The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Upper Canada Herald (Kingston, ON), June 9, 1840

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[Commercial Messenger]

Numerous, and, we fear, well grounded complaints have reached us in various shapes, of the insufficiency of the present system of forwarding to Upper Canada - in special, to the ports below Kingston, goods consigned to which are often sent by the Ottawa and Rideau route, necessarily causing a delay of several weeks before they reach their destination - a route that might easily be accomplished in from three to five days, even if sent by the lumbering barges and durham boats used in transporting merchandise to Upper Canada.

A letter from Prescott, having relation to this subject, has been placed in our hands. It contains the following:

"Having been advised by you of the shipment of several packages consigned to me, I waited upon Mr. H. six days after the day the goods were shipped, to make enquiry respecting them.

The following questions and answers passed between us:-

T. - Have you received any packages of merchandise consigned to me?

Mr. H. - No. When were they to have left Montreal?

T. - On the 4th of May.

Mr. H. - If they were sent by the back route you need not expect them before the 4th of June or thereabouts.

I immediately made reference to the letter I had received from you - In it I find no mention of the route by which the goods were to have been sent - for this I do not cast any blame on you. Nobody could suppose that goods intended for the Prescott market would be sent first to Kingston."

In addition to this, we are informed, and our informant is beyond all question stating facts, that when he personally waited upon the forwarding merchant here, he distinctly enquired if the boat by which the goods were to be sent, on the evening of the day alluded to, whether the front route was that by which the goods would be sent up - the answer was decidedly "yes," otherwise an effort would have been made to find boats which were designed to go by the St. Lawrence River.

The question, too, is frequently asked, "What has become of the Joint Stock Forwarding Company, the establishment of which was contemplated last year?" We know not. It seems to have been altogether forgotten, or left to perish from neglect. In this we do not think the mercantile community have acted well or wisely. Every day unnecessarily lost in the forwarding of goods is so much time wasted; and the true maxim that "time is money" is one which not the merchant only, but every man should remember.

The Joint Stock Company to which we have referred might have been the engine of much good. Commenced and carried on with energy and spirit, it would have the effect of causing a healthy competition with the establishments already in existence - competition by which, trade generally would be much benefitted. There is no greater stimulant to trade, than the rapidity of communication, the speedy transmission of merchandise. The stock, too, might be so widely scattered that the business of the holders would support the line.

In this subject the merchants of Upper Canada are most directly interested. It is their interest to set the "ball in motion" again. At present, their attempt of last year is looked upon as a fruitless and vain attempt to frighten the forwarders into a sense of their duty - we hope to see them return, with renewed energy, to the charge, when, we are confident, the measure may be easily accomplished, and the two Provinces be greatly benefitted.

We understand that, in consequence of the great quantity of produce expected this season, from Upper Canada and the U. S., the St. Lawrence & Tow Boat Companies have revised their Freight Tariff, and have made a considerable reduction in the charges between Montreal and Quebec, on the principle articles, - such as Flour, Pork etc. The upward freight, on Fish & other articles, is also made much lower. The revised tariff came into operation, we learn, on the 1st instant. [Quebec Gazette]

Emigration - As emigrants are beginning to arrive in considerable numbers, we would observe that some accommodation should be provided for them when they arrive here. All the Forwarders have every store and space they can command heaped up with produce, and still cannot find room for it; the Town is filled in every house; there are but two boats employed between Kingston and Toronto, so that there is no boat going on Tuesdays and Fridays: and the consequence is that the emigrants are landed here without any shelter to cover them. Last Friday 5 or 600 arrived, and most of them had to be sent to the Hon. John Macdonald's lumber yard, where the clerk in charge kindly gave them the best accommodation in his power, so that they were somewhat sheltered from the weather. We think that a capacious shed should be erected on the Town wharf without delay. We should also think that there is business now to employ three boats on the lake.

The Henry Gildersleeve brought accounts from Oswego, that an attempt had been made to blow up the Great Britain at that place. A box filled with combustible materials was placed near the Ladies' cabin, with the expectation that it would not explode until the boat was on her voyage, but it went off before she left Oswego. We have not heard what amount of damage was done. The perpetrators have been caught, and proved to be the notorious Lett, and one Dafoe - both of whom are in gaol at Oswego.

Since writing the above, the Britain has come into port, and we are happy to find that she has sustained no damage except the breaking of cabin windows....

The steam boat Napanee has commenced her regular trips between this port and Napanee, running up one day and down the next.

By an arrangement among the Bay Steam boat proprietors the Sir James Kempt has been withdrawn from that route, and will be employed in towing rafts, etc. The Kingston and the Albion will therefore ply on the Bay of Quinte without further opposition.


This beautiful vessel has commenced her regular trips between this port and Oswego. She has realized the most sanguine expectations in regard to speed and steadiness in the water. She performs the trip to Oswego (about 65 miles) with ease, in less than 5 hours.

Our friend Capt. Bowen has the command of the H.G., of whose gentlemanly deportment we need here say nothing, his excellent qualities being well known and understood by all who have the pleasure of his acquaintance. [Chronicle]

To the Editor of the Upper Canada Herald.

Sir, - I would take the liberty of calling the attention of the public through your valuable paper to the great abuse which exists in the forwarding between Montreal and Kingston under the present management. This is a matter in which all Upper Canada is interested, but more particularly the people of Kingston, for as Kingston has now, by means of the Ottawa and Rideau Canal become the great transhipping Port, for all the Upper Province, whereby they are materially benefitted, both by the increase in the value of their property, and by the extension of their ? it behoves them to see that this great business, on which so much depends should be well

ed, and not through mismanagement and position drive the public to adopt some other method of transportation, as must necessarily be the case unless a material improvement is speedily effected. The great evil of which I complain is not so much the present high rate of the Tariff, but the great length of time required to bring merchandise from Montreal, which is a still heavier ? tax than the high price. While the forwarding was carried on at Prescott in opposition to ( nal), goods would be brought from Montreal by either route in 4, or at most 5 days; but ever since the Ottawa Company has succeeded in monopolizing all the trade, nothing can be brought up in less than three weeks or a month, thereby (reducing ?) a Merchant's credit in Montreal to 2 weeks from 3. If such is the case at the present time, when but few goods comparatively are coming up, what are we to expect at the busy season. It is true they will have two new boats on the route, but that will only give them the advantage of one over last year, having lost the late Cataraqui in the late lamentable fire. A short time ago, the Company was negotiating for the Albion for the Canal: why did they not engage her, even at enormous price, to accommodate the public? I am sure the profits are large enough to pay the price, but until the public take notice of the proceedings their accommodation will not be ( ered). Should you deem the above remarks worthy a place in your journal, I trust they ( ) the means of calling forth a comment from a more able pen on the same subject.

I am, etc. A MERCHANT.



The Subscriber notifies the Public that he will not be accountable for any property landed on his Wharf, not even for such as shall be placed in his Store Houses, unless the same is delivered to the Store Keeper, with a List or proper Way Bill, designating the articles and number of Packages, and also stating the amount of charges on goods, baggage, or any other property left, subject thereto.

Storage, etc. to be paid on delivery of the property.


Commercial Wharf, Kingston, May, 1840.

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Date of Original:
June 9, 1840
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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.
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Upper Canada Herald (Kingston, ON), June 9, 1840