The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), Feb. 17, 1868

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To the Editor of the Daily News.

Taking it for granted that it would give general satisfaction if our Government would make some concessions to Canadian vessel owners on the Great Lakes, the question arises how can it be effected? As there is no doubt but that branch of commerce is suffering owing to circumstances beyond their control. Until 1866, Canadian bottoms were permitted by the American Government to take in cargoes at Chicago, Toledo, and other American ports, destined for ports on the American side east of the Welland Canal. Such cargoes being discharged at Port Colborne, and passing over the Welland Railway, we re-shipped at Port Dalhousie to Oswego, Cape Vincent or Ogdensburgh. This was certainly a generous proceeding on the part of our American friends, and was the means of encouraging Canadian capital to be largely invested in a fine class of vessels well adapted to the trade. But American vessel-owners naturally got jealous and viewed with displeasure the British flag covering any portion of their commerce, causing the permission to thus trade to be suddenly withdrawn from our vessels, consequently leaving a large amount of shipping in the hands of Canadian owners without remunerative employment. Now the present position of the matter is that American vessels can of course take Canadian shipment to their own ports in competition with our vessels, while they (the Americans) have at all times the large trade from the west through the Welland Canal, as also to Buffalo, all in their own hands, we not being allowed to compete with them, thus giving them a decided advantage over us. We certainly have no right to complain of the Americans protecting their shipping interests, as they have an undoubted right to do so, but may we not with reason ask our Government to grant some encouragement to our shipping interest as well? They have the means in their hands to do this in a measure that cannot be complained of; and the writer is confident that if adopted it would be viewed with pleasure and give general satisfaction to the Canadian public. For instance, would it not be a graceful concession for the Government to waive collection of Welland Canal tolls on all cargoes shipped in Canadian vessels from American ports bound for Canadian ports? This would encourage shipments via the St. Lawrence route to the seaboard, and give our vessels a slight preference over our American friends in our own trade on the lakes; and the slight benefit which our vessels would derive from it would only be at the expense of the Welland Canal tolls on cargoes passing down the St. Lawrence, which would really be not much if anything, as otherwise such cargoes would mostly find their way to New York and Boston through American channels.

By this concession, therefore, our Government would not only be granting assistance to our vessels on the lakes, but would also be encouraging shipments via Montreal and Quebec, increasing their trade and giving assistance to this branch of the forwarding trade on the St. Lawrence route to those cities.

In view of these facts, may it be hoped that our Government will adopt the plan mentioned of abolishing collection of Welland Canal tolls on all cargoes from American ports per Canadian vessels passing through the Welland Canal for the ensuing season, and give it a fair trial and see if it will not have the desired effect of encouraging shipments this way, and at the same time give the needed help and protection to our Lake Marine interests?

Kingston, Feb. 17th COMMERCE

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Feb. 17, 1868
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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. 17, 1868