Ode To The Bytown Pumper (Now the S.S. Pumper)
In Eighteen Hundred and twenty six.
Canal boats as a general rule,
Were towed along a towpath,
By a horse or by a mule.
But Colonel By in his wisdom,
Had a vision and a dream,
For the Rideau locks to be larger,
And move everything by steam.
Parliament agreed, the Rideau was built,
Using watercourse and take,
With locks built to their present size,
So a steamboat they would take.
And so it was in that great day,
In the spring of thirty two,
Colonel By set forth from Kingston,
To make the trip right through.
The boat they chose was the 'Pumper',
Twelve horsepower, driven by steam,
Eighty foot long, drawing six feet,
It was fifteen foot in the beam.
But someone thought that 'Pumper',
Didn't sound too grand,
So they changed it's name to 'Rideau',
And set off north as planned.
There were many stops and speeches,
And the trip took five whole days,
Before the 'Rideau' got to Bytown,
To cheering crowds and praise.
Colonel By was right, steam was supreme
And the land opened up to all,
As immigrants and finished goods,
Were carried from Montreal.
For many a year these sturdy craft reigned,
With paddle and rotating screw,
Some burnt coal and some burnt wood,
They steamed the summer through.
The 'Rideau King' and the 'Ottawan',
The 'Hunter' and the 'Rideau Queen',
Black smoked 'Puffers' pulling barges,
Every day at the locks could be seen.
But as times changed their numbers declined,
The roads and the rail took their toll,
Until one day there was no steam at all,
And the canal was suddenly droll.
Commerce gave way to pleasure,
And plastic replaced teak and oak,
And rooster tails rose in the air,
Instead of billowing smoke.
But wait, did I hear a whistle?
Like a song on a well tuned flute,
Yes here into view wreathed in steam,
The 'Bytown Pumper' gives me a toot.
Hull in the water, where hulls ought to be,
Not stuck in the air while on plane.
With leisurely gait and small foaming wake,
It's in keeping with natures terrain.
So come aboard the 'Bytown Pumper',
Down memory land take a ride.
And go back to the days when steamboats,
Navigated the Rideau with Pride.
By: Danid G. Brett