Audio: Phil Ayling
Photographer: Daniel Matthews
Video Editing: Cobourg Museum Foundation
Picture Credits: Rochester Museum & Science Centre; Will S. – flickr.com; RochesterSubway.com; MagicOfSteam.blogspot.com
This story uses archival photos of Bowmanville, Cobourg, Rochester and the ferries to illustrate what is being described.
Phil Ayling’s Story
Text appears on screen: “Now well into his 90s, Phil Ayling recalls the delight he had as a teenager taking the round trip from Cobourg to Rochester, N.Y.”
“A memorable lake trip by steamer” is my title.
My story begins in Maple Grove, just west of Bowmanville, where my parents were operating a large market garden. Our next door neighbour, who worked at the Goodyear plant in Bowmanville, was taking his wife and son, Bill, with me as his guest, to Cobourg to take a fine boat trip by steamer across to Rochester.
It was July, 1937. Arriving in Cobourg before 8am, we drove to the harbour which was already swarming with activity. Our ship, the S.S. Ontario No. 1, berthed at the dock, was busy with its crew loading 17 railway cars into its gaping hold. Each one had been shunted down Cobourg’s Spring Street.
And we the passengers? How did the ship accommodate all 100 of us? “Not to worry,” we were told. “You all will travel comfortably above decks. But don’t try to visit the hold.” That was a quote.
Then, with our cargo safely stowed, all 17 railway cars out of sight, all of us curious passengers were eager to watch us leave the harbour. Then the bell blasted the signal for departure. One of the sailors began singing, “Anchors away, my lads. Anchors away.”
Soon our ship began slicing through the water as we entered the lake. It seemed in no time the Canadian shore disappeared. We were now well out on the lake, out of sight of land, with the sun glistening on the water. Hours passed. Then the American shoreline appeared. Of course, we passengers were eager to see Rochester, especially Bill and me.
This fine city turned out to be, of course, several times larger than Cobourg. After we docked, the American crew unloaded all of our cars and began loading their replacement cars, all 17. After a few hours of sightseeing around the American city, we returned to our ship.
Yes, Bill and I especially enjoyed the return trip. It, too, was truly memorable.
Phil Ayling – July 15, 2015