The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), Feb. 17, 1836

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p.1 Enlarging the Erie Canal.

p.3 letter to Editor of Montreal Herald about a memorial addressed to Sir John Colborne, asking for locks to be constructed at St. Anne's;


With the prayer of the memorial for the construction of a lock at St. Ann's, every well wisher to the prosperity of the provinces must agree; but whether it ought to be done at the expense of the British Government or not, is a question I do not intend to enter into at present.

In order to expose the insidious designs of the framers of the petition, I will quote a part of the memorial.

"Nevertheless, your memorialists would most respectfully call the attention of the British Government to the fact, that in consequence of the non-construction of a canal at St. Ann's rapids, the whole benefit of the Rideau Canal has, in a great degree, been monopolized by a company of forwarders, called the Ottawa & Rideau Forwarding Company, in consequence of their having built a lock on private property in the seigniory of Vaudreuil, in this province, and the effects of which have been detrimental not only to the public, but also to the government, inasmuch as it has prevented other forwarders from using the canal, and has encouraged a great competition on the St. Lawrence river, in consequence of which a great portion of the carrying trade has goneby that route, which they have been compelled to adopt, as the Ottawa & Forwarding Company will not allow any rival boats whatever to pass the said lock, even on the payment of a toll."

Without entering into an unnecessary detail of the construction of the lock at Vaudreuil, I will merely state that it has cost the present company nearly £3000, which they laid out for the express purpose of facilitating the passage of their own boats. Now, I would ask the candid reader if the O. & R.F.C. had kept this money in their pockets, like the patriotic framers of the petition, whether the Rideau Canal would have been any more accessible to the public than it is at present, or where would have been the monopoly? How then is this company's lock injurious to the public or to the government? Have they interrupted the free navigation of the Ottawa? No. Is that the only place where a lock can be built? I answer - neither the public nor the government would ever construct a lock there, fifteen miles out of the direct line. It is also notorious that there are places among the islands, where a temporary lock, like the company's, might be constructed at a much less expense. Why then do not the other forwarders who have been prevented from passing the company's lock, make one for their own accommodation? Nothing can be more easy. But they say it has been detrimental to the public and the government, in having prevented other forwarders from making use of the canal, thereby encouraging a great competition on the St. Lawrence, in consequence of which a great part of the carrying trade has gone that way. This is not only an absurdity, but an insult to common sense. I have already shown that the construction of the lock is not of itself detrimental to the public or to government. Does the effect that it has had of encouraging competition render it injurious? Nothing can be more absurd than such an assertion. Have the forwarders on the St. Lawrence been compelled to adopt that route in consequence of the lock in question? No. The forwarders on the St. Lawrence have never gone that way, and the carrying trade to U.C. has been done exclusively by the St. Lawrence, till within the last two years, (since the Rideau Canal has been opened to the public by "the munifience of the British government.") Now, if the O. & R.F.C. have made the Rideau Canal available to themselves by the construction of a lock at Vaudreuil, and putting on a line of steamboats and barges, are not the public benefitted, instead of being injured, in so far as the competition has had the effect of reducing the rate of freight, and of proving the superior advantages of the canal over the river, in spite of all the clamors of disappointed individuals; and has not the government been benefitted by the amount of tolls it has received. If the public have not the full advantage of this magnificent work, can any thing be more unjust than to impute the blame to the O. & R.F.C., because they have not opened up a road for their rivals? But the memorialists say that the O. & R.F.C. will not allow others to pass "even on the payment of a toll." Can any complaint be more silly or ridiculous? Will the stockholders of the Champlain and St. Lawrence railroad allow any company, to run cars on their railroad "on the payment of a toll?" Not very likely.

In conclusion, I would ask any unprejudiced person who may peruse the above remarks, whether the memorialists have not been guilty of base and wilful misrepresentations to suit their own selfish and interested views. As an extenuation of the O. & R.F.C. from the charge of monopolists, I may state that they have invested a capital of upwards of £25,000 on the line, and that they have not received a shilling in return for the last five years, and are now in debt. As the framers of the memorial have travelled so far out of the direct road to asperse the character of the O. & R.F.C., I may be allowed to remark, that, with a few honorable exceptions, they have allowed their own neighborhood to retrograde for want of exertion on their part, and now they wish to retrieve their lost time at the expense of the British Government, and the reputation of the Ottawa & Rideau Forwarding Company.

A Stockholder.

Montreal Feb. 5th, 1836

A meeting to take into consideration the propriety of forming a Joint Stock Association, to erect a Marine Railway in this town, was held yesterday at the Court House, John Counter, Esq. in the Chair. About thirty men of business attended, and several resolutions were passed. The stock of the Company is limited to £2000, in shares of £5 each, and the scrip appears eagerly sought after. A meeting of the Shareholders will take place on Thursday next, to appoint a Committee and arrange other matters. We congratulate the Town upon being awake.

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Feb. 17, 1836
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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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British Whig (Kingston, ON), Feb. 17, 1836