The Canadians are coming! The Canadians are coming! In the late 1880s, four Canadians, including Sir Sandford Fleming’s son, Sandford H. Fleming, traveled to the State of Florida to enter into a subcontract with the Florida canal company to perform a portion of the work in the Matanzas-Halifax River Cut joining St. Augustine and today’s Ormond Beach, just above Daytona Beach.
Sir Sandford Fleming had won world-wide acclaim as chief engineer of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the designer of Canada’s first adhesive postage stamp, and the inventor of the 24 time zones around the world known as Universal Time, making it easier for railways to create timetables for arrivals and destinations around the world.
The particulars of the early Florida work performed by the junior Fleming are to date unknown. We do know that after a time the Canadian group failed to complete the work, owing a substantial sum in damages to the Florida canal company. The Canadians wouldn’t be in a position to repay the debt until almost thirty years had passed.
Meanwhile, several officials of the Florida canal company and a Newburyport, Mass. banker, Albert P. Sawyer, formed the Boston and Florida Atlantic Coast Land Company to buy 100,000 acres of the Florida canal company’s state land grant at a dollar an acre for $100,000. Sawyer also created three land trusts to buy more canal company land, restoring the canal venture’s coffers to further dredging work down the Florida peninsula into the Indian River. Soon Sir Sandford Fleming became the largest stockholder in the Boston & Florida land company after company officials made the stock exchangeable in land owned by the company.
There are seventeen varieties of the croton plant in Florida and other areas with subtropical climates. The croton is generally salt tolerant and thrives in alkaline soils. Croton grows relatively slowly and requires little care and maintenance.
The purchase of the Cape Cod Canal built by August Belmont was authorized by the same Act of Congress in 1927 that authorized the Army Corps of Engineers to enlarge and perpetually maintain the Florida East Coast Canal. Like the Cape Cod Canal, the Florida East Coast Canal was privately owned and collected tolls from marine traffic transiting the waterway.
The difference was that Federal funds were used to buy the Cape Cod Canal and every other waterway along the Atlantic coast to create parts of what some called the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, with the exception of the Florida East Coast Canal. The State of Florida created a special taxing district along the Florida coast to issue bonds and buy the waterway for $725,000. No other state was required to turn over its inland waterways to the federal government, free of charge.
The “Swan” began as a flat-bottomed stern-wheel steamer hauling cotton on the Mississippi River. The was said to cruise so lightly upon the water, the “Swan” would float like a drop of dew in her transits up and down the River. In her second reincarnation, the “Swan” was purchased by the Indian River Steamboat Company to transport citrus and winter vegetables up and down the Indian River in the early 1890s. Allied with a railroad company, this steamboat company went bankrupt.
Several investors in the canal company organized another company that practically exhausted the English language in naming it to buy the “Swan” and other assets in 1896 or 1897 from the bankrupt company. The Indian River and Bay Biscayne Inland Navigation Company soon operated a small fleet of steamers along what would become Florida’s Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. In 1898, the company won the contract to transport munitions down the waterway to Cuba for the short-lived Spanish American War.