The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), Dec. 1, 1870

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p.2 Owen Sound, Nov. 30th - The tug Wales, sent by the Insurance Company to try and get off the schooner Prince Edward, ashore at Isle Cove, returned last night, having on board Captains Douglas, Courneen, and McGregor. After working at the vessel for six hours and being unsuccessful they gave up the attempt.


Office of the Canal Commissioners,

Ottawa, 25th November, 1870.

To the Editor of the Daily News, Kingston.

The following gentlemen, viz.: C.S. Gzowski, George Laidlaw, and D.D. Calvin, of the Province of Ontario; Hugh Allan and P. Garneau, of the Province of Quebec; Hon. W.J. Stairs, of the Province of Nova Scotia; and Alexander Jardine, of the Province of New Brunswick; with Samuel Keefer as Secretary; having been appointed by the Privy Council of the Dominion of Canada, a "commission with instructions to institute a thorough inquiry into the whole subject in all its bearings, both in a commercial and engineering point of view, with the object of obtaining such reliable information as may furnish the data on which to base a plan for the improvement of the canal system of the Dominion."

They, therefore, respectfully request you to reply to the following questions in as full and complete a manner as possible, and to offer such further suggestions on the subjects referred to as may occur to you.

It is requisite for the purposes of the commission, that your communications, addressed to the Secretary, should be in Ottawa on or before the 20th December proximo. We have the honor to be, your obedient servants,

Hugh Allan, Chairman

Countersigned, Samuel Keefer, Secretary

With reference to the improvement of the Inland Navigation of the Dominion, the Commissioners appointed by the Government to take the subject into consideration, desire to obtain information on the following and all other points bearing on the commercial (apart from the engineering) aspects of the question from Boards of Trade and individual interests in this navigation:-


1. To what extent should the Welland Canal be enlarged, viz: - To what depth of water, to what width of locks, and to what length of chambers between the gates?

2. What is the most suitable size of vessels, with reference to the general capabilities of the navigation, in order to carry produce from Chicago to any port on Lake Ontario, on the most economical terms, and which kind - whether steam or sail vessels - are likely to be the most suitable?

3. What classes and sizes of vessels, whether steam or sail, are now employed in the trade between Chicago and Buffalo, and between ports on Lakes Superior, Erie and Michigan?

4. Is there any difference between the average cost of carrying grain from Chicago to Kingston and Oswego? If so, is it in any way owing to a relative scarcity of Canadian bottoms or to the navigation laws of the United States or from what other cause?

5. What reduction per bushel in the rates of freight from Chicago to Kingston and Oswego would result from the enlargement of the Welland Canal to the capacity of the largest class of vessels now carrying from Chicago or Milwaukee to Buffalo?

6. What is the average difference, for the last three years, in the rates of freight from Chicago to Buffalo, and Kingston or Oswego?

7. What is the average difference, for the last three years, in the rates of freight between Buffalo and New York, and between Oswego and New York?

8. What difference in the demand for Sea or American salt, and steam or other coal, would result from the employment of the largest class of American vessels on the Upper Lakes in the Kingston trade?

9. What have been the relative rates, for three years, of freight from Chicago to Montreal, and Chicago to New York - distinguishing between the Summer rates and the Winter rates?

10. Has there been, during the past twenty years, any increase in the relative number of any one class of carrying vessels?

11. What are the dimensions, power and tonnage capacity of the largest propellers now doing profitable business on the upper lakes?

12. Viewing time, insurance and interest as elements of cost, can propellers carry freight between Chicago and Kingston as cheaply as sailing vessels - or can they carry at less cost?

13. What is the cost, and what are the daily working expenses of a sailing vessel of 500 tons capacity?

14. What is the cost, and what are the daily working expenses of a sailing vessel of 1,000 tons capacity?

15. What is the cost, and what are the daily working expenses of a propeller of 500 tons capacity?

16. What is the cost, and what are the daily working expenses of a propeller of 1,000 tons capacity?


1. Is it your opinion that the carrying of produce from the west can be best and most economically performed by the vessels which navigate the lakes proceeding through the canals to their destination, or by the transhipment at Kingston of their cargoes into barges specially adapted for canal transportation, and what would be the difference of cost between the two systems?

2. In the event of the barge transportation being preferred, to what extent, in your opinion, is it desirable to increase the length, breadth and depth of the locks?

3. Are there any points on the canals, or connected with the canal navigation, which in your opinion can be materially improved, so as to facilitate the passage of carrying produce through the canals?

4. What is the bushel capacity of the largest barges navigating the St. Lawrence and Lachine Canals?

5. Can such capacity be advantageously increased, without increasing the size of the present locks?

6. What has been the average rate of freight for the last three years for the carriage of wheat and flour from Kingston to Montreal and to Quebec, and by what class of vessels carried?

7. Is it practicable or advisable to enlarge the St. Lawrence Canals and deepen the Upper St. Lawrence River to the extent necessary to enable ocean vessels, drawing 16 feet or over, to navigate from the ocean to the upper lakes?

8. Are there many vessels carrying Canadian products, drawing 16 feet or less, employed in the transatlantic trade, and is the number of such vessels increasing or diminishing, if either, from what cause?

9. Can vessels adapted for ocean navigation compete successfully with barges and other vessels usually employed on the carrying trade on the lakes, canals and rivers?

10. Is it your opinion that schooners or other vessels, built to navigate the lakes or inland rivers of the Dominion, can compete successfully in the trade to Europe with vessels specially adapted to ocean navigation?

11. Are there any harbours on Lake Ontario which have sufficient water to accommodate ocean going vessels drawing 16 feet of water, or over?


12. Do you find the lower entrance lock from the Canal Basin sufficient for the purposes of the trade, or is it attended with delay - and, if so, to what extent?

13. Would it be advisable that the former entrance to the Canal should be reopened, and the locks enlarged so as to admit a second entrance to the Canal.


1. Can you give the Commissioners any information as the nature and locality of the obstructions which exist in the channel of the River St. Lawrence from Prescott to Montreal, for the downward passage of vessels independent of the Canals?

2. Can you offer any suggestions to the Commissioners as to the best means of improving the navigation of the river itself, irrespective of the canals?


1. Is it your opinion that the business of this canal is of sufficient importance to warrant any outlay for improvements?

2. Is the canal sufficient for the present trade passing through it?

3. Are there any obstructions to the navigation of the canal that can be easily removed?

4. Is the supply of water from the summit sufficient for the present requirements of navigation on the Canal? If not, what means can be adopted to increase it?


1. Of what benefit to the trade of the Dominion would be the construction of this canal, and what class of vessels would be most likely to use it?

2. Would the construction of this canal be of any advantage to vessels engaged in the carrying trade between Kingston and the Western ports?

3. Would the probable revenue to be derived from tolls on this proposed canal be sufficient to pay interest on the cost of its construction?

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Dec. 1, 1870
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Rick Neilson
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Daily News (Kingston, ON), Dec. 1, 1870