p.2 From the Colonist
THE COASTING TRADE ON THE LAKES - FOREIGN VESSELS.
The following correspondence, between some merchants at Dunnville, on Lake Erie, and the Customs Department at Montreal, is of considerable importance. It in some measure explains a subject which has hitherto been very differently understood from the light in which it is now placed by Mr. Dunscombe, Commissioner of Customs. The prevalent idea has been, that an American vessel, from Oswego, Rochester, or any other port in the United States, proceeding to Canada, with merchandise for different places along the shore of Lake Ontario, or our other inland waters, could not proceed from port to port in the Province, and deliver her proportion of cargo destined for each place; that in order to enable her, without contravening the law, to land her goods at Cobourg, Bond Head, Windsor, Toronto, Hamilton, etc. she was bound to touch at some port in the United States, as an intermediate step to her calling at such Canadian ports in succession; that is, she could not call at two Canadian ports consecutively, but she must, at each call, hail from an American port direct for the one Canadian port, and for no other. It appears that this view of the law is repudiated by the Customs Department, - that an American vessel from Rochester, for instance, with goods on board for Cobourg, Toronto and Hamilton, having a manifest, or other usual documentary evidence, of her being in pursuit of a legitimate voyage, is allowed to proceed from port to port along the Canada shore to deliver her cargo and passengers, provided she carries no merchandise from one port to the other except what was comprised in the original cargo, taken from the foreign port, and that the same has not been discharged in the interval at any intermediate port. For example, it would not be competent to land a portion of the goods at Cobourg, and to reship them from thence by the same vessel, or any other foreign vessel, to Toronto or Hamilton. It appears, however, that foreign vessels are allowed to carry passengers from port to port within the Province.
The Commissioner of Customs has omitted to answer one very important question put to him, viz. whether the foreign vessel, on her return trip, may take goods and passengers from any, or all, of the Canadian ports, to a port in the United States. Without an answer to this question, the information sought is incomplete. It is, moreover, to be regretted, that the Commissioner of Customs has not stated the authority upon which his opinions are founded, - whether it be on any special Act or Acts of Parliament, or on instructions from the Governor in Council, or on regulations in force in the Customs department, or what else. We refer to the correspondence which follows:
Dunnville, 29th April, 1846.
Sir, - The merchants and other inhabitants of Dunnville experience inconvenience from the want of a British steam-vessel to take up the route formerly occupied by the unfortunate Kent - nor will they be able to obtain one from either Lake during the present season.
An American steamer would instantly be placed upon a route from Buffalo to Port Colborne, thence to Dunnville and Port Dover returning direct, without touching at any American port, if it could be done by such a vessel without infringing the Imperial Statutes, the Colonial Laws, or the regulations of the Customs.
The opinions of the local Custom House officers differ on the points involved in such an arrangement; nor have they authorities to define what they call coasting by foreign vessels, or to point out their power of interfering in such cases, provided the reports be regular, and the duties paid.
We will be obliged by learning from your department how far the laws and regulations of the Canadian Custom House prevent or interfere with such an arrangement; and if an American vessel, leaving Buffalo with goods and passengers for three Canadian ports, can land them at each respectively, and on the return trip take goods and passengers from either or all of them to Buffalo, without infringing the laws or regulations of the Customs in Canada? Can an American vessel carry goods and passengers, or passengers only, from one Canadian port to another?
The British navigation laws not being in force on the Lakes of Canada, the only British statute that we can find bearing on the subject is 6th Geo. 4th, chap. 110. "An Act to regulate the trade of the British possessions abroad," and we are uncertain of the construction your department put upon sects. 28 and 29 of that act.
We have the honor to be, Sir,
Your obedient servants,
John Jarron, Chisholm & Mivor,
Jas. McIndoe, R. Brown,
Jas. Stewart, L.J. Weatherby,
John Armour, John Martin.
To J.W. Dunscombe, Esq.,
Commissioner of Customs, Montreal.
Customs, Montreal, May 7th, 1846.
Sir, - I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a letter signed by yourself and certain merchants of Dunnville, under date of the 29th ultimo, setting forth the inconvenience which is felt by the inhabitants of that town "from the want of a British steam vessel to take up the route formerly occupied by the Kent."
Also stating, that an American steamer would be placed upon a route from Buffalo to Port Colborne, thence to Dunnville and Port Dover, without touching on its return at any American port, if it could be done without infringing the imperial statutes, the colonial laws, or the regulations of the customs. And inquiring if an American vessel, leaving Buffalo with goods and passengers for three Canadian ports, can land them at each respectively, and on the return trip take goods and passengers from either or all of them to Buffalo, without infringing the laws or regulations of the Customs in Canada?
In reply, I have the honor to acquaint you, that an American vessel, with cargo, brought by regular importation from Buffalo into this Province, and consigned to Port Colborne, Dunnville and Port Dover, is allowed to proceed from port to port, with a manifest, or other usual documentary evidence of its being in the pursuit of a legitimate voyage, provided it carries nothing by way of merchandize from one port to the other except what it originally brought from Buffalo, without having ever discharged the same.
I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your most obedient servant,
American vessels cannot carry goods and passengers from one British port to another, but passengers only.
John Jarron, Esq. and others, Dunnville.
p.3 Capt. Patterson's new propeller Ireland has made a trip to Toronto & back, bringing down a full freight of 2000 barrels of flour, and 100 barrels of pork. On the return trip she will go down to Montreal with her cargo.