ACTIVITIES OF SPRING
Preparations For Navigation.
The backbone of winter having been broken, and the present indications being that the ice will shortly leave the harbor, according to custom we give a sketch of the work which has been going on at this port in preparation for navigation. The owners of vessels, in anticipation of a prosperous season, are energetically engaged in putting their property in a condition to rate the highest possible. More repairs have been and are being made than most people have an idea of. Some craft that have for several years been laid up are now receiving complete outfits, showing that their owners are satisfied with the outlook. The Rideau Canal fleet are being also prepared for an active, and we hope a profitable, season. The canal's banks are filled with cordwood, ties, telegraph poles and lumber, which must be brought to Kingston for transhipment. The ore trade also promises to be extensive, as the vast deposits on the city already signify. So far as rates are concerned no doubt they will be remunerative. Yesterday afternoon a Whig representative learned some facts relative to the
St. Lawrence and Chicago Forwarding Co.
This Company, it will be remembered, left the city last season and located in the adjacent village of Portsmouth. They leased premises having a most excellent water front, and a pier 700 feet long, of which they have the exclusive use. The agent, Mr. J.H. Macfarlane, thinks the change has been advantageous. The company have all the room and depth of water they can desire. Vessels of the largest carrying capacity can ride at ease in the harbor. The water at the end of the pier is twenty feet in depth. It becomes shallower towards the shore. Hopes are entertained that the harbour will be dredged during the summer; the Government will probably have to do it being interested therein by reason of the location of the Penitentiary wharf. That the company have ample room is testified by the fact that upwards of twenty vessels were given dockage and anchorage at the time of the blockade last fall caused by the breakage of locks in the Lachine Canal. Last year the company transhipped 5,000,000 bushels of grain, of which but little was damaged. Probably 1,000,000 bushels more were handled between Kingston and Montreal. This year the company are in a better condition to move forward all the grain that may be consigned to them.
The company have lengthened the arms and legs of the elevator Ceres so that it will be serviceable in unloading the largest vessels that will pass through the new canal. This is a judicious move. The company have also purchased from the Montreal Transportation Company a steam propelling elevator which will arrive here about the first of May, or as soon as the St. Lawrence canals are open. The company have three tugs. The Jessie Hall is receiving a general overhauling. Capt. P. McGrath, an old and faithful master, and probably the senior on the lakes, will again command her. The Frank Perew was hauled out last fall and has had a new stem put on her. Capt. P. McGlade will command her. These two tugs are constantly engaged in towing in the river. The Joe Mac, Capt. P. McGrath, (nephew of the captain of the Jessie Hall,) is employed at Montreal. The barges, twelve of which were laid up here last fall, are all being repaired and repainted, oxide of iron being largely used because of its resistance to the action of the water.
The barges are named as follows: Acadia, Dorchester, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas and Mohawk, having a capacity of 24,000 bushels each; Tuscarora, Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga, Powerful, Canada and Minnesota, with a capacity of 20,000 bushels each; Europa and Arab, carrying 18,000 bushels each; Winona 16,000 bushels; Arthur, Alfred, Alert, and Victor, 14,000 bushels each; Lion and Tiger, 13,000 bushels each; Janes, D., and B., 12,000 bushels each; A., M.A. Grant, Bee and Ant, 10,000 bushels each. The head office of the company is at Montreal, Mr. D. Macphie being Managing Director. The agent here, as we have said before, is Mr. J.H. Macfarlane, who is an expert in his business.
Fisher's Ship Yard.
At his yard Mr. Fisher has upwards of forty men busily engaged.
The schr. Lily Hamilton, the vessel damaged at the time of the storm last fall, had extensive repairs commenced upon her last year. The work is now being finished. She will engage in the grain trade. She is owned by parties in Port Burwell.
The schr. Erie Belle has new bulwarks, a new jib-boom, and other improvements. She is owned in Kincardine, and will be commanded by Capt. McLeod. She will be run as a grain vessel.
The schr. B.W. Folger has been considerably rebuilt. She had a new cabin, new centreboard, pocket-pieces, keelson, centrebox, frame fore and aft, ceiling, covering boards, stanchions, deck, rails, etc., costing about $3,000. The craft has been rated A-1 1/2. She is owned by Messrs. Smith & Dandy, and will carry grain, having a capacity for 8,500 bushels. Capt. Dandy will sail her.
A new mast has been put into the schr. Enterprise, owned by Whitby parties. Capt. Dunning is here arranging for her spring outfit. Her capacity is 6,500 bushels of grain.
The steam barge Water Lily has been newly planked in some places and caulked. Capt. Connors will command her.
The steam barge Carlyle has also been hauled out and overhauled. Capt. Ed. Smith will be in charge.
The tug Eleanor has been rebuilt. She will again run on the Rideau route.
The scow Gipsy Queen is being generally overhauled.
The schr. Fanny Campbell, lying at McMillan's dock, has had the oil tanks taken out of her, and is now being fitted out for the timber trade, receiving new stanchions, rails, etc. The repairs will cost $1,500. Capt. Horn, one of her owners, will command her.
The schr. Hercules lies at the pier at Portsmouth. She is being prepared for the grain trade. Capt. Smith, part owner, will sail her.
At Gaskin's yard there is nothing being done. All the repairs to the M.T. Co.'s tugs and barges are being done in the city.
A Chicago Opinion.
The Chicago Inter-Ocean, an authority on all marine subjects, remarks that during the coming season immense quantities of iron must be moved, as also coal and salt, and as to grain going east, the railroad blockades during the winter have helped - or will help - water carriers most wonderfully. In a word, freights will be plentiful.
The question as to rates naturally rises. But it is a little early yet, and perhaps it would be better not to say much as regards exact figures. There are a great many conflicting interests in the vessel and steamboat business. It is said, however, that there is a crisis now. A grand effort has been made to regulate cargo and hull insurance rates. If this effort is successful, there may be some money in insurance business on the lakes during 1881; if not, there will be general demoralization, and freight rates will suffer in the grand crash. And it may be added here that vessel owners are interested in fair rates to the insurance companies, for whenever the companies are losing contests (or ?) (for ?) losses of hulls (as well as cargoes) are much more frequent, and ruinously low rates of insurance on hull and cargo don't help vessel owners at all.
Charges and Wages.
Towing rates in Chicago harbor will probably open as they ruled last fall. Towing rates through the rivers (St. Clair and Detroit) will also probably rule as they did the latter part of last season.
The Chicago Tribune has the following:
Representatives of the leading insurance companies doing business upon the lakes had a private conference in Buffalo last week, at which hull rates were agreed upon as follows:
A 1 5 per cent.
A 2 5 1/2 per cent.
A 2 1/2 6 per cent.
B 1 7 1/2 per cent.
This is an advance of from 25 to 30 per cent over the rates of last season. It remains to be seen whether competition among the companies interested to secure risks upon vessels of high grade and valuation will lead to a modification all round. The impression among agents is that, no matter how active the competition may become, there will be little or no reduction from the above tariff, as all of the companies were severe sufferers in consequence of the numerous disasters which occurred last season. Under the tariff as adopted, the averages of loss necessary to insure a claim against the insurance companies will be:
On A 1 vessels 5 per cent.
On A 2 vessels 6 per cent.
On A 2 1/2 vessels 7 per cent.
On B 1 vessels 8 per cent.
Wind Wafts - Report says that the Wolfe Island Canal will be dredged this spring. The ladies who trip it to the Cape on rough days will applaud the work.