OUR MARINE BUSINESS.
The Editor, British Whig;
Sir, - Those interested in the welfare and advancement of Kingston should feel pleased at your calling the attention of the Government to the great desirability of making a decisive move towards the reduction or abolition of canal tolls. The trade of the merchant marine is at this moment in as sick a condition as it is possible to be without dying; in some cases it would no doubt be more profitable if it were dead. Everyone knows that the laborers of Kingston largely depend upon its marine for employment. To merchants and those having much money invested in floating property the entrance of numbers of vessels into our fine harbor means employment and the expenditure of money, of which nearly everyone gets some benefit. Consequently when the trade is in the shape it is this spring dullness and gloom hang over the city. Without some employment soon the result will be anything but pleasant to contemplate.
Now the question is, What can be done to remedy this evil? One thing would help - the abolition of canal tolls on grain coming via the Welland Canal. I do not say that this would remove all the trouble, but its assistance would be of a material kind, it would place us on a similar footing with equal advantages to our American neighbours, who have no tolls to pay in the Erie Canal from Buffalo to New York. The saving would be on grain, say 20 cents per ton or 3/5 cent per bush. of 69 lbs. Another impediment to trade on the St. Lawrence is the exorbitant charges made for towage by boats on the Welland Canal. This charge is equal to 1/2 cent per bushel, or a shade more, not counting the cost of harbour service at Port Dalhousie and Port Colborne. I don't want to state that the canal towage one way costs 1/2 cent, but take a vessel of say 450 tons, from here to Toledo light, returning grain laden, her towing charges in the Welland Canal will amount to the sum before mentioned. There is only one result to all this and we are now reaping it - in no business. Let the Government throw off the canal tolls, 3/5 of a cent per bushel, and issue instructions that a charge not greater than a quarter of a cent be charged for canal towage both ways. This would equal say 17/20 of a cent per bushel, and with a reduction on river rates and harbour dues in Montreal the route would then present features of cheapness which its shortness to Europe now exhibits.
The Government should not for one moment hesitate about granting free tolls on all east and west bound freight. It is only an encouragement that vessel owners are entitled to when the large grants to the Grand Trunk and Canadian Pacific Railways (assisting them to compete more than successfully against water carriage) are remembered. If we are not equally permitted to compete with American bottoms, as to canal tolls, vessel men may as well throw up the sponge. You have on more than one occasion called attention to the necessity of the Government examining into the iniquitous charges made by Welland Canal tug men, and I hope you will not consider me trespassing on good nature to request you to agitate for the necessary reduction at once.
American vessel owners are kindly disposed towards this port, but they are discouraged by the heavy charges I have stated. I am pleased to see that the Montrealers are awakening to the importance of immediate action, and well they may act when ship owners are almost begging for grain to place their steamers in proper trim to return to Liverpool, amd make no charge for freighting the same.
The prospects are anything but charming to owners of vessels. In what shape will they leave men in our city depending on marine for support and business? Help the port all you can, by calling attention to the existing state of things, and naming the changes wanted to improve the same, and oblige.
p.2 D.D. Calvin's Illness - had been ill several months ago but slowly recovering when he had a stroke.
The schr. Norway, Capt. S. Marshall, is fitting out.
The str. St. Lawrence will not be launched until the 26th inst.
The schr. Grantham, from Escanaba, lumber laden, has reached Collinsby.
The F.A. Folger today towed the schr. Houghton to Cape Vincent, light.
Calling at Swift's - str. Crusoe, from Smith's Falls, and prop. Shickluna, Duluth.
The steamer Oneida will be raised. Workmen are now preparing to prop her out.
The new steamer for Capt. Garrett, of Smith's Falls, is assuming shape at the Deseronto shipyard.
Tett's fleet, the barges Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, have gone down the Rideau Canal, light.
The tug Active (repaired) and having the schrs. Glenora and Gaskin, light, in tow, left last night for Toledo.
The str. Norseman is doing a fair business, but the cold weather interferes greatly with passenger travel.
The str. Crusoe has brought from Westport 500 bush. of barley, superior in quality, averaging 50 lbs. to the bushel.
The schr. E. Blake started for the Welland Canal last night, light, but returned to the harbour. There was a big blow on the lake.
The steambarge D.D. Calvin and tow, from Bay City, reached Garden Island this morning. The fleet were laden with choice timber.
The str. Algerian passes east tomorrow morning with 145 Norwegians for the Cornwall Canal. The str. Corinthian passed west this evening.
The schrs. Two Brothers and Marie Annette collided at Port Hope, with the loss of jib-boom, head gear, fore rigging and chain plates to the vessels.
C. Crowley has undertaken the loading of the schr. Oades, lumber for 15 cents per m. The demands of the Laborers' Union were unceremoniously rejected.
The steamer Hero while moving out of Bath this morning broke her crank and had to return to the wharf. The tug Folger has gone up to tow the steamer to Kingston.
The tug men have formed a union at Port Colborne, to be known as the Welland Canal Tugmen's Association. This means that the vessel men passing through the canal will be burdened with oppressive towage bills.