The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
St. Catharines Journal (St. Catharines, ON), November 17, 1843

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Public Works - We regret not having space, at present, for the whole of the very interesting report of the chairman of the Board of Works. Much of it relates to Eastern Canada. We copy the portion relating to the Welland Canal. We see Mr. Boulton has brought in a bill for the advancement of that apparently desirable work, the Branch Canal, from the Welland to the good old town of Niagara. - Tor. Pat.

Welland Canal

The works of enlargement and completion of the entire line, and the improvement of the harbors, may now be said to be fully in progress. Their precise location, and the arrangement of all the details connected therewith, have been attended with numerous difficulties, which were much increased by the necessity of maintaining navigation unimpeded - many of the new locks being situated as close as possible to the existing ones, and the new and old lines, in many places, crossing or interfering with each other.

Several alterations have been made, from time to time, in those details, as circumstances and natural causes pointed out to be advisable; and in the final decisions come to, and acted upon, with the concurrence of the Board; by the engineers, Messrs. Power and Barrett, sound judgement and practical shill have been evinced.

The very low rates at which the work has been taken, has enabled the Board to effect most important improvements in the completion of the canal, without exceeding the amount of the appropriation.

The feeder throughout, from a narrow shallow, and irregular conduct for the supply of water from the Grand River, upon the completion of some comparatively trifling work which remains to be done, will be converted into a reach of fine navigation, 35 feet wide at the bottom, and with nine feet depth of water; and in conjunction with the off-branch and steam boat lock at Broad Creek, from it to Lake Erie, at the mouth of the Grand River, will afford at second and most valuable outlet to the canal; particularly as the entrance to the canal at this part of Lake Erie, will be each year free from ice several weeks before the lake is open at Port Colborne, and at Buffalo. This outlet will, therefore, insure a considerable addition to the revenues.

The contractor for the Broad Creek lock, is backward with his work, which it was highly desirable should have been completed this fall, in order to allow of the trade being turned through that channel next season, and to permit of the water being let off the Port Colborne branch.

The contractor has the principal part of his material prepared, and a large portion of the finest description laid down upon the work; but a disappointment in procuration of the timber required for the foundation, &c., caused by the bursting of a dam on the canal, together with the unfortunate prevalence of lake fever extensively among his men, during a great part of the season, plead strongly in excuse for the work not being now so far advanced as it ought to be. It will be completed early next year.

Another important improvement, which the Board has been enabled to adopt, in the bringing of the Lake Erie waters through, as the head level of the canal; thus placing beyond all possibility of doubt, the full and ample supple, not only of the canal, but also of all hydraulic works connected therewith; the permanent supply from the Grand River, being looked upon by many well acquainted with the nature of the country at its source, as not to be relied on, when the country shall come to be extensively cleared. Another very great benefit will also be obtained, by the lowering of the summit level, namely: the great portion (nearly 3,000 acres) of the townships of Wainfleet and Humberstone can, from swamps of the most impenetrable character, be converted into fine available land, and the healthiness of that section of the country be thereby considerably increased.

A further improvement has been in the increasing of the length of the locks from 120 feet to 150 feet. The dimensions of the locks, as now being built, will admit of powerful steam-propellers, carrying from 250 to 300 tons, to navigate from Lakes Huron and Michigan, to Lake Ontario, and thence through to Quebec, upon the completion of the St. Lawrence navigation, which I see no reason to doubt will be affected by the close of the year 1845.

The selection of the contractors generally, on the line of the canal, has turned out very satisfactory; as is proved by the work already done, and by the extensive and mechanical preparations made for the energetic pushing forward of the works of their respective contracts.

Several of the locks will be completed this year, and available early next season; and the quality of the materials now being proved, the solid and substantial character of the masonry, and the care taken in the details of the earth work, lead the Board to hope and believe, that this most important work will, by the close of 1845, be completed throughout, in substantial and permanent a manner, as work of a similar character, in any country, has ever seen.

The maintenance of the old works has been carefully attended to, and the navigation has been but very littler interrupted during the past season; and no expenditure has been incurred thereon, that could possibly have been avoided.

The location of the works of this canal, in which Mr. Barrett has been chiefly employed in assisting Mr. Power, being now completed, the former gentleman is transferred to the charge of the Lachine Canal. Upon the transfer of the full control of the Welland Canal to this Department, it became necessary, from this time, as the new works thereof were placed under contract, to form a local engineering establishment, for the superintendence and management of those works; and upon this establishment being made up to its full complement, some months since, the control of the necessary expenditure upon the repairs of the old canal, was imposed upon it.

The services, therefore, of Mr. W.B. Robinson, who has acted as superintendent and general manager of the repairs, &c., of those old works, have ceased, in a great measure, to be required, and have been continued on only until such assistance or explanation may be had from him, as it is in his power to afford the Board, in the settlement of the old accounts and out-standing claims.

With respect to Mr. Prescott, who was secretary to the former commissioners, it became necessary, when the Board took up the management of the work, that the secretary and seal should be at Kingston; accordingly, the secretary of the Board of Works was made Honorary Secretary, and Mr. Prescott has continued to discharge the other portions of his duties as heretofore.

During the execution of the works of the enlargement and completion of this canal, a person will be required to act as paymaster and clerk, at a salary of £300 per annum. To this situation, while necessary, the Board considers Mr. Prescott has claims. Upon the completion of the works, a clerk and foreman carpenter, at a salary of about £150 a year, each, would be all the local establishment required, independent of the lock tenders, &c..

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November 17, 1843
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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), November 17, 1843