The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), 11 April 1862

Full Text
Spring Walk by a Fresh Hand

GARDEN ISLAND.--Delighted with what he had seen in Kingston, the Stranger was desirous of going over to Garden Island, and the only thing which could reasonably prevent him would be the condition of the ice. "Fresh Hand" was fearful of falling through in some parts, as the thaw had honey-combed the track here and there, and therefore thought they should go over in a single team; but no, the Stranger preferred to walk, and so they did. The Stranger, however, fell in, got his clothes well saturated with water, and, in other words, "paid dear for his whistle." He and "Fresh Hand," nevertheless, got over to the Island, and commenced their survey. - Garden Island belongs, partly, to Messrs. Calvin & Breck, and is about a mile and a half long. It is a narrow strip of land lying two miles from Kingston and running parallel with the main land, while the advantages it possesses for the shipping trade are almost incalculable. Garden Island is known throughout the length and breadth of Canada, and from Hamilton and Western ports an immense quantity of staves and timber is annually sent down thither. Taken in conjunction with Kingston, there is a very large shipping business done in these parts, and this business is continually increasing. The island has, according to the last census, a population of 640 souls, including men, women and children; while the number of men employed in fitting out the vessels is 300.

Messrs. Calvin and Breck are building 6 new houses, capable of holding two families each, which would lead one to infer that the population of the island is on the increase. Messrs. Calvin and Breck do all the finishing work for their engines and machinery; indeed, they are enabled thoroughly to repair all the vessels which come under their hands, without being beholden to any other firm.--They have their blacksmith's and boiler shops, machine and pattern shops, and sail loft. There are one hundred and twenty stave cribs on the island, already filled and ready for Lower Canada, as well as seven drams of timber intended for shipment to Quebec as soon as navigation opens. There are five drilling machines, two turning lathes, and a screwing machine, for turning bolts and nuts of every size. Also a withe machine, for making withes for binding timber together on rafts destined for the Quebec mart. The withes are made of birch, which is the wood best calculated for the purpose, having a stringy and flexible texture. The birch will crack, but will not give way, and is therefore the only wood which could hold the logs together. They are twisted by a machine worked by horse power. There is other apparatus capable of unloading no less than seven timber vessels at a time, and as many stave vessels as can come in at once; while at the foot of the island stands a pair of wooden shears for sparring vessels and for putting in and taking out engines from steamers. There are, too, from 4,000 to 5,000 cords of wood piled up in different parts of the island, for the especial use of Messrs. Calvin and Breck's boats. There is a curious steam pump owned by this firm, and which is of immense advantage in marine work for wrecking purposes, being capable of ejecting, at once, a column of water three feet square, equal to removing forty hogsheads per minute from submerged vessels. The former is an immense body of water to eject at once, and evidences an extraordinary hydraulic power. To eject two feet square of water is not an uncommon things in Canada, but three feet is a rarity. By such means, Messrs. Calvin and Breck will be enabled easily to get up vessels which have been wrecked, and they are now building another steam pump of about equal capacity, which they intend to have ready for operation in the course of the season. Smoking in the open air is strictly prohibited on the island, lest by any chance the outbuildings should take fire. A fine of 50 cents is levied upon all individuals, living or not living on the island, who disregard this rule, and "Fresh Hand" and the Stranger laughed when they heard that a fine, new Sunday-school library had been purchased with the proceeds of the fine, one of the few instances wherein smoking has contributed to religion. The Stranger, having been informed of the prohibitory law, threw away his cigar ere he reached the island--"Fresh Hand" did not smoke. He and the Stranger, whose curiosity was much excited by all he had seen, next proceeded to Mr. Dix's sail loft, desiring to have a talk with the old gentleman, but on business matters alone. They found him seated upon a bench surrounded by his insignia of office and nautical emblems of every kind. The Stranger was delighted. Mr. Dix was as busy as he could be, and gave "Fresh Hand" and the Strange all the information they required. In Mr. Dix's sail loft there is a large stock of cordage on hand, worth from $2,000 to $3,000, and from 2,000 to 3,000 yards of canvass made up for summer use, while Mr. Dix and his men are still engaged in making more. There are not, however, many men working in the loft at present, owing to the fact that a number of them have been sent out to refit the gangs of rigging. All the various departments on the island, whether for engine-making, the manufacture of screws and bolts, or for sail making, have their superintendents, and each superintendent is required to render to Messrs. Calvin & Breck an exact account of what is in his hands; and everything so placed in his hands is charged to him, and he is responsible for the outlay.--Mr. Dix is chief superintendent of sparring, fitting out, sail making, &c., and he is well qualified, from long experience and attention to his duties, to fill the office assigned to him. "Fresh Hand" and the Stranger now agreed to look at the vessels, and see how the process of refitting was progressing, as well as the number of the former that were lying around the island.

STEAMERS.--The Hercules and Wellington, which have been chartered by Messrs. Chaffey & Bros. Of this city; the William, and City of the Bay. This last steamer has been considerably strengthened, and has been sheathed over with a lid oak three inches thick, and well qualified to withstand the action of the water. A larger cylinder has been placed in her, as well as a new hog-frame, and she is receiving general repairs. The America, Traveller, Gildersleeve and Highlander which have undergone thorough repair, and the Chieftain. All these steamers will ply the coming season in the Government Tug Line, and will all take the same route as they did last year.

SCHOONERS, BARQUES AND BRIGANTINES.--The schooner A No. 1, with a star, Southampton, built by Mr. Rowney, who has been here for many years, and which has been sold to E. Brown, of Hamilton; barque London, which is undergoing a thorough repair, and brigantines Liverpool, William Penn and Minerva Cook. There are no other vessels lying at Garden Island save those belonging to Messrs. Calvin and Breck.--The majority of the sailing vessels are going to freight from Lake St. Clair, and the Upper Lakes with timber; and expect to do a brisk business this season. There is a large First Class A No. 1 barge building for the Kingston and Montreal trade--she is to be planked with 4 inch solid oak.

BATEAU CHANNEL.--This is an excellent place for laying up vessels in the winter; but is not very large. The schooner Elizabeth lies here, which is owned by Capt. Holland and was rebuilt last fall. She will require nothing but the usual fitout for the coming season.--The schooner Carrier Dove is here, and has been purchased by some parties in Toronto. She is undergoing the usual repairs. The Adelaide, a large French schooner belonging to Quebec; also the sloops Broom and Challenge, belonging to James Eccles of Bateau Channel. He has also purchased the sloop Greyhound from Messrs. McCormac & Davis of Kingston, and finally there is the scow Tom Thumb.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Original:
11 April 1862
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Dave Swayze
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
WWW address
Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.

Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), 11 April 1862