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On-board communication systems were often unreliable in stormy conditions. Standardized signals between passing ships were still not fully developed. As a result, the lives of both the crew and passengers aboard Great Lake's vessels were in jeopardy with each sailing. Devices used to measure distance were at best rough instruments. A propeller-like mechanism called a log was pulled behind the boat, spinning as the vessel moved. Each revolution was calibrated and translated into distance covered.

While he was master of the Canadian in the 18505, his popularity resulted in his election to the Owen Sound Municipal Council in 1859 and 1860. 35 In the spring and fall ice was a constant problem. It interfered with shipping schedules and was a potential cause of serious damage, particularly to a sidewheeler steamer. Propeller-driven vessels without exposed propulsion faced less risk. For side wheelers like the Frances Smith floating ice would be swept into the paddlewheels where it broke the wooden buckets.

Marie), Smith would remain in control of southern Georgian Bay transportation during the i86os. He struggled through 1858 and the next year renewed his aggressive advertising campaign. Smith remained convinced that there was significant potential for profit in Georgian Bay. By this time his wife and small family had joined him in Owen Sound. Whether or not William H. was able to count on the continued financial support from the Eberts family in Chatham is not known, but the family connection was still solid.

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