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Did you Know? (Niagara to the Sea)

Editor’s Note:  Robert Matthew, from Fishers Landing, NY, suggested we create a Did You Know? section, for items too short for a full length article? “It might appeal,” he wrote, “to people who are reluctant to write an article, but have Thousand Islands information they would like to share.”


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This unique piece of vintage ephemera related to the Thousand Islands, circa 1918, was part of the Canada Steamship Line. 

In June 2009, William M. Worden, wrote an article about Niagara to the Sea beginning with, “For over sixty years, “Niagara to the Sea” was one of the most famous travel slogans in North America. The phrase was originated about 1890 by the Richelieu & Ontario Navigation Company, whose fleet of passengers steamers dominated travel on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.”  This is an in-depth history of this important era in Canadian Maritime history.



Canada Steamship Lines


Some Questions and Answers

Q.—Where may tickets and reservations be obtained in addition to the company’s own offices?

A.—From the principal ticket and tourist agents throughout the United States and Canada.

Q.—What is the length of the St. Lawrence?

A.—Including the Gulf, the St. Lawrence is 940 miles in length.

Q.—Where does it commence and end?

A.—It has its source from about ten miles above Kingston, Ont., at Simcoe Island and the river proper ends at Pointe des Monts, P. Q., the Gulf extending to Newfoundland.

Q.—What is the condition of its waters?

A.—From its source to the Island of Orleans, just below Quebec, its waters
are fresh, but about ten miles below the Island it becomes salt.

Q.—How many rapids are there?

A.—There are nine navigable rapids with a total descent of some 209 feet.

Q.—How do the steamers which shoot these rapids return?

A.—By an elaborate system of canals, the lock gates of which are operated by electricity and water power, and besides taking care of these steam­ers, permit freighters of fourteen-foot draft and 260 feet in length to navigate between the points encompassed by the rapids.

Q.—How many canals are required for this purpose and their names?

A.—There are six in all, viz.: Lachine, Soulanges, Cornwall, Farran’s Point, Morrisburg and Edwardsburg: the longest of these being the Lachine, Soulanges and Cornwall, respectively 9, 14 and 11 miles long.

Q.—When does navigation open and close on the St. Lawrence?

A.—Navigation usually opens between 15th and 25th of April and closes about the end of November.

Q.—What size ships navigate the St. Lawrence?

A.—Those of the largest tonnage may navigate up the St. Lawrence as far as Quebec and at present steamships of 15,000 tons are plying from the Atlantic to Montreal.

Q.—How is the channel lighted?

A.—By a system of gas buoys and range lights, which so illuminate the river between Quebec and Montreal that ocean steamers may run by night as well as by day.

Q.—How many bridges span the St. Lawrence?

A.—There are four, viz.: N. Y. & O. Ry. bridge, above Cornwall, Ont.; Grand Trunk Railway bridge at Coteau, P. Q.; the Canadian Pacific Railway bridge above Lachine, the Victoria Jubilee bridge at Montreal, and the famous Quebec bridge recently built above Quebec.

Q.—Who was the first explorer to navigate the St. Lawrence River?

A.—Jacques Cartier, in the year 1535.

Q.—At what point did he first land?

A.—At Tadousac, the junction of the St. Lawrence and Saguenay rivers, where later the first trading post in Canada came into existence.

Q.—By whom were the cities of Quebec and Montreal founded and in what years?

A;—Quebec, by Samuel de Champlain, in 1608; Montreal, by Paul de Chomedey, Sieur de Maisonneuve, in 1642.

Q.—What is the chief commercial asset of the River St. Lawrence?

A.—The fact that it has a terminal for ocean-plying steamers, over 1,000 miles inland from the Atlantic Seaboard.

Q.—How did the Lachine Rapids obtain the name?

A.—Through a curious error on the part of the eminent explorer La Salle, who on discovering them, imagined he had found a short road to China and gave to the rapids the French name “La Chine.”

Q.—By whom are the dock properties, terminals, etc., in the harbor of Montreal operated?

A.—By a board of three Harbor Commissioners, responsible only to the Dominion Government; none of the property being privately owned, the expense for its construction, operation and upkeep is borne by the Government, the port being considered a National one.

Q.—What quantity of grain is yearly handled in its elevators?

A.—In the year 1914, over 60,000,000 bushels were handled.

Q.—What are the principal tributaries of the St. Lawrence?

A.—The Ottawa and Saguenay rivers, the scenery of the latter being un­equalled on this continent for wild grandeur and variety.

Q.—What range of mountains is most prominent along the St. Lawrence?

A.—The Laurentian chain of mountains follows it on its sweep to the sea and is responsible for most of its magnificent scenery, its mineral wealth and its shooting and fishing.

Q.—What are the principal points of interest to the tourist on a trip from Niagara to the sea?

A.—Niagara Falls, City of Toronto, Lake Ontario, the Thousand Islands (America’s Venice), the descent of the marvelous rapids, Cities of Montreal and Quebec, the miracle working Shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupre, Lower St. Lawrence summer resorts (Murray Bay, St. Irenee and Tadousac), the famous Saguenay Canyon, including Capes Trinity and Eternity.

Q.—What about baggage?

A.—It may be checked through in bond, or it may be examined at the prin­cipal ports of entry, with very little inconvenience to the traveller; also in returning, tourists may have their baggage examined and checked through from Quebec to all points in the United States.

Q.—Where are the Company’s Hotels located?

A.—The “Manoir Richelieu at Murray Bay, St. Lawrence River, 90 miles from Quebec, reached by steamer daily during the summer season. The “Tadousac” at Tadousac, 145 miles from Quebec, at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Saguenay Rivers, reached by steamer daily during the season.



Hotel Tadousac

Manoir Richelieu

Toronto thousand islands

Shared by Robert L. Matthews. 

Robert L. Matthews is the author of two popular books: “Glimpses of St. Lawrence Summer Life: Souvenirs from the Thousand Islands; Robert and Prudence Matthews Collection,” and “A History of the Thousand Islands Yacht Club,” published in 2009.   He and his wife, Prudence, (well-known River artist. whose work was presented in Hooked on Prudence in 2009, have one of the most extensive collections of Thousand Islands memorabilia.  When not at their beautiful River cottage at Fisher’s Landing, they live in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Click here to see all of Robert's TI Life articles.



Please feel free to leave comments about this article using the form below. Comments are moderated and we do not accept comments that contain links. As per our privacy policy, your email address will not be shared and is inaccessible even to us. For general comments, please email the editor.


martha grimes
Comment by: martha grimes
Left at: 5:40 AM Thursday, June 15, 2017
You always share wonderful treasures from your priceless collection and infinite knowledge of the Thousand Islands. We look forward to seeing you and Prudence at the Cornwall Bros. Store Museum this summer.
Martha Grimes
Bev Farrell
Comment by: Bev Farrell
Left at: 7:21 AM Thursday, June 15, 2017
Through your passionate and signifcant research of the history of the Thousand Isalnds, you continue to share a valuable account of its past. History tells tells us about the past and helps shape the future. Thank you!
John Kunz
Comment by: John Kunz
Left at: 4:07 AM Thursday, June 22, 2017
I am interested in purchasing a copy of the book "History of the Thousand Islands Yacht Club". The Antique Boat Museum did not have it. Any suggestions on where to purchase would be appreciated.