The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), Aug. 8, 1876

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p.1 The Canadian Tonnage Tax

[Chicago Times]

The straits to which owners of vessels are driven by the present depression of business and low freights have led to a discovery to which many will hereafter be enabled to profit to the extent of upward of $100 annually. It is well known that American vessels trading in Canadian ports are required by law to pay the annual tonnage tax, dating from the first trip so made after the expiration of the twelve month limit. This tax falls more particularly upon the class of vessels known as canallers, whose grain cargoes are nearly all consigned to Kingston. As every dollar that can be saved, particularly in these times, proves of great benefit to the impoverished vessel-owners, a close inspection of the law in relation of revenues has led to the discovery that the payment of the tonnage tax can be evaded by simply taking out a clearance making an American port the final destination. In order to succeed in the evasion, however, it is necessary to deliver cargo, if it be only two or more barrels or sacks of flour, potatoes, or any miscellaneous freight. To test this matter satisfactorily the Captain of the schooner Surprise, which loaded here in June last, applied for and received a clearance and a cargo of grain consigned to Kingston, and five barrels flour consigned to Cape Vincent - the clearance making Cape Vincent the port of final destination, and thus enabling the vessel to escape the payment of the usual tonnage tax. The clearance was granted under the following section of the Navigation Laws of the United States: "Enrolled or licensed vessels departing from or arriving at a port in one collection district, to or from a port in another collection district, although touching at an intermediate foreign port, are exempt from payment of the usual entrance fees prescribed," etc., "and from the payment of tonnage tax; but in all cases an entry or clearance must be paid, as prescribed, etc." This provision of the law seemed very clear to Deputy-Collector Green, but in order to more fully satisfy himself and his superior officer, Collector Jones, he wrote to the Treasury Department, detailing the facts and asking for instructions. The letter elicited the following reply:

Treasure Department, June 14th - Sir, - The letter of your deputy of the 9th inst. is received, in which he reports that on the 6th inst. a clearance was granted by your office to the schooner Surprise, of Milwaukee, for Cape Vincent, N.Y., with a cargo of 13,883.40 bushels of wheat for Kingston, Canada, and five barrels of flour for the former port, the master acknowledging that the flour was taken on as a cargo only that he might obtain a coastwise clearance to Cape Vincent.

Your deputy expresses the opinion that the vessel that the vessel was entitled to a coastwise clearance under the laws governing the foreign and coasting trade on the northern, north-eastern, and northwestern frontiers; but, as such clearance to a domestic port for the very purpose of delivering a cargo at a foreign port without payment of tonnage tax may be generally adopted by masters of vessels employed on the lakes, and may seriously diminish the revenue from such tax, he submits the facts and inquiries whether there is any legal objection to clearances of this character.

(rest of column damaged)

p.2 The Mail Line - The Passport had a very large number of visitors this morning going down the river, and on every trip the vessels are crowded with tourists and others taking advantage of the warm weather to recuperate. The line is now run daily, so that there is large additional accommodation, which will not be greater than the exigencies of the route demand.

The Zephyr - The yacht Zephyr arrived from Belleville last night about eight o'clock after a fine run down the Bay, having left Belleville yesterday at noon. Her crew consists of Messrs. S. Greene, George F. Hope, E.P. Ponton, and S.S. Wallbridge. The Zephyr is on a two weeks' cruise down the river. She is a very handsome yacht of seven tons and is owned by Mr. Greene, who built her and fitted her up last year with his own hands. As the work of an amateur she is very creditable. Mr. Greene, who is a mute, is one of the Professors in the Deaf and Dumb Institute, Belleville.

Coal Oil Seizure - On Friday last we announced that a small vessel had been captured for a breach of the Customs' laws, in sailing from Kingston without her clearance papers. The same vessel got into trouble again this morning. The sloop Flirt, for that is her name, was boarded about three o'clock this morning by Mr. George Briggs, the recently appointed landing waiter, while off Howe Island, and he ordered her captain to return to Kingston, which he did. Arrived there, 10 barrels of American coal oil were taken out of the vessel, and conveyed to the Custom House yard, where it at present lies. The vessel was also tied up to await an investigation. Mr. Briggs had to threaten the skipper with a pistol before he would turn back. The sloop hails from Oswego, and it is suspected that she intended to land her oil at a point near Gananoque, where it could have easily been disposed of. Mr. Briggs deserves a good deal of credit for the capture.

Important Seizure

[Gananoque Reporter]

It having come to the knowledge of Mr. Ormiston, Collector of Customs at this port, that Canadian Lake vessels were in the habit of going into American ports for repairs and outfits, on which no duties were paid, he tried to check the illegal traffic. The Cambria, a large vessel owned at Windsor, and laden with deals for Liverpool, was the first to come under his notice, and having ascertained that she was fitted out with sails and rigging at Detroit, he went to Kingston to intercept her on her way to the salt water. He was disappointed in this, however, as she had passed down before he arrived; he then took the train for Montreal, getting in ahead of the Cambria, and made the seizure on her arrival. One of the owners happened to be in Montreal at the time, and he gave sufficient bonds for charges against the vessel, which was allowed to continue her voyage to Liverpool.

In following the matter up, it has been discovered that the aggregate amount paid during the past five years for sails, rigging and repairs, will not fall short of one million dollars, on which no duties have been paid or asked for. The custom has been to tow the vessels into some American port, and fit them out in the spring, and at such other times as repairs became necessary. Insurance Companies also have taken Canadian vessels damaged by storm or disaster into American ports for repairs, and then returned them to the Canadian owners. It is rather singular that such an immense trade could be done in defiance of the law, and at times when Canadian shipyards have been comparatively idle, without interference by the Collectors of Lake ports. The attention of the Department having now been called to it, there will probably be a change, and the law will be enforced. Much credit is due to Mr. Ormiston for his efforts.

Marine Notes

Port Colborne, Aug. 7th - Up - schooner Sea Gull, Hamilton, Cleveland, light; H. Roney, Kingston, Toledo, light; Mary Copley, Fair Haven, Chicago, coal; Jas. Norris, Toronto, Black River, light; J.R. Benson, Kingston, Bay City, light; prop. City of Toledo, Ogdensburg, Chicago, gen. cargo; Canada, Montreal, Fort William, light; Glasgow, Ogdensburg, Detroit, light; barge Eureka, Ogdensburg, Bay City, light; Albany, Ogdensburg, Bay City, light; India, Ogdensburg, Bay City, light.

Down - schr. New Dominion, Kincardine, Kingston, wheat; E.H. Rutherford, Cleveland, Toronto, coal; Clara Youell, Black River, Toronto, coal; D. Neelon, Rouley, Collinsby, timber; Northman, Leamington, Hamilton, ties; Geo. B. Sloan, Cleveland, Brockville, coal; Sweepstake, Toledo, Kingston, corn; Smith and Post, Detroit, Oswego, wheat; Montcalm, Bay City, Oswego, lumber; Wave Crest, Cleveland, Toronto, coal; C. Jeffrey, Cleveland, Toronto, coal; Jessie H. Breck, Bay City, Kingston, timber; Denmark, Bay City, Kingston, timber; New Dominion of Port Rowan, Port Elgin, Kingston, wheat; Alzora, Cleveland, Thorold, coal; Undine, Cleveland, Hamilton, gen. cargo; Montmorency, Detroit, Clayton, timber; G.W. Davis, Toledo, Kingston, corn; Erie Belle, Toledo, Kingston, corn; Watchful, Toledo, Kingston, corn; J.C. Woodruff; props. Armenia, Toledo, Montreal, gen. cargo; Garden City, Chicago, Ogdensburg, gen. cargo; Wm. Cowie, Alpena, Ogdensburg, lumber; Alma Munroe, Toledo, Montreal, gen. cargo; Scotia, Duluth, do., do.

In harbour - schrs. J. Norris, H. Roney, D. Sharp, Seagull.

p.3 Three Times A Week To Oswego and Rochester - Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Co. - Royal Mail and Express Line - gives list of steamers, captains, and schedule. Aug. 8th

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Aug. 8, 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), Aug. 8, 1876