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.
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, 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.
Large advertisements on the facing of riverfront buildings targeted visitors and locals alike. Postmarked 1914.
By Chris Edwards, Walkerville Publishing Co.