The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), Feb. 2, 1888

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Labour Commission Through With Its Work Here.


Capt. Joseph Parsons intimated that the vessels in this district were very fair, better than they were some years ago. Vessels are inspected by a marine inspector, and if he does not class a boat she should not run. There were a great many men holding certificates who should not have them. He had not known any sailing vessels leaving port in an unseaworthy condition. There were some unseaworthy vessels sailing on the upper lakes, but the inspector at this port had not the power to class them. He did not think that it was necessary for the government to appoint a vessel inspector. It would, however, be well to have an inspector to prevent sailors hiring on unseaworthy vessels. Sailors had a great many complaints to make. He had read in the papers that they wanted the forecastle of vessels carpeted, that they wanted lounges in them and a woman to take care of them. He had never seen a barge on the Canadian lakes overloaded, but he thought there should be a law to govern the loading of them, one that would prevent overloading. The best way to ship men was by the month. Sometimes in shipping crews masters found after they had left port that sailors who had been drunk for several days before were unable to perform their duty. Sailors preferred making engagements with masters from port to port because they wanted to spend their money. They should do general work in connection with the vessels they ship on. They don't do this. He was willing to ship men by the month and give them a uniform rate of wages. He was willing to give the men a higher rate of wages in the fall. He has had mates on his vessel since the marine law has been in force who had no papers, but he considered that necessity knew no law.

Willard Stevenson, sailor, remarked that seamen worked sometimes 24 hours per day. When the weather was fine they had more leisure. Regarding the forecastles in vessels and barges some of them were good and some of them were not fit to live in. Some masters were particular as to class of sailors they employed, and others hired incompetent men. A government inspector, to look over hulls, was a necessity. He had known deck loads to be so great as to be dangerous. It was the duty of mates and masters of vessels to see that the forecastles are kept clean. If sailors got sufficient wages it would be better for them to hire monthly. It was not the duty of seamen to assist in loading and unloading vessels. Longshoremen should do this work. The increase of wages in the fall would not take place if sailors were hired by the season. He had known men to be on vessels in the fall of the year that were not competent. Life preservers aboard of vessels were rare. Union sailors did not want shipping masters appointed.

Mr. Marshall, marine engineer, worked at boiler making in the locomotive works. The wage of boiler makers is $2 per day. The wages which engineers on passenger and freight steamers received was $65 to $70 per month. Engineers on tugs were not compelled to carry certificates. Some years ago engineers in tugs were forced to carry competent engineers' certificates, but a class of steamboat owners had been successful in getting the law in this matter changed so that they could now employ engineers without certificates. American engineers had been employed on boats where no certificates were required. The highest wages received by engineers on propellers was $70; on tugs the wages ranged from $45 to $60. Steamboat owners regulated the wages paid engineers on tugs. Complete organization among marine engineers would be a benefit to them. The inspection of boilers and mills gives the engineers satisfaction. Some vessels in service in the upper lakes are very poor. They are not fit to be classified for insurance, and are dangerous in mild as well as rough weather. He thought owners of tugs should be compelled to employ certified engineers.

James Fleming, a sailor, was at one time president of a seamen's union. Sailors shipping out of this port averaged $1 per day. Members of barge crews received from $10 per month to $1 per day. Crafts should not be allowed to leave port without certificated mates. There are barges in service on the upper lakes that are not classed. Vessels should be inspected in the fall of the year. There was too much latitude allowed men owning vessels to put barges in service that were not seaworthy. Masters prefer shipping men by the day. An inspector of hulls for sailing vessels was necessary. Some vessels were allowed to leave this port that witness did not think seaworthy. There were many forecastles in vessels that were not fit for the sailors to live in. Two-thirds of the vessels going through the Welland Canal were not suitable for sailors to inhabit. They were unable while in them to keep themselves from getting wet while going through the canal. The only vessels in which the sailors have anything to do with cargoes are those carrying lumber and timber. He had known vessels to be in danger by carrying deck loads that were too heavy. He thought that no barges should be allowed to leave port without being properly manned and equipped.

Joseph Thorne, carpenter, had charge of a saw mill and other machinery in connection with the M.T. Co.'s shipyard. He was a foreman. Carpenters receive from $1.25 to $1.75 per day. The average wage was $1.50. Between labourers and mechanics there were about seventy men employed in the yard. Every precaution has been taken to prevent accident by machinery. A year ago a man had his arm taken off by a circular saw. This one was a helper, and before the accident he was under the saw and should not have been there. Only one of the men working under him belonged to the knights of labour so far as he knew.

David J. Ainsley, shipwright, did not believe in binding boys as apprentices. There are sixteen shipwrights in the city, whose wage was $2 per day. He did not believe in the nine hour system. Men should be required to work ten hours per day.


Condition Of The Richelieu & Ontario Navigation Co.

The annual meeting of the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation company occurred yesterday. The annual report was presented and the reading attentively listened to. The statement that the company owed $393,000 was referred to, and the chairman explained that although this was on the balance sheet, still the assets offsetting this should be borne in mind. They were the claim in connection with the insurance of the Spartan, now before the United States supreme court, amounting to $40,000; the claim against the estate of the late L.A. Senecal of $11,591, and the claim against the Owen Sound company of $17,967. The chairman explained these items in answer to several gentlemen present, and the report was finally adopted.

The following gentlemen were elected directors for 1888: Messrs. Alex. Murray, Alp. Desjardins, Hon. Henry Stearnes, Henry Beauchemin, A.B. Chaffee, W. Wainwright, Hon. Thomas McGreavy, Jacques Grenier and Michael Connelly.

At a subsequent meeting of the newly elected board Mr. Murray was elected president and Mr. Desjardins vice president.

The following is a synopsis of the general statement of the company:

Assets, active, $121,524; passive, $1,679,623; contingent, $314,926. Total, $2,116,074.

Liabilities - Active, $372,561; passive, $1,550,000; contingent, representing undivided profits, and profits on reduction of capital in 1885, $193,512; total, $2,116,044.

The gross receipts for the year amounted to $586,883.27, but the net profits only yielded $75,075.66 as compared with $122,833 for the preceding year. There was an increase of expenditure of $24,501.88, and a decrease in receipts of $13,254.50. While eleven steamers earned $103,624, twelve showed losses amounting to $25,548. The Ontario line exhibited a loss. The passenger receipts were fairly good, but the addition of dining rooms had diminished the freight carrying capacity. The changes had absorbed profits. The fleet of the company is valued at $1,636,467.

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Feb. 2, 1888
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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. 2, 1888