The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), March 10, 1876

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p.2 The Ice Trade - The Toledo gentleman who has been here for some time getting out ice for that port has left for home, having succeeded in getting out all he could find vessels for.

Calvin and Breck

"Nemo," the intelligent correspondent of the Central Canadian Herald, Carleton Place, furnishes that paper with the following well written notice of this remarkable firm:

The name of the firm which I place at the head of this paragraph has more than a provincial reputation, and hence there is no necessity for me to enter into any preliminary explanations. For more than thirty years the senior member has been actively engaged in the shipping business, having associated with him, first Hiram Cook, and later his brother-in-law, Ira Breck, Esq. Garden Island, the scene of their operations, is a small piece of land, scarcely seventy acres in all, lying nearly midway between Kingston and Wolfe Island. Here the whole appliances for carrying on their extensive business are concentrated, and the number of employees with their families make it a very thickly settled community. In fact the greater portion of the island is a well regulated village, the residences being generally uniform in size and construction, and cleanly and neatly arranged. It also constitutes a distinct municipality, having a Council with the usual officers and functions. D.D. Calvin, Esq., "the laird of the realm," is Reeve in perpetuity, and has also been Warden of the County, Representative in the Provincial Parliament, etc. A man who could build up such a gigantic business, and so successfully carry on the enterprise in the face of strong opposition, was credited with the possession of sound common sense, and capable of discharging other responsibilities with equal success. Total abstinence has been the rule of this firm for many years, not a drop of spirituous liquors being sold on the island, or permitted there if known. The consequence is that drunkenness and its concomitant evils are and have been unknown, and work proceeds steadily in every department. A large number of French Canadians are employed in rafting timber and staves, and sometimes a holiday exposes them to temptations which bring them before the Cadi. If their first offence, and they are valuable workmen, a reprimand and caution are administered and the delinquents sent to their posts; but if a second or third offence, or the parties show careless dispositions, immediate dismissal is the result. There is no trifling grievous offences, and as a consequence the wish of the Chief becomes the supreme law. I did not desire to insinuate that anything like arbitrary measures are adopted in the social government, for nothing could be further than this from the actual facts. With regard to the use of liquors, and all species of gambling and rowdyism, there is little or no extenuation, but the more harmless and desirable kinds of amusement and recreations are carefully provided and made available. Both members of the firm and their accomplished families live on the island, and freely associate with their employees. An efficient school is liberally supported, and Church accommodations are ample. There are also different Lodges well patronized, and all the paraphernalia of a civilized and progressive community are to be found. The firm owns about twenty first-class vessels of the largest size, besides a number of smaller crafts, and twelve or fifteen steam tug boats of powerful construction. A shipyard, where all their vessels are constructed is constantly maintained. At present they are building a ship intended solely for the ocean trade in connection with their own business. I am informed notwithstanding the hard times the coming season will be more than usually active with them, as preparations are being made to nearly double the capacity usually accomplished. A visit to the island anytime during the busy season is always interesting, and any information desired is cheerfully and courteously given.

Navigation of 1876

In looking to the opening of navigation and the state of the shipping interest on the lakes, it may be interesting to many to contrast the last two years' business with previous seasons of hard times and low rates. In 1857 the spring statement of prospects of freight for the year was very discouraging. The spring report says: "We are struck with the general depression; less than one-third of all class steamers and vessels will be fitted out." That year on the opening of navigation in Chicago there were stored 32,000 barrels of flour and 552,000 bushels of grain. Contrast this with the present quantity of over 6,000,000 bushels now in store. Freights from Chicago to Kingston were, in that year, 5 1/2 cents, to Montreal, 10 cents.

In 1860 freights opened to Montreal at 7 cts. on wheat and 30 cts. on flour from Toronto, and were good owing to the large harvest of the previous year and a demand for home consumption. Freights were also 4 cents on wheat to Kingston.

Then commenced a change for the better, and in the fall of that season rates advanced enormously; vessels got as high as 17 1/2 cts. from Chicago to Buffalo, and 30 cts. to Oswego. The barque Great West carrying 30,000 bushels, had a freight bill of $5,550 in one trip from Chicago to Buffalo, and a cargo which would in 1875 have amounted to only $750. As high as 28 cents was paid from Chicago to Kingston in 1860 and 32 cts. to Oswego before the close of navigation.

The year 1861 was a good one, but not as remunerative as 1860. From that year to 1865 vessels paid well as a rule, but the latter was a poor season. In 1868 the freight from Toronto to Montreal averaged 25 cts. for flour; 7 cts. for wheat, and wheat to Kingston or Oswego 2 1/2 cents.

In 1873 dullness prevailed in the shipping business. At the opening of navigation rates were not very remunerative; but in September an advance was made, and as high as 24 cents was paid from Chicago to Kingston; rates then dropped to 12 1/2 cts.

In 1874, freights were offered from Chicago to Kingston during the winter at 10 cts. and to Buffalo at 7 cts. In May they were quoted at 4 1/2 cts. to Buffalo, 7 cts. to Kingston, and 8 cts. to Prescott from Chicago.

In 1870, freights from Chicago to Buffalo were at one time as low as 1 3/4 cts. per bushel on oats, 2 1/4 cts. on wheat, and 2 cents on corn. From Chicago to Kingston they stood at 5 1/2 cts. on wheat, and 5 cts. on corn. From Chicago to Montreal corn was carried at 10 cents per bushel. These rates are the lowest ever known to be paid.

Notwithstanding the depression in trade there have been added to the Dominion list over 70 steamers with a tonnage of 11,000 tons, while 20 steamers have been taken off the list, less 4,000 tons; so the increase in tonnage on steamers is about 7,000 tons. The number of registered vessels in the Dominion is now 6,950, with 1,205,000 tonnage. Of this number Ontario has 825 vessels with 115,000 tonnage. [Mail]

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March 10, 1876
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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 10, 1876