Abridged Report of the Board of Directors of the Welland Canal Company, for 1831.
The Directors are desirous to lay before the Stockholders, a statement of their proceedings for he past season.
The first object of their attention has been the termination of the canal in Lake Erie, and the directors examined the different bays on Lake Erie in person. They likewise obtained opinions, in writing, from Mr. Barret, their principal Engineer and Mr. Lewis, who were appointed to make the surveys of the different harbors. In addition to which John Warren, Esq., and John B. Yates, Esq., were selected on the part of the Board, in May, to again examined Gravelly bay, and at the ensuing meeting, after mature deliberation on the various topics connected with it, the Board unanimously resolved on adopting the route to Gravelly bay, now Port Colboun.
These surveys having occupied a long time the work was not put under contract until late in June, which together with the wetness of the season, has materially retarded its progress, and in consequence thereof, it will not be completed until the middle of next season.
As it was evident that advantage might be derived from having a harbor at the mouth of the Grand River also, from the acknowledged importance of its position, The Board authorized the expenditure of three thousands pounds for this purpose which, the Directors have good reason to believe, will not exceed the original estimate. The extent of the western pier is 600 feet, and it appears quite sufficient for the purpose intended, as the channel is of suitable depth for the navigation of the upper lakes.
Lake Erie was clear of ice above this port on the 10th of April, and the canal was likewise clear of ice at this period while the lower part of the lake remained closed until the 8th of May.
Notwithstanding the early preparation to do business, owners of property were deterred from giving it this direction to market. A rumor, encouraged and circulated, if not invented, by persons inimical to this work, that a slide of earth, had occurred at the deep cut, and filled up the Welland Canal, had obtained general currency. There was not sufficient time to correct this report, until the evil had been severely felt in the commencement of their operations. From the alteration of the level, (it being now raised sixteen feet higher) such an accident cannot happen again, but this was not then generally known; and many made arrangements to send their property by other channels.
No improvement having been made at the mouth of the Grand River, the harbour was not deemed sufficiently safe and in consequence of the want of confidence in the canal and harbour no previous preparations had been made by the merchants, to avail themselves of this route, although the inducement was great throughout the latter part of April, and beginning of May. But with the additional improvements made and now in progress, no apprehension need be entertained of a recurrence of such injurious impressions.
A great inconvenience, however, continues to injure the business of the canal; this arises from a dam thrown across the Grand River, near the rapids, which prevented the greater part of the internal trade by the Grand River from descending this route; this and other obstructions, will we trust, be remedied by granting a charter to a company to make it navigable as far as Brantford.
It must also be observed, that no craft were constructed suitable for the double voyage on both lakes, and for the canal navigation no regular lines of communication were formed between the different ports on lake Erie and Ontario; and only four or five boats were in readiness, to ply on the canal.
In addition to these impediments, a breach took place near the aqueduct in September, during the most active part of the season, which caused an interruption of one month.
The expenditure for the past season, is as follows:
|In payment of debts due various individuals, last year, as per Report,
|| £ 5,500.
|Do. On the work, which was in progress but not estimated,
|| £ 5,500
|| £ 11,000
|Contingencies, Engineers, salaries, &c.
||£ 2,436 14 4
|The expenditure during the past season, in finishing the main canal, and on the New route
||£ 11,172, 16 5
||£ 24,609,10 9
|There has likewise been expended, out of other funds,
|| £ 2,315,18 2
||£ 26,925,8 11
In order to deepen the canal from Port Robinson, to Gravelly bay for ship navigation, it was necessary to draw off the water as early as the 15th of November, which has materially interfered with the fall business. It will be again open the first of April for the ensuing season.
The canal has not only given an impetus to the general improvement of the country, but has created an actual increase in the value of property, far greater than the cost of its construction.
Trade and commerce are seeking new channels — vessels are in the course of building, adapted to its use — the demand for lumber far exceeds the supply, notwithstanding there are twelve saw-mills in operation on and contiguous to the line of canal — six grist-mills are built and in course of building, besides various other machinery — and a market is opened for most bulky and useful articles heretofore of little value.
During the past season three store-houses and a few scows were procured by the Company, for the purpose of forwarding; a line of communication was kept open from Port Dalhousie to Lake Erie, by means of a steam boat which plied regularly between Port Robinson and Buffalo, and answered the double purpose of towing vessels up the Niagara river, and conveying produce from the American side; a line of packet or freight boats was likewise in operation between Port Robinson and Dunnville — thus forming almost a daily communication between Buffalo, Grand river, and Port Dalhousie.
Within the past season there has been transported on the canal, the following quantity of produce, Viz:
30,081 barrels Flour, 8,600 Pork and Lard, 1,795 Whiskey and High-wines, 2,600 Ashes, 210,104 3-4 bushels Wheat, 412 1-2 casks Tobacco, 91 kegs Do, 137,718 Staves, 986,888 feet Boards, 4,178 Saw-logs, 28,500 feet square Timber, 14,182 barrels Salt, 736 tons 13 cwt. 2 Qrs. 2 lbs. Merchandise.
Miscellaneous articles, such as Potatoes, Butter, Cheese, Grass-seed, Vinegar, Oysters, barrels Fish, Biscuit, and various other items, are not included in the above.
There has passed over the portage at Queenston, this season —
65,000 bushels Wheat, 11,035 barrels Flour, 650 Ashes, 4,199 Pork and Lard, 300 hhds. Tobacco, 105 kegs. Do, 2,00 feet Walnut boards, 450 tons Merchandise.
Thus it appears that there has passed between the lakes, altogether, the present season ---
41,116 barrels Flour, 12,139 Pork and Lard, 1795 Whiskey and High-wines, 3,250 Ashes, 712 1-2 hhgs. Tobacco, 196 kegs Do, 275,104 3-4 bushels Wheat, 137,718 Staves, 988,888 feet Boards, 4,187 Saw-logs, 28,500 feet square Timber, 14,182 barrels Salt, 1,186 tons 14 cwt. 2 Qrs. 2 lbs Merchandise.
Which, at our present rate of toll, admitted by all to be moderate, would amount to £4,150.
It appears that in 1829, the quantity passing between those lakes was nearly as follows:
270 tons Merchandise, 5,595 barrels Flour, 453 Pork, 520 Whiskey and High-wines, 476 Ashes, 508 hhds. and 765 kegs Tobacco, 97 barrels Hickory Nuts, 5 Tallow, 5 Feathers, 23 casks Bees Wax, 97 kegs Butter and Lard, 2,148 bushels Wheat.
Which would amount to the sum of £375 to £400, which shows an increase in two years of more than 1,000 per cent. From these data we have good reason to infer, that the business created by the canal during the next two years will improve in a much greater proportion.
In submitting this statement the Directors are able to state, that the increase alluded to is exclusive of the new York trade scarcely a ton of which passed this route last season. The transit is wholly from Upper Canada, and to and from Oswego — principally wheat down, and salt up.
It was never anticipated that this work would remunerate the Stockholders without drawing a portion of the trade of Ohio to and from the New York market. The experience of the first season proves a far more favorable result.
The emigration to the western part of the province next year, we have reason to believe, will be great. This will continue with a rapidity heretofore unexampled; and in a few years the fruits of their industry will form no inconsiderable in the general increase of that flourishing part of the country.
The Ohio canal will be finished through the next year. New commercial houses are forming in Cleveland and other parts of Ohio, in connection with those of Oswego, Ogdensburg and Montreal. We have assurances of a regular line of vessels being formed between Oswego and Cleveland, to commence early in the season — which, when brought fairly into operation, cannot fail to draw a portion of the transit of Ohio, Michigan, and the country bordering on these western waters, (which are rapidly and steadily increasing) to and from the New York market.
In another season three different channels will be open between the lakes.
John Henry Dunn, Pres. A. MacDonnell, Vice pres.
T. Butler; Robert Randall; J. Warren; W. Allen, Directors.
Welland Canal Office.
St. Catharines, Dec. 31, 1831.