The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 28 Aug 1897

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How He Saved Himself Work And Stranded A Steamer.

The above is the heading of an article in the Detroit Free Press of the 23rd inst., and those who ought to know, and who certainly do know whereof they speak, assert that the "Luke Sharp" referred to is none other than a well-known Kingstonian, who is now in business here, but who, for a good many years, was accustomed to "go down to the sea in ships." The article reads as follows:

"Many vesselmen in Detroit still remember Luke Sharp. Luke was a first rate steamboat man, but he never rose above the position of mate, though entirely competent to do so. His reason was that he did not want it, and it is a fact that, more than once, he refused offers to command steamers. He preferred the less easy but the more comfortable berth. He had no objection to taking charge of a steamer while his superior slept, but he did not want the responsibility of commanding a vessel all by himself. So mate he was, and mate he remained.

"For many years he was mate with Capt. W.E. Comer, now of the Darius Cole, on the Marine City, and afterwards on the Flora. They were together at the time the Marine City was burned on Lake Huron with great loss of life. A good story is told of one of his achievements. Whether it is true or not cuts no figure. It is just as good, and if Luke didn't do what the yarn alleges, it is, at least, characteristic of his fun loving nature.

"The Marine City was feeling her way into Alpena, Mich., in a fog, very slowly, and heaving the lead, or was supposed to be doing so. Capt. Comer was on the pilot house; Luke was in the lead-stand, with a watchman and the lead. He ordered the watchman to get a scuttle of coal, and when it was brought, he threw one piece overboard. He waited a moment then yelled out: 'Six fathoms!' Another lump of coal went overboard and again the yell, the boat meanwhile getting nearer the shore. 'Five fathoms and a half!' Another lump was thrown overboard and again the yell was given, this time for a little shallower water.

"Comer took him at his word. What else could he do, for it was almost dark, the fog was thick and the sounds were those of the lead when it goes overboard.

"Presently the steamer brought up on a sandbar outside the piers. Comer swore and raved, but all he could get from Luke was a theory that the shore sloped off suddenly, and that the lead had fooled them. Not until years afterward, when they were together on the Flora, and time had outlawed his trick, did the foxy Luke let out on himself. Naturally it created a laugh, and nothing more then. The loss of his position would have been the result had the trick been known at the time it was played, although the vessel was easily released.

"Luke is now running a hotel in Kingston, Ont., and is reported to be doing several times better than had he remained on the lakes."


It is said by some that the Montreal transportation company should not be granted a bonus any larger than that given to the Mooers company, as the elevators to be erected by both are of the same capacity. Those talking that way seem to forget that the proposed bonus to be given to the M.T. company is partly in order to retain here their shipbuilding and repairing business, and that the company pledge themselves under a penalty to continue this business for a period of twenty years. While we trust and believe that Mr. Mooers will have plenty of work to do with his elevator, he cannot even when full of work find employment for many men, while the M.T. Co. with their various interests are giving employment to hundreds of our citizens, so that if each company were bonused in accordance to the benefit which the city will derive from each, the M.T. Co. should receive some hundreds of thousands of dollars instead of $35,000, that is taking the $25,000 granted to Mr. Mooers as a standard to work from.

Kingston needs two elevators and more than that in order to recover and retain permanently the transhipping of the St. Lawrence grain trade, and these elevators will have to be controlled by strong, wealthy corporations in order to compete with and overthrow the elevator and forwarding companies recently established farther down the river. The M.T. company, with a large fleet of lake vessels and river barges, with storage facilities here, and with wealthy grain buyers among its heaviest stockholders, will be the company best fitted to uphold Kingston's interests in this matter and fight down the opposition already established at Prescott and Ogdensburg.

We believe that the $35,000 given to the M.T. Co. to assist in erecting the elevator and for the retention of their various other interests, will be the best investment this city has yet made, and that with their business firmly established here, the marine trade of Kingston will gradually grow, and the time will come when instead of having two elevators to do the trade we will have twenty, and Kingston will in the near future be the "Buffalo of Canada."

District Dashes - The Rathbun company has sold the barge Osiris to Larkins & Sangster, contractors for the construction of the Iroquois canal. She will be overhauled at Deseronto shipyard.



The steambarge John F. Parsons, bound from Chaumont to Oswego, ran ashore on the south side of Stony Island Thursday night. The Parsons is owned and sailed by Capt. Frank Phelps, of Chaumont.

Welland Canal Report.

Port Colborne, Aug. 27th - Down: steamer Kathadin, Chicago to Kingston, corn; Melbourne, Toledo to Montreal, general cargo; Omaha, Chicago to Oswego, rye; steamer D. Lenty and barges, Baraga to Ogdensburg, lumber; schooner Antelope, Detroit to Prescott, rye; Gov. Smith, Chicago to Ogdensburg, general cargo.

Port Dalhousie, Aug. 27th - Down: steamer W.L. Frost, Chicago to Ogdensburg, general cargo; steamer Haze, Buffalo to Ogdensburg, lighthouse supplies; steamer Bannockburn, Chicago to Kingston, wheat; barge Minnedosa, Chicago to Kingston, wheat; schooner W.Y. Emery, Toledo to Kingston, corn; steamer Cormorant, Munsing to Ogdensburg, lumber; barge A.B. Norris, Munsing to Ogdensburg, lumber; steamer Orion, Marquette to Kingston, timber; barge Muskoka, Marquette to Kingston, lumber; barge Waubaushene, Marquette to Kingston, timber; barge Neelon, Marquette to Kingston, timber; steamer Gov. Smith, Chicago to Ogdensburg, general cargo.


Addresses At The Board Of Trade.

Kingston, Aug. 28th - To the Editor:

Permit me to make a few remarks regarding the doings of the board of trade at their meeting in the council chamber, and as published in last night's issue. Capt. Gaskin mentioned that after the last bylaw was carried, in favor of the Mooers company, "it became generally known that unless the M.T. company operated an elevator here they would leave." What I would like to know, and I think the other electors wish it also, is, Has he any authority or document to that effect, or which states that the Montreal transportation company will transfer their business from this port unless they were granted a bonus? This is a point which needs to be clearly explained, as it would appear to me that the board of trade had acted upon a rumor which had no actual foundation instead of ascertaining the correctness of the statement.

In regard to the "unfair comparisons" between the two companies and the size of bonus which should be granted to each, there is no valid reason why the one company should receive more than the other. When the M.T. company was treating with the council last year in regard to building an elevator the city said that $50,000 was too much to give towards its erection and offered $25,000. Capt. Gaskin will acknowledge himself that he missed the first $25,000, but the next best thing to do was to try and get $35,000 by saying that $10,000 was to be for the retention of the trade, when in fact there is already an agreement with the M.T. Co. by which they have agreed to do their business here for seven years yet to come. I always understood Capt. Gaskin to be against the granting of bonuses in every form, but it becomes a different matter when one is connected with a company which will benefit by such a bonus.

The statements were also made that the M.T. company practically controlled the grain traffic of the St. Lawrence and that circumstances compel the company to charge the same rate from Kingston to Montreal as from Prescott to Montreal. These statements do not bear themselves out. If the M.T. company controlled the traffic of the river they should be able to control the rates, and not be compelled to lower them under force of circumstances, as is stated, but which is open to question. There are two other transportation companies on the river besides the M.T. company, and they carry nearly as much grain as the M.T. company does. It is most amusing to read Capt. Gaskin's speech, especially towards the close of it, where he states that the first bonus of $25,000 was never offered to the M.T. company, and, "because it was not offered, therefore, it could not have been accepted." This is rather far-fetched, as every-one knows the offer was public, and everyone expected the M.T. company would accept it, as they were the parties expected to build it. No matter whether the bonus of $35,000 is granted or not the taxes will certainly have to be raised next year as the finance committee had hard work to keep the rate at 17 1/2 mills this year. Yours truly, ELECTOR.

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28 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.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 28 Aug 1897