The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 27 Aug 1897

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Board Of Trade Members Are Unanimous.

A special meeting of the local board of trade was held in the city council chamber last evening to discuss the subject of the proposed bonus to the M.T. company to assist in defraying the expenses of erecting a grain elevator, and to retain the company's business in this city. President Chadwick was in the chair; and the members present were: Aldermen John McKelvey, T. Donnelly, C.W. Wright, R. Kent, Mooers, Richardson; Isaac Simpson, W.B. Dalton, B.M. Britton, Q.C., M.P., W.H. Birkett, L. Henderson, Capt. Gaskin, S. Harkness, George McGowan, James Minnes, John Hewton, W.H. Macnee, James Redden, James Lesslie, John Donnelly, George Richardson, Dr. L. Clements, Capt. John Breden, R. Seaton, Capt. Crawford and P. Keating. Secretary King was in attendence also.

President Chadwick explained the object of the meeting and said that in 1892 the M.T. company offered to build an elevator here if the city would give a free site. The offer was rejected and Prescott then built an elevator. Two others were erected before Kingston woke up to a realization of her own interests, and made an offer which was accepted by the Mooers company. A deputation recently interviewed and arrived at an agreement with the M.T. company, and this agreement is now before the people. The board is opposed to the Mooers' elevator company, but it is believed there is room and need for another elevator here.

By request Capt. Gaskin made the first address. He said he had long been trying to have an elevator built here - even before G.M. Kinghorn left the city. He got together statistics and laid them before a meeting of the company, the members of which thought there was no money for them in it. The time had not arrived, they said, when we in Canada could afford to handle grain as they do in the United States. The matter remained quiet till the mayor of Prescott wrote to him (Capt. Gaskin) asking him to join with the corporation of that town in erecting an elevator. He, being a Kingstonian, and having all his interests here, "could not see it that way" and referred the mayor to his company, which declined the request. Prescott built the elevator however, and the company saw that to compete successfully with Prescott they must control an elevator here.

The speaker thought when the Mooers company received the bonus that the right persons had not got the chance, and he felt like giving opposition to that company. He did not, however, and whoever says so says what is untrue. Unless some person who owns or controls a line of boats builds an elevator here the M.T. company will leave the city, as it cannot retain its trade unless it has control of the trans-shipping facilities. All summer the company has been carrying grain from Kingston for the same price as was paid for carrying it from Prescott. This cannot last, and if an elevator be not built the company will leave. The company handles about 13,000,000 bushels of grain a year - 7,000,000 here and 6,000,000 down the river. If an elevator were built here the grain would all be handled here, calling for a good many more men than are now employed. This would attract men to the city and would mean a lightening of the taxes. If the elevator be built the company will about double the number of its employees and make the staff about 1,400. The locomotive works will not be able to build barges rapidly enough to meet the demands of the company, because steel barges will be needed to replace the pin-flats and other old styles. The M.T. company is not begging. That company has plenty of money. That company did as well last year as ever it did. But it should be remembered that part of the business was done at Prescott and part at Ogdensburg. The company represents a far larger tonnage than all other tonnage on the St. Lawrence.

The speaker said he was not actuated by a desire for the welfare of the company only. His interest in the city is greater than his interest in the company, and his first desire is to see the city prosper. He has always had all work done in Kingston that he could get. Any one who goes aboard any of the company's boats will see hanging up in a prominent place a placard stating that all the work needed to be done for the boats can be done in Kingston, and must be done here.

Capt. Donnelly endorsed all Capt. Gaskin had said about the working of the M.T. company, which has always done right by the city; and Capt. Gaskin's bitterest opponent has never said he has not done his best for the city. It seemed to him that if one elevator were good for the city, two would be better. He did all he could to have the Mooers company's bonus passed, and he thought he would be remiss in his duty if he did not work as hard for the M.T. company bonus. Any other city in Canada, having Kingston's advantages, would gladly give three times as much as the M.T. company is asking for the same return. That company has, in regard to the purchase of its engines, done better for Kingston than the city would do for itself, buying engines here when the city paid lower prices and bought engines in Toronto. If the by-law be defeated the people will be criminally negligent. We will stand a far better chance of competing with Prescott and Ogdensburg if we get the second elevator. We are giving $25,000 to assist in building an elevator - as we did to the Mooers company. But we are giving $10,000 more for - what? To retain here a business that employs 400 or 500 men constantly. Would not Toronto or Montreal jump at an offer like that?

From the way business is running now he, if he were the owner of a line of grain-carrying barges, would think twice before binding himself to keep his business in Kingston, or any other one point, for twenty years. Fifty reasons, good reasons, may arise to induce the removal. He would state that, to his knowledge, very advantageous offers were made to Capt. Gaskin about a week ago in Prescott, to induce him to assist in having the company's Kingston business moved to Prescott, which Capt. Gaskin declined. A concern like the M.T. company would not be long retained in Kingston by a penalty of $2,000 for removing. Prescott is anxious to have the company's Kingston business, and will build docks and maky any other arrangements to accommodate the company there.

Alderman McKelvey was sure it was a good sign that where so many business men were present not one was opposed to granting the bonus. He moved the following resolution, seconded by George Richardson: "That we deem it of the utmost importance to the citizens of Kingston that the bonus of $35,000 to the M.T. Co., for the purpose of building an elevator, and retaining their trans-shipping, shipbuilding and repairing business here, for twenty years be carried; and we pledge ourselves to do all we can to persuade our fellow citizens to vote for said bylaw, and we form ourselves into a committee to promote the passage of the by-law."

Ald. McKelvey said that if anyone were present to oppose the scheme at the opening of the meeting they must now be converted. Now is the time when the hard struggle for Kingston's interests is on. Is it not important to keep here a company employing so many men and expending so much money as does the M.T. company? He did not desire to pay more taxes than he does, but he did wish to do more business. He was quite satisfied to admit that he did business with the M.T. company and made money out of it. But, he asked, what business house in the city did not benefit by the existence here of the company? He wanted to make more money out of it in the future than he had in the past.

George Richardson said that if the by-law was defeated and the M.T. Co. moves from Kingston, the Mooers company will be in a very bad plight, and the members of the Mooers company should be out working in favor of the by-law, rather than opposing it. Practically, the M.T. Co. controls the grain trade on the St. Lawrence.

The resolution was carried unanimously.

B.M. Britton, Q.C., M.P., said it was the duty of Kingstonians to endeavor to bring business here rather than to let it slip, through negligence, away to some other place. Our population is not increasing, trade is not increasing or reviving, and if any means of improving the existing state of affairs can be devised, the fullest attention should be given to try and bring such means to fruition. He was sorry the M.T. Co. did not accept the city's first offer. But when it did not he was pleased that the Mooers company did. But the question is asked among the citizens, "What good will an isolated elevator do to the city?" and it is felt that an elevator built and operated by a company like the M.T. Co. will be of much greater benefit than will an isolated concern like that of the Mooers company.

The company has entered into an agreement by which it must pay $65,000 of its own money into the undertaking. And we may take it for granted that the company will make the scheme pay. And the more it pays the company, the more it will pay the city. That is what Kingston wants. The advocates of the second bylaw are not hostile to the Mooers company. The second elevator is to be built by a company that controls a line of vessels by means of which the scheme can be made to pay. If the second elevator be not built, we are assured that the M.T. Co. will remove from Kingston. Then we lose the company's business, and if no other company comes in and fills the vacancy, the business will not be done here. Kingston will lose the benefit of the trade, and some other place will reap benefit from our loss. The speaker was sorry that Mr. Mooers or his representative, should, in council the other night, oppose this by-law. He hoped to see a cordial spirit of mutual assistance between the two companies.

The only argument advanced against the granting of the bonus is to the effect that the M.T. Co. will build the elevator anyway. If he believed that, he, as a citizen, would be loathe to vote for the bonus by-law. But it is positively and emphatically stated that the company will leave Kingston if the bonus be not granted. Under these circumstances he could do nothing but give the company the benefit of the doubt and vote for the by-law.

With Capt. Donnelly, the speaker thought he would hesitate to bind himself to retain his business in Kingston for twenty years for $10,000. He felt that the building of the elevator would add to the wealth and prosperity of the city. The company, intent upon carrying out its part of the agreement has got to work, and is surveying the harbor, and preparing to make improvements that cannot but help the city.

The minister of public works sees the importance of improving the harbors of the country, and, while he has not promised anything definitely to the speaker, he (Mr. Britton,) felt assured that when he (the minister) saw the plant, etc., on the waterfront, ready to enhance the value and use of the harbors, he would be more ready to assist in improving those harbors.

James Minnes, sr., felt that all citizens should, if they consult their own interests, get out and work for the by-law. It would be an incalculable loss to have the M.T. Co. remove to another place.

Capt. Crawford pointed out that anything that benefited a local company must benefit the city at large. Every boat that comes to this port to unload means the expenditure of from $50 to $80 here. Ropes and other supplies for the vessels are bought; and the sailors buy clothes. Thus it will easily be seen that an immense sum will be spent here if the number of vessels unloading here be increased. If our facilities for storing and trans-shipping grain be made use of, trade will increase, and we will soon have room, and need for five or six elevators. There is no reason why this city cannot rival Buffalo and other large grain trading centres.

John Hewton thought the city did wisely to reject the request of the M.T. Co. to grant $50,000 for this purpose. We are now getting two elevators for $60,000.

Capt. Breden said he endorsed all that had been said in favor of the by-law. He went up on one of the M.T. Co.'s vessels a short time ago, and saw in the captain's cabin orders to buy all supplies in Kingston. He bought a plug of tobacco at Duluth and the captain was going to report him.

Isaac Simpson had been in Ogdensburg recently and was informed that previous to the erection of the elevators there, there were many vacant houses, but since the elevators have been working houses are very difficult to secure. This is a remarkable sign of prosperity, such prosperity as we in Kingston will enjoy if we get the second elevator.

James Redden spoke very briefly in favor of the scheme and said he would vote in favor of it.

W.H. Macnee proposed that a public meeting be held and that the general public be fully informed on the subject.

Alderman Kent said it is rumored that if two elevators be built the shovellers will be thrown out of employment, as the grain will be handled by steam shovels. He is in favor of the scheme, and will vote for it.

Capt. Gaskin said that Kingston shovellers can "knock the sand out of" the steam shovels used in Prescott. Instead of throwing shovellers out of employment the company will double the number of its employees, because it will handle twice as much grain. The shovellers earn about $15 a week each, and he would assert that the M.T. company's shovellers earn more money than any laboring men in any other part of Canada.

Alderman Wright said he would do all in his power to assist the passing of the by-law, for he believes the retention of the M.T. company's business here will be in the interest of the company.

The chairman intimated that a public meeting will shortly be held to discuss the question, and the meeting adjourned.


The steamer Islander took the place of the Empire State yesterday.

The schooner Two Brothers cleared from Swift's wharf today for Charlotte to load coal for James Swift & Co.

The steamer Arundell arrived at Swift's wharf this morning, from Charlotte, with a large passenger list.

This was another quiet day in marine circles. No arrivals or departures are reported at either the M.T. Co.'s wharf or at that of Richardson & Sons.

The R. & O. steamer Algerian called at Swift's wharf today on her way from Toronto to Brockville. At the last named place her passengers and freight were transferred to the Bohemian and the Algerian returned to Toronto.

Alderman J. Stewart returned this morning from Ogdensburg, where he has been since Monday last, superintending the loading of eleven of the K. & M. forwarding company's barges with wheat and corn. The total quantity loaded on the barges was about 300,000 bushels.

Welland Canal Report.

Port Colborne, Aug. 26th - Down: steamers Inter-Ocean, Arabia, Chicago to Prescott, corn; Frost, Chicago to Ogdensburg, general cargo; Bannockburn and barge, Chicago to Kingston, wheat; schooner W.Y. Emery, Toledo to Kingston, corn; steamer Cormorant and barge, Munsing to Ogdensburg, lumber; steamer Orion and barges, Marquette to Kingston, timber.

Up: steamer Topeka, Oswego to Chicago, coal; Juno, Hamilton to Detroit, light; yacht Aunetis, Cobourg to Buffalo.

Port Dalhousie, Aug. 27th - Up: steamer F.H. Prince, Ogdensburg to Chicago, general cargo; steamer W.P. Ketchum, Prescott to Chicago, light.

Down: steamer J. Murphy, Chicago to Ogdensburg, corn; steamer Arabian, Chicago to Prescott, corn; steamer Truant, Detroit to Toronto, light; steamer Inter-Ocean, Chicago to Prescott, corn.

p.4 The Coal Mines Closed - Alderman James Stewart, local manager of the K. & M. forwarding company, who returned today from Ogdensburg, says that the Pittsburg, Pa., coal mines have closed down, and that no soft coal is now being shipped from Charlotte, N.Y. The George Hall company is laying up its vessels, pending the re-opening of the mines. The company has a supply of coal adequate to meet its own needs on hand.


Delayed By A Jam.

Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Aug. 27th - A jam in the Canadian canal yesterday delayed traffic in that water way for six hours and trains on the C.P.R. were held for the same length of time. It was caused by the steel steamer Mariba and the steamer City of Paris bound down loaded with iron ore becoming wedged between the canal bank and the railroad bridge pier just above the lock. The bridge was open and trains were held. The jam was finally broken late in the afternoon.

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27 Aug 1897
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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), 27 Aug 1897