The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), March 7, 1890

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The Way The Work Is Done In The Harbour.

The work of cutting and loading vessels with ice has lately been carried on here by numerous parties. During the forepart of the winter it was thought that there would be no ice and that there would have been a famine in that line next summer. But now the people need not fear any scarcity as, at present, the ice has reached a good thickness and is much superior to what was obtained last year. Last season the ice was composed chiefly of snow which made it unserviceable for drinking purposes. This year, however, there is no mixture of snow, but it is clear blue ice. Since so much is being cut a visit to the different places where it is sawn was made yesterday afternoon and a knowledge of how the work is accomplished obtained. The first thing to be done is to get a snowscraper in order to scrape off any snow that may be on the surface of the ice. The space which is to be cut is marked out by trees in order to act as a caution to persons travelling on the ice. After this is done it is ready for the plow. This machine is composed of a number of teeth in line. Each tooth is shaped like a boot. The point of it does the cutting and the heel clears the cut from any loose ice so that the next tooth which follows has clear ice to cut. The ice is cut lengthwise, the furrows being from two to three feet apart. As soon as this is finished men with saws cut the strips into blocks about two or three feet wide. Two feet square is the average size of a block. After this is accomplished the next instrument used is a spud bar with which the men strike the cake of ice in the crack made by the plough. This breaks the cake from the main ice. The plough does not cut through, it only goes down some five or six inches. If the cakes are to be taken to an ice house a sleigh backs into the water and a cake is floated upon it, a chain being first fastened to the back corners of the sleigh and carried to the tongue, and again fastened. This chain serves as a check from allowing the cakes to fall off the sleigh. When taken to the ice houses the blocks are piled in tiers. The work of piling is not hard but getting it out, in summer, when each cake has frozen to the other, is very laborious. In the loading of vessels no sleighs are used. The cakes are floated, after a channel is made, to the side of the vessel, a chain placed around them and they are hoisted to the deck by horses, and piled up similar to that in ice houses. The work does not require any skill but the captain is generally on board when his vessel is being loaded. The work is not at all dangerous. No accidents have ever occurred through the cutting of ice in Kingston. At present the schooners Dunn, Ella Murton, Grantham, Calvin, Denmark, Prussia and Norway have had their cargoes completed. The schooner Watertown only started loading on Monday morning, and will have her cargo completed this afternoon. All the cargoes have been sold at good figures except the Watertown's, averaging from $1,200 to $1,400 per cargo. The cost of loading and cutting the ice is very small, in the neighborhood of $190 per vessel. Of course the vessel has to be taken to her destination and her cargo unloaded, and this will run up quite a little amount. A vessel, loaded with ice, is never insured. After all expenses are paid there remains a good margin as profit, especially when it is taken into consideration that most of these vessels have to go to the other side for their first load, and might as well take a cargo of ice with them as not. As soon as navigation opens these vessels will start. The cargoes are nearly all for Toledo. The schr. Watertown's load has not been sold as yet, but in all probability her owner will not have to wait long until it is disposed of. It is three years since vessels were loaded with ice before. This year the Americans require a large supply, and they are unable to obtain it in their own district.

The work of ice cutting is being carried on largely at Bath. Laird & Howard have the contract to supply Rathbun & Co. with 10,000 tons, to be delivered and weighed at Charlotte. The ice, in the bay at Bath, is about eighteen inches thick and of the best quality. Gangs of men are working every night up to twelve o'clock. The contractors will make quite a sum on this deal.

The news that ice is four inches thick in Toledo harbor has put a damper on the business of storing ice in vessels in Kingston harbor for speculative purposes. Capt. Booth said this morning that, in view of existing circumstances, he would not fill any more schooners at present. The Americans may likely have plenty of ice before navigation begins.

Folger Bros. are storing a large quantity of ice on the Cape Vincent depot dock which will be shipped to the large cities as fast as transportation can be secured.

Men are engaged cutting the schr. E. Blake out of the ice at Anglin's dock. She will be taken into the middle of the bay and filled with ice.

Incidents Of The Day - The steamer Resolute is loading ice at Deseronto.

Next month painters will begin work on the steamers in the harbor.

General Paragraphs - The owner of the schooner Dunn, of Detroit, refused $1,600 for her cargo of ice.

J. Clark, diver, inspected the bottom of the crib at the dry dock today and found it all right.

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March 7, 1890
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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), March 7, 1890