The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), Aug. 1, 1881

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The schr. Richardson has been hauled out at the ship yard, and is receiving a new pocket piece.

The schooner A.G. Ryan is being repaired and put in shape for the barley trade which will open shortly.

Messrs. W. McRossie, Clark Hamilton and others left yesterday by the steam yacht Carleton for Alexandria Bay.

The str. Varuna made the run to Picton on Monday last in three hours and twenty minutes; three stops. On Saturday she went down the river with 42 passengers, principally from Belleville and Trenton. She returned this morning.

The str. Norseman went down the river yesterday carrying a large excursion, which embarked from Toronto. Their destination was the Thousand Island Park. This afternoon the steamer returned and allowed the passengers four hours in which to visit the Penitentiary.


Str. Spartan, Montreal, pass. and fgt.

Str. Algerian, Hamilton, pass. and fgt.

Str. Passport, Toronto, pass. and fgt.

Str. Norseman, Toronto, pass. and fgt.

Str. Varuna, Alexandria Bay, pass. and fgt.

Prop. Armenia, Toronto, pass. and fgt.

Prop. Cuba, Ogdensburg, pass. and fgt.

Prop. Persia, Montreal, pass. and fgt.

Prop. Africa, Cleveland, pass. and fgt.

Prop. Clinton, Chicago, 15,800 bush. wheat.

Prop. City of Montreal, Toronto, 6,654 wheat.

Schr. B.W. Folger, Fairhaven, 285 tons coal.

Schr. Nevada, Chicago, 19,150 corn.

Schr. Grimsby, Chicago, 19,544 corn.

Barge Toronto, Oswego, 600 tons coal.

Colborne, Oswego, 590 tons coal.

Accident To the Prince Arthur - An accident happened to the Prince Arthur, of the St. Lawrence Steamboat Company, while opposite Caughnawaga, on Friday evening. It appears that on the boiler there is a plate screwed on that is taken off when the workmen want to get inside the boiler to clean it. A piece of asbestos packing is put between this plate and the boiler to keep it tightly joined. The asbestos melted allowing the steam to escape. The Beauharnois, which was just behind, was signalled, and took the Prince Arthur's passengers, while the vessel steamed over to Lachine and down the Canal. The Maxwell, built at Sorel two years ago, will hereafter make alternate trips with the Prince Arthur.

The Franklin's History - The tug Lady Franklin is being torn to pieces and the engine taken out for transference to the tug now building. The old boiler will not be used. The Franklin was built in Cleveland in 1861 by Quale & Martin. For some time she did towing upon Detroit and St. Clair rivers. She had at that time the engines that were afterwards placed in the tug Tornado, which in 1870 was blown up in Oswego. From Detroit the Franklin went to Oswego, and was subsequently purchased by Sylvester Bros., Toronto, from Smith & Post, of Oswego. In 1871 Mr. Chaffey, of this city, purchased her. He did not keep her long, as in the same year she was purchased by Capt. James F. Allen and has been in service up to a short time ago.

Yachting Notes - yacht Norah, of Belleville, visits Kingston on cruise to Thousand Islands.

Personal Mention - Mr. T. Fagan (Fegan ?) has been appointed Light House keeper at Point Traverse for the balance of 1881.

Rowing Regatta -



Discussion Of The Facilities For Transhipping & Forwarding Grain.


The forwarding business between here and Montreal is carried on by three companies having their headquarters in Montreal and branch offices here. The largest of these is the Montreal Transportation Company, composed of wealthy Montreal capitalists - some of them extensive grain dealers - and a few Kingston men. The second company, which has its wharves at Kingston, is the Kingston and Montreal Forwarding Company, of which Mr. Alexander Gunn, M.P. for Kingston, is President, and several well known Montreal capitalists directors. The third company's wharves - the St. Lawrence & Chicago Forwarding Company - are at Portsmouth, a little harbour about two miles out towards the lake, and immediately adjoining the Penitentiary. This company is also strong financially, and includes Mr. McPhie and Sir Hugh Allan, of Montreal.

How Trade Is Secured.

These companies have confined themselves so far to the business of common carriers on the St. Lawrence only. Thus far they have not extended their business westward from here, nor have they engaged in any grain speculations, although some of the leading members are in their private capacity extensively engaged in the grain trade, a fact which probably acts in some instances deleteriously, although, perhaps, in the main advantageously to the St. Lawrence trade. It is these grain dealers and other Canadian grain speculators who draw to the St. Lawrence route nearly the whole volume of its business in the great staple of the west. Chicago men do not find the rates by our route a sufficient temptation to overcome the preference which nationality and New York business connections make them feel for the Erie Canal route. So strong is this preference that, according to several lake captains with whom I have spoken on the subject, American dealers at the western ports will rarely give a cargo to a Canadian vessel if an American one is in port open for an engagement, or even if an American bottom is expected to arrive within a few hours.

River Barges And Floating Elevators.

The river barge service of this port should, if transhipment here and delivery in Montreal were prompt, suffice to meet all the ordinary requirements of the lake trade at its present dimensions. The three companies employ eighty barges, with an average capacity of 18,420 bushels to each barge and a total capacity of 1,473,600 bushels. With proper despatch at Montreal the barges should make the round trip to Montreal and back in eight days, and were that done as a rule, the barge capacity would suffice for all but a very exceptional rush of trade, as it amounts to over 5,000,000 bushels a month, an amount of grain which rarely if ever enters the port in any one month, even during the busiest season. It would not, however, provide for every case where head winds detain schooners in the lake and where a whole fleet arrives in a single day. To such detention but few of the delays here can be ascribed. Forty-eight hours in ordinary seasons is a common time of detention, but the facilities should be such, if the trade is to be attracted, that twenty-four hours or less should almost invariably suffice for a vessel's stay in port. With an elevator having a capacity of 250,000 bushels, boats could get away promptly. Such an elevator would cost, at the outside, $80,000, and could easily be managed by four men, and a total expense - including interest, repairs, wages, fuel - of probably not more than $10,000 per annum. This amount would probably be made up within a few years by the additional trade drawn to the port in consequence of the improved facilities here, which would then be ample for a trade of over 20,000,000 bushels per annum.

Prescott As A Rival.

A scheme is being discussed for making Prescott the eastern terminus of lake navigation, and providing a large fleet of both lake and river barges, the latter of an average capacity nearly twice as great as those employed by Kingston, and therefore more profitable. Among the facilities to be offered by the new company are six tugs, ten floating elevators for use at Prescott, Montreal and Quebec, and a stationary elevator at Prescott, with a capacity of half a million bushels. The projected enterprise is to embrace a capital of $2,500,000. It is also said that the establishment of a weekly line of steamers between Liverpool and Montreal, to run in connection with the Inland Company, is spoken of. The last report may be mere talk, but from all I can gather I am inclined to think that the Prescott Company is being seriously considered, and that parties with abundant capital and enterprise, whose names have not been made public in connection with the matter, are strongly inclined to make the company an established fact within a short time. It is quite feasible, and has much to recommend it. So long as schooners do the carrying trade of the lakes Prescott is not at all a desirable point for transhipment, but this will not be long, as the opening of the new Welland Canal will bring into use a class of immense steam barges and consorts which can easily run to Prescott. The lowness of wages on the St. Lawrence barges and the low cost of constructing these vessels is, of course, a

Consideration Favourable To Kingston

as against Prescott; but, on the other hand, this is partially counterbalanced by the larger cargoes which would pass in lake vessels over this part of the river, and by the better prospects of securing emigrants and their effects for a westward trip. The proposed terminus at any rate has sufficient in its favor to make it a formidable competitor which Kingston will not hesitate to meet by the erection of an elevator. So far as the harbour is concerned Kingston has little to complain of. Although only a roadstead, in which in stormy weather vessels have some difficulty in unloading and moving about, the islands which front it afford it as good protection as most harbours have. A pier extending three-quarters of a mile from above the town would improve the present harbour very much, but a much cheaper plan would be the removal of the Cataraqui bridge and the dredging out of a portion of the fine basin above it, where for half a mile the water, even at present, would float the largest vessels on the lakes. This improvement is not, however, of a pressing nature, and may be made when the enlargement of the Welland Canal changes in the methods of transportation treble, as they should, the volume of the St. Lawrence grain trade.

(** A much longer version of this article originally appeared in Globe of July 30th.)

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Aug. 1, 1881
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Rick Neilson
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), Aug. 1, 1881