The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Niagara Mail, August 27, 1856

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The Commerce Of The Lakes

We published recently a statement of the Canadian owned shipping on the lakes. A report of a committee of Congress, recently isssued, shows the amount of American owned shipping, and communicates a large amount of information on other points connected with the lake commerce. The American lake tonnage in 1855 was 345,278 - including 108,243 steam tonnage - the value of which at $45 per ton, would be $14,838,000. The tonnage in 1854 was 291,231, so that there had been an increase in one year of about 19 per cent. The total tonnage of the United States in 1855 was 5,212,000, the lake tonnage thus forming one-fifteenth of the whole.

The clearances of vessels from ports in the United States to Canada, and the entries of vessels from Canada to ports in the United States during the year 1855, show a greater amount of tonnage entered and cleared then between the United States and any other foreign county. The clearances from ports in the United States to ports in Canada were - American vessels, 2369, with a tonnage of 890,017; Canadian vessels, 6638, with a tonnage of 903,502; total clearances, 9,007, with a tonnage of 1,793,519. The entries from ports in Canada to ports in the United States were - American vessels, 2,451, with a tonnage of 897,138; Canadian vessels, 4,194, with a tonnage of 870,579; total clearances, 6,648, with a tonnage of 1,767,249.

The total value of exports and imports on the American side of the lakes the report sets down at the enormous figure of $1,216,620,646. We suspect that a considerable of them have been twice or thrice entered. As regards that portion of the lake trade which is carried on between the United States and Canada, the report states that it "is in value next to that between the whole United States and the Empire of France, making our foreign commerce with Canada in value No.3, and in tonnage No.1, among the foreign countries with whom we carry on commerce - being greater in tonnage of entrances and clearances even than that between Great Britain and the whole United States. For the year ending the 1st July, 1853, the value of American goods imported into Canada was $9,769,764; of other goods through the States, $8,769,580; totalt imports into Canada from the U. States, $18,720,344. The value of Canadian goods sent into the States, in the same period, was $12,182,314 making the total value of the lake trade between the two countries, $30,902,658. The trade with Canada forms one seventeenth of the entire foreign commerce of the United States."

To show the national importance of the lake commerce, the population of the states bordering on the lakes, is brought into comparison with that of all the others. The seven lake states, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, have a population of 9,784,550, while all the other 24 together have a less while population, viz., 9,768,488.

Tables are given showing the losses of shipping during the last eight years, viz., 144 steamers, 99 propellers, and 879 sail vessels. Of these, 380 were wrecked, damages $3,409,126; 566 stranded, damages $1,051,070; and 285 lost by collision, damages $1,368,050; total loss $5,828,346. The amount of damages to the commerce of the lakes from the difficulty of crossing the St.Clair flats, is set down for a single season at $660,000. the amount of duties collected at lake ports from 1837 to 1855, was $5,516,129; the amount of appropriation for the improvement of their navigation during the same period, $2,884,125, not including the cost of the St.Mary's ship canal. - Globe.

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August 27, 1856
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Peter Warwick
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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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Niagara Mail, August 27, 1856