The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 15 Nov 1892

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The Workingmen's Reply.

Kingston, Nov. 14th - To the Editor:

I attended the workingmen's meeting, yesterday afternoon, thinking I would hear the charges of dishonesty, made by Capt. Gaskin against the workingmen of Kingston, discussed, but I was disappointed, consequently I decided, with your permission, to express my opinion in print.

Capt. Gaskin's outrageous statement, the workingmen of this city are nothing short of thieves, was given prominence; therefore I trust you will let me make some plain statements as well. He did not mince matters; please give me the same privilege. The Whig has always given workingmen fair play so perhaps the foregoing request is superfluous.

Capt. Gaskin gave as a reason why the M.T. company would not build the proposed new steamer here that the workingmen did not earn their wages. How absurd. Anyone with common sense can understand that the building of a large steel steamer requires a practical and experienced superintendent of construction. As no such man would come here for one winter's work the building must be done elsewhere. Would any firm be wise in placing an ordinary sailor man in such a responsible position with $150,000 at stake? I venture to say that Capt. Gaskin could not read intelligently the specifications for such a boat let alone superintend the work. He is not even a practical shipbuilder, certainly he is not a marine architect, but for all that he expects people to believe that it is owing to dishonesty of workingmen that the boat will be built in the old country and that he is competent to do his part.

I can remember when the Minnedosa was built. The News gave John Gaskin the credit of being the builder, when he had actually no more to do with her construction than the time-keeper. A Garden Islander, an intelligent and excellent man, deserved the credit, but as the captain wanted all the glory, as usual, he was kept in the background. The cruel treatment broke the man's heart.

Again I say that if the M.T. company had a competent man in the shipyard the new boat would be built here. I would consider it no more ridiculous to appoint Capt. Gaskin a professor in Queen's university than to make him superintendent of construction of a steel steamer. He is as fit for one as the other.

About his puffing up American workingmen to the detriment of Canadians, where has he been to qualify himself to judge. An occasional trip to Oswego and Charlotte for a barge load of coal and a run up the lakes does not do so. If he reads he must know that there are ten strikes in the old country and the states for every one in Canada. Concerning wages, I will say that the locomotive works, taking cost of living into consideration, paid as high wages, when busy, as are paid in the states. But with regard to the M.T. company, they only shipbuild during the winter, when men are out of work and are glad to accept small pay to keep them out of debt. Perhaps Capt. Gaskin does not take advantage of their position. To good carpenters he gives $1.25 per day. As canny as Capt. Gaskin is in money matters I don't think he could keep a family on $7.50 a week.

To prove that what the captain said is not true I challenge him to produce a statement showing the cost of the Minnedosa. He values her at a fabulous sum. I forget what. If she was not built for less than any other similar vessel in Canada or the United States I will send ten dollars to the poor house. I know what she cost. I have no fear, however, of his even attempting to prove his statement.

Does it not strike you, Mr. Editor, that the M.T. Co. will not thank their wharf manager for, at this particular time, alienating the workingmen? They are property holders and can vote for or against a bonus towards the new elevator. No one can blame them if they take their turn at the wheel. How comfortable the M.T. Co. employees must feel after the captain's printed opinion of them!

I term Capt. Gaskin's statement a wanton attack on the workingmen of Kingston, a thousand, at least, among them whom are his superiors in many respects. Were I the captain I would think twice before reflecting on any man's character.


General Paragraphs - The str. Maud pulled the Lorelei off the bottom at Big Bay yesterday.

The schr. White Oak has arrived from Fairhaven with coal for Breck & Booth. She went over with barley for Richardson. Capt. Dix will make another trip to Oswego before laying up for the season.

Had A Close Call - Lee's bureau of information tells of a letter from R. Green, fireman on board the str. Tilley. The vessel's tow broke away on Lake Superior and Green nearly lost his life by the shifting of the cargo. The weather was terrific. Messrs. Mitchell and Young, of this city, were sailors on the barge Benson.

p.2 another letter to editor commenting on Gaskin's statements about local workingmen in Nov. 5th's Whig.



Clearances: tug Bronson, Montreal, four barges.

The str. Rosedale will clear for Fort William today to load wheat for Kingston. This will probably be the Rosedale's last trip.

Arrivals: schr. Delaware, Oswego, coal; steambarge Nile, lumber, Ottawa to Clayton, via Kingston; barge Isis, Deseronto, lumber.

The steambarge Quebec was to have left today with 1,000 barrels of apples for Ottawa and Montreal. The apples were from Prince Edward county.

The schr. Benson, in tow of the prop. Tilley, was so badly shaken up on Lake Superior that she is not fit to make another across Lake Superior.

This afternoon R. Davis, of the dry-dock, left for Quebec to look over machinery for Capt. Donnelly. It will be used in a steamboat to be built in the west.

Nicholas Henderson has just completed another profile view of the proposed M.T. Company steamer, to be built in England this winter. The engines are more centrally located in this plan.

Capt. Burns, of the excursion steamer Columbia, plying between Buffalo and Niagara Falls, has returned to the city for the winter. Capt. Burns is a shareholder in the boat and had a successful season.

Missing Schooner Reported.

Chicago, Nov. 15th - Anxiety about the big schooner Marion W. Page was allayed Monday by arriving steamers, which reported that they had passed the Page off Kewaunee, Wis., sailing up the lake, apparently in good shape.

The Page was cast adrift off Washington Island 10 days ago by the steamer Waverly and was almost a week overdue. The schooner reported as flying distress signals proved to be the Sturgis and not the Sheldon. The Sturgis is at anchor under Peninsular Point and refused the services of a tug. She is without a cargo.

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15 Nov 1892
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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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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 15 Nov 1892