PORT HOPE HARBOR OF REFUGE.
[Port Hope Watchman]
A few weeks ago we published a letter from Captain Sutherland, of the Steamer Magnet, addressed to the Editor of the British Colonist, regarding the eligibility and vast capabilities of this place for constructing a Harbor of Refuge, and the urgent necessity of having one for the protection of the lives and property of those navigating the Lake. Capt. S. has stated, very clearly and distinctly, his reasons for having a Harbor of Refuge, and has, in common with all the Masters of steamboats and other sailing vessels, strongly recommended Port Hope, from its great natural advantages, and central position, as being the most eligible and better adapted for a Harbor of Refuge, than any other place on Lake Ontario. Besides the straight forward and conclusive testimony of Capt. S. and of every experienced seaman, ship-master, owner and others connected with the navigation and trade of the Lake, besides the undoubted and disinterested testimony of several skilful and scientific gentlemen employed by the Government to survey the place, with the view of making it a Harbor of Refuge, as well as a military and naval station; their reports are all highly favorable and conclusive, that this is a most desirable and eligible place for constructing a Harbor of Refuge, Graving Docks, etc., etc., and as Capt. Sutherland very justly remarks, in his excellent and unanswerable letter, that Port Hope is unquestionably the very best place for forming such a Harbor of Refuge, and at the least expense. Further, that it is absolutely necessary and urgently required that the lives and property of those navigating the Lake and River, should not be endangered for want of a safe Harbor of Refuge to go to during the tempestuous weather and contrary winds, and that every merchant who has a bale of goods, or a barrel of flour to ship from one end of the lake to the other, every master, sailor, or owner of a vessel plying on the Lakes or River, every passenger from one port on the Lake to another, are equally interested with the people of the locality; the safety and the security of the navigation, is of equal consequence to all. In the one case property, in the other, the lives of the parties are exposed to danger; and it is the first duty of every government, to provide the means of security and protection to both.
It may be recollected by some of our readers that Captain Sutherland mentions in his letter, that a Petition signed by several hundreds of masters of vessels and others interested in the navigation of the Lake, had been presented to the Government, praying that they would take into their serious consideration the great practical utility, and urgent necessity of making this place a Harbour of Refuge; and at the time we had occasion to allude to Capt. S.'s letter and that Petition; we entertained sanguine hopes, that the Government, would undoubtedly, ere long, comply with the prayer of the petition, considering the vast importance of the objects it embraced not only as it regarded local interests, but also those of the whole Province; besides that several weeks previous to the presentation of said petition, we were led to suppose, from what we learned upon pretty good authority, that the Government felt favorably disposed towards appropriating a certain sum for making this a Harbor of Refuge; but we regret to find our reasonable expectations completely disappointed, by the late announcement of the Hon. Mr. LaFontaine, that the Government did not intend appropriating any money to make this a Harbor of Refuge, which is so much wanted and generally acknowledged to be the most eligible and best position to have one, than any other to be found on this side of the Lake. We exceedingly regret that the Government should withhold its efficient aid in making one of the most necessary and universally called for public improvements in the Province; as from the non-existence of a proper Harbour of Refuge, many valuable lives may be lost, and an immense amount of property destroyed, during the gales and storms that are so prevalent and disastrous on the Lake, more especially during the Fall months. If it is considered expedient and absolutely necessary, for the general prosperity of the country, to cut navigable canals, make public roads, and deepen rivers at the public expense, we humbly but earnestly contend, that the Government are equally bound to provide at the public expenses, places of safety for vessels to run to in stormy weather, where many lives and much valuable property may be saved from inevitable destruction and ruin. In the foregoing remarks we have only alluded to the fitness and capabilities of this place being rendered a perfectly safe and commodious Harbour of Refuge to receive vessels in tempestuous weather and contrary winds, at all seasons of the year. We shall now proceed to state as briefly as possible, some of the other advantages peculiar to, as well as the great public benefits that would be derived by improving our Harbour. It has been clearly demonstrated by scientific and professional men, that the Harbour is capable of being constructed so as to shelter the greater part, if not the whole of the shipping of the Lake; is well locked and easy of access and departure, at periods when other harbors on the Lake are frozen up. Dry Docks can easily be constructed, and ample material for shipbuilding are to be found in the immediate neighborhood. The following extract from a letter of Samuel Keefer, Esq., Civil Engineer, addressed to the Chief Commissioner of Public Works, on the subject before us, will, perhaps, be more satisfactory to our readers, than any statement we can make of the great capabilities and facilities of improvement that our Harbour is susceptible of:-
Board of Works,
Montreal, May 8th, 1846.
Sir, - In accordance with your directions, I have made a careful examination of Mr. Flemming's report, plan and estimates, in reference to Port Hope, and have the honor to report thereon as follows:- Mr. Flemming has taken a very comprehensive view of the subject, and I fully agree with him in all that he says respecting the inadequacy of the existing works, the necessity of other and more effectual provisions being made for adapting this port to the increasing trade and productiveness of the surrounding country, the centrality of its position thereto, being the natural outlet to a well settled back country, finally from the facilities afforded for the erection of Graving docks, for building and repairing vessels, by a head and fall of water, more than sufficient for that purpose, as well as from the manner in which the basin is locked in, and may be defended by the Highlands on either side, this position appears to be peculiarly adopted for the creation of a military or naval station. To these may be added the necessity of forming upon this line of coast an asylum where vessels may take refuge in stress of weather or contrary winds. These considerations naturally lead to the conclusion that whatever works of improvement are undertaken at this port for civil and commercial purposes, should be designed and executed on a scale commensurate with the prospective and increased trade, population, and resources of the country.
Did our circumscribed limits permit, we might add extracts from the reports of Mr. Fleming, Col. Holloway, R.E., and Capt. Boxer, R.N., on the harbor, etc., all testifying to its extreme fitness and great capabilities of improvement, but we must defer doing so for the present; and in conclusion we would merely state the gratifying fact, that notwithstanding the non-improvement of our harbor, and the unaccountable withholding of government aid to render it the best and safest on this side of the lake, that its revenue from tolls, etc., has increased 50 per cent, yearly since 1845, then it was only 750 pounds, this year the tolls with all probability at the end of the season come close to 3,000 pounds, if not more should the business end as it has begun. With such a state of things before us, we cannot see how the government can avoid making a sufficient appropriation of money to render Port Hope a harbor of Refuge as the tolls now taken would fully justify them in making the outlay, as well as ultimately secure the payment of both interest and principal in a very few years. As formerly stated by us we perfectly agree with Capt. Sutherland in saying that a work of such vast importance and general utility, as the construction of a harbor of refuge in this place should not be left to private individuals or chartered companies; but should forthwith be commenced and completed by the government, to whom we most respectfully submit those remarks for their most serious consideration and earnest action thereon.
Port of Kingston.
July 18th - Str. Cataract, Oswego, gen. cargo.
July 19th - Schr. Silus Wright, Cape Vincent, in ballast, H. Danley.