TUG STEAMERS ON THE ST. LAWRENCE.
The Montreal Gazette contains a report from the committee of the Council of the Board of Trade, appointed to wait on the Hon. Mr. Young, with the view to induce government to continue the line of Tug steamers on the St. Lawrence between Montreal and Kingston. As the subject of the conference is one of present interest to shippers and forwarders, we annex the report of it as given by the deputation:-
Agreeably to the resolution passed at the annual general meeting of the Board of Trade, on the 5th instant, a deputation consisting of the undersigned, arranged a meeting with the Hon. John Young, Chief Commissioner of Public Works, and which took place on the following days.
The deputation laid before Mr. Young the views of the Board generally, respecting the notice issued by the Government that the aid heretofore afforded by them to the line of Tug Steamers on the Upper Canada St. Lawrence was to be discontinued, and represented the great inconvenience likely to result, and the extra charges the trade would probably be subjected to, both upwards and downwards, by throwing the whole business into the hands of a few large Forwarding Houses if the Government persisted in their determination neither to renew their towing arrangements, nor substitute others in their place.
The deputation also referred to the correspondence of Messrs. Calvin & Cook, and the letters of that firm, to the Department of Public Works, dated in December last, and they showed Mr. Young, that even if the work was performed in a manner not perfectly satisfactory, yet the fact that the Steamers were actually there, and bound to tow at special prices, tended to keep the rates of freight moderate, and enable many schooners, and other independent Vessels to come to Montreal, which, in the uncertainty which now existed, of their being towed up again, they would not probably venture to do this year.
The deputation complained of the shortness of the notice given that the Government intended departing from its previous policy, and pointed out, that between the middle of March when the notice was issued, and the end of April, when the navigation would open, there was no time allowed for parties to make other towing arrangements. Mr. Young, in reply to the first complaint, stated that the steamers though not now in the employ of the Government, were still in existence, and he doubted not, would be glad to tow at the same rates as last year; but whether or not, the work had been so badly done during the last season, that after consulting with parties interested in the trade, he had, so far back as the month of December last, made up his mind not to renew the contract. With respect to the second complaint, Mr. Young said, he firmly believed the inconveniences dreaded by the Board of Trade would not be felt by the mercantile community, at all events not for any length of time, as in all probability parties would be found ready and willing to enter into the business; and with regard to the delay in announcing to the public the contemplated change, doubtless that might have been done at an earlier period, but in the hurry of going down to Halifax with the deputation on the subject of the Railroad, he had neglected to leave orders, and it remained unannounced until he had returned. Mr. Young expressed his determination to adhere to the resolution he had already adopted, and that the result must decide which party is right.
Various other matters of Trade were discussed, but as they did not form part of the business referred to the deputation, they need not be alluded to here.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
Office of the Board of Trade,
Montreal, 12th April, 1852.
This is decisive enough as to the fate of a treasury-supported tug line. Towing on the St. Lawrence is to be left in future to private competition. But we observe by the Pilot that the correctness of the statement made by Messrs. Allen and Gilmour of their conversation with the Commissioner of Public Works on the matter, is challenged on the part of Mr. Young. The Pilot says it is authorized to state that the Report is "incorrect in many respects!" It is to be regretted that a difference of this kind should exist but it will be seen from what follows that it does not in any manner apply to the continuance or discontinuance of the tug-line. The Pilot's complaint on behalf of Mr. Young is chiefly this, that the arguments by which the hon. gentleman defended the action of the government in discontinuing the line, are not reported fully enough, and that injustice is thus done to the Commissioner. The charge of "mis-statement" amounts to nothing at all. The following is an extract from the article in the Pilot:-
That Report we are authorized to state is incorrect in many respects - suppressing important facts which were adduced in the interview and mis-stating others.
First - Mr. Young did not state that "he had made up his mind as far back as the month of December last not to renew the contract."
What Mr. Young said was, that more than a year ago he had written to the Board of Works stating it as his opinion, that in consequence of the imperfect manner in which the towing was done by the Government Tugs, it would be preferable to throw the business open to the competition of the public at large; that if it was continued on its then footing, it would rapidly bring the route by the St. Lawrence into disrepute; that he had himself had a large number of American schooners consigned to him, which descended the St. Lawrence, and that he had taken the trouble to get a report from each of the masters of the particulars of the voyage, and that in every instance they complained of detention. Mr. Young instanced in particular the case of two vessels which had gone ashore, in consequence of being obliged to take a small propeller as a tug, after waiting several days for a government boat. In one of these instances (the brig Lowel) the loss amounted to $3,546, and in the other to $2,147.
Second - Mr. Young did not state that he had neglected to leave orders to announce the change to the public.
On the contrary, Mr. Young said, that on joining the Administration, he instituted an inquiry as to the amounts received by the contractors for towing, and commenced a correspondence with the owners of vessels and others interested in the matter, and that, had he not gone to Halifax, an earlier decision might have been come to; but that, under those circumstances, a decision was come to as soon as he returned.
Third - Messrs. Allan and Gilmour have omitted to report the following facts, which were also elicited during the conversation:- The Board of Trade had reported that Forwarders this spring were asked asking 1s. 6d. per barrel for carrying flour from Toronto to Montreal, while they charged only 10d. to 1s. per barrel for the same last spring, making it appear that this advance was owing to the discontinuance of the Government Tugs. Mr. Young denied this, stating that 1s. 6d. per barrel was demanded this Spring by Forwarders before the advertisement of the Board of Works appeared. And as the rate of freight for last spring, Mr. Young exhibited a number of bills of lading running from the opening of the navigation to the 15th of June, in which the rate of freight was uniformly charged at 1s. 3d. per barrel, and we challenge the production of any bills of lading for the same period at 10d. to 1s. per barrel if such exist. It is true that such rates were charged on shipments made at mid-summer, but we question the propriety of a public body like the Board of Trade giving currency to an impression that such rates were current on the opening of the navigation last year, when such was not the case.
Mr. Young further stated, that he believed that the rates would have been higher this spring than last, had no change been made with reference to the Tugs, owing to the larger quantity of produce to be moved this spring, and that the advance demanded by forwarders on the Canada side will not be greater than is demanded on the American side.
Such were the facts of the conversation that passed between the Hon. Mr. Young and the Deputation from the Board of Trade, and our readers will see how widely they differ from the Report made by the deputation.
The steamer Henry Gildersleeve went up the Bay on Saturday, and owing to detention by ice, was not here yesterday morning to run to the Cape. The Prince of Wales was, however, sent over at noon, and henceforward, as will be seen by advertisement, there will be a daily line to the Cape. The regular trips commence this morning.
Cape Vincent - Daily Communication.
The STEAMER HENRY GILDERSLEEVE or PRINCE OF WALES, will run daily to Cape Vincent, connecting with the Rome and Cape Vincent Railway, leaving every morning at 7 o'clock and returning the same day. Passengers by this route will take the noon train from Cape Vincent, and reach New York early next morning.
PORT OF KINGSTON
Arrivals and Imports
April 23rd - Str. Northerner, Clayton.
Str. Niagara, Lewiston, (cargo list)
Str. Gildersleeve, Chaumont, (cargo list)
Schr. Minerva, Cobourg, 1,000 bbls. flour, D. McIntosh.
Schr. Enterprise, Port Hope, 650 bbls. flour, 2 do. Wheat, M. McLennan; 146 bush. barley, 493 rye, 40 casks, J. Morton.
April 24th - Str. Ottawa, Ogdensburgh, 40 bbls., J. Miller & Co.
Str. Cataract, Sackett's Harbor.
Prop. Ireland, Toronto, 2,000 bbls. flour, 599 pork, 207 kegs lard, D. McIntosh.
April 25th - Str. Niagara, Clayton.
April 26th - Schr. Austria, Sackett's Harbor, in ballast.
Schr. Alleghan, do. do.
Brk. Sinbad, Oswego, sails and rigging, Calvin, Cook & Co.; 250 tons copper ore, 4 doz. traps, A. Donaldson.