The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), Aug. 7, 1850

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Were the good people of Kingston, instead of standing with folded arms, looking at the ruin before them, to make endeavors to restore the prosperity of their city, in all probability those endeavors would be successful. The Gods help those who help themselves. One of these endeavors should be the restoration of the transhipment of goods here at Kingston; a trade which has almost departed from its wharves and warehouses. To a certain extent, the Forwarding on the St. Lawrence will always be done in large steamers, both up and down; still in spite of the almost general employment of these vessels, a large portion of the business will still be done in schooners and barges. The almighty dollar rules in Canada as well as in the States, and that which is done cheapest is thought to be done best. The Government Steam Tug Line on the river will always facilitate the use of sailing craft, and the only thing at issue will be, the comparative expense.

Now it unfortunately happens that the Terminus of the Tug Line is not at Kingston, but at Prescott. At the commencement of the present season the Government issued its advertisement, (published in the British Whig) making the Terminus for the first time at Kingston. This was done at the instance of the merchants at Quebec and Montreal, who foresaw the cheapness and other advantages of such a change; but some occult powerful interest was immediatelly set to work, and after a short suspense, things were restored to their former state, and the Terminus was again placed at Prescott. Nothing can show more the apathy of the Kingstonese, than the fact, that while this most important change was in progress and in doubt, they stood idly by, and made no efforts to assist those who were trying to help them. No wonder need be expressed, therefore, that the Government yielded to the representatives of others, as deeply interested as the Kingstonese, and changed the Terminus. Some excuse may be offered for our townsmen, on the plea that the benefits of having the Terminus at Kingston are not very apparent; that the employment of a couple of extra steamers could not possibly be a matter of moment to a city like this. If they thought so, they thought wrongfully, as we shall proceed to show.

Were the Terminus of the Tug Line at Kingston, all sailing vessels having cargoes for Montreal or Quebec, would be inclinded to tranship them here, on the score of cheapness. Two barges could carry the cargo of a large schooner to its place of destination at less expense than the schooner herself, who could be better employed elsewhere. The Tug Line steamers being at Kingston, no expense need be incurred, or agency employed; the barges would be towed down the river, as a matter of absolute certainty, and the barges and schooner might be one property. Now, the Terminus being at Prescott, this transhipment cannot be effected so cheaply or so effectually. It would be necessary to hire steampower to tow to Prescott, or employ the aid of Forwarders. Schooners consequently do not tranship at Kingston, but go down the river, and when they have descended so far as Prescott, they see no immediate advantage in transhipping at that port, seeing they have come so far, and consequently proceed to their original destination, making use of the Tug Line to go down and come up again. But were the Terminus at Kingston, it would be an advantage to the schooner owners to tranship at Kingston, and then a portion of the transhipment business might be restored to the city.

Another advantage might be derived from inducing the Government to change the rate of tariff on the Tug Line. At present everything is towed at so much per ton. This is manifestly unjust to barges that draw so little water, and consequently displace so little. A schooner of 100 tons burthen, drawing seven feet water, and a barge of the same tonnage, drawing three feet only, are now towed at the same rates; while the duty performed by the tug steamer is in one case fully one half greater than in the other. If the Government could be induced to make the towage depend upon the draft of water, instead of the burthen, as in case of pilotage all over the world, it would be an advantage to barge owners, and conduce to their more general employment; and such a reduction would most certainly operate to the special benefit of Kingston.

We cannot, and therefore do not expect that any change can take place during the remainder of the present season. The Government contract for towing is made and the rates of towage determined. But the Kingstonese are proverbially a sleepy-headed race, and they require to be waked up in time. Next winter is the season to act. The Government has shown by its deeds of late, that it has the best interests of the people of Canada at stake; and if it can be shown that changing the Terminus of the Tug Line from Prescott to Kingston, will materially benefit any portion of the community and injure none, it may be readily inferred, that it will be effected. But the Kingstonese must assist in this good work. Powerful interests will be again at work to defeat the intended object, as was done in May last, and Petitions to the Government in Council should be numerous and strongly worded, in order to secure the attainment of these changes. There is no fear but that the Government will act properly if the matter be fairly laid before the Executive Council.

Since the above was written and in type, we have been favored with an extract from a letter sent by yesterday's mail to a highly influential gentleman in Montreal. The views the writer takes are such as the generality of the community will approve of, and it greatly pleases us to see an active interest already taken in this important matter. From this writer, we have also learned, that were a movement made at once, the Government might be induced immediately to extend the Line to Kingston, by making convenient and equitable arrangements with the Contractors:-

"Now I think that the working of the Tug Line, as it is extended only to Prescott, works equally detrimental to the interests of Montreal and Kingston. Now, the Line extended to Prescott only operates severely against Barges, as they do not carry a press of canvass, or centre boards, to enable them to go on with a side or head wind. And as for schooners, the Line extended to Kingston, would be far more beneficial, inasmuch as there are some 20 miles of the 72 between Prescott and Kingston that is not beating ground, and what makes it still worse, this strong current is in two places, 25 miles apart. And if the vessel gets a start of wind, that brings her through the first or Jones' Narrow, she will be stopped again at Alexander's Narrow. Now in view of all these things, in common justice to Montreal and Kingston and the trade generally, the Line ought to be extended to Kingston."

Kingston Imports.

Aug. 5th - Schr. Gen. Wolfe, Chatham, 44,567 staves, Calvin & Cook.

Aug. 6th - Str. Bay State, Ogdensburgh, passengers and baggage.

Schr. Clyde, Chatham, 11,000 staves, Calvin & Cook.

Schr. Jessie Wood, Chatham, 8,500 staves, Calvin & Cook.

Schr. Sophia, Toronto, 9000 West India staves, Calvin & Cook.


Aug. 6th - Str. Bay State, Oswego, passengers and baggage.

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Aug. 7, 1850
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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), Aug. 7, 1850