The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
St. Catharines Journal (St. Catharines, ON), February 16, 1844

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"We are glad to learn that the disturbances on the Welland Canal, which have been going on for so long a time, have been put and end to. Several hundred of the unemployed laborers at Lachine have been invited by advertisement to proceed in that direction, on a guarantee by the Government of two year's work; and as soon as they can procure the means will proceed thither. The same plan which was found so effectual in restoring quiet at Lachine last year, has been adopted with success on the Welland this year, and to it is mainly due the restoration of tranquility. The credit for that plan is due to a gentleman of this city."

We copy the above from the Montreal Transcript, of the 10th instant.

There must be some error in this statement, or a most infamous act of deception has been resorted to, by some inhuman monster who deserves to suffer, in his own person, the whole amount of misery and wretchedness which such diabolical "advertisements" - if any have been actually circulated - will inevitably produce. That Government has given any such "guarantee", is too absurd an idea to be mentioned; and the author of it ought to be chained to a wheelbarrow during his natural life, and which ought to be as long as Methuselah! Such a guarantee could only be given through the Board of Works, and as it is well known in that department that the greatest distress imaginable has been, and still is, existing throughout the entire line of the Welland Canal, in consequence of the vast accumulation of unemployed laborers, we fear not to assert, that the statement is as false as it is wicked. There are, at this moment, many hundreds of men, women, and children, apparently in the last stages of starvation; and instead of any relief for them, ever is prospect, their distress will be greatly augmented as soon as navigation opens in the spring, when more than one half of those who are now employed must be discharged. What, in the name of humanity, is to be done with the poor wretches, it is impossible to imagine, for such has been their brutal conduct towards each other, in the midst of their frightful sufferings, that the people seem to have lost all sympathy for them; and even if they had not, those living the vicinity of the canal have not the means of supporting the famishing scores who are hourly thronging their dwellings, begging for a morsel to save the life of a starving child.

This is no exaggerated statement; it falls below reality, and which requires to be seen, in all its appalling features, to entitle any description of it to belief. We sincerely hope that the authorities, and especially the press of Montreal, will take the earliest opportunity of disabusing the minds of those who may have led astray by the "advertisements" above alluded to.

Since writing the above, we have been obligingly favored by William Benson, Esq., head officer of the police force on that division of the canal extending from Port Dalhousie to near Allanburgh, with the following statement, which consits entirely of canal diggers, their wives and children. The stone cutters, mechanics, quarrymen, and other laborers, connected with them, are not included, which, Mr. Benson says, amounts to five hundred more. This statement, it must be understood, has reference only to Mr. Benson's division. Mr. Bonallie's portion of the canal, including the Feeder and Broad Creek, is probably about the same.

Canal Laborers

Of this number only 42 are reported sick.

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February 16, 1844
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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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St. Catharines Journal (St. Catharines, ON), February 16, 1844