The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 16 Jan 1897

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Agitation For Retention of the Grain Trade.

It is an old saying, and a true one, that there is nothing new under the sun. The recent agitation for the erection of a grain elevator here to prevent the grain carrying trade going past Kingston to Prescott and elsewhere, is not new by any means. In a copy of the Argus, published in this city on Friday, December 17th, 1847, appears this article, under the heading of "A New Project."

"At the present moment, when the utmost exertions are being made in all quarters to improve the means of transport and secure the carrying trade of the river St. Lawrence, when we see Cobourg, Toronto, Hamilton, Niagaraand the different ports on Lake Erie, each turning out their steamers for navigating the waters direct to Montreal without transhipment or the necessity of touching at Kingston, and when rumors are abroad that a portion of our forwarding companies contemplate removing their establishments to Brockville and Prescott, it is surely full time for the people to be up and doing to prevent a worse calamity befalling them than even the removal of the seat of government from the town, namely, the loss of the carrying trade to the sea, and as a port of transhipment of the merchandise and produce of the province.

To combat this evil in time it appears to us nothing is more wanting than to discard the antiquated and useless craft at present employed on the route between here and Montreal, and in lieu to call a class of steamers and barges into existence by which the transit of produce between these ports will be conducted cheaply, safely and with dispatch.

At this critical juncture we are happily provided with a scheme, prepared some months ago by an individual of the town, who has been long and intimately connected with the forwarding business for the establishment of a steam tug and forwarding company in the place, which scheme we submit to our readers, and we apprehend that if carried into operation will put all other competition out of the question."

Appended to this was an outline of the project to establish a "steam tug and forwarding company, with a capital stock of 16,500 pds." The equipment was to consist of three steam tugs, each of sixty horsepower, nine covered barges, warehouses at Kingston and Montreal, equipment for transhipping, etc., and the total outlay was estimated at 16,500 pds. The running expenses for one season was estimated at 27,975 lbs., leaving a balance of earnings of 12,500 lbs.

Subjoining this project was a requisition signed by a number of citizens and merchants, calling a public meeting in the city hall on Monday, December 27th, 1847, to take into consideration the expediency of adopting the scheme. The outcome of that meeting would make interesting reading, as the agitation shows that even fifty years ago the inhabitants were alive to the importance of the grain carrying trade and actually took steps towards keeping it here by providing such means of transhipment as the times then demanded. In spite of the warning of a half century ago the trade was allowed to slip away and what naturally belongs to this port is being wnjoyed elsewhere.


The steamboat inspection board of the United States has sent out a new circular calling for large additional equipment of passenger steamers plying to American ports. The circular requires that steamers shall be outfitted according to their gross tonnage, and the enforcement of this regulation will severely handicap Canadian vessels, as American boats of small tonnage carry less equipment for passengers than Canadian vessels that are of greater tonnage.

For instance, the str. Corsican of the R. & O. navigation company's line, carries 400 passengers, measures 1,203 tons and is 157 feet in length. The Empire State, which is under American inspection, carries 800 passengers, measures only 321 tonnage and is 175 feet in length.

According to the new rule the Corsican would have to be equipped according to her 1,203 tons, while the Empire State of only 321 tons carries double the number of passengers that the Corsican does.

Capt. T. Donnelly was spoken to on the subject this morning and said he had received a copy of the circular. He has made a special report to the department of marine on the subject.

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16 Jan 1897
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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pd [more details]
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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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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 16 Jan 1897