THE KINGSTON DRY DOCK.
The Full Account of the Proceedings at Hamilton.
J. Muckleston, president of the board of trade, was introduced. He said that for many years the necessity of having a dry dock at Kingston had been felt. As long as sixteen or eighteen years ago a bonus of 2 per cent per annum on the cost of the work had been offered by government to any company that would undertake the work. It was clear that the work was not one that private individuals or a company could very well undertake. The necessity of such a drydock was more forcibly impressed by a series of lamentable accidents which occurred last fall. While in Ottawa last fall the premier stated that the subject undoubtedly was one of the utmost importance not only to Kingston but to all the shipping interests of the lake. The subject had, Mr. Muckleston said, been taken before the Toronto board of trade and the scheme approved of by them. It might be said by some, "Well, if a dry dock is so badly needed, why not build it at Hamilton or Toronto? Simply because Kingston is a port where the most transhipping is done and because it can be built more cheaply there than at any other place, owing to the fact that the government, having done away with prison labor where it comes into competition with free labor, are now at a loss to know what to get for the prisoners to do. About 200 men could thus be easily spared of the 500 confined there. In addition to this the government owns large quarries at Kingston, so that the labor and material would cost but little in comparison with what they would cost if built at any other place, or if undertaken by a private individual or a company. They wanted a first-class dry-dock and the whole province would receive a benefit from it.
C.J. Hope asked if Mr. Muckleston could tell about what it would cost and the latter gentleman replied that he could not, but if it would cost, say $150,000, the government would still hold it, and it was proposed, should lease it so as to pay a fair interest on part of the money invested, at the same time governing the rates which should be charged.
Captain Gaskin said he had been in the boat business for twenty years. He was interested in a company that had fifty boats and could say that, from a marine point of view, Kingston needed a dry-dock badly. He referred to the sinking of the propeller Myles last fall, saying that he saw her strike and was sure that she would not have gone down had there been a dry-dock there. There was, he said, great danger at present to vessels entering Kingston harbour. That city had only 16,000 inhabitants and could not afford to build a dry-dock, but as soon as it was known where the government might decide to locate one and the sort they intended to build, Kingston would do her share towards building it. Once built it would not take much to keep it. The citizens talked years ago of building one, and a company was formed, but after spending a good deal of money the project was abandoned, even after the government offered an annual bonus of 2 per cent of the cost of construction. When a deputation had recently gone to Ottawa Sir John had told them to get the opinion of the people of the western part of the province and then come to him again, and that was what they were doing now.
Mr. Wood here asked what position the Kingston barge people took in regard to the deepening of the St. Lawrence canals.
Capt. Gaskin replied that they were in favor of the scheme, and any action in that direction taken by the people of Western Ontario would would get the fullest support of the people of Kingston.
Mr. Wood said he was glad to hear that the Kingston people had experienced a change of heart in that direction. In former years the barge owners of that city had always stood in the way of the deepening of the canals.
W. Leslie said that the Kingston people were now in favor of the scheme, believing that it would not injure but rather improve the river business.
Capt. Fairgrieve said that in the opinion of marine men Kingston was a good place for a dry-dock. It had a good harbour, good bottom, and was in a good locality.
Charles Myles said there were a number of boats now building in the old country for Canada. They would have to be brought to this country in halves and put together at Buffalo. If a dry-dock were built at Kingston this would be avoided. Kingston would also be the best place to run to for repairs.
Mr. Dalley asked Mr. Muckleston if the Kingston board of trade was in favour of the deepening of the St. Lawrence canals. Mr. Muckleston replied that the subject had not been considered of late years, but he thought he could safely say that they were.
Mr. Muckleston promised to bring the subject of the deepening of the St. Lawrence canals before the Kingston board of trade at its next meeting.
Personal Mention - Capt. Anderson, formerly of the steamer Rothesay, will command the steamer Belleville after the first of April.