ADVANCE IN LAKE RATES.
David G. Thomson, of the Montreal transportation company, is in the city overlooking the company's plant here, prior to the opening of the navigation season, and conferring with Capt. Gaskin, outside manager, on matters pertaining to the company's interests. Through his long association with the transportation business Mr. Thomson has become one of the leading authorities on Canada's grain trade, and in fact in other lines of freight carrying. In a short conversation with a Whig representative last evening he spoke very hopefully of an active season in freight traffic on the inland waters, the outlook being brighter than it has been for some years. A heavy movement in grain will begin as soon as the canals are opened, there being immense quantities in the west to come eastward. The elevators at Chicago are all filled; Duluth holds 20,000,000 bushels; Fort William 7,000,000 bushels, besides over one quarter of last year's crop being still in the hands of the western farmers. Of this the St. Lawrence route will receive its due share, that is as much as can be received at Montreal.
The grain trade of the St. Lawrence is practically limited to ocean tonnage, which is in turn regulated by ocean freight rates or comparative rates between grain and lumber. What quantity of grain passes down the St. Lawrence depends on the quantity taken by the trans-Atlantic steamers. If the freight rates are good large quantities will be accepted, but if the owners secure better rates for other freight more deals will be taken and less grain. A certain quantity of grain is, however, always taken to serve as ballast. It is expected that an increased number of ships will sail from Montreal this year; this will undoubtedly increase the grain capacity, and a large traffic is anticipated. Last season 40,000,000 bushels passed down the St. Lawrence.
A notable feature of the inland trade will be an increase in freight rates over last season. The Montreal transportation company has already chartered for one and a half cents above the average rate last year. The lake rates will be good, while the river rates will remain the same as in 1898. One reason for the advance on the lake is the increased demand for vessels in iron ore, steel and lumber trade. The vesselmen will have a profitable season. In speaking of the boats taken from the lake by the Atlantic transportation company last season Mr. Thomson said the venture had its lesson for vessel owners. Some of the fleet had not been paid for and this will teach owners to do business with responsible firms. The boats now at Valleyfield will probably return to the lakes, while others of the fleet are scattered the coast from Boston to Norfolk. The Atlantic transportation company's move was a hasty speculation. According to Mr. Thomson the M.T. company does not fear the competition offered them by the Parry Sound railway. The company is in business to meet competition, and has too great a faith in the St. Lawrence route to be troubled by the competition of any other Canadian route.
Arthur Sparham will go as steward of the steamer Argyle this season.
Canvas has been stretched on the sloop Maggie L., R. LaRush captain.
Word was received from Brighton this morning that the ice had left Brighton bay.
A new lens lantern light has been established at the Niagara river range rear light station.
The tug Sandford has been sold to Ross Bros., Welland. The Sandford will remain at Toronto.
The crews of the Montreal transportation company's fleet will reach the city on Monday to take charge of their respective boats.
The sounding of the Cleveland west breakwater steam whistle has been discontinued by order of the department at Washington.
The keel of the new steamer of the Northern navigation company was laid by the Collingwood dry dock and shipbuilding company this week. The vessel will be 186 feet over all, and it is expected that she will be ready to go into commission on July 1st.
Vesselmen of Buffalo are of the opinion that a large percentage of ore and grain will be left at the head of the great lakes at the close of the season, owing to the inability of the vessels on the lakes to haul the immense volumes of stuff that has been collected there during the year.
The tug Shickluna is being rebuilt at Toronto, receiving new decks and new tow posts. She will be commanded by Capt. Cummings this season, and will assist the dredge working in the eastern gap at Toronto.
A fixed white lens lantern light will be established on the opening of navigation on a white mast at the north-westerly point of Carleton Island on the east side of the main channel of the river St. Lawrence. The focal plane of the light will be ninety-five feet above the mean level of the lake.
Capt. E.A. Booth, jr., will sail this season as mate of the R. & O. navigation company's steamer Toronto, Henry Esford, captain. Capt. Booth leaves for Toronto next week to bring down the Donnelly salvage and wrecking company's steamer Eurydice, on which he will sail until the Toronto begins her season's service.
Some of the captains appointed to command the various vessels are: Matthews' line: Niagara, Capt. James Morgan, engineer, Thomas Mills; Clinton, Capt. John Fahey, engineer, J.M. Dennison; Merchants' line: Cuba, Capt. Henry Chestnut, engineer, William Kennedy; Melbourne, Capt. Frederick Elliott, engineer, Thomas Milne. St. Lawrence and Chicago steam navigation company: Algonquin, Capt. James McMaugh, engineer, James H. Ellis; Rosedale, Capt. James Ewart, engineer, Edward O'Dell.
C.F. Gildersleeve, manager of the Richelieu & Ontario navigation company, was asked by the Montreal Witness if he had heard of opposition. He said that he knew that the New York Central company was not thinking of any such move, as the directors of the Richelieu company were in touch with its management and he knew that such rumors were incorrect. The report that Messrs. Folger, Kingston, were sharing services with the company was also unfounded. For instance, it had been stated that Messrs. Folger were willing to give up their Montreal service from the lakes if the Richelieu & Ontario navigation company gave up its service to Kingston. This, Mr. Gildersleeve said, was unknown at his office and must have emanated from Kingston.
p.5 Hotel Runners Hit - can no longer solicit on R. & O. steamers; present case arose from an occurrence in 1897, when some of the hotels secured advertising on the boats, thus dispensing with runners; one hotel kept the runner system, and their representative was ejected from the steamer Spartan at Coteau. [Montreal Gazette]
p.8 Late Afternoon Events - The schooner Acacia will carry coal this season for R. Crawford.
The schooner Two Brothers, Capt. M. Patterson, has been chartered for a cargo of coal from Charlotte to Cornwall.
The schooner Echo, Capt. Eccles, cleared for Deseronto from Belleville. She was the first vessel to leave that harbor this season.
The steamer Glengarry leaves for Charlotte for a cargo of coal as soon as the ice goes out of the harbor.
The ferry boat is running between Folger's wharf, Howe Island, and the mainland.