Through most of the 19th century Garden Island received timber from all of the Great Lakes for export to Europe. The timber rafts were constructed in the back bay of the island and then sent down the St. Lawrence River, through the rapids to Quebec City.
Contemporary sail plan. In the early 1870s there was a economic depression. As a result the export timber business was in the doldrums so the Calvin’s decided to diversify their business by building an ocean going ship. The keel was laid in 1875
“May 8, 1878 A Fine Vessel – A Pleasing Ceremony What has for a long time been pleasantly anticipated by the public on the one hand, and with anxiety by the owners on the other, came off yesterday at Garden Island – the launch of the ocean vessel. We have seen many launches, but none which called forth such admiration from an admiring crowd”. The Garden Island sailed under Calvin ownership until 1884.
Block and tackles and a horse whim were the labour saving devices available to lift heavy gear needed on deck during construction. .
The Calvin Collection is located in the archives of the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes (MMGLK) and at the Queen’s University Archives. both in Kingston, Ontario. Hard to find but well worth the search is Great Britain’s Woodyard: British America and the Timber Trade, 1763-1867 by Arthur R. M. Lower; McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal and London, 1973.
Photography: Calvin Collection, MMGLK
The Marine Museum of the Great Lakes has extensive artefact, bibliographic and archival collections. Go to http://www.marmuseum.ca and follow the Research Link