The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), March 28, 1850

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No. I

Since Kingston first began to be a place, to have steamers, railways, wharves and warehouses, it has been the annual custom of the British Whig to devote a few of its columns to the description of what is doing in the harbor, prior to the resumption of navigation. The severe frosts of the past fortnight have retarded the opening of the port, and they also have had the effect of postponing the execution of this self-imposed duty for the year 1850. But as a happy change is taking place in the weather, so also do we feel inclined to set to work in down right earnest. It is dry enough to write about steamboats, and the "urbanity" of their captains, and by no means the most agreeable of men, to tell of the new lessees of some wharves, and the non-occupation of others, to point out the various and necessary changes of the year, but it is still more insipid to have nothing to write about, or what is the same thing, to have nothing novel or interesting to detail. But why should we despair? Have we not "the Through Line" from Montreal to Hamilton, now fitting out in Kingston Harbor, and is not that Line of Steamers, composed of the finest vessels in Canada, a Line that is to do all the business of the coming season, worth description? Most certainly it is. Then to work at once.

The Through Line - This Line of Steamers will be composed of three vessels, the Passport, the New Era, and the Comet, and the intention is for each vessel to make one trip per week between the two termini, Montreal and Hamilton; touching at all the intermediate ports. Thus, every alternate day one steamer will leave upwards and downwards, and the connection between the head of Lake Ontario and tide water be well maintained, without the delay of transhipment, and the expense and risk thereof. Thirty three hours each way is the time allotted to the completion of this task, and from the well known speed of the vessels engaged in the route, there exists not the smallest doubt, but in many cases, this work will be done in less time. No scheme of modern days was ever conceived in Canada of more apparent usefulness than the present, both to the public and the stockholders. The proprietors and owners of this Line are the Hon. John Hamilton, Messrs. McPherson & Crane, and Messrs. Hooker & Holton, the three largest and most responsible forwarding firms in Canada West. The same enterprising gentlemen have an equal interest in the Mail Line of River Steamers, and as they have the command of ample means to sustain their new Line, they must and will, and most certainly deserve, to make money. It is the bounden duty of every Kingston man and every Kingston newspaper to sustain this Line; for it essentially belongs to Kingston. The chief portion of the profit made will be spent in Kingston; and whatever advantage can be derived by the proprietors, will be largely participated in by the people of Kingston. Upon the same principle that the Torontowegians exclusively support their own Line of Steamers, so should the Kingstonese give the preference to this Line. We feel persuaded we preach to willing ears. We shall conclude this number of the walk with a slight notice of the steamers which compose the "Through Line."

The Passport - This excellent Iron Steamer is well known. Her breadth of beam and general steadiness admirably fit her for the Lake Navigation; and her accommodation for passengers, both in cabin, saloon, and steerage, are of the amplest kind. The greatest pains have been taken this season to fit her out for the new duty imposed on her. Her bulwarks have been heightened, and the whole space forwards made safe and comfortable for passengers. To say she is beautifully painted and elegantly furnished, is a mere bagatelle. She has been made a safe sea-going craft, and her engine and boilers are in the very best order. She will be admirably commanded. Her Master is Capt. Bowen, her Purser, Mr. Putnam, her Chief Officer, Mr. Thomas Howard, and she will be navigated by one of the best pilots on Lake and River, Mr. Davies. - If the Magnet became, and still remains a general favorite with all classes of passengers, so must the Passport, for she is a finer, and altogether a better vessel, than her iron rival.

The New Era - This new and elegant vessel, the very pride of Kingston Harbor, has been greatly altered and improved in her build without in the smallest degree interfering with her extreme beauty. She has been made thoroughly and perfectly sea-worthy, by additions to her sides, imperceptible to the ordinary looker on, and in no degree militating against her extraordinary speed, for which she tendered herself so famous last year. Her furniture and fittings are excellent, and the same care has been taken to render her steerage passengers dry and comfortable, as have been taken with the Passport, viz., by enclosing all the part forward of the engine with watertight bulwarks. The New Era is altogether a most admirable vessel, and bids fair to become the crack boat of the Line. She will be commanded by Capt. Maxwell, and her purser is Mr. Farrell, both well and favorably known to the travelling community.

The Comet - This is the third and last steamer on the Through Line. Like her sister vessels, the Passport and New Era, the Comet is almost a new boat; but her build is different. She is stouter and stiffer, and will carry a larger cargo; while she compensates for her apparent want of swiftness, by the increased power of engines and boilers, which have, during the past winter, been most thoroughly overhauled, repaired, and made new at heavy expense to her new owners. Her accommodation for passengers are of the same ample description as those of the other vessels; but in her case the dolce is sacrificed to the utile. Everything is clean, plain, and comfortable on board; but in one essential she will have no competitor, or at least no superior - she will ship the best Cook on the lake! In her command she will likewise be different to the other two boats. Her master is Capt. Taylor, a thorough English seaman, who catered at the hawse holes, and knows every part of the ship and its duty, from stem to stern; while the softer and more pleasing task of looking to the passengers will fall to the charge of that gentlemanly fellow, her Purser, Captain Berry, late of the Queen. We auger auspiciously of the success of the Comet in this Line.

River Navigation - We have been requested to make mention, that the steamer Canada, Capt. O'Connor, one of the River Mail Line, will leave for Montreal the moment the navigation of the St. Lawrence permits. Passengers coming down in the Magnet from the head of the Lake may depend upon the correctness of this announcement.

Canal Tolls - changes to British Canal tolls. [Globe]



The Steamer


Capt. A. O'Connor.

Will leave for Montreal on MONDAY NEXT, providing the harbor be clear of ice. The Canada having been thoroughly overhauled, and furnished in the first style, is now in every respect one of the most comfortable and beautiful Boats on the River.

Kingston, March 26th, 1850.

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March 28, 1850
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Rick Neilson
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Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), March 28, 1850