DCB/DBC Mobile beta


New Biographies

Minor Corrections

Biography of the Day


Responsible Government

Sir John A. Macdonald

From the Red River Settlement to Manitoba (1812–70)

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Sir George-Étienne Cartier


The Fenians

Women in the DCB/DBC

The Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences of 1864

Introductory Essays of the DCB/DBC

The Acadians

For Educators

The War of 1812 

Canada’s Wartime Prime Ministers

The First World War

MILLOY, DUNCAN, steamboat captain and owner; b. 1825 (perhaps in August), in Scotland, fourth son of Alexander Milloy; d. 20 Oct. 1871 at Niagara, Ont.

Duncan Milloy was raised in Oban, Argyllshire, Scotland, but left in 1843 with his widowed father and his six brothers to settle in Brant County, Canada West. All the brothers made their careers in inland shipping, Duncan immediately taking employment on Royal Mail Line steamers running between Hamilton and Montreal. On 25 Nov. 1851 he married Euphemia Thompson, who came from a shipping family; in 1862 they moved from Toronto to Niagara.

In 1853 Milloy took command of the passenger steamer Chief Justice Robinson running from Toronto to Niagara and Lewiston, New York, a route he was to travel most of his life. He transferred in 1854 to the opulently appointed side-wheeler Zimmerman, 475 tons, estimated cost $60,000, launched that year from Louis Shickluna’s yards at Niagara for the Erie and Ontario Railroad Company with whose service it connected at Niagara. In 1858 he commanded the Peerless running from Toronto to Hamilton, but he bought the Zimmerman from Samuel Zimmerman*’s estate in time for the 1859 season and returned to the Toronto, Niagara, and Lewiston route. In 1863, however, the Zimmerman burned at its Niagara wharf, its steam-whistle shrieking mournfully. Milloy immediately handed a design of his own to Shickluna, and on 20 April 1864 the City of Toronto, 221 feet, 512 tons, and built of seasoned oak, slipped into the water. Railways ran around the head of Lake Ontario after 1855, and there was less need for passenger shipping; except for one year, Milloy was the only one making the journey from 1861 on.

Duncan Milloy appears to have been a handsome, genial, and even dashing figure – fitting the captain who travelled the route to the falls, at once a festive, a fashionable, and an international voyage. Canadians favoured his route as a link to the eastern seaboard and to Europe since it connected with the New York Central Railroad at Lewiston. A passenger skipper had standing in the community. Milloy, a Presbyterian and a freemason, appears to have been on familiar terms with Conservative leaders John A. Macdonald* and John Hillyard Cameron, but his affability had to extend the whole range of the social scale to cope with the holiday and moonlight excursions for which his vessel was often hired.

Milloy died in 1871 at “Oban House,” his home at Niagara. In the last two seasons before the City burned in 1883 it was owned and skip pered by his eldest son William. One of Milloy’s brothers, Donald, at one time purser on the Zimmerman, later headed steamboat partnerships.

Barrie Dyster

Niagara Historical Society (Niagara), W. A. Milloy papers. PAC, MG 26, A (Macdonald papers), pp.258203–4; RG 5, C1, 1858, no.195. Globe (Toronto), especially 11 July 1867 and 21 Oct. 1871. J. of Education for Ont., XXIV (1871), 187. Caverhill’s Toronto city directory, for 1859–60 . . . (Toronto, [1859]). Hutchinson’s Toronto directory, 1862–63 . . . (Toronto, n.d.). Commemorative biog. record, county York, 627. Erik Heyl, Early American steamers (5v., Buffalo, N.Y., 1953–67), II, 37; III, 353–54; V, 61–62. Janet Carnochan, History of Niagara (in part) (Toronto, 1914). Barlow Cumberland, A century of sail and steam on the Niagara River (Toronto, 1913). History of the Great Lakes (2v., Chicago, 1899), II, 4. Landmarks of Toronto (Robertson), II, 896, 915, 917.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Barrie Dyster, “MILLOY, DUNCAN,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 10, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed June 6, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/milloy_duncan_10E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/milloy_duncan_10E.html
Author of Article:   Barrie Dyster
Title of Article:   MILLOY, DUNCAN
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 10
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1972
Year of revision:   1972
Access Date:   June 6, 2023