The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), Feb. 27, 1862

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p.2 Review of the State of Business in Kingston

The great storm in the fall of 1860 caused a larger number of sailing vessels to winter here than our list for this season shows. Yet there are many vessels here, and repairing is busily prosecuted; and some well known "old stagers" will take their place on the lake in such trim that their "mothers won't know they are out." The propeller Brantford and the steamer George Moffatt have been thoroughly overhauled at the Marine Railway. The Huron is receiving extensive repairs at her dock, and on other boats carpenters are busily engaged at cabins and weather boarding. Forwarders are in good heart, and evidently determined to make the most of next season's trade. At the Kingston Foundry, Davidson, Bruce and Doran are making a boiler for Holcomb & Cowan's propeller West, which combines all the latest improvements for economy in fuel. Much might be done towards this purpose by many steamboat owners, the matter of fuel becoming daily more an important item in the running expenses of steamboats. Coal is rapidly superseding wood, and old boilers cannot profitably use it without those improvements that have been made but recently in the construction of furnaces for the use of coal; and more than the absolute necessity to use it at times on long trips, is the fact that in improved furnaces, while they are adapted for the use of firewood where coal cannot be procured, coal at its present price is cheaper than hardwood when it costs more than $2.25 a cord, not to speak of its superiority in "keeping" up steam. At the same foundry, they are also making the machinery for Berry's Elevator, and a propeller engine for Messrs. Chaffey of 130 horse power; a new shaft has been made for the steamer Banshee, and the press of work on hand for boats in the harbor was never so great at this establishment, 60 men being now engaged; boiler makers are in request, and employment could be given in good house carpenters. At the Marine Railway, Capt. Gaskin's new vessel is approaching completion, so as to be ready for sea on the 1st of April. Nothing has been left undone in her construction to render her one of the strongest vessels on the lakes, and she would, it is said, class A* in the ocean service. Twenty-six iron knees extending to the floor heads, and two stout breasthooks, are features in the means used to strengthen her that will, no doubt, amply repay the outlay. Wire rigging will be used on her outfit, because handier, cheaper and more durable than rope. Offers have been made to charter her for seagoing use, but her owner prefers lake freights as paying better. At this Railway 100 men are employed, a steam saw-mill of 30 horse power is at work night and day, and the demand for ship timber has been such as to materially raise its price above that paid by buyers at Waterloo.

Kingston harbor, from its ship building and other advantages, affords better winter quarters than any other port on the lake; but while its berths are limited to the small space above the bridge, its facilities will be lightly esteemed. Nearly every available spot is occupied, and a good ship husband would not care for those unoccupied. The steam tug Rescue was moved out of a snug place when the ice had formed in the harbor, and though moored in a position not dangerous, she is certainly not in a very safe one; fourteen barges are below the bridge on the south side of the railroad, and a large fleet could there find plenty of room. Two hundred and fifty acres of good anchorage are shut out from the city and the harbor by the bridge. A nuisance the bridge is so far as the shipping trade is concerned; but the bridge is an accommodation to the directors of the Pittsburgh and Gananoque road, and to the troops - and the question is from whom does the city derive most benefit. If from the former, then let the people petition that the bridge as a nuisance be removed. There may be Ordnance red-tapeism in the way of its removal; the directors aforesaid may oppose it; the township of Pittsburgh may secede if it be removed, but if the people of Kingston place any value on a good harbor, if they are desirous of making the city prosperous, their first and best move will be to get the bridge removed.

Portsmouth looks like an industrious hive, and it needs but little energy on the part of its people to make it a thriving place. Taxes are much less than in Kingston, property cheap, building stone in great plenty, the harbor is unsurpassed for its size, and such a favorable combination of circumstances must certainly make Portsmouth a place of some importance. Three or four sunken barges, however, render the harbor in one spot precarious, and we would urge upon those interested to take immediate steps for their removal. The steamer Canadian, sunk in the middle of the harbor, serves for vessels to make fast to, but a good pier in her place would amply repay the outlay, and benefit the village. Messrs. Mitchell & Ault are engaged in making extensive repairs to the steamer New Era, Capt. Taylor's schooner Governor, the schooners Fleur de Marie, Free Trader, and Water Witch; they are engaged in caulking the barque Prince of Wales, and have rebuilt the schooner J. Jones from the floorheads. Various other repairs among which are those to the str. Bowmanville in Kingston harbor, are in operation. Employment is given to 60 men, and so ample are the means at Mitchell & Ault's command that their building and repairing business will certainly bring many workmen to their yard and prosperity to Portsmouth in summer as well as in winter. E. Berry & Co. have about 50 French Canadians engaged in rebuilding and repairing four large barges on the stocks. Attention will be given to other features in the industry of this place when making inspection of the city workshops and manufactories.

As before said, forwarders are preparing to do a good business. The want of barges and elevator accommodation at this port will not be felt, it is hoped, next season. E. Berry& Co's new Elevator will be capable of taking up 3,500 bushels per hour; and Messrs. Chaffey are building at their establishment on the Rideau a new Elevator, which, with that worked by them at Montreal, will enable them to do business with despatch. Calvin & Breck will put on the Tug Line the steamer City of Hamilton alias the City of the Bay, now being lengthened and overhauled and fully equipped in machinery at Garden Island. Competition is certainly the life of trade, but enough injury has been done to the country by the petty transactions of mushroom forwarders whose failure has resulted in the loss of wages to large numbers of workmen, to cause us to hope that the forwarding business will be controlled by men whose pecuniary resources will enable them to meet any of the diversions of traffic that this trade encounters without those collapses that too frequently occur. And capital directed by enterprize would certainly tend to gain, perhaps permanently, for Kingston a transhipment trade steadily encroaching upon that of Oswego.

We hear of extensive preparations being made on the Cape Vincent and Rome Railway to accommodate the grain and lumber trade next season. The Railroad and Northern Transportation Companies are building twelve propeller barges to ply on the Erie Canal between Rome and New York; and it is intended to make Cape Vincent the eastern terminus for the fourteen lake propellers owned by the latter Company. It is also said that a large lumbering firm on this side have made a contract for the transportation of twenty million feet of lumber over the road, making the connection from Kingston through the Wolfe Island Canal. The Elevator at the Cape is capable of discharging 2,500 bushels per hour, and our wily neighbors will no doubt do their best to attack the diversion of the carrying trade from this point. The Elevator might indeed be used by us in a press of business, the cost of towing barges there and thence to the foot of Wolfe Island being comparitively small; but since a Kingston firm found to their cost that advantage was taken of their use of the Elevator to attach a quantity of grain on a claim for demurrage that could not be enforced in this place, it is not likely that the Cape Elevator will be resorted to again.

Calvin & Breck, in addition to the repairs on the City of the Bay, are engaged in building at Garden Island a barge of the capacity of 14,000 bushels, which has already been chartered by Messrs. Chaffey. Repairs are being made to the vessels composing the tug line, so as to render them in good trim for the summer season. The steamer Wellington has been chartered by Messrs. Chaffey, and their new vessel, the Southampton, launched last summer, has been sold to Mr. Brown, of Hamilton. The business done by this firm is well known to be of the most extensive character. Two hundred men, shipwrights, blacksmiths, raftsmen, boiler-makers and sailmakers, are constantly employed. A large number of cribs are ready for any quantity of lumber and staves that may come down this spring, and it is intended that the details of this branch of their business shall be of the most efficient sort, to meet the demands of the Western Trade.

The following vessels are thus stationed :-

Below The Bridge - Schrs. Cataraqui, ___, and Sloop Messenger; Barges Mineral, Minerva, Oak, Portland, Elm, Crosby, Bedford, Tube, Pier and fifteen others; fourteen wood Boats - Total, 42.

In The Harbor - Propellers Avon, Nicolett, Colonist, St. Lawrence, Protection, Rescue, Indian, Brantford, West. Sidewheel Boats: Ottawa, Champion, Kingston, Passport, Banshee, Huron, Bay of Quinte, Bowmanville, George Moffatt, Pierrepont, Gazelle. Barques: Sir E. Head, Canada, E.S. Adams, St. George, Stork. Schooners: Helen, California, Christiana, Queen of the Bay, Christina, Gem, Mohawk, York of Clayton, Bay of Quinte, Hannah, Alma, Jenny Lind. Barges Lark, Lyre, Linnet, Montreal Packet, Eliza Jane, Margaret, Louisa, Ethelind, Sophia, Cleveland, Georgiana, Wren, Jet, Rook, Western Miller. Wood boats - 4. Total 57.

At Portsmouth - Propeller Whitby. Steamer New Era. Barques Arabia, Prince of Wales, Waterwitch. Schooners Governor, G.H. Wheeler, Fleur de Marie, Whitby, J. Jones, Queen of the Bay, and four barges - Total 15.

At Garden Island - Steamers Hercules, Highlander, Wellington, William, Traveller, America, Napier, Chieftain, Gildersleeve, City of the Bay. Barques Southampton and London. Schooners Liverpool, Lafayette Cook, William Penn, Minerva Cook. - Total 16.

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Feb. 27, 1862
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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), Feb. 27, 1862