Cruises were a big deal in the late 1800’s and into the early parts of the 1900’s. Ships like “The Haggart” of Perth would ply their way along The Rideau bringing tourists, sports teams and spectators to Westport on a regular basis. For a few cents, folks could join a group of people and sail to our village to enjoy events like community picnics, fairs and baseball games. These day excursions were extremely popular, but those seeking true luxury would splurge for a cruise on the bigger ships, such as the James Swift, the Rideau Queen, the Rideau Belle and the Rideau King. These “Palace Ships” would take their passengers in comfort between Kingston and Ottawa with numerous stopovers in between, including “The Port”. These cruises began their decline into obscurity when war efforts demanded that time and money be spent on necessities rather than luxury.
The “James Swift” was an early cruise ship on the Rideau in the 1890’s. An onboard fire caused it to be put into dry docks until it was repaired and launched under the new name “The Rideau King”.
The dining room onboard “The Rideau Queen” gave passengers a taste of luxury that they couldn’t experience at home. Dining room dinner options included items such as lamb, prime rib, and capon and pickled pork for 35 cents each. A slice of pie or a cup of coffee would add an extra ten cents to your bill.
An estate room on “The Rideau Queen” gave passengers a taste of luxury that they most likely did not experience on a regular basis during their everyday lives. No records exist for The Rideau Queen after 1928.