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Passages Through Time
Curated by: Neil Garneau
This exhibit covering the history of Owen Sound's ferry boats was first opened to the public on May 2, 2002.
In 1885, Owen Sound's marine history began as a terminal for ferry services. With the innovation and work of people such as William Henry Smith and John Tackaberry, Owen Sound soon became a commerce and travel centre with large companies setting up stations along the harbour front. With the establishment of the Dominion Transportation Company, the Canadian Pacific Steamship Lines and the Owen Sound Transportation Company, the city became known as "the Gateway to the West".
The exhibit focuses on how the three large companies developed through the use of the Owen Sound harbour as a base from which to transport cargo, grain and passengers from east to west. Through photographs, displays of artifacts and posted information, the exhibit portrays the companies' influence on the city, its people and Great Lakes' travel.
As commercial activity and development on the harbour increased, the Canadian Pacific Railway was quick to take advantage of a business opportunity and set up an Owen Sound terminus for the Canadian Pacific Steamship Lines. The fleet's history is chronicled in the exhibit.
In 1911, the C.P.S.L. no longer had a terminus in Owen Sound, leaving room for the Dominion and Owen Sound Transportation Companies (eventually one company in 1936). Through the services of these companies, water travel from Owen Sound continued and continues this day to Manitoulin Island. Follow the development, changes in services and the evolution of boat design through displayed artifacts and written information.
The development and growth of Owen Sound as a city was directly related to the history of these companies and their fleets of ferries.