Kingston Harbor was never so full of vessels of all classes, as it has been all the past winter. Taking those at Portsmouth and Garden Island into account, full one hundred steamers, ships, brigs, schooners, and mammoth barges have been laid up for the season in this vicinity. However good the agriculture of the back country may be, and that is ten times better than its envious detractors assert, still the real riches of Kingston consist in her shipping. The profits of these vessels are spent in Kingston, the crews find their homes here, and if not the largest city in Western Canada, Kingston is, and ever must be the Queen of the Lakes! Getting excited a little--well it needs a little stimulus to goad us to the ungrateful task of pursuing this "Spring Walk," and nothing but the blunders of the Leader, followed by those of the Globe would have induced us to step one foot forward in the matter. But to our task.
COUNTER'S SHIPYARD.--'Tis only in adversity that men's mettle is really tried. Here can daily be seen proofs that however Fortune may frown on Mr. Counter, it sha'nt be through any fault of his that she continues to frown.--"Excelsior" used to be his motto--it is now "Resurgam;" and verily we believe it. His Ship Yard is as busy as ever. Two fine steamers are on the marine Railway, and two fine vessels are being built. The steamer Britannia (Holcomb & Henderson) and the Bowmanville, Capt. Perry, are ready to be re-launched, having undergone every necessary repair. Messrs. Hooker & Pridham are here building a propeller to be called the Avon, of the largest size to pass the Welland Canal Locks, into which will be placed the engine and boilers of the unfortunate Tinto. And here also is building Dr. Rae's Arctic Schooner [Iceberg]; but she is not in that state of forwardness to be wishes, if intended for employment this year. Though she is small, and fifty hands put on her could complete her for sea in a month.
The Bowmanville, although on the Railway for repair, has stood in need of very little. She is a fine Freight vessel, on the Independent Line, and has been a prosperous one into the bargain. Scarcely two years old, she has, under the careful management of her part owner, Capt. Perry, almost paid for herself, and it is to be expected that the coming season will complete the business. As soon after she gets into the water, she will be off for the head of the Lake, and her character for safety and good management is such, that she never stands in need of a cargo, while there is one in port. At present she is in fine fig, gaily painted as a poppin-jay, and as a jew would say "better as new."
HOOKER AND PRIDHAM'S WHARF.--Messrs. Hooker and Pridham have the most convenient premises of any Forwarding House in Kingston, being situated midway in the harbor, so that with any wind, a vessel can enter or depart. They are the Wharf and Warehouses once occupied by D. McIntosh & Co., adjoining the Marine Railway and forming part of that fine property. This season Messrs. H. & P. have added materially to the frontage of their Wharf, 75 feet in depth, and twice as much in width, making it one of the most complete in the harbor. Here lies the stately Propeller St. Lawrence, just out of the carpenters' hands, having had her upper works renovated, and on the point of departure for Toronto, Port Stanley, Windsor and Bayfield. Messrs. H. & P. will have, independently of their large barges (some of which carry three thousand barrels of flour) no less than eight steamers afloat to do their business; as follows: the St. Lawrence, Ottawa, Prescott, Free Trader, England, Hibernia, the new steamer Avon, and Messrs. Calvin & Breck's fine vessel, the Wellington. It is pleasing to see, that the dread of Railroad competition has not daunted the spirits of the Forwarders, for instead of diminishing their Stock and means, Messrs. H. & P. and the other great firms have largely increased them, under the confident belief that there will be found enough for all to do remuneratively. And such will be the case if the Railroad people do not act suicidally and pull down prices.
KINGHORN'S UNITED STATES WHARF.--Here must be made a long stoppage, for half the steamers in port are congregated round about this extensive and most convenient wharf, with its slips and basins. Every boat in its turn.
THE SIR CHARLES NAPIER.--This is the favorite Cape Vincent Ferry Boat, bright as a new pin, and ready for action. Capt. George Creighton again commands her, and has made her all right for three more good years to come. The Sir Charles is like "my grandfather's knife, two new handles and three new blades," for she has been fitted and refitted so often, as to be made a brand new vessel several times over. Well, if owners will prefer expending money in repairs, instead of building, that is their business; ours is to speak of their sea, or rather lake-worthiness. The Sir Charles ought to be a strong boat, for she has no slack time on her hands during her long season of labor. Two trips a day between the Cape and the City, from early April to late December is no joke, more than enough to try the best steamer that ever floated. This the Sir Charles has done, with let or hindrance, and will again. She will soon be making her first trip, and until the Rome and Cape Vincent Railroad changes its time of running, will only make one Trip per diem. But in this one Trip, she will bring over the New York and Boston Mail, thus gaining twelve hours time between Kingston and those cities. We need add little of her Captain, for all who know George Creighton, and their name is Legion, know that he is the most obliging and most accommodating Captain on Lake Ontario.
THE HIGHLANDER.--This fine vessel forms No. 1 of a new and Independent Line. She has recently been chartered by a dozen Kingston gentlemen, of whom her Captain, P. G. Chrysler, makes one, and her destined route is as follows:--To leave Cape Vincent for the North Shore Ports, Toronto and Hamilton, and returning thence to Kingston and the Cape, and doing this twice and three times a week, as the weather may permit. This route will be found most convenient for Upper Country Merchants who get their goods and make their journeys via the Rome and Cape Vincent Railroad. The Highlander is a first class steamer, a substantial vessel, and a good seaboat. She and her new Captain (late of the New Era) are well known, and we have no manner of doubt, but at the end of the season, all things will be found so profitable, that the charterers will purchase the vessel instead of re-chartering her for the season of 1858. The Highlander lies here all ready for work and ready for a start, and probably ere this reaches the hands of the reader, will be taking in her first cargo at the Cape for the ports above. May God speed her!
Of the other steamer lying here more anon.