The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 8 Apr 1899

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The schooner Nellie Hunter has been rebuilt during the winter.

The steamer Resolute is ready for sailing as soon as the harbor is open.

The tugs Frankman and Hector have been overhauled and painted throughout.

The captains of the M.T. company's tugs have boarded their boats to prepare for sailing.

The penitentiary bar is open and usually one week after that opening the ice in the harbor disappears.

The steam barge Iona has received many improvments during the winter months, including a new wheel.

Capt. Staley is at work on the schooner Queen of the Lakes, and is making improvements to her cabin. The hull has been repainted.

The schooner Eliza Fisher, the property of Mrs. S. Kyle, Belleville, was sold today to Capt. Sherwood and Capt. Howard, of Brighton. The price paid was the modest sum of $150. She will be overhauled and rebuilt. She was in the coal trade.

Capt. S. Chapman will begin the work fitting out the tug Peerless on Monday. This spring the ice in moving pulled a quantity of oakum out of her seams, allowing considerable water to pour in. The fires have been started to thaw the ice in her hold.

Wants A Strong Wind - It will require a very strong wind to remove the ice in the river so that the ferry boat may begin her trips. Some people think the ice will be out in a few days now, but it seems improbable in the face of the fact that blocks of ice having a thickness of twenty-four inches were removed just a day or so ago.

An Old Pilot Dead - Capt. John Rankin, for years known as one of the best pilots on the St. Lawrence between Kingston and Montreal, died recently at Cazaville, Que. He was born in Glencoe, Scotland, in 1817, and came to Canada with his parents in 1822. Ever since his early manhood he had sailed on the great lakes. In October, 1850, he ran the Lachine rapids by moonlight, a feat never before attempted.

Incidents of the Day - W. Tucker, for many years in the United States light house service, has been given charge of the light house on Carleton Island, opposite Cape Vincent.

p.4 The Steamer Cambria - money was still owed for excursion last summer; owner Mr. Palmer of Toronto was paid $175 to settle the case.


It will be noticed from the letter of the government engineer, Collingwood Screiber, that his visit to the Welland canal, a result of the representations of the Kingston delegation to Ottawa, has brought the early opening of the canals again. He announces them to be ready for traffic April 24th, adding these words, "a week earlier than was originally in contemplation." It will be remembered that the Kingston and Montreal delegations were received with surprise by the minister of railways and canals, and were somewhat discredited, but it now seems clear that they have done the management of the canals and the whole marine service a benefit. The sending of Mr. Screiber to the canal should have results far beyond the immediate benefit that the early opening will confer on craft on Lake Ontario. The Kingston delegation is justified now in the steps taken. Without their activity the officials would probably have delayed the opening beyond the usual time on the score of a late season. The ministers at Ottawa endeavor to meet the public wishes as far as possible - at least, that is the experience of Kingston delegations - but the representations occasionally made to them by officials mislead them into unnecessary restriction. It is to be hoped that no more delegations will be required. The annual procession to secure the opening within a reasonable time is unnecessary. If the minister of canals desires to confer a benefit upon the marine interests of Lake Ontario he will give a standing order that the canals shall be ready each year, barring accidents, on April 15th. Not only the expense and trouble of delegations will be saved but those preparing large boats for navigation will be spared harassing uncertainties in expensive outfitting and hiring sailing crews.

If Mr. Screiber has made investigations he will find that on March 15th there was no ice in the canal this year to prevent the work of repairing, yet the turning off of water has been delayed until April 15th. There have been no repairs upon the canal to the twenty-five locks, or to the sides, except some rebuilding at the railroad bridge at Thorold, which is now finished and could have been done at any time during the winter. Many lock gates require valves. The majority of them were out of repair in large part last season. In one lock five out of six valves are imperfect. Two of these have been out of repair since 1897. One new gate will be put in, which will remedy some imperfect valves. The banks have slid in some places and fresh dredging would make the passage of boats less difficult, yet no effort has been made to accomplish it. In the culvers and level above lock twenty-four, where three years ago there was a break and temporary repairs made by filling in with clay and hay, no further action has been taken. The level has never been emptied for examination or proper strengthening, and if a break occurs it will mean weeks of delay at a busy season, with great loss. The canal is not up-to-date. Repairs should be more general. If the ministers of the departments would visit the public works oftener, as does the Hon. J. Israel Tarte, there would be a much greater volume of repairs, and every bit of it would be in the public interest.

p.7 Fitting Out the Vessels - Goderich, April 5th - ....The steamer Andrew is being fitted out for the season's trade. Capt. Featherstonehaugh and his mate are here.....Capt. William McGregor, of the steamer Mary Boyce, visited his old home here recently. Capt. Murray McGregor, of the George I survey boat, has been up at Owen Sound fitting up his boat....Mr. Dube, of the steamer St. Andrew, is visiting his home at Penetang. He was watchman on the St. Andrew all winter....



The contrast between the season this year and last is particularly observable on the bay.

Last year the ice went out about March 17th. At present it seems good for several more days.

The dates of the arrivals of the first steamer and closing of navigation in the years named was as follows:

April 18th, 1891 - Steamer Hero made first trip to Belleville, and Dec. 21st, 1891, the schooner Baltic arrived with a load of coal for the Rathbun company.

April 12th, 1892 - Steamer Ella Ross made her first trip to Belleville, and November 28th, navigation closed.

April 18th, 1893 - Steamer Ella Ross made first trip to Belleville, and December 2nd, navigation closed.

April 5th, 1894 - Steamer Varuna made first trip to Belleville, and December 1st, navigation closed.

April 20th, 1895 - Steamer Armenia made first trip to Belleville, and December 2nd, navigation closed.

April 21st, 1896 - Steamer Ella Ross made first trip to Belleville, and December 1st, navigation closed.

April 13th, 1897 - Steamer Ella Ross made first trip to Belleville, and November 30th, navigation closed.

March 26th, 1898 - Steamer Hero made first trip to Belleville, and November 28th, navigation closed. [Belleville Sun]

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8 Apr 1899
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 8 Apr 1899