The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Upper Canada Herald (Kingston, ON), Aug. 22, 1837

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p.2 According to the opinion of the Attorney General, the law regulating the commercial intercourse between the British Colonies and the United States prohibits the carrying of staves by American vessels from one Canadian port to another.

Attorney General's Office,

Toronto, 12th August, 1837.

Sir, - With reference to the letter of the Collector of Customs at the Port of Kingston of the 27th ult'o, addressed to you, in which that Office desires to be instructed whether it be legal for Foreign Vessels taking cargoes of staves on board at one British port and consigned to another British port and discharged there, such vessels having touched at and cleared from a Foreign port between the time of receiving and landing their cargoes, I have the honor to state that such practice is illegal and subjects the vessel and cargo to seizure and condemnation.

I have the honor to be, Sir,

Your most obedient Humble servant,

Chr. R. Hagerman, Attorney General.

The Hon. George H. Markland,

Inspector General.

As this matter greatly affects the proceedings of the Kingston Stave Company, and through them the interests of Kingston, we will examine the subject, and show its bearing on the prosperity of U.C.

The law above adverted to is designed to favour British navigation by giving to British vessels the whole of their own carrying trade, and as a general rule it is beneficial and necessary. But we think that in this matter of stave-carrying, an exception must be allowed, because, unless that be admitted, our vessels will not, cannot, carry the staves at all, - they will be carried solely by the Americans, as was the case before the Stave Company was established. The reason arises from this, that Staves are carried as a return cargo, by the American vessels trading to Lakes Erie and Huron, from Oswego and some other American ports on Lake Ontario, and being a return cargo, they are carried at a cheap rate, much cheaper than our vessels can afford to carry them. The Canadian vessels ask $65 per thousand for bringing staves from the River Thames and other Canadian ports on the upper lakes to Kingston; but American vessels bring staves for $50 per M, making a difference of $15 per M, and that would give the lumbermen a handsome profit. Indeed, they think themselves well off if they gain $9 per M profit. Now, staves cannot pay the $65 per M carriage to Kingston, For they cost $34 more from this place to Quebec, and are only worth £ ? 10s. per M when at that port. So that the carriage would be £25 per M, and leave only (£7 10s. ?) to the owner; and staves cannot be got out of the woods and taken to a shipping port or place under £10 per M. So that the lumberer would lose £2 10s. by his staves if they were carried by British vessels, and would gain 15s. per M at the American rate. Staves cannot pay for a vessel going up empty to bring them down; they can only pay when brought as a return cargo. The Americans have many vessels constantly carrying salt, merchandize, etc. from their Lower ports to Sandusky, Cleaveland, St. Joseph, Detroit, Chicago, and other ports in the West, and these vessels, rather than come back empty, bring these staves at a cheap rate. We have but a small extent of country peopled on the Upper Lakes, and but few vessels trading there. These few have been employed in bringing staves as a return cargo, but they could not bring them all, and the business would not pay to send vessels up empty for staves, therefore some American vessels were employed. It has been said, let us build more vessels. But if we do, what are they to do? Staves will not pay the expenses of a voyage up and down. Unless the vessels are loaded up, and bring staves merely as return freight, the business must be abandoned to those who can do this. A Canadian Captain exclaimed against employing American vessels, and was asked if he had ever been refused a cargo down. "I have nothing to take up," he answers "and without some up-freight staves would not pay. As it is, the British vessels have been allowed $5 per M more than Americans, yet a sufficient number of the former could not be obtained at the rate.

An important question on this subject also, is the effect which the construction of the Great Western Rail-Road will have on the trade to the Upper Lakes. And there can be no doubt that when a rail road is completed between Hamilton and Durham, most of the staves and produce of the upper country will come by that road to Hamilton. The road will run through the heart of the Upper Canada Peninsula, from the head of Lake Ontario to the navigable waters of the Thames running into Lake St. Clair, and therefore the rail road will take most of the produce of that region. Here then is a sufficient reason against building many new vessels. The trade which they would expect to transact will be transferred to the railways, and navigation will be much more confined to Lake Ontario than at present. It is thus evident that we have not, and cannot expect to have a sufficient number of vessels trading to the upper Lakes to bring staves as return freight, and unless they are so brought they will not pay, and the business must be abandoned. If there was a sufficient amount of traffic up, vessels could be built, and staves brought as return freight; but there is (?) and to employ our own vessels so far as they can be had and Americans for the rest, and thus secure three fourths of the entire trade, is better than to give it all back to the Americans, as must be the case if the law is enforced. For it must be remembered that this stave trade is only just established. The company was formed in the beginning of 1836, and that year did little more than make arrangements and preparations for business. The present year is the first of real trade, and previously it was entirely in the hands of the Americans. They brought all the staves in their own vessels and rafted them at French Creek. The Kingston Company with great public ( ) have, through many difficulties, brought ( ) trade to Kingston, and have employed British vessels as far as they could do so, and have allowed them, as we have stated, $5 per M more than they gave to Americans. Yet they found it necessary to employ some of the latter, because the former could not be had at the price. If more than this is required, the trade must go back to the Americans altogether, because it must be conducted at some one place where the staves can be rafted and sent down the river. The Company have a capital place for that purpose at Garden Island, and have sunk a good sum of money in making piers and other things necessary for rafting. Unless this establishment and the requisite men be fully employed, the concern cannot pay, and must be given up. Now, as "half a loaf is better than no bread," it is better to keep this trade though it does employ a few American vessels among our own, rather than sacrifice it altogether. And in order to shew that this trade is of much greater importance than many persons imagine, we have obtained the following statement of what has been already done this season.

During this season, 34 British vessels have arrived with staves and timber, and 6 American. - The former have made 118 loads or trips, the latter only one each. Indeed, some of the former are almost solely employed in the trade, and have made 11 or 12 trips each. It is calculated that each vessel spends about £5 in Kingston every trip, for provisions, marine stores, etc. So that here is £600 spent in Kingston by the vessels only. Of their cargoes about one-tenth was timber, the rest staves, equal together to 600,000 staves which have been made into 6 rafts, and each of these costs about £300 for floats etc. making £1,800. Add to this the men's wages, and cost of provisions etc. on these rafts, and we may safely conclude that £5000 are spent in Kingston of which not a farthing would be touched but for this company. Each raft is reckoned to cost £750, to Quebec. In ordinary years so many British vessels could not have been obtained to carry staves, as flour, pork, pot ash, etc. pay better. But this year there was no produce to bring down. The American vessels have only just begun to come in, and if they are stopped many staves cannot be brought down at all. The company have had the offer of 100,000, at or near Chatham, but they cannot obtain them without employing American vessels to bring them as return freight. There is more business offering now for the British vessels that pays better, and they will not go after staves.

p.3 Colborne Harbor - Amid the general complaints that we daily hear of the hardness of the times and great scarcity of money, it is highly gratifying to observe the rapid progress nevertheless among us, of many internal improvements, which it were natural to suppose, under the extraordinary pressure of the times would be altogether suspended. As an instance of this we may adduce the fact of the Colborne Harbor Company (who only received their charter in March last) having already so far extended their piers as to enable Steam Boats to touch in perfect safety, and land their passengers or goods. On Wednesday week last, we are informed, the Inhabitants of Colborne had the pleasing gratification of beholding for the first time a Steam Boat lying in their harbour, the Commodore Barrie having called on that day, agreeably to appointment. Several Ladies and Gentlemen of the town and neighbourhood turned out for the occasion and had the satisfaction of stepping from the wharf to the deck of the vessel, where they were received by Captain Herchmer with his accustomed politeness and urbanity.

Considering the shortness of time the work has been commenced, and the difficulties before alluded to, the diligence and perseverance of the Directors, as well as the Contractor, in forwarding an improvement of so much importance to the interests of Colborne and the surrounding country, are highly praiseworthy. An additional pier or two are to be immediately extended, and no doubt will be completed with similar expedition, when boats of the largest class we are told may call there without the slightest apprehension of danger, and in which case we may expect shortly to see the name of "Colborne" figuring in the different Steamboat advertisements, as a regular stopping place. [Cobourg Star]


ON THE LAKE SHORE, twelve miles west of Long Point, in the township of Marysburg on the 13th August 1837, the following articles, viz.:

One Scow, having on board about 300 weight of Cast Iron, and about 30 or 40 weight of Spikes, 24 Iron Bolts, 3 large Wrenches, 3 or 4 Iron Bands, and 1 small Sledge.


Marysburgh, 14th August, 1837.

The above property is supposed to belong to some Steam Boat on the American side, the owner is requested to come forward, prove property, pay charges, and take the same away. For further particulars enquire of Andrew Deacon, Esquire, Picton, late Hallowell.

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Aug. 22, 1837
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Rick Neilson
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Upper Canada Herald (Kingston, ON), Aug. 22, 1837