N-0000.193.266.1 | London and the River Thames, ON, about 1860

London and the River Thames, ON, about 1860
William Notman (1826-1891)
about 1860, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on card - Albumen process
7.3 x 7 cm
Gift of Mr. James Geoffrey Notman
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , bridge (558) , Cityscape (3948) , Photograph (77678) , river (1486) , Waterscape (2986)
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Keys to History

The river seen here is the Thames, in London, Ontario, the scene of a terrible disaster that occurred on May 24, 1881. It was Victoria Day, the Queen's birthday, and many Londoners had turned out to picnic in Springland Park. They had come by boat, a pleasant half-hour excursion. Late in the afternoon, one of the three ferries ran aground on a sandbar. The Princess Victoria was sent to pick up the passengers waiting dockside at the park. Within minutes, it was overloaded. The captain's efforts to convince some of the passengers to disembark went unheeded, so the boat set off for the city. Listing dangerously and taking on water, it finally capsized. More than 180 people, including many women and children, lost their lives in this disaster.

Source : Disasters and Calamities [Web tour], by Nathalie Lampron (see Links)

  • What

    With the second largest watershed in southwestern Ontario, the Thames River flows near lakes Huron, St. Clair and Erie. It is 273 kilometres long.

  • Where

    The downtown historical district of the City of London, known as the Forks, is where the north and south branches of the Thames River converge, in the heart of southwestern Ontario.

  • When

    In 1793, John Graves Simcoe, Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Upper Canada, designated a spot that he called "London" as the provincial capital. Governor General Carleton opposed his choice, and York, the present-day Toronto, became the seat of government.

  • Who

    Brewers John Carling and John Labatt established their businesses in London in the mid-19th century. When the terrible Princess Victoria ferryboat disaster occurred in 1881, they helped set up a relief fund for the stricken families.