The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), 10 May 1856

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Spring Walk

A walk through the streets of Kingston strikes the stranger with Kingston's great fault, that of not rebuilding the houses destroyed by fire. It would be fair to imagine, from the very great number of desolate vacant Lots and half burnt buildings, that the owners were poor men, who had lost their buildings by non-insurance, and were unable to put up others in their places. Now the very contrary is the melancholy fact. The hundred and one vacant Lots in the very centre of the City are the property of men who were fully reimbursed their losses by the Insurance Companies. The next conjecture naturally would be, that the owners set fire to their houses to obtain the insurance money. And yet that would be still farther from the truth, because in every case the property was in the occupation of their tenants! But whatever may be the unhappy cause, the plain fact remains, and that is disgrace sufficient. We shall recapitulate a few instances of the most valuable Business stands that have remained unproductive and unbuilt on for a period of from three to twelve years!

The Corner double Lot of Princess and King streets, belonging to Dr. Sampson and others--once occupied by the late Mr. McCuniffe. The Corner Lot of Princess and Wellington Streets, the property of Mr. Hugh Fraser--the best stand in the City. A splendid Lot in Princess Street, owned by Mr. M. Rourk, opposite his place of business. Three continuous Lots in Princess Street, owned by Messrs. W. Ferguson, T. Baker, and H. Smith, Junr. A Water Lot in Ontario Street, belonging to Mr. Gildersleeve; and another Water Lot in the same, adjoining Mr T. Kirkpatrick's Office, belonging, (we believe) to the estate of the late Judge Hagerman; a third to the Hon. J. Macaulay, and a fourth to Dr. Yates. Now, in recapitulating these burnt premises, we have scarcely traversed a distance of a quarter of a mile; They all lie in a cluster, and within a stone's throw of each other. All the Lots are the property of rich men, who will neither build nor sell, but prefer losing the interest of the money invested, and paying heavy taxes for their unproductive property, sooner than sell at what they call a sacrifice, or see it well tenanted and heavily rented; for there is not one single Lot mentioned that would not instantly be let for upwards of one hundred pounds a year, if properly built on. And some of the burnt Lots are sufficiently large to allow two or more tenements to be erected thereon at equally large rents! We might go on and enumerate the rest of the hundred and one cases quoted, in more distant part, of the city, and might include several whole blocks, their blackened ruins remaining a blot upon its outward prosperity. But we have said enough to show, that it is the duty of the owners to sell, if they cannot build, or to lease, if they have not the power to sell. This they should do for the benefit of the City they live in. No possible excuse can be made for them. Houses and Shops in Kingston rent high--there is scarcely a good house or shop now to let, and were the Military to return in Brigade numbers, as is talked about, there would be a positive want of accommodation for the numerous families needing dwellings.

After having said so much upon so ungrateful a subject, it might be imagined that this spring no houses and shops are being built, whereas that is not the case; for in almost every part of the City, new buildings are in progress of erection. Mr. John Shaw has just finished a row of handsome houses in King Street, (all rented, ) which he calls Sebastopol Terrace; another like row of good family dwellings is being built in Bagot Street, near the Park; and everywhere you walk you hear the busy sound of the hammer. The builders are chiefly men of moderate means, who build to invest their savings, unlike the rich men we have named, who let their property remain a disgrace to themselves and a reproach to the City.

But let us hasten to a more pleasing topic. The Hotel Accommodation of Kingston reminds us of last year. The British American, Irons' and the City Hotel, afford the usual entertainment to first class travellers; while a host of Country Inns and excellent small hotels and taverns refresh those who prefer to travel at a cheaper rate. An improvement has taken place in the number of First Class Saloons. Independently of the three old established places of gentlemanly resort, "Cicolari's," "L'Hoist's," "Dumble's," several new saloons have been recently opened. Mr. L'Hoist has established a Restaurant in the Market Square, next door to "Cicolari's," where in addition to the usual eatables and drinkables, the casual visitor will find an excellent Billiard Table, an amusement which the liberality of Mr. L'Hoist has restored to and maintained in Kingston, in spite of the lamentation of the Saints, who as Butler tells us "compound for sins they are inclined to, by d- --g those they have no mind to. " No other good Saloons will be found in Princess Street, and opposite to each other one kept by Mr McGrath, of the steamer Ottawa, and the other by Mr. H. Rees. They were greatly needed in this part of the City, and we hope that; they will be sustained. It is the common cant of the day to rail against every kind of public entertainment where the passing stranger or thirsty traveller can find a bun to eat, or a glass of Livingston's Ale to drink. The parsons, who, judging from the generality of their noses, drink enough in private to make up for their public abstinence, aid this cant and strive to put down every species of recreation, but in vain; for until men and women are born void of passions, tastes and feelings, so long will nature prevail against hypocrisy and humbug. But while we make mention of the more aspiring Saloons and Restaurants, let us not forget our old kind friend, the Widow Elder, who with her Son-in-Law, Mr. Jackson, still keep open "Uncle Tom's Cabin,' which flourishes like a young, Bay tree. It is to the Widow Elder's enterprise that the ladies and gentlemen of Kingston are indebted for the luscious Fruits of the South, and the sweet Fish of the Ocean here every Southern delicacy can be bought in season, and if not on hand, can be procured at the smallest possible notice. Fresh Salmon, Lobsters, Oysters in shell, Shad and other denizens of the Sea can here be got or ordered; while fruits of a warmer climate are ever to be had in great abundance. We need not recommend Mrs. Elder or Uncle Tom's Cabin to our readers, for they both recommend themselves.

Since the last Number of our Walk was issued, the steamers have all got into sample working order, and no less than Five Lines of Daily boats are now running. Let us remention them.

The River Mail Line is composed of four steamers, the Banshee, St. Lawrence, Ottawa, and New Era; one of which leaves Kingston every evening, except Sunday evening, at nine o'clock. The Sunday boat remains over until two o'clock on Monday morning.

The Lake Mail Line is also composed of four steamers, the Magnet, Passport, Kingston, and Arabian: one of which leaves Kingston every evening, except Sunday evening; but the hour is not definitely fixed, that depending on the arrival of the boat from Brockville with the Montreal mail.

The River and Lake Line of American steamers is likewise composed of four fine vessels, the Ontario, Bay State, Northerner, and Cataract, one of which leaves the United States wharf, (Kinghorn's) at half past seven every morning, save Sunday morning, for Sacketts, Oswego, Rochester, &c. and another goes down the River to Ogdensburgh every afternoon, except Sunday afternoon, at two o'clock. These vessels are very regular in their coming and going, and cannot be surpassed for comfort, speed and elegance by any steamers on the lake or river.

The Bay of Quinte is made up with two Boats, the Bav of Quinte and the City of the Bay; the Bay leaving Kingston every afternoon, except Sundays, at three o'clock' and the City leaving every morning, save Sundays, at half-past six o'clock.

The Rideau Canal Line is composed of Three steamers, the Beaver, Fire Fly and Prince Albert, one of them leaving Kingston every after noon, (save Sunday) at three o'clock. The Canal is now passable for all the Boats of the line, the water having risen sufficiently to allow them to pass.

Independently of the above five Lines, a large steamer, the Sir Charles Napier, leaves Kingston twice a day for Cape Vincent, in the morning and again in the afternoon. (see advertisement)

The Corra Linn makes a daily trip to and from Picton, leaving Kingston at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. And the fine and large steamer, Europa, makes three trips a week between Toronto and Kingston, leaving Putnam's wharf here every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at two o'clock, P.M.

We here conclude the Last of the Spring Walks of the British Whig, not intending to resume in years to come, a feature that for fifteen years has distinguished this periodical. The newspapers that by their shameful plagiary, have driven the British Whig off its "Walk" are welcome to the glory or disgrace of doing it:--we shall find some other way of informing our readers Of passing events. The "Walk" was a harmless mode of gratuitous advertising, and such as the patrons of a Daily paper, supported by its advertising, had a right to expect.

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10 May 1856
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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), 10 May 1856