Although the S.S. Harland may be the best-remembered steamship on the run up and down the East and West Rivers and across the Bay to the Brush Wharf at Orwell it was only one in a long series of vessels serving these communities.
Immediately preceding the Harland, and often mistaken for it, was the City of London which was on the run from 1903 until the building of the Harland in 1908.
At 120 feet in length and with a beam of 27 feet the City of London was the largest vessel to have made the regular stops at the several wharves on the rivers cutting into the interior of the Island. The City of London had been built in Kingston Ontario in 1888 and re-built in 1892 and was registered in Montreal Quebec, from which port she was leased by the P.E.I. operators. She carried a crew of nine and had capacity to up to 500 passengers although she had only two small lifeboats.
The City of London was considered luxurious. It had a carpeted cabin complete with a piano. Her regular service took her to Orwell Brush Wharf , stopping at Halliday’s Wharf near Eldon and China Point Wharf as required every Tuesday and Wednesday; up the West River stopping at Westville and West River Bridge on Thursday; up the East River as far as Mt. Stewart every Friday and to Victoria on Saturday. Fares ranged from 20 cents for the East and West Rivers, to 25 cents to Orwell and 40 cents to Victoria.
On the completion of her lease the City of London she was returned to Quebec. She appears to have been broken up before 1921. Although the City of London and the Harland share the same general appearance the latter vessel has an open stern on the lower deck, windows and not ports on the lower deck and more lifeboats.
The City of London was not the only vessel serving the city and the river ports. In April 1904 George and Frank Batt, who operated several tug boats out of Charlottetown, purchased the S.S. Acadia from Capt. Farquhar of Nova Scotia. The ship had previously operated out of Pictou and had visited Charlottetown a number of times. Described by the Guardian as the “trim little river steamer” the boat had been built in Hantsport N.S. in 1887 and served as a ferry between Windsor and Parrsborough and later in Sydney. At 74 feet by 21 feet the Acadia was a little more than half the size of the City of London. Her regular schedule in 1904 saw her leaving Peake’s # 1 wharf early Tuesday mornings for the East River, returning to Charlottetown and then heading up the West river at supper time. On Fridays (when the City of London went to Victoria) she went up the West River in both morning and afternoon and enabled the West River population to reach Charlottetown on market day.
Although the Acadia, like most other steamers, carried excursionists from time to time to several destinations near Charlottetown, the business faced strong competition from the City of London and did not appear to be a success. By 1907 the Acadia had new owners and was back in Nova Scotia waters sailing from Pictou to Cape Breton ports.
I have not been able to find a photo of the ship either in her short-lived P.E.I. service or in other ports.