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A Family of Mariners, a Remarkable Ship

By Jane E. MacNamara

While arbitrating a page of the Mount Pleasant Cemetery records, today, I came across Captain James K. Harbottle. James Keith Harbottle died on April 1, 1897, age 37 years, 11 months. He was buried in plot C 17 12.

Harbottle was the popular master of the steamer Chicora*, a vessel that took passengers from Toronto to Niagara Falls for some 36 years. His death made the front page of The Evening Star of April 1.

Chicora had earlier been captained by his father Thomas Harbottle. Thomas had emigrated from Newcastle-upon-Tyne to Buffalo, and then to Toronto about 1850. He plied the Great Lakes in a number of different vessels until he took on Chicora in 1876. In 1882, he was appointed Inspector of Hulls and Equipment for the Port of Toronto. Thomas died suddenly in 1894 at the age of 73. The father of 16 children, six of his sons served as his pallbearers.

Our Captain James K. Harbottle’s sailing siblings included Harry G., Thomas E., Neville, and George (also a druggist). You can read more about their careers at Maritime History of the Great Lakes.

*The steamer Chicora’s 74-year history is remarkable. Built in Liverpool as a Confederate blockade runner in 1864, she left Charleston after the war for Halifax. Purchased for use in Toronto in 1867, she was brought to Quebec where she was cut into two sections for passage up the canals. Chicora served as a troop ship during the Northwest Rebellion, and was refitted as the vice-regal yacht for Governor-General Lord Dufferin, all before her Toronto-Niagara career. Read more about  Chicora in the Toronto Marine Historical Society’s Scanner.

The steamer Chicora in 1903. Photo by Rowley W. Murphy (Toronto Marine Historical Society)

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