The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), Dec. 30, 1884

Full Text



M.T. Co. Held To Have Violated Its Agreement

And The Solicitor Ordered To Carry Out The By-Law

he exemption committee met yesterday afternoon at 4 o'clock. There were present Alds. Eilbeck (chairman) Bermingham, Robinson, and Dunn. Capt. Gaskin and P.R. Henderson represented the M.T. Co., and Capts. Lewis and Davis and Mr. J. Stewart were present as witnesses.

Capt. Gaskin asked for the privilege of rebutting any statements which he thought to be incorrect and which might be made by Capt. Lewis and Mr. Power.

Ald. Eilbeck suggested that the witnesses should retire, to be called in one by one as required. No one moved.

Ald. Bermingham sought to narrow down the enquiry by asking if the M.T. Co. would admit having had work done at Portsmouth. Mr. Henderson wouldn't admit anything.

Capt. Gaskin chipped in with the innocent enquiry, - "What is the charge? I am prepared to show that any work done at Portsmouth couldn't be done in Kingston."

Ald. Robinson - Hear, hear.

Ald. Eilbeck read from the Whig allusions to the work performed upon the Lancaster and Toledo. The Kansas was to be hauled out immediately. Mr. Henderson very wisely remarked that the information must have come from some one in the company's office. And he was right. It was supplied by Capt. Gaskin to a reporter, as the marine news usually is, and without any reference to this case.

Capt. Gaskin was permitted - standing in his old place at the council board - to make a speech. At the time the Lancaster was hauled out he was trying either to buy the Empire dock or to have the barge repaired upon it at rates 20 per cent higher than a similar service cost elsewhere. He failed, and Mr. Power being away he sent the boat to Portsmouth. The Toledo was overhauled last winter, at a season when Capt. Lewis could not take it. Having referred to Mr. Johnson as owner of the Empire dock Capt. Lewis sharply observed,

"Excuse me; it is owned by me."

Capt. Gaskin, continuing, said the dock was not available for the Toledo, and Mr. Power had the Rothesay on his ways.

Getting Down To Work.

Ald. Eilbeck - What about the Wheat Bin?

Capt. Gaskin - She sprung a leak which couldn't be stopped. Capt. Lewis' machinery was taken down, and Mr. Power had the McCarthy on the ways.

Ald. Eilbeck - Did you try to make arrangements with Mr. Power about hauling out the barge?

Capt. Gaskin admitted that he had not, and then indulged in the curious talk of saying that it wasn't wise for any company paying 100 cents on the dollar to get its work done at a certain place.

Ald. Eilbeck didn't see what they had to do with that.

Capt. Gaskin was still mysterious, and still objected to giving work to anyone who went for him for all he was worth.

Ald. Eilbeck - That's outside of the question altogether.

Capt. Gaskin wasn't sure about that; however he let up on the unknown long enough to explain that when the tug Active went to Portsmouth Capt. Lewis couldn't haul her out. Mr. Power had the tug McArthur on the ways and Mr. Leslie would not consent to the Active getting the preference.

Ald. Bermingham was puzzled to understand how Capt. Gaskin could think of negotiating with Mr. Power for work when he - the previously unknown - wasn't a safe man to do business with.

The genial captain didn't seem to appreciate the question as a friendly one, and just for the moment he was embarassed. But, having readjusted his spectacles, and given his papers a new turn, he ventured to remark, "You are forced to do business with one sometimes when you know in your heart that he is going for you for all you are worth."

Ald. Dunn now took a whirl at the captain and asked him why the barge work was not done in the company's own yard. The captain smiled and said it was fully occupied, that the company would not ask anyone to do work if they could do it themselves.

Considering Capt. Lewis' Claims.

Ald. Eilbeck gently whispered, "Did you make an offer to Capt. Lewis at all?"

Capt. Gaskin said he did.

Ald. Eilbeck - What were the rates?

Capt. Gaskin - He wanted 10 cents per ton.

Ald. Eilbeck - Before you got exemption did you expect him to work for less?

Capt. Gaskin - We offered Capt. Frazer, the former owner of the dock, 7 cents per ton for tugs and vessels, and that is higher than we pay in Montreal. And then he entered into a long story about his efforts to buy the Empire dock before Capt. Lewis got it. He was cut short by Alds. Bermingham and Robinson. The latter said he didn't care a rap who bought the dock, or who wanted to buy it and didn't; the question was, "Could the work taken to Portsmouth be done in the city?"

Ald. Bermingham wanted to know why the barge Lancaster went to Portsmouth. Capt. Gaskin wasn't clear upon that point, but he supposed she couldn't be hauled out at the company's yard. He didn't remember offering the work to Mr. Power, and he didn't think Mr. Davis could do it.

Ald. Robinson, still suffering from the nomination excitement, became quite obstreperous, and would go no further until he learned whether the work could or could not be done in Kingston.

Ald. Dunn - Why, man, that's what we're trying to find out!

Ald. Robinson - Yes, and I've got the floor and am going to keep it.

Ald. Eilbeck beseeched the member for Frontenac Ward to sit down, and have some style about him.

Ald. Robinson increased in volubility. No one was going to sit on him so long as he sat at that or any other board.

A Pathetic Appeal.

Capt. Lewis said he wanted to be examined as soon as possible, and the committee could talk as long as they liked afterwards.

Ald. Robinson was prepared to sit there until the next morning.

Ald. Dunn - Oh, pshaw! We are here to take evidence, and not to hear debate.

Ald. Robinson was there to show fair play, "and, Dunn," said he, "if you were as big as a house I'd tackle you."

Quietness having been once more restored Mr. Henderson arose and remarked that the case had "winnowed down to the barge Lancaster," which the company had intended to haul out, but couldn't, because it was freezing hard, and -

Capt. Gaskin suggested that Mr. Henderson must have things mixed; he must mean the Wheat Bin. The Company had directed him to have a certain number of barges repaired during the winter, and, although he had knocked off the ship-carpenters lately, he was now prepared to hire all who wanted work until the spring.

Mr. Henderson endeavored to supplement Capt. Gaskin's puff of the Company by adding that the Company had spent $100,000 in the city, and -

Ald. Eilbeck - Oh, we don't want to know anything about your expenditure. What has that to do with your violation of the exemption by-law?

Mr. Henderson - Last year we spent $100,000, and -

Ald. Eilbeck - Excuse me, but that's not to the point.

He Would Be Heard.

Then Mr. Henderson became very wrathy. "I will not be 'excused' by you," he said, "every time I speak. Shut up!" And he struck the table a tremendous thump with his closed hand and startled everybody.

Ald. Eilbeck now looked very serious, and stated that Mr. Henderson was not giving the committee the information sought.

Mr. Henderson frowned upon his adversary, so to speak, and intimated that he would have his say at all hazards.

Capt. Gaskin acted the peacemaker and said he thought the matter could be treated amicably. The chairman, he thought, should be respected.

Ald. Dunn wanted to conduct the investigation good-naturedly; he saw no occasion for hard words.

Mr. Henderson said he would continue if Ald. Eilbeck was done, but he didn't like to be trifled with. Ald. Eilbeck seemed to know his weakness and tortured him into using rash language.

Ald. Bermingham pointed out that the committee desired simply to know whether certain work done at Portsmouth could be done in the city, and Capt. Gaskin replied that he only could answer the question - that Mr. Henderson knew nothing about the work sometimes until called upon to pay the bills.

Mr. Henderson said Captain Gaskin's language indicated that he was admitting something, but he wasn't. The president of the company always stopped at his house while in Kingston, and the spirit of the company was not to have done outside of the city any work that could be done in it. The expenditure at Portsmouth had not been one-tenth of one per cent of the expenditure in the city. Two barges were to be rebuilt, a lot were to be repaired, two new ones were wanted, but the times were bad, and - they hadn't the money and

The Room To Build Them.

Ald. Eilbeck - What on earth has this to do with the investigation?

Mr. Henderson - (with a touch of pathos) Are you stopping me again?

Ald. Eilbeck (with a sigh) - Somebody has to do it. Tell me, did you try to have the work on the Lancaster done in the city?

Mr. Henderson (resignedly) - Will I sit down?

Ald. Eilbeck made no answer, but cast a tender glance at his handsome gold watch.

Mr. Henderson said the company had lived up to the spirit of its agreement, and he was disposed to think that there was "something at the back of all this." Ald. Eilbeck had entered his office, had flaunted something in his face and acted in a most undignified manner.

Ald. Robinson (with evident impatience) - All this has nothing to do with the question.

Ald. Eilbeck - Mr. Henderson -

Mr. Henderson - Silence, sir! You shall hear me.

Ald. Eilbeck - I shall do nothing of the kind, and let me inform you once for all that unless you stick to the question I'll have you removed from the room.

Ald. Robinson essayed to say something, and did actually speak, but in the hubbub it was quite inaudible.

Ald. Bermingham ascertained that Mr. Henderson didn't know anything about the work on the Lancaster and so

Capt. Lewis was called. Six weeks ago he said that Capt. Gaskin talked about having four barges hauled out on the Empire dock, and offered him 5 cents per ton for dockage. Finally he offered $20 for each of the larger barges of 350 to 380 tons burden. At 5 cents per ton the barges would give him $19. He told the Captain that if he made it $25 he would think of it. He had talked the matter over with his son, and they had decided not to do the work below tariff rates.

Ald. Dunn - What are they?

Capt. Lewis - Ten cents per ton.

Capt. Gaskin - That's the Buffalo rate.

Capt. Lewis - No it is not; the Buffalo rate is 20 cents per ton. He read a list of the boats he had hauled out for the M.T. Co. at tariff rates.

The Facts Coming Out.

In reply to Ald. Bermingham Capt. Lewis said that, some time after Capt. Gaskin spoke about hauling out four barges, he was met and asked if he had done anything about the dockage. This was some time before he (L.) took his machinery down. Had the rates been satisfactory he would have docked the four barges, one at a time.

Capt. Gaskin contended that in all his negotiations he had intended the barges to be hauled out at the close of navigation.

Capt. Lewis said he met Capt. Gaskin at Portsmouth some time ago, and that the latter had informed him that he had arranged with Mitchell to have a couple of the barges hauled out.

Capt. Gaskin - Wasn't that after your machinery was down?

Capt. Lewis - No, sir.

Capt. Gaskin said it was, and Ald. Bermingham said one man's word was as good as another's until it was proven otherwise.

Capt. Lewis said his machinery was not taken down until Dec. 10th.

Capt. Gaskin insinuated that Capt. Lewis was an opponent of the M.T. Co. because he had not sold them the dock. Capt. Lewis said he was the mortgagee and could not buy it himself, but Johnson did so for him, for $800. Gaskin offered him $1,000, and he wanted $1,500.

Capt. Gaskin - You wanted to get the mortgage out of me. "Its blackmail all the way through," and he gathered his papers as if he was going. But he didn't.

Capt. Lewis - You offered $1,000 and I wanted $1,500.

Capt. Gaskin and Capt. Lewis wanted him to go into partnership with his son in the dock, and in reply to Ald. Dunn, Capt. Lewis said that between the time Capt. Gaskin spoke to him about the barges, and the taking down of his machinery he could have hauled out twenty boats.

Capt. Gaskin complained that Capt. Lewis' prices were nearly double those of other places.

Ald. Eilbeck could not see anything in the exemption agreement about prices.

Capt. Gaskin said it wasn't to be supposed that the company was going to submit to imposition.

Ald. Eilbeck - Is your work done for less at Portsmouth than Capt. Lewis will do it?

Capt. Gaskin - 100 per cent less.

Mr. Henderson - Mr. Power will do it for 100 per cent less.

Ald. Robinson As Cross-Examiner.

Ald. Robinson now directed attention to Capt. Lewis, and endeavored to extract some information which he held back, but he failed and Ald. Eilbeck unsympathetically observed that he was "turning the thing into a farce." Ald. Robinson got upon his dignity at this and (with an eloquent waive of his hand) declared: "I've no axes to grind; I'm looking for nothing."

Capt. Gaskin claimed the right of cross-examining the witnesses, and Ald. Robinson give him to understand that the committee was quite capable of attending to that part of the business themselves.

Ald. Bermingham took it that the business of the committee was like unto that of a grand jury, and so cross-examinations would be somewhat out of place.

Capt. Gaskin had a letter to submit. Ald. Robinson and Eilbeck debated the wisdom of receiving it then, but Ald. Dunn was willing, and Mr. Henderson brought about a crisis by exclaiming, "Sit down, William."

"William" sat down, but he desired in future to be addressed as "Ald. Robinson."

The letter was from Capt. Frazer, former owner of the Empire Dock. It said that he had done considerable work for the M.T. Co., that the company had treated for the purchase of the dock, that it had offered him 7 cents per ton for some barges, which rate he refused.

Ald. Bermingham - Did you offer Capt. Lewis 7 cents per ton?

Capt. Lewis - He did not.

The Other Witnesses Heard.

Capt. Davis said he had not been asked to haul out the M.T. Co.'s large barge upon his dock because it would not accommodate them.

Mr. James Stewart (K. & M.F. Co.) said the str. Rothesay was on Power's dock when the barge Toledo was hauled out at Portsmouth, that the McCarthy was on when the Wheat Bin leaked; that the McArthur was on the same ways when the Active went to Portsmouth

Ald. Eilbeck - Mr. Power's letter says you never offered him the barges.

Capt. Gaskin - Mr. Power says more than that - that he could do certain work cheaper than the M.T. Co. Whoever wrote the letter didn't know what he was talking about.

Capt. Gaskin didn't think Capt. Lewis should have been the witness against the company when his son had been manager of the dock, but Capt. Lewis said he had been his own manager since he had purchased the dock; that the sale occurred in October, and that the talk about barges had occurred afterward.

Ald. Eilbeck - Did Capt. Lewis' son ask you 10 cents per ton?

Capt. Gaskin - He did; but the work we talked of has not been done.

The discussion now became general.

Capt. Gaskin complained that Power's ways was liable to strain barges; Capt. Lewis said it was no worse than Mitchell's at Portsmouth. Lewis' was the dock, but his rates were higher than those of Montreal, which Capt. Lewis explained were exceptional.

The committee then adjourned to deliberate.

Action Of The Council.

At 10:30 o'clock the exemption question came up. Ald. Law was hurriedly called away to his rope walk in consequence of the fire. But the rest of the Council remained. The report was presented by Ald. Eilbeck. It read as follows:

The Special Committee on Exemptions report as follows: That they have examined the conditions on which the following institutions have received exemptions: Kingston Knitting Co.; Kingston Cotton Mill Co.; K. & P.R.R. Co.; Montreal Transportation Co.; Canadian Engine and Locomotive Co.; Davidson & Doran; Kingston Car Works Co.; Ford Bros.; Stevenson & Co.; Smelting Co.; and Weber & Co. The only ones which appear to have violated their conditions are the Kingston Car Works Co. (concerning which we beg to submit here with the report of the city solicitor) and the Montreal Transportation Company. With regard to this company the evidence submitted tends to show that they have had work done outside the city which could have been done here, thus violating the terms of their agreement with the city. Your committee recommend that the city solicitor be instructed to take the proper proceedings to compel the company to carry out its agreement.

Moved by Ald. Eilbeck, seconded by Ald. Dunn, that the report be received and adopted.

Asking For Information.

Ald. McKelvey desired to know to what extent the bylaw had been infringed.

Ald. Adams thought the report was explicit enough.

Ald. Bermingham then went over the evidence presented at the committee meetings. The agreement, too, was read touching the requirements of the M.T. Company, that they should perform: all the work done in Ontario in Kingston.

The latter had been violated, but Mr. Henderson claimed that the spirit of the by-law was observed, that the company did all the work they could in the city.

Ald. Eilbeck said that shipmen offered to do work, but the company said the rates were too high. This excuse had nothing to do with the matter.

Capt. Gaskin Charges Blackmail.

Capt. Gaskin said that a barge was taken to Portsmouth, but Kingston workmen were employed upon it. The work on the Active could not be done in Kingston. Work had been refused by Capt. Lewis because they wouldn't pay him enough. He declared that the whole affair was a blackmailing job to compel the company to get its work done at Lewis' dock. "That's as true as you are born," he said with a flourish. For their own convenience a second dock would soon be built.

Ald. Eilbeck said that if Capt. Gaskin tried to buy the dock for less than what it was worth, or tried to force Capt. Lewis to take the sum he stipulated, then he was practicing blackmail. He thought Capt. Lewis had a perfect right to refuse any sum he considered not its value just to gratify Capt. Gaskin.

Capt. Gaskin denied that the agreement had been violated.

Ald. Eilbeck said it had.

Capt. Gaskin said that he had been refused rebuttal testimony.

Ald. Bermingham dissented. Capt. Gaskin desired to put in evidence relating to the safeness of Power's yard, but the question had no bearing on the matter at issue.

Capt. Gaskin insisted that there was not conclusive evidence to show that the agreement had been violated. He had tried to get the work done here and he had failed.

Ald. Bermingham said a prima facia case had been made out, that the agreement had been violated.

Ald. McKelvey thought there had been a violation, but he did not like the report to be adopted. He felt sure Capt. Gaskin tried to get all the work of the M.T. Co. done in Kingston. If the company had to pay exhorbitant rates for the work then it would be better for them to forego the exemption. The object desired would be accomplished by receiving the report and notifying the company that they should in future comply with the agreement.

Could Speak If He Liked.

Ald. Downing said it had been charged that he couldn't speak in the council, but he could. He denounced Ald. McKelvey for trying an election dodge, to secure Capt. Gaskin's support, but like honest men, seeing that the company had violated the agreement, the council should insist in the report being carried. The company had broken its pledge; it should, therefore, pay the penalty. It was a shame and a disgrace for Ald. McKelvey to act as he had been doing.

Ald. Dunn said the agreement had been violated and the council should notify the company not to continue it. The work had been taken to Portsmouth because men here refused to do it under living prices.

Ald. McKelvey denied that he was working an election dodge. He felt that that company, after spending $80,000 last year for work in Kingston, were entitled to some consideration. While he was opposed to exemption on principle when it was granted he thought it unfair to take advantage of the company and make it liable for a fine of $2,000.

Several members protested that such was not the wish, but Ald. Eilbeck distinctly stated that the law should be carried out.

Case In A Nut Shell.

Ald. Whiting said that the company having violated their contract it was simply a matter of right, and as custodians of the people's interest they should see that the law was sedulously carried out. If the tendency was to violate agreements then the sooner a check was applied the better. Capt. Lewis had only asked the tariff rates paid by other parties.

Ald. Eilbeck said that Mr. Henderson had declared the whole thing to be "election clap-trap." He wished it understood that he had brought the matter up as soon as his attention was called to it.

Ald. J. Wilson asked if it was the intention of the Council to insist on the penalty? It looked as though the pound of flesh were to be demanded.

Ald. Eilbeck - A pound of flesh won't satisfy you in regard to the water works rates. (Laughter.)

Ald. J. Wilson said that in future any violation should be met with the utmost rigor of the law, "but not this time."

Ald. Bermingham said the city solicitor would decide whether any further proceedings were desirable.

Tries To Save The Company.

Ald. McKelvey moved that the words "in future" be added to the last clause. He had no desire to see the Company mulcted in $2,000 for such a small infraction of the agreement. He thought he was acting aright; if he wasn't he could be snuffed out in a week.

Ald. Eilbeck urged the adoption of the report. If the M.T. Company were only cautioned other things might be winked at.

Ald. Downing - There's too much of that thing done in the Council now.

Ald. Eilbeck wanted to know precisely how the Council stood on this question, so that the people would have a chance to vote next week.

Ald. Bermingham said that if the M.T. Company had violated the agreement the city was entitled to $2,000 just as truly as any money they had in their vaults. Those who opposed the report and suggested evasion were actually putting their hands in the city's pocket and robbing it of $2,000.

Ald. Adams said he would vote for the report on principle.

Taking The Vote.

Cries of "question" were heard, and on the amendment the vote stood:

Yeas - Alds. Clements, Hobart, McKelvey, Robinson and J. Wilson - 5.

Nays - Alds. Adams, Bermingham, Carson, Downing, Dunn, Eilbeck, McGuire, Redden, Shaw, Thompson, Whiting, and W. Wilson - 12.

The report was adopted on the same division, and at 10:30 the council adjourned.

p.3 A Kingstonian Killed - Reilly sailed as mate of schr. Wilcox last year, accidentally died at Port Huron.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Original:
Dec. 30, 1884
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Rick Neilson
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
WWW address
Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.

British Whig (Kingston, ON), Dec. 30, 1884