The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), April 1, 1858

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p.2 Navigation - sch. Lucinda, Capt. Phalon, enters Oswego from Toronto.

Welland Canal - channel between Allenburgh and Thorold is widened; str. May Queen at Cleveland from Detroit.

p.3 Tug Line On The Upper St. Lawrence

(To the Editor of the Colonist.)

Sir, - This most valuable auxiliary (the tug line) to our inland transportation was established in 1849 by the Government, under the auspices of the Honorable Malcolm Cameron and Wm. H. Merritt, the former having been Assistant Commissioner of the Board of Works of that day. Messrs. Young, Gould and DeWitt, of Montreal, were vigorous supporters of the two first named gentlemen in promoting the good work, and to the whole of whom the country is deeply indebted for the great boon which it has conferred upon its trade and commerce. These far-seeing gentlemen, who may safely be looked upon as the remaining fathers of our inland navigation improvements, no doubt estimated that the real utility and value of the St. Lawrence Canals could not be realized unless the trade of the Upper Lakes could be drawn through them to our seaports - thus, the creation of the tug line; and right well has it done its work, by bringing Chicago and Montreal, as it were, within hail of each other, and creating and fostering a trade, the extent and future value of which it is nearly impossible to estimate; that is when it is taken into account the enlarging of the Welland Canal, and the creation of dock and warehouse facilities at the ports of Montreal and Quebec, all of which we may hope to see before three years roll over our heads. So mote it be.

The Detroit Free Press, while complaining of the loss of its trade, says:-

"Within the past few years it has become very evident that nearly all the trade of Canada West, and a good portion of that of the States bordering on the lakes, has left the Erie Canal, which used to be the only outlet to the seaboard, and been transferred to the St. Lawrence, the natural outlet to all western trade, and other routes situated wholly or partly in Canada. Especially has this been true within the year or two past. The completion of the Grand Trunk Railway, the Montreal and Portland Railroad, the establishment of a regular line of steamers between Quebec and Liverpool, Portland and Liverpool, and especially the direct voyages which have been made by the Dean Richmond, the Madeira Pet, and C.S. Kershaw, are the chief causes which have contributed to produce this result, and have been more than sufficient to outweigh the advantages gained to the United States by the Reciprocity Treaty.

The statistics of the past year show a great falling off in the receipts of flour and grain, and especially of lumber from Canada, at the ports of Rochester, Oswego, and other places on Lake Ontario; whilst the statistics of Montreal and Quebec show a proportionate increase. The trade of Detroit, Chicago, and other towns of the west, has become of so much importance to Canada, that a very considerable portion of the speech of the Governor General at the opening of the new session of Parliament was devoted to the subject, and contained recommendations by which it might be increased."

The writer of the above article has overlooked the great fact, that to no other agency is more merit due than to the establishment of a Government tug line for the great increase which our trade has, and for the future will experience. There was a time when the commerce of the country, for good or ill, was locked up in the hands of a few forwarders, and certain parties had to be consulted when and at what rate stuff could go forward, or whether it could go at all or not; such was the result of monopolies and combinations in the transportation business of former years, and which were the means of crippling our foreign business. Since the tug line has come into existence, however, these evils have passed away, and the trade and water are free to every man who has a craft of his own - his vessel is towed at an equitable rate fixed by Government, and neither delay nor imposition is experienced.

The tug service since the commencement has been mainly performed by Calvin & Co., of Garden Island, Kingston, and no doubt arises from all that can be surmised that they have gained the entire confidence of vessel owners, and those merchants who have had to do with them in the way of towing - and the opinion generally entertained is that the public interest would be best consulted (now that there is a movement in regard to a fresh contract,) if the service were continued in their hands. Work of this kind is not to be trifled or played with - it requires an ample and suitable stock of steamers, well adapted for the critical work which is to be done, and properly found and appointed in all the requirements adapting them for the towing service. Then, again, and though last not but least in point of importance, is the good character and experience of the captains, crews and pilots, as well as a solid experience in the general management of the whole undertaking. Such, it is believed, is the reputation of Calvin & Co's establishment, and the knowledge at a distance of their becoming the future tug contractors on the St. Lawrence, would undoubtedly inspire confidence in those who will be engaged in the future trade, etc. A paragraph appears in the last report of the Board of Works, which says:-

"Tug Boat Service Above Montreal - The amount of tug service performed during the last season between Lachine and Kingston has exceeded that of previous years, and from no complaints having been received, the undersigned have no reason to believe that it was not performed in an efficient and satisfactory manner."

I intend troubling you with a short communication in a few days in favor of encouraging a regular steam communication from Quebec to Gaspe, etc.

Yours, etc., Progress

Steamers Banshee and Champion - no credit unless with written order from Wm. Bowen.

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April 1, 1858
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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 1, 1858