The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), May 20, 1881

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The steamer Maud did not go to the Cape today. The Princess Louise took her place.

The str. Lady Rupert, now being transformed, is a fast boat. She crossed Lake Lachine in an hour and a quarter.

The tug Mixer has gone to Kingston Mills to tow here several cribs of timber for the Collinsby Rafting Company.

The prop. Armenia had to run back to Toronto on Wednesday on account of some disarrangement of the machinery. She was out in the lake fifty miles.

It is said that years ago, when the rate from Toronto to Kingston was 2 1/2 cents on wheat, the sailors only received from $16 to $20 per month. They now get $1.50, when the rate is but 1 1/4 (1/2 ?) cents.

The steam yacht W.S. Turner was brought here from Gananoque yesterday, in order to be placed upon the Canadian register. She has an American bottom, and has not yet been registered.

The other day Capt. Murray informed the Mail that the Kingston elevators had not been altered in order to discharge deep draught vessels, and now some western sage tells the Globe that the transhipping facilities of the season has been increased by one solitary barge. Both are absurd and inaccurate statements.

The schr. Albatross, which went ashore at Weller's Beach last fall, will be a total loss. The owner, Mr. Thos. Hayden, Port Hope, has endeavored to save the vessel, but all his efforts have been unavailing. The sails and rigging have been removed. Mr. Hayden spent about $300 in attempting to save the vessel this spring.

The captain of the steam barge Water Lily, plying between Smith's Falls and Kingston, has had a huge feather put in his cap. The reason is his gallant rescue of a young lady, who while crossing the canal at Smith's Falls, slipped and fell off the gate lock, on which she was walking, to the water forty feet below. The captain heard the lady's screams, rowed to the gate lock and climbed down its side, a perilous feat, and saved the unfortunate lady.


Sch. Philo Bennett, Deseronto, lumber.

Barge M. Conway, Templeton, phosphate.

Sloop Pilot, Deseronto, lumber and timber.

Prop. Prussia, Chicago, lightened 4,533 bush. wheat.

Str. Algerian, Montreal, passengers and freight.

Str. Spartan, Hamilton, passengers and freight.

Prop. California, Montreal, sundries.

Prop. Celtic, Montreal, sundries.

Str. D.C. West, Westport, passengers and freight.

Sch. Nellie Sherwood, Charlotte, pipe.

Str. Princess Louise, Sackett's Harbor, light.

Steam yacht W.S. Turner, Gananoque.

Prop. Cuba, Toronto, 50 bbls. pork.


The schr. Gearing peas from Deseronto to Kingston, at 2 cents.

Schooners West Side and J.M. Cummings, wheat, from Chicago to Kingston, at 8 1/2 cents.

Schr. M.L. Breck, cedar posts, Golden Valley to Chicago, at 8 cents.

North Star, Port Dalhousie to Kingston, 1 7/8 ? cents for corn; and coal from Charlotte to Kingston, 65 cents, free.

Oliver Mowat, corn from Toledo to Port Colborne, 2 1/2 cents.

The rates on iron ore to Charlotte is 40 cents per ton, and to Fairport 80 cents per ton.

Schr. Blanche, wheat, Toronto to Kingston, at 2 cents. This charter was made on the captain giving a guarantee to save the shipper against shortage. The captain of the Forest Queen declined the same offer, taking 1 1/4 cents and running risks.

Welland Canal.

Bismarck, Kingston, Chatham, light.

Pandora, Kingston, Kingsville, light.

Russia, Kingston, Buckhorn, light.

Elgin, Kingston, (unknown), light.

Albacore, Kingston, Bay City, light.

Antelope, Kingston, Bay City, light.

Sir C.T. Straubenzie, Kingston, Tyrconnell, light.

China, Collinsby, Toledo, light.

The Superintendent of the canal, Mr. W. Ellis, telegraphs: "On and after the first of June no sailing vessel will be allowed to pass up the old Welland Canal drawing over nine feet three and ten feet coming down."


Last evening a reporter stepped into Messrs. Richardson & Son's warehouse at the foot of Princess street and surprised the senior of the firm by reading from the Whig the item stating that the schr. Richardson had been wrecked in an ice gorge. He did not think that such was the case. A short time since he received a telegram from the captain in charge of the vessel at Fort William to the effect that the vessel had been shoved out upon the land by ice. Since then he had received no word, but expected to hear from Capt. McKee who left Kingston on Monday, 9th inst., to bring the schooner to Kingston. He took with him a crew of four. He receives $300 for the trip. It may not be out of place to recall the circumstances under which the Richardson went to Fort William. The Government desired to have a quantity of dynamite taken there for use upon the Canada Pacific Railway. It was brought to Kingston in a barge, then transhipped in the schr. Richardson, whose freight rate was fixed at $1,700. Capt. A. Milligan and a special crew were engaged, the latter to be paid $100 each for the trip and to have their return expenses paid. The journey to the Fort was accomplished but not without incidents, delays and accidents, but once there it was found to be impossible to run back to Kingston. The Captain therefore stripped the vessel and left her in the care of an old seaman. During last winter several sought to purchase the schooner, but their offers were not accepted.

The Richardson was built about fourteen years ago by Mr. Jas. Richardson, and has traded on lakes Ontario and Erie. After a service of eleven years she was rebuilt; all her timbers were new, and last fall she was repaired and put in trim for her voyage to Fort William. Two new sails were purchased for her before starting. She was valued at $5,000, and was insured for $2,000 in the Royal Canadian. She had a capacity of 9,500 bushels, and rated A 1 1/2. The vessel has never been out of Mr. Richardson's possession. He anxiously awaits particulars from Capt. McKee, and hopes that the reports respecting her may be incorrect.


We are just as anxious as our conceited contemporary that Kingston should profit by the enlargement of the Welland Canal and that our forwarding facilities should be ample and satisfactory. There is just this difference between us, that the News has been basing its editorial thunderings upon western gossip, the inaccuracy of which in some important particulars should have been quite important, while before we penned a line in defence of the harbour equipage we instituted enquiries and received the information upon which we acted from men who, in navigation matters, are considered equal in authority to Capt. Murray, or any other shipper and mariner in St. Catharines. It is not the duty of the News to reprint, respecting this port, the prejudiced opinion of every outsider. No well regulated paper would do such a thing....


Advantages of Transhipping at Kingston

[Toronto Globe]

As the St. Lawrence route now stands its conditions may be summed up as follows: Open water or lake navigation from Chicago to Port Colborne, including Lake Michigan, Lake Huron (or at least a very large portion of its entire length), Rivers St. Clair and Detroit and Lake Erie. Thus far the St. Lawrence route is identical with its only dangerous rival, the Erie Canal route, but with Buffalo and Port Colborne (both at the foot of Lake Erie) as the western termini of the broken navigation on the two routes the conditions become wholly altered. At Port Colborne, as the route stands at present, the eastward bound vessel is 365 1/2 miles from Montreal, of which distance 70 1/2 miles is canal and the remaining 294 1/2 miles is open lake and river navigation. In the 70 1/2 miles of canal navigation there are 54 locks. The manner in which grain is carried eastward over the St. Lawrence route may be placed in three general divisions, which I append, with time and cost.

From Chicago to Montreal.

Cost/bushel No. of days

Chicago to Montreal by propeller, lightening at Kingston

3,000 or 4,000 bushels, and going through with

remainder of cargo 10 1/2 cents 7 1/2

Sailing vessels to Kingston, and thence by barge to

Montreal, sail 8 cents, barge 2 1/2 cents. 10 1/2 cents 15

Steam barge and towing consorts to Kingston, and

thence by river barges to Montreal; to Kingston

4 1/2 cents, thence to Montreal 2 1/2 cents. 7 cents 10

Most Economical Method

It will be seen at a glance that the last mentioned method is the most economical of the three, and except where a very speedy moving of the cargo was absolutely necessary, it is in all respects the most desirable. It will be observed, too, that though these steam barges and their consorts, which do the work more cheaply than any other vessels, are of the old canal size, and would so far as length of keel and breadth of beam are concerned easily pass through the St. Lawrence canals, their owners find that it pays better to transfer the grain to river barges at Kingston, leaving the larger and more expensive craft to hurry back to Chicago. This would look as though the necessity for the enlargement of the St. Lawrence canals might not be so pressing as has been generally supposed. Taking this view of the case I was at some trouble to ascertain the reason why the

Transhipment To River Barges

was made at Kingston. The reasons were numerous, but the question of lightening was not the chief one, as I had expected it would be. It is true that these lake vessels usually draw some ten feet of water and would have to be lightened before passing down the St. Lawrence canals, but there were other and weightier reasons for their return westward after reaching Kingston. These tows, I was told, passed very slowly through the canals. The crews were unaccustomed to river and canal navigation, and could not work to advantage below Kingston. It also appeared that the crews of these steam barges and their consorts were made up of a much more expensive class of men than those of the river barges. The former were regular sailors, while the latter were as a rule no better paid than ordinary dock labourers. The river barges were also much cheaper as to first cost than the upper lake vessels, and besides this they were more conveniently handled in the canals than were the lake barges, rigged for open lake navigation. In short the proprietors of these steam barge lines had found that the river barges could perform the service below Kingston more cheaply than their own vessels could do it, even after the cost of transhipment at Kingston had been taken into account.

(Considerable is said about the transhipping facilities of Kingston, but the information is given by St. Catharines people, who are not thoroughly acquainted with the facts.)

Getting At The Root.

The most powerful factor in the problem, however, continues to be the ocean freights. As long as Montreal rates are higher than New York rates, all promises that the Canadian canals shall control the freight rates of the continent are mere idle vapouring. There is no reason except the want of competition, the existence of monopolies, and the lack of a large import business that prevents Montreal, or at least Quebec, from competing on even terms with New York on ocean freights. This is principally a matter for the merchants of our maritime cities to concern themselves about. As long as vessels visiting Canadian ports for the first time are received with the welcome that would be afforded by first class pirates, so long will freight rates from our ports rule higher than they ought. Seamen never care for river navigation at the best of times, and when they are charged $800 for pilotage and towage to Montreal, against $272 for the same service into New York, it is no wonder they prefer the latter place, especially since they are sure of a cargo, while at Montreal they may have to wait an indefinite time. We speak thus freely, hoping that the merchants of Montreal will bestir themselves and set about abolishing some well known ship-owners' grievances which they have it in their power to do.

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Date of Original:
May 20, 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 20, 1881