The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), July 12, 1849

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The attempt to do good is often foiled, and positive mischief is produced. The various writings in the British Whig on the subject of Steamboat Opposition have been occasioned soley from a desire to produce a reconciliation between the opposing parties; and while the public were protected against extortion in the shape of a high tariff, to see that the steamboat interest of the Lake and River is sufficiently remunerative to cover wear, tear and interest. Such being the case, it has annoyed us exceedingly to witness a very illiberal and ill-natured use made of one of our late writings. The Agents of the American Line of Steamers on the Lake and River have re-published at Buffalo an article of ours, in which we pointed out the extreme folly of driving the best of the travelling community away, by allowing the cabins of the Opposition Boats to be filled with six and three penny fares. In doing this we made use of the term "cheap and nasty", a somewhat course, but certainly very expressive epithet. This article, in hand bill form, has been extensively distributed at all the stopping places along the southern shores of Lakes Erie and Ontario, for the purpose of inducing the richer classes of summer tourists to take the American Line of Steamers down to Montreal, instead of following the more customary usage of visiting the Canadian cities on their northern journey. To say the least, this is a very shabby procedure and wholly unworthy of the gentlemanly and business like proprietors of the American Steamers. We presume the Agents and Runners are at fault.

Let the above be as it may, it is but bare justice to several fine vessels engaged in the business of destroying themselves and their neighbors, to declare that they have been unjustly dealt with. The steamer Passport, the str. Magnet, the steamer Princess Royal, and the new steamer New Era, are as elegant and commodious, as their more stately rivals on the southern shore of the lake. And the other vessels of the contending parties, although growing out of date, are still handsome and clean. It was not the boats themselves, which we characterised as "cheap and nasty", but the practice of filling them at scandalously low rates of passage money.

We fear nothing we can say will repair the mischief innocently committed; and though not in our power, it is within the easy compass of the steamboat owners to do it. Let them terminate their senseless quarrel - let them establish such a tariff as shall be equally equitable to the public and themselves - let them do this, and the vessels again will become fashionable and in vogue; for altho' we may, in the objectionable article alluded to, have over-stated the facts of the argument, still all will allow that we had some solid grounds for the article itself. The American Travellers always gave a preference to the British Line of Steamers, while their owners acted like men of sense.


"The jurors do upon their oaths say, that in consequence of some derangement of the machinery from some cause not explained in the Jury, that James Quigley who had charge of the Engine of the Passport Steamer, plying from Montreal to Kingston on the twenty-seventh day of June, instant, between Point Moyhen and Lancaster, the second Engineer being at the time in his berth, and the first Engineer not being on board the Steamer, the said James Quigley thro' embarrassment or wont of practical skill, opened the safety valves and allowed the steam to escape causing the death of the said Mary Garvin, Martha Boyd, Mary Jane Boyd, Susan Boyd, Mary Ann Brown, John Brown and some four others whose names were unknown. And the Jury came to the conclusion that the incapacity of the said James Quigley and his evident unfitness to meet such an emergency, subject the Company to the deserved censure of an outraged public."

Ed. Whig's Note - The James Quigley above named was not a fireman, and had not been a fireman for many years. He was a steam-engine driver, a kind of second engineer, and had been so employed on several other vessels prior to his engagement on board the Passport. Such is the extreme scarcity of regularly bred Engineers in Canada, that on board of at least three-fourths of the steamers now running, a steam engine driver is to be found doing the duty of engineer; and some of these drivers make very excellent and intelligent engineers in time, and until there is some legislative action, it will be wholly impossible to forbid their employment.

Port of Kingston.

July 10th - Str. Genesee Chief, Lewiston, passengers and baggage.

Str. Ontario, Ogdensburgh, passengers and baggage.

Str. Cataract, Oswego, gen. cargo.

July 11th - Schr. Wave, Sackets Harbor, in ballast, R. Johnson.

Schr. Triton, Oswego, in ballast, H. Polley.

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July 12, 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), July 12, 1849