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The Windsor-Detroit Ferry

By Steve John October 05, 2017 0 comments


For years, the only way to cross the river between the Border Cities and Detroit was by boat.

In the 19th century, steamer ferries transported people, horse-drawn buggies laden with supplies from a bountiful Essex County, trains, and later cars and trucks between these international ports. From its docks, large luxury cruise ships transported vacationers to all points along the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, from Duluth to Quebec City.

 Windsor Detroit Ferry Dock 1910

The current intersection of Ouellette and Riverside was once known as Ferry Hill, a bustling hub of commerce. With the coming of the Great Western Railroad (later the Canadian National) in 1854, the area around its terminus grew from a village into a small city. At the dawn of the 20th century, rail passengers disembarked from Windsor Train Station at the foot of Goyeau Avenue, and nearby Ferry Hill flourished.   

Ferry Hill Windsor Prints 1910Ferry Hill, 1910 (Ouellette Avenue & Riverside Drive)

The Detroit and Windsor Ferry Company, founded in 1877, operated a fleet of steamers between Windsor and Detroit, including Belle Isle, Bob-Lo Island and many other Great Lakes destinations. The company ceased operations in 1938 when competition from the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel sunk its business.

Windsor Ferry Boat Dock Windsor Prints

Large advertisements on the facing of riverfront buildings targeted visitors and locals alike. Postmarked 1914.

Windsor Ferry Boat Dock Windsor Prints

Windsor Ferry Boat Dock Windsor Prints

See more photos of the Windsor Ferry at Windsor Prints

By Chris Edwards, Walkerville Publishing Co.

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