The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), May 4, 1881

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Features of the Enlargement - Fulfilling the Contract.

The new work naturally divides itself into two sections, viz. that from Port Dalhousie to Allanburg, which takes a route apart from the old canal; and that from Allanburg and Port Colborne, between which points the old canal, enlarged and deepened, will be used. The whole of these 26 1/4 miles of artificial navigation have been completed for vessels drawing 12 feet, with the exception of two sections near the western extremity, the aquaduct at Welland, and the "stepping" of the lock gates. All of these works will, however, be placed in such a condition by 1st July that navigation can be freely and successfully carried out after that date.

A Glance At Works In Progress.

Section 33 presents a lively scene, the contractors being engaged in completing the work, which includes the widening and deepening of the canal for a distance of one mile. The rock cutting at the bottom of the canal is a formidable undertaking. The rock is loosened by dynamite charges, and sometimes by hand labour. The broken mass is carted to a temporary platform and there dumped into large wooden boxes, which are lifted by steam derricks of enormous size and power and thrown to the bank. Springs of water occur all along the bottom, and steam pumps are required to be kept almost constantly at work. In such parts of the bottom or sides as clay is met with, it is removed rapidly with a steam dredge. Two years were given for the completion of this contract, and the time expires in a few days. The contractors expect to finish next week. During this period they have employed from 650 to 700 men, principally Irishmen and Italians. Some French Canadians were brought up from Quebec, but the younger portion of them drifted away to Buffalo. The experience of the contractors with the different nationalities goes to show that

Irishmen Are The Best Hands,

Swedes next, the Italians are good shovellers and bad wheelers, while French Canadians find the work too heavy. A large force is employed on section 34, endeavouring to so far complete their portion as to render it available by the 1st of July for twelve foot navigation. The requisite depth will undoubtedly be obtained, but there will be only time to secure a width of about 80 feet. This, however, will prove a serious drawback as regards vessels; additional care will be required in handling the vessel while passing through this section. An enormous quantity of apparatus is in operation, steam derricks, drills, and pumps being observable in all hands. Besides the completion of the work necessary to make these two sections available for navigation purposes, there remains practically only the task of hanging the fifty-six pairs of gates, which will be accomplished by July 1st. The canal can then pass vessels drawing 12 feet, notwithstanding statements to the contrary.

New Line of Steamers.

To show the importance of this line of navigation, even with respect to the transportation of grain from the west to the consuming districts of New England, I may mention that a short time ago the President of the Northern Railway of New York visited this city, and stated that so soon as it was perfectly assured that the Welland Canal was able to accommodate craft drawing 12 feet, he and his associates would establish a line of freight boats to ply directly between Chicago and Ogdensburg, thence by the Northern Railway of New York to Rouse's Point, 118 1/2 miles, and thence to Burlington, which is well known as a distributing point for New England.

A Great Change Probable.

Referring to the Dominion canal policy and the enlargement of the Welland waterway, the Oswego Oswego (sic) says:

"We realize, if Buffalo does not, that a great change is likely to take place in the course of grain transportation within the next decade, and one that does not endanger Oswego interests more than it does the interests of Buffalo and the whole State of New York. The narrow Welland Canal has made Buffalo for many years the mistress of the lower lakes. When the Welland Canal is enlarged a sluice-way will be opened through which the vast trade she has enjoyed may go rushing down on the long water level below her, from which it has heretofore been excluded, and where the natural order of things it will go as soon as possible, because it is an unalterable law of trade that, other things being equal, the cargo will take the longest route without breaking bulk. It will be more natural for grain to come down on to Lake Ontario than to stop on Lake Erie. Whether it shall then go to Montreal or New York is a question to be decided on Lake Ontario and not on Lake Erie. The condition of affairs will then be reversed - Buffalo will find herself involved in a struggle to get the driblets that stop on Lake Erie, while New York and Oswego will make a grand push for the vast stores of the west passing down on to Ontario, the terminus of lake transportation." [Toronto Mail]

p.3 - The Chief Engineer of Canals, Mr. John Page, confirmed that enlarged Welland Canal to be opened in July.

Raft Yard - Mr. Thomas Rees has commenced work at his raft yard on the foot of Wolfe Island. He has ten men now engaged in making everything in readiness preparatory to the arrival of vessels with staves and timber. There will be no rafting done at the Clayton yard this season.

Wolfe Island Ferry - The Council of the municipality of Wolfe Island have approved of the Reeve's application for a lease of the ferry for the whole of the north side of the island, the Council being of the opinion that if a lease can be obtained, and with it the control of the ferry, the islanders at both the head and foot will be well served.


The schr. Marcia Hall cleared yesterday for Bay ports to load grain.

The schr. Thurston has sailed, light, for Toledo to load timber for Kingston.

The schr. Wave Crest is loading barley at Hamilton for Kingston. The rate is said to be 2 cents.

The schr. Brooklyn, which wintered here, gets 90 cents on iron ore from Ogdensburg to Cleveland.

The ice is very rotten in the Straits. A steam barge passed through it yesterday morning.

The schrs. James Wade and Wawanosh have been chartered at Toledo to carry corn to Kingston at 6 1/2 cents.

The new barge for the Montreal Transportation Company will be filled with water in a few days.

The prop. Prussia passed up this morning from Montreal to Chicago. She carried considerable freight.

The prop. Armenia, of Toronto, is on her way to Ogdensburg and the str. Armenia of Picton, from Deseronto, called at Swift's last evening.

The steam barge Nile has delivered a cargo of potatoes from Westport. The prop. D.C. West arrived this afternoon with another cargo of the same.

The schr. Jessie H. Breck has returned to Hamilton, having made a quick trip from Collinsby. She has been chartered for another trip at the same rate.

The tug Mixer took over to Garden Island this morning a raft of timber belonging to Cook & Co. It will go to Quebec. The timber was brought in on the K. & P.R.R.

The steam barge Good Hit, from Oswego, has arrived with 184 tons of coal for the gas company, 100 bbls cement and 25 bbls land plaster for Muckleston & Co. and McMahon Bros.

The schr. Camelia left Clayton yesterday with a load of paving stone bound for Kingston. She looks very fine after her accident last fall. Captain Girard has everything about her in apple pie order.

The schr. Ella Murton left Hamilton on Friday afternoon about 4 o'clock, reached Oswego, loaded 410 tons of coal, and returned to Hamilton about 4 p.m. on Friday. This is the fastest time on record for a round trip between Hamilton and Oswego.

The rate on lumber from Deseronto to Oswego is 70 cents per m. Sundry vessel owners will transfer their craft to the upper lakes rather than accept such a starvation price. The rate on ties and posts from Deseronto to Chicago is 4 cents. Vessel men are anticipating a rise. Several vessels are chartered.

p.4 Welland Canal - Features of Enlargement - Fulfilling the Contract - future effects [Toronto Mail]

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May 4, 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.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), May 4, 1881