The D. J. Purdy I

The screw propelled D. J. Purdy I was built in 1924 in Meteghan, N.S.. She was a wooden-hulled vessel powered by two diesel engines with twin screws specifically for the Saint John- Fredericton route. She was the first of this type on the St. John River and she was also the first to have an engine telegraph. She was 153 feet long with a capacity of 396 tons. Except for a few trips on the Grand Lake route, her entire time on the river was on the Fredericton run, with practically all of her career under the command of Captain J. E. Gilchrist.

The D. J. Purdy I was the second steamboat named after Mr. D. J. Purdy (see D.J.Purdy), who unfortunately died in 1924 before this vessel was completed.

Since no deck space was sacrificed for boilers and only a small amount for engines, she probably had more deck room for her length than any other riverboat. She had a number of state rooms and her large passenger capacity made her ideal for picnics and excursions. During her later years, it was common practice for tourists to put their cars on board while they enjoyed the river trip.

One year quite early in her career, and very late in the season, she had a large cargo, including quite a quantity of imported liquor to take from Saint John to Fredericton. A few miles below Fredericton, the river was found to be frozen over but, as this was a good paying cargo and the destination was in sight, it was decided to keep going. Although the new ice was quite thin, it acted "like a thousand chisels" and in a short time cut completely through the wooden planks on each side of the bow. Water came pouring into the bilge and there was danger of sinking. Hand trucks were quickly loaded with anything heavy near the bow and shifted aft. This was repeated until the holes in the hull were above water and the steamer was taken to a suitable place on the shore. This accident probably had a lot to do with the steel hulled Majestic assuming the role of icebreaker.

The D. J. Purdy I was withdrawn from service after her last trip on September 30,1946. This was also the end of the 130+ years of the river/steam boat era on the beautiful St. John River.