PREPARATIONS FOR THE OPENING OF NAVIGATION
If we may take as a criterion the amount of business done at our shipyards and foundries during the winter, the approaching season will witness a large degree of activity in the shipping of this port. The season now closing has been a remarkably favorable one for the operations of shipbuilders, and the yards in Kingston, Portsmouth, and on Garden Island, have been as busy as beehives. A number of new vessels and barges have been constructed, and a large amount of repairing has been done to steamers and sailing craft during the winter. Mr. Jenkin's marine railway shipyard, from which has been launched many of the largest and best vessels that navigate the lakes, has been crowded with work. Capt. Gaskin's new vessel, the keel of which was laid in October, is rapidly progressing towards completion, and will be ready to be floated off at an early day. Two steamers have been already launched, and all the other vessels undergoing repairs and alterations will be completed in due time. At Ault's and Berry's shipyards, Portsmouth, an unusually large amount of work has been done. At the former establishment two vessels have been entirely rebuilt, and various improvements and repairs are making on others. The work on hand at Mr. Berry's yard is nearly completed, and the vessels on the ways at both establishments will be ready for launching at the opening of the season. The foundries have been equally busy, and a very large amount of iron work for steamboats and sailing vessels has been turned out during the winter. Mr. Tracey's establishment, King street, has kept eighty-five men constantly employed on boat work, and the business shows a large increase over that of last year.
A large number of sailors and boat hands have arrived in the city during the past fortnight, and many of them are already employed in putting in order the sailing vessels at the wharves.
As regards the steamboat arrangements for the season little is yet known, but it is probable they will be similar to those of last year.
The fine boats of the Royal Mail Through Line, Hon. John Hamilton managing director, have all undergone extensive repairs, and will be ready to commence running on the opening of the canals. The steamers composing this line, are as follows: - Kingston, Passport, Magnet, Champion, Banshee and Empress. The first three are constructed of iron, and the others of wood. The Kingston and Empress lie at the Atlantic wharf, the Banshee is on the ways at the marine railway shipyard, and the Passport, Magnet and Champion are laid up at Montreal. The hours of departure will be the same as last year.
Messrs. Geo. Chaffey & Bros.' boats are nearly all ready. The repairs on the steamers Boston and Wellington are about completed; the propeller Bristol has been floated off; the Brockville ready to launch; and the tugs Advance, Forest and Phoenix, undergoing repairs at Brockville, will soon be completed. This firm will employ fifteen barges, with an aggregate capacity of 230,000 bushels. The steamers will be run between Montreal and the head of the lake, and the propellers from Montreal to Chicago.
The vessels of Messrs. Jaques, Tracy & Co.'s line have been thoroughly overhauled during the winter, and will all be ready for the water by the 15th of April. They are the Huron, 4,000 bbls; Colonist, 4,000; Avon, 4,000; Indian, 3,600; St. Lawrence, 3,500; Ottawa, 3,000 - total capacity, 22,100 bbls. The Colonist and Indian have been launched from the marine railway.
Messrs. Holcomb & Cowan's boats, West, Brantford, Clyde, and George Moffatt, will all be ready in due time. Their total capacity is 12,900 barrels, and they are all fine vessels. Besides these Messrs. H. & C. have ready thirty barges capable of carrying 350,000 bushels.
The Bowmanville, Whitby and Ranger, of Messrs. Black & Perry's line, have all been thoroughly repaired and will be ready for sailing as soon as the season opens. The Bowmanville is being newly appointed and painted throughout, and the repairs on the Whitby and Ranger are nearly completed. The boats of this line, including the Magnet, have a carrying capacity of 12,600, and will all ply during the season between Montreal andHamilton.
Messrs. Berry & Co's barges, eight in number, are nearly ready for the trade. Their aggregrate capacity is 200,000 bushels, and it is expected that they will be fully employed during the season.
The fine barque British Lion, belonging to Captain Gaskin, has been completed, and will have her cargo on board by Monday or Tuesday next. She will be loaded with ice for Chicago, and is expected to sail in three or four weeks. The ice crop this winter having been an almost total failure, Captain Gaskin is confident that the speculation will be a profitable one. This, we believe, will be the first cargo of ice shipped at Kingston, and we trust that the Captain's hopes of success will be fully realized.
As regards the prospects of the season forwarders hold different opinions. Some entertain rather gloomy anticipations, believing that the failure of the grain crops, and the unsatisfactory condition of the American money market, will seriously affect the shipping interest. Others are of opinion that the carrying trade will be fully as large as last year, and that on the whole the season will be a successful one. There are indications that a very large amount of ocean tonnage will arrive this year at the ports of Quebec and Montreal, and it is believed that the low freights will bring the grain from Western ports in this direction. There is little doubt that if the ocean tonnage is large, grain will come forward from the West in sufficient quantities to supply it, and we therefore think that unfavorable predictions in reference to the season's business are at least premature. The general belief among those interested in the lake navigation is, that the carrying trade of the coming season will fully equal that of last year, and we only hope that their expectations may not be disappointed. There is at present every indication of an early resumption of the shipping trade, and we trust that we shall soon again hear the cheerful din and bustle of business on our wharves and streets.