The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), April 19, 1873

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To the Editor of the Daily News;

Sir, - There are strong reasons why the Kingston and Pembroke Railroad should not terminate at the end of the bridge, although the station or offices may very conveniently be located in that vicinity.

One very plain reason is that the water of the harbour is too shallow there, even for the description of vessels at present navigating our waters; besides, within a few years, on the completion of the deepening of the Welland Canal, vessels of a greater draft of water will be frequenting our harbour. If twelve feet is to be the depth on the sills in the canal, fourteen feet would be required at least in waters liable to commotion by strong waters; and this depth cannot be obtained uniformly near the bridge and on the entrance towards it, without the very expensive operation of blasting.

No doubt the harbour east of the bridge is quite appropriate for some part of the business expected to arise from the construction of this road, such as the rafting of such timber as may require that process, and the shipment on vessels of light draught of water of such lumber and ore as may be destined on short trips to Cape Vincent or Oswego, but large vessels from Chicago or Cleveland could not go for their return freight of lumber or ore to the end of the bridge.

Let the track be continued to the westerly extremity of the business portion of the city along Ontario street, thus fulfilling the original intention of connecting Pembroke with the navigable portion of our harbour, and justice will be done to the city and to the shipping interest, and the result will be advantageous to the stockholders of the company.

The citizens of Kingston have already paid their share of the very large bonus to the Grand Trunk Road, which computed at compound interest would by this time fall little short of the amount paid to the Pembroke Road, and yet instead of deriving benefit therefrom, it has sustained loss, by the construction of the road and its station, nearly two miles from the centre of the city, at the extreme limit thereof, and now the city is called on for another bonus that they may obtain their original right, the station and road brought more within the city proper.

If the people are disposed to submit to such another evasion of their rights, within a few years they may be called upon to extend this track at their own costs, that the original design may be fulfilled; namely to fairly connect the Kingston and Pembroke Road with the navigable water of the harbour; not in the proximity of intricate shoals.

Some may say that this is an unusual thing to have the waters so low; - there is some truth in the saying; - but it were surely more prudent to provide for the worst that may happen, and when the city has done its duty in handing over their debentures, it can hardly be doubted that our portion of the Board of Directors will see that the real value implied in the transaction is in return afforded.

Many are of opinion that a gradual lowering of the waters of the Lakes and St. Lawrence is, from year to year taking place, from the drying up of the tributary streams, consequent on the settlement and clearing of the western territories, and this opinion seems to be borne out by observations made in the harbour of Toronto, during a period of nineteen years, ending in 1872, quoted from the Mail of 14th inst., below.

Harbor Water-Marks -The water-guage at the Queen's Wharf indicates the volume of water in the harbour at present to be nine feet nine inches in depth, being over a foot higher than it was this time last year. By the appended table, which gives the highest, lowest and average water-marks for the last ten years, the datum level or zero being nine feet, it will be seen that last year the average was unusually low:-

Year Average Inches Highest Inches Lowest Inches

1854 22.58 above 36.50 above 6.00 above

1855 17.83 29.75 1.00

1856 20.00 32.50 4.50

1857 27.83 43.50 1.50

1858 33.66 44.00 17.50

1859 28.25 43.00 12.50

1860 17.00 24.50 11.00

1861 27.00 39.00 9.00

1862 26.66 43.50 8.00

1863 20.66 34.50 8.00

1864 18.33 35.50 4.00

1865 15.00 30.00 Datum level

1866 10.00 20.00 7.00 below

1867 19.00 38.00 5.00

1868 4.60 17.00 12.00

1869 15.60 27.00 2.00

1870 28.66 47.00 12.00 above

1871 12.00 26.00 6.50 below

1872 4.16 below 3.25 16.50

The average level would be nineteen inches above the datum of nine feet - ten years being above this average, eight years below, and one year, 1867, at this level. The difference of level between high and low water, 63 1/2 inches.

If we add up in the column of average for the first nine years the amount will be 220.81, then the last nine years deducting the last 4.16 below, the amount will be 119.03, which deducted from the amount of the first period leaves a difference of 101.78 in., denoting this much of a lowering of the water, and may be considered as having reference to our harbour; and an admonition not to terminate our track at the shallow part of our harbour, as the consequences of doing so would, in the no distant future, prove highly disadvantageous to the interests of the city.

Kingston, April 17th An Old Mariner

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April 19, 1873
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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 19, 1873