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Walkerville & Detroit Ferry Company: The Last Ferry

boatticket.jpgThe Walkerville & Detroit Ferry Service began operations in 1881 and was originally started by the late Hiram Walker and other associates. It operated between the foot of Walker Street, Detroit, and Devonshire Road in Walkerville. There was only one boat, namely, the steamer Essex. This boat was leased and was owned by on the of the pioneer shipbuilders of this area, Henry Jenking [whose home and shipyard are located near the foot of the present day Montreuil and Riverside Dr.]

In 1882  the steamer Ariel was built by John Oades, whose shipyard was located the foot of Dubois Street in Detroit. It was during that year that the Detroit terminal was changed from the foot of Jos. Campeau Ave. During the summer months, the ferry service was over a triangular course, from Detroit to Belle Isle to Walkerville, and this was continued for several years. Walkerville, which was found by Hiram Walker, was at this time, a small but thriving community.

The Ariel was a wooden boat, about 100 feet long, and it must be remembered that in those days, there were no automobiles or motor trucks, the traffic consisting entirely of pedestrians and horse-drawn vehicles. It will also b recalled that the development of the bicycle took place during this period.

In the early days, the service was from 6:40 a.m. to 6:40 p.m. On Saturday nights, in the summer months, the boat would leave from the foot of Bates Street in Detroit at 10 p.m. for the Walkerville Dock, which gave the people of Walkerville an opportunity to go to Detroit and return direct by this boat. This was important since there was no street car service between Windsor and Walkerville at the time. [Otherwise, the people of Walkerville would have to somehow make their way into to Windsor to take the ferry across to Detroit.]



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