The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), May 12, 1881

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Urgent Reasons Why It Should Be Completed.

To the Editor of the British Whig;

Sir; - As the season of navigation opens the demand for dry dock accommodations for our steamers and sail craft becomes more apparent. Only a few days ago the steamer Prince Arthur was obliged to go to a foreign port to be docked for repairs, large sums of money being expended abroad that ought to be laid out at our own doors. Now this is not a solitary case. There have been several similar cases of late years, and when the Welland Canal is open to the larger craft we have not a convenient place at this end of the lake to dock the vessels. It, therefore, becomes the duty of all parties interested in marine matters to give a helping hand in the completion of the dry dock here, which is now nearly half completed. Now, sir, if a railroad is built in any part of the Dominion and not without the substantial aid of the Government, one of the first things done is to erect a shop for the repair of cars, locomotives, etc. Therefore, I claim that a dry dock is of as great importance to the shipping interests as a repairing shop is to a railroad, and should receive at the hands of the Government and parties interested as fair a support. Apart from its advantages to the marine interests, derived by having a dry dock at this port, where there are facilities at hand in shops in which to make repairs on engines of steamers and other machinery, the amount spent in the city in connection with the dock would be very large annually. You may have only to look at Detroit to form an idea of the great benefit a dry dock is to a city. The fact is that those docks at Detroit have added greatly to the building up of it. No one will deny who has had the opportunity of seeing the amount of business done at that place in winter as well as in summer, the constant employment given to a great number of men, that the same could be done here with a dry dock in operation.

I am, sir, Respectively yours,

Kingston, May 12th, 1881 VERITAS

p.2 Village of Deseronto - description of Rathbun Company's operations, including sawmill, grain elevator, number of employees, and shipyard.

"Busy Shipyard - A little to the west is the shipyard in which 40 men find employment. Messrs. Rathbun have built during the past five years 6,500 tons measurement of passenger steamers, sail vessels and tugs. This season they rebuilt one steam barge, two steamers, and one small vessel..."


The str. Wawanosh, from Toledo, with 23,760 bush. corn, arrived last evening for the M.T. Co.

The steamer Spartan did not arrive last night from Montreal. She was detained in the river by fog.

The schr. Eureka arrived yesterday, and loaded with iron ore. She cleared for Charlotte this morning.

The D.C. West is doing a profitable business on the Rideau canal. Freight shipments are extensive.

The prop. Georgian, from Toledo, 15,550 bush. of corn, lightened at Portsmouth and then proceeded to Montreal.

The railway esplanade is covered with ties and posts for the American side. Fair rates are offered on transportation hence.

The schrs. Elgin and Oriental from Toledo, passed through the Welland Canal yesterday for Kingston, timber laden.

Swift's wharf - Steamers calling: Celtic, from Hamilton; Corsican, Hamilton; Armenia, Ogdensburg; the tug Eleanor and barges left for Ironsides, carrying a general cargo.

The Montreal Star says the propellers of the Montreal and Chicago Steamboat Line, the Ocean, Prussia and Celtic, have been fitted up superbly and possess unequalled passenger accommodation.

The schr. St. Louis, from Detroit, brought to Kingston the first cargo of grain taken at an American port. The grain was delivered in Montreal before the James Wade arrived here. The latter vessel was not the first through the canal as the above shows.

The propellers Africa and California, trading between Montreal and Cleveland, have contracted to carry boxed meats to Montreal for a packing house which kills from 1,600 to 2,000 hogs daily. Their return cargoes will consist of soda, ash, salt, and tin plates for points in the Western States.

The tugs Edsall and Chieftain left Hamilton at the same time with rafts. Last night the Chieftain passed down the river with her tow, while up to noon today the Edsall was not in sight. Both had the same quantity of timber, five drams. The Hamilton raftsmen, especially Messrs. Flett & Bradley, should have no further doubts as to the merits of the respective steamers.


Last December the keel of a new barge, said to be the largest in the Kingston harbor, was laid in the shipyard of the Montreal Transportation Company, near Place d'Armes. Today she was launched. As we have said before, nothing but the best oak and rock elm have been used in her construction, heavy timbers, and fastened just as well as the best schooners and propellers afloat. Thus she will be adapted for service on the lake if necessary. Being supplied with the most modern steering apparatus, vessel shaped cabin, anchors and chains - in fact well found in everything - the barge is one of the staunchest and completest navigating the St. Lawrence. It is no reflection upon the professional shipbuilders that such work should be done under the direction of employees of the company. The work is more satisfactory because performed according to their own views; and it is not intended to compete with those who are engaged in the shipbuilding business, though if the present experiment turn out as anticipated another barge of like size and model will be commenced to be completed during the winter of 1881-82. The measurements, as recorded at the Custom House, are: Length, 165 ft. 8 in.; breadth of beam, 31 ft. 4 in.; depth of hold, 12 ft. 4 in. She is of 487 tons burthen.

The launch took place in the presence of a large assemblage who secured every available position from which a clear and unobstructed view could be obtained. Shortly before four o'clock she slid into the water sticking on the muddy bottom. She went in lightly, however, and was being towed out to the harbor as we go to press.

"She stirred, she moved, she seemed to feel

A thrill of life along her keel."

As she entered the water little Miss Thompson, daughter of the company's agent here, broke the proverbial bottle of wine over her bow and christened her the John Gaskin. Following the launch there was speechifying which is now proceeding.



Following the resumption of navigation and a change in temperature which makes aquatic occupations again popular we find the yachtsmen most active in their preparations for the season, which promises to be very interesting and even eventful. All the flyers (a Western appellation which custom has made common place) have been undergoing improvements of a more or less notable character.

The yacht owned by Dr. Curtis has undergone the greatest alteration. The old G.S. Oldrieve is scarcely recognizable. After two seasons service it was decided to remodel and rebuild her. Having been originally intended for the ocean or coast she was narrow and deep, and at the same time strongly put together. On the arrival of spring her planking was torn down to the water line and new sides put on, increasing her breadth of beam from eleven to fifteen feet. At first the new departure did not impress those who examined the work very favorably, but as progress was made appearances were more satisfactory, and now, when completed, the yacht is generally pronounced better in looks and more promising in regard to speed. Last night her canvass was bent, and today her launch took place amid numerous congratulations and good wishes. Her name has been changed as well as her lines. In future she will be known as the General Garfield, which has been nicely cut in the wood of the stern. People may wonder at the Dr. making such a choice, especially as he is a British subject by birth and predilection. He honors the Chief Magistrate of the United States because he served in the American war in the same division with him, and learned to respect his ability and admire his virtues. In adopting the new name Dr. Curtis hopes that the yacht will run as well in coming contests as General Garfield did in the last Presidential election. In the water she sits saucily, reminding one of the Ella of Oswego, whose performance in the harbour against the Katie Gray of Belleville was so creditable. She has also a clipper bow, which will be very handsome when the carving upon it is completed. The rebuilding has been done under the direction of Capt. Pierce, by whom the yacht was first constructed and the excellence of whose handiwork is demonstrated in the steamers Geneva, Cruiser and Flight, and in a yacht which has figured conspicuously in western Ontario. The improvements upon the Garfield cost about $450. With them she is expected to do some fast sailing, but at the best it is to be remembered that the Doctor is not so much anxious to have a racer as a boat which can make good time while yet devoted to pleasure cruising.

Capt. Pierce is building a yacht of similar size for himself at Mill Haven. There is no reason to doubt that if he is successful as usual this craft will not be last in the competition, for such honors as the public may choose to confer upon the successful boats.

Mr. T. Robertson is giving the Laura a thorough overhauling. The yacht is receiving treatment similar to that given to the General Garfield. Her width will be increased eighteen inches, and the bow made considerably finer.

Mr. George Offord's Emma is being lengthened in keel and over all about two feet, the stern of the yacht being much improved thereby. This yacht is undoubtedly one of the best which has left Capt. Cuthbert's hands. In the regattas of last year her record was very creditable. May her speed never grow less.

Messrs. Powers, Strange, Cartwright and Irvine, are giving their respective yachts the usual outfitting. The several steam yachts are being put in readiness for service.

Altogether between the rowing and yachting clubs this harbour should be more attractive than it has ever been.

Court of Chancery - Merchants Bank vs Malone - A suit to recover notes given by Malone for a portion of the purchase money of the schr. Alexandria, which defendant resisted on the ground of plaintiff having taken possession of and allowed the said vessel to be injured. There being a cross suit pending by Malone, to make the bank responsible and restrain this action, a verdict was in the meantime entered by consent for plaintiff, but not to be enforced until after the next chancery sittings, and then to abide the result of the chancery suit. Messrs. Walkem, Q.C., and Machar, for plaintiff; Messrs. Gibbons, Britton, Q.C., and Whiting, for defendant.

p.4 County News - John Walters has taken many horses and cows to Main Ducks.

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May 12, 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 12, 1881