailing condition. ~
To thereafter maintain the vessel Canadiana as a maritime treasure and
to operate it as a floating museum and our ultimate artifact.
To engage in all lawful activities, including those which are not
otherwise stated in the Corporation's Certificate of Incorporation,
which are incidental or conducive to the accomplishment of any of the
After the Canadiana ceased operation in
Buffalo in the late fifties, she was leased to others. ~ This began a
string of disasters with several close encounters with the scrap yard.
The "Friends of the Canadiana" formed in 1984. ~ Through grueling work
and over many obstacles, they brought the Canadiana back some 120 miles
from her death bed in Ohio to Buffalo for restoration. ~ After all of
its previous ordeals, from a collision with a bridge in Toledo to its
sinking in Cleveland, it had become an unbelievably ugly and unwanted
hulk, but it was the object of love and affection in Buffalo and across
the lake in nearby Canada. ~ The group was praised and supported by
hundreds of businesses and thousands of people.
As amateur groups sometimes go, there was indecision and inability.
~ Was the ship to be a static display or sail. ~ A split ensued and a
lull in activity occurred. ~ When the decision to sail was made, a new
flurry of activity occurred with much public approval. ~ Fund raising,
publicity, work on the boat all went on with a purpose. ~ The boat was
readied for rebuilding under modern day regulations. ~ All wood was
removed and she was towed to Port Colborne, ON. to lie in a sheltered
slip near a dry-dock awaiting funds for hull and engine repair. ~ Here
again, the effort faltered. ~ The idea the ship was in another country
and seemingly ineligible for some funding sources apparently stymied the
group into inaction and to a point of near dissolution.
While the above delays are regrettable, they are not a reason to give
up. ~ The plain fact is the restoration is just as possible as ever and
for all the same good reasons. ~ A new group has now taken control. ~
There is a new name, new direction and new people. ~ Sailing is still
the goal but with additions. ~ Profound changes were made to the board
and to the corporation. ~ People such as Mr. Edward Patton, director of
the W. N. Y. Heritage Institute of Canisius College, Mr. Ross Adams, the
Marine Engineer instrumental in the restorations of both the Trillium at
Toronto, ON. and the H.M.C.S.
Gravenhurst, ON. along with other specialists have joined our two
boards. ~ Maritime preservation and education has always been a purpose
but we will now pursue this with emphasis. ~ We are making application
to the State Board of Regents to become an Education Corporation. ~ We
do meet their criteria and are confident of that status being granted. ~
We have also created a Canadian corporation for a joint American &
Canadian effort. ~ There is much support in Canada as they also see the
ways the Canadiana will work in bringing about educational, cultural and
tourism exchanges beneficial to both sides.
corporation was formed in 1983 as the "Friends of the Canadiana, Inc."
under Not-For-Profit Law. ~ It was granted 501 (c)(3) status by the
Internal Revenue Service.
On July 1 1993, the corporation began changes designed to allow a fuller
expression of their stated purpose and goals.
The first was to amend the name of the organization. ~ The previous was
somewhat nondescript. ~ The new name, "The S.S. Canadiana Preservation
Society, Inc.", was chosen to provide a more understandable indication
of our reason for being.
The second was to make application to the NY State Education Department
Board of Regents for accreditation as an Education Corporation. ~ This
will place our organization under Education Law as opposed to
Not-For-Profit Law and it will provide us the credentials to operate a
full fledged museum with finances, professional staff and methods of
operation that are monitored by the Board of Regents. ~ Our name will
then be "The S. S. Canadiana Museum, Inc.".
Our finances are looked after by the accounting firm of Lumsden and
1. As our
Canadian organization is proceeding to reach not-for-profit and
charitable status, the U.S. group will formalize its Education
Corporation and museum status with the New York State Department of
Education Board of Regents.
2. Particular and favorable corporate donors are being approached for
the initial pledges of funding. ~ We will look for those who can easily
visualize the good that will occur from this historic ship and our
associated educational efforts being part of the overall Buffalo
3. Other efforts towards fulfilling our purposes will be carried out in
a continuing process. ~ We have been working on placing the original
Canadiana Pilot House in a permanent position of public display. ~ It
will be in a prominent location such as near the Lighthouse at the mouth
of the Buffalo River and this effort, in conjunction with the City of
Buffalo, will preserve and tell of the Canadiana's part in Buffalo
history. ~ At this juncture, plans also include the possibility of the
Pilot House being used as a ticket office along side the Canadiana when
it goes into operation.
4. As we acquire our credentials with the Board of Regents, we will move
into a corporate fund drive with more intensity. ~ Museum status and
beginning its operation, along with the backing of pledges of support
gained earlier, will allow us to approach large corporations,
foundations and grant givers that are helpful to organizations of our
5. We expect funding to be reached in Canada whereby the ship will go
into dry-dock within a year. This will occur near the time a book we are
publishing is released. ~ A history of the Canadiana, this book is
filled with facts and figures along with tales and stories from
passengers and crew. ~ A collection of humorous and dramatic events
which occurred on and about the ship in her long and eventful life. ~
The book will contain many photographs and will spur memories and
support from both the U.S. and Canada. ~ These items occurring in close
succession will bring the realization to everyone that the restoration
is being done.
6. When the repaired hull and perhaps an already rebuilt engine return
to the Buffalo harbor the public will celebrate. ~ That day will signal
the start of superstructure re-construction and it will begin the final
phase to complete our project. ~ That day everyone will want to help
make it happen. ~ That day we begin booking the ship for cruises.
Most of the projections above were written in the fall of 1993 as our
new effort was beginning to take hold and prior to our ISTEA award. ~
The Canadian Organization is now up and running and has raised
approximately $40,000.00 (Can.) towards the ISTEA matching fund. ~ We
are on schedule, more or less.
The Opportunity - Here
Frontier Transit Authority personnel, along with others well known for
their efforts at historic preservation, were the ones who originated the
return of the Canadiana to the Buffalo waterfront. ~ It was their
foresight a decade ago for this grand and historic vessel to grace our
shoreline, to enhance the Buffalo waterfront and be put to use as a
museum displaying memorabilia of our great maritime history. ~ Those
people understood the love we on the Niagara Frontier, as well as our
Canadian neighbors on the Niagara Peninsula and all others who have
ridden the boat, had for her. ~ They understood how popular a place it
would be, the educational value it would have, the institution it could
become and the image it would instill on the city.
The original thought was to have it restored to display condition and
not to sail. ~ While that was the need for that day, certainly with the
current visions for a redeveloped and beautiful new waterfront along
with the rest of our up-tempo life and changing times, we now want more.
~ And we can have it. ~ To all that has and is to come, we can add the
grand sight of the Canadiana sailing in our harbor.
The S. S. Canadiana Preservation Society, Inc. is working to become a
part of the community. ~ In fact, to form one great "Eastern Lake Erie
Community" bringing together both sides of the lake. ~ Together with our
Canadian corporation, we are working with both sides to form common
beneficial interaction. ~ We see the potential for an operation based in
Buffalo that can equate to the South Street Seaport Museum of New York
City and other great maritime operations in port cities around the
country. ~ With an attendant building (the Auditorium?) housing all
historic interests, it would be the hub of the Inner Harbor activity
with the Canadiana alongside as the crown jewel. ~ Revenue produced from
the self sustaining Canadiana could help finance those other efforts
within the group.
Assistance and co-operation from American groups and agencies in a
position to help, as well as the towns and villages and similar groups
on the Canadian side of the lake, who wish to see beautiful things
happen must come to bring this all about. ~ We are proceeding along the
course we have set but with complete readiness and willingness to adapt
and work with others. ~ The amount of our co-operation and commitment is
open and commensurate to those others. ~ Look at us and see the
tremendous potential. ~ Read the
and its Preface. ~ If the Canadiana does not return, everyone will lose.
at a cross roads where frequently inaction is the only action. ~ To be
lamented ever after.
We have at hand an opportunity to return a wonderful element of the past
so that it may take part in our future and make it better. ~ To bring
joy and happiness to millions of children and adults alike as it did
then, for yet another half century and beyond. ~ Going beyond happiness
to cause parent/child bonding as it did then. ~ Laughing and squealing
children being hugged by their parents as they both are sprayed by
bursting waves. ~ These and similar memories are what you are told of
when you ask people why they love the Canadiana. ~ It was a common
ground for young and old to enjoy together; something we have precious
little of now. ~ Our efforts at education, for all its' worth, will pale
against those moments. ~ Those moments of "education" that cannot be
packaged or taught in a classroom.
It is our desire to bring back the "Crystal Beach Boat". ~ To sail
again. ~ To provide the joy it can and will provide. ~ Our cruises and
package tours will allow us to self sustain, to re-invest and to support
similar efforts. ~ We see our total future in education, historic
preservation, cultural exchange and the other areas of mutual benefit
for our two countries and the peoples therein. ~ With the S. S.
Canadiana as a floating museum and fully restored to its Victorian,
turn-of-the-century appearance and operation, it will be brought to
where it can be boarded, and cruises taken, by school children on field
trips. ~ They will view the ship in action and learn of its operation
and history. ~ They will see an earlier technology, an era of steam and
mechanical means. ~ They will learn that older is often better and to
not disdain the past. ~ Like others who have come before, they will gaze
in awe at the gigantic historic triple expansion engine as it drives the
boat through the waves, its monstrous crank shaft and other moving parts
fully visible with its open construction. ~ They will exhilarate in the
crashing waves, the sights, sounds and smells of the lake. ~ For many,
their only opportunity.
There is further the vision of preserving this historic vessel for all
the worth of that alone but also as a symbol to the City of Buffalo of
her great maritime past and at the same time, her modern day rebirth. ~
A symbol to be seen in every skyline photo of the city. ~ A symbol to
identify with the city, to bring people to the city, to bring
conventions, to bring movie makers, to bring attention. ~ With Buffalo
as the center of New York's Niagara Frontier and Ontario's Niagara
Peninsula, we will commune with Canada for all the good purposes we are
about. ~ The S. S. Canadiana will bring about one great "Eastern Lake
We can and must restore this beautiful, classic and beloved piece of
history. ~ She is able to provide much more good for many more years. ~
She has held on since first leaving Crystal Beach with a seemingly human
spirit but this is very likely our last opportunity to bring the lady
back. ~ We must act. ~ Please lend a hand.
This pitifully small condensation cannot hope to answer all the
questions. ~ We have additional details not presented as to ways and
means of re-building and operating the S. S. Canadiana and all the
wonderful reasons for doing so. ~ We simply hope this synopsis has
whetted the appetite of those able to bring back this wonderful ship. ~
If so, please allow us the opportunity of a more complete presentation.
The S. S. Canadiana Preservation Society, Inc.
© SS Canadiana and
Mr. Lee Online