The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
St. Catharines Journal (St. Catharines, ON), August 1, 1842

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Irish Laborers - There are in this vicinity, but chiefly along the line of canal, where the new locks are to be constructed, several hundreds of Irish laborers, who have flocked her from the United States, for the purpose of finding employment upon our public works - operations upon which, have scarcely as yet been begun, owing to the delay that has taken place in giving out the contracts; so that those who have taken the four that have been let, cannot, if they would, give employment to one in ten of those who are waiting for it.

To those unacquainted with the nature of such improvements as are now going forward, on the Welland Canal, it may seem that little progress has been made; but this is a mistake; whatever may be thought to the contrary, we do not believe that blame can justly attach any where; indeed, we know that Mr. Power, the chief engineer, has been most indefatigable in his exertions to facilitate the further letting of the work, and which will be given out, with as much haste as the public interest will possibly allow.

But this forms no ground of reason with these canallers, for their not being employed; and they are now demanding work or provisions, with threats and an insolence, that cannot nor will not be submitted to, by the inhabitants whose lives and property are now apparently at the mercy of a lawless mob. Twice, within four days past, have they, in hundreds, paraded the streets here, threatening to plunder the mills and store houses if immediate employment or provisions were not given them, and only retired upon the assurances of Mr. Merritt, Mr. Power, and the contractors, that they should have work immediately, or means provided for their subsistence.

So stands the case now; but what will be the result, is not easy to foresee, for employment for one half, cannot be had, for some time to come; and as for the idea of furnishing them with food, in the interim, it is in the highest degree preposterous; for, for one who is here now, we should have ten in one week, and twenty the next, until the whole Irish population of both countries would be upon us. There is no doubt but that there are many among the laborers, here, who are really destitute, and were it possible to select them for those who are not, their wants would be instantly supplied; for there is no want of benevolent disposition here to relieve the necessitous; but such is their deceptiveness of character, that the most sturdy, shabby-looking and insolent beggars, are those who have ample means supporting themselves. It is this peculiarity that deprives them of public sympathy, and the first act of depredation on their part would be followed by a fearful retaliation.

We have heard it rumored that three companies of the 93rd regiment, at Toronto, are to be stationed here and along the line of the canal, to aid the civil authorities in preserving peace and protecting the lives and property of the inhabitants - a precaution on the part of the government, which, if true, will no doubt prevent disagreeable consequences.

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August 1, 1842
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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), August 1, 1842