The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Kingston News (Kingston, ON), Feb. 27, 1845

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- first is a "Statement Shewing the Monies Expended Upon Each of the Public Works, from the commencement of the Work up to the 1st July, 1844" - lists different sections of the St. Lawrence Canals; various locks, dams, etc. in Newcastle District on Trent canal; under "Harbors and Lighthouses and Roads leading thereto" - Windsor Harbor, Cobourg Harbor, Port Dover, Long Point Light House and Light Ship, Burwell Harbor, Port Stanley, Rondeau Harbor and Light House.

....The maintenance of the works of the canals will, I trust, from the very permanent and durable nature of their construction, be attended with but little expense. A steady, practical overseer upon each, reporting weekly to the department under whose charge the works may be placed, and with sufficient experience to meet any emergency or accident that might occur, with the Periodical inspection of the Officers of the Department, will in my judgement, be sufficient. In connection with this part of the subject, I think it necessary to state, that a general system of proper registration and measurement of vessels appears to me highly desirable and necessary for the prevention of fraud. How far such regulations could be made to bear on all vessels, whether foreign, or Provincial, passing through our Canals, is for the Law Officers of the Crown to say....

...With respect to the maintenance of another very important class of works, the light houses, buoys, etc., from Montreal to Lake Huron, I am persuaded it would be very much for the benefit of the Province and tend much to economy, were a suitable steam vessel provided, by means of which the supplies of every description could be served out annually to the various lighthouses, and the cost of the necessary annual repairs, whether of the buildings or of the lamps etc. would be effected at a very reduced expense, compared with the past. At present, when lamps get out of repair, which from their imperfect construction, constantly occurs, they are laid by for the remainder of the season, and the efficiency of the light of course, proportionately lessened, or if sent to be repaired, the cost of forwarding them and having them returned is as much as the value of new lamps. These, and other matters of detail, will be more fully treated of under the head of light-houses. As such a vessel would be required for these purposes, during but a small portion of the spring and fall of each year, her services could, I conceive, be very profitably made available during the greater part of the season towards the prevention of the extensive system of smuggling now admitted to exist as well as for other public purposes.

Welland Canal.

The various portions of this most important work have been advanced with unexampled rapidity during the past year.

The exertions of Mr. Power, the principal Engineer, and of Messrs. Thomas Keefer, Page, Pritchard, and Slater, his assistants, have been as untiring as they have been laborious; and I regret, that the health of, I believe, every one on the establishment has been affected, consequently, to a greater or less degree at different periods during the season.

In their joint efforts to gain a point of most vital importance, that of having the works throughout in such a state of forwardness before the close of the season, as would ensure the opening of the entire of the Canal to the trade next Spring, upon the enlarged scale, they have been most effectually aided by the indefatigable and praiseworthy exertions of the contractors; to the cooperation of these gentlemen, cordially given, although in several instances, under very great discouragements, it is entirely owing that the great point just mentioned has been accomplished, the value of which will be at once evident, when it is considered that from returns carefully collected, the gross amount of sailing tonnage on the Lakes above the Welland Canal may be taken at about 20,400 tons, of which very little over 7,000 tons have ever been able to navigate the Canal, but on the opening of it next spring, owing to the large dimensions of the new locks, all the sailing vessels, with 3 or 4 exceptions, can pass freely through; and 3 large steam propellers, already built, whose aggregate tonnage amounts to upwards of 1900 tons can commence their regular trips as freight vessels, for which they were constructed, in anticipation of the completion of the works.

The advantages and great increase of the Revenue to be safely calculated there from, especially in the early spring navigation, before the Buffalo route is open, are apparent.

Besides the discouragement (namely inadequacy of price, and certain and increasing loss) to which I have alluded, and in consideration of which I consider the Contractors in several instances, are the more entitled to credit and praise for the energy with which they have put their work out of hands, I feel bound to add, that they had, throughout to contend with unprecedented difficulties.

Immediately after entering into their contracts, the Tariff was imposed by the Legislature, which, by affecting the price of provisions, especially in that section of the Province, was a source of much unanticipated loss to them. Being in the House of Assembly at the time, I contended for their being exempted from its operation, as was, I believe, the case with those having contracts under the Commissariat, but the House decided otherwise. The sudden and great rise in the rate of wages, which upon this work took place, 30 per cent at least, more than upon others, was a source of great loss to those contractors, whose prices, even at the ordinary wages, were not adequate; the consequence is, that several of them, besides losing all the capital of which they were masters on commencing the work, have been compelled to borrow largely from the Banks and elsewhere, and will be utterly ruined unless their cases meet with the favorable consideration of the Legislature, to which, I am respectfully of opinion they have strong and substantial claims.

I am greatly averse to the making of after allowances to Contractors beyond their contract price, upon any pleas of unexpected difficulties, increase of wages, etc.; such a course, in my judgement, tends to drive out of competition, honorable Contractors, whose intention was to execute the work for the amount of tender. At the same time, cases may occur, and this is one, in which claims for compensation may be made, and in justice acceeded to, without infringing upon those principles. After the Contractors had made arrangements suitable for ensuring the completion of the amount of the work they had engaged for within the term of their respective contracts, a very large increase was made thereto, it having been decided, with the consent of His Excellency the Governor General in Council, upon the memorials and representations of several persons extensively engaged in the forwarding trade, to add considerably to the dimensions of the locks, every inducement was therefore held out to urge the Contractors to complete the work upon the increased size within the same time as they had contracted to finish them on the original scale; this they have done, but not without loss to themselves.

The benefits the Province derives therefrom are: First, the having altogether got rid of the necessity of repairing and keeping up 27 of the old locks, which would have been attended with the expenditure of many thousands of pounds - in fact, such is their dilapidated state, that the possibility of their being maintained at all for another season, at any expense, was very doubtful; Secondly, the increased revenue, which will be had next year, not only from the spring business, but from that of the whole season, in consequence of the canal being thrown open to the lake vessels generally.

As the amount which would be saved in repairs would about clear from debt the Contractors referred to, and as by this debt such considerable benefit has been obtained, I trust His Excellency the Governor General and the Legislature will be disposed to grant the required relief.

The steamboat entrance at Broad Creek, which is at once an entrance lock to the Welland and Grand River navigation, being now completed, and the feeder to the Canal enlarged and deepened, the trade for the next year will be from Lake Ontario to the junction and thence by the feeder to Lake Erie, entering the Lake by the Broad Creek Lock. This arrangement is made in order that the portion of the canal from the junction to Lake Erie at Port Colborne may be emptied, and the several works of the deepening and enlarging of that portion, building the guard lock, etc., effected without interruption to the trade.

Upon the completion and hanging of the gates, the new works of masonry available next spring will be the Broad Creek lock, and ? between St. Catharines and Thorold; to open the line to the full sized vessels, the Lock at Allenburg and the Aqueduct over the Chippewa not being built, it is necessary to alter the old lock at Allenburg and to repair the present wooden Aqueduct. All the masonry unfinished, can be completed next year; the cause of delay in building the lock at Allenburgh has been a desire to afford an opportunity for an appeal to the Legislature by many persons who are anxious that that lock should be a steamboat lock. Among many other advantages which they anticipate from it, would be that steamboats from either lake could approach to within about five miles of each other, and that a short line of railroad being laid for that distance the rapid transit of passengers and certain class of merchandise would be greatly facilitated; the extra cost of the enlarged lock would be about Five Thousand Pounds.

The progress made in the earth-work last winter and subsequently, has been very satisfactory and the steam excavator in operation in the deep cut is admirably adapted to its work. This portion of the canal now presents a very workmanlike appearance; it is opened to its full breadth, the slopes increased and neatly dressed off, and of the obtaining of the depth through it, suited to the Lake Erie level, is by means of the excavator, proceeding steadily and without any apprehension of slides occurring.

The vast importance of making Lake Erie the summit and supply, needs no comment; independent of the advantages to the Canal, others affecting the interests of the adjoining country are now occupying public attention in that quarter; among which is prominent the construction of a water course to Niagara for hydraulic purposes.

The benefits derivable from such a command of water as might be taken, without injury to the canal (say of a body equivalent to work ten run of stones) would be very great, especially as from the level, at which it would be brought to the Town, it might be made use of, probably three times over.

The amount of Revenue from this work has continued to increase annually, but no just estimate of the great increase that may reasonably be expected, can be made until the advantages of the Canal, complete in all its parts, are experienced. This, I trust, I may be able to announce in the next annual Report.

St. Lawrence Navigation.

The portions of the River St. Lawrence from Lake Ontario downwards to Montreal, that most required improvements, and for which appropriations have been made, are -

The Galloppes Rapids

Point Iroquois do.

Rapids Plat do.

Farren's Point do.

The Long Sault do.

The Coteau do.

The Cedars do.

The Cascades do.

And the enlargement of the Lachine Canal, by means of which the Lachine Rapids are avoided.

The works upon each of the foregoing are now in progress, and may be expected to be completed next year.

The Galloppes Rapids.

These Rapids are situate at about 6 miles below Prescott. The current in the River is very strong, varying from 6 to 10 miles per hour. The first class steam passage vessels can overcome these Rapids, as well as those at Point Iroquois, Rapids Plat, and Farren's Point, in the natural state of the River, but to enable the trade vessels generally to ascend the Galloppes, improvements are in progress, which consist of one Guard Lock, one Lock with a lift of between 7 and 8 feet, and a lateral cut 2 miles in length. The works are all under contract, and satisfactory progress generally has been made during the season, impeded, however, by the turbulent and riotous spirit of the Laborers, which has unfortunately been the case upon all the other Canals also.

Point Iroquois

These Rapids occur at about 12 miles below Prescott; to enable the trade vessels to ascent them, the works in progress are those of a Lock and lateral cut, the lift of the former about 6 feet, and the length of the latter about 3 miles. The progress made has not been to the extent it should have been, but the entire work can be completed next year. The quantity of work to be excavated is greater than the trial pits indicated.

The Rapids Plat

These obstructions to the ascent of trade vessels are about 19 miles below Prescott. The improvements here consist of one Guard Lock, one lateral cut of about four miles in length.

Farren's Point Rapids

Are about 33 miles below Prescott. The improvements here consist of 1 Lock of 4 feet lift, and a lateral cut of about 1 mile in length. They have progressed very satisfactorily.

Long Sault Rapids

To avoid these serious, indeed they may be more properly be styled insurmountable obstacles to the trade, the Cornwall Canal was commenced, and, to a great extent, constructed, under the Commissioners appointed previous to the establishment of the Board of Works. Under the control of the latter it has been completed.

Beauharnois Canal

The object of this canal is to open a communication from Lake Saint Francis to Lake Saint Louis, avoiding all the Rapids of the Coteau, the Cedars and the Cascades, which occur in the portion of the Saint Lawrence between those Lakes.

The various works have progressed most satisfactorily, and with unexampled rapidity, and but for the loss of time consequent upon the riots which occurred during the season, but little if any work would now remain undone. As it is, however, the Canal is in a very forward state, and may be expected with confidence to be opened to the trade by the latter end of June next, upon which the mail and passage boats can ply regularly between Lake Ontario and Lachine.

Harbors and Lighthouses

At the inlet to the Toronto Bay, the sand is evidently making much, and I am of opinion, that at no remote period some work must be encountered to fix and preserve such an entrance as the rapidly increasing trade of that important city will require. Some trifling repairs have been made at the Queen's Wharf, near the extremity of which are a few stones in the channel that should be removed.

The next work is at Windsor Harbor, where a very extensive Breakwater has been constructed, and two Piers built. Within this Breakwater is enclosed a spacious Basin of about 120 acres in extent, and into which two considerable streams discharge. The Piers are on each side of the natural entrance, and the Breakwater, by preventing the stream from spreading over the whole extent of beach, as formerly, and by confining it within the Piers, has created a current that will be very serviceable in keeping the entrance clear. No indication whatever to deposit in the channel, is evinced, although the beach is making rapidly in front of the Breakwater. When the Piers are run out about 200 feet further, and some dredging done, this will be found to be an excellent Harbor for steam and sail-craft. It is not considered advisable to dredge much until the Piers appear to have settled well down.

When speaking of the Harbors of Lake Erie, the description which I gave and the observations I made upon the artificial Harbors created by Piers on a straight coast, with much shingle in motion along it, apply strongly to the Harbors of Port Hope and Cobourg, but especially to the latter.

At this Harbor (Cobourg) a great deal of expenditure has taken place, not provided for by the Appropriation Act, but authorised by the Executive, as indispensible, to prevent the utter demolition of the work which had been previously executed and towards which a considerable loan of public money had been made, and, as being also absolutely necessary to keep up the communication of the country. The payment of the interest upon, and the repayment of the money thus advanced, have been made a first charge upon the revenue of the Port, and is thereby well secured.

The work has been done in a substantial and permanent manner, and has withstood the very violent storms of the past season, without injury. From a letter received from Mr. Bethune (the extensive steamboat proprietor) I quote the following:

"At Cobourg, if the Harbor was once dredged out, and the small stream turned to the West of the West Pier, I have no doubt it would be one of the best upon the Lake (with Capt. Sutherland's Piers) and that it would not fill up; so far there appears as much water as when the Piers were finished."

The Piers alluded to were proposed by Capt. Sutherland to be constructed outside of, but unconnected with the present Piers; but I am very dubious that their construction would prove beneficial, as that gentleman supposes.

Presqu'isle Harbor

Nothing has been done here, but a very moderate outlay is required, and would be productive of great benefits; part to be expended in the construction of a landing wharf near Brighton, the remainder in a manner that will be denoted hereafter under the head of Light-houses.

For general navigation purposes, the great want on the Canada side of Lake Ontario, between Long Point (or Point Peter) and Toronto Harbor, a distance of 126 miles, is that there is no Harbor of Refuge, into which a vessel can with safety run, in a gale of wind. This coast is to the Canada Trade a lee shore for much the greater portion of the season. The Harbors of Port Hope and Cobourg, however useful they may be as shipping places, are only such, and hold out no inducement to a vessel making for them with the wind blowing heavily any quarter between the South-east, round by South to the South-west, and but little safety to vessels lying in them with the wind blowing hard from the Southward. In this respect, from the extent of the inner Basin at Windsor, the Harbor there, when completed, will be much superior.

Between the ports of Cobourg and Port Hope, a distance of about seven, the reef called Gull Island is situated, on which a light-house is erected. It is about a mile and a half from the shore, distant from the former four miles, and from Port Hope about three miles. This reef is of great extent, with but very little water on it, not exceeding two or three feet for a considerable length. It is crescent shaped, with its horns towards the shore, between which and the reef, there is, as I am informed, good water and anchorage. If this description is a true one, the construction of a breakwater on it would be simple and attended with but little expense; and if effected, would create a valuable harbor of refuge about midway up the Lake, and would serve as an outer harbor, or safe offing for the ports of Cobourg and Port Hope.

At Presq'isle, a small colored light on the end of Salt Point is very much required, to enable vessels to take that harbor in dark nights; and a buoy on the north-east end of the bar outside, together with a small landing wharf within the harbor, are absolutely required.

The placing of a couple of buoys at Snake Island and the establishing of a small colored light on the shoal in front of the Market buildings, would be of great advantage to the vessels entering the Harbor of Kingston.

When the Canals of the St. Lawrence are completed, sundry improvements will be required in the lighting and buoying of the River, between Kingston and Lake St. Francis.

Before I leave the subject of Lights, I think it necessary again to draw His Excellency's attention notice to the mode suggested in an early part of this Report, for supply superintendence and repairs of the Light-houses, Buoys, etc.

Until the present year, in which their control has been transferred to this Department, the manner in supplying oil was this: - A Merchant being agreed with as to price, permission was given him to import it free of the heavy duty which is imposed on oil. The oil was delivered at the Light-houses by him; no efficient check, nor indeed any, was had as to the exact amount so delivered. In most of the Houses the oil was kept in the barrels, and much loss is caused thereby. The oil this year was furnished to the Board of Works by contract, delivered at Kingston; a Vessel was chartered and given in charge to Capt. M'intyre, for the purpose of his serving out the supplies, and the same time making a general inspection of everything connected with the Lights, and effecting as much improvement or reform as possible. Having provided new tin Butts of uniform size, guaged and marked so that the several keepers could, at a glance, ascertain the stock on hand, Capt. M'Intyre found, immediately on discharging some of the barrels, that the quantity in each was far short of what it was rated at; finally, it was ascertained that there was a deficiency of two hundred and fifty-six gallons. In other instances, where tin Butts were formerly provided, it was found they also did not contain the quantity supposed. In one instance, a vessel rated at one hundred and twenty-five gallons, was found to hold but eighty-three. On board the vessel were mechanics, by whom a great deal of the necessary repairs were effected, promptly and cheaply; and after the supplies were all served, it was found that, independent of the saving in repairs, a saving was effected by the course taken of upwards of £500.

The lamps and reflectors formerly were of a very bad description, and no two houses being supplied with lamps, reflectors, glasses, etc., of the same patterns, a vast deal of trouble and loss is incurred. Very many of these lamps are now past use and undeserving of repair, and upwards of seventy new ones are required; I would, therefore, take occasion respectfully to recommend strongly, that authority be given to provide the necessary lamps, a list of which, as well as of other matters, is given in the Appendix (letter S.) That these lamps should be of the best kind; that they, as well as all the fittings, reflectors, glasses, heaters, wicks, etc., should be of the same patterns and description, and that a few lamps and reflectors (say a dozen) extra, should be provided, so as to be ready, in case of accidents, at all times.

No outfit, however perfect, nor system of arrangement, however well conceived, will be available, if the keepers do not do their duty faithfully and strictly. To ensure this so great desideratum, (when the amount of life and property depending on it is considered,) I would strongly recommend that in future light-house keepers should be appointed exclusively from the naval class, who are more fully aware of the necessity for the strictest possible attention; it should also be perfectly understood that any neglect on their part, when detected, would be visited with immediate dismissal. No main light-house should, I conceive, be permitted to be kept by deputy. In the case of that at Point Pelee Island, of which Captain Sandom complains, and with which, to the present day, the greatest dissatisfaction is felt, a reasonable sum is allowed by Parliament as salary for a keeper; this person lives not on the Island, but on the main land, several miles away and the duty is done (most unefficiently) by a man hired at a small sum, having a farm on the island, about three miles from the light-house. It was lately reported to me by the Captains of three vessels, that having been obliged by stress of weather, to run for this island, they made it with great difficulty, owing to the miserable state of the light, with which they were so much struck that they went on shore and forced their way into the light-house, when they found some of the lamps out and those that were burning filthy and untrimmed, and it was evident that after being lighted the evening before the house was shut up, and no further care taken of it.

Neglect of this kind, besides the calamities of which it might be the cause, is attended with very great expense; the Burners and Reflectors being very speedily destroyed.

A great deal has been done by Capt. M'Intyre, during his tour of Inspection, in the repair of the Lamps, in arranging them better, improving their ventilation, refitting of Lightning Rods, etc., and a number of other details not necessary to enumerate here.

The whole of the Lanterns require to be painted inside and outside; Wood-work generally also to be painted; all this should be done every year; the stone Towers would require pointing; but in the Appendix (letter S.) will be found a statement and approximating estimates of the works of this nature required next season.

signed by Thomas A. Begly, Sec. Board of Works and by Hamilton H. Killaly, President of the Board of Works, Montreal, December 1844.

p.2 House of Assembly - February 25th - "The House then went into committee of the whole upon the Bill to secure the rights of British subjects in vessels navigating the inland waters."

p.3 Vessel Supposed to be Lost - On Friday the 14th inst, the schooner Brothers left Niagara for Toronto, with about twelve persons on board, since which she has not been heard of. The weather has been so tempestuous that the Transit Steamer, lying in harbor, would not put out.

The Captain of the Brothers, however, thinking that he could weather it, started; and when last seen, the vessel was labouring in a field of ice.

Since writing the above, we have learned that the vessel has been found, on her beam ends, and foremast gone, about twenty-five miles from Niagara, on American shore, but not a soul on board. The possibility is that all have perished. [British Canadian]

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Feb. 27, 1845
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Rick Neilson
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Kingston News (Kingston, ON), Feb. 27, 1845