The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), May 5, 1849

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(from bound volume of originals at Queen's University - Special Collections)



A very fierce opposition has commenced on Lake Ontario, between two Lines of British Steamers. The Americans have too much sense to quarrel about the profits of a business, scarcely sufficient to maintain one well appointed Line! The present contest is between the old Mail Line, consisting of the Sovereign and the Princess Royal to Toronto, and the Eclipse to Hamilton; and the New Line, composed of the Iron Steamer Magnet, the City of Toronto, and a new vessel, chartered by the Hon. John Hamilton, called the New Era, who go all the way to Hamilton, stopping at Toronto. Fares consequently are greatly reduced. On Thursday last, the Sovereign issued a placard, offering a Cabin Passage for fifteen pence, and a Deck Passage for a York shilling; and doubtless, her rival of the day, the New Era, was equally moderate in her charges. Such ruinous rates can only end in destruction to all parties concerned.

We have ever been of opinion, that the high rates of passage on the Canadian waters have greatly tended to discourage travelling. Five dollars from Kingston to Montreal, and five dollars from Kingston to Hamilton, are more than most people can afford to pay; and consequently, none but those who have urgent business leave home. Travelling for pleasure is unknown in Canada, except to those Americans who flock in crowds in summer time to enjoy its cool northern breezes. But there is a medium in all things. If five dollars is too much, a quarter of a dollar is much too little; a fact which the rival competitors will find out to their cost. The juste milieu would be two dollars to Toronto, and three dollars to Hamilton, if meals be included; or, a dollar and a half to Toronto, and two dollars to Hamilton, if the better system of making each traveller pay for what he wants in the way of eating and drinking, be the rule, which in the United States is becoming universal. These are rates which we could wish to see adopted.

The public are not likely to be any great gainers by the present opposition; for so soon as the contending parties have exhausted themselves or their pockets, they will, of force, come to some compromise, and then a high rate of tariff will be enforced to make up the previous losses. Like quarrels between man and wife, they must come to an end; and then, woe be to the officious person who stepped in between them.

An opposition is threatened on the River, which may also take place. Report says that the fast sailing Fashion is chartered by Mr. Bethune to run hence to Montreal in daylight; and counterbalance this diversion on the part of the Toronto Mail Line; the Hon. John Hamilton is reported to have chartered the equally fast sailing Ottawa, for the express purpose of laying her alongside the Fashion and render her efforts to do mischief nugatory. It is greatly to be hoped, that the opposing parties may see their own interests better than to squander money thus uselessly.

As for the public, they are sure to suffer, for as we have said, when the foolish quarrels are over, they will have to pay the piper, and make good all losses. Meanwhile, they should take advantage of the times that be, and have no mercy upon the steamboats; for most asuredly the steamboats will have no mercy upon them in time to come.

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May 5, 1849
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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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Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), May 5, 1849