Lansdowne of Windsor, a Detroit River ferry boat

Steamer Lansdowne of Windsor

Crossing the Detroit River in winter c. 1904, LC-D4-22154

Under the headline of “Things I found when looking for something else” comes this photo from the massive Detroit Publishing Co. collection in the Library of Congress.

The ferry is identified as the steamer Lansdowne of Windsor, a vessel mentioned briefly in The Detroit River ferryboats in the Detroit News’ Rearview Mirror:

The old paddle-wheeled steamer, the Lansdowne, which by its retirement in 1956 was one of the oldest vessels still operating on the lakes, once carried passenger train cars across the Detroit River. It was resurrected briefly during the 1980s as a floating restaurant off downtown Detroit.

If you click the “More Photos” button at the top left of the article, you can see another (clearer) shot of the Lansdowne. The March 1970 edition of the Toronto Marine Historical Society’s Scanner  had this to say:

For well over one hundred years there have been carferries operating across the Detroit River between Windsor and Detroit, and a large portion of this period, 87 years in fact, could well be called “The Lansdowne Era.” For exactly this long, a major item on the Detroit River scene has been the paddle-driven railway ferry, LANSDOWNE.

This veteran, 294 feet in length, was completed in 1884 by the Detroit Dry Dock Co. at Wyandotte, where her iron hull was known as Hull 66. Her horizontal, low-pressure engines were built in 1872 by E.E. Gilbert & Sons at Montreal for the wooden carferry MICHIGAN (I) and they were placed in LANSDOWNE at the time of her completion. Originally equipped with four stacks and two pilothouses, the ferry now carries but two stacks and one bridge and looks somewhat gaudy in the Canadian National Railway’s new livery. Nevertheless, she is the last sidewheeler operating on the Great Lakes and holds a great charm known to anyone who has observed her or made a crossing in her.

Recent photos of the “somewhat gaudy” Lansdowne can be found at the amazing Boatnerd.com.

28 thoughts on “Lansdowne of Windsor, a Detroit River ferry boat

  1. Im Capt James Paul Miller and I grew up on this vessel as my Dad Capt Nicholas Saad was Capt For 28 yrs aboard her, I became her Capt at Age 19 and Was last to command her under her own steam, She blew a piston leaving Detroiton midnite watch in 1970, I pushed her as a Tug Barge combo for several more years, Im now an Ocean Tug Capt on east Coast readying for retirement, I have many fond memories of this very special vessel JIM

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    1. Hi Marcel, Have Contact with a girl Related to Alph Pare, Would love to say Hi to Clarence, Give me a call (863) 651-2017 Ill try to connect everyone

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  2. Capt Nick Saad,my stepdad, was born in Montreal in 1911-1995,of Lebanese immigrants,He embraced the capitalistic system + attended Anglican church, He was the kindest gentlest man Ive ever known, He would regularly take me aboard the Lansdowne where he was a respected Master, Leaving port required an 8 sec steam blast and the cord hung thru the wheelhouse to the whistle on the steam stack, He would give signal to back out of slip,then lift+ hang me on the steam line, while he marked the departure in the log, I was thrilled by this episode, I later became her Capt and blew that same whistle many times-JIM

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  3. Jim
    The end is near foe the Lansdowne. She is currently tied up at the csrgill pool elevator in Buffalo NY with remnants of the Milwaukee Road Skytop Sleeper Cars, Arrow Creek and Gold Creek. After many years trying to make a go of a restaurant on the Lansdowne the owners have sold her for SCRAP. Some effort is being made to salvage parts or all of the Arrow Creek and Gold Creek, but time is very short, Buffalo has given a May 1 deadline.
    Bob Browne

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  4. Thank You Fellas for updates, Sadly As George Harrison once wrote”All Things Must Pass” and Memories are our fondest gifts,Capt Nick Saad taught me a living that has put 2 of my children thru college and allowed me to do + see things most people dont get to, Take care everyone, Safe Sailing!-JIM

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  5. TO JIM MILLER, MY GRANDFATHER MIKE KENNEDY WAS A HAND ON THE LANSDOWN, ALONG WITH A FAMLEY FRIEND PAT DEVON, BOTH OF WINDSOR. IS THE LANSDOWN STILL IN BUFFALOW?
    THANKS
    HARRY SIRAVO JR.

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    1. To: Jim Miller, Harry Siravo Jr.

      My father was the chief engineer for many years on this ship. His name was Alphonse Pare and his brother Clarence was the Captain. I have memories as a young boy in the 60’s going over to Detroit on Saturdays sitting down in the engine room where my dads small office was located. Noisy and hot. My Dad worked 48 years on the railroad and had many ship stories to tell. He lived till the age of 94 and would always tell us the landsdowne was the last steam vessel on the great lakes.

      Mike Pare

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      1. Sorry I took so long to reply, Yes Alph Pare Was Dads loyal and trustwothy Chief Eng, for many years, Clarence (His Brother )was also a Capt and a fine gentleman + Sailor who all crewmates respected. I worked with both men + Grew up in theyre company, I remember the day Mate Don Langdon, was hired, Guy Reid a Mate/Capt Also, From old days. Clarence commuted Detroit to Port Huron his last few years before retirement to Master the Tugs Phylyss + Margaret York and we relieved each other during that period /68 to 78 or so, I can be reached at (863)651-2017 -Capt Jim Miller (Saad)

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  6. TO JIM MILLER,
    DO YOU REMEMBER MY GRANDFATHER MIKE KENNEDY1940’S TO LATE 1950’S. HE LIVED ON LANGLOIS AVE., WINDSOR.

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  7. Dont know Mike Kennedy but Alph Pare Chief Eng ,Clarence Pare , Capt + My Dad Nick Saad (deceased) would certainly know him as those dudes ran the show in that era,Met coincidentally a Great Nephew of 1St Mate “Guy Reid” who might also know him,Good luck nice to hear from you!

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  8. I have seen several posts on various sights. I do know where the engine, paddle wheel and all related parts are. I was wondering if there may be interest in this. Thank you. You can reach me through igjoe79@aol.com.

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    1. Yes I knew Guy Reid Very Well, He was chiefly a Mate but had Capt Documentation and would/could work as Capt though he seemed to prefer to be out of the Mayhem + Chaos that included the Masters Slot. He helped Teach me to Steer large Vessels and He even worked as my Mate on rare occasions though his vast experience far outshined me in those early Days, Would love to have a picture of him Especially in a hat he often wore to cover his Red Locks (wink) (jamespaulmiller@yahoo.com)

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      1. Jim I sent 2 photos of my dad Guy Reid from an article The Detroit Free Press did on him. He passed away March 28 1988. His life was working on the Lansdowne and Huron and he use to take my mom, brother and me on the Lansdowne to watch the fireworks on the Detroit river. I have a few mementos from the Lansdowne that I cherish.

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  9. My grandfather is Clarence Pare. The greatest of all. His brother al pare was a great man also. Im glad these legends are being carried on.

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    1. Where is Clarence? Yes we worked together as Did My Father Nick Saad and he fo many years,I had tremendous respect for Clarence

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    1. I have Fond Memories of that Vessel Being her last Capt, I donated a lot of Pictures that Decorated her interior, Do you have any? (jamespaulmiller@yahoo.com)

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