The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), July 27, 1881

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p.1 City of Winnipeg - burned at Duluth, 4 missing.



Cost of Transportation By the Rival Water Routes

Rates To Montreal Lower


On the St. Lawrence route above Kingston grain is carried chiefly by schooners, and in estimating the cost per bushel of carriage on this part of the route I propose to take as a basis the cost of one of these vessels with a capacity of 20,000 bushels. The expenses of the round trip may be estimated as follows:

Tolls, towage, etc. $483

Wages 380

Board 60

Wear of ropes and rigging, etc. 100

Interest at 6% 140

Unloading 100

Insurance and other incidentals 60

Total $1,323

These figures of course are not always the same, varying with the number of partial unloadings in Chicago harbour, and the wages current for lake men. At present wages are higher than they are estimated in the calculation given above, and lake captains inform me that on recent voyages the expenses of the round trip aggregated nearly $1,400. The above figures are nevertheless sufficiently correct in estimating the cost under the most favourable conditions and management. In this calculation, as in that referring to the cost of carriage by the Erie Canal, nothing is allowed for deterioration of the vessel; but the figures are sufficiently correct for comparison. For deterioration an allowance of 4 per cent per annum is practically sufficient, as the vessels with a small allowance for repairs and renewals should last twenty-five years.

The actual

Cost Of Carrying The Grain

is very difficult to estimate, owing to the very varying supply of westward-bound cargoes. Many of the schooners discharging at Kingston are obliged to cross to Oswego for coal and other freight, and not unfrequently secure good cargoes at fair rates. On an average, however, it is questionable whether vessels secure more than $450 for return cargoes. If $450 be accepted as the average receipts on a return cargo, a rate of 4 1/2 cents a bushel on a cargo of 20,000 bushels from Chicago to Kingston would suffice to clear the schooner's expenses. As many of the Canadian boats, excluded by American regulations from trading between American ports, are unable to secure Oswego return cargoes, the cost in their case is found to be greater, and would probably average 4 3/4 cents per bushel. The rate this season from Kingston to Montreal is 2 1/2 cents per bushel, and the actual cost, as nearly as I can yet form any opinion, is about 2 1/4 cents. This leaves the cost per bushel of the whole route as follows:

Chicago to Kingston 4 1/2 cents.

Kingston to Montreal 2 1/4 cents.

Total 6 3/4 cents.

So far, then, as a comparison of cost is concerned, the advantage lies with neither route, but there is greater uncertainty of return cargoes from the St. Lawrence, a fact which militates against our waterway. There are other serious drawbacks, which I purpose to point out in a future letter, and to show how they can be removed.

Rates Actually Charged.

The actual cost of transportation by the two rival routes being the same, the question arises. How do the rates compare? The following tabular statement of the average rates per bushel from Chicago to Buffalo, and thence to New York will, when compared with a similar statement for the St. Lawrence route, supply an answer to this question. The figures, which are given in decimals of a dollar, of course include tolls on the canals.

Last Season's Rates To New York.

Chicago to Buffalo Buffalo to New York Total

May .04725 .06025 .10750

June .07187 .07000 .14187

July .04625 .05375 .10500

August .06750 .05906 .11656

September .03406 .05896 .10302

October .06550 .06514 .12064

November .07062 .08354 .15416

Average for the season ............... .12125

The following table gives the average rates last year from Chicago to Montreal. The rate from Kingston to Montreal last season was uniformly 3 cents a bushel:

Last Season's Rates To Montreal.

Chicago to Kingston Kingston to Montreal Total

May .03050 .03000 .11050

June .10156 " .13156

July .08800 " .11800

August .09250 " .12250

September .07969 " .10969

October .09100 " .12100

November .10102 " .13102

Average for the season ........... .12061

Or .00064 of a cent less than from Chicago to New York.

It thus appears that not only can grain be carried from Chicago to Montreal as cheaply as from Chicago to New York, but that in a season's actual experience the rates by the Canadian route have been one-sixteenth of a cent lower than by the American.

(** Note - This is only part of an article that appeared in the Globe of July 27th. Others in the series appeared in the Globe on July 23rd, July 28th, July 30th, and August 1st - ed.)



The yacht Hebe, of Kingston, has reached Toronto.

The schr. Caledonia is loading cedar ties for Charlotte at the railway esplanade.

Marks, of Cape Vincent, is talking strongly of putting a daily line of steamers between that place and Napanee.

The St. Lawrence Steamboat Company, between Cape Vincent and Montreal, is having a larger run of passengers than the managers anticipated.

The Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company are having the lifeboats on their steamers put in a state of thorough repair, and some that are altogether unserviceable are being replaced by new ones.

The President of the Thousand Island Park desires us to correct the statement that the management desire to squelch the Island Wanderer. He denies that any tax is made on the steamer's receipts for dockage.


Str. Spartan, Montreal, pass. and fgt.

Str. Corsican, Hamilton, pass. and fgt.

Str. Magnet, Prescott, pass. and fgt.

Prop. Cuba, Ogdensburg, pass. and fgt.

Prop. Armenia, Toronto, pass. and fgt.

Prop. Persia, St. Catharines, pass. and fgt.

Prop. Dromedary, Hamilton, pass. and fgt.

Schr. Blanche, Colborne, 6,861 wheat.

Schr. Hyderabad, Milwaukee, 19,900 wheat.

Welland Canal - Bound Down.

Manzanilla, Point Sauble, Kingston, timber.

Gerton, Point Sauble, Kingston, timber.

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Date of Original:
July 27, 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), July 27, 1881