COMMERCE AND LOCOMOTION ON THE LAKES.
The navigation of the lakes and river, is now quite open for the season. The steamers employed are of a superior class, well equipped and commanded by experienced masters. Their accommodation for freight and passengers are inferior to none in America. The route between the Niagara River and Toronto, is, as usual, taken up by Captain Richardson, who has for years been very favourably known to the public; the splendid steamer at present plying on this route, is the Chief Justice Robinson. In a short time, there will be another of Capt. Richardson's steamers placed upon this route - the Transit, Capt. Hugh Richardson, junior, which will be an additional convenience to travellers. A steamer will then leave Toronto for Niagara, every morning and afternoon; and, also, there will be one from Lewiston, Queenston, and Niagara, for Toronto, every morning and afternoon. A third of Captain Richardson's favourite steamers has been placed upon the same route between the Niagara River and Hamilton, plying daily between those places, viz. the Queen Victoria, Captain Henry Richardson. As there is no steamer at present on the route between Toronto and Oswego, freight and passengers for Canada are forwarded from Oswego to Niagara by the United States daily line of steamers, and transhipped for Toronto and Hamilton by Captain Richardson's vessels, above named. The communication by water, between Toronto and Hamilton, is kept up daily, as usual, by the steamer Eclipse, Capt. John Gordon. Both vessel and captain are familiar to the public, having been generally employed upon this route, and noted for furnishing every comfort necessary to travellers. The hours of arrival and departure of these steamers are so arranged that passengers by the morning boats from Niagara and Hamilton arrive at Toronto in time to take their passage, the same day, by the Royal Mail Line for Kingston, and proceed thence for Montreal without delay. The passengers upwards, from Kingston, by the Royal Mail Line, arrive at Toronto, daily, in time to proceed by the afternoon boats, for Niagara and Hamilton, without delay at Toronto. The Royal Mail Line of steamers between Toronto and Kingston, we have frequently mentioned, as being of a very superior class, and it is unnecessary to repeat here, any thing in their praise. They are regarded by all as the finest vessels that have ever navigated the waters of Ontario. On the route between Toronto and Rochester, the steamer America, Captain Twohy, plies regularly, three times a week. This is also a favourite vessel, and her commander is at all times exceedingly attentive to his duties and courteous to passengers. This route is the most direct for New York from Toronto, and the travel by it considerable.
The vessels which we have enumerated afford the most comfortable and convenient means of travelling, from all parts of Lake Ontario (with the exception of the Bay of Quinte,) to Kingston, that could possibly be desired. Upon the Bay of Quinte there is a superior line of steamers plying daily, to and from, between the river Trent, at the head of the bay, and Kingston, calling at all the intermediate ports on the Bay. These vessels connect with the daily line from Kingston to Toronto, and from Kingston to Montreal.
Between Kingston and Montreal, with the improvement of the navigation of the St. Lawrence, there has been a corresponding improvement in the means provided for the conveyance of passengers, by steamers and stages. The principal part of the route is gone over by steam; and that portion of it which is travelled by stage is rendered easy and agreeable by the improvement of the roads. This is probably the most enticing ramble for the tourist in the province, and it has been judiciously arranged that the rapids of the St. Lawrence and the Thousand Islands will be passed by day light, to afford travellers an opportunity of viewing the beautiful and picturesque scenery. The Hon. John Hamilton is the owner of these steamers and stages, - a sufficient guarantee, that they will be at all times well provided, and every attention paid to passengers.
Having said so much in favour of the means of travelling on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence, we have a word to say on behalf of that numerous class, denominated by Brother Jonathan, "the travelling community." The rates of fare are exceedingly high, when compared with those charged in other places, and freights are high also. This has been often complained of, and it would add considerably to the popularity of the various proprietors, if a reduction were agreed upon. It is true they complain that the amount of travel is not sufficiently great to warrant this reduction; but there can be no doubt the travel would increase were the reduction made.....
It was confidently expected that the Welland Canal would be opened on the 1st of May, and great preparations were accordingly made for celebrating the event; but the operations were retarded by the late rains, and the opening has consequently been postponed until the 13th instant, by which time every thing will be in readiness, and the celebration, on a grand scale, will take place on the canal upon the 13th and 14th instant. When this canal is opened, the navigation from the Ocean to the Great Western Lakes will be uninterrupted. The fleet of merchant steamers on Lake Erie belonging to Canadian owners has been always very small, compared with that possessed by citizens of the United States; but the surplus products of the Canadian territory bordering on and beyond Lake Erie have always been small, and their commercial importations limited, compared with the large amount of exports and imports going annually from and to the boundless western regions of the United States, whose settlements are every year increasing beyond computation. The commerce of these distant regions gives employment to the large fleet of steamers and sailing vessels kept up on Lake Erie by the citizens of Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, etc. etc. But the enlargement of the Welland Canal, the yearly increasing population of Western Canada, and the large amount of surplus produce, which must be the reward of the industrious farmers, whose fields are well cultivated, will bring into active motion the capital of enterprising persons, whose energies will be applied to the encouragement of the legitimate trade along the Canadian line of Lakes Erie and Huron. Indeed, it is encouraging to find that indications of improvement in this respect have been already shewn. The steamer Gore will be passed through the Welland Canal, from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie, and thence to Lake Huron, as soon as the canal is opened. The Gore is intended to ply between Detroit and Lake Huron, calling at the various ports along the Canadian shore. This will be a vast accommodation to the inhabitants of these new settlements.
A new steamboat, the London, built last season at Chippewa, is now plying on Lake Erie, calling at all the ports on the Canada side. She extends her trips to Detroit, and thence up the river Thames to the beautiful and thriving town of Chatham, in the County of Kent. There is, besides, the old favourite steamboat Brothers plying between Chatham and Amherstburgh; and the Kent (which formerly occupied the route now taken by the Brothers), takes the route between Buffalo and Detroit, calling, of course, at Amherstburgh and Windsor, on the Canada side. These are certainly evidences of improvement and prosperity - the rewards of honest industry which it is, in every respect, pleasing to record.
Besides the fleet of merchant steamers on our frontier waters, there is a large number of sailing vessels in constant employment, the property of Canadian owners.