The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), March 26, 1851

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No. I

"Time the remorseless eater-up of all things has made one other annual revolution, and compels us to take again that "Walk," which it seems but the other day to have been finished and ended. In youth the hours stand idly still; in early manhood, they glide along, more swiftly but as old age creeps upon us, they flee past with railroad speed, and years look like tedious days. Yesterday, to-morrow, and then! But why moralize? A dull, heavy disagreeable and thankless duty is before us, in which, like the old man and his ass, we may strive to please every body, and like him, end with the miserable satisfaction of not having pleased ourselves. The preparations for the opening of Navigation are many in the port of Kingston, but are not far advanced. The unusual severity of the winter and the apparent lateness in which the harbor will be free from ice, have both conjoined to retard the making ready of the Steamboats and other lake and river craft. Every body is busy, but nothing is completed; and this "Walk" of ours might be postponed indefinitely, were we not apprehensive that when once begun, the composing materials might disappear ere it was ended. Taking time therefore by the forelock, on Monday we wended our steps to the Marine Railway Yard, where under the management of John Counter, Esq., that old Kingston Steam Horse, a large number of vessels are being built, repaired, or re-fitted for the spring business. To make mention of these vessels shall be the purpose of this present Number of "Our Walk."

THE STEAMER COMET. - This new and very elegant vessel, which up to the present time, has been chiefly used as a Freight steamer, has during the winter changed her appearance entirely. She is now fitted up expressly for the Passenger Trade, and has a spacious saloon erected on her Promenade Deck, extending almost from stem to stern This is to be superbly furnished, as are all her other conveniences for the comfort of passengers. Owned as she is by Messrs. McPherson and Crane, no pains or expense will be spared to make her in every respect, the crack lake and river boat of the season, so far as the power of money will extend. She is large, roomy and lake-worthy; her engines are powerful, and her boilers are new. And she is to be commanded by one of the most popular young men of the day, Captain Anthony O'Connor, so favorably known on the river St. Lawrence last year, when in command of the Canada and the Lord Elgin. The precise destination of the Comet is not definitely settled; between Hamilton and Montreal she will surely run, but whether she extends her trips to Quebec, be one of a Line, or sail on her own hook, are still questions. Her alterations and refitments are in an advanced state, and she will be ready for business by the middle of April.

DONALD M'INTOSH'S CRAFT - The Quebec Forwarding Company has been long extinct, but its well-known Kingston Agent, Mr. Donald M'Intosh, still continues and carries on the business of the defunct Company. Last year he was very successful in holding his own amid the many contentions and competitors of the Forwarders; and this season he is much better prepared to do a remunerative business. In the Marine Railway Yard, he has no less than five vessels, not simply being repaired, but being almost actually rebuilt. Among them is that fine old vessel, the steamer Princess Victoria, which has had more money laid out upon her this spring, than she originally cost her present proprietor. She is strengthened, braced and new-kneed from stem to stern - from keelson to deck; and is probably at the present time a stronger and better vessel than when launched. The Princess Victoria, a steamer of the largest class, is to be a Freight and Tug Boat herself; capable of carrying 3000 barrels of flour, and tugging at the same time four barges almost as large as herself. Mr. Donald M'Intosh in his advertisement declares, that the Princess Victoria and her four barges can take 12,000 barrels of flour to Quebec, and he has the best reason to know the capacity and capability of his craft. This steamboat is to be taken in charge by Capt. Blondeau. The other vessels of Mr. Donald M'Intosh on the Railway, are four of his barges, the Thames, the Shannon, the Quebec, and the Doon, all undergoing a most thorough and perfect repair; - to use the words of their owner, "they are entirely rebuilt, and much stronger than when new." This certainly appears to be the case, for on walking round these barges, but little of their original fabric is visible, while looking inside, nothing but new timbers meet the eye. The steamer and her barges will be in the water, so soon as the navigation permits; and we bid "God speed them!" a wish, in which every acquaintance of that fine specimen of "a gallant braw John Highlandman," Mr. Donald M'Intosh, will cordially acquiesce.

MR. BETHUNE'S NEW STEAMER. - It would be idle to say much of this vessel now being built in the Yard, for she is but in the act of planking up, the deep snow having greatly hindered the progress of her completion. Her model is elegant, and she is of the full size the Locks of the St. Lawrence Canals will admit. By the end of May it is expected she will be fit for launching, and in two months more, be ready to take part in the Fall Business of the year. The powerful and excellent engine, &c., of the old Sovereign is being prepared for her use; which with new boilers must make her a clipper. Capt. Wilkinson, of Toronto, is in Kingston, superintending her building. The ship-wright and builder of this fine steamer is Mr. George Thurston, the Superintendent of the Yard, one of the best nautical draftsmen and ship builders in Canada.

CAPT. GASKIN'S THREE MASTED SCHOONER. - This is a fine new vessel, upwards of 250 tons burthen, ready to be launched. We say "new," because she is new, altho' for some whim or fancy, Captain Gaskin has chosen to build his vessel on the keel of the old man-of-war schooner, the Montreal, preserving a few of the old planks and timbers, for the mere say-so. This practice we can't commend because we can't understand its advantages; though with so old and careful a seaman, as "the Commodore of the Lakes," they may have their full weight. This three-masted schooner is a remarkably fine vessel, and a little bird has whispered to us, that she is intended for the recently discovered, though carefully concealed remunerative Halifax and Upper Canada trade. May she prove prosperous, for in the trade to the Lower Provinces, and also to the West Indies, the real commercial prosperity of this Province will be found.

Captain Patterson has a schooner in the Railway Yard, undergoing repairs; so have Messrs. Hooker & Holton, and so has Mr. Henderson, the Selina, but we could discover nothing about them worthy of lengthening this No. of "Our Walk," which we are afraid has already grown tedious to the generality of our readers. Mais que voulez vous? Different men, different tastes. The commercial men of Kingston are the main supporters of this newspaper, and to their interest must not grudgingly be given a few of its columns. The Booksellers surely get their share, and who grumbles?

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March 26, 1851
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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), March 26, 1851