The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), 14 Feb 1876

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p.3 Rapids Tug - Mr. Gilbert of Montreal has contract to build a chain tug for Gallops Rapids.

Feb. 15, 1876

p.2 City Council - VESSEL TAXATION

From Captain Taylor, et al, stating that some time since they had understood that the petition regarding vessel taxation had been sent to the Ontario Legislature; that they had been unable to learn what had become of it, and that they desired to know if the Council had received any communication respecting it, and if so that it be read; also that the Council take action thereon.

Ald. Drennan, in speaking of the letter, said the vessel men complained that in regard to this taxation they were unjustly treated, and they had good reasons for their complaints. Their communication therefore deserved the serious consideration of Council.

Ald. Gaskin said he understood that the petition came before a Select Committee of the House, three of whom said that the places which they represented did not assess vessels; that a fourth, Mr. Cameron, of Toronto, did not know whether the taxation were levied in that harbour; and in the opinion of the Committee the matter was in the hands of the Councils to deal with as they liked.

Mr. Robinson, M.P.P., who was present, was requested to explain the action of the Legislature on the petition. When brought up the Attorney General said it was impossible to act on it then, inasmuch as it would necessitate an amendment of the Municipal Act. However, as a Select Committee was being appointed he had this matter brought before them. Mr. Cameron was Chairman. Four of the committee said vessels were not taxed in the places they represented; Mr. Cameron said it was a question for the municipalities to deal with; in fact the latter contended that municipalities could not tax vessels. It was near the close of the session, so that the matter never came before the House at all. His individual opinion was that it injured the city more than any good it derived from the revenue.

Ald. Gaskin assured the Council that they were hardly aware of the benefits of encouraging vessel owners. The impression was that Kingston had a good natural harbour and will command the trade no matter what taxes are put on vessels. His experience was this. Kingston has a good harbour, but there are lots of places just as good for business purposes. Kingston was only a transhipping point; take that trade away and there was really nothing left in the place. Kingston should give the vessel men every encouragement to remain here. He mentioned the case of Capt. Patterson to show the hardship of the tax upon vessel owners. In 1873 Capt. Patterson gave Mr. Power a contract to build the hull of a propeller for $15,000. That year the boat was burned (the str. China - ed.) Another contract was entered into by Power & Co. and Davidson & Doran for a new steamer complete for $35,000, not knowing that Kingston demanded taxation. Before he was aware of it Capt. Patterson's partner in Hamilton wanted to build another steamer, and still another contract was made with Mr. Power for $23,000. Just at this time business got dull on the lakes, people began to lose money, and added to all came the Corporation assessment of $512. Capt. Patterson looked around to see what he could do. The people of Portsmouth made overtures to him, and for the past two winters he has laid up his boats at that village, and lived there himself and the cost to him is about $50, whereas if in Kingston his expense would be fully $1,000. The shipping trade generally should be encouraged, if it is not Kingston will lose it and in the absence of that it will be considered a one-horse city, and there will be nothing left to keep a man in it. (Applause.) He said that during the season 400 vessels visited the harbour; these spent on the average $200 each; not to speak of the forwarders' business. It was the general impression among people in Kingston that any person in the forwarding line of business was making money, and when the assessors came around their property was assessed at more than value. He made allusion to the absurd manner in which certain vessels and property had been assessed, wide of the true value, and far in excess. Thence he told them that the Company to which he was connected sought to get another convenient place at which their transhipping could be satisfactorily conducted, and thus escape the heavy burden of taxation. They felt that they had not been treated by the Council as they should be. The Council this year was an intelligent one, hence the reason they brought in and advocated the petition this year.

Ald. Drennan moved that Ald. McIntyre, Price, Gaskin, Power and the mover be a committee to examine the question of taxation of vessels and report at as early a day as possible.

Ald. Drennan remarked in connection with the resolution that it was intended that the Committee should enquire by post from east and west what was the policy in other places. Vessel property was certainly unlike other city property and called for discrimination.

Ald. McIntyre, as member of the Court of Revision last year had this petition before him. He sympathized with the vessel men as much as Alds. Drennan and Gaskin, and the conclusion came to was one they (the Court of Revision) thought met the case - that the Corporation petition the Local Legislature to empower them to tax the vessels at 6 per cent of their value. The Council could not exempt ship property from taxation; to petition the Legislature as they had recommended was all they could do. That is, supposing a vessel is worth $20,000, 6 per cent of her value would make $1,200. He was prepared, if they had the power, to move to that effect.

Several - Yes; do it.

Ald. Drennan said he would then withdraw the resolution.

The Mayor said that if the resolution were put in that shape he would have to rule against it.

Ald. Gaskin - How do you exempt manufactures?

Ald. McIntyre - Under a special act.

Ald. McKelvey moved, seconded by Ald. Gaskin, that in the opinion of this Council the assessment of floating property, such as steamboats and sailing vessels, under the present system was injurious to the trade of the city as well as to the owners of the same; that it would tend to increase trade if the assessment on vessels were made on the same basis as bank stock (income).

Ald. Price said the great difficulty was the want of capacity on the part of the Council to make any change. They as members of Council were sworn to carry out the law as they found it; the assessors were sworn to carry out the law under the instructions of the Solicitor, and the Court of Revision was bound to observe the law as they found it. He deprecated the idea upon which some of the vessel men were seeking the exemption; and argued that if these persons claimed release from taxes on account of hard times, the poor man and the merchant could ask for the same favor. The principle was the same. They should come to the Council with their petitions on a fair basis - they should tell the Council that their property is floating, that they do not receive any of the city improvements, and they should suggest, if possible, a means whereby the deficit in the revenue could be made up. By this course the vessel owners would enlist the interest of the citizens, and make their cause more popular. He was of opinion on the latter grounds that vessel property should not be taxed. He wished they had the intelligent Committee in Toronto who discovered that they need not be assessed, tho' the taxes were levied on vessel property in Toronto, and in addition $11,000 were collected for harbour dues. He did not know the Toronto basis; if according to the Municipal Act it stood upon value. The Court of Revision had for two or three years tried to get over the difficulty as much as possible. He should be glad if some arrangement were effected by which floating property could be legally exempted without a violation of the Act and without offence to the people.

After some further unimportant skirmishing,

Ald. McIntyre moved, seconded by Ald. Drennan, that it is expedient that floating property should be assessed at 6 per cent of their value.

Ald. Price - Make it ten per cent.

Ald. McIntyre said he made it 6 per cent, such having been the recommendation of the Court of Revision some time ago, and he made the calculation on value because it could be more readily got at than the income. He repeated, however, that the Council could not grant any exemption; that the vessel men for that purpose might as well petition the Calico Ball Committee as the Council. The Legislature only had the power.

Ald. McKelvey withdrew his resolution. His only desire was to keep the vessel men in Kingston. If the 6 per cent scheme pleased them it pleased him.

Ald. McGammon said that the vessel men should base their petition on the fact that they were mostly heads of families and already paid taxes for private residences; that in Spring when the vessels are outfitting a large amount of money is spent in repairs, mechanics are employed and men in their line of business largely benefitted; that beside they have to pay an additional tax of 30 cents on every ton of goods which they carry on entering American ports. He thought the public would not grumble at the remission of taxes on the craft. He supported Ald. McIntyre's resolution in preference to Ald. McKelvey's, feeling that it would be hard to estimate the vessel earnings.

Ald. McKelvey asked Ald. McIntyre if he would see his resolution carried out?

Ald. McIntyre - We can recommend it; there ends our power.

Ald. McRossie intimated that the vessel men felt satisfied with the proposal.

Ald. McIntyre's resolution then passed.


Ald. McIntyre handed in the petition of Geo. Offord, et al, to the effect that the construction of Power's graving dock was of great value to the city; that the difficulty of constructing a dry dock by unaided private enterprise was so great that the petitioners feared the work now commenced on the dry dock will not be completed without substantial aid from the corporation in the shape of a bonus or stock; that the petitioners recommend the subscription of stock, etc. Referred to the Committee on Finance to report.

FINANCE - The Committee respecting the Powers' (graving dock) communication, recommended that the city should subscribe by stock, to the amount of $15,000, and that the debentures necessary for the payment thereof should be extended over a period of twenty years.

Ald. McIntyre moved, seconded by Ald. Drennan, that the report be adopted. In moving this Ald. McIntyre said that it would be patent to everyone, more especially to shipowners, who were interested, the importance of such a scheme. There was but one dock of the kind between Montreal and Port Dalhousie, and that, an insignificant one, was at Ogdensburg. If carried out, the scheme would employ from 60 to 100 men, and at least $20,000 will be spent in Kingston annually. The Committee unanimously decided that it was a beneficial scheme and should be aided. After consultation with the Solicitor they believed they could not grant a bonus nor a loan, therefore the only way assistance could be given was by the city subscribing stock in the dock. The capital stock was $50,000; it will require fully $20,000 to complete it, and if the city subscribed $15,000 the balance would be forthcoming and the project completed. He informed them that a bylaw would have to be submitted to the people. Their vote settled the matter.

Ald. Gaskin appreciated Mr. Powers' business enterprise, but it was surprising that in this city, where there were so many wealthy men, enough private stock could not be raised for the dock. Under the present state of financial depression it would be injudicious for the city to take stock, for the simple reason that if the dry dock stands on its own bottom it will not pay a single dollar.

The Mayor and the Committee thought it well to recommend what they did -to let the people pass upon it, owing to the large and influentially signed petition which accompanied the communication.

Ald. Price wanted to know the estimated cost, how much stock was subscribed, the nature of work done and to be done, the probable profits, etc. He did not wish to vote blindly even if the bylaw did go before the people.

Ald. Dupuis felt obliged to vote against the motion. He could not approve of the scheme until he received more data concerning it - until he had been shown such figures as proved it to be a paying concern.

Ald. McGammon agreed with the two previous speakers. The city's experience in joint stock affairs had been a failure. A large amount of money had thus been squandered; at least it had not been successfully handled.

Ald. Gildersleeve deprecated the summary disposal of any case or any project. The better way was to amend the report recommending that the Solicitor draft a by-law, and in the meantime the merits of the case can be ascertained and discussed. Any scheme which was likely to benefit the city should not be summarily dismissed. The city could not afford to throw away any chance of cultivating business.

Ald. Carson did not think it wise to subscribe stock in the concern.

Ald. McIntyre amended his report in accordance with Ald. Gildersleeve's suggestion.

Ald. Dupuis moved, seconded by Ald. Dupuis, that the discussion referring to the graving dock be laid over until in receipt of information regarding the practicability of the scheme and its safety as an investment to the city.

The amendment was lost: yeas 6, nays 9. The report was adopted by a vote of 9 to 6.

p.3 Easier - vessels to be taxed at lower rates.

Feb. 16, 1876

p.3 sch. Dundee, prop. Alma Munro and str. City of Sandusky damaged at Port Stanley by ice and flood.

Feb. 17, 1876


Feb. 18, 1876


Feb. 19, 1876


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14 Feb 1876
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), 14 Feb 1876