The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), Dec. 2, 1880

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p.1 Canadian Trade - Mr. T.A. Merritt, of St. Catharines, in a long letter to the MAIL, discusses the results likely to follow the enlargement of the Welland Canal. We extract the following:

"The cost of lake transportation from any western port to Port Colborne may be assumed to be the same as to Buffalo. It is then from Port Colborne to Montreal that the competition of the Erie Canal and railways from Buffalo must be met. Taking it for granted that the Montreal harbour dues and lower river expenses will be so reduced that the ocean freights from Montreal to Europe will not be more than from New York the St. Lawrence route has these advantages: The distance from Port Colborne to Montreal is 378 miles, as against 491 miles to New York via the Erie Canal. It has only 70 miles of canals to the other's 345 miles. It can pass at 16 feet (with lightering) cargoes of about 90,000 bushels, to the other's 8000 bushels. The charge for transhipping at Buffalo is nearly as much as the present tolls on the Welland & St. Lawrence canals, and the present tolls on the latter are 6/10 of a cent as against (?) per bushel to New York. Montreal is 240 miles nearer Liverpool than New York. There can be, therefore, no question as to the superiority of the St. Lawrence route if propellers and other lake craft that can trade to Buffalo are enabled to pass through the enlarged canals with full cargoes.

The length and breadth of the locks are fortunately ample for any vessel now on the upper lakes, but the serious obstacle to these vessels passing through the canal will be depth of water. The deepening to 14' would not remedy the difficulty, and it cannot be made deeper without an entirely new construction. It is quite clear that before the


the harbours on the upper lakes and the Detroit River will be deepened to 16', and the majority of lake vessels will load to that draught, so that unless some remedy is adopted to pass such vessels to Lake Ontario, the trade will continue to flow to Buffalo, and from thence to the seaboard by canal and rail, and our great work, which has cost so many millions, would not accomplish the object contemplated in its construction. The harbours of Port Colborne and Port Dalhousie are finished so as to admit vessels drawing 16'. Kingston has already been or can easily be made that depth: Ogdensburg has ample water, and Oswego harbour is now being enlarged so as to admit the very largest class.

Suggested Remedy - Lightering through the Welland is indispensible, and it must be provided so as to prevent delay to vessels, and not tax them more than if they passed through the canal with full cargoes.

This can only be done by an arrangement with the Welland Railway, or by making the railway a gov't work and incorporating it into the canal system, so that vessels drawing anything over 12' could pay the ordinary tolls at either end, lighten all that may be necessary, and pass on to their destination without additional cost.

By adopting one of these courses the great expense of further deepening the canal, which to obtain 14' is estimated by Mr. Page at (I believe) $2,000,000, would be avoided, and enable the canal to pass vessels of any drought that may in future be placed on the lakes, by merely deepening the harbours when more than 16' is recquired.

The experience of the past warrants the conclusion that this arrangement would satisfy the vessel interests, ensure trade through our own waters, increase the canal revenue, employ our shipping, and benefit the Dominion at large.

Ever since the railway was opened for lightering in 1859, canal vessels have year by year increased in size, and business has been kept in it that would otherwise have sought other routes. The railway, as


could be worked to the best advantage by being under one management. To further meet the altered condition of trade, but more particularly to enable Oswego to compete with Buffalo in the western business, the tolls on our canals recquire readjusting. In 1869 Oswego had the advantage of Buffalo in tolls on the Erie Canal of 2.67 cents per bushel on wheat, or, taking out the Welland Canal tolls, 20 cents per ton, of 2.7 cents per bushel. Now the difference is in favour of Buffalo 16/100 of a cent per bushel. The Oswego route has 168 miles less Erie canalling than from Buffalo, or, taking out the 26 miles of Welland Canal: 142 miles less. With tolls reduced to 10 cents per ton on the Welland Canal, and large vessels in her trade, Oswego should be in a position to again come into active competition for western business, and establish lines of ( ) propellers to trade through the Welland. The same can be said of Ogdensburg trade, which of late has almost entirely left the Welland Canal. The tolls on many other articles might be reduced in the general interests of trade.

Rates of Toll - The rate through both canals to seaboard, 20 cents per ton, cannot be considered high so long as the Erie Canal is no less; but as this falls upon the vessel delivering the cargo to Kingston, it is a serious tax to that interest. It would give more satisfaction if the rate was divided between the two canals, and the system of drawback done away with altogether. Under the Washington Treaty, Canadian vessels can carry grain and merchandise from one American port to another, providing part of such transportation is over Canadian territory. There are times when this privelege is of the greatest advantage, and by the Welland Railway being a part of the Canal system, and passing property so brought for shipment at reasonable rates, there would be greater confidence in vessel property, and the building of Canadian vessels for the trade of the lakes would be greatly encouraged. I, therefore, contend that the present Welland Canal enlargement, without proper facilities for lightering cargoes at canal toll rates, will not meet the recquirements of trade.


Marine Notes.

Navigation on the Welland Canal closed yesterday.

Sailors are beginning to reach home in numbers, getting there by rail, however, instead of by vessel.

It is said the Oswego sch. Nassau has made $8000 this year carrying ore on Lake Michigan. There can't be much ore left.

The sch. Jessie Scarth, laden from Oswego to Toronto, will winter here. All insurances expired yesterday, and navigation is virtually closed.

The damaged grain in the prop California has been sold at Toronto at 50 cents and 35 cents per bushel, 4000 going at the former rate and 2,500 at the latter.

Many of the vessels bound for ports on Lake Ontario, which have been detained by ice, have arranged to be discharged at Port Huron, Sarnia and Port Colborne.

The captain of the sch. Eureka caught a man last night in the act of throwing 2 tarpaulins off the sch. on to the dock at Oswego. Leaving the thief in watch of the crew, he went up street to get officers, but when they reached the dock the crew had allowed the thief to escape.

On a recent up trip the new steam barge John N. Glidden caught fire and was only saved by the prop. Buffalo, Capt. Drake, keeping alongside and pouring a continuous stream of water from her pumps. No charge for services was made by the Western Transportation Company, owners of the Buffalo.

The trade from Chicago to Kingston was not, by comparison, so good as last year. The Lake Ontario carriers have done better this year, taking the whole season, than last year. The lumber rate was better by 20%, than in 1879. Propellers have done better than sailing vessels, and very much better than they did last year.

Canal Collections - During the past year the sum of $26,115.87 was collected, on account of the St. Lawrence Canals, at this port, principally on grain.

Centenary Gone - On Tuesday Capt. Henry J. Ward, of Sackett's Harbour, died at the ripe old age of 102 years. It will be remembered that last summer he visited the city, and had an interview with a representative of this newspaper, the substance of which we published.

Late Captain Joliffe - The friends of the deceased seaman, mate of the unfortunate Norway, have been informed that a trunk, containing clothing, etc, have been picked up on the north side of the peninsula, at Three Mile Bay, and that it is believed to be the property of the late Capt. Joliffe.

Sailors Reunion - At an oyster supper on Ordnance St. last night, a few members of the Seamen's Union had a pleasant time, the most notable feature of the evening being a recitation by Mr. A. Rushford, "Bingen on the Rhine." The evenings entertainment concluded with a song from Mr. C. Chambers, entitled "Every Inch a Sailor." Mr. McCutcheon helped with the chorus - Com.

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Dec. 2, 1880
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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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British Whig (Kingston, ON), Dec. 2, 1880