The Final Years

The Final Years

In 1910, the Temiskaming Navigation Company operated seven or eight steamers on Lake Temiskaming; two years later, however, the company’s revenues had declined so much due to competition from more efficient transportation methods that it had to take out a $13,000 mortgage on the Meteor and the Temiskaming. The following year the head office returned to Temiscaming from Haileybury and cost cutting continued as railways assumed most of the steamers’ transportation role. Since the completion of the Temiskaming & Northern Ontario Railway to New Liskeard in 1905, and its connection to the National Transcontinental Railway at Cochrane three years later, steamers were no longer needed to take freight and passengers from Mattawa to the Ontario side of Lake Temiskaming. In addition, the completion of the Nipissing Central Railway Company’s streetcar line in 1911 provided passenger service between Cobalt, Haileybury, and New Liskeard every 30 minutes. At approximately the same time, Cobalt, New Liskeard, Haileybury and the townships of Bucke, Dymond and Coleman petitioned the Mininster of Public Works for a macadam road between Cobalt and New Liskeard – and about 16 kilometres were macadamized in 1912, allowing greater truck access. That same year, a railway spur line linked the T&NO Railway with the Haileybury wharf.

The First World War further dampened enthusiasm for pleasure excursions and by 1915 the only passenger steamers left on the lake were the Meteor and the Silverland. In the spring of 1917 Temiskaming Navigation Company surrendered its charter and sold the Meteor, the Temiskaming and Silverland to Télésphore Simard, a Quebec MP and mayor of Ville-Marie, who represented a Ville-Marie syndicate.

As rail transport had not reached the Quebec side of Lake Temiskaming, lake steamers remained the region’s life line to the outside world and the Meteor and the Temiskaming thus continued transporting freight and passengers to and from the east side of the lake for La Compagnie de Navigation Ville-Marie. For another six years Captain McCarthy Burns skippered the Meteor about Lake Temiskaming, alternating with the Temiskaming three times weekly. Unfortunately, the Meteor was at the opposite side of the lake when the great fire of 1922 destroyed Haileybury.

The Canadian Pacific Railway’s decision to link Temiscaming with Ville-Marie by rail spelled the end of the Meteor’s usefulness, and the steamer made its last run in 1923. Late in November 1926 the Meteor caught fire as it was being towed to Ville-Marie for the winter. She burned for 24 hours or so while crowds watched from the waterfronts at Haileybury and New Liskeard. Cut adrift, the Meteor went aground near the Old Mission, and lay on the gravel bottom over the winter. Subsequently, the steamship was savaged for its wood and steel strips until only the hulk remained. When she became a hazard, the Upper Ottawa Improvement Company dynamited the steamer’s remains in June 1928. After 37 years of serving the communities on both sides of Lake Temiskaming, the S.S. Meteor was no more.