The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), April 16, 1881

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Interest of Both Seamen and Vesselmen Candidly Discussed.

[Toronto Mail]

The unions at Kingston and Port Hope have followed the example of the Toronto branch and fixed the rate of wages at $1.25 per day on Lake Ontario and $1.50 through the canal. This, of course, is by the trip, and brings up the question as to whether it would be better for the men to engage for the season at monthly wages rather than remain part of their time idle and draw a higher rate while employed. Vessel owners, of course, say it would, and in support of this, say that during the idle time the men's earnings all go to pay for board and whiskey, and at the end of the season they are almost as poor as the start. The sailors, however, look at it in a different light, and their first objection is that too low a rate is offered. From $20 to $25 a month has been cited as fair

Wages For A Season's Work,

although one firm is said to be willing to give $1.25 for a four month's engagement, and a few moments consideration will show that at these figures the men would get the worst of it. Eight months at such rates would leave a man in possession of from $160 to $200 at the end of the season, providing he could save it all and had no family to keep or any incidental expenses to meet. On the other hand, supposing that the present rate of $1.25 will remain in force for four months, $1.50 for the next two months, and $2.00 for the remaining two, and allowing the men to only work twenty days per month, which is below the average for good men, then their gross earnings, if trading between Canadian ports, would amount to $210. Of this, $40 would pay for their board while ashore, and they would then be as well off as though they had accepted the $25 per month. If they

Touched At American Ports

they would be very much better, for they would then reap the benefit of the higher rates from thence, and these would give them from $50 to $150 more. This brings us to one of the vessel owners' grievances. They say a crew shipped from here for a round trip to an American port and return should should be satisfied with the rate paid at this port. The sailors, however, say that this would be unfair to the members of the American unions as well as to themselves, for when they make a trip between Canadian ports they are discharged while unloading, so that the rule should work both ways, and if they lose time at Canadian ports they should be allowed to take any advantage offered them in an American one. Another and very cogent objection to the

System of Season Engagements

is the inefficiency of the present law for the collection of wages. A man may work the entire season and find at the close that his labour has all gone to benefit a mortgagee, and that he himself gets nothing. No better illustration of this can be had than the sale of the Flora Carveth a week or two ago, when, after expenses were paid, the crew received almost nothing. Similar cases have occurred before, and no doubt will again, but they have taught the sailors a lesson, and although at times the action of the unions may press rather heavily on some, it is to the unprincipled actions of a few that the owners are indebted for the present state of affairs. So long as sailors' unions endeavour to better the condition of their members only they are entitled to the support of their owners, but if they step down from this to the intimidation of others, or the destruction of property, they deserve to lose the sympathy of both the owners and the public.



The steamer Armenia was launched at Deseronto today.

The str. Pierrepont succeeded in reaching Wolfe Island last evening.

The steamer Veruna (sic - Varuna) will commence her trips on the bay on Thursday next.

The D.M. Foster is loading staves at Toronto for Kingston. The rate is not given.

The schrs. Fabiola and A.G. Ryan have been chartered to carry rye to Oswego at 2 cents.

A captain has been endeavoring to secure a crew to go to Hamilton and return for $10 for the trip.

The survey of the schooner Snow Bird has ended but the report has not been made public.

The schooner Mary Copley has been chartered with wheat from Milwaukee to Kingston at private terms.

Captain Crawford of the Norseman, expects to make the first trip from Port Hope to Charlotte on Wednesday.

The steamer Chieftain ran down to Gananoque yesterday. She loaded wood at Turner's dock for Hamilton.

The Customs officials are busy issuing vessel licenses. Tonnage dues are being paid by the owners of steamers.

The schr. Flora Carveth has cleared for Port Hope. She will load grain for Kingston. She was the first schooner to leave this harbour.

Mr. John Lydon, of Port Hope, has made the first charter of the season and is now loading the Mary Ann Lydon with peas for Kingston at 2 1/2 cents.

Mr. R. Davis, Wolfe Island, has launched the new steamer built during the past winter on Wolfe Island. She will be towed to the city on Tuesday to receive her machinery.

The steamer Pierrepont broke up a considerable portion of the ice remaining in the harbor. It was so thick in one place, however, as to resist her weight and power.

On Thursday, an earlier date than usual, the Government officials commenced to draw the water off the Lachine Canals, preparatory to the customary spring repairs.

The ice was cut away in Portsmouth on Thursday so as to allow the schr. Enterprize and tug Eleanor to be launched. The latter was brought to the city by the tug Mixer.

Capt. Donnelly is endeavoring to get through the Welland Canal with the Grantham. He is about 100 yards above Martindale's Point, where the vessel will remain until the water is let in.

The tug Gardner, with three barges in tow, passed Cape Vincent on Thursday night on her way from Ogdensburg to Oswego. She encountered some floating ice in the river, but got through all right.

J.K. Post, O.F. Gaylord, Robert Downey, and Capt. Wm. McCarthy, Oswego, have bought a controlling half interest in the steambarge Thomson (sic - Thomas ?) Kingsford for $5,200, and J.H. Mattoon the other half for $5,000. Capt. McCarthy will sail her.

The vessel now building at Redmond's yard, Picton, has been bought by a syndicate composed of Sheriff Gillespie, Capt. Collier, and some others. She will be a propeller of twelve thousand bushels capacity, and will go into the Toledo trade. Her engines are being built in Kingston. She is all oak.

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April 16, 1881
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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.
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), April 16, 1881