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steamboats on reeds lake

A Poisson Family Legacy

G
lake
aze out on the
on a warm summers
evening and you can almost
see them, the noble
Captain John Poisson, second from
steamboats of Reeds Lake,
the right, with crew on the SS Hazel filled with happy people
A, circa 1912 making yet another round of
the lake. Captain Charles Poisson, circa 1950
And So It Begins... on the SS Ramona
Regularly scheduled rides on
excursion steamboats on Reeds
Lake began in 1882 when
Captain John Poisson came to
live in this area.
I Remember it so well...
The Poisson family originated
in Three Rivers, Quebec,
Poisson home on Reeds Lake on Lake
Canada. John Poisson came to Drive at the end of Wealthy Street,
Grand Rapids and took a job as circa 1895
a tailor and owned his own
shop. When failing eyesight
forced him to give up this
profession, he purchased the
S.S. Florence and became part
of the history of East Grand
Rapids.

John's sons Joseph and Charles


and grandson William followed View of Reeds Lake, circa 1895
in his footsteps as boat livery Lakeside Club with the SS Major
and steamboat owners and Watson and the SS Hazel A coming in
captains on the lake. Captain Bill Poisson, 1953, on the
to dock
SS Ramona

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RIDE ALL DAY FOR 25 CENTS!

S.S. Florence. S.S. Hazel A. SS Major Watson


1883 - 1902 1893 - 1923 1894 - 1921
54 foot steel hull. 100 x 26 foot wooden hull. 130 feet long x 26 foot wide
Maximum capacity 300 wooden hull
Originally built as a single people Maximum capacity 450
deck. A second deck was
people
added later.
Originally built and owned by
Built in Frankfort, Michigan. Captain Michael McCarthy. Named for Major Amasa Brown
Sailed up the Grand River to There was docking competition Watson, d. 1888, Civil War
Wealthy Street. Teams of between Captain Poisson and Major, Grand Rapids
horses pulled it to Reeds Captain McCarthy.
businessman and prominent
Lake. This took better than This boat sank after a suffering
citizen. Major Watson was a
six months! a leak in 1901.
Purchased by Joseph H. friend of Captain John Poisson.
Removed from the lake in the
late 1800s for a few years and Poisson in 1905 and restored
to working order. Built for John Poisson in 1891
was later returned to the lake Ran on Reeds Lake from 1891
where it sailed until 1902. Buried at sea again in 1923
when the engine was removed to 1921.
The S.S. Florence was then Drew 7 feet of water
for use in a newer boat. A
purchased by a party in In 1921 it was docked at the
strong wind blew it out in the
Muskegon, Michigan and lake where it sank. Its hull is boat ramp and no longer used as
spent her last years on Mona now located out from the boat an excursion boat.
Lake. launch on Reeds Lake. Served for a time as clubhouse of
the Furniture City Post of the
American Legion.
In 1923 it was declared a hazard
and dismantled.
Its hull was sunk and anchored
by a metal post in the channel
between Fisk and Reeds Lake.

The SS Florence began with a


single deck in 1883. The second
deck was added in 1893.

2
The Last
Steamboat
For Your
Information:
The boats were docked for
the winter, not pulled up on
shore.

Captain Charles Poisson was


SS Ramona, circa 1940s Sport, circa 1909
listed in Ripley's Believe it or
1923 - 1956 Not as having the record for
110 foot steel hull
Early launch boat owned
going around the world the
Maximum capacity 435 and operated by the equivalent of 20 times
people Poisson family on Reeds without leaving home during
Lake his trips around Reeds Lake
Owned and operated by on the steamers.
Charles Poisson, son of John.
The last captain of the SS The steering wheel previously
Ramona was William Poisson, displayed in the East Grand
grandson of John. Rapids History Room was
On Sundays a band used originally on the SS
entertained passengers. There Major Watson and then on
was also a player piano the SS Ramona.
onboard!
In early years, lunches were See the EGR History Room
served onboard or you could for more information on the
bring your own and sit at steamboats on Reeds Lake
picnic tables. and the Poisson Family.
SS Major Watson at dock, circa 1909
People could ride all day for one
fee 15 cents for adults and 5 Have a memory, old
cents for children in the 1930s. photographs or other
In later years, the fee was 25 historically significant items
cents for adults, 10 cents for you wish to share with the
children. community? Please contact
The boat was docked for the Mary Dersch, History Room
winter, not pulled up on shore.
Curator:
After Ramona Park closed there
616-241-2092
was not enough business for the
Ramona to keep running. Much egrhistoryroom@gmail.com
steel and copper was salvaged SS Hazel A, circa 1910 Like our :
from the boat and the rest was East Grand Rapids History
burned out in the lake. Room Facebook page.
It is believed that the hull is Thanks so much!
sunken down 25+ feet of water
in Reeds Lake near the Library. 3
East Grand Rapids History Room
City of East Grand Rapids
East Grand Rapids Library
746 Lakeside Dr., SE
East Grand Rapids, MI 49506
(616) 784-2007

Lakeside Club and the SS Hazel A on Reeds Lake, circa 1909

Copyright of East Grand Rapids History Room


East Grand Rapids Library
746 Lakeside Dr., SE
East Grand Rapids, MI 49506
egrhistoryroom@gmail.com