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Steamboat Connections by Frank Mackey


In Steamboat Connections Frank Mackey gives us a narrative account of the first twenty-five years of steam navigation along the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers. Relying on a wealth of primary archival sources, Mackey focuses on the development of steamer traffic from 1816 – when the foundations were laid for the first stage-and-steamboat line between Montreal and Upper Canada – to the early 1840s – when locks, canals, innovations, and human daring conquered the rapids on those rivers and allowed for navigation between Montreal and the Great Lakes.

He shows how, starting in 1841, small steamers ran “the circuit” – down the rapids of the St. Lawrence to Montreal and then back up to Kingston and other Great Lakes ports via the Ottawa River and the Rideau Canal. Mackey introduces the entrepreneurs who forged this important link between Montreal and the nation’s interior and chronicles the course of their industry, correcting previous misinterpretations. He sheds light not only on steamboats but also on the social, commercial, and geographical development that they made possible. He shows that the history of this country, a land with vast expanses and a harsh climate, cannot be fully appreciated without looking at the different modes of transportation that made it possible.

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Montreal to Upper Canada, 1816-1843



steam navigation



McGill-Queen's University Press

Montreal & Kingston