The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), 14 Apr 1855

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p.2 Spring Walk No.3 - Wharves of Kingston

p.3 ad for steamer Sir Charles Napier running to Cape Vincent.

Spring Walk no. III


There seems to have been a sudden determination this Spring on the part of the Kingston Wharfingers to increase their wharf accommodations, by running out into the harbor at inconceivable lengths. It is more than doubtful, even aided by a City By-Law, whether they have any legal right to do this thing, since the extent and safety of the Harbor have both been seriously affected thereby, but since it has been done, our present duty is simply to notify the changes and improvements. But first let us speak of the upper harbor, and that part of it above the Bridge.

The good people of Kingston have singular notions of what is "up" and what is "down." Speaking of the Great Cataraqui, which runs down from Kingston Mills, they invariably say "down to Kingston Mills," and "below the bridge," forgetful that the Mills are sixty feet above the level of Kingston Harbor, And they do this because the Rideau Canal is one of the ways down to Montreal, via Bytown. Bytown is certainly below Kingston, but it is equally certain that it is "up" all the way to the summit level of the Canal, (Rideau Lake,) and thence "down" all the way to Bytown. But let us get back to our muttons. Above Cataraqui Bridge, there is ample wharfage room, very little of which is as yet appropriated. On the City side, Nature intends the whole of that shallow part across which a line may be drawn from the Tete du Pont to the Ferguson property, and comprising about eleven acres in extent, to be the site of one vast Railroad Depot. Nearly the whole of the frontage belongs to the Ordnance Department, a body that seldom stands in the way of local improvement; but that small part which is private property is rapidly being covered with wharves extending themselves yearly farther and farther into the harbor. Two fresh additions have been made this spring at great cost and labor, and when this expanse is devoted to its legitimate destination, these improvements will have to be paid for through the nose; whereas had timely application been made to the Imperial Government and Provincial Legislature for an Act to make this a Railroad Depot, this extra cost would have been avoided. One thing is quite sure, the Grand Trunk Railroad may make their Depot where they please, but their reign won't last forever, as the People of Kingston will sooner or later bring a Railroad into the City to connect with the Wharves. And no place is so well adapted for a Depot as the expanse of dead water now alluded to, and which when filled in and covered with buildings, will mend the health of the City materially, now suffering every Spring and Fall from Fever and Ague. The Kingston and Smith's Falls Railroad Bill is before the Legislature, and though many years may elapse ere that Road be built, yet in that Bill, it would be well to secure the advantages of this Railroad Depot site.

On the other side of the upper Harbour, between the Cataraqui Bridge and the Point of Green Bay, is a shore about a third of a mile in length, being the water frontage of Barriefield Parade Ground. This shore is admirably adapted for wharves. The water, unlike that on the City side, is sweet, clear and deep. Within a dozen feet or so of the shore, there are nine feet of water, increasing to twelve and fourteen a little way farther out. This is Ordnance Property, but the Imperial Government makes no use of it. A strip of one hundred feet taken lengthways and fenced off would improve the Parade Ground instead of damaging it; and while the Ordnance Authorities are leasing every portion of their unused lands, this would also be so leased, if application be made. In plain fact, intimation has been given that such would be the fact. But this difficulty exists. The Ordnance Authorities will not give their lands to those who apply for them. When application is made and the local officer recommends it, the property is put into the market and leased to the highest bidder; and thus many men who long have had their eyes directed to this valuable strip of land, have been timid in applying for it, fearing that they might work for others' benefit, and trusting to some future chance to obtain it for themselves at a reasonable rate. The Corporation of Kingston might make the application with a probable chance of non-competition; for the Imperial Government often accords favors to corporate bodies which they will not grant to private individuals. Were this strip of land so obtained, twelve full-sized wharves could be put out, with slips between each, and they would bring in a never failing revenue to the city; since these wharves would become a Depot for all the lumber brought down through the Rideau Canal to Kingston for shipment to the United States. Were the people of Kingston not the almost [something missing??] people on the face of the habitable earth, they would see at once the advantages of the project we advocate, and take immediate measures to secure them. So much for the Upper Harbor, now for the Lower, or Kingston Harbour proper.

Among the wharf improvements and extensions now making, those of Messrs. A. & D. Shaw are the greatest. It may be recollected that their water side premises, including part of the wharves, once the property of the late Mr. Garratt, were burnt down late last fall, and it became necessary to rebuild them, with new and larger piers and slips. While we write this is being done with great expedition, and at an immense outlay of money. These Piers extending far beyond all others, need only the top finishing to perfect them, and now Warehouses, to be covered with sheet iron, are being put up rapidly. The slips on each side of the outward piers, and those within them will afford accommodation to all vessels who come, and none need fear a departure for want of a berth. When fully completed, and all the Warehouses built, this wharf will be the most capacious of any one in British North America; nay, it would be difficult to find its equal in any part of the United States. The Wharf and Warehouse accommodation, scanty as it comparatively is, rents this year at £750 per annum, but what it will fetch when finished, is more than we can conjecture. To Captain McGill Chambers, in connection with Mr. Peter Farrell, the premises have been leased, and no better men can be found to make a business and to push it. The adjoining wharf, ("Cartwright's,") rented by Mr. Kinghorn, having been blocked up by these recent extensions, it is more likely that the United States steamers will no longer touch at their long established place of business; in which case they must use this new wharf of Messrs. Chambers and Farrell, to which will come regularly, the Cape Vincent steamer, the Sir Charles Napier, that takes the place of the Star of last year. One Bay of Quinte steamer will also stop here, and Mr. Farrel's new vessel, the Rideau Canal steamer Fire Fly, will likewise make this wharf its customary stopping place. So that no lack of business need be apprehended.

The damage done by fire last year at another Wharf, that known as "Jones' Wharf," adjoining the Barracks, has been partially repaired this Spring. The property was bought last summer conjointly by Mr. Wm. Anglin and Mr. M. Flanagan, who have leased it to Mr. Samuel Anglin, now busy rebuilding and extending the wharf, with the intention of putting up the warehouses on some future occasion. This Wharf is extremely well adapted as a Depot for Lumber shipped to the United States, to which use, in all probability it will be devoted.

Capt. Putnam, favorably known to the travelling community, as the Master of the Mail River Steamer Ottawa, has quitted that employment and leased those ample premises at the foot of Princess St., known by various names, but recently purchased by Messrs. Brown & Harty, who entirely rebuilt both wharf and warehouses last summer. The latter are fire proof, and the former is one of the most compact and commodious wharves in Kingston Harbor. Here Capt. Putnam must do a large and lucrative general business, chiefly with Freight Steamers and Schooners. On this Wharf is full Storehouse room for 7,000 barrels of flour, with berths for three first class steamers, and from its admirable position, the most easy of access of any in the Harbour.

Messrs. Hooker and Henderson have shifted their premises this season, having leased the whole of Mr. Scobell's Wharf, with the Stone Warehouses in rear. It is on this Wharf that their Office is located, and it is to the Kingston business that Mr. Elijah Hooker, now residing here, devotes his attention. Their freight vessels, including some of the finest afloat, will always make this wharf their stopping place.

Messrs. Holcomb & Henderson, (late McPherson & Crane) will continue to do their large Forwarding Business at Fraser's Wharf, foot of Clarence Street, and it is here that their Freight Steamers and Schooners will be found when in port. Their Office remains where it did last year, viz., in Clarence Street, immediately below the British American Hotel.

At the St. Lawrence Wharf, Mr. Bowen will continue to do business, but leaving as he has done the management to Mr. Joseph Doyle, the firm will in future be known as "Joseph Doyle & Company." A very large amount of general business has ever been done at this Wharf, more especially since it came into the hands of the present Leasees, and a large business will continue to be done here. Four of the River Mail Steamers, the Champion , Banshee, the New Era, and St. Lawrence, and two of the Lake Mail Steamers, the Magnet and the Arabian will make this Wharf their Kingston Depot. That fine vessel, the Bay of Quinte, will also stop here, and so will one of the Rideau Canal Steamers, the Prince Albert, and probably many others that we know not of. Mr. Doyle is one of the most accommodating and obliging Wharfingers living, and most captains of vessels like to stop at his wharf.

At the Commercial Wharf, Mr. Hamilton will still do his own business, making it the stopping place of one Mail Lake Steamer the Passport, and of two River Mail Steamers, the Ottawa, and his new iron boat, expected up soon from Montreal.

On Cartwright's Wharf, Mr. Kinghorn, partly blocked up as his approaches are, will yet do a good business; for his connections are large, and his reputation as a fair dealing man of business most excellent. Next year it is his intention to run out his wharf to the full extremity the City By-Law permits, and then, instead of being blocked up, he may confer a like favor upon his neighbors. The commodious and extensive Fire Proof Stone Warehouses on this Wharf will always make it a favorite Depot for bonded goods.

While writing about the Manufactories of Kingston, we shall pay a proper tribute to those carried on at Walker & Berry's Wharf and Premises.

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14 Apr 1855
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
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Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), 14 Apr 1855