Captain Nevins was one of the “iron men” of the “Rideau Navy”. As indicated in Invisible Army (pp. 136; 206-207; 210), he had done it all. But what is not included in the book is Captain Nevin’s career before he joined government service. The following article is taken from the Perth Courier, Friday, April 29, 1921, page 5.
WELL KNOWN RIDEAU MARINER IS RETIRED AFTER LONG SERVICE
Captain Francis Nevins of the government steamer Loretta, on the Rideau,
has been retired after a boating career of 65 years, over 30 of which has been
spent in the government service. On the occasion of his retirement he was
presented with tangible tokens of esteem in the form of a 400-day clock from
Captain (sic – Major) A. T. Phillips, superintending engineer of the Rideau canal,
and family, and a handsome club bag with an address from the members of the
crew of the Loretta and other fellow workers. Trobutes were paid to his long,
faithful and efficient service and regret expressed at the severance of the ties
of long association.
Capt. Nevins at various times occupied the positions of pilot, purser and captain
on boats which plied on the Rideau, Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers. From 1856
to 1873 he was pilot successively on the Britannia, City of Ottawa and Louise
boats,carrying passengers and freight between Ottawa and Kingston, owned
first by M. K. Dickenson, M.P., who had a fleet of 16 steamers and 82 barges,
and later by the Montreal, Ottawa and Kingston Transportation Co. In the
spring of 1862 the dams (sic) at Hog’s Back and Black Rapids were carried
away by the floods, and as the canal had to be closed to navigation, Captain
Nevins engaged for the season with the Northern Transportation Company,
and sailed one of their steamers from Ogdensburg, N.Y., to Cleveland, Ohio,
and thence to Port Arthur, experiencing rough weather on Lake Superior
during the trip. He was afterwards on the City of Kingston and subsequently
was employed with James Swift, Kingston, Captain Foster, Smiths Falls,
and Messrs. Easton and McRae of Ottawa, and others, his last charge prior
to his appointment to the government service being the Harry Bate,
a freight and passenger boat owned by the late Geo. Harris, of Ottawa,
and running from Montreal to Portland on the Rideau.
On August 15th, 1890, Mr. Nevins was appointed to the captaincy of the
government steamer (sic- steam tug) Shanly, named after the well-known
civil engineer, the late Walter Shanly, M.P. When on August 7th, 1907,
it was replaced with a perfectly new boat, the Loretta, he continued
on as captain, remaining in the position until the date of his retirement.
During his long experience as a navigator, Captain Nevins never lost a season.
He has been a life long citizen of Ottawa.