In 1907 the steamer City of London was a familiar sight in the waters near Charlottetown. For many years it had served communities which remained far from the Prince Edward Island Railway. The City of London provided service up and down the Hillsborough and Eliott (West) Rivers and across the Bay to China Point and Halliday’s Wharf near Eldon. However by 1907 the vessel was getting old and its owners, the Island Tug Company, commissioned a new vessel. The builders of the new steamer were registered as the Burrell Johnson Iron Company of Yarmouth it was actually was built by Joseph McGill in his shipyard in Shelburne Nova Scotia. The boat had a 33 horsepower steam engine and was 110 feet long. It had a beam of 27 feet and drew 6 feet 6 inches. The latter dimension was to prove a bit of a problem in some of her stops and occasionally the schedule had to be adjusted to allow for the tide.
By the spring of 1908 the new steamer was ready for sea trials and the Managing Director of the Island Tug Company and a crew from the City of London travelled to Shelburne to take delivery. At the sea trials on 30 May she performed admirably and managed an average speed of 10 1/2 knots.
The boat was specifically fitted for excursions which were a part of the regular routine and revenues for the Company. There was hardly an organization, lodge, fraternity, Sunday school or church group which had not taken a cruise on the City of London and the new boat was expected to perform the same service. As the Yarmouth Herald noted … her spacious, airy and tastefully decorated saloon admirably for her for the purpose. she has comfortable staterooms, cuisine, lavatory and other conveniences.”
In the meantime the City of London had been sold to interests in Quebec City and left Charlottetown on 16 June. The Guardian took some pains to report that she had left under her own steam. In the gap the Island Tug Company used one of their other vessels, the William Aitken (seen here with an excursion party on board ) to provide both steamer and excursion duties until the new vessel arrived in Charlottetown.
The little matter of the name for the new vessel had been settled at an early date. She was to be called the Winifred. However that name, and several later suggestions, were disallowed by the Department of Marine and Fisheries as being already in use by a number of vessels. Finally the name “Harland” was chosen and allowed. Where did the name come from? F.W. Hyndman was the managing director of the Island Tug Company and he used the name of his first cousin Rosa Matilda Wann’s late husband who had been in the shipbuilding business. Sir Edward James Harland was a partner of the Belfast Ireland firm of Harland and Wolff. Six years after the Harland was launched Harland and Wolff built a vessel for the White Star Steamship Line. She was named the S.S Titanic.
The Harland lasted considerably longer than the Titanic. She performed continuously on the Victoria, Orwell, Mt. Stewart, West River runs except for a few years during the Great War when she ran between Pictou and Georgetown. In 1920 she passed into the ownership of a new company, the Charlottetown Steamship Company, but in 1936 the provincial government stopped the annual subsidy for the company arguing that the improvements to roads made the expenditure unnecessary. The Harland was sold to the Straits Shipping and Construction Company in Sydney Nova Scotia and for a couple of years ran between Cape Breton and Montague.