The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), Dec. 2, 1834

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p.2 meeting of inhabitants of Peterboro about canal from Lake Huron to Ontario, and resolutions. (full column) [Cobourg Star]

Close of Navigation - We are authorized to notify the public generally, but more especially for the information of those concerned in the transportation business between Lakes Erie and Ontario, that the Board of Directors of the Welland Canal Company have decided upon the closing of navigation through the canal, the present season, on or about the 20th inst. at the farthest, for the purpose of affording an opportunity of making the necessary repairs to ensure its earliest opening in the spring. [B.A. Journal]

During the severe cold weather experienced on Saturday, Sunday and Monday last, the waters of the Rideau Canal near Bytown, were frozen to a thickness, averaging from two to three inches, and the navigation consequently closed. Though mild weather had subsequently succeeded, the Canal on Thursday last was still bound up in ice. The Enterprize steamer, with a cargo of potash for Montreal, remained frozen in at Black Rapids, about ten miles above Bytown. The Thomas McKay is laid up at Bytown for the season. The Grenville and Carillon Canals are also said to be frozen, and the goods now on the route for the Ottawa is still free from ice. The Lake Chaudiere, on Monday morning last, was frozen across with a thin coating of ice opposite to March, but which soon disappeared before a strong wind from the south-east. The Lady Colborne, at the latest accounts, was still making her trips between Aylmer and Fitzroy harbour. Since the above was mentioned, we have heard that the Ottawa Company still continue to keep their line of boats in operation, and are forwarding goods along that route. [Montreal Gazette]

p.3 At a meeting of Stockholders of the Steam Boat St. George, convened by request of Capt. Harper, of that boat, at the office of David John Smith, Esq., the Agent, at Kingston, on the 28th Nov. 1834.


The Hon. John Kirby, Lt. Colonel Wright, R.E., Thomas Kirkpatrick, Esq., John Strange, Esq., Hilary Dupuy, Esq., David J. Smith, Esq., John Counter, Esq., Messrs. McCuniffe, Wm. Wilson, Hale and Campbell.

The Hon. John Kirby was voted to the Chair.

A letter from Capt. Kingsmill, of Port Hope, dated 19th Nov. 1834, addressed to David J. Smith, Esq., the Agent, reflecting upon the conduct of Capt. Harper, as Commander of that Boat, being read, Capt. Harper was called upon to explain the circumstances, which having done, he called upon John Brown, the second mate, who being examined, declares, that on Sunday, the 16th instant, he was sent by Capt. Harper, in charge of the Jolly Boat, to land passengers at Port Hope, who had also instructions to take soundings, which he accordingly did, and found but six and a half feet, about half the vessel's length, inside the pier; and the rise and fall of the swell of the Lake, at the pier end, was upwards of two feet, and the depth of the water there was about ten feet. On going on board he reported the soundings, and stated that there was not water enough for the Boat to go there with safety. Capt. Harper thereupon said he would proceed to Cobourg, as he could not endanger the safety of the Boat under the circumstances; he accordingly proceeded to

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Port Hope. He further states, that he never knew of any goods from the St. George having been thrown carelessly on shore - on the contrary, all care and attention were given to them on all occasions.

Robert Shea, the first mate and pilot, being also called, states that the evidence given by Brown, the second mate, is correct; and he further states, that, as pilot, he was perfectly satisfied that the boat could not go to the Pier on the 16th instant, as the Boat when in lighter trim, struck there the previous trips, and he expressed his opinion to Capt. Harper. They both state that the vessel never passed Port Hope when they could go there with safety - in proof of the Captain's wish to do so, he once got the boat damaged there.

Alexander Hutchinson and George Moran, both Helmsmen, having heard the evidence of the first and second mate, declare that their statements are correct. Hutchinson, who was helmsman when the Boat struck the previous trip, states she struck at the distance of half the boat's length from the Pier, in backing out.

Henry Cassady, Esq. being a passenger landing at Port Hope on the 16th instant, confirms the account of the soundings, given by Brown, and states that there was a considerable swell at the time off the end of the Pier, and further, that had they attempted to come in, she would have grounded at the Bow, and thereby have exposed the Stern to the swell, and endanger her safety. He is also certain, that Capt. Harper would have landed at Port Hope on this occasion, if he could do so with safety; judging from the Captain's intention then, as well as from a previous conversation, in which he said he thought the Piers better adapted for landing, and he would rather land there than at Cobourg.

The men now present, and under examination, being asked if the statement made by Capt. Harper, in his letter to the Editor of the Cobourg Star, and published therein, is correct, declare it is so, and that they have suffered great inconvenience from persons not attending to receive goods, or take a line when approaching the piers.

Thomas Kirkpatrick, Esq. who was a passenger on board the St. George, being called upon, states,* "that he was on board the St. George, as a passenger, on the 16th instant, and he thinks Capt. Harper acted prudently in not going to the Pier at Port Hope. There appeared to him to be a considerable swell at the time, although the wind was subsiding. He heard Capt. Harper mention to Mr. Ives of the schooner Kingston, at Cobourg, that his second mate had sounded, and found six and a half feet water inside the pier at Port Hope. Capt. Harper advised him to go to Port Hope, and anchor off the pier, and not land his goods at Cobourg but to proceed to Port Hope, and land them there."

Thereupon it was moved by John Strange, Esq. and seconded by Walter McCuniffe, Esq. that in the opinion of this meeting, the evidence above produced by Capt. Harper, sufficiently disproves the statement made in Capt. Kingsmill's letter to Mr. Smith - and the opinion expressed in the resolutions passed at the Port Hope meeting; which being put, was carried unanimously.

Moved by Mr. Counter, and seconded by Mr. Wm. Wilson, that the stockholders highly approve of the general conduct of Lieut. Harper, R.N. Commander of the Steam Boat St. George; not only as to his ability as Commander, but also as to his attention to the interests of the Stockholders at large; which being put, was carried unanimously.

Resolved, That these resolutions be published.

JOHN KIRBY, Chairman.

The Chairman having left the Chair, John Strange, Esq. M.P.P., was called thereto, whereupon the thanks of this meeting were voted to the Chairman for his impartial conduct in the Chair; which was moved by Col. Wright, and seconded by Mr. Wm. Wilson.

A. MANAHAN, Secretary.

*Extract from Capt. Kingsmill's letter to D.J. Smith, Esq. referred to in Mr. Kirkpatrick's declaration - "The Captain of the St. George is either sadly calumniated, or he has aimed a deadly blow at our interests, by telling the master of the Kingston, schooner, that he would not find water at Port Hope to unload. This it appears came out by one of our merchants' finding his goods in the act of being landed at Cobourg; and the master of the Kingston being remonstrated with upon such conduct, declared and said, he would be on his oath, that he did so in consequence of what the Captain of the St. George told him."

Note by the Editor - It is highly improbable that Capt. Ives said any such thing, being much more likely that the words have been put into his mouth by some jackall of Capt. Kingsmill's, who to say the least, has shewn an unaccountable disposition to injure the interests of a gentleman who never gave him cause of offence. The total amount of Port Hope Freight by the St. George during the whole season, amounts to about £34, for which the boat went there about fifty times; oftener in fact than any other boat on the lake.


No. 3 (part)

Our conclusion last Tuesday left us safely ensconced and fast asleep in one of the berths on board the St. George, then on her passage from Kingston to Toronto, gallantly buffeting a south-west wind and a heavy head sea......The next morning, our surprise was somewhat excited by the howling and whistling of the wind, which blew half a hurricane, coupled with the almost motionless condition of the vessel: this riddle was solved by ascending the deck, when there lay the steamboat, snug at anchor, under the lee of the land in Presque Isle harbor. During the night it seems the gale increased in fury, and the Captain willing to avoid the wear and tear of the vessel, by prosecuting the voyage in such heavy weather, wisely took advantage of the only harbor in the whole route, and turned in. Another reason that induced him to take this course was one, which we mention because it gives the lie indirectly to certain imputations of unfriendly feelings towards the inhabitants of a neighboring village. Having a quantity of goods on board destined for Cobourg and Port Hope, Captain Harper knew that with the wind & swell as they then were, it would be impossible to approach either of those places, and therefore stopped at Presque Isle under the hope of the gale subsiding.

It is a most singular circumstance, that while other places of far inferior attractions should have been made choice of for the sites of large towns, that Presque Isle should at the present day be almost wholly unknownd, or known only to the masters of the various sailing craft navigating this lake. Presque Isle is not only the sole harbor between Kingston and Toronto, but it is actually the very best in Upper Canada. A late writer thus describes it.

"Presque Isle harbor possesses more natural advantages than perhaps any other in Canada. The depth of the water is so great, and the area of the basin so extensive, that it is capable of affording safe anchorage to all the vessels which are ever likely to navigate Lake Ontario for commercial purposes. The point at Presque Isle is beautifully situated for the erection of a battery, and enjoys so advantageous a position, that no hostile vessel attempting to enter it, could by possibility escape destruction, it being necessary for them to pass within point blank shot of its guns."

Presque Isle has two harbors, an outer and an inner one, with a bar between, on which there are usually 11 or 12 feet water. In the outer harbor, the entrance to which is partially closed by Nicholson's Island, vessels can lay with any wind except a south wind; while in the inner harbor, they are completely land-locked and safe from every danger, which is more than can be said of any other harbor on the lake. Thirty or forty years ago, the admirable situation of this place was better apprreciated than it appears to be now-a-days, for a town was laid out on Presque Isle Head, called Newcastle, and a Court House built, (still in existence,) in which the Assizes for the

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that a vessel was wrecked, many years ago, having on board the Assize judge, and the Crown and other lawyers then on their way to hold the court. Whether it was the melancholy loss of these gentlemen, or some other cause which occasioned the abandonment of this town, we are unacquainted; but certain it is, that had it been properly patronized by men of property, and a canal dug to connect the waters of the lake with those of the Bay of Quinte, Newcastle would ere this have become a town second to none in the province.

A canal from the Carrying Place at the head of the Bay of Quinte into some part of Lake Ontario has long been a desirable object, and has taken up the attention of several successive Governors of this Province. Governor Simcoe was the first, we believe, who contemplated the measure; with him its completion was considered essential to the peace and safety of the colony. The writer whom we before quoted has the following observations upon this subject.

"Notwithstanding, however, the obvious utility of such a canal as that which I have mentioned, and the urgent recommendation to complete it of Governor Simcoe, and other individuals equally capable of judging of its merits, it was not, I think, until 1823, that Sheriff Ruttan first moved for a survey of the tract through which a canal could be most advantageously constructed. A survey authorized by act of Parliament, took place in 1824, according to which it was recommended, that a canal should be cut from Dead Creek into Presque Isle Harbor, of such dimensions as would admit of ship navigation, and be regulated by the depth of water at the entrance of the harbor. The estimate for the construction of such a work, is stated by the commissioners appointed by His Excellency Sir Peregrine Maitland, to amount to 16,524 pds. 9s. 8d. Trifling, however, as this sum is, when considered in reference to the advantages certain to arise from the completion of the work upon which it was to be expended, the object of the survey has never yet been carried into effect.

"The subject of the Simcoe canal, as I shall venture to call it, was never again agitated until the arrival of our present intelligent Lieutenant Governor Sir John Colborne, whose mind, every since he arrived in this country, has been constantly employed in devising and carrying into effect the best means for advancing the general prosperity of the Province. Under his wise and energetic administration, we have observed plans proposed for connecting the great waters of Upper Canada, and for opening new channels to agricultural and commercial enterprise, which are all on a scale of such grandeur and extent, as literally to fill the mind with the most cheering anticipations, with respect to the speedy advancement of this magnificent Province in wealth and importance. Among these plans, one for connecting the waters of the Bay of Quinte with those of Lake Ontario has been again revived, and the result was that another survey, authorized by act of Provincial Parliament, took place last autumn. (1833)

"According to this survey, it is proposed to carry the canal from the head of the Bay of Quinte into Weller's Bay, where there is a passage into Lake Ontario. According to the survey which took place in 1824, it was proposed to carry the canal directly from the head of the Bay of Quinte into Presque Isle harbor. It is not my present object to make an estimate of the comparative merits of these two routes; I must acknowledge, however, that after a careful examination of both, I certainly think the first proposed is decidedly preferable to the last."

According to our humble opinion, the plan of making the canal into Presque Isle harbor is decidedly the best, and for this reason; because the canal will then terminate in a fine harbor, capable of easy ingress and egress, while in Weller's Bay there is hardly six feet water, and is therefore not only unnavigable for large schooners and steamboats, but is extremely difficult to get in or out of. In the former, the distance to be excavated is five miles, while in the latter it is but half a mile; it is probable therefore that the shorter cut has been the great attraction that induced the Provincial surveyor to recommend the canal to be made into Weller's Bay, overlooking advantages far more important than the extra expense. We shall not take up the reader's time in painting the benefits which would accrue to the whole of the province, were some such canal carried into effect, since they must be cognizant to every person who has thought once upon the subject, but shall pass to the consideration of another topic connected with the lake navigation.

Considering the comparative infant state of the Upper Province, much has been done in the matter of building lighthouses on the shores of Lake Ontario. There are four between Kingston and Toronto: one on the Nine Mile Point, in the entrance to Kingston harbor from the southward and westward; one on the False Ducks; one on Point Peter, between the Ducks and Presque Isle harbor; and the fourth on Point Peninsula in Toronto Harbor. The whole of these lights are in excellent positions and well attended to, but two more are imperatively necessary to make the northern shore of the lake safely navigable. A light house on Nicholson's Island, or on Presque Isle Head has been long spoken of; it would be useful in either place, but particularly so on Presque Isle Head, as it might be so placed as to prove of the greatest benefit in running for that excellent harbor in the night; a harbor which we repeatedly exclaim, has been most unaccountably overlooked, although the only natural one, between the "Ducks" and Toronto. The other light house is wanted between Cobourg and Port Hope, as a mark to avoid that very dangerous shoal called the Gull, which lies half way between these two ports, and which prevents vessels from making free with the shore in that neighborhood during the night, and thereby rendering it very difficult to find those places in dark or thick weather. Several steamers and schooners who have ventured too near, have struck upon it, and found great difficulty in getting off. Last year, we have a recollection that a bill was brought into the Provincial Parliament to erect a light house in this latter situation, but what became of it we know not. We trust it will be reproduced this Session, together with one for Presque Isle Harbor.


THE STOCKHOLDERS of the Steam Packet St. George, are requested to meet on board the Boat, on Monday the 1st December next at noon, on particular business of the Boat.


Kingston, 24th October, 1834.

The above meeting is postponed for Monday, the 15th December next, to be held at the office of D.J. Smith, Esq.

28th November, 1834.

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Dec. 2, 1834
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Rick Neilson
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), Dec. 2, 1834