The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), Sept. 3, 1850

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To the Editor of the British Whig.

Sir, -

I see in the Argus of the 30th August, an article copied from the Prescott Telegraph, on the subject of the Tug Line of Steamers established by Government on the River St. Lawrence; on which article I may remark, that if its author fancies the Government sustains that line at the public expense for the purpose of benefitting any particular village or city, he is laboring under a mistake.

The Tug Line, as is generally known, was established for the general good of all classes of people within this extensive province, in lowering the charges on freight in the export and import trade, thereby securing to the producer higher prices for his surplus, and to the consumer his requirements at a lower price.

If the Prescott Telegraph fancies that this great object is as well obtained by having the terminus of this line upwards at Prescott, as it would be by having it at Kingston, he is then also laboring under a mistake; and theorize the subject as best he may, practical men in general will not believe in his theory, although the few having a local interest in Prescott may affect to do so.

Of the seventy-two miles between Kingston and Prescott, fifteen are of a very dangerous character to navigate with sailing craft. First, at Jones' Narrows, on the way up, then at the Alexanders Narrows; and these two obstacles are twenty-five miles apart. Should you be fortunate to get over the one, you may be detained a week or ten days at the other, waiting a fair wind. When the Prescott Telegraph shall have removed those obstacles, and many others, and made the termination of the easy and safe navigation of Lake Ontario to be at his favorite location, Prescott, then people will believe that the object of the Government (the pubic interest) will be compatible with his wishes and the local interest of Prescott; but few practical men, that either own or sail craft on the route in question, will believe it till then.

The object which the Government had in view in putting on this line of Tug Steamers, although highly patriotic and praiseworthy, it is much to be regretted, has, like many other great and good designs, been mutilated in the execution; business men every where else, save Prescott, wonder how the Government could commit so great a blunder, and can account for it in no other way than misrepresentation from some interested and influential parties. That such misrepresentation should emanate from the locality of Prescott need not be wondered at; nor is the Telegraph to be wondered at for pressing the claims of her supporters; but that the Kingston Argus should pass over the article of the Argus in full acquiscence, is not very satisfactory to many of his friends. If the Argus don't understand the question, why take it up? If he does understand it, he should do it the justice it merits; and that is to view and explain it to his readers, on the broad principle of the General Good, independent of the local interest of Prescott or of Kingston. The interest of the province of Canada is to do its own carrying trade, and as much for foreigners as possible, on the waters of the great St. Lawrence, and if possible, to render the costs of exports and imports between Lake Erie and Liverpool, less by that route, than our dexterous rivals can make it by the western canal. To aid in effecting this object the Tug Line was got up, it was wisely done; yet the Argus repeats it as his opinion, in reference to this Tug Line: "That our trade will thrive better if left to individual enterprize, without interference on the part of the Government." There are few rules without exception, and this abstraction, even from the sages, "Smith and Macauley," is unsound, as applied by the Argus, because no individual would be so generous as to embark in this enterprize - one that it was evident would result in loss, although productive of public good, - the Argus may as well apply his axiom to cutting off the Rideau or St. Lawrence Canals, which if left to individual enterprize, would certainly not yet even have been dreamed of. As one who owns vessels and frequently sails them, who writes with a view to self-interest compatible with the general good; who has no interest either in Prescott or Kingston; I would say let us have the Tug Line to Kingston; vessels not willing to be towed past Prescott, of course, will not have to pay; and the Telegraph and his patrons will have no more reason to complain than an innkeeper who sees travellers depart who has further to go.

Yours, etc.,


Kingston, Sept. 2nd, 1850.

Steamer America - We are informed that this vessel has been got off, and proceeded on her route. The steamer City of Toronto broke her shaft between Cobourg and Toronto.

Lord Elgin's Arrival At Amherstburgh - About 3 o'clock p.m. on Thursday, the government steamer Mohawk hove in sight, bearing our dear Governor General. His Excellency thought proper to land at the military wharf, and the soldiers were accordingly drawn up to receive him. About two dozen civilians gathered on the bank to see the face of a live Governor; but not a cheer, not a groan, not a sound of welcome or reprobation, arose. His Excellency not at all assured by the silence of this imposing mass, ordered the gates to be closed and guarded, and that no civilians be allowed to pass. Finding, however, that the yard was not stormed, nor the government stores burnt to the ground, by an infuriated mob, His Excellency took heart of grace, and ventured to ride through the town in an open carriage, accompanied by two gentlemen of his suite. But there was the same ominous silence; nobody cheered, nobody groanded, nobody even raised his hat, except one polite Canadian. He then walked through town to the Marine Railway, where about 100 persons were collected to see the Hercules properller dragged on the ways - still all silent - just such a reception as Aaron Burr would have got in the States. He then sent for Captain Ives, conductor of the works, of whom he asked many questions regarding the railway; and expressed his gratification at its strength and efficiency. This morning at 5 o'clock the steamer was gone; but we are told that his Lordship is still secreted in the garrison where he remains well guarded, in expectation of an address from his radical friends. [Courier]

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Sept. 3, 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), Sept. 3, 1850