The ship that was to become the Saronic in later years was built in 1882 as the United Empire. Built of oak from forests near Sarnia, she was 253 feet in length, with a gross weight of almost 2000 tons. Owned by the Northwest Transportation Co. (Beatty Line), later the Northern Navigation Company, the United Empire carried passengers and freight from Sarnia to Fort William.
In 1904, the United Empire was rebuilt at Collingwood, and renamed the Saronic. Damaged by fire at Sarnia in the winter of 1915, the Saronic was converted to a steam barge. She was abandoned a few years later. The larger steel passenger ships were by this time running service on the Great Lakes for the Northern Navigation Co. (by then part of Canada Steamship Lines). None of the successors of the Saronic; however, ever had the distinction of being on the Canadian four dollar bill, where the United Empire had once appeared.
Barry, James P. Ships of the Great Lakes: 300 Years of Navigation.