A Foregone Fleet: A Pictorial History of Steam-Driven Paddleboats on the Ottawa River
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography
Gerald J. Stortz is an assistant professor of history at St. Jerome’s
College, University of Waterloo.
This is, in many ways, a most interesting publication. It is the first volume in a series that will be devoted to navigation in the Ottawa Valley. One of the authors, André Lamirande, is an underwater archaeologist and president of the Wheelhouse Maritime Museum. The other, Gilles Séguin, is an affiliate of the museum and a historian of Canadian navigation.
The crowning glory of the book, as the title suggests, is the photography. A myriad of photographs illustrates the wide variety of paddleboats that plied the Ottawa River, and a capsule history of each steamboat accompanies the photographs. These histories not only deal with economics and navigation but are related to the social history of the Valley. For example, the role played by the Shannon in early Ottawa history during the cholera epidemics and the Shiner’s War is fascinating.
The publisher, Highway Book Shop, also is to be congratulated. They have in the past published worthwhile works, such as Brian Hogan’s history of the Cobalt Strike, that larger concerns might not have found worthwhile and have made them available to the consumer at a reasonable price. However, in this case, considering that this book is essentially of the coffeetable variety and that it will be opened again and again, one wishes that they had opted for a cloth rather than a paper cover to ensure durability.
This one caveat aside, A Foregone Fleet will be a pleasure to those interested in the history of transportation in Canada.