The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), Feb. 1, 1887

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It Rises Very Suddenly At The Sailors' Meeting.

Capt. Augustus presided and Capt. Thos. Donnelly acted as secretary of the meeting held last evening in the council chamber when the demands for a change in the marine act, by the monopolistic Canadian marine association, were discussed. Among those present were Mr. Myles, owner of the sunken prop. Myles; Captains Taylor, Murray, Donnelly, McDonald, Booth, Dix, McCarty, A. Milligan, S. Fraser, Dandy, Parsons, Allen, Marshall, Simmonds, Tyo, Beaupre. The secretary stated that he had forwarded copies of the petitions, opposing the proposed change in the act, to St. Catharines, Port Dalhousie, Cobourg, Port Hope and other ports, and copies of the local papers, containing reports of the meeting, were sent to the Hon. Mr. Foster, minister of marine, and to all owners and companies doing business with vessels on Canadian waters.

Up to this stage in the proceedings a perfect calm prevailed, and the sailors had smiling countenances. Suddenly Capt. Gaskin rose to speak. It might be stated here that not only were the seats which the councilman sit in filled, but those in the gallery also. Capt. Gaskin (?) his spectacles, looked over them at his hearers, and drew a paper from his pocket, the Whig, which by the way, he always keeps nearest to his heart, and stated that he had come to the meeting to defend himself. He explained that business engagements kept him away from the last meeting, and that certain statements made regarding him were erroneous. He reviewed the facts relating to the meeting of the local marine association and said that the railway companies had secured special legislation, and it was felt that the government should also do something to encourage the marine interests. Shortly before this the captain received a postal card from the secretary of the marine association of Toronto, asking him to attend the meeting of the marine association, to be held in Toronto on January 13th. The card stated that all the owners of vessel property were requested to be present. He then read Capt. Donnelly's remarks at the sailors meeting from the Whig. They were to the effect that Capt. Gaskin had received a circular from Toronto asking him to call a meeting of marine men in the city for the purpose of selecting a delegate and send him to the marine association. That was a false statement.

Capt. Gaskin concluded his oration by saying that a certain captain in the room or the newspaper which reported him had lied. The captain referred to rose and said: "Capt. Gaskin, you say that I lie. I will not allow any man to address me in that manner." Gaskin reiterated his assertion, and in a moment there were the appearances of a fight. The men made passes at each other, and Gaskin appeared to have been struck, and then there was a separation, brought about by the spectators of the trouble. Capt. Gaskin remarking, bombastically: "Any time you want to handle me come down to the M.T. Co.'s shipyard and see how quick I can get away with you", or words to that effect. He was answered: "I will go now or any other time. After the meeting I will accommodate you if you like." "All right, after the meeting will do," replied Capt. Gaskin. He proceeded to state that after he received the invitation to attend the meeting of the Marine association at Toronto he asked Capt. Fraser to notify the mariners of the city to attend a meeting in the council chamber.

Capt. Taylor - Did Capt. Fraser obey the orders?"

Capt. Gaskin did not know. The meeting was held, however, and attended by the speakers, Capt. Fraser, P.R. Henderson and Capt. Lewis. He (G.) was chosen to attend the Marine association's meeting in Toronto. Capt. Lewis was charged with hypocrisy in attending one meeting, sanctioning the business done, and at the sailors' gathering disapproving of the same. The trip to Toronto was to discuss the canal tolls question, to secure their abolition. Then the remark made by Capt. Dandy that none of the captains of the M.T. company were in attendance was unfair. They could have attended if they had desired. They was decent men and received higher wages than many of those in attendance. Some of them received $100 per month, and he could prove it. The speaker said that for every barge lost on the lakes for the past ten years he could mention ten vessels. There were nothing strange in the fact that a barge had been lost. He remembered when Canadian barges were under command of masters and mates who had no certificates and it was unfair to compel them to have them now. American barges had not to have such men.

Capt. Taylor was in favor of barges carrying certificated officers. He thought it would be detrimental to any transportation company's interests to have their barges manned by incompetent men.

Capt. Donnelly defended himself and defended the Whig's report of the meeting, and reiterated his position regarding barges carrying certificated officers. Capt. Fraser said he had asked all the mariners he could find to attend the meeting of the local marine association. After further discussion it was moved by Capt. Donnelly, seconded by Capt. Taylor, "That this meeting endorses what has been done so far in relation to the sending of a petition to the minister of marine, protesting against any change being made in the marine act." The motion was carried unanimously.

The meeting concluded after a short discussion between Capts. Taylor and Gaskin, in reference to the inspection of vessels.

The Scene In The Council Chamber.

Kingston, Feb. 1st - (To the Editor): As I was strolling about the city last evening I saw that the council chamber was lighted up, and, through curiousity, I went in to see what was going on. On entering the council chamber I found it filled with people, mostly strangers to myself. But amongst the number, after looking around, I caught the eye of a little man representing the M.T. Co. I afterwards learned that the meeting was called by the masters and mates of the city to protest against the petition that the little man had taken to Toronto, to a meeting of the Canadian Marine association, and in effect asking the government to so amend the law that barges of the M.T. Co., and other companies might carry only one certificated officer. This little man sat to the left of the chairman, and another little man, that appeared interested in the proceedings, sat to the right. One appeared to be cool and collected, the other had blood in his eye; he was, I verily think, looking for trouble. There is an old proverb, you know, which says that when a man seeks for trouble he is sure to find it. Well, I guess this little man to the left got it, and had it not have been for the chairman, and a few others, I think he would have got more than he was looking for. They were coming down thick and fast on the little man with the blood in his eye when he was rescued. The little man wanted to have it out to the finish after the meeting, and his challenge was accepted. After a time order was restored and then the little fellow began to advertise himself and the M.T. Co.'s barges as if there was a premium (on what he said) in Montreal waiting for him. What assurance some men have! No doubt the little man's speech will be read with interest in the offices of the M.T. Co. at Montreal. At the close of the meeting a resolution was moved that the masters and mates go on with their petition, and ask the government to have the law remain as it is at present in regard to masters and mates. This was carried unanimously, the man looking for trouble only voting against it. In reference to the little man sitting on the right of the chairman, I may say something later on.

An Onlooker.

p.S. - The row begun in the meeting was not finished after the adjournment. The little man went home with less fight in him than when he set out.

Personal Mention - James Swift and James Stewart left the city today for Montreal. They attend the annual meeting of the Kingston & Montreal Forwarding Company, which occurs tomorrow.

Raising The Propeller - It is the intention of Mr. Myles to build a wharf about the sunken propeller and raise her with hydraulic jacks, immense chains in the meantime having been placed beneath her.

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Feb. 1, 1887
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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), Feb. 1, 1887