The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), April 7, 1863

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p.2 Spring Assizes - Murray vs Dickinson - The plaintiff sought to recover damages for injuries sustained by his vessel, the Mohawk, while passing through the Lachine Canal in November, 1861, by coming in contact with defendant's barges, which were moored in the tow-path.

Thos. Noble sworn - I know the plaintiff and sailed with him in 1861. In October I went from Kingston to Montreal in his vessel, the Mohawk. We left Montreal in November for Lachine. I was on the towpath, carring a line, while the vessel was passing through the Lachine Canal. After dark on the 12th we came up to two barges in the tow-path, belonging to defendant, which obstructed our passage. I let my line go. There was a line across the tow-path, which took the horse across the chest, and prevented them from passing. It was impossible to pass, and we were obliged to unhitch. There is a strong current there, and the vessel went back. We endeavored to prevent her, but did not succeed. She went back nearly a mile till she struck with her rudder and wheeled round. Part of the rudder was broken off. We were engaged two or three hours in bringing the vessel up, and when we came back the barges were in the same position. Next morning I saw the injuries inflicted on the vessel. When she got into Kingston she had to be hauled out upon the marine railway for repairs. In consequence of the damage she sailed no more that fall. A vessel going down the canals has the right of way, if she is in motion.

Several other witnesses having given similar testimony.

Alex. Bissett, Superintendent of the Canals, was called for the defence. He was not at lock No. 5 when the collision occurred. At night it would not be safe for vessels such as the Mohawk and the barges to pass each other in the narrows. For vessels wishing to stop in going up there are posts on the tow-path, about one hundred feet apart. If a vessel ascending the canal sees a vessel coming through the lock it is her duty to keep on the heel-path, and she should remain there till the vessel going down has passed. If the descending vessel sees anything in the narrows she must wait below the lock until the ascending gets up. Vessels going down seeing other vessels coming up should make fast, otherwise the current would carry them down. There could not be a line across the tow-path, as sworn to by plaintiff's witness, and if it could be so placed it would be contrary to the canal regulations. He believed it was more prudent for the barges to remain where they were that night than to proceed down.

Louis Pennault testified that he was engaged to tow the barges, and that when the Mohawk approached his horses were attached to them. The barges were made fast in consequence of the Mohawk and another vessel approaching, and by the order of the lock-master. The other vessel was the steamer Huron; she was ahead of the Mohawk, and passed up through the lock, the barges at that time being hitched. It would not have been safe for the barges to move down until the Mohawk had passed. There was nothing to prevent the Mohawk going right through.

On the cross-examination witness said he was not on the spot when the Mohawk came up the first time. He saw her approaching, but went for his teams and did not return till she came up the second time.

Verdict for plaintiffs $45.

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April 7, 1863
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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 7, 1863