The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Montreal Gazette (Montreal, QC), May 15, 1843

Full Text


From the Detroit Daily Advertiser.


With the immense business which is destined to be done in our lakes, that of the fisheries, should not be overlooked, as it has already become a considerable item in our exports. The number and variety of fish taken, are worthy of notice; and it is stated that no fresh waters known, can, in any respect, bear a comparison.

From the earliest period of the settlement on the shores of the lakes, fishing has been carried on to supply the inhabitants with a part of their food, but not until within the past five years have they become an article of export. Since that time the business has rapidly increased. The number of barrels taken, so far as information can be gathered, in 1835, was 8,000, and in 1840 it reached 32,005 barrels.

The weight to which some of the fish attain, is unparalleled, except on the Mississippi, as follows:

Names of Fish Greatest weight. Average.

Sturgeon 120 lbs. 70 lbs.

Trout 60 lbs. 10 to 20

Muskelunge 40 " 10 to 15

Mullet 10 " 3 to 6

White Fish 2 to 3

Do., at Sault Ste. Marie 4 to 5

Perch 1 "

Roach 1 "

Black Bass 2 to 3

Bill Fish 6 to 8

Cat Fish 10 to 20

Sisquoette 8 to 10

The varieties usually taken for pickling are, Trout, Pickerel, White Fish and Sisquoette; the latter, however, is only to be found in Lake Superior.

Since the projected canal at the Sault Ste. Marie has been suspended, Yankee enterprize, at great expense, in the absence of artificial locks, has surmounted the difficulty in getting over the Falls, leading from Lake Michigan to Lake Superior; and within the two past years, two vessels, by means of slides, rollers, etc., have reached the upper Lake. One of them is owned by J.L. Ankrim and others, and the other by a Cleveland company.

Three vessels have also been built on Lake Superior by the American Fur Company. The two former vessels will hereafter be engaged in the fishing trade, in freighting salt provisions, etc., to various points on the lakes, and returning with fish. Heretofore the American Fur Company have monopolized the trade. This will open a new era in the upper lake fisheries, as they are said to be inexhaustible.

From the following table, of the amount barrelled, which was obtained from various sources, the rapid increases of the business will be seen:-

1836 1837 1840

Lake Superior 2,000 5,500 10,000

Mackinac 1,200 800 4,000

Sault Ste. Marie 300 600 2,555

Green Bay 600

Various points on Lake Huron 500

Fort Gratiot 3,100 4,100 3,000

Shores of Lake Huron 500 600

On Detroit River 4,000 2,500 3,550

Shores of Sanilac County 500

St. Clair River 1,000

Drummond's Island 800

Twin Rivers 1,500

Mouth Mannistee River 1,000

do. Sheboygan River 275

Racine River 125

Saginaw Bay 500

Thunder Bay 500

South Saginaw Bay 500

Number of barrels 12,000 14,100 32,005

The average price of fish per barrel, for the five past years in this city is $8, which gives a total value of the business in 1840, at $256,040. Thus in its infancy, it adds this amount annually, to the wealth of Michigan; gives employment to a great number of persons; and allowing 600 barrels as freight for a vessel, it would require fifty-four to transport the article to market. Its importance in augmenting the wealth of the West, particularly in a few years, when the business is more extensively pursued, is not surpassed by any other species of traffic, and presents a marked example of productive labour.

There is one obstacle in connection with it, that should be removed. The British side of the Lake also abounds in fine fishing grounds, but in consequence of a duty of $1 per barrel which our Government impose on fish taken in British waters, but little has been done. It is to be hoped our Senators and Representatives in Congress, will bring forward the subject at the present Session, and allow American fishermen, on American bottoms, to enter American ports free of duty. S.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Original:
May 15, 1843
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Rick Neilson
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
WWW address
Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.

Montreal Gazette (Montreal, QC), May 15, 1843