The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
St. Catharines Journal (St. Catharines, ON), March 29, 1838

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Welland Canal Navigation

We regret to observe, in the report of a committee in the U.S. Congress, on the subject of constructing a ship canal around the falls of Niagara, on the American side of the river, that a very erroneous impression prevails, even in that august body, in regard to the effect the late temporary insurrectionary disturbances in this province, will have upon their future commercial intercourss through the Welland Canal - as will be seen by the following extract: -

"Under such a state of things our citizens cannot be expected to use the Welland Canal, even for commercial purposes; and should the Canadian government proffer its use ever so sincerely or freely, it is not be supposed that such a proposition would be accepted or that merchants or others would risk the passage of their property through a country embroiled in the horrours of a civil war."

This is a grand mistake. No "horrible" civil commotion has ever existed in our colony. The puny attempt of the demagogues Mackenzie, Duncombe & Co. to overthrow the existing order of things, was a most miserable failure - a mere farce, as to the success it met with - scarcely deserving the name of anything more than a petty marauding party, of sufficient strength only to rob an unguarded mail coach, and burn a few defenceless dwellings, to murder an unarmed citizen, and then flee their country, to save their necks from the gallows. The whole business was entirely set at rest, within the province, in ten days from the first commcement of the out-break, without the assistance of a single British red coat; and the militia returned home, and resumed their peaceful occupations - where they would have quietly remained to this day, most probably, and for many years to come, but for the mistaken "sympathy" of these same neighbours, who now imagine such serious danger from entrusting their property upon the waters of our canals.

We again repeat, not only to the former patrons of the Welland Canal, but to those merchants in the Western States particularly, who may hereafter design to avail themselves of this medium of conveyance for their goods and merchandise to and from the Atlantick coast, that the utmost confidence may be placed in the assurances of the directors of a perfectly safe, cheap and expeditious passage of all American property that may be directed by this route.

As a further and most important consideration to induce both the Eastern and Western traders of the U. States to prefer this route as the medium of transportation, especially for heavy goods, we subjoin the following abstract from the same report in Congress, above alluded to, to prove the great advantages the Welland Canal possesses over the Erie Canal, as far as our extends: -

"It is well established by both theory and experiment, that in canal navigation the expense of transportation is in the increase ratio of the vessel in which the commodity is transported, therefore in the construction of canals, it is desirable, in point of ecomony, to give them that width which will enable them to float the largest class of vessels. By way of illustrating this proposition, a statistical account of the conpositive expense of transporting from the city of New York to Detroit, by way of Oswego and the Welland Canal, and by way of the Erie Canal, through Buffalo, is appended. The Oswego route substitutes the lake vessel instead of canal boats and cuts off about two hundred miles of the Erie Canal. From an estimate before the Committee, it appears, that in 1835 about 25,000 tons of merchandise was shipped through the ports of Oswego, and Buffalo, four fifths passing the latter place. Had the whole passed through either port, it is ascertained tha the different rates charged from the different ports, would have left the result in favour of the port of Oswego, (through the Welland Canal,) as follows:

Freight of 25,000 tons, via Buffalo:$600,000
Freight of 25,000 tons via Oswego &c.:335,000
Amount saved by the Oswego route:265,000
in the transportation of merchandise from New York to Cleveland, Ohio, in one year.

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March 29, 1838
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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), March 29, 1838