Spring Walk by a Fresh Hand
The thriving little village of Portsmouth is as busy now as it can be, and Hatter's Bay, too, is a scene of bustle. Ship carpenters, blacksmiths, and laborers are running here and there; while the sound of the hammer may be heard resounding far and near, either as it drives in the bolt or strikes the anvil. There is no halt, no cessation; but industry and assiduity prevail. Portsmouth is a little world of itself, and the ship-carpenter there is as proud as the dockyard man at Woolwich. Why should he not? He bears as great a proportion to the little world of Portsmouth as his contemporary of Woolwich, and he cares not a whit so long as he does his duty. A month or two more and he will be off elsewhere! perhaps lumbering on the Ottawa; perhaps prosecuting his business at Montreal or Quebec; let him, then, lord it for a time and hold his head high in the miniature, ice-bound dock-yard of Portsmouth. Let us to the scene. In summer, Portsmouth must be a charming little place, situated, as it is, so picturesquely on the bay; and, yet, who can say it is not such in winter. Truly it has the looming, ponderous walls of the Penitentiary staring at it; but what does it care for that--it can live independently. It has its shipping, too, else why should the ship-carpenters be there; for ship-carpenters must live like other men, and they certainly cannot exist upon air. Knowing this, the ship-carpenters are very busily engaged, indeed, in repairing the variety of crafts there, from the pigmy smack to the lake steamer; and as navigation may soon be open, when the ice-fields and packs shall have all floated down the St. Lawrence, and the tiny blade of grass shall have ventured to peep forth from its snowy prison, these men strain every nerve and muscle to get the vessels ready in time. It is supposed to be a spring walk that "Fresh Hand" has taken; but he assures his readers that it was a snow walk. There was no "spring" visible around, else the vessels would have been off; but there were several holes, two or three feet in diameter, cut in the ice, into which some luckless babe might easily have fallen, or some venturesome, headstrong boy. There is a strange, odd house, dating, probably, from the time of Queen Elizabeth, whose foundations seem to be laid in the water, which stands to the right of the bridge going towards Portsmouth. Who on earth made that house? and who on earth ever advised any one, partial to good health, to live in it? One part of it seems to project above another, and it appeared tottering to decay. Perhaps it "was deserted," yet "Fresh Hand" had a kind of intuition that it was inhabited--by rats, at all events! That strange, old house, it should have been at the far end of "Wearyfoot-common." Let no pedestrian ever pass the bridge without halting to view that house. Not for its beauty, nor its size; but that, in so young a country, one can find a domicile so old and so strangely placed. It seems also, to stay apart from the rest, and to have no dealings with other houses. It is "un entre mille," in its own way, and, like Whang, chooses its company (if it has any). But those around it have sprung up through years, and that strange house is tottering graveward. But has "Fresh Hand" been talking all this time about an old house with no ivy round it, and no Gables inscribed by ancient characters? Still he could not omit seeing it in his walk. Portsmouth, then, as has been said, is a scene of bustle. There are about sixteen vessels (including barges) there, and they are almost all undergoing repairs.
NEW ERA.--This fine steamer, which belongs to the Lake Mail Line of steamers, and is principally owned by the Mayor of this city, is being extensively refitted for the coming season. She is having new guards and new top sides, and, when finished, will look as neat and trim as any of her contemporaries. She lies at a little distance from the Whitby.
THE WHITBY.--The propeller Whitbv, one of the Beaver Line, and the property of Messrs. Owen, Black and Perry, Montreal, is being newly fitted up. She is commanded by Capt. J. Kennedy, and is a very trim little vessel, well suited for lake trade. New boilers are being placed in her, and her decks are being regularly overhauled, so that she will, in every way, be prepared for summer. By the Hamiltonians the Whitby will be well remembered.
The schooner Bay Queen, of Port Dover, lies near the Whitby, and seems a nice, trim craft to tho eye of the connoisseur.
BERRY'S SHIPYARD. - -This dockyard, now the property of Mr. Berry, formerly belonged to Messrs. MacPherson & Co. Ship-carpenters are here as busy as they can be in making repairs and in building four fine barges, under the able superintendence of Mr. F. Jobin, of Quebec. About fifty men are employed here, and the work is progressing rapidly, to the satisfaction of all parties. These barges belong to Messrs. Berry & Co., and their names are the Utility, Dauntless, Fortitude and Energy. They are all first-class barges, and will probably be ready at the opening of navigation.
The schooner Governor, Capt. Taylor, which lies not far from Berry's dockyard, is now having a new keelson put upon her, as well as a new windlass, and fine, stout beams, such as a seaman would admire. She will be a trim little craft upon the lakes this summer.
The barque Arabia lies near her, and will only require slight repairs for the coming season. She is well qualified for lake trade, having taken a voyage to the old country some time since.
AULT'S SHIPYARD. --Here the New Era is undergoing repairs; and the Water Witch is getting new decks and new deckframes, as well as new covering boards. She is also receiving a large amount of other repairs, which will render her quite seaworthy. In this shipyard there is a good deal of business doing, and there are no less than 45 men employed, who are under the superintendence of Mr. Ault. He spares no pains to render every craft coming under his hands, as tight and trim as possible. Here, also, is the schooner Fleur de Marie which is being rebuilt; also the schooner Prince of Wales (belonging to St. Catharine's) which is undergoing a large amount of repairs, for though a new vessel, she requires caulking, painting, &c., and, in Mr. Ault's hands, will look, when finished, as though she was just built.
Beyond Messrs. Berry and Ault's shipyards, and near the Arabia, lie the schooners H. J. Jones and Free Trader. The former, which is owned by Mr. W. O. Marn, is being rebuilt from the floor-heads, and is also being raised to make her carry a large cargo during the coming season. Mr. Marn superintends all the arrangements himself, and will, no doubt, see that his schooner is in fine working order for the summer months. The Free Trader, owned by Mr. J. Yall, is having new covering boards and a deck frame placed upon her.
The sloop Wasp lies outside the other craft embedded, like them, in the ice. She, no doubt, requires a slight overhauling, which she will receive, so as to be in readiness for sailing. Opposite Mr. Morton's seat are the Queen of the Lakes, Capt. Gooderham, and the Greyhound, Capt, Davis. They are fine vessels, and will want no repairs. Who knows but that, in future years, when Kingston shall have materially increased, Portsmouth may be the centre of a great commercial marine, and the depot for craft of every description. Better things, at all events, must be hoped for, for Portsmouth we wish every success.