The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), May 28, 1849

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A walk into the country is at all times pleasant in the balmy days of spring; but it becomes more particularly so, when business is combined with pleasure. Hatter's Bay can scarcely, with propriety, be termed "the country." It is barely two miles from Kingston with a continuous row of dwelling houses all the way. Nevertheless, as all these houses have gardens or small enclosures attached, the beauties of nature are much more seen and appreciated, than during an excursion of far greater length. It is not to speak of these latter delights that we allude to "our walk" of Friday afternoon, but to enter upon the dryer details of improvements and changes annually occurring in a thriving village near our good old city.

Hatter's Bay, by some called Portsmouth, (a most improper appellation) is a village of some 500 inhabitants. It is hardly ten years old, having been erected since the establishment of the Kingston Penitentiary, which occupies the eastern side of the little bay or cove, which gives name to the locality. It has hitherto been a most prosperous and thriving village; and even now, in these most precious bad times, it holds its own with the best. The houses are nearly all built with stone, are large and even elegant; and though the streets are rough and as yet unformed, owing to the immediate vicinity of the working stone quarries, which supply all Canada with the finest and most durable blue lias lime-stone, yet they are being licked into shape and will vie its general appearance with the handsome houses. The inhabitants are enterprising and liberal. They have at vast labor and much expense, among themselves, built a large pier or breakwater, which defends the harbor from the lake swell; and have likewise filled up a couple of acres or more of morass or swamp, at the head of the bay. Both these improvements are of immense advantage to the inhabitants; though it would not surprise us to hear hereafter of some greedy individual's turning to his own pecuniary profit and benefit, the money and labor of those who expended both, under the futile hope of the improvements remaining public property, to be shared in common by all.

The trade of Hatter's Bay is two-fold. Quarries and Shipyards. The former are in active operation; but the latter are at a comparative stand still. A vast many schooners are daily being loaded with the beautiful stone before alluded to, and despatched to all parts of the province. The main Quarries are worked by the Messrs. McLeod, and belong to the estate of McLeod & Logan. The Shipyards are those of Messrs. Macpherson & Crane, Messrs. Fisher & Alt. At the latter is a magnificent Marine Railway, capable of hauling out vessels 200 feet in length. No new vessel is building at either of these yards, but the usual average of repairs is doing.

But if trade be bad in the more legitimate business of Hatter's Bay, a new branch has sprung up within the last year, that bids fair to make the amends honorable. Mr. Robert Fisher some few years ago built a small Steam Saw Mill, chiefly for the use of the city and its shipyards. This Mill he sold to an active and enterprising American, Mr. W. Lester of Syracuse, who had for many years been engaged in the business of supplying the New York Market with Canadian Lumber. Mr. Lester pulled down the old mill, and erected another of four times its size, more than doubled the power of the steam engine, and during the past year has quietly been at work, in completing one of the very best Manufacturing Steam Saw Mills in Canada. We shall not tire our readers with a recapitulation of all that is done at this mill, but shall state the results. Upwards of a million feet of boards for the New York Market are now piled near the mill, and at the time of our visit, three large vessels were loading at the wharf for Oswego. One vessel was an ordinary schooner, but the other two were of a peculiar construction deserving of a slight notice. They were of the full size enabled to pass the Locks of the Erie Canal; and the intention is to load them here and unload them in the port of New York. Being barge built, broad and shallow, they carry immense cargoes, and must prove a most profitable investment. One of these vessels is called the Reciprocity of Syracuse, and the other the Reciprocity of Kingston; tho' both are of foreign build. Having neither mast or sails, steam power is used to tow them across the lake; and we regret to add, that owing to the un (missing line) British steam proprietors, who are using the whole steam power of Lake and River to cut each other's throats, an American Steamer, the Clinton, is hired by Mr. Lester to do this legitimate British business. The Clinton is the second American steamer employed on the British waters profitably, while Canadian vessels are engaged in sinking money. In order to complete their engagement with the Government, to put a towing steamer on all the slack waters between Prescott and Lachine, Messrs. Calvin & Cook have been compelled to engage the American steamer Express, at an exorbitant charter party, to do one portion of the business, being unable to procure a British boat from any of the parties now engaged in the heartless occupation destroying their opponents in the Passenger Trade for the equally heartless and more selfish purpose of engrossing the whole of it to themselves hereafter. But to return to Mr. Lester's Mill.

At this Mill, in order to use up the waste stock, there is a Sash Manufactory and a Shingle Mill; also, a Planing Machine; but its chief intent and purpose is to manufacture Lumber for the New York market. The engines are two in number, and work up to 75 horse power. By an ingenious contrivance all the saw dust is consumed in the furnaces, which with the slabs and other refuse, is nearly sufficient to supply the Mill with fuel. It is at work day and night, and can turn out in the 24 hours upwards of 50,000 feet of boards. The logs to supply this vast sawing are brought from the River Trent. By another ingenious contrivance, the invention of Mr. Lester, these logs are brought down the whole length of the Bay of Quinte, one hundred miles, with ease and facility. Two squared sticks of timber 100 feet long are bolted together, and a third stick is placed underneath, keel fashion. Four of these guards are joined together, forming a square crib, in the centre of which the logs are placed regularly. Thus the Cribs are made, and when a sufficient number are collected, a steamboat is hired and the raft is brought down to the mill. The idea is novel and well worthy of adoption by other mill owners who have to bring their logs from a distance.

Steamer Fashion - This vessel is now performing her trips as advertised through by daylight. On Saturday last she delivered her passengers in Montreal at 8 o'clock - she leaves this for Montreal tomorrow morning at 6 o'clock in connection with the Sovereign.


Port of Kingston.

May 25th - Str. Princess Royal, Toronto, 134 bbls., 20 bags flour.

May 26th - Str. Farmer, Cape Vincent, gen. cargo.

Str. City of Toronto, Hamilton, 106 bbls. flour, Hooker, Henderson & Co.

Schr. Sorel, Montreal, 80 tons bricks, 20 tons castings, and a lot of cod fish, Anderson & Co.


The Steamer


Leaves Belleville for Kingston on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, at 2 o'clock, running through direct.

Cabin 5s. 0d.

Deck 3s. 9d.

Belleville, May, 1849.

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May 28, 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 28, 1849