The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 14 Mar 1898

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p.1 Will Be Early Navigation - Toronto, March 14th - Navigation here will open unusually early this year. The steamer Lakeside is expected to arrive from St. Catharines tomorrow, twelve days earlier than last year. The warm weather of the last few days has softened the ice on the upper lakes too, and navigation there will start sooner than usual. It is expected that by April 1st navigation will be in full swing.

p.2 Just In Time - west-end ice yacht fleet removed from ice in time; Portsmouth fleet floated out of harbor with ice.


The Channel Opened Up and the Ice Driven From View.

How the wind did howl yesterday! It was a regular old-fashioned March gale. Coming as it did after a long warm spell, and finding the ice bridge in a very weak condition, the storm played havoc with the ice. In a couple of hours it had ripped the congealed moisture asunder and liberated the blue waters of the noble St. Lawrence, lashing into foam the heavy billows sent crashing the ice floes down the river. The spectacle was a grand one as viewed from the yacht club house. The broken ice was rolled up in huge piles and driven before the fury of the wind. Huge cakes were cracked and ground asunder like frail chinaware. Mountains of it found lodgement on Point Frederick and Cedar Island shore, while every sheltered nook and bay contained its quota of the floating mass which had escaped from the terror of the wind. Within a couple of hours after the storm arose the entire channel was free of ice from shore to shore. The wind continued driving the floes on down the river, and when the sun arose this morning its rays danced and glittered on the blue waters, which were free of ice as far as the eye could reach.

So sudden and complete a change has never before been witnessed here, even within the memory of the "oldest inhabitant." On Thursday last horses crossed and on Sunday the steamer was running in comparatively free water. But such are the beauties of our climate.

The storm was looked for and therefore preparation was made all along the harbor front for its reception. Wherever a boat was at all exposed to the fury of the wind, extra fastenings were run out and additional security thus gained. However, at the M.T. company's long wharf several piles of lumber came near being overturned into the lake. As it happened a few boards were blown away before the lumber piles were roped down.

Just In Time.

The west-end ice yacht fleet came very near being carried away by the moving ice yesterday. No one expected to see such a body of ice break up in one day, and even old mariners, who have watched the workings of nature for years, were out in their predictions. The fleet of ice yachts, including the West End, Gad Fly, Beauty Speck and Snow Drift were left on the ice until the afternoon. Captain LaRush then noticed the ice rise and fall with the waves and calling assistance proceeded to land the boats in Rathbun's western wood yard. The last one was just placed on land as the ice moved away from the dock.

The Portsmouth ice yacht fleet drifted out of the bay yesterday with the ice. The owners recovered the boats by the use of a skiff. J. Potter's sail boat also drifted away and is still at large.

Incidents of the Day - Capt. Ewart, who commanded the steamer Rosedale when she went ashore last fall, is in the city. Repairs to the steamer will begin tomorrow.


Mariners are of the opinion that the canals will open early in April this year.

S. Kennedy, chief engineer of the tug Reginald, returned from Buffalo on Saturday.

There is said to have been a big cut in the salaries of the commanders of the Richelieu company's boats.

Preparations for the summer's work was commenced in the engineering department of the steamers Parthia and D.D. Calvin today.

Capt. Patterson and Capt. R. LaRush had to keep guard on their schooners, moored at the Grove Inn yard, while the ice was moving out yesterday.

The steamer Hero is being fitted out and will make her first trip about the 7th of April, but in case navigation should open earlier she will commence running as soon as the ice leaves the bay.

When the ice began to move yesterday, ship owners remained on their boats to secure them against breaking away. The sight of clear water has started nearly all the owners and captains at fitting out their crafts.


Remarkably Early Passage of the Steamer Pierrepont.

The steamer Pierrepont succeeded in establishing a record by getting through the ice to the islands yesterday. The trip was a particularly early one and beats all former records. Last year the steamer ventured out on the 29th of March, which was considered early. The year previous the trip was made about a week later. It was intended to attempt a passage to the islands tomorrow, but the wind broke up the ice and rendered the trip comparatively easy. A start was made shortly before noon. The steamer had about a mile of ice to plow through, but this was so soft that little difficulty was experienced in forcing a passage through it. A stop was made at Garden Island and then the steamer went across to Murphy's Point, Wolfe Island. On the return trip the ice was running so freely that it was found impossible to make the ferry wharf, so the steamer was run into the William street slip, where she remained for an hour and then went back to her mooring. Last year the first trip to Cape Vincent was made on April 3rd. Tomorrow the steamer will venture across, as a telegraphic despatch received from there this morning announced the channel free of ice. The sea was running too high today to venture around the head of the island, and it was not known whether or not the passage around the foot was open. Quite a number of citizens were aboard the Pierrepont yesterday at the invitation of Capt. Millar, who was at the wheel in the absence of Capt. Allen, who was in Buffalo.

p.6 Repairing the Rosedale - This morning twenty workmen were put to work on the hull of the steamer Rosedale. It was expected the task would not be begun before tomorrow morning, but matters were got in readiness today and the mechanics put to work. The staff will be increased as the repairs advance. Frank Raney says the steamer will not be ready for commission until July 1st.

To Take Soundings - The government engineers making a survey of the harbor this morning began making soundings along all the wharves, beginning at Rockwood hospital. They will carry on their work as far down as the old smelter.

For Use On Lake Ontario - Port Huron, Mich., March 14th - The fast little steamer Unique, built three years ago for the Detroit and Port Huron route, is to be sold to Canadian parties and placed on a route on Lake Ontario between Toronto and Port Dalhousie. The boat will be thoroughly overhauled and her name changed to "The Maple Leaf." The consideration agreed on is said to be $25,000

March 15, 1898

p.2 First Trip To Cape Vincent - The steamer Pierrepont left the ferry wharf for Cape Vincent at nine o'clock this morning. Her passenger list was quite large for the first trip and at such an early stage in the navigation season. Her route was through the Batteau channel and around the head of Wolfe Island.

p.3 Snips - The Chicago shipbuilding company last week launched the largest ship on the great lakes. It has a length of 430 feet, a depth of hold of twenty-eight feet and a breadth of forty-eight feet. A still larger one has been ordered.

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14 Mar 1898
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 14 Mar 1898