The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), Sept. 27, 1850

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To the Editor of the British Whig.


The Argus is no Free Trader, but, in theory, a Protectionist; yet, when he is brought to reason on the practical working of his doctrine, he is no protector of native industry.

He professes to have much interest in the future prosperity of Kingston, yet he argues not in favor of such improvements as would facilitate the commercial operations of her merchants.

Although his theory is Protection, yet he disapproves of the means adopted (the tug line) to render it more easy for our forwarders to carry cheap up and down our native stream - the St. Lawrence - although he must see that success on the St. Lawrence, in forwarding cheaper than by the New York Canal, would be productive of many benefits to Canada.

It would be helping our farmers and manufacturers, as producers, - our whole population, as consumers of the necessaries and the convenience of life - helping our ship owners, in giving them business - our mechanics and laborers, in creating a demand for their labor - helping proprietors of uninhabited houses, and even the proprietor of a Steam Saw Mill might profit, indirectly, by this bounty, (the tug line,) wisely given by Government to the forwarding trade on the St. Lawrence, with a view to encourage, by such bounty, and to protect and foster the forwarding trade of the country, through our own waters, by our own shippers and seamen, our own mechanics and laborers, and not through the canals, shipping merchants and laborers of a foreign nation.

The Argus, and others who think like him, may flatter themselves they are protectionists, may denounce the present Ministry as destructive Free Traders, yet, practically, so far as the Tug Line is concerned, the Ministry are on the side of protection to native capital and industry.

The want of easy intercourse with the world, is always injurious to any commercial and industrious people, and of this, Kingston is a proof. The want of roads from that city to the interior of the country, on the one side, the obstacles of navigation between it and Montreal, the ill supplied means of travel, especially on two ferries and across Wolf Island, on the route between it and New York, leave it almost unapproachable; and like a girdled tree, into which no sap can ascend and circulate.

Remove these obstacles to your intercourse with the world, ye citizens of Kingston, so that ye may share with the world's prosperity. Heed not the jealous "leetle" fears of the Argus, that the Stave trade of the contractor would be benefitted by the extension of the tug line to Kingston. The more it benefits that contractor, the better for Kingston, and the Argus too.

The prosperity of the Stave trade alluded to, during the past fourteen years, has been beneficial to the Merchants and population of Kingston, as well as to the surrounding country, and also to the Province at large. It is a branch of our shipping and forwarding trade, for the carrying on of which we were indebted to a foreign people, until it was established near Kingston, by particular desire of its inhabitants. Indeed, it may be safely said, that this establishment has benefitted the mercantile and working classes more than the proprietors.

(To be Continued)


The following despatch was received here from Michigan city:

George Davis, Captain of the schooner Thornton was taken up by the steamer Julius D. Morton four miles out from Michigan city, floating upon a spar; was capsized on Friday last at 11 P.M., six miles east of Chicago. Two of the hands were lost. The Captain is strong and doing well - will arrive at Chicago per the Morton.

Mr. Davis the sufferer arrived this morning on the steamer Morton. A friend by whom Mr. D. is well known, paid a visit to him this morning immediately on the arrival of the boat. A comfortable bed had been made for him upon some settees in the ladies' cabin, where he was seen by our informant. Notwithstanding his long exposure to the fury of the elements and his terrible sufferings from cold and famine, he was able to give a history of his trials in an interesting cheerful manner.

At the time of the disaster, the Thornton, in charge of Captain Davis, assisted by two hands, was on her passage from Muskegon freighted with lumber belonging to Mr. Parks of the former place. The vessel was driven out of her course by the violence of the storm, and on Friday afternoon when about six miles north-east of of this port, she became unmanageable and capsized, precipitating the captain and crew into the angry flood. Fortunately a spar which had been lying loose upon the deck floated near them, and all three grasped it, supposing the vessel had sunk, though she afterwards floated ashore.

For the next twenty-four hours the three shipwrecked men were driven about at the mercy of the wind and waves, and they knew not wither; at the end of which time (Saturday afternoon) the two companions of Capt. D., exhausted by cold, hunger and fatigue, relinquished their hold upon the spar, nearly at the same time, and sunk to rise no more. Capt. D. supposes at this time they were somewhere near the middle of the lake.

After the loss of his companions, Capt. D. was driven about he knew not whither, the only incident occurring to break the dreary monotony being two or three vessels in sight. Only one of them came within hailing distance, and this he thinks was on Monday or Tuesday, he is not certain which. The vessel was near enough for him to read her name, and a man, whom he supposes was the captain, seemed to see him in the distance, and afterwards several of the crew joined him and looked in the same direction. Captain D. thinks they must have seen him, but the vessel held on her course, and the hope of rescue, which he had indulged a moment before, gave place to black despair.

From that time till he was picked up by the crew of the steamer Morton, between 9 and 10 A.M. on Friday, there was nothing to relieve the horrible monotony of his long, aimless voyage, except that at one time he drifted within about a mile of the eastern shore of the lake, but he was then too much exhausted, too weakened and benumbed in body, and paralized in mind, to make the attempt to swim ashore.

The pangs of hunger became so pressing towards the last, that the poor sufferer attempted to reach a dead body that floated near him, with the dreadful thought of satisfying it by eating a portion of a fellow creature, but it eluded his grasp. After this, he does not know when he gnawed one of his hands to relieve the pain of famine, and afterwards he gnawed the other in the same manner.

It is impossible for the imagination to conceive of the horrible realities of such a voyage - during which for seven days, the poor wayfarer upon the deep, without a morsel of food, benumbed with cold, and with the prospect of death every moment - where day brought no relief and hardly hope, and the long, dreary night added to the horror of his situation - was drifted at the mercy of the elements. Happily, however, by the operation of a beautiful law, by which the intensity of human suffering after a time deadens the capacity to feel it, Captain Davis has but an indistinct remembrance of the trial through which he has passed. For most of the time he was in a state of semi-consciousness, and at times he must have slept, though the strong instinct of self-preservation enabled him, through all, to maintain a firm grip upon the spar.

On being picked up by the Morton, every attention was paid to his wants which humanity could suggest, and a physician (whose name we were not able to learn) was taken on board at Michigan City, who bound up his wounded hands, and otherwise ministered to his relief. This morning he was quite cheerful, though much emaciated from his long famine, and the prospect is that he will shortly recover. It will be some time, however, before he will have the use of his hands, as they are very much cramped and benumbed by his long continued grasp upon the spar, and the gnawing to which they were subjected. His whole body, with the exception of his head and hands, being immersed in the water, he did not suffer much with cold until the last night of his exposure. [Chicago Tribune]

Kingston Imports.

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Sept. 27, 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. 27, 1850