The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), 21 March 1864

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Spring Walk by the Old Hand

However much this good city of ours is indebted to its fertile back country on all sides, yet it cannot be denied that its Shipping Interest is one great source of its prosperity and wealth. The favorable position of Kingston, at the foot of Lake and at the head of River Navigation; its unrivaled Harbor, its cheap and abundant markets, its great conveniences for Ship Building, and its extensive Steam Engine Manufactories all conspire to make Kingston the naval depot for Upper Canada. Last week we devoted "The Walk" to the Wharfs of Kingston; this week, we shall speak of the Shipping of Kingston lying at these Wharfs, its Building Yards, its Elevators, and its Marine Railways. We cannot speak of every thing, but shall of as many things as we can call to mind.

Owing to the sudden close of Navigation last fall, a great number of Steamboats and Schooners belonging to Kingston, were caught napping and have been laid up in other ports. For instance, only two of the Royal Mail Line of Steamers are in harbor; and of Capt. Gaskin's fleet of fine Vessels, not a single one is in port. This makes our task comparatively light. The Banshee and the Champion of the Line alluded to, are undergoing their usual Spring repairs and renovations, the excellent order in which all the Company's Boats are kept rendering this annual duty by no means burthensome. They both will be ready to make a start much sooner than the Navigation can open.

Her Majesty, Capt Perry's fine new Screw Steamer, demands the first notice at our hands. She was built last Fall at St. Catharines, and brought down to receive her Engine and Boilers made expressly for her at Messrs Davidson & Doran's Foundry. They are now on board, and Her Majesty is in process of being fitted up in most gallant style, having elegant accommodations for Eighty Cabin Passengers. The whole of the Upper Deck is devoted to this purpose, having Forty State rooms, twenty on each side of the Dining Saloon. Too large to pass the Welland Canal, this fine vessel will be devoted to the Lake and River trade, making a weekly passage between Montreal and the head of Lake Ontario.

The Osprey, Capt, Patterson. -This is a fine side-wheel Passenger Steamer, under the control of Messrs. Henderson & Co., the Forwarders. She is also intended to take passengers, but as she can pass the Welland Canal, her trips may occasionally extend to Chicago and the far distant ports of Lakes Michigan and Superior. She is a very fine steamer of her class, and is under the command of Capt, Patterson, the youngest and last brother of that band of skillful but unfortunate Lake Navigators.

Of three fine Freight Steamers, belonging to Messrs. Jacques, Tracy & Co., tho Colonist, the Ottawa, and the Indian, the two former are on the Marine Railway, getting thoroughly overhauled, and the latter lies at the St. Lawrence Wharf, needing no repairs, but a little paint. Of the large fleet of schooners lying in every part of the harbor, we can only make mention of Mr. Willie Nicholl's John Breden, Capt. Taylor's Queen of the Lakes, Mr. Fennimore's J. A. Marsh, and Mr. Anglin's Princess Victoria, all beautiful specimens of naval architecture.

Of Steamers and Schooners building, there are several. Mr. Kinghorn, at the Marino Railway, is building a fine large Scow Steamer for the Cape Vincent trade, much larger than the Pierrepont, but not to draw more water. To pas tho Wolfe Island Canal, these Scow Steamers are specially adapted, being roomy, broad and seaworthy, drawing inches of water when other steamers draw feet. The new Iron Steamer that was to have been built by the late O. S. Gildersleeve, Esq., will be put up this summer by his brother, Mr. Charles Gildersleeve, who we are happy to say will carry out all his late brother's mercantile arrangements. Preparations have long been made in the slip alongside the Marine Railway Yard for the erection of the new steamer, as soon as her frame comes out from Scotland. A large schooner is also being built in the Marine Railway Yard, for sale when completed.--Mr. Berry, at his Yard at Portsmouth, has nearly completed the building of two fine and large schooners, for his own use. They will be launched so soon as the Navigation opens. The two vessels will be of 600 tons jointly, and be able to carry 11,000 bushels. Speaking of the Marine Railway in town, we must not forget to make mention of Mr. Ault's like Railway at Portsmouth, and a new Marine Railway built this winter by Mr. William Anglin, at his Wharf above Cataraqui Bridge, which is competent to draw out vessels drawing not more than six feet of water. This new Marine Railway will be found most useful and highly convenient for the repairs of Barges, Scows and small schooners, as access can at all times and seasons be had by reason of the stillness of the waters. And particularly so, when the City has made the purchase of the Military Lots for sale in the Place d'Armes, and located the new Hay and Wood Market.

Of Grain Elevators, machines now so necessary to a Grain Shipping Port, Kingston possesses no less a number than half a dozen. Mr. Berry has two Stationary Elevators in his Mill on his own wharf. These machines are of the largest size and newest construction. Messrs. J. Henderson & Co., (late Holcomb & Cowan) have two Floating Elevators, near their own premises; Messrs. Glassford & Jones have one Floating elevator, on their own wharf; and Messrs. Chaffey & Brothers have the other, a Floating one, making in all six. Although the trade was by no means good last season, yet such was the business done, that all these Elevators were kept busy nearly all the season. And this leads us to say, that the prospects for the coming season's business are not good. Although Ministers made Lord Monck issue his proclamation to thank the Almighty for a Bountiful Harvest, yet all the world knows that the last Harvest was a very poor one, not only in Canada, but in the United States; consequently the quantity to ship to Europe

this spring, where the markets are very dull, cannot be great, more especially now that the Southern ports are open down the Mississippi. In an ordinary good season, it will take a dozen Elevators to do the transhipping trade at Kingston, but so poor is the present prospect of the Spring trade at least, that the six here at present will be able to do all the work. And, yet in the good old times of Messrs. McPherson & Crane, Hooker & Henderson, &c., when an immense transhipping trade was done, there was not in Kingston a single Elevator to do it. How they did do it is a wonder.

Of Garden Island, the Depot of Messrs. Calvin & Breck's large establishment, lying opposite the business part of Kingston, we might write a whole column, were we properly posted. These gentlemen have the Government Tug Steamer Contract, and are obliged to keep up a service of eight or nine Steam Tugs to do all the work between Kingston and Montreal. Most of these vessels are lying at the Island wharfs, being fitted for the Spring Towing. Independent of these Steamers, Messrs Calvin & Breck are largely engaged in the Lumber Trade generally, and employ a great number of schooners, Of their own, to bring down Staves, &c., &c., from the Upper Lakes, to be rafted from Garden Island. In fact, in a commercial point of view, this large establishment is one of Kingston's greatest boasts, employing as it does many hundreds of men, tradesmen, sailors, raftsmen and laborers. Garden Island, as its name purports, which not many years ago was a delightful place Of rural and fishing recreation, is now almost covered with Dwelling houses, Warehouses, and Building Ships and Sheds. It forms part of the Township Of Wolfe Island, and its population is so great and influential that it always elects the Reeves of the Township. It was once the sole property of Colonel Cameron, but now belongs to D. D. Calvin, Esq., one of the most enterprising men of business that Canada possesses.

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21 March 1864
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Dave Swayze
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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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Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), 21 March 1864