THE S.S. 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 continue:

"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 loan."

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."
EXACTLY!!


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.


The "Flats"


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.


America's Crossroads


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.

The now 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 entire country.

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.

Index

Contents:
Mission Statement
Progress of restoration effort.
Designations & Credentials
Time table
The Opportunity - Here and Now
Conclusion

Mission Statement

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 above-stated purposes.

Restoration Progress

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. Segwun at 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.

Designations and Credentials

The 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 McCormick, CPA's.

Time Table

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 waterfront development.

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 nature.

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.

NOTE:
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 and Now

Niagara 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
Feasibility Study and its Preface. ~ If the Canadiana does not return, everyone will lose.

Conclusion

We stand 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 Erie Community".

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.

P.S.
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.

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