The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), March 9, 1872

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p.1 ice shove at Collingwood destroyed breakwater, but lighthouse escaped.

-new steamer for Ottawa River Navigation Co. being constructed near Queen's Wharf.


We have recently drawn attention to the disgraceful state of the accommodation existing at Kingston owing to the shameful apathy of those who pretend to handle the grain at this port, and we feel it our duty as a public journalist, anxious for the prosperity of the city, to adduce a few facts in addition to those already brought forward, to show that we are not representing anything but the real facts in the case. We very much fear that in this, as in many other instances, the want of vitality is entirely owing to ourselves, and that when we have now a chance of retrieving our credit, and keeping a prosperous business which must pay if properly watched, we are going to throw away our greatest chance, and peril our very existence by obstinately refusing to take even the slightest precautions to accommodate a vast and ever increasing line of trade. What are the facts of the case? Last autumn it was no unusual sight to see some forty or fifty vessels lying in our harbour waiting for barges that would not come, and for crazy one horse elevators that would not work. When the regatta came off, our local contemporary asked the captains of these vessels to hoist their flags, and thus contribute to the general holiday appearance of our harbour. But although this was generally done the flags should have been at half-mast, and the rejoicing of those captains would have been real if a fleet of barges had rounded Point Frederick in the wake of the yachts. But none came, and the dreary days passed, swelled into weeks, and in some instances to months. And the usual consequences followed. Last year captains and owners refused cargoes to Kingston unless at rates as high sometimes as two cents a bushel over what was asked for Oswego. Could not any man with half an eye see that this is but the beginning of the end, and that if something is not done and done speedily for the unloading and discharge of vessels this year, we shall look in vain for a continuance of the trade, which more than any other must contribute to our prosperity as a maritime port? The men who handle the grain here must have made a large amount of money, and yet two firms paid, to our certain knowledge, $30,000 demurrage last season alone, even this of itself ought to produce some life, for when men are touched in their pockets, they are almost sure to find a way of relieving themselves, what this way shall be we leave it them to determine, but we fancy the profits accruing to these firms must have been handsome, or they will soon find that the business instead of being profitable will sink them in utter ruin. Our merchants are usually shrewd enough not to stand in their own light, and we hope for their own sakes they will wake up and do something to keep life and business in our harbour. We have no doubt, the fate of the Berry elevator here, may have deterred them from doing anything in that line, but the circumstances in that case were exceptional. The trade was then only in its infancy, and no man could foresee its early gigantic proportions. The war also diverted the business, and thus the elevator proved a failure. But can any sane man anticipate such a result again? The grain has to be moved, and will seek water communication, and it will be poor policy if we destroy all our chances for controlling a business which will continue as long as Europe consumes millions of bushels more than it can raise. We have often heard of the trade moving by way of St. Louis and New Orleans, and men have scouted the idea as absurd. But a little consideration will show that if grain can be carried in fast sailing steamers, the danger from any cause of heating will be lessened; and if it can be got to market by that route, while it would be lying in our harbour, if it took this, our keen business men know that the speediest route is the best, even if it be the longest and most dangerous. But all this can be prevented, and a secure trade fully developed here, if only proper means are taken to accommodate it. Let an elevator be at once commenced capable of holding as much as the Northern at Toronto, and then we can say to shippers and all concerned in the trade that we are ready for any amount of work. Our barges will then carry it away, and if a break occurs in any of our canals, it will not paralize the business, injuring not only the vessels, the city, the Western trade and even the producers on the prairies of the West. Let no delay then any longer keep us back. We surely have the men and the money. The day is at hand and who shall be the man? It is not a question of profit and loss merely, it is life with abundance, or death, without the decent pretext of exciting even the contempt of men who would under similar circumstances have studded our harbour with elevators such as grace the city of Oswego. Who will come forward to redeem the good name of our city from disgrace and utter ruin?

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March 9, 1872
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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), March 9, 1872