The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), April 14, 1853

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There is one topic of commercial interest, among the many which the various public improvements here and throughout the Province have brought under public discussion, which, being of paramount importance to the good citizens of Kingston, occupies no small share of their attention, - we mean the probable restoration of the transhipment trade in its former vigorous state of prosperity to the harbor of Kingston. There are many who are of opinion that the advantages which the transit of Produce by the through line of propellers and schooners present, are so manifest that any renovation of the trade is entirely hopeless. Such is not our opinion, nor would it seem to be the opinion of ship-owners in any part of the Province, from the fact that although the number of steamers and sailing vessels that are now being built in every ship yard in Upper Canada is unusually great, there is not one that we have heard of intended or calculated for the through trade. They are generally large vessels from 200 to 350 tons burthen; adapted for the lake trade and the river as far, probably, as Ogdensburgh, but unsuited, from their size, for descending or ascending the river further down, even with the aid of steam-tugs. From this circumstance it may be fairly argued that had the "through" transit met the encouragement which was anticipated, there would have been no lack of competition to have urged the trade to the utmost of its capability, particularly in a country such as this, where the facilities for shipbuilding are so abundant. The fact is, that sailing craft adapted for the lake navigation are not suited to pass through the canals; their cargoes must be adapted to the depth of water in the canal, not to their capabilities of carrying; this, together with the expensiveness of the operation, and the uncertainty of back freight, has doubtless rendered the trade so unprofitable, as to have produced a disinclination on the part of ship-owners to make any effort for the extension of the traffic. The line of Tug-boats to be established by Government, it is said, will encourage the through navigation by sailing vessels, by removing the stoppage in the canals, which that description of craft had so frequently to encounter, greatly to the injury of the ship-owners as well as to the owners of the barges. We shall watch the progress of the further and more complete experiment about to be made in this way, though it may at once be said it will not ensure profitable return freights to vessels going down. There is also another circumstance which will considerably lessen the chances of obtaining the latter very important auxiliary to the trade, namely, the direction which the importation trade of this part of the Province has taken by the way of Boston and New York. We noticed the other day a paragraph in one of the Watertown papers stating that several hundreds of tons of British goods were lying at Cape Vincent waiting for the ice in the St. Lawrence clearing away, to allow them to be sent over to this city. If so considerable a quantity of goods were at one time on their way to Kingston, we must naturally conclude that the importations of the whole year, by the way of the United States, to this and to the other cities and towns of Upper Canada, must be to an amount sufficiently great asseriously to damage the inward carrying trade on the St. Lawrence, and may account in some measure for the partial failure of the through line operations already noticed. This new direction of the import trade cannot be considered as a mere temporary arrangement; on the contrary, it is more than probable it will increase every year. It is well known that our Republican neighbors are fully alive to the advantages to be derived from securing to themselves the carrying of Canadian imports and exports and are therefore throwing every encouragement in the way of making the trade permanent; and it cannot be denied that their means for doing so, are fully proportioned to their desire for its accomplishment.

Relative to the price of freight by the Through Line, and that by the way of Kingston, there is comparatively little difference, but that difference is in favor of transhipment at Kingston and although it is objected by those favoring the Through Line mode of transit, that the process of transhipment causes both a loss of time and a certain loss by the damage necessarily sustained by the packages in the act of being unshipped and reshipped; yet if a calculation were made we are of opinion, that the saving in the price of Insurance would fully answer both these objections.

We have little doubt, but that a certain portion of the carrying trade from the head of the lake to Montreal and Quebec will still be effected by propellers; but we have as little doubt that the greatest proportion of the freight for Montreal will eventually find its way to Kingston or Prescott for transhipment. Holders of produce intending making extensive shipments to the lower ports, may probably continue the experiment of direct shipment; but from the reasons we have already stated, it is more than likely, that the Kingston forwarders will ultimately become again the recipients of the great bulk of the western carrying trade.


After a few years of unusual and certainly unpalatable dullness, improvement is again the order of the day in Kingston harbor, and the progress of trade has called for additional wharf accommodation, part of which has been furnished and part unavoidably delayed until the ensuing winter affords another favorable opportunity for the work of wharf extension. Capt. Bowen's wharf at the foot of Johnson street, and Mr. Fraser's, at the foot of Clarence street, in the occupation of Mr. Hooker, have each been extended outwards about 60 feet, effecting a very material improvement. Mr. Morton has constructed, near his distillery, a new wharf of very considerable dimensions, and the City Brewery wharf has been rebuilt. Two or three other improvements are in contemplation, but of these again.

Launch - We understand that, should the weather prove favorable, the new bark Cherokee, will be launched from the Marine Railway ship-yard on Saturday afternoon, at 3 o'clock.

Of the American Line of lake steamers, the Niagara and Cataract have visited this port. The

Lady of the Lake runs daily between this city and Cape Vincent.

-3 or 4 cargoes of flour have arrived from west.

ads for Passport, Champion, Canadian.

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April 14, 1853
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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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Daily News (Kingston, ON), April 14, 1853