The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), 5 April 1853

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Spring Walk

It has been too much the custom to underrate the commercial importance of good old Kingston. Let any one walk through the city at the present time, and he will see enough to convince him that Kingston is one of the busiest places in all Canada; and that if any other city, town, or village does surpass it, it must be prosperous indeed. Not merely along the docks, slips, wharves and building yards is the "busy hum of preparation" heard, but in every other part all is activity and bustle. Houses are being put up; factories are being built; streets laid out; and every other indication seen of happy and prosperous times. Each mechanic is hard at work, with the best of wages, and hundreds more could get employment would they but come hither.--Nothing like "ruin and decay" about this city: --on the contrary, Kingston bids fair, from its present promising aspects, to be the commercial capital of the upper country. It shall be the task of the present month, to walk through the city, to look on everything with a fair impartial eye, and to tell the public what we see and are told. And all this through the old fashioned medium of a "Spring Walk." And first of all let us walk into Mr. Counter's Ship Yard and Marine Railway.

In this bustling place upwards of two hundred men are actively engaged in building one steamboat, repairing two others, (on the Railway;) in building two large ships and one schooner, and in sundry other minor matters. The new steamboat is a large, flat bottomed vessel, upwards of three hundred feet long, with proportionate width, intended for a Canal Ferry Boat, between Kingston and Cape Vincent, via Wolfe Island Canal. [John Counter] This vessel is ready to receive her machinery, now making at the Kingston Foundry, and will be fit for business when the Canal is completed. The two large vessels building are nearly ready for launching; are upwards of 350 tons burthen each, and of a non-descript rig, being neither ships, barks, nor three-masted schooners. One is building for Capt. Gaskin, and is so good a vessel as to cost more than £4000. She is intended to make her first voyage to Europe, where in all probability she will be sold. Should Capt. Gaskin succeed in taking here there with a good cargo, and selling her, and both projects are quite feasible, the province will be under deep obligations to him, for he will have opened a new trade, which the ship-builders of Quebec have taken proper advantage of for many years past. The other large ship is building for Mr. Wm. Ferguson, (the merchant) and is almost as fine a vessel as Capt. Gaskin's; and the schooner, a fine craft, capable of carrying 3000 barrels,. is intended for Mr. Meyers, of the Trent. The steamers on the Railway are the Hibernia and the Lord Elgin both large freight vessels for the trade between Montreal and Port Sarnia. In front of the Railway dock are, or rather were, a dozen or more of various kinds of craft, all getting ready for a start, many of which, by the time this sees the eye of the reader, will be probably taking in a return cargo at the head of the lake. So busy is Mr. Counter in his building yard and Marine Railway, that his engagements are ten deep, and the moment, by launching, room is made for other vessels, so soon will other vessels come on the Railway, and the frames of new vessels be set up.

Lying contiguous to the Marine Railway is the steamer Princess Victoria, and her four barges, belonging to Mr. Donald McIntosh, the Forwarder. For two years past this well known steamboat has been employed as a tug between Quebec and Kingston, in bringing up to Kingston Railroad Iron, which Mr. McIntosh forwards to the upper country in sailing vessels. The old Princess is a remarkable vessel--she is like my grandfather's knife, three new blades and two new handles; and in all probability will last for ever. Late last winter she took down to Quebec and brought up cargoes, her four barges deeply laden both ways, just one week after every other vessel had been laid up for the season. In all probability, from the care taken to preserve her, the Princess Victoria, is as sound and as sea-worthy now as she was twenty years ago.

Above the Railway, near the Light house Wharf, lies the steamer Champion, fitting out by her old commander Capt. Marshall. For two seasons, this beautiful vessel made one of the "Through Line," and was Champion of the fleet. But this line not paying sufficiently well, she and two others, the Highlander and May Flower, have been sold to a confederation, called the Watertown, Cape Vincent and Canada Steamboat Company, in which the old owners are presumed to retain a large interest. This Company will have its Chief Offices at Cape Vincent, with local agents in every large Port on the lake. Mr. Stark, late of Ogdensburgh, is the Manger of the Company, and stops at the Cape. The vessels of the new Company are to run in connection with the Rome and Watertown Railroad, and to make daily trips to Hamilton, touching at Kingston and other places. Nothing can exhibit more the state of commercial feeling between Upper Canada and the State of New York, than to see an open co-partnership between the subjects of different nations, subject to different laws. The Mayflower, Capt. Patterson, fitted out at Hatter's Bay, and the Highlander, Capt. Stearns, fitted out at Prescott, are in an equal state of readiness with the Champion; and in all probability are by this time at their work, for the new Company have immediate necessity for their presence.

The Editor intends to take his time in his "Walk" this year, and not do things in a hurry; consequently, any suggestions of use to the public will be thankfully received by him, and due notice taken thereof.

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5 April 1853
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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 British Whig (Kingston, ON), 5 April 1853