$1, 175th Anniv of 1st

Canadian-Built Steamship on Lake Ontario


The Frontenac sailing on Lake Ontario, design by Ontario artist David Craig

The 175th anniversary of the launching of the Steamer Frontenac, on the Bay of Quinte, Lake Ontario, in 1816, commemorates the first steamship to sail on the Great Lakes. Built by a partnership of Kingston merchants in 1815, the Frontenac established a regular passenger and freight route between Prescott and Burlington by 1817.
The reverse depicts the side-wheel paddle steamer Frontenac under full steam on Lake Ontario, passing the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse shown in the background, and two fishermen on a small island in the foreground. The 700-ton Frontenac measured 170 ft (52 m) long, had a 32-ft (9.8-m) beam and a 10-ft (3-m) draft, and could make 9 knots. She was built by Henry Teabout & Henry Chapman at Finkle’s Point, Ernestown at the Bay of Quinte on Lake Ontario in 1817 for a consortium of Kingston merchants for service on Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River. She was named for governor and lieutenant general of New France (Canada) Louis de Buade, Comte de Palluau et de Frontenac (1620-1698). Frontenac was the first Canadian-built paddle-driven steamship on the Great Lakes. Like most early steamships, she was powered by sail and steam. She had one mast and two funnels. In 1817 she began a regular round-trip route between Prescott on the upper St. Lawrence River and York (now Toronto) on Lake Ontario. Improvements in technology in early steamships were so rapid that the ship quickly became uncompetitive. She was sold at auction in 1825 for less than a tenth of her original cost. Frontenac was laid up in 1827. Her last owner removed her engines and burned the hull. Gibraltar Point Lighthouse marks the southwestern tip of the Toronto Islands. It was originally built in 1808 and was 52 ft (16 m) high.