The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), 27 April 1854

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Spring Walk

In running down from West to East, and slightly sketching the numerous Wharves of Kingston, it is not the present intention to say ought of the various Steamers which ply to them. By reason of the incompleteness of the arrangements, that task is reserved for a future "Walk."

The most western Wharves of the City are those at Mr. Morton's Distillery, and also in front of his new Cottages. These are three of four in number, are spacious and convenient, particularly the Cottage Wharf, with deep water alongside. They are used solely for Mr. Morton's private purposes, for the receiving of grain and lumber, and for the exportation of Beer, High Wines and Whiskey, and also, for the occasional loading of vessels with seasoned lumber for the American Market.

A long space intervenes between Mr. Morton's Wharves and that of the first business wharf, viz. that of Messrs. McQuaig, Brothers, near the old Lighthouse. In the Warehouse here, Flour and Grain are received and stored for transhipment, a business attended to in Kingston by Mr. Finlay McQuaig.

The several wharves of the Marine Railway are used by the vessels coming hither for repairs, save two, with adjoining warehouses, which are occupied by Mr. Donald Macintosh, the Quebec Forwarder; who, with his steamtug, the Princess Victoria, and his four large barges, continues to keep them full all the season. Mr Donald Macintosh is building two first class barges at Quebec, to increase his business, which consists chiefly in taking down to Quebec flour and grain, and bringing back Railroad Iron and other heavy commodities. It is a business which Mr. Donald Macintosh has found highly prosperous. Mr. Counter owns and occupies the adjoining long wharf and warehouse, and the magnificent range of stone stores leading to the wharf, and let to sundry persons connected with the Ontario Foundry. It was a great mistake to put up these stores.

The next Wharf eastward is the well known United States Wharf, occupied by Mr. Kinghorn. This is one of the best located and businesslike wharves in Kingston; it is very extensive, is built very solid, and the large warehouses on it are all fireproof. The Customs have a warehouse here s for this wharf is the chief depot of the American trade, all the regular U. S. Lake and River Steamers stopping here twice a day. It also enjoys a large portion of the Bay of Quinte Trade. Mr. John Carruthers, the wholesale merchant, has his warehouses on this wharf; and taken as a whole, the United States Wharf is second to none in Kingston for usefulness or amount of business done on it. During the past winter it has been greatly enlarged, and the ingress and egress made easy for the large steamers which continually ply to it. The slips on each side are capable of receiving and unloading half a dozen schooners at a time.

Mr. David Shaw, of the firm of Messrs. A. & D. Shaw, well known Wholesale Dry Goods men, a firm which recently purchased the whole of the late Mr. Garratt's Water Property in this neighborhood, has taken into his own hands this season the management and occupation of the next wharf and warehouse. To these convenient premises plies the steam Ferry Boat from Cape Vincent; consequently, it is here that persons expecting goods, via the Rome and Cape Vincent Railroad, must look for them. It is the intention of Messrs. A. & D. Shaw, sooner or later, to pull down the whole of the present extensive wooden buildings, and put up in lieu two ranges of massive stone erections, with three large wharves jutting out their full legal length into the harbor. Nothing can exceed the beauty, magnificence and truly usefulness of the plan, if carried out according to the original published design. These docks, wharves and warehouses will form the chief marine ornament to good old Kingston--when built.

The St. Lawrence Wharf, occupied by Mr. William Bowen, the General Forwarder and Wharfinger, comes next. It is admirably situated for business, and does an immensity of it. It is the chief depot of the Toronto and Hamilton trade, also that of the Montreal Passenger business. The Lake Boats stop here as also do the River Steamers, a large portion of the Bay of Quinte and Rideau Canal traffic is done here, and vessels of-all kinds and from all parts are daily to be seen here loading and unloading. The Customs have a wareshouse on this wharf, for the Customs House is immediately above it. The St. Lawrence Wharf was greatly enlarged last years it has an ample front with twelve feet water alongside, and its two slips will each take one of the largest sized steamboats afloat. Like the United States Wharf, it is second to none in Kingston for real business, and for convenience of doing it it stands A. No. 1. First Chop being in the immediate vicinity of the British American Hotel and Irons' New Exchange Hotel.

Messrs. Holcomb & Henderson (Successors to Messrs. McPherson & Crane) have leased the wharf adjoining, once called the Rideau Wharf, and recently occupied by Messrs. Hooker & Holton. It is a very convenient wharf and well adapted to the wants of this large Forwarding House. The Office of Messrs. McPherson & Crane, or rather that of the new firm has been removed to the brick house in Clarence St.,- just above the wharf.

The "News" gives a description of the next wharf, burnt down last fall, which is copied verbatim.-- The next wharf is Mr. Scobell's. He has rebuilt it in the most substantial manner, but has not replaced the large warehouse which occupied the greater portion of the old one. Instead of this he has filled in the site of that building with stone, and is about to macadamize the surface instead of using plank. As the wharf presents a frontage of 120 ft., and has a depth of 185, it may readily be imagined that it is thus made one of the best wharves in the city. A two story stone, iron covered warehouse, similar to that now occupied by Messrs. Miller & Co., will erected in a few weeks, adjoining and in continuation of the building last mentioned. When this is completed we shall see a couple of wholesale houses facing the harbor, as they ought to do, and the commencement of what we by no means despair of seeing in a few years--a new street--a Water or River street.

The Commercial Wharf, at the foot of Princess St., was also burnt last fall, but the Hon. John Hamilton has rebuilt it and made it ready for business. The new warehouse put up is large and commodious, and is to be made as fire-proof as a frame building can be made. Mr. Hamilton does his own business here.

Messrs. E. Hooker & Co , intend to do their Kingston business at the wharf adjoining, also destroyed by fire, and formerly used by Messrs. McPherson & Crane, who sold it to Messrs. Browne & Harty after the fire. Very ample additions and improvements are making; the wharf has been extended sixty feet, and is now 200 feet in length, with a frontage of 104 feet. In the centre of this wharf, a large warehouse has been commenced. The building will be of stone, on a foundation of piles, and rendered externally fireproof; its dimensions 120 feet by 58, two stories high. It is now rapidly going up under the builders' hands.

The wharf belonging to the Provincial Steam Tug Line Company also shared the fate of the three preceding wharves, but like them has been rebuilt and made fit for work. It is used almost solely as the Kingston Depot of the Steam Tugs when unemployed.

But the most important wharf improvement and addition this year is on the old Quebec Wharf, purchased by Mr. Berry of Quebec, who last season put up a Steam Grain Elevator and did his business in part of the late Mr. Garratt's premises. He now intends to do his transhipment on his new purchase. The wharf itself has been increased in capacity, but the great attraction is the erection of the immense warehouse that holds the new Elevator. A correct account of this latter appears in a recent "News"--

It will certainly be, when completed, the most effective elevator in Canada, and a short description of it will be interesting to our readers. The building fitted for its reception, now in process of building, will be 52 by 66 feet, and about 100 feet in height. The beams and other supports of the edifice are of unusual strength, and fitted with great accuracy and neatness. The engine house, a brick building situated in front of the wharf, and separated a short distance from the main building, is twenty feet square. The cupola, or apartment for holding the elevator, runs the whole height of the building and is built of 1.5 inch plank. The ship elevator is 69 feet in height; with a pulley at the top 3 feet in diameter and one at the bottom of lesser dimensions, in order the better for its admission into the holds of vessels. Round these pulleys will revolve a broad India rubber belt, to which are bolted all round, a series of small buckets 18 inches between, 1 of which are calculated to hold a bushel of grain. The steam engine will be between 50 and 60 horse power, and the belt with the buckets attached, will make 36 revolutions in a minute. By this means a vessel will be relieved of 3000 bushels of grain per hour, the buckets as they arrive from the hold of the vessel discharging, where they have filled themselves, to the top of the elevator, and, as they turn to descend, empty successively their contents upon a short slide at one side of the pulley, which are conveyed by means of a spout into a garner; from thence into a hopper fitted as a weighing machine, and from thence are conveyed by spouts to garners at the base of the building, immediately adjoining the lofting and reshipping elevators. There are two of these elevators, one at each side of the ship elevator, constructed on the same principle as the latter, but adapted only for lofting or reshipping the grain. Thus the discharging of the vessel, ascertaining the quantity reshipped, can be effected by this simple method, without the loss of a single grain of the cargo, and without any stoppage or loss of time. A large lake vessel for instance, can be discharging her cargo, while barges and vessels adapted for the river navigation can at the same time be loading. The first may be ready to take in a return cargo, and the second may leave the port with a full cargo at one and the same time. The garners are capable of holding 80,000 bushels of grain. The building is of wood, but it will be roofed with iron, and its sides covered in like manner. Mr. Taft, who superintended the erection of Mr. Gould's Elevator at Montreal, is directing the construction and putting up the machinery.

We have heard it stated that it is intended to have a nail factory in connection with the establishment, and apply the steam power during the winter season to milling purposes. This establishment is well worthy of a visit, and the fact of its erection here is of itself proof that a large transhipping trade must yet remain to Kingston.

Last, though not least of the business wharves in Kingston is that leased of Doctor Strange by Mr. J. J. Whitehead, and known as "Jones' Wharf." There are ample conveniences here to do a good business, and Mr. J. J. Whitehead is just the man to do it.

North of the Cataraqui Bridge is a semi-circular bay, with shallow muddy water, the front of which is occupied by the Government as Wood Yards &c., and the remainder by Messrs. Weuty, Gay, Rourke, Anglin and others, for Lumber Yards, Asheries, &c. It is here that Kingston imperatively demands an immediate outlay, of money to mend its health and improve its wharfage. Were a line drawn from the Tete de Pont to the Ordnance property occupied by the Widow Farley, it would enclose a filthy piece of water that annually poisons this part of the City with Ague and Lake Fever, which if filled up, would give eleven acres of additional room to its business portion. Along this straight line cribs could be sunk in eight feet water, and a very large addition to the City wharfage be made. The filling in would be expensive, but were it done gradually, a great portion of the expense could be avoided by allowing the refuse of the City to be there carted and deposited. The value of the land thus made could not be estimated at less than one thousand pounds an acre and perhaps might sell for much more and this would be independent of the sale of the wharf sites. No great impediments exist in the successful prosecution of this useful project. The Ordnance Department is the chief holder of the soil and water frontage, but were it made out that the Crown Property would be greatly benefitted by the improvement, no fear of any great opposition on that side need by apprehended. The private holders of course would be clamorous for damages, but this evil could readily be got over by a short act of Parliament, referring those damages to arbitration. This matter is seriously brought under the notice of the Member for Kingston. A great public improvement, greatly affecting the health of his constituents, can easily be made; the City enlarged to the extent of 11 acres new land; an important addition of new and good wharfage; and no man injured, but every man's property in the vicinity enhanced in value. And what is more, this great improvement can be effected -without the permanent expenditure of one penny; for when the new land is made, and the wharf sites allotted, they will sell for more than sufficient to pay all damages and the cost of the filling in.

That this must be done sooner or later, everyone admits for should the Grand Trunk Railway not bring their track in Kingston, as threatened, the people of Kingston must go out and intersect that track at the most commodious point; and it is over this watery flat that the track must come. Therefore it is well to consider, whether this improvement shall be made by the City for the benefit of all, or whether the benefits and profits arising therefrom shall be enjoyed by stockholders of some Railroad or other Company. Let the City Member look to it, for should any chiselling hereafter take place, he cannot then say, he had not due notice.

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27 April 1854
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Richard Palmer
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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), 27 April 1854