The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), 12 April 1855

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Spring Walk

Never was Kingston ' Harbor so full of shipping of all kinds as the present moment, at a time every vessel is ice bound, and not one has stirred to do her spring business, and this the 12th of April.

Including those lying over at Garden Island, there are not less than one hundred vessels getting ready and preparing for business. To make mention of them all would be an impossibility, gossiping as those Walks are, but notice will be sketchingly made of a few. But, imorimis, afew words about the harbor.

Kingston harbor is the finest and most capacious harbor of any on Lake Ontario a thousand vessels might lie in it, and be protected from all winds save a South East one, and even then, by tripping their anchors and making for the South side, they would be safe. There is plenty of water, and good holding everywhere, and line of battleships, the old St. Lawrence to wit, are as easily handled as schooners of fifty tons. Kingston possesses another harbor, now rarely used, viz., Navy Bay, the small but deep piece of water between Fort Henry and Point Frederick. The time is approaching fast when the Naval and Military Authorities, ceasing all care of Canada, will leave the Province to protect itself; and Navy Bay wanted no longer for a Dock Yard depot, will revert to ordinary nautical and civic uses. Then will wharves of all sorts and sizes enrich its shores, and then will the Editor, while taking his Annual Walk, speak of things there, as he does of those in Kingston Harbor proper. Some half a dozen years and what a change will take place.

And now for the Shipping.

The greatest ornament of Kingston Harbor is Captain Gaskin's vessel, the Eliza Mary, a fine new ship of 900 tons, built last fall in Mr. Counter's Shipyard. Since she was launched she has been carefully fitted with every requisite, under the owner's own eye, and embedded in the ice as she is, she looks like a man of war, with her taunt spars, rigged as she is with royal yards across, royal stun'sail booms, and main skysail mast with yard across. Nothing can look handsomer except on Sundays or Holidays, when Captain Gaskin's taste induces him to decorate his ship with myriads of flags in all the colors of the rainbow. (Look out for her on St. George's Day.) She is ready for sea and will leave for Quebec, so soon as the canals will permit her passing. She goes down light, and will take in her cargo at Montreal or Quebec. Her cabins are very handsomely fitted and furnished; and we hear of more than twenty persons in or about Kingston, who have taken cabin passage in her for Liverpool. Of course, she is for sale when she arrives there, but should the ship market be dull, Captain Gaskin intends to put her into the Canada Trade until the market mends, when he will sell her, return to Kingston, and build another.

The Eliza Mary is the third vessel built by him, and he is the first man in Upper Canada who proved by pecuniary demonstration, that Ship Building is as profitable here as in Quebec.

The next greatest ornament of the harbor, some persons might say the greatest, is the fine steamer Banshee, a vessel built in Kingston last Fall for the Passenger River Trade to take her place in the Royal Mail Line. Her architect is Mr. Ault of Hatter's Bay, and she was built under the inspection of Mr. Bowen, her principal owner. She is truly a most superior vessel to look at, and promises as well as any steamer that ever quitted dock. Her size is of the largest that the Canal locks allow, but being intended for the River not the Lake, she is as light as a fairy,(the Banshee) or what is more to the purpose as light as the Jenny Lind, the favorite boat of the Upper St. Lawrence. Her engine and boilers were manufactured at the Kingston Foundry, and are of full power to drive her as fast as any steamer going' and though only put up this winter, have been found to work extremely well. She is already for duty, and will leave for Montreal the first boat. Her master is Captain Thomas Howard, late of the St. Lawrence. The time has long gone by when the practice was to talk of the "urbanity and gentlemanly conduct" of steamboat captains, a practice offensive to them as it was servile on the part of the press' but there is no impropriety in saying, that the owners, in selecting Captain Howard to command their fine vessel, have done so, because they have confidence in his seamanlike qualities, and in his strict attention to their interests; for it is by attending to the comfort and safety of the people and merchandize under his charge, that a captain can best subserve them. The Mail Steamers, New Era, Captain P. G. Chrysler' Passport, Captain Harbottle; Ottawa, Captain Kelly; Bay of Quinte, Captain Carrell, Lord Elgin, Captain Stearns; and St. Lawrence, Captain Malcolmson; are also ornamenting Kingston Harbor, being all in a state of readiness for immediate business. These fine vessels look as well as ever, more especially the Passport, which really is as fine as a fiddle, like all iron vessels, "better as new." Some changes have taken place in the command of some of these steamers. Captain Putnam retires from steamboating, turns Wharfinger, and Mr. Kelly, late Purser, a very excellent young man, takes his place. Captain Milloy, of the Lord Elgin, has taken charge of the Champion, and Captain Stearns, late of the Highlander, has been appointed to command of the Lord Elgin. This vessel, however, is said to be sold into another Line, when a change in the command may ensue. And, Captain Howard, of the St. Lawrence, having been removed to the Banshee, Mr. Malcomson, late Purser of the Magnet, has been chosen to his room. If we offend good taste our readers must excuse us, but we cannot avoid mentioning this fact, that while Mr. Malcomson was a purser of the Magnet, half the extreme popularity of that steamer was owing to the care and attention of its Purser, and it is but fair therefore to presume, that as Captain of the St. Lawrence he will not fall back from his antecedents.

Of Freight Steamers in the harbor, there are several, but all we notice specially are the St. Helens, Capt Chrysler; the Ranger, belonging to Messrs H. & S. Jones, and a fine Propeller, owned by Messrs. Berry & Walker. These are exclusive of the half dozen steamers, recently used by the Tug Line Company, (to be sold this day) the North Star, and one or two other vessels, intended employment unknown.

Of Sailing Craft the harbor is full, but among those which particularly strike the eye is Capt. Kent's fine brigantine, the Fleur de Marie; a beautiful three massed schooner, owned by Mr. Elijah Hooker and Capt. Taylor; Mr. W. Myer's schooner, the John Hesman, and a splendid three massed schooner, the Water Witch, lying at Berry & Walker's wharf. But there are so many vessels, and all so crowded up together, that it is difficult to tell at a glance the good from the indifferent. Should any have been omitted, deserving of notice, in Walk No. 3 along the Wharves, the error will be corrected.

The various Schooners and other Craft lying over at Garden Island, at Mr. Calvin's Lumber and Stave Depot, are all in fine order and ready for a start. The moment the ice is out of the harbor, upwards of fifty vessels will sail for the upper end of the lake at one and the same time.

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12 April 1855
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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), 12 April 1855