The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), April 3, 1866

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For some weeks past the busy note of preparation for the spring campaign has been sounding from almost every vessel in the harbor. Some have been undergoing repairs for the greater part of the winter, others for a shorter time, but the fact that the opening of navigation, at the farthest, is not a great way off, has caused a more general stir, which is daily on the increase. Beginning at the upper or southern end of the harbor, the first vessel encountered is the steamer Rochester, which has been lying since early last fall at the Ontario Foundry wharf. This vessel has been thoroughly reconstructed during the winter, by Mr. Andrew Davidson, who is doing the carpenters' work, and by Messrs. Davidson and Doran, who have the iron work in hand. When completed, which will probably be in a couple of weeks, the intention is to place her on the route between Port Hope and Charlotte, where the Corinthian now plies. This is the Rochester's old route, and with her present alterations and repairs she will be better adapted to that route than ever. The engine has been raised twenty-two inches, to admit of larger wheels being adapted to her to give her increased speed; a new boiler has been placed in position, and other iron work necessary to be done is on the eve of completion. Sixteen new state-rooms are being added to her other accommodations, and no little expense is being incurred to complete other general repairs and improvements which were very much needed to make her both a passenger and freight boat.

Passing on to the Marine Railway we find there the propellers Avon and Ranger, and the steamer Pierrepont, all undergoing a thorough overhauling to fit them for the necessities of their various routes. The Avon is having a new keel made fore and aft, a new keelson, new stem and ceiling, and new bolting and thorough caulking is being done inside and out. The Ranger is being thoroughly overhauled, and is having new stem timbers and ceiling put in, besides new beams and repairs to deck, the arch is being extended aft, and the hog frame strengthened; the caulking is general. The Pierrepont is being new timbered, planked and caulked, the deck partly renewed, with new forward rail and bulwarks, all of which add greatly to her strength.

In the adjoining slip lies the schooner launched last fall from the Railway yard, now named the Mary Taylor, and owned by Captain Taylor, of this city. She is being properly rigged for lake service, and has been supplied with wire rigging by Capt. Gaskin, which is now being put up. Here also are some of the forwarders' barges preparing for the spring trade.

At Anderson & Ford's and Kinghorn's Wharves lie the schooner Caroline, the barque Arabian, propellers Indian and St. Lawrence, and the steamers Watertown and Gazelle, to all of which more or less repairs have been or are to be done before they can resume their trips on the removal of the ice. The present steamer Watertown is built on the hull of the vessel which was unfortunately destroyed by fire last summer at Cape Vincent, causing a serious loss and drawback to the company at a time when the traffic was nearly an hundred-fold greater than it had ever been between this city and Cape Vincent. The vessel was built up hurriedly, but substantially, last fall at the Marine Railway yard, and launched just before the setting in of winter, since when she has been handsomely finished and well nigh completed, and will be ready to take her old place on the route, let the ice move one or two weeks hence. The present Watertown is not so high out of the water as the first one, her appearance is much neater, and as she will offer less resistance to the wind, her sailing qualities and motion should be greatly improved. A good deal of general internal repairs are being done to the St. Lawrence. The small schooner America, lying in the slip at the foot of William Street, is being but slightly repaired.

At and adjacent to the Railroad Wharf lie Captain Gaskin's two handsome barques, the British Lion and the Robert Gaskin, having received a thorough overhauling, caulking, and painting during the winter and spring. This is the first time these vessels have been caulked since they were first floated (the first four years ago, and the 2nd 3 years) which tells the story of the superior workmanship which was put upon them while they were being built. They were originally both iron kneed and locust treenail fastened to fit them for the ocean route, which route it is quite possible they may be placed on, their owner having already received offers of two sea freights, one of copper ore and another of staves. These vessels are of course wire-rigged, and are by far the handsomest sailing craft in the harbour. The demand for wire-rigging, Captain Gaskin informs us, is on the increase on both sides of the line, he having fitted up 11 vessels with it in various parts of the country during the winter and spring, 2 of which were at Oswego. For some reason or other the heads of certain Buffalo insurance companies have been vainly trying to bring the wire-rigging into disrepute; and the ship chandlers are also working, dead against its general adoption, as it interferes with their sale of rope. This rigging is not so liable to accident as rope rigging, and we learn that since its adoption on the lakes, no accident has in any way happened to it on the many vessels to which Captain Gaskin has fitted it. The fact, too, that it has been in use by the Admiralty for 30 years past, and still maintains its place with that Board, where it is held in high favor, speaks volumes for its general excellence and adaptability to the uses to which it is put.

On reaching the St. Lawrence wharf at the foot of Johnson street, where are the offices of Capt. Bowen and the Canadian Inland Steam Navigation Company, it will be seen that certain much needed repairs have been made by Captain Bowen to the southwest side of the wharf, where the steamer Bay of Quinte usually lay last summer. The wharf here has been generally strengthened and new faced, and new ties have been put in wherever required, adding greatly to the convenience of traffic and of passengers and others passing to and fro. Only three of the Company's steamers were laid up here last fall - the Passport at this particular wharf, and the Kingston and Grecian at the Navy Yard below Fort Henry; the remaining boats lie at Montreal. The two latter are having the usual spring work done upon them, and the painting is nearly completed. The Passport is having a great many repairs and alterations made to her for the better. A new and very neat wheel house is being built on the hurricane deck, whither it has been removed from the main deck, giving more room for the extension of the saloon, and affording more space also on the main deck where space was needed. A new mast, wire rigged, will be put in; the gentlemen's cabin fitted up aft, and new winding stairs run from the saloon to the main deck, and thence to the gentlemen's cabin. It may be as well to state in this connection that the arrangements of the line for the ensuing season, according to the Company's circular just issued, are completed, with greatly increased facilities notwithstanding the heavy losses sustained by the Company last year, owing to the unprecedented low water. The steamers composing the daily line are the Spartan, Grecian, Kingston, Magnet and Passport, built of iron, and the Champion and Banshee, built of wood. They are all first-class vessels, and the two latter have been rebuilt during the winter.

The propeller Brantford also lies at this wharf, and is undergoing rather extensive general repairs.

In the slips adjacent to the wharves of the Messrs. Chaffey, foot of Princess street, lie the steamers Bay of Quinte, Osprey, propeller North, schooner Helen, and Chaffey's large schooner rigged barges, England, Ireland and Scotland, all being put into the necessary condition to fit them for their summer's work, and for the various routes on which they are to ply. The Bay of Quinte, having very recently been made next to new, requires nothing more than the usual springwork to be done upon her this year.

The next thing worthy of note in passing northwards is the wharf fronting on Queen and Ontario streets, about which so much litigation has taken place, and is likely to take place at future sittings of the Courts. Mr. Charles F. Gildersleeve has added about one hundred and ninety feet to the length of this wharf during the winter, by forty-two feet in breadth, making it a strong solid substantial structure of the same length as Berry's wharf. This addition has been made for Mr. Gildersleeve's own use and benefit, and will be needed for the storage of the large quantities of cordwood and staves which he is having prepared for shipment hither on the opening of the Rideau Canal, and during the ensuing summer. In the stream opposite this wharf are the schooners Governor and The Queen of the Lakes undergoing general repairs.

At the wharf of Glassford & Jones lies the schooner Princess Alexandria, on which a good deal of money is being expended in new decking her, putting in new deck frame, planking and other necessary work, which taken altogether will have the effect of renewing her youth for some years to come. Also the schooner Water Witch undergoing general repair and fitting up. This latter vessel is the property of two enterprising young Kingstonians, Messrs. Swift and Fraser, who purchased her last summer with the full determination to "make a spoon or spoil a horn" in the great race for profit and loss on the lakes during the coming and future summers.

After passing this wharf, we come to the land's end of navigation on the lower bay, north-west of the Cataraqui Bridge where a capital harbor is afforded both inside and outside the railroad track where vessels can lay by for the winter. A number of barges belonging to the various forwarders are laid up here, also the schooners H.J. Jones and Despatch, and two smaller vessels are being put in readiness to sail southward on the disappearance of the ice. Further on, near the Messrs. Anglin's saw mill, is a schooner on the stocks, the property of Mr. James Richardson, being built with the intention of taking part in the grain trade between this and the American and other Canadian ports wherever a profitable investment can be found. This vessel is 92 feet keel, 23 feet beam, and 8 feet depth of hold; and is intended to carry 8,000 bushels of wheat. She is to be ready by the 15th of the present month. A good deal of stir therefore is necessarily going on along the entire extent of the harbor.

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April 3, 1866
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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 3, 1866