I Remember When…The first boat locked through the canal

I came to the Sault in about 1865. I went to the convent school where there were many girls including Mrs. George Kemp, Mrs. Colwell, The Prenzlauer girls, Sofia Trempe, Flora Londerville, Mary Bernier, Mary Ann Galley, Sofia LaLonde, Jimmy Ryan, and others. On the way to school, we passed the fort on Portage Avenue and watched the sentry pacing back and forth across the street. ( Mrs. David Brown, 8050 Second Blvd. Detroit) 

I remember when the first boat locked through the canal. It was the steamer Illinois. They had a band on board, and I remember the tune they played. (Mrs. Charlotte Bernard, 403 Ashmun Street) 

After the water tower was completed, Mark Tyman’s old horse was feeding beside the canal, west of Fort Street. He laid down to roll, and to his surprise, he rolled into the canal. The fire department was called out, and they ran east to one of the bridges because the old horse was swimming downstream. They dropped a rope over the bridge with a loop over the end. The old horse poked his head through. He was pulled out none the worse for his bath. Mark said his horse was tough like himself (Jim Royce, R.F.D.1) 

Hotten’s Marine Market, on Water Street, supplied all the boats going through the locks. John Hotton was busy all day at the meat block, except the days he was preparing old gray George for a race. Gray George was some horse. He lived so long on Water Street that Jack had to pour a quart of whiskey into him before he would trot a beat. (Herbert C. Ryan, 916 Court Street) 

The first tug was named the “Eclipse” owned by L.P. Trempe. She towed the vessels on the St. Mary’s river. I came to the Soo, 62 years ago, on the steamer Illinois from my birthplace Ontonagon. (Samuel Pryor, 1090 Cedar Street)

Back in the 1880s, a rugged person had to endure the hardships of Chippewa County. There were no village or crossroad stores in those days, and we had to walk through the bush or row up the river to the Soo for provisions. It took me a day to get there. Then with a packsack of provisions on my back, it took the greater part of a day and night to get home. But there was no help for it, as we had no auto or good roads. (R.H. Campbell 916, Easterday Ave.) 

When I first came to the Soo, Water Street was the main street, and from Portage to Water Street was called Plant Alley. The best hotel stood on the ground where Conway and Hall’s drug store is now. The hotel was kept by Wm. Lane, and accommodations were given despite the fact the hotel was a log building. (Mrs. Rachel Atkins) 

I often visited Miss Eliza Johnstone, a daughter of John Johnstone, who came from Ireland to this north country. He later married an Indian princess. The house was situated on what is now the Kemp property, and not far from their residence. On the northside was a flower garden, a great many rose and sweetbrier bushes, and on the south a grove of poplars, wild plum, and cherry trees. There was an entrance to the house on the north and south sides into a wide hall. As a child, I liked to call on Miss Johnstone because of her kindness in entertaining me. She took pleasure in showing me her souvenirs, among them an Aeolian harp, the oil painting of her father, the lovely furniture that he made a special trip to England to purchase, and her collection of books, some of them the writings of her brother-in-law, Henry Schoolcraft. In writing a few old memories of the Sault, I would be forgetful indeed if I did not say something of this lovely woman. (Mrs. B. F. Kelly, 217 Johnston Street)

Other articles in the series:
I Remember When…

Laurie Davis, Columnist
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