The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), April 13, 1874

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p.1 Canal Enlargement

To the Editor of the Daily News.

The Public Works Department at Ottawa is now, or shortly will be, in possession of the answers requested in its circular of a late date as to the advisability of deepening the St. Lawrence Canals, and there is no doubt that the the great majority of those answers will prove to have been given in favor of the immediate prosecution of this vitally important work - vital in importance to the whole Dominion, and a matter of great moment to the City of Kingston.

As your readers are aware, the Welland Canal, which has now a depth of only ten feet, is being enlarged to a depth of twelve feet, with a corresponding increase in breadth and size of locks. This enlargement of the Welland Canal has been necessitated by the great increase of traffic - not Canadian traffic alone, but Canadian and American combined - for had we to meet the requirements of the former only, no enlargement would be necessary for years to come; but we have wisely provided facilities which bring American trade into our channels, and as the great West increases its production of grain, so, if we desire to keep the trade with us, we must correspondingly increase the capacity of our canals. It is not necessary, I think, to advance any arguments to prove that the carrying trade of a country is one of its chief sources of profit. Witness the merchantile marine of England. Granted, then, that it is of vital interest to the Dominion that it should possess as much as possible the carrying trade from the West to the seaboard, it only remains to be considered whether it is necessary to this end to enlarge the St. Lawrence Canals and remove obstructions from the river channels between Kingston and Montreal, and thus secure a uniform depth of not less than twelve feet from the head of ocean navigation to Lake Erie.

To be convinced that it is immediately necessary we have but to bear in mind that for the American portion of this trade we have in the cities of Buffalo and Chicago, backed by all the influence of New York, active competitors; and it will only be after providing greater facilities than the routes by these places possess that we can keep or extend our present American trade.

That the deepening of the St. Lawrence Canals would give us greater facilities, and therefore the advantage in the contest there can be no question; but if we stop half way - that is, if we only enlarge the Welland and leave the St. Lawrence Canals as they are, we do comparatively little to aid the present means of passing to and from tide-water by a Canadian route. Indeed, it seems to me we would only enrich Oswego and New York at the expense of Canada. Doubtless our Oswego friends are rejoicing over the improvements that are being effected on the Welland Canal, whereby so much more grain than formerly will reach Lake Ontario. They will of course put forth every effort to procure this increase of business, which our energy and expenditure of money will create. We must prevent this, however, by making as perfect as possible the great natural water way to the ocean we possess in the St. Lawrence River.

Just here the question of transhipment at Kingston arises. By some it is supposed that with the enlargement of the St. Lawrence Canals Kingston would cease to be a transhipping point; that vessels would proceed with their cargoes through to Montreal. I don't think that such would be the result; for the very good reason that the loss of time incident to sailing vessels canalling between Kingston and Montreal, and the great delay experienced by them discharging at the latter place would involve a greater loss of money to owners than the amount paid barges for river freight between these points. Kingston must remain the transhipping point for sailing vessels; and it matters not how great the growth of steam craft may be, sailing vessels will grow in equal proportion, each having different kinds of work to perform. It is of course to the former that the work in question will prove of the greatest advantage, as it will enable them to proceed through to Montreal without breaking bulk, and this to a shipper at Chicago or buyer at Montreal desirous of filling pressing orders from Europe is a matter of great importance. It is to fill these pressing European orders that steam at Chicago or Montreal gets the preference over sail, and how important it is that the Canadian route should provide the means of more rapid transit than either Buffalo or Oswego. With enlarged canals we can give the European buyer his grain at Montreal at a cheaper rate, and more quickly than any American route can deliver it at New York, besides giving him his choice of sail or steam as the market may require.

By increasing the trade from the West to Montreal we necessarily induce an increase of ocean tonnage to that point enabling importers in the West - in Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, and other places, to obtain cheap ocean freights, which give our propellers return cargoes. And let us but establish on a permanent footing this importing trade for the Western States by way of the St. Lawrence, and our capitalists may go on building vessels and propellers without limit.

I might refer to the great advantages Ontario and the Maritime Provinces will secure by the enlargement of the St. Lawrence Canals by enabling them to have a water communication of practical value for direct trade. To this part of the subject and others I have not touched upon, I may refer at an early date.

Yours, etc., J.W.J.

London, Ont. April 10th, 1874.

p.2 Marine Intelligence

The Opening of Navigation - The ice in the Upper Bay has at last given way, and the harbour is open from east to west for the season. On Saturday evening the tug Mixer towed out a large three-masted schooner, and proceeded westward, breaking up the ice. When off the Penitentiary her progress was very slow, and it was doubtful if she would not be obliged to return. However she persevered, and her perseverance was crowned by success. Yesterday morning, while the people were on their way to church, a large three-masted schooner passed along the front of the harbour with her sails set and flags flying - a magnificent sight. During the day a large number of vessels were in sight, and the steamer Watertown was out breaking up the ice in all directions. A few days of warm weather and a brisk south westerly wind will clear the harbour. This morning the ice appears to be moving down, and a broad belt of blue water can be seen beyond the ice, where it could not be seen yesterday.

Later - This afternoon the ice seems to be again fast, there being apparently no break in it. Vessels are still closed up, the ice being too strong to attempt to break through it. The following are the vessels which left yesterday and today. The schooner Oliver Mowat, Toledo, with a cargo of ice; schooners Denmark, Norway, Bismarck, and Henry Rooney for the Welland Canal. The prop. Columbia arrived from Gananoque on Saturday and proceeded to Toronto this morning before the ice closed. The following arrivals are reported: For Holcomb and Stewart - Schooner Two Brothers, Port Hope, 8,732 bushels fall wheat; Garibaldi, 8,349 bushels fall wheat, which were towed down by the harbour tug Mixer. The North Star also arrived from Port Hope with about 1,300 bushels of fall wheat for the Montreal Transportation Company.

The steamer Algerian, which is the old Bavarian rebuilt, will probably be ready for launching some day this week - the most of her machinery having been got in.

Port Colborne, April 13th - prop. Granite State, Toledo, Ogdensburg, general cargo; schrs. Sam Cook, Toledo, Oswego, wheat; Knight Templar, Chicago, Oswego, wheat; Lyman Casey, Toledo, Ogdensburg, wheat.

Up: schrs. M.L. Breck, Gleniffer; steambarges Glasgow, Belle Cross; schrs. Louisa, Elgin, M.C. Cameron, Antelope, Monticello; barges Lester, John Mark, Crawford, India; barque General Burnsides.

Wind northwest, fresh and freezing hard. Vessels going out.

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April 13, 1874
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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.
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Daily News (Kingston, ON), April 13, 1874