p.2 Board of Trade
Annual Meeting for the election of officers; Edward Berry, President, in the chair; reading of the Annual Report:- (part)
The Council regret to observe that the Home Government have disallowed an Act of Parliament levying a duty upon vessels built in the United States becoming Canadian property. The United States look with extreme jealousy upon any interference with their Coasting Trade, and strictly prohibit all Canadian vessels from registering under their laws or from directly or indirectly participating in their coasting trade. This Board feels sure that the Canadian shipbuilders and shipowners can successfully compete with the United States if both parties are put upon an equality; but if the United States persist in rigidly excluding Canadian vessels from their coasting trade, we think a similar prohibition on the United States vessels to participate in the Canadian trade ought to be adopted.
As an illustration of the unfair position of the Canadian shipowners we may state that a Canadian vessel is not permitted to bring a cargo from Chicago, enter at the Custom-house hre, and put it into another vessel and send the cargo forward to Ogdensburgh or Cape Vincent; whereas American vessels are constantly carrying staves or timber from the River Thames and Bear Creek and other places in Western Canada to Clayton (or French Creek) in the United States, and thence forwarding them to Quebec. This Council recommends the Board to memorialize the Governor in Council to prohibit Americans from engaging in this trade until similar privileges are accorded Canadian vessels on the American side. This Council believes that if American vessels were prohibited from engaging in such a trade it would be a most important advantage to Canadian shipowners.
This Council regrets the extreme depression of the shipping interest throughout Canada. The cause of the depression as to sailing vessels is clearly traceable to the enormous increase in vessels built in 1854 and 1855, and to the failure of the crops in 1857 and 1858. The bounteous harvest of last season enabled the sailing vessels to carry on a profitable business during the latter part of the year, and if this continent be again blessed with a good harvest next fall, there is every reason to suppose that sailing vessels can be profitably employed. The opening of the Grand Trunk Railway has, however, permanently interfered with the business of the freight steamers, and it is feared that, so long as the railway carries freight at the present low rates, profitable employment for freight steamers cannot be found. We do not think that this substitution of the railway for freight steamers will act to the prejudice of Kingston. It matters little to our community whether goods are carried past us by water or by railway. The traffic in schooners transhipping their cargoes is a much more important one to this city. This Council have pleasure in expressing their belief that the passenger steamers have been able successfully to compete with the Grand Trunk Railway. These boats are, we think, wholly owned in Kingston, and it is a great gratification to this Board to think that profitable employment has been found for them. It would be a grievous thing if the magnificent boats forming a daily line from Montreal to Hamilton were discontinued. These boats, we believe, for comfort, regularity, safety, and prudent management, are unsurpassed on this continent; and this Board hopes that a long period of prosperity is yet in store for their enterprising owners.